The summer share season is upon us, along with lots of meals enjoyed with friends both new and old. Whether you’re headed to the beach, the lake, or the mountains, vacation house entertaining can be a breeze with a little bit of advance planning. If you are driving to your getaway destination, you can pack the right cupboard mainstays from home to avoid long trips to the grocery store and cut down on leftover (and wasted) supplies — and don't forget to pack any kitchen essentials that you can't do without. Add some fresh ingredients and some great summer recipes, and you’ve got yourself a party.
• Start with a list. You’ll avoid making repeated trips to the local market if you’ve considered everything you’ll need to cook dinner (and stock the pantry for breakfast the next day). Be sure to divide the list into two sections, the staples you want to bring from home, and the fresh items you want to buy at your destination.
• You know you’ll need it, so go ahead and bring salt and pepper from home. Fresh black pepper from a grinder and good sea salt or kosher salt will make all the difference in your simple, summery dishes. Same goes for good olive oil and your favorite vinegar. And don't forget about your morning tea and/or coffee habit.
• Bring snack-sized resealable bags containing any spices/herbs you’re going to use in small amounts. Depending on the shopping options at your destination, consider bringing items like olives, capers, and feta if you use them frequently, as well.
• Local farm stands and markets at your vacation getaway are your best bet for high-quality perishable produce like veggies, fruit, and fresh herbs.
• Simple recipes that are full of bright, seasonal flavors will be mealtime mainstays when you’re cooking for a crowd on vacation. Look for dishes that your guests can give you a hand with, such as anything needing chopping or hulling, that you can make advance, or that take little to no time to come together.
• Grilled Tuna and Peppers with Caper Vinaigrette is a crowd-pleasing entrée that’s perfect for summer house entertaining. No grill? No problem: Foil-Packet Fish With Corn Relish cooks up just as well in an oven as it does on a grill.
• Full of summer flavor, this Orzo and Grilled Vegetable Salad with Feta, Olives and Oregano complements fish beautifully.
• It’s best to keep salads simple: This Tomato, Onion, and Cucumber Salad is ideal.
• In the summer, a vacation meal just isn’t complete without farm-fresh Grilled Corn on the Cob (adding the cheese is up to you).
• Serving dessert to your guests doesn’t require you to be baking all day. Mix fresh berries (whatever looks best at the local farm stand or market) with sugar, a bit of fresh lemon juice, and some chopped mint and then top with vanilla ice cream.