Plentiful Platters

"Summer breeze makes me feel fine...Sweet days of summer, the jasmine's in bloom. July is dressed up and playing her tune."  You have to sing that last part to yourself.  And be grateful that I've only written the lyrics and you can't actual hear me butchering that beautiful Seals & Croft song. I've been told my singing voice is for internal use only.  But the sweet days of summer have arrived and for JC and me it signals a time for entertaining and calling on friends and family to join for BBQ, drinks and chilling.  One way to easily serve and satisfy a big crowd is present everything on a big platter and let your guests pick and choose what they like.  The combinations are infinite. The preparation usually pretty simple. The best part, it looks amazing and feeds the masses happily. 

Here are a few of my favorites from the past. For the most part the veggies are either grilled or oven roasted.  I have posted several recipes with oven roasted veggies before, so no need to photo walk you through all that again. (But for a reminder, check out  Roasted Vegetables - Lunch 3 Ways)  Remember, there is no step by step recipe for this.  Buy, prepare and assemble what moves you. 

 Grilled veggies, roasted potatoes and grilled tomatoes

Grilled veggies, roasted potatoes and grilled tomatoes

 This big platter of chick peas/celery/scallions, sautéd string beans, grape tomatoes and cucumbers served as the side dish to an abundance of pizzas.  It made the ideal accompaniment to those crispy, yeasty delights. 

This big platter of chick peas/celery/scallions, sautéd string beans, grape tomatoes and cucumbers served as the side dish to an abundance of pizzas.  It made the ideal accompaniment to those crispy, yeasty delights. 

 Here it is on the table.  I think I also added roasted potatoes.

Here it is on the table.  I think I also added roasted potatoes.

 A simple Boston salad with fresh tomatoes and grilled asparagus.

A simple Boston salad with fresh tomatoes and grilled asparagus.

The combinations are whatever you like, really.  I usually try to complement the main protein and use vegetables and herbs that will enhance and brighten the meaI. I also love combining roasted veggies into a salad, if you will.   Chopped up and tossed into something starchy and hearty like Israeli Couscous. When I was able to eat wheat this was one of my favorites.  It's not a full pasta but plump little pearls that won't overfill your guests but have just enough heartiness to round out a meal. 

 Israeli Couscous with grilled zucchini, summer squash, roasted red pepper, hearts of palm and a basil dressing.

Israeli Couscous with grilled zucchini, summer squash, roasted red pepper, hearts of palm and a basil dressing.

For this dish, cook the couscous as you would any other type of pasta.  Simply grill or roast your veggies of choice and chop them into bite size pieces.  Toss them together.  Then I usually make some dressing for additional flavor and moistness.  You can smash some garlic, salt, pepper and basil and add olive oil for a super fast full of flavor dressing. You can serve this on its own or take that simple Boston salad and turn it up a notch by adding the couscous atop the lettuce.

 The Boston lettuce platter making room for the fluffy couscous mixture.

The Boston lettuce platter making room for the fluffy couscous mixture.

Another great feature of the big platter, you can easily make some of these the morning of or even the day before with the extra bonus of room temperature serving.

 Greens and Whites platter is made up of arugula simply dressed with lemon juice, salt and olive oil, next to hearts of palm, sautéd string beans, 2 bean salad and roasted broccoli.

Greens and Whites platter is made up of arugula simply dressed with lemon juice, salt and olive oil, next to hearts of palm, sautéd string beans, 2 bean salad and roasted broccoli.

 Various grilled vegetables atop Aborio rice.

Various grilled vegetables atop Aborio rice.

So choose what you like and whatever is available at the farmer's market, or at the grocery store. Start grilling, roasting and assembling your platter.  Your guests will love the abundant choices and you will love the abundant time you have to share with them during your party.  Plentiful platters, plentiful in so many ways, just like a summer's breeze.