One of my FAVORITE parts of summer is the abundance of tomatoes, so it was a no brainer that we had to include a feature in the summer magazine. We turned to entertaining expert, Jenny Steffins-Hobick, to create inspiration for a “celebrating tomato season” dinner party. Read on for more details, as told by Jenny….
In the Summer, we often host parties for holidays – 4th of July Picnics, Labor Day Barbecues – but rarely do we ever just celebrate Summer. For me, the essence of Summer is found in the seasonal food that is best in these hot months of the year. While I’m glad to see berries and sweet corn at the market, it is not truly Summer until I see tomatoes. Real tomatoes. Yes, in most markets we can find tomatoes at all times of the year, but not real tomatoes. Real tomatoes, with their sweet, acidic flavor and smooth texture, are best in the peak of the Summer months and should be celebrated.
This Summer, host a dinner party that pays tribute to the season’s rightful star- tomatoes. Introduce your guests to the various varietals of tomatoes available and different ways to eat and serve them. Be sure to include a “Tomato Tasting” as part of your party – after all, tomatoes are hard to beat when served simply with a sprinkling of salt. It will give your guests the opportunity to taste the differences between the many available varieties.
I set the table simply with a casual feel, but a bit more elegant than a typical Summer grilling party. The color palate was restrained with a bare wooden table, natural linens and just a touch of red to allow the vibrant summer foods shine. Instead of a floral arrangement, I planted a wooden herb box full of basil and thyme. Bud vases with zinnias were placed around the table for added whimsy.
For my guests, I started the evening with a watermelon cocktail served with an heirloom orange tomato garnish. For dinner, instead of the serving tomatoes in their typical fresh state, I fired up the grill. Along with squash, eggplant and peppers, tomatoes were grilled and then tossed with pappardelle pasta. I garnished the pasta with wedges of fresh heirloom cherry tomatoes. Our feast of Summer ended with a light strawberry, watermelon and tomato salad with a basil drizzle.
For these tomato recipes and more Summer inspiration, visit jennysteffens.com.
For more summer entertaining ideas and tips, visit the latest issue of The Party Dress Magazine: