I grew up in the Midwest where by late May, warm weather had finally arrived. No matter what the calendar said, Memorial Day kicked off the start of summer and grilling season. My neighborhood had a big gathering, which meant some serious cooking with the season’s bounty. There were long tables of salads (leafy green, potato, fruit and bean, oh my!), platters of grilled meats and veggies, desserts and cold beverages.Even though I now live in Texas where plentiful sunshine keeps us dining outdoors nearly year round, I still associate Memorial Day with summer’s first big outdoor gathering with friends.
Hosting a get-together? Just gather friends and the best, freshest ingredients. Voilà! You’re nearly there. Here’s some inspiration to get you started.
Get Grilling with Stone Fruit
Stone fruit is a term for fruit with flesh enclosing a stone, or pit. Think apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums and all their hybrids too. See what’s in season in your neck of the woods and grill it! It’s as easy as 1-2-3:
Cut in half and remove pit
Grill on medium heat cut-side down, flip once
Remove from grill after 5 minutes, or when fruit is softened and just charred
Then you can:
Finish with sweet glazes or simple syrups made with rum and butter, mint and ginger or honey and orange juice
Arrange cooled halves on top of a chilled custard tart or cheesecake
Add to green or grain salads, top with toasted nuts
Purée or dice and add to salsas and barbecue sauces to serve with grilled foods
Hip Dips for Grilled Foods
Looking for dips that go the distance? These versatile combos will pair with sides or mains on your table.
Kabobs = Peanut sauce + lime + cilantro + tamarind
Vegetables = Greek yogurt + harissa (a North African hot chile blend) + lemon juice
Steak = Fish sauce + honey + gochujang (a Korean hot chile paste)
Fish or Chicken = Sour cream + fresh oregano + anchovy paste + chopped olives + lemon zest
Bread or Flatbread = Extra-virgin olive oil + minced garlic + toasted sesame seeds + chopped fresh parsley
Far-Out Hot Dog Toppings
Hog dogs don’t have to be the boring option. Offer these toppings and earn applause:
Pesto with onions, pickled green beans or okra
Wasabi mayonnaise, green onions and a sprinkle of roasted seaweed snacks
Crushed corn chips, cotija or grated parmesan cheese, sour cream and cayenne pepper
Chopped kimchi and shredded mozzarella cheese
No one expects the host to do everything. It is a holiday, after all. Here are a few of my favorite Whole Foods Market shortcuts from around the store that won’t have you cutting corners:
Meat department: Premade kabobs and burgers made in-house, which are the perfect size for grilling
Prepared foods department: A wide selection of sides including potato salad, kale salad and coleslaw
The salad bar: Shop it for precut veggies and small amounts of ingredients
Stawberry Lemon Soda opens in a new tab
Check out our seasonal recipe collections opens in a new tab for more inspiration.
What’s on your menu for Memorial Day? I’d love to know.