Take it outside with these bright, brilliant summer dinners from our resident Mad Genius, Justin Chapple.

By Justin Chapple
June 09, 2021
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Plate of greek salad with shrimp and kamut
Credit: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Audrey Davis

There's nothing quite like enjoying a meal outdoors, allowing for plenty of time to linger and mingle under the sun or stars. The key to successful alfresco entertaining is to prepare inherently simple dishes that are tasty at any temperature. The best bets are meals packed with hearty grains, bold vegetables, and low-lift proteins that can withstand some table time. And whether you're entertaining yourself, your family, or friends (or everyone all at once!), alfresco meals should also be easily scalable. These six recipes can be doubled or tripled; just pour some great drinks, pick a simple dessert to round out the meal, and dinner is done.

Grilled Chicken with Marinated Tomatoes and Onions

In under an hour, heirloom tomatoes and slivers of red onion are transformed into a soppable sauce that brings bright, summery flavor to this simply seasoned grilled chicken.

Individual plate of grilled chicken with marinated tomatoes and onions
Credit: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Audrey Davis
Get the Recipe: Grilled Chicken with Marinated Tomatoes and Onions

Greek Salad with Shrimp and Kamut

Kamut, an ancient variety of wheat, adds hearty chew to this dish inspired by a classic Greek salad. An overnight soak helps the Kamut cook faster, making this recipe effortless. Cook the Kamut in advance to trim day-of prep to 30 minutes.

Plate of greek salad with shrimp and kamut
Credit: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Audrey Davis
Get the Recipe: Greek Salad with Shrimp and Kamut

Roasted Pork Tostadas with Citrusy Cabbage Salad

This tender citrus-and-herb-roasted pork shoulder pairs nicely with the chewy hominy and crunchy radishes and cabbage. The pork reheats beautifully, making this dish easy to prepare up to 2 days ahead. Toss the dressing with the reheated pork and remaining salad ingredients just before serving. Substitute black beans for hominy, if desired.

Roasted pork tostadas with citrusy cabbage salad
Credit: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Audrey Davis
Get the Recipe: Roasted Pork Tostadas with Citrusy Cabbage Salad

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Walnut-Olive Vinaigrette

A vinaigrette bolstered with chopped olives, toasted walnuts, and fresh parsley is a bold finishing touch for roasted salmon basted with smoked paprika and lemon. Source skinless salmon for a prettier presentation. To coax the most flavor from the walnuts, toast in a 350°F oven for about 12 minutes.

Platter of slow roasted salmon with olive walnut vinaigrette
Credit: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Audrey Davis
Get the Recipe: Slow-Roasted Salmon with Walnut-Olive Vinaigrette

Rainbow Vegetable Gratin

Six layers of colorful vegetables melt together in this free-form gratin; panko and Parmigiano-Reggiano absorb extra juices and provide a nice crunch. To make slicing easy, allow the gratin to cool for 20 minutes before serving.

rainbow vegetable gratin with slice being removed
Credit: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Audrey Davis
Get the Recipe: Rainbow Vegetable Gratin

Charred Broccolini Caesar with Kale and Chickpeas

Smoky, charred Broccolini and chickpeas give this riff on Caesar salad the heft it needs to be a main course. Hearty kale and tender Little Gem lettuces provide plenty of leafy nooks and crannies to catch the thick, anchovy-laced dressing.

Serving bowl of charred broccolini caesar with kale and chickpeas
Credit: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Audrey Davis
Get the Recipe: Charred Broccolini Caesar with Kale and Chickpeas