I'm hoping some of you will help me work out a menu for a dinner party. In a couple of weeks, I'm hosting a small plates dinner get together for a local organization. The idea is to highlight local foods in a Spanish-inspired menu. From the date we thought of this theme, I had it in my head that I would have red bell peppers available. I do this every year, expect red bell peppers to be available in mid July, but they really aren't available until early August. Every year, disappointment; this year, wrench in my menu plans. No grilled red peppers, no red pepper in the gazpacho, no romesco sauce.
Restrictions/context: I'm in central Illinois, if that helps you think of seasonality. This will not be sit down (I don't have the space), so I'm hoping for foods that do not require a knife. I do not have central air, so I do not want the oven on in the hours before the party. I do have a charcoal grill.
Produce in season: still have the hardy greens, carrots, beets, cucumbers, tomatoes, summer squash and zucchini, eggplant, possibly peas, green beans, potatoes, fennel, leeks, lettuce, garlic, possibly cherries, possibly blueberries, possibly apricots
So, here is my current thinking on menu. I'd love your feedback/ideas.
Assorted olives: completely non-local, of course, but I couldn't do Spain dinner without them. I rationalize this with the argument that it will help people to understand that one can focus on local without being a zealot.
Local cheese plate
Local charcuterie plate (sadly, no Spanish-style cured sausages available because I did not conceive of the party far enough in advance. We will have an assortment of the cured sausages the local guy has available, and he is currently experimenting with some various pates with Spanish flavors)
tortilla (traditional tortilla espanola, possibly another version with peas, if they are still available)
assorted grilled veggies (verduras a la plancha)--without romesco sauce (which is not necessarily traditional but is something I love with my veggies), so ideas on what to serve with them would be great. Parsley sauce (mojo)? garlic mayo?
some kind of grilled meat; I was hoping to have frenched lamb chops, but I am having a difficult time with availability right now. Local meat I can currently get my hands on: about any cut of beef and pork, whole chickens, chicken legs and wings (but not small ones--I would love nice small chicken legs), ground lamb (mini lamb-burgers?), whole rabbit, some goat cuts I can't recall (but think my guests would be leery of goat)
Dessert: an assortment of local goat's milk gelatos; something else to be determined
Thanks in advance for your input!