If you live in parts of the northern hemisphere not hugging the equator, then you’re one of millions of people who can’t wait to burst outside and savor the summer — while you can. Of course dining al fresco is our favorite way to enjoy the sunny, warm weather, and it’s especially wonderful if you have a porch or patio that’s remained dormant all winter. And if you live somewhere like California, Arizona, or Florida, then you can throw an almost-outdoor dinner party year-round (or during wintertime if you wilt from the intense summer heat).
To help you plan your porch party, we’re revealing our Chowhounders’ all-time favorite recipes for summer. Try these crowd-pleasers while you take advantage of that outdoor space you have. Please don’t use that porch for just storing your bikes or air-drying your laundry. Your patio or porch deserves these dishes. Give it some summer love.
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
There is nothing, nothing more popular than our Slow Cooker Pulled Pork recipe, and with good reason. It’s 5 pounds of savory, tender, saucy, and satisfying pork shoulder (also called butt), shredded and doused in barbecue sauce. If you’re hosting a casual dinner on your patio or porch, go with this. Using shiny brioche elevates the dish more, providing a kinda funny contrast with the crave-able sloppy insides. We’d highly recommend making a coleslaw as well. Just make sure to keep a bunch of napkins nearby, whether it’s a coordinating cloth number or just a roll of paper towels. It’s definitely an easygoing kind of main meat, so no pretension will last too long at your party. And messy hands? Good. Expect some saucy smiles too. Get our Slow Cooker Pulled Pork recipe.
Vietnamese-Style Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce
Make these rolls for your starter, or as part of a tapas kind of dinner party. Vietnamese fare has grown more and more liked and mainstream in the last decade, what with banh mi sandwich shops and pho soup places popping up all over the country. But let’s do something different within the world of Vietnamese cooking. People will dig the plump, rosy shrimp sharing space inside the wrapper with sprouts and rice noodles, plus all sorts of fresh, invigorating ingredients like cilantro and lime. And oh, that peanut butter sauce. Feel free to lick that bowl clean, with guests watching or not. You could totally swap out the shrimp with tofu or chicken, however, if you’re not feeling shrimpy. Get our Vietnamese-Style Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce recipe.
Creamy Cucumber Salad
For a light, summery salad popping with fresh dill, here’s the way to go. Filled with so much thirst-quenching water, cucumbers are a fitting vegetable to choose for dehydrating hot days and humid nights. You could swap out the sour cream with yogurt, Greek or not, if you want your salad to feel even lighter. You’ll be using English cucumbers, which are also called hothouse, seedless, or greenhouse cucumbers. They typically have fewer, smaller seeds and are longer than your garden-variety cucumber. They taste milder too. This salad is not a complicated recipe (only three ingredients plus salt and pepper), so you can focus on the other dishes, like the meats, breads and dessert … or cocktails (wink, wink). Get our Creamy Cucumber Salad recipe.
Spicy Roasted Chickpeas
People love these little crunchy, spicy snackable pearls. They’re so easy to make. No one will consider it cheating if you use canned chickpeas. Hey, the recipe says to do it. You can serve these in little bowls for people to peck at the start or throughout the meal, or top a salad with these to infuse some heft, flavor complexity and a creamy crunch. Also called garbanzo beans or just garbanzos, chickpeas are part of the legume family and a great source of protein and fiber. They can keep your guests’ hunger pangs at bay while you finish plating the main course. Most often seen as the main player in hummus, these jewels are heart healthy, but they don’t have that obligatory feeling to them, especially when they’re roasted and spiced. Get our Spicy Roasted Chickpeas recipe.
Happiness is sipping a cool, buzzy lime-infused drink while lounging on the porch, laughing with friends as the cicadas warble and chirp outside. Our margarita is just the drink you and your guests want to be holding as you savor the evening. Make sure to use 100 percent agave tequila and Cointreau specifically, not any ol’ triple sec. And if you want to get a little fancier, you can rim the glasses with cayenne salt or cumin salt. You don’t have to use stemmed margarita glasses, either. You could use plastic ones, if you’re concerned about breaking glass outside, or just regular cups with no stems. Clear cups are prettier because they let that lime liquid shine through, but believe us, no one will turn down a margarita because of its vessel! Get our Perfect Margarita recipe.
Easy Peach Crisp
And please, don’t forget dessert! Some people (like us) anticipate the dinner’s sweet ending right from the start. You can keep it simple by throwing together this fruity little ditty. A crisp is much easier than making pie because you don’t have to deal with crust, which can be trickier when the temperature changes. The topping, which replaces the crust, is just oats that you squish together with brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, and dash of salt. It gives you the crunch you want. What will make this dessert even more special, without adding too much extra effort, is ice cream (store-bought is OK) or homemade whipped cream. Peaches are in season in summer for many of us, so you might as well make use of what the harvest is providing locally, no? Get our Easy Peach Crisp recipe.
Head image: Visibly Moved