I know what you’ve been thinking lately, “I’d really love to create a big summer feast with family and friends, but I don’t know where to begin?!” I know this because I went through the exact same thing just recently. Now that Julian and I have moved into a house, we’re looking forward to entertaining more often because we actually have the space for it. With just a few helpful tips and tricks up our sleeves, we can all create an amazing summer get-together that everyone will enjoy. And that’s no joke. The first thing is that you want to keep things simple. Simplicity is key. Now is not the time to make a five course meal that will keep you in the kitchen all day long. You’ll never enjoy the dinner that way. Choose dishes that are seasonal and easy to make; that don’t require too much attention at the stove. A set it and forget it mentality is your friend. Whatever you can create ahead of time will save you a lot of heartache. While casual is best, that doesn’t mean you have to let presentation go out the window. Finally, don’t be afraid of color when it comes to serving and displaying the beautiful food you’ve created. Le Creuset‘s signature enameled cast-iron cookware and stoneware is now available in Williams-Sonoma’s new and exclusive color, Teal. All this means is that you can brighten up and add color to your meals all summer long by serving the food right in the cookware itself. It’ll add a pop of color to your summer spread. The cool thing about Le Creuset is that their cast iron pieces are still manufactured in the original factory in France that opened in 1925. You really can’t beat that.
I’m sharing three recipes to help you create that ultimate summer meal. The first is a Summer Roast Chicken with Peaches. While roasting a chicken in the heat of summer might sound like the worst thing ever, keep in mind that nothing can beat a roast chicken especially when made with seasonal fresh peaches, shallots and herbs. Embrace it. I’m also sharing a recipe for a Grilled Summer Vegetable Quinoa with Pistachios and Feta. It’s a salad jam-packed with so much seasonal flavor you won’t know even know what to do! And no gathering is complete without a signature cocktail. My Grilled Watermelon Sangria will keep you going back for more…which is both good and bad. Depends on how you look at it, really. I’ll tell you one thing that is good though, and that’s a GIVEAWAY! I love giving stuff away because it makes me feel like Santa Claus or Oprah, and thanks to Le Creuset, I’m giving away a 4 1/2 qt Le Creuset Heritage Stoneware Deep Covered Baker in exclusive teal to one lucky winner! This giveaway is a little different in that I’m hosting it on my Instagram. So head on over to my account and follow me (if you don’t already) so you don’t miss the post with all the details! You got this!
The first thing we have to do is work on the sangria since it has to chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours because it’ll enhance the flavors. So the first step is to grill the watermelon wedges. We’re not looking to cook the watermelon, just to develop the grill marks on both sides. A simple grilling will give the watermelon a smokey flavor that will be delicious in the sangria. Sometimes I don’t like turning on the outdoor grill, for a small task, also because it’s so hot outside sometimes, so I LOVE stovetop grill pans. I use them all year round and I can’t recommend them enough. This Le Creuset Cast-Iron Rectangular Skinny Grill is awesome. It heats up evenly and creates those great grill marks you’d get with an outdoor grill. I’m all about grill marks.
To make the sangria, purée the chunked up grilled watermelon, strain and then stir into a big pitcher with a bottle of dry white wine, vodka, orange liqueur, honey, lime slices, orange slices, and fresh sliced strawberries. Give it all a big stir to evenly combine and then chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
**Note: As the sangria sit, the watermelon juice will separate from everything else and settle at the bottom. That’s okay. It’s normal. Just give it all a big stir right before serving over ice!**
Let’s move on to the main dish of this summer feast. We’re going to make a whole roast chicken, which might not seem that summer to you because you have to turn on the oven BUT it’s loaded with summer flavors and so I think it makes it all worth it. In a large bowl toss together fresh peaches, shallots, garlic, thyme, oregano, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper until evenly combined.
**Tip: This is a great recipe to make with fresh peaches, keep those skins on for texture and flavor! If you can’t find fresh peaches, use frozen instead. Just be sure to thaw them out completely and pat the with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture. Excess moisture will prevent the chicken from browning properly.**
Lay about half of the peach mixture on the bottom of a 4 1/2 qt baking dish. This Le Creuset Heritage Stoneware Deep Covered Baker is perfect for roasting whole chickens because they fit snuggly into the baking dish and the stoneware allows for even baking and browning! Rub a whole chicken with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and paprika (for color). Then place in the dish on top of the peaches, tucking the wings in and tying the legs with kitchen twine. Then scatter the remaining peach mixture over the sides of the chicken.
Roast in a preheated 400 degree F oven until the chicken is cooked through and browned on the outside, about 1 hour 25 minutes to 1 hour and 35 minutes. Halfway through cooking, you’ll want to baste the chicken with the delicious juices from the bottom of the dish. This will ensure a perfectly moist (sorry) roast chicken.
As the chicken cooks, let’s turn our attention to the salad. This is a summer feast after all so lots of vegetables are in order. Grill some corn, zucchini, summer squash, red bell pepper, and red onion for a few minutes on both sides. Again, we’re trying to develop flavor and color by grilling the veggies on our stovetop grill pan.
**Tip: Feel free to use whatever vegetables look good to you at the grocery store or farmer’s market at the time. You don’t have to specifically use the veggies I did. Go crazy and switch it up accordingly to whatever is in season.**
Once the veggies have cooled, give them all a rough chop, cutting the corn off the cob, and then transfer them to a very large bowl. Mix in the cooked quinoa, mint, parsley, pistachios, feta, edamame, and dressing until well combined. Give it a taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve.
**Note: I made a simple dressing by throwing olive oil, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, mince garlic, salt, pepper, parmesan, oregano, basil, parsley, and crushed red pepper flakes in a mason jar. I sealed it tight and gave it a big shake. Then just poured it over the salad. It’s a great dressing to make for all of your salad needs.**
Once the chicken has cooked through, remove from it from the oven and allow it to rest for about 10 to 15 minutes before slicing and serving. This resting time is crucial whenever you cook any kind of meat because it allows the juices to settle in and not just seep out when you go to slice it.
The quinoa salad can be made up to a day in advance, if you want to prep it ahead of time. The longer it sits the better chance all the flavors will have to blend together and develop. Any leftovers, can be stored in an airtight container and kept in the fridge for up to 2 days. It’s a great salad to have on hand for later in the week. Make a big batch of it on Sunday and enjoy it for lunch several days! Your future self will thank you for it.
If you want to make the sangria without alcohol, I’ll be very sad…but I am understanding because I’m not a monster after all. Feel free to swap out the wine for ginger ale, the vodka for seltzer water (or sparkling water) and the orange liqueur for orange juice. You’ll have a virgin sangria that everyone can enjoy.
**Note: The sangria will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days before it becomes really syrupy because of the wine and honey. So that’s 3 days to really enjoy it, but something tells me it won’t last that long.**
What I really love about Le Creuset’s signature enameled cast-iron cookware and stoneware (in this teal color especially) is that it’s so nice to look at. The color is so vibrant that you can really utilize it as serving dishes as well, without having to worry about having something else to wash. You can cook the chicken in the casserole roaster and pile the salad on the grill and bring it out to the table just like that. It’s quite the show-stopper.
**Note: Now I know I’m serving the salad in the grill pan, but it’s so nice to look at, how could I not?! And I really hate doing dishes, so why dirty something else when I don’t have to?!**
Don’t forget to head on over to Instagram and follow my account so that you can see when my post goes up (later today) about the giveaway! I’ll share all the details on how to enter there and I don’t want you to miss it! Good luck, I’m rooting for you!
**Although this post is sponsored by Le Creuset and Williams Sonoma, all opinions and thoughts are my own. Thank you for your continued support of the occasional sponsored post on this site. They help keep the blog going, allowing me to continue to share my recipes with you on a weekly basis. I never want my sponsorships to feel forced, which is why I only partner with companies I feel very passionate about and actually use on a regular basis.**
- 4 medium peaches, pitted and sliced into thick wedges
- 3 medium shallots, sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs fresh oregano
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 (4 to 5 pound) whole chicken
- 1 ear of corn
- 1 large zucchini, sliced
- 1 large yellow squash, sliced
- 1 small red onion, sliced
- 1 small red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
- 1½ cups cooked quinoa
- ½ cup chopped pistachios
- ½ cup crumbled feta
- ¼ cup fresh chopped mint
- ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
- ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried parsley
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 small seedless watermelon, sliced into wedges
- 1 bottle dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc)
- 1 cup vodka
- ½ cup triple sec (orange liqueur)
- ¼ cup honey or agave syrup
- 1 medium lime, sliced
- 1 medium orange, sliced
- 1 pound fresh strawberries, stemmed and sliced
- ice for serving
- To make the chicken: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, toss together the peaches, shallots, garlic, balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon olive oil, thyme, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper until evenly combined. Pour half of it into a greased 4½ qt baking dish.
- Pat the chicken dry and rub the outside with 2 tablespoons olive oil, and season with 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper and paprika. Place the chicken into the baking dish on top of the peach mixture, tucking the wings in and tying the legs together with kitchen twine. Scatter the remaining peach mixture around the chicken. Roast until the chicken is golden brown and and internal temperature (between the thigh and leg) reached 160 degrees F with a thermometer, about 1 hour 20m to 1 hour and 35 minutes.
- To make the quinoa salad: Heat a stove top grill pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, brush with oil, and grill the corn and sliced vegetables in batches, just until both sides develop grill marks, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the veggies to a cutting board and give them a coarse chop. Cut the kernels of the cob and place all of the chopped vegetables into a very large bowl. Add the edamame, cooked quinoa, pistachios, feta, mint and parsley. To make the dressing, combine the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, garlic, parmesan, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, parsley, and chili flakes in a mason jar with a lid. Cover tightly and give it a shake until well combined. Pour over the salad, season liberally with salt and pepper and give it all a toss evenly incorporated. Cover with plastic and let chill until ready to serve. This can be made up to a day in advance and stored in the fridge for up to 2 days afterwards.
- To make the sangria: Heat a stovetop grill pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, brush with oil and grill the watermelon wedges in batches, until both sides develop grill marks, about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool completely. Cut off the rinds and give the watermelon a rough dice, adding it to a blender. Blend on high until completely smooth. Pour the watermelon juice into a large pitcher through a fine mesh sieve to remove any pulp. Stir in the white wine, vodka, triple sec, honey, lime slices, orange slices, and strawberries. Allow to chill for at least 4 hours before serving over ice.
- To serve, allow the chicken to rest for about 10 to 15 minutes before slicing and serve with the chilled salad and sangria. Enjoy!