THE DINNER PARTY: An August Farmstand Menu

Markets overflowing with ripe August produce turn dinnertime into a celebration of summer's bounty. Simply-prepared, seasonal vegetables are the focus of this meal-start with refreshing watermelon cocktails and a squash tart that can be made with whatever looks good at the market. Cups of sweet corn chowder make a fantastic first course, and simple, honey and balsamic glazed pork chops paired with ripe roasted tomatoes, fingerling potatoes, and summer succotash is a satisfying main. To end the evening, there's little to rival the pleasure of a warm blueberry tart, with no frills except perhaps a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

The Menu

Maxime Iattoni More About This Menu

1. This menu can easily be fit around what's available at your local market or what you have on hand from your own garden. See our meat-free grilling guide for more vegetable-focused summer meal ideas.

2. Blueberries at their peak don't need much fussing with-we love the open-topped tart above, but there are plenty of other options for rustic, simple desserts featuring this summery fruit, from slumps to cobblers to crisps.

3. If you still have watermelon left over after the cocktails and salad are made, you'll appreciate all the ideas for using it in Wonders of Watermelon.

Though we love the summery corn chowder in this menu, sometimes it's just plain too hot out for traditional soup-fortunately, we've got a collection of cold soup recipes to cool you off, from gazpacho to chilled cucumber.

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RECIPE: Seasonal Squash Tart
We love to serve this light and tasty tart as finger food alongside an aperitif. By using seasonal squash, the tart can be made year round. MAKES 1 TART

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed and rolled out slightly to loosen the dough
1 yellow squash, sliced into ¼" rounds
1 zucchini, sliced into ¼" rounds
½ butternut squash, cut into large cubes
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp. olive oil plus extra
¼ cup heavy cream
½ tsp. lemon zest
3 tbsp. goat cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

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1. Preheat an oven to 350°. Place the rolled out puff pastry sheet on a sheet tray lined with parchment. Using a fork, create a border around the edges, poking holes throughout the middle of the dough to prevent it from rising. Place another sheet of parchment over top and place beans or a pie weight over the surface. Place in the oven and bake; allowing the edges to rise slightly, about 20 minutes. Remove and let cool.

2. On a separate foil-lined tray, arrange the butternut squash and garlic cloves in a single layer. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in a 400° oven for 30 minutes. When cool, place into a food processor with the heavy cream, lemon zest, and half of the goat cheese; process until smooth.

3. On the cooled pastry, spread a coating of the squash mixture in the center. Arrange the squash and zucchini slices overtop, allowing each one to slightly overlap. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil and the remaining goat cheese, crumbled, over top. Place in a 375° oven for 30 minutes and bake until the squash starts to slightly brown, about 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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RECIPE: Glazed Pork Chops
Honey and balsamic vinegar create a sweet and sour effect in this recipe simple, Roman-style recipe. SERVES 4

4 (10-oz.) bone-in pork chops, frenched
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. honey
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 sprig fresh rosemary, torn into 1" pieces

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1. Put pork chops on a plate; drizzle with oil; season generously with salt and pepper; let sit for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium-high heat. Combine vinegar and honey in a 1-qt. saucepan and cook over medium heat until reduced to ¼ cup. Stir in butter and rosemary and set aside.

3. Put pork chops on grill and cook, occasionally turning and basting with balsamic mixture, until browned and cooked through, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a platter and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

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RECIPE: Wild Blueberry Tart
This elegant open-topped pie is summer at its best. Tiny, sweet wild blueberries are also available from Canada and possibly from Michigan; at your grocery store, you can find Wyman's frozen berries. SERVES ABOUT 8

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
¼ cup finely chopped blanched almonds or walnuts
1 ¾ sticks of butter
½ cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Pinch of ground cinnamon
1 ¼ cups flour
3 ½ to 4 cups Maine wild blueberries
Grated zest of 1 small lemon
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Optional: ¼ cup red currant jelly or strained strawberry or raspberry jam

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1. Buzz the rolled oats in a food processor, adding in the chopped nuts, a little at a time, until the mixture is coarse.

2. Blend together the butter and ½ cup of sugar and beat with a hand mixer until it is very fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, salt and cinnamon. Add the flour and the oat-nut mixture and mix together well, using your hands. Shape into a flat disk, then press the disk into the bottom and sides of a 10 ½ inch fluted tart pan, making a layer all around about ⅛ inch thick. Trim the top level with the top of the tart pan and use the extra bits to patch any holes in the dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator or freezer for at least 30 minutes, until very cold. (If you must leave it for more than an hour or so, make sure the plastic wrap is sealed around it to prevent the dough from drying out.)

3. When ready to cook, set the oven on 400° F. Once the oven is hot, set the pan in it and bake 12 to 15 minutes or until the crust is lightly golden, weighing it down with pie beans if necessary.

4. While the crust is browning, combine in a bowl the blueberries, lemon zest, cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of the remaining sugar. Toss the berries vigorously with a fork, just enough to bruise some of them lightly.

5. When the crust is done, remove the pan from the oven and, using a dish towel to protect your knuckles, gently press the dough crust, which will have risen a bit, back into shape. Turn the contents of the bowl of berries into the pie crust. If the top edge of the crust is already brown, set a protective ring on it (or cover the edge with aluminum foil) to keep it from getting too dark. Transfer the tart pan to the oven and bake for about 25 minutes.

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