Ring in summer with a build-your-own kabob bar!
It's Memorial Day Weekend. The pools are open, the fireflies are out and you're likely going to be grilling.
Writer Nora Ephron (When Harry Met Sally) was a reknown hostess and I'd cling to her advice about entertaining. Simple but effective, one tip was to have a fourth item at a dinner party. People often trot out the three-dish dinner: a protein, a carb and a vegetable. Ephron stessed the importance of a fourth item to make things feel more decadent, no matter how simple. It could be a bowl of cherries that gives your meal that little something extra.
What's the big idea?
The magic of a meal like this is that it involves minimal pre-party prep (if you are inclined to do this on a party scale - I always cook for plenty of leftovers at the very least). Aside from prepping the meat and veggies, you'd only need to whip up a side of rice! I mean, and dessert. Obviously.
Your bar will feature a rainbow-like display of vegetables. The meats shouuld be separated a bit from the veggies with their own sets of tongs, to avoid cross-contamination. Woe betide the stray party guest that pops a tomato slice into their mouth, not knowing that they were grazed by meat tongs.
Remember too that presentation matters. Since the food is all separated by bowls and plates, bring out the good stuff. They will be less likely to break since they're stationary on the table. Or, go with a cheerful, color-infused palate. Whatever you do, make it great.
Let's get basted
Have a basting brush at the end of the table, dipped into a jar of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Guests can brush their creations before handing their skewers to the grillmaster. If a vegetarian is invited over, have a separate jar for them. And if you really want to have fun, you can display some spices and make thematic suggestions for your guests on a little chalkboard. I'm a sucker for a theme.
Fun kabob themes
The Italian Job: Italian sausage, green peppers, tomatoes, onions and zucchini, with Italian seasoning
The All-American: Steak, tomatoes, potatoes (pre-cooked) and onions, with BBQ sauce
The Chesapeake: Shrimp, onions, yellow squash and tomatoes with Old Bay seasoning
You can use these as a jumping off point. Have fun with it - play with your food. And happy Memorial Day!