Please help me plan a casual dinner menu for 4-6 women for HOT weather

I think your idea of cold salads sounds great. I have a cold sesame noodle salad that my family loves (and is best made a day ahead of time) if you’re interested. I’d serve a loaf of fresh bread and butter alongside the salads, or have small soft rolls if someone wants to eat their chicken/egg salad as a sandwich. I would also add a green salad.

Don’t stress about it! Everyone will love whatever you serve. Have fun!

I like the salad trio option too.

Corn and avocado salad is nice this time of year but I usually add tomatoes to mine. Maybe you could leave chopped tomatoes on the side?

I agree cold salads are a good way to go. I’d probably suggest doing just one mayo based salad and look at other salad options without mayo.

I personal love both cold sesame noodle salad and chicken salad so those ideas sound great to me.

Other things I make along this line are:
a couscous salad

a thai-ish chicken salad with pulled chicken on a bed of leaf lettuces mixed with mint, basil, cilantro and veggies like red peppers, cucumber tossed in a peanutty dressing

salad nicoise with fresh salmon cooked ahead of time instead of tuna with a lemony dressing

Cucumber salads are refreshing and I particularly like an asian influenced one with rice vinegar, cilantro, a little chilies for just a little kick.

I also make an orzo pasta salad with shrimp, dill, cuke, feta, a little red onion in a lemony dressing. I put grape tomatoes in it but you could set some aside before adding those.

I could suggest others but those are just some additional thoughts.

Roasted veggies are also nice done before and served room temperature.

I love pasta salads as well as egg/tuna/chicken salads. Ina Garten has a good pesto pea pasta salad that holds up to the heat very well.

If you decide to make Sangria (which I think is festive) you could go all out tapas style. I recently did a version of this for a deck party of six and it went it looked so much fancier than it was. I just got a big board and put sliced choizo and serrano ham, couple cheeses, fruit, veggies, nuts and had a basket of good bread and crackers. You can prepare in advance and no oven required.

I like the mini pastries from Whole Foods for dessert. They are pretty and you can get a variety to please everyone (leftovers aren’t a bad thing, either)

Love aperol spritzes and sangria. Mojitos are also a refreshing drink you could mix up in pitchers.

@momofsenior1 My riff on corn and avocado salad includes rice and black beans. Easy and people always love it.

I made this last night as a side dish and it was very pretty and tasty. I used pearl mozzarella and added a little finely diced shallots to the dressing.

Can someone please share their specific cold noodle sesame salad?

The cold sesame noodles I make are very similar to this. I add veggies though, julienned carrots, red peppers, and sliced green onions. Makes it more healthy and colorful. You can also add shrimp or chicken if you wish. It’s a really flexible recipe.

@doschicos - link to your corn/avocado/black bean/rice salad?? Pretty please?

This one sounds good:

I don’t really have a recipe but here is what I do:

Canned black beans (Goya is the best, IMO)

Cooked white rice (Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice holds up better IMO but you can use brown rice or regular long grain rice as well)

A couple ears of fresh corn, cooked and corn cut off the cob (I find the easiest way is to cook them in the microwave for 5-6 minutes in the husks. Let cool, cut an inch or so off the stem end, husk, and cut the kernels off.

Whatever your favorite salsa is

Lime juice

Chopped cilantro


Salt, cumin, cayenne

Rinse the black beans in a colander and shake out the excess water. Combine the black beans, cooked rice, and corn. Add salsa and lime juice to your liking. Salt, and a little cumin and cayenne can be added to taste or just left out depending on if you want more of a kick than just the flavor from the salsa. Chill until ready to serve. I dice the avocado and gently stir that in along with the cilantro before serving.

Just realized salsa has tomatoes in it of course but all the people I know who don’t like tomatoes readily eat things like salsa and pasta sauce and other tomato based foods. They just don’t like raw tomatoes.

@doschicos - yes, this is how my friend is. She isn’t THAT opposed to tomatoes. Eats salsa, pasta sauce, even sun-dried tomatoes. But, she’ll share her fresh tomatoes in her salad with me :slight_smile:

So, are these flavors going to be weird together? If I do the black bean salad, the sesame noodle salad, and some sort of mayo-based chicken salad? Are those flavors too different?

I personally like having a variety of flavors to experience so I’m probably not the best judge. That’s why I like tapas/small plates dining. People can take more or less depending on what appeals to them.

@Hoggirl, we did a pretty big family party for those that weren’t involved in the wedding rehearsal and post-rehearsal dinner a year ago and I had a Mexican theme. I made up dark meat (for moisture and flavor) and white meat chix ahead of time and fork shredded it together then added Mexican spices to it. Since you don’t have as many to serve, use one or two (depending on size) rotisserie chix from the store to make it easy. You could either keep the meat warm in a small crock pot or heat it up on the stove top right before serving and have a myriad of toppings already cut up ahead of time and ready to put out. Add chix stock as needed to keep the meat from drying out.

I also made quacamole and a rice side dish with scallions, pine nuts and a little lime zest/juice in it. They could either put the meat and fixings on top of tortilla chips or briefly heat up a small tortilla shell in the microwave as needed. I also put hard taco shells in the oven, but you wouldn’t need to do that, especially since it’ll be hot and you don’t want to use your oven.

Since tequila gives me a headache, I created my own version of a Tequila Sunrise using Absolut Vodka, Simply Juice Orange w/ Pineapple, Grenadine and a little dash of the maraschino cherry juice too, a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a cherry with orange and lime wedges for garnish. You could have the orange and lime wedges cut up ahead of time. I had a drink station where people had fun making their own beautiful sunrises. ?

Cook’s Illustrated’s sesame noodles recipe is very good. Here is the version with chicken:
And here is the version with sweet peppers and cucumbers:

Here’s mine (we’re all allergic to nuts and tree nuts, so this one is definitely “safe”):

6 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. fresh ginger, grated
2 T. sesame oil
6 T. vegetable oil
6 T. light rice vinegar
8 T. soy sauce
1 T. chili oil or hot oil
3 T. white sugar
1 lb. vermicelli, cooked
6 scallions

Saute first four ingredients for a minute or two (don’t burn the garlic!). Add next four ingredients and boil for a few seconds. Pour the sauce over the cooked vermicelli. Refrigerate overnight. Toss noodles and garnish with chopped scallions. Serve cold or at room temperature.

I love the idea of a few salads. I just made today something my family calls Italian Potato salad. Very simple - boil cut potatoes until soft, add a can of drained cut green beans, dress with salt, dry parsley, virgin olive oil, and red wine vinegar. It is always a big hit when I bring it places. Can be made ahead and served warm or room temperature.

If she will eat sun-dried tomatoes, you may want to try this:
It’s very forgiving and you can do it with rice instead of orzo if you want. I also use less oil because I found the original amount a bit too greasy. If you can grill, grill some chicken or shrimp and you have a meal.

I love to make salmon the day before and serve it cold the next day. Can go great with the cold salads you’re considering.

when I make a corn salad, I like to use grilled corn, but I do’t cook it… Trader Joe’s carries frozen grilled corn. I always have a bag in my freezer. I add a can of diced green chiles, diced red pepper, diced red onion, lime juice, rice wine vinegar. I don’t care for cilantro, so I use flat leaf parsley.