Endless Summer $50 Dinner Party

We want summer to last forever when entertaining means a dinner that is fast to prepare and doesn’t break the bank. We rolled up tofu-vegetable summer rolls, a vibrant, fresh (and mostly pink!) Ginger-Scallion sausage salad and finished up with gorgeous roasted five-spice peaches. The total price tag: $50. Recipes below.


Tofu-Veg Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce

Feel free to add whatever you like--or have on hand--to these healthy summer rolls. Cucumbers, radishes, cilantro are also terrific in them. The trick to easy rolling is not to let the wrapper get too soft. A little stiffness, but not so much that it cracks, helps the rolls hold their  shape.

Makes 12

For the summer rolls:

2 ounces cellophane noodles

2 cups finely shredded Napa cabbage

2 carrots, cut into thin matchsticks or shredded

5 scallions, chopped

⅓ cup coarsely chopped mint leaves

¼ cup coarsely chopped basil leaves

4 ounces baked tofu, cut into ¼-inch cubes

¼ cup Nuoc Cham Dressing (see recipe below)

12 large round Vietnamese rice papers

For the peanut sauce:

½ cup natural peanut butter

¼ cup fresh lime juice

¼ cup water, or as needed

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce, Sriracha or other hot sauce, or to taste

Soak the noodles in hot water to cover until soft and pliable, 20–30 minutes. Drain well, then cut into 2-inch lengths. Combine the noodles, cabbage, carrots, scallions, herbs, tofu and dressing in a large bowl and toss gently.

While the noodles are soaking, make the peanut sauce: whisk together the peanut butter, lime juice, water, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil and chili-garlic sauce until smooth and creamy, adding more water as needed to thin out the mixture.

Fill a shallow bowl or pie plate with warm water. Spread a clean kitchen towel on your work surface. Working with one paper at a time, slip it into the water and let soak until soft and pliable, about 10 seconds, then remove it and lay it on the towel. At one end, about an inch from the edge, make a long mound with the noodle filling, about 2 inches wide. Roll the wrapper over once, tucking it in as best you can, then fold in the sides and roll snugly to the end. Continue with the remaining wrappers, tofu and noodle mixture. If not serving right away, cover the rolls with a barely damp towel and refrigerate. Serve with the peanut sauce for dipping.

Grilled Ginger-Scallion Sausages with Watermelon and Tomato Salad


Using meat as a condiment is a trend. And we’ve nailed it with this terrific summer salad that mixes our juicy Ginger-Scallion sausage with watermelon, tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon radishes and spicy watercress in a bright South Asian vinaigrette.

Serves 6

½ small red onion, thinly sliced

4 small Persian cucumbers (or 1 large cucumber), thinly sliced

3 small ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges

4 cups roughly chopped watermelon

1 watermelon radish, thinly sliced

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup Nuoc Cham Dressing (see recipe below)

2 (12-ounce) packages The New Food Collective Ginger-Scallion Pork Sausages

4 cups watercress

Combine the onion, cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon and radish in a large shallow bowl. Toss with the salt, then add the dressing and toss gently to combine. Let sit as you grill the sausages.

Grill the sausages over medium high heat, moving off the flame if it flares up, until browned on all sides and cooked through. Then transfer to a cutting board and cut into pieces.

Taste the salad and adjust the seasonings. Sprinkle the watercress over top and gently toss to combine. Serve at once.

Nuoc Cham Dressing

Makes about 1 cup

Juice of 2 limes

½ cup fish sauce

¼ cup water

1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar

2½ tablespoons sugar

1 small garlic clove, finely grated

1 small fresh green chile, such as bird’s eye, Serrano or jalapeño, thinly sliced

Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake until well combined.


Roasted Five-Spice Peaches and Blackberries

Full disclosure: this is based on one of our favorite recipes from Alice Waters. It’s the perfect light summer dessert on its own, though a little ice cream or whipped cream won’t hurt it. Even better, it’s superb leftover--we eat it for breakfast with yogurt.

Serves 6

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon five-spice powder

6 ripe peaches, halved and pitted

1 cup blackberries

½ cup dessert wine, white wine or rosé

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Stir together the sugar and five-spice powder in a small bowl.

Halve the peaches and remove the pits. Arrange the peaches in a shallow gratin dish, cut-side up, in a snug single layer. Sprinkle the five-spice sugar over the peaches. Scatter the blackberries over the peaches and drizzle with the wine. Bake the peaches for 20 to 30 minutes, until juicy and tender. Serve warm with their juices.