Memorial Day Party Menu Ideas

Though summer doesn’t actually begin until June 21, Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of or the season — and a mighty fine reason to throw a party.

Whether you’re the type to go all-out when entertaining or prefer to keep things simple, kick off summer with a spread that leaves guest satiated and impressed. Easier said than done? Not if you put a twist on tradition. And you don’t have to be a great chef or grill master to pull it off. You just have to give your menu a makeover.

Think about what you’d typically serve at an outdoor bash. Then get creative by dreaming up alternative versions to your summertime classics.

Better Burgers
Instead of full-size hamburgers, opt for an array of sliders — meat or fish sandwiched between mini buns. They cook fast, offer more variety, and they’re right-sized for kids. Plus guest can create a sampler platter and enjoy more variety! Ground buffalo, grass-fed beef and pork tenderloin sliders will satisfy carnivores. Wild-caught salmon or salmon patties entice seafood lovers. And grilled portabellas, peppers, eggplant and zucchini please your vegetarian friends (add goat cheese and you’ve got a delectable combination any foodie would love). Don’t forget dipping sauces or condiments to complement each selection.

Who Let the Dogs Out?
Hotdogs are heavenly when given a global redux. Think of your favorite cuisine and reinterpret it for the bun. Love Indian food? Top your hotdog with dhal (instead of chili) and raita. Savor the flavors of the southwest and pile on the Cotija cheese, roasted poblanos and avocado slices. Or go Italian and construct a Caprese dog with buffalo mozzarella, diced roma tomatoes and basil. You get the idea.

Head to the Bar
Virtually anything is good as a taco. So take those meats you plan on grilling and slice ’em up for a serve-yourself taco and tostada bar. Keep the ingredients fresh and light. Shrimp, scallops, mahi or any white fish are fantastic on a soft corn tortilla. Tri-tip and sirloin slice nicely and also make great toppings for a big salad you could provide.

Hungry yet? Just remember to offer a variety of simple side dishes, a fresh fruit salad and a specialty drink to complement your cuisine. Pitchers of sangria, mojitos, margaritas or infused iced teas will tie everything together.