Grill-Smoked Herb-Rubbed Flat-Iron Steaks: Most people can't resist sizzling grilled steak. This recipe delivers big flavor fast, so you're not chained to the grill. Grilling wedges of lemon seems to both heighten and mellow their flavor, providing a lovely contrast to the rich, savory slices of slightly smoky steak, which has been rubbed with herbs. This is beautiful and delicious, and just between you and me, it looks like you worked way harder than you did.
For guests who don't eat red meat, and just because I love any excuse to eat seafood—and because nobody ever quite gets enough scallops in life, let's be honest—I'd also throw on a lot of sweet, succulent Charcoal-Grilled Scallops. This recipe has to be one of the all-time biggest payoffs for the least amount of work. So good.
Garden-Fresh Corn is a quick make-ahead dish served at room temperature and, with its zucchini and fresh corn, pretty much screams "summer."
Farro Salad with Asparagus, Sugar Snap Peas, and Tomatoes is hearty but not heavy and (do you sense a theme here?) is easy and fast to put together ahead of time. I'm a big fan of farro, which cooks in about 15 minutes.
Dessert is light and summery, too. Honeydew, Mango, and Raspberries with Lime and Ginger is a fruit salad that uses a cocktail technique, muddling fresh lime juice and sugar to make a lovely light syrup that marries and enhances all of its flavors. Last time I brought this to a brunch, the kids of the family tried it and then stole the bowl and ate it all. Luckily the rest of us got some first.
For a little rich, buttery contrast, this simple, classic shortbread goes a long way toward making people happy. And that's what it's all about.
Cocktail/Beverage: Good wine, mojitos, and pitchers of fresh homemade lemonade.