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Peaches, tomatoes and potatoes: In-season recipes to feed a crowd

Photo Credit: Lauren Booker

Southern Kitchen's peach caprese salad


Peaches, tomatoes and potatoes: In-season recipes to feed a crowd

Hot weather, cold drinks, close friends and family combine to make the perfect outdoor party. Whether you’re hosting or attending the event, we’ve got you covered with three versatile recipes.

When planning to make a dish for an outdoor function, always remember that keeping things simple and casual is key. You’ll likely be serving on disposable or non-breakable plates, so anything too fancy or involved may get lost in translation. We prefer dishes that can be enjoyed standing with a cold beverage or seated with your toes dipped in the pool. And we're sure you and your fellow party people will agree once these dishes are served.

Peach Caprese Skewers
When planning a pool party or similar outdoor event, your guests will likely appreciate bites that require a minimal use of utensils and their hands. With that in mind, our thoughts immediately went to skewers. Who doesn’t enjoy foods on sticks? Now imagine if the ends of said sticks wielded the flavors of a caprese salad. Traditionally, a caprese salad features a combination of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil; but we’ve given the dish a Southern makeover by substituting peaches for the tomatoes. We opted for only one layer of each — with the hope that you can get all the flavors in one bite — but you can choose longer skewers and add more layers, almost like a kabob.
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Picnic Potato Salad
Whether you’re hosting a BBQ, cookout on the grill or a pool party, potato salad always seems to have a place. While I personally don’t have one set recipe that I make consistently, I do adhere to a few self-imposed guidelines. First, I almost exclusively use red or new potatoes. Their low starch content means that they hold their shape if you prefer more of a chunky potato salad, and they lack that gritty texture sometimes imparted by russet potatoes. Next, some type of mustard (usually Creole) and fresh herbs are always present. Scallions, parsley, dill and tarragon are perennial favorites. Finally, tossing the potatoes in the dressing while still warm will allow them to absorb the mayonnaise mixture and take on all of the flavor, rather than just holding it all on the outside.
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Green Tomato Piccalilli
If you’ve ever tried to take an outdoor party on the road, such as the lake, the beach or even a camping trip, you know that difficulties can ensue when trying to pack up homemade dishes for transport. Sometimes circumstances necessitate that simple foods like burgers and hot dogs or sausages comprise the menu. Creative condiments can not only jazz up the ordinary, but can also save you the expense of buying condiments and potentially having to throw them away. Made from green tomatoes, this piccalilli recipe evokes flavors of mustard, ketchup and relish all in the same dish. Salting the green tomatoes beforehand will draw out some of their natural water content, resulting in a thicker, more appealing final product. Serve this with any grilled pork (especially sausage) or on a burger.
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Chef Jeffrey Gardner is a native of Natchez, Miss., and a graduate of Millsaps College and Johnson & Wales University. He lives in Atlanta and has served as sous chef for popular restaurants South City Kitchen Midtown and Alma Cocina. In 2013 he became executive chef for East Cobb restaurant Common Quarter and was named one of ten “Next Generation of Chefs to Watch” by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. He has appeared on TV shows including Food Network’s Chopped and Cooking Channel’s How to Live to 100, and also filmed a series of healthy cooking videos with retired pro wrestler and fitness guru Diamond Dallas Page. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling the world with his wife Wendy, watching game shows and “spending all his money on Bruce Springsteen concerts.”