Hosting a plant-based summer dinner party has never been more joyful or easier thanks to seasonal vegetables and long luxurious nights. We've assembled three simple dishes that are vegan, allergy-friendly and delicious, that your non-plant-based friends will also love. Here are tips to make a stress-free dinner party come together, to host an unforgettable night with minimal effort.

This night is all about details: Make a big difference in the table lighting when the sun goes down by investing in festive overhead string lights, and keep guests comfortable by draping blankets on the back of their chairs. Here's what's on the menu and your easy decorating tips to create a special summer night.

How to set the table for a dinner party

How to Set the Dinner Table for Your Summer Party

Whether you're aiming for Restoration Hardware sophistication or a cozy backyard picnic aesthetic. Here's what you'll need.

Gather your best cutlery and dishes ahead of time, to dust or polish off any spots. Set a small fork for the salad and a larger fork for the pasta on the left of the plate, a knife, and a spoon for dessert on the right side of each setting. Stack your favorite plates and bowls for presentation and place the napkin inside the bowl or to the left depending on preference. This layered approach lets guests know you've prepared several courses.

Place wine glasses to the left and water glasses to the right of them. Find your best glasses that you rarely use except for special occasions, like this one. Display one bottle of red and one of white on the table for guests to choose which they prefer, and greet guests with a glass of rosé or signature cocktail from a pitcher. Remember to fill a pitcher of ice water for the table and add a sprig of fresh mint or put the herb in a small dish to the side, for anyone who wants to infuse their water. Options are everything.

Overhead lights for dinner party

Decorate the table with flowers, candles, and other summery details

Use a tablecloth or a simple runner in white or light color so you don't take away from the vibrant food. Add candles up and down the table so that as the sun sets the glow takes over.  Use un-scented ones around food because the smell can be too extreme and take away from the meal. For plants add those that are planted and let each guest take a pot home, or cut some from your garden and put in small vases to be party favors if you feel like it.

Set up your string lights just overhead so diners can see their meals and each other. If your party is outdoors, you'll want to invest in two (or four) poles to hang the lights over the table. If your table is indoors, string up your lighting and from wall to wall and dim the overhead lights to give your party a restaurant feel. When the table is set, add the blankets, set up your lights, and get cooking.

Last but not least, blankets are a nice add-on, if your dinner party is outdoors. When the hot summer sun goes down, it's fun to wrap a blanket around your shoulders. Place blankets on the back of the chairs to not only cozy up the furniture but so guests know they're there when needed and don't have to leave the table to ask for one.

Now that your table is set, dinner is ready to be served!

Create a Menu that Caters to Different Allergies and Dietary Restrictions

There might be some external pressures about cooking for guests, especially if they have allergies or dietary restrictions. No worries: You have it under control with these easy-to-make, plant-based recipes that taste and look they like took hours to cook.

For your dinner party, Britt Berlin has created this menu of vegan, allergy-friendly dishes with gluten-free ingredients made with seasonal fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Britt knows how to make meals anyone can make with little equipment and few instructions.

Your Plant-Based Dinner Party Menu

Your first recipe or appetizer is a Mediterranean-inspired Peach Balsamic Salad made with fresh produce from your local farm stand, market, or backyard garden.

The entrée is a White Bean Zucchini Pesto Pasta with a gluten-free option. This pasta salad can be served warm or cool, so you can make it in advance and join the guests.

Dessert, which is Britt's specialty, is a Vegan Strawberry Oat Shortcake Trifle that takes less than 15 minutes to prep but looks much more elaborate.

Mediterranean-Inspired Peach Balsamic Salad

Appetizer: Mediterranean-inspired Peach Balsamic Salad

A citrusy green salad is a great starter to satisfy the healthiest guests in a festive way.

At the height of summer, we crave hydrating, refreshing foods like this Mediterranean-inspired peach balsamic salad made with fresh and crunchy mixed greens, cucumber, sun-dried tomatoes, chickpeas, and a choice of vegan parmesan or feta for a rich umami flavor. It's peach season but buy yours a few days in advance to let them ripen to perfection.

Depending on how many guests you're serving, alter the recipe as needed and serve this salad in a large bowl with two tongs for best presentation. Lightly dress the salad and save some dressing on the side for guests who want more.


Plant-Based Entrée: White Bean Zucchini Pesto Pasta

Pasta is a joy all year round, but in the summer it takes on a healthy twist since it's filled with in-season vegetables, turning everyone's favorite meal into a nutritious indulgence. When you host your dinner party, serve this White Bean Zucchini Pesto Pasta warm or at room temperature since everyone may want seconds.

This pasta recipe is the star of the show with its bright seasonal flavors, bringing joy and nostalgic memories of sunshine and outdoor family get-togethers. Before you make this recipe, shop for ingredients from your local market, farm stand, or outdoor garden where you'll find locally grown basil and zucchini, which make a big difference in quality taste. If you get inspired to add other vegetables, go ahead and do so. The more tastes the better.

Summer Party Recipe: Vegan Strawberry Oat Shortcake Trifle

Dessert: Vegan Strawberry Oat Shortcake Trifle

A dinner party isn't complete without a memorable dessert and a special presentation, which is why Britt created an easy-to-make vegan strawberry oat shortcake trifle.

This shortcake recipe is healthier than conventional ones because it does not contain eggs or dairy and only uses plant-based ingredients and natural baking alternatives like apple cider vinegar, apple sauce, vegan butter, coconut whipped "cream" along with rolled oats, coconut sugar, and no animal products.

The shortcake is so simple to make any kids in the household can partake. All you will need is 15 minutes to prep the batter, assemble the layers, and 27 minutes to wait for the cake to bake. Your dinner party is done, and hopefully, you pulled it off feeling more like a guest than a host!

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