As the official start of summer approaches, we’re already looking forward to all the backyard barbecues and parkside picnics that fill the season—and there’s no better way to ease into warm-weather entertaining than having a little Memorial Day get-together. Even if the May holiday is technically a spring celebration, it’s a great way to open your doors—and your dinner menu—to summer.
As always, Ina Garten has volunteered her holiday menu as inspiration, and we can’t wait to incorporate some of her suggested recipes into our own cookout. “In honor of Memorial Day, I’m doing a week of classic American dishes, starting with my take on an old-fashioned “wedge salad” – Crunchy Iceberg Salad with Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing,” Garten shared on Instagram. “It’s SO good that you’ll want to make it all the time!”
Ina’s riff on a wedge is actually more of a disk. She suggests cutting your crisp iceberg lettuce into 3/4-inch thick slices rather than the classic wedge shape. The disk swap works as a plate, cradling crunchy pieces of celery, radish, scallions, blue cheese crumbles and creamy Roquefort dressing. Fans flocked to the comments to rave about the refreshing flavor and crisp texture of the scrumptious salad. There’s even a bonus point for folks who love a themed menu—this salad is literally red, white and blue.
Ina’s menu also includes a side of Crusty Baked Potatoes with Whipped Feta, which levels up a standard side with a tangy, cheesy topping and special rub on the skin. Once the potatoes have been vigorously washed and dried, Ina rolls her potatoes in olive oil and a food-processed mixture of fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, lemon zest and salt. The result is a crispy, flavorful potato skin with tender, fluffy tater flesh in the middle. She tops the split potatoes with a dollop of whipped feta and a sprinkling of chopped fresh chives.
The main event on Ina’s menu is her Grilled New York Strip Steaks, which she seasons with a coffee-chipotle rub that has our mouths watering. In her post about the steaks, Ina says she was never totally comfortable grilling steaks until she got some advice from an expert pal of hers. Now, to ensure the best possible steak, she opts for a thick cut—about 1 1/2 inches—and sets her charcoal grill up so that one side is piping hot and the other side is unheated, with no coals warming the grate. Ina sears the steaks on the hot side of the grill, letting them cook for 2 minutes on each side. Then she moves the steaks to the cool side, drops the lid on her grill, and lets the steaks cook for an additional 8 minutes.
The result, Ina says, is a perfectly cooked rare steak with a red, juicy middle. If you prefer a medium steak, she suggests bumping up the covered cook time to 10 minutes. Ina transfers the steaks to a cutting board and slices them against the grain, making this recipe delicious on its own or as a part of a flavorful summer salad, like our Grilled Steak Salad with Corn, Cucumbers & Sweet Onion Dressing.
The final act of Ina’s Memorial Day soirée is a Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp, yet another of Ina’s easy, classic rhubarb sweets. The combination of tart rhubarb, juicy strawberries and aromatic orange make this dessert deliciously fresh, and the oatmeal crumble on top brings in an extra buttery sweetness that will win over any guest. Dish up a warm piece with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to end your meal on a high note. No matter what else is on your weekend menu, opting for simple, shareable dishes like these from Ina will keep the stress level to a minimum. Pair it all with a batch cocktail—like Ina’s Aperol Spritzer, another addition to her Memorial Day docket—to make your holiday weekend a fun, restful one spent with friends and family.