Solstices mark the changing of the seasons. We welcome winter solstice because it promises the end of midwinter's short days as dark gives way to light. And, somewhat paradoxically, the summer solstice celebrates brightness and light — the sun at its zenith — while also signaling the end of lengthening days. Every culture has its own ritual to mark this mystical moment. Gather with a few friends on June 21 to enjoy these recipes (all can be served chilled or at room temperature) in honor of the season of light.
Minted Green Pea and Buttermilk Soup
Serves 8 / Serving tip: Serve this first course with a lush salad of baby greens, dressed with olive oil and champagne vinegar; top with toasted pecans.
Quinoa with Early Summer Herbs
Serves 8 / I think people often don't use enough herbs with their grains. In the quantity here, herbs work like another vegetable, both for taste and nutrients. Ingredient tip: Tangy sorrel is a wonderful summer herb, with good-sized leaves similar to spinach. If you can't find it, substitute the zest of one lemon, stirred in at the end.
Makes 30 / Pass these slender, dairy-free bars with the granita (page 38). Any remaining biscotti will keep several weeks in an airtight container. Prep tip: To make these wheat free, substitute a mixture of half brown-rice flour and half spelt flour.
Crisp Chèvre Sandwiches
Serves 8 / Offer as an appetizer to complement the refreshing spritzer. Ingredient tip: Thin-skinned English cucumbers tend to have a less bitter skin than regular cukes; you'll find them wrapped in plastic in the produce section. If they're unavailable, you may substitute three small, very fresh zucchini.
Rhubarb Lemonade Spritzer
Makes 2 quarts / Serving tip: Beautiful served in tall tumblers or champagne flutes with a long, thin peel of lemon zest swirling around. Use a barkeep's zesting tool to carve a curling slice of peel.
Serves 8 / This dessert is a brilliant bowl of color with a pure, intense flavor. Ingredient tip: You may use frozen, thawed strawberries if necessary, but you might need to add more sugar.
Solstice party decorations
- Use culinary herbs in vases to decorate the table and other welcoming areas. Choose simple parsley and basil or perfumed exotics like scented geranium or refreshing lemon verbena.
- Artfully arrange flowers or tree twigs (preferably in bloom) around the party site.
- Turn off all electric lights, if possible, and let candles, torches, and the sunset provide illumination. Citron candles impart a natural, smoky element that discourages insects.
Chef Donna Prizgintas coordinates culinary events for environmental organizations, including The Land Institute and the Organic Farming Research Foundation.