Light & Easy

By Meda Kessler

We love to cook, but sometimes it’s more convenient to pull together a summer feast with prepared dishes from local grocers and takeout from our favorite restaurants. We like to dress them up with our own serving pieces, flowers and other niceties. If it’s an outdoor event, consider using eco-friendly bamboo or palm leaf plates along with shatter-resistant melamine for serving. Here are a few options to savor, from seafood to Mediterranean.

Seafood Sampler

A buffet of crabcakes with remoulade, shrimp and crab salad, and kale salad studded with pepitas and cranberries makes an appealing spread for any occasion. Turn the seafood salad into a more substantial dish by mixing in cooked rice.

Food Crabcakes and salads, Central Market; mini baguettes, Eatzi’s

Tableware Linens, woven napkin ring, melamine plates, World Market; palm leaf plates, Whole Foods Market

Picnic Perfect

Central Market’s family-style picnic boxes for this season’s Concerts in the Garden include a fried chicken dinner that has yard bird marinated in sweet tea and buttermilk before frying, jalapeno-pecan smoked sausage, macaroni salad, coleslaw, watermelon-feta salad and brioche rolls with butter. You also get napkins and tableware. The spread, $99, serves four to six and is delivered to the Fort Worth Botanic Garden concert site for pickup. Drinks and desserts are extra; other options are available. Find a link to the complete menu and more info on the website, or call 817-377-9307.

The Asian Accent

Make your own version of a pupu platter — typically finger foods such as egg rolls, spareribs, chicken wings, etc. — using your own favorites. We bought frozen gyoza, although you can find them precooked, because we like to stir-fry them with a bit of soy sauce and rice wine vinegar (eliminates the need for a dipping sauce). We added cold noodles topped with sesame seeds and sliced rice paper-wrapped salmon rolls with a spicy-sweet dipping sauce.

Food Frozen gyoza are available at all major grocers; cold noodles and salmon rolls, Eatzi’s

Beyond the Cheeseboard

Our Mediterranean/Italian spread includes a platter of stuffed grape leaves and pasta salad with sun-dried tomatoes; marinated mozzarella with sun-dried tomatoes and basil and baguette slices; hearty meatballs; and tortellini with pesto, peas and prosciutto.

Food Stuffed grape leaves and tortellini, Whole Foods Market; sun-dried tomato pasta salad, marinated mozzarella and meatballs, Eatzi’s