Summer is perhaps the most difficult time to be working indoors, especially in northern climes where the warm weather seems so fleeting. That’s why a thoughtful summer employee appreciation party is a great “thank you” for your hard-working employees not playing hooky on all those beautiful summer days.
By all means, publicly share your appreciation for your employees hard work and contributions. Consider conferring fun awards for special efforts and make sure management is there having a good time with everyone; it’s the perfect time to connect and get to know employees. A summer event is a wonderful venue to include employee families in on the fun too.
Here are 5 terrific recipes that can be scaled for larger or smaller parties. There’s nothing wrong with catering the whole thing if you have the budget for it. If not, try these fun summer dishes that have broad appeal. Bon Appetit!
Outrageously Good Marinated Grilled Chicken
Chicken is a crowd-pleaser — the health conscious can have their white meat and the foodies can have the juicy thighs and legs. Even people who have sworn off red meat will usually have a wing or two.
This is one of our favorite recipes for grilled chicken, which among some friends has taken on the nickname “unicorn tears” chicken (after one commenter who called it “a religious experience … you will swear this marinade was made with fairy dust and unicorn tears”).
In fact, it’s an Epicurious recipe from Shelley Wiseman, made with fresh lime juice, soy sauce, paprika, cumin, oregano and garlic. The recipe calls for a whole chicken. Marinate overnight, and then set up a grill outside, cook in batches and serve in disposable metal pans. Cooking time is 10-20 minutes (use Martha Stewart’s guide).
Sautéed Fresh Corn and Edamame
Keep side dishes simple (and adaptable to local produce) with recipes like this sautéed corn and edamame dish from Martha Stewart that’s a significant upgrade from sad, reheated green beans.
What’s great about this succotash is that it’s endlessly adaptable. You could add grain, like quinoa (New York Times); for a Southwestern twist, you could add black beans and a cilantro-lime dressing (Tastefully Julie); if you want more veggies, you could add red bell pepper and red onion (Epicurious). It’s excellent at room temperature, which makes it easy for a work party, and it can be scaled up at low-cost.
Refreshing Watermelon Salad
Even adults go a little crazy for watermelon in summer, with its sweet, refreshing flavor. There are endless variations on the Israeli watermelon-feta-herbs combination, adapted by dozens of chefs from Nigella Lawson to the Food Network’s Gina and Pat Neely.
We make this salad all summer long, accented with mint and parsley and spiked with lime juice-steeped red onions and good olive oil. Every loves it and it travels well (a plus for employee gatherings, when the food needs to be ready in advance).
Simple Summer Zucchini Pasta
This simple, delicious summer pasta from The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper provides both a fantastic vegetarian main dish option and is inexpensive given the abundance of zucchini this time of year.
The Finish! Sour Cherry Slab Pie (or Sour Cherry Pound Cake)
If you’ve gone to the trouble of providing these dishes for your office, you might want to skip out on making dessert and buy a monster ice cream cake or similar.
If, on the other hand, you’re calling out for pizza and salads and haven’t done any other cooking, may we suggest a dessert with sour cherries? Even with a little extra sugar and ice cream (of course), sour cherry desserts are just sophisticated and elegant enough to make your work party feel like a truly special occasion.
Deb Perelman’s sour cherry slab pie from Smitten Kitchen is ideal for a big group.
I’m also enamored of this sour cherry/mascarpone pound cake from NPR, about which Domenica Marchetti says, “the crumb is creamy and dense and dotted with bright red cherry halves, and the exterior of the cake bakes to a beautiful, slightly crisp golden-brown.” Of course, you can substitute any stone fruit or berries you find in the freezer. The office is bound to love it!
We hope these recipes have inspired you to take advantage of enjoying the end of summer and celebrating with a well deserved employee appreciation party!
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