Flavor-master Evelyn Paul shares the vitals for a colorful Memorial Day gathering.
Private chef Evelyn Paul’s passion for bright décor and colorful food stems from her childhood in St. Lucia and watching her mother cook beautiful, healthful vegetarian fare. Evelyn, who now cooks for a distinguished clientele of Atlanta’s A-list celebs and families, invents creative and fresh dishes that are packed with flavor. The ultimate entertainer, she is always throwing a chic party, creating both menu and atmosphere with everything from floral arrangements to tabletop décor. Here, she’s whipped up the recipe to an uncomplicated yet sophisticated Memorial Day barbecue bash that you can pull off with ease. evelynpaul.com
Add some color
Memorial Day always feels like the kickoff for summer—a great time to incorporate colorful food themes and show your American spirit. For starters, Paul recommends choosing a menu that includes vibrant ingredients, such as bell peppers and mixed berries. “They are not only beautiful and delicious, they are also loaded with nutrients and packed with antioxidants,” she says. “Playing off of red, white, and blue, like we did with our lemonade recipe, is fun and a great way to show your patriotic side, too.” Next, instead of using clear vases, paint a few flowerpots red, white, and blue and fill them with blue hydrangeas, which are in full bloom in late spring and summer.
Make it interactive
Invite your guests to play with their food. Prep and marinate your protein up to 24 hours ahead of time, and set out the ingredients for them to assemble. You can even purchase individual mini grills in bright pops of color from retailers like Crate and Barrel or Bodum. “Mini grills aren’t designed to cook a lot of food, but they are great for entertaining—some work right on a tabletop as a functional centerpiece (a place to keep things warm) or a station for guests to grill their own shish-kabobs,” Paul says.
Amp up your culinary style quotient with something other than basic burgers. “These elegant orange-and-rosemary lamb kabobs posh up your BBQ,” Paul says. Plus, using rosemary skewers—branches can be purchased in most farmers’ markets—instead of bamboo ones is not only practical, but they also add extra flavor and refinement.
Grilled Lamb Kabobs with Rosemary and Oranges – Serves 4
- 2 lbs. lean, boneless lamb, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 4 oranges, cut into chunks
- 4 small red onions,
- cut into chunks
- 2 tbsp. dried rosemary
- 10-12 fresh rosemary branches (approx. 8 inches)
- 1/2 c. olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Drizzle olive oil and dried rosemary on the lamb. Make kabobs using rosemary branches as sticks, alternately placing lamb, onion, and orange. Grill over medium-high heat. Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper; rotate to char on all sides. Grill about 7-8 minutes for medium rare.
Red, White, and Blue Lemonade – Serves 12
Red, White and Blue Lemonade
- 1 gal. water
- 5 whole lemons, thinly sliced
- 1 pt. blueberries
- 1 pt. raspberries
- 1 c. raw sugar
- 1 watermelon, sliced
Combine water, lemons, and sugar, then let mixture rest at room temperature for two hours. Add the berries and chill. Use a star-shaped cookie cutter to create watermelon garnishes.
Grilled Vegetable and Herb Salad – Serves 4
Grilled Vegetable and Herb Salad
- 2 large bell peppers, halved
- 1/2 lb. asparagus
- 1 c. whole cherry tomatoes
- 3 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
- 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 tbsp. fresh marjoram, chopped
- ½ c. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- Kosher salt and pepper