3 Festive Main Dishes for Any Spring Party

After the quiet winter months, spring heralds the return of longer days and gathering over leisurely meals. The best dishes for those get-togethers are the ones that feel celebratory enough to serve to guests, but are simple enough to ensure you’re not spending all day in the kitchen.

These three cheery mains — a salad that can be prepared in advance, a one-pot seafood stunner and a versatile grilled chicken — remind us that with the right recipes, hosting doesn’t have to be stressful. These recipes can be served alone for low-key occasions, but for a particularly memorable meal, make all three. The clams are a lovely yet rustic first course, to be followed by the chicken as a hearty centerpiece and the salad as a refreshing side dish.

Recipe: Shawarma-Spiced Grilled Chicken
With Tahini-Yogurt Sauce

Marinated with whole-milk yogurt and shawarma-inspired spices, both white and dark meat end up tender and flavorful. Serve right off the grill or at room temperature.

Perfect for: A backyard barbecue on a warm spring day.

Prepare ahead: Marinating the meat a day in advance yields the best results and makes this dish even easier to prepare for guests. The sauce also can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to three days.

Serve with: Steamed rice and roasted or grilled vegetables or the salad below turn this into a hearty spread.

Recipe: Taverna Salad

Pan-fried halloumi adds richness and heft, but you can skip the searing process and use fresh feta instead.Credit…David Malosh for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.

This colorful vegetarian main dish borrows elements from horiatiki, the classic Greek salad, and fattoush, the Lebanese salad studded with pieces of toasted pita. Seared cubes of halloumi make this salad substantial enough to stand on its own.

Perfect for: A brunch or lunch or a lighter dinner.

Prepare ahead: The dressing can be made in advance. The vegetables, aside from the tomatoes, can be sliced and stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve the salad.

Serve with: More pita and dips like hummus or tzatziki. For a heartier meal, it works well served alongside the grilled chicken above.

Recipe: Littleneck Clams
With Cherry Tomatoes and Pearl Couscous

Fresh clams cook with garlic, white wine, shallots and tomatoes to form a deliciously fragrant sauce that’s perfect for mopping up with bread.Credit…David Malosh for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.

This one-pot recipe capitalizes on the clams’ liquor (that briny juice inside their shells), white wine, a fresh red chile, garlic and shallots to make a broth that’s rich and nuanced with very little effort. It’s an impressive first course or standout meal on its own.

Perfect for: An intimate dinner party or lunch.

Prepare ahead: The vegetables can be chopped in advance. If you’re new to cooking clams, remember to give them a nice soak in salt water to remove any impurities, and to discard any that are open before you cook them, as well as any that haven’t opened after you cook them.

Serve with: A simple green salad and plenty of crusty bread for dipping.

These recipes are excerpted from “Cooking in Real Life” by Lidey Heuck.

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