Make-ahead dishes and easy recipes give you time to relax with family and friends.

Laid-back Sunday Dinner (new promo)
Cider vinegar spiked with crushed red pepper delievers a bold and spicy kick to Lexington-Style Grilled Chicken. For a pretty presentation, serve
| Credit: Tina Cornett / styling Buffy Hargett / food styling James Schend

Dinner Menu
Serves 8 to 10

Warmer weather ushers in a season of carefree celebrations, so dust off those patio chairs and set the table for some backyard fun. Our easy-to-fix menu brings together familiar ingredients in fresh new ways, from a sweet-and-tangy twist on traditional poppy seed dressing to a sophisticated version of lemon icebox pie.

All of the recipes have components that can be prepared ahead on Saturday, reducing the chaos that comes from trying to get everything ready at the last minute. Once home from church, place the chicken on the grill and put the pasta in the oven. Pencil-thin spears of asparagus roast in 10 minutes, tops, and can scoot in the oven when the pasta comes out. Put the finishing touches on the tart, toss the salad, and pour the tea. It's Sunday, and the living is easy.

Ready and Waiting
Planning ahead will leave you plenty of time to relax before guests arrive. Just follow these timely tips.

  • Make Double Citrus Tart up to 1 month ahead, omitting the whipped cream and garnish; chill as directed. Remove the metal rim of the tart pan; cover and freeze in a zip-top plastic freezer bag. Thaw overnight in refrigerator; add whipped cream and garnish, if desired, up to 4 hours before serving.
  • Toast the almonds for the Oven-Roasted Asparagus up to 1 month ahead and freeze in a zip-top plastic freezer bag.
  • Stir together the marinade for Lexington-Style Grilled Chicken up to 1 day ahead; add chicken at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours ahead.
  • Assemble Three-Cheese Pasta (do not bake); cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before baking.
  • Wash and trim the asparagus up to 1 day ahead, and store in a zip-top plastic bag. Add garlic and olive oil just before roasting.
  • Prepare the salad dressing, spinach, and vegetable toppings for the salad up to 1 day ahead; cover and chill. Slice the strawberries up to 3 hours before serving.

This article is from the March 2005 issue of Southern Living.