Graduation parties, showers, wedding lunches and anniversary celebrations all crop up at this time of year, and often seem to require a spread of attractive, easy-to-eat food — and if it can all be served at room temperature, so much the better.

When feeding a multigenerational group, it’s also nice to include a meatless dish that can stand alone as a vegetarian main course.

This menu — similar to one that our family assembled, potluck style, at a recent birthday gathering — has all those features.


A version of these versatile stuffed chicken breasts was one of Martha Stewart’s mainstay dishes when I cooked in her catering kitchen. They taste delicious, look pretty and can be served warm, at room temperature or cold. The sprightly green sauce adds a welcome flavor enhancement.

Servings: Six to eight.

6 skin-on chicken breast halves

2/3 cup ricotta cheese

1 egg

2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

Additional salt and pepper for sprinkling

Ask the meat department to bone the chicken breasts, leaving the skin on, or bone them yourself.

Loosen skin from one side of each breast to create a pocket.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the ricotta, egg, scallions, parsley, salt and pepper. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of filling under the skin of each breast.

Smooth skin around filling and meat, tucking in the ends to form a rounded dome shape.

Place close together in an oiled, 9-inch baking pan.

Drizzle with the oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared a day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake chicken uncovered until skin is nicely browned and juices run clear when pierced with a sharp knife, basting once or twice with pan juices, 40 to 50 minutes.

Serve warm, at room temperature or cold, sliced and fanned out onto a platter. Pass Sauce Verte on the side.


I learned the neat trick of blanching fresh herbs from a recent issue of Cook’s Illustrated.

If using the sauce the same day, there’s no need to take this extra step, but if you’re making it a day or two ahead or freezing it, blanching keeps the herbs in this savory condiment from darkening.

Yield: About 3/4 cup.

2 cups fresh herbs — parsley, basil, dill, tarragon, cilantro or a combination

3 anchovy fillets

2 tablespoons drained capers

1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/2 cup olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

To blanch the herbs, bring a medium-large pot of water to the boil and have ready a bowl of ice cubes and water. Dunk herbs into boiling water for 20 seconds, remove with a slotted spoon, and transfer to the bowl of ice water. Drain well on paper towels, and proceed with the recipe.

Combine herbs (blanched or not) in a food processor with the anchovies, capers, garlic and lemon juice. Pulse to make a coarse paste. With the motor running, pour oil through the feed tube, scraping down the sides once.

Season with pepper to taste. (Salt should not be necessary, because the anchovies and capers are salty.)

Use the same day or refrigerate for up to 2 days, or freeze. Bring to room temperature before serving.


Shiny black beans, red pepper, and orange-fleshed mango are dressed with a spiced lime vinaigrette. Diced papaya or cantaloupe can substitute for the mango.

Servings: Six to eight.

Lime Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup lime juice

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 large garlic clove, minced to a paste with a pinch of kosher salt

1/3 cup olive oil

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


4 cups drained cooked black beans, rinsed

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 ripe mango, peeled and diced (see note)

3/4 cup thinly sliced scallions

1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro, plus sprigs for garnish

3 cups arugula

Lime slices for garnish

Whisk together the lime juice, vinegar, mustard, chili powder, cumin, and garlic.

Whisk in the oil, and season with salt and pepper. (Can be refrigerated for up to three days.)

Toss the beans with the bell pepper, mango, scallions and cilantro in a large bowl. Drizzle on most of the dressing, and toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or for up to 4 hours.

Line a platter or shallow bowl with arugula. Add a bit more dressing to the bean salad if it seems at all dry, and spoon beans over greens.

Garnish with cilantro sprigs and lime slices, and serve.

Note: Cut slices of the unpeeled mango from around the large pit and score the flesh into 1/2-inch squares while still attached to the peel. Turn inside out, and use a sharp knife to cut the diced parts from the skin.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Dishing Up Maine” (Storey Publishing 2006) and “The New England Clam Shack Cookbook” (Storey 2008). She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula.