Big music festivals aren’t Lauren Conrad’s jam. “I like the vibe, but I prefer a more relaxed version,” explains the Celebrate author. To kick off summer, the designer — whose new LC Lauren Conrad for Kohl’s collection launches May 1 — decided to host an alfresco party that culled “the best parts and made them more intimate.” Rugs, blankets and oversize pillows (tie-dyed for an ombré effect) layered beneath a floral-accented wood canopy created “picnic-style” seating where the mom-to-be, 31, and friends could relax with icy refreshments and global small plates.
As she explains in the video above, Conrad prioritized three things when coming up with the food: easy-to-eat, eclectic and original. “We wanted to make sure everything was utensil free,” says Conrad. “The cauliflower couscous is great because you can make it in a big batch, you don’t have to serve it hot, and you can do small individual servings in lettuce cups.” Finishing each portion with fresh herbs and a squeeze of lemon gives it a bright, fresh finish. (Get the recipe below.)
Yields 5 cups
1 head cauliflower, cut into 2- to 3-inch florets
2 tbsp coconut oil
¾ cup parsley, chopped
½ cup scallions, chopped
2 tbsp garlic, chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
1 head iceberg or Boston lettuce
½ cup feta cheese
- Place one handful of cauliflower florets at a time into a Vitamix or high-speed blender.
- Run the blender on the lowest setting until the cauliflower resembles rice. Remove granules from blender and repeat with another handful of cauliflower until all of the cauliflower is riced.
- In a large skillet, heat the coconut oil over a medium flame. Add the cauliflower and sauté for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Add the parsley, scallions, garlic, cherry tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Gently sauté for about 2 to 3 minutes. Allow to cool.
- Squeeze fresh lemon on top and gently toss to incorporate.
- Cut the bottom off the head of lettuce. Portion out the cauliflower mixture onto the leaves. Finish each mini salad with a sprinkle of feta and, if using, edible flowers. To serve, plate in small bamboo boats.
Everyone loves a good potato chip, as Conrad points out, but instead of relying on the usual bagged varieties, she makes them from scratch and doctors them up with different combinations of herbs: “We did parmesan and red chili flakes, but some other alternatives are rosemary or some sea salt.” A sweet festival and fair classic — churros — got miniaturized, dipped in white or dark chocolate and rolled in sprinkles “to make them fun.”
Since no host should be preoccupied tending bar, Conrad prefers serving pre-batched cocktails in glass bottles. (In this case, the Celebrate author nestled them in vintage coolers loaded with ice.) Margaritas tend to be a crowdpleaser, but to make them distinctive, she recommends choosing bright citrus flavors and fruit laced with herbs and chili peppers: Grapefruit, celery-jalapeño, strawberry-habanero, and hibiscus tea with ginger beer all make for refreshing options.
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