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Lauren Conrad Brings the Boho Fun of a Music Festival to Your Backyard (Exclusive)

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.

Related: Celebs in the Kitchen: Stars Who Love to Cook!

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.)

Cauliflower Tabouleh

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

  1. Place one handful of cauliflower florets at a time into a Vitamix or high-speed blender.
  2. 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.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the coconut oil over a medium flame. Add the cauliflower and sauté for 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Add the parsley, scallions, garlic, cherry tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Gently sauté for about 2 to 3 minutes. Allow to cool.
  5. Squeeze fresh lemon on top and gently toss to incorporate.
  6. 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.

Related: Lauren Conrad's Wedding Album

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.”

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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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