While some people host a crazy weekend in Vegas and others opt for an activity-based bachelorette party featuring belly dancing, my friend Melissa is doing a low-key weekend in Calistoga to say goodbye to her singledom. Her maid of honor has rented a beautiful house with a grill and garden, and she's planned a weekend of sunbathing and wine tasting.

On Friday night when we arrive, instead of going out for a night on the town, we'll spend the evening by the pool enjoying a leisurely and luxurious dinner. Naturally, I'm in charge of the cooking! To start, I'll put together a cheese platter with homemade hummus and pita chips on the side.

When we sit down to dinner, I'll serve grilled shrimp with roasted garlic-herb sauce, orzo and zucchini salad, and grilled apricots with arugula and goat cheese. These recipes make a wonderful Summer menu perfect for any outdoor occasion, so take a look at them now.

5-Minute Hummus

5-Minute Hummus

Hummus Recipe

Ingredients

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
1 clove garlic
1⁄4 cup olive oil, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste; optional)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika

Directions

  1. In a food processor, puree the chickpeas and garlic with the olive oil, lemon juice, tahini (if using), cumin, and ¾ teaspoon salt until smooth and creamy. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons water as necessary to achieve the desired consistency.
  2. Transfer to a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the paprika before serving.

Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Grilled Shrimp With Roasted Garlic-Herb Sauce

Grilled Shrimp With Roasted Garlic-Herb Sauce

Grilled Shrimp with Roasted Garlic-Herb Sauce Recipe

Ingredients

Roasted Garlic-Herb Sauce
2 heads of garlic, top 1/4 inch of each cut off and discarded
1 teaspoon plus 2/3 cup olive oil
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
4 anchovy fillets, rinsed
2 tablespoons drained caper
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
Shrimp
1 quart water
1/3 cup salt
1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 1/2 pounds uncooked large shrimp, unpeeled
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons dry white wine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Directions

  1. Make sauce: Preheat oven to 375°F. Place heads of garlic in small glass baking dish. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Cover baking dish with foil. Roast until garlic is tender, about 1 hour. Cool slightly.
  2. Squeeze garlic from skin into small bowl. Mash with fork.
  3. Place mashed garlic, parsley, anchovy fillets, capers, basil and lemon peel in processor. With machine running, slowly blend in 2/3 cup oil. Season sauce with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill. Use at room temperature.)
  4. Make shrimp: Stir first 3 ingredients in medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Add shrimp. Refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours. Drain and rinse shrimp.
  5. Using shears, cut shrimp shells down center of back all the way to tail section. Using sharp knife, cut shrimp in their shells along the full length of the back (do not cut all the way through). Remove vein and pull off legs. Open shrimp.
  6. Whisk olive oil, white wine, garlic, parsley, and crushed red pepper in clean medium bowl. Add shrimp and stir; let stand 30 minutes.
  7. Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Place shrimp, flesh side down, on grill. Grill shrimp until pink and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to platter and serve, passing Roasted Garlic-Herb Sauce separately.

Serves 6.

Orzo and Zucchini Salad

Orzo and Zucchini Salad

Orzo and Zucchini Salad Recipe

Ingredients

Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup orzo
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
1 to 2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar

Directions

  1. In a medium pot of boiling salted water, cook orzo until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain well. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet to cool completely.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium. Add zucchini and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes.
  3. Transfer orzo to a medium bowl; add zucchini mixture, basil, vinegar, and remaining teaspoon oil. Season with salt and pepper; toss to combine. If storing, cover and refrigerate up to 1 day; bring to room temperature before serving.

Serves 4.

Grilled Apricot, Arugula and Goat Cheese Salad

Grilled Apricot, Arugula and Goat Cheese Salad

Grilled Apricot, Arugula and Goat Cheese Salad Recipe

Ingredients

6 fresh apricots, halved and pitted
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 1/2 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar
1 bunch (4 ounces) arugula, stemmed
One 4-ounce log fresh goat cheese, cut into 12 slices

Directions

  1. Light a grill. In a medium bowl, toss the apricots with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and the thyme and season with salt and pepper. Let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Grill the apricot halves over high heat for about 5 minutes, turning once, until lightly charred and softened.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a cutting board and finely chop.
  4. Put the pine nuts in a medium bowl. Whisk in the vinegar and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the arugula and toss. Arrange the goat cheese slices on plates. Top with the apricot halves and arugula salad and serve right away.

Serves 4.