Actress Jurnee Smollett-Bell Shares 4 Easy (and Delicious) Recipes for Summer

Updated 04/29/19
The Family Table cookbook
Ray Kachatorian; From The Family Table, Published by William Morrow Cookbooks, 2018

Summer is here, bringing with it that 80-something-degree heat that makes you want to fire up the grill, sip on something refreshingly cold, and have people over. After all, what better way to enjoy the cloudless days and balmy nights of summer than by dining alfresco with friends and family? As it turns out, that sentiment is exactly what actress Jurnee Smollett-Bell and her siblings had in mind when they created their new cookbook, The Family Table.

"We think its really important to take the time to celebrate and share our passions, food, and time with friends and family," says Jurnee and her sister, actress and producer Jazz Smollett-Warwell. "Enjoying food and celebrating together is about so much more than just eating to be full or celebrating a holiday out of habit," the pair explains. "It's really about creating space to share moments of culture with the people in our lives and, in some cases, people we have never met."

Ahead, we asked Jurnee and Jazz to share a couple tips for throwing a seamless summer get together with friends and family along with four of their favorite recipes from their cookbook so you can host one of your own.

Interview with Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Jazz Smollett-Warwell
Ray Kachatorian; From The Family Table, Published by William Morrow Cookbooks, 2018

Keep Things Relatively Simple

If you want to create a menu that's both delicious yet easy enough that it actually allows you to enjoy time with your guests, then you might want to consider paring things back, suggest Jurnee and Jazz. "We have learned this the hard way," the pair admits. "We have often been the kind of hosts who are still cooking and making a mess in the kitchen when people arrive and then putting our guests to work," they confess.

"Although this is fun sometimes, we have learned to cut back and consolidate our menus so that we can keep it somewhat simple and have time to hang out and enjoy the party," the pair explains. "We've learned to start cooking earlier—and also that pre-prep is key. Anything we can prep the night before, we do it … then the day of the party we're just putting things together."

Recipes Jurnee Smollett-Bell loves
Ray Kachatorian; From The Family Table, Published by William Morrow Cookbooks, 2018

Put Seasonal Ingredients to Good Use

For a seamless summer gathering, Jurnee and Jazz recommend putting seasonal ingredients to good use—both when creating your menu and decorating your space. For a Fourth of July spread, "Fill small vases with blueberries, strawberries, cherries, and blackberries to create a blue and red palate," the sisters suggest.

When it comes to alfresco dining, a nuanced menu featuring foods of various temperatures is always a good rule of thumb, note Jurnee and Jazz. "If outdoor grilling or cooking hot main dishes, be sure to still have fresh seasonal salads to balance out the hot food," they advise. And, of course, you can't forget the beverages. "Have plenty of cold drinks to keep guests cool and satisfied," the pair adds.

Ahead, Jurnee and Jazz share easy and delicious recipes from their cookbook that are perfect for summer entertaining. If you make them for your next get together, share a photo with us by using #MyDomaineEats on Instagram.

Grilled Lobster Rolls

Grilled Lobster Rolls recipe
Ray Kachatorian; From The Family Table, Published by William Morrow Cookbooks, 2018

"Here in Los Angeles, we go mad for food trucks," says Jazz. "We follow them on social media, we hire them for birthday parties, and we attend outdoor events just for the food trucks," she elaborates. "My husband and I once made the mistake of giving our then 2-year-old-daughter a delicious lobster roll from the famed Lobsta Truck, and she became hooked, asking for them all the time!"

"But the truck was not always near us, and spending $17 a pop for a 2-year-old to eat lobster was not going to help my retirement plan, so we began experimenting, and I soon realized that for $17 dollars, I could actually make several lobster rolls," she explains. "So the next barbeque I hosted, I made Jake create one for me, and he killed it! These buttery lobster rolls are so delicious because they have a slight char flavor that perfectly complements this delicate seafood."

Makes four servings

Ingredients

4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) salted butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
Pinch of sea salt
1 lemon
Four 3-ounce lobster tails, meat removed from the shells, each cut into 2 strips
4 hot dog buns
Handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley

4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) salted butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
Pinch of sea salt
1 lemon
Four 3-ounce lobster tails, meat removed from the shells, each cut into 2 strips
4 hot dog buns
Handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions

Clean and oil the grill grates (I like to use the end of a cut onion dipped in olive oil to oil my grates) and preheat the grill to high.

Melt the butter in a large cast-iron skillet on the grill, then add the garlic, crushed red pepper, and salt. Cook until the mixture reaches a saucy consistency, about six minutes.

Meanwhile, squeeze juice from half the lemon over the lobster meat. Place the strips of lobster onto the grill and cook for two minutes on one side, and then dip the mean of each strip into the butter sauce. Transfer the strips back to the grill and cook for two minutes or more, or until the meat is no longer translucent.

Trim the long sides off the hot dog buns so they resemble split-top rolls or New England hot dog buns. Place the buns on the top rack to warm while the lobster cooks.

BlaVaMato Salad With Dijon-Lime Dressing

BlaVaMato Salad with Dijon-Lime Dressing recipe
Ray Kachatorian; From The Family Table, Published by William Morrow Cookbooks, 2018

"BlaVaMato stands for black bean, avocado, and tomatoes tossed together to make a killer mosh pit of hearty salsa-inspired salad," explains Jake Smollet. "It's fresh, easy to make, and pairs well with Fajita Chorizo Mexican Pizzas."

Makes four to six servings

Ingredients for the dijon-lime dressing

2 1/2 tbsp. avocado oil
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. country Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. salt

2 1/2 tbsp. avocado oil
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. country Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. salt

Directions for the dijon-lime dressing

Whisk together the ingredients in a small bowl, or shake them in a jar. Store in the fridge for up to 30 days.

1 pint assorted cherry tomatoes, halved
One 15-ounce can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
1 Hass avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced
1 tablespoon chopped red onion
Handful of fresh cilantro chopped
Dijon-lime dressing

Ingredients for the salad

1 pint assorted cherry tomatoes, halved
One 15-ounce can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
1 Hass avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced
1 tablespoon chopped red onion
Handful of fresh cilantro chopped
Dijon-lime dressing

Dill Potato Salad

Dil Potato Salad recipe
Ray Kachatorian; From The Family Table, Published by William Morrow Cookbooks, 2018

"This here is one of my specialties, a twist on classic potato salad, which is always in high demand at the Thanksgiving table but perfect year-round," says Jurnee. "The secret is in the spicy brown mustard, which gives the potatoes a nice kick," she divulges. "Enjoy!"

Makes six to eight servings

Ingredients

4 large russet potatoes
1 cup finely diced celery (about two large stalks)
1 cup finely diced yellow onion (about ½ large onion)
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup spicy brown mustard
1/2 cup dill relish
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. dried dill
Handful of fresh dill, chopped

4 large russet potatoes
1 cup finely diced celery (about two large stalks)
1 cup finely diced yellow onion (about ½ large onion)
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup spicy brown mustard
1/2 cup dill relish
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. dried dill
Handful of fresh dill, chopped

Directions

Drunken Grilled Peaches With Vanilla and Lemon Mascarpone

Drunken Grilled Peaches with Vanilla and Lemon Mascarpone recipe
Ray Kachatorian; From The Family Table, Published by William Morrow Cookbooks, 2018

"I created this recipe one summer while visiting my aunt and uncle, who at the time were living in Atlanta," says Jazz. "They love to entertain, and it was the Fourth of July, so of course, there was a BBQ happening with a green egg smoker and all. I wanted to make a dessert that was sophisticated, went well with the grilling theme, and would blow everyone's minds."

"Since we were in Georgia, peaches were a natural choice of fruit to grill," she explains. "I created a sweet rub for my fruit, with spices inspired by our family peach cobbler. I knew my uncle had some bourbon around and that would give it the southern sophistication I was looking for," she adds. "I have to say I blew my own mind- it was a big hit! Jazz's Famous Drunken Grilled Peaches were born! The rest is history."

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients

6 fresh peaches, halved and pitted
1 1/2 cups bourbon
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons) plus the zest of 1 lemon, reserved
2 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
8 ounces mascarpone
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp. confectioners' sugar, sifted
Seeds of 1 vanilla bean split lengthwise and scraped
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
Mint sprigs for garnish

6 fresh peaches, halved and pitted
1 1/2 cups bourbon
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons) plus the zest of 1 lemon, reserved
2 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
8 ounces mascarpone
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp. confectioners' sugar, sifted
Seeds of 1 vanilla bean split lengthwise and scraped
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
Mint sprigs for garnish

Directions

Arrange the peaches cut side up in a 9" by 13" glass baking dish.

Whisk together the bourbon, lemon juice, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Pour the bourbon mixture over the peaches, and baste each peach to coat it well. Cover with plastic wrap and macerate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl mix together the mascarpone, cream, confectioners' sugar, vanilla bean seeds, and lemon zest until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Remove from the fridge 20 minutes before serving.

Heat a grill or grill pan over high heat.

Using your hands, rub the side of each peach with two teaspoons of the brown sugar. Sprinkle each peach with a pinch of the cinnamon and nutmeg. Place the peaches cut side down on the hot grill and cook until they are seared with grill marks and the sugar is caramelized, six to eight minutes. Gently turn the peach slices over and grill for four minutes more, until slightly charred. Remove from grill.

Recipe from The Family Table cookbook
From The Family Table, Published by William Morrow Cookbooks, C 2018

Recipes excerpted with permission from The Family Table by Jake Smollett, Jazz Smollett-Warwell, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, and Jussie Smollett, published by William Morrow an imprint of HarperCollins.

Jazz Smollett-Warwell, Jake Smollett, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, and Jussie Smollett The Family Table $18
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