This easy make-ahead menu brings together familiar ingredients in fresh new ways, from a sweet and tangy twist on traditional poppy seed dressing to a sophisticated version of lemon icebox pie. After church, slip the chicken on the grill and the pasta in the oven. (Pencil-thin spears of asparagus roast in 10 minutes tops, and can scoot in the oven when the pasta comes out.) Put the finishing touches on the tart, toss the salad, and pour the tea. (Serves 8 to 10)
Planning ahead will leave you plenty of time to relax before guests arrive. Just follow these timely tips.
1. Prepare the Double Citrus Tart up to 1 month ahead, omitting the whipped cream and garnish; chill as directed. Remove the metal rim of the tart pan; cover and freeze in a zip-top freezer bag. Thaw overnight in refrigerator; add whipped cream and garnish up to 4 hours before serving.
2. Toast the almonds for the Roasted Asparagus up to 1 month ahead and freeze in a zip-top freezer bag.
3. Stir together the marinade ingredients for Lexington-Style Grilled Chicken up to 1 day ahead; add chicken at least 2 hours ahead or up to 8 hours ahead.
4. Prepare Three-Cheese Pasta Bake up to 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before baking.
5. Wash and trim the asparagus up to 1 day ahead, and store in a zip-top bag. Add garlic and olive oil just before roasting.
6. Prepare the salad dressing, the spinach, and the vegetable toppings for the salad up to 1 day ahead; cover and chill. Slice the strawberries up to 3 hours before serving.