An Al Fresco Summer Dinner Party Menu
Set the table under the stars and serve a meal straight from the grill
With the official start of summer here, why not host your next dinner party outdoors? Set the table in the grass where the air is cooler and dine by candlelight with trees and stars overhead; you’ll surely to find the setting a bit more romantic than eating inside. Let your guests be wowed by your lush garden — and you won’t have to worry about crumbs and dollops of pesto or pie staining your carpet.
Setting the Scene
• When setting the table, be inspired by vines, peonies, and vintage flea market finds. Set the table with burlap placemats and scatter Pimm’s cup-sized vases of peonies down the middle.
• Light your dining area with a scattering of votives or vines wrapped around a rustic-looking candelabra. Light green-toned glasses and mixed patterns of vintage or cream-colored plates complete the natural look.
Since you’re eating out of doors, might as well cook outdoors, too. Start with an array of grilled crostini topped with summery toppings like pancetta and red onion marmalade or eggplant and ricotta while enjoying sangria and Ginger Bee cocktails.
Feeling creative? Try your hand at grilling pizza for an appetizer. Make your own dough or buy some from your local pizza parlor, then read our tips for making your own grilled creation. Top one pie with basil pesto, baby mozzarella balls, and sliced tomatoes for a summery, vegetarian creation. Or opt for baby asparagus with sliced ham and Fontina for meat-eaters. You can also set out a variety of toppings and let your guests create their own. These also make for a great vegetarian alternative to your main dish.
While the grill is fired up, why not grill your salad greens for a change. All grilled romaine needs is a drizzle of creamy basil dressing, while grilled radicchio benefits from a garnish of figs, balsamic, and gorgonzola.
Round out the meal with a hearty cold rice salad that you can make in advance.
For dessert, finish the evening with coffee and a slice of a strawberry rhubarb pie.