The beautiful seaside cities of the Mediterranean have perfected outdoor dining but that doesn’t mean you have to hop on a plane to enjoy amazing al fresco dinners this summer. In fact, you can transform your backyard into the perfect setting for an enchanting dinner party by mastering a few components.
The spirit of al fresco dining is all about enjoying the fresh air on warm summer nights. When planning your space, the less fussy the better. If you have beautiful patio furniture, perfect, but you certainly don’t have to. Smaller outdoor tables can be clustered together, long rental folding tables look lovely when covered with a nice tablecloth, and you can even use makeshift items like pallets and throw pillows to create a rustic dining area.
Apartment dwellers and those with tiny backyards don’t fret; outdoor entertaining doesn’t have to be at your place. Picnic spaces, building rooftops, the great outdoors, and the beach are fantastic alfresco dining spots. Don’t limit yourself!
Mediterranean tables are never overdone. Opt for stylish, weather resistant pieces and simple adornments, ideally taken from the outdoor surroundings. We love bay or eucalyptus leaves for a beautiful centerpiece or, for an unexpected and very sustainable option, wow your guests with an edible table runner.
Keep dinnerware and glasses casual and on the more durable side—you are outside after all. Limit waste and prevent paper napkins from blowing away by using cloth napkins. Pre-wrinkled linen napkins fit the look to a T. Finally, we’re big fans of reusable wood utensils when surrounded by nature.
Now that the stage is set, let’s talk food. Al fresco meals should use produce that’s in season, be easy to prepare while entertaining guests, and simple enough to eat outdoors.
Appetizers: Sturdy, finger food is a must like these beautiful Wild Caught Tuna Crostini or fresh, portable Thai Tuna Wonton Cups
Cocktails: If you think fruit cocktails have to be syrupy, boat drinks, these sophisticated fruit forward drinks will change your mind in a big way. Mix up a big batch of this Raspberry, Cucumber + Mint Punch and you won’t have to worry about playing bartender all night. We always like to provide something more special than seltzer for guests who don’t drink like this Raspberry Grapefruit Iced Tea with Lime.
Sides and Salads: Max out divine summer produce while you can. Try this vibrant Summer Tomato and Tuna Salad that beautifully showcases juicy summer heirlooms. Want to stay closer to the Mediterranean? Look no further than the The Perfect Niçoise Salad.
Main Course: If you can’t imagine outdoor dining without a grill, skip heavy steaks and burger for a lighter option like these small but scrumptious Zen Burgers. For a real Mediterranean inspired crowd-pleaser however, you can’t miss with Paella (it even tastes better when made a day of ahead).
Dessert: Summer heat can make choosing the right dessert a little complicated, that’s why we love this Raspberry Sorbecco recipe. There are only two ingredients needed, prep time is a breeze, and the chilled Prosecco keeps things from melting.
There you have it, the perfect game plan for a perfect Mediterranean evening. Easy, right? Get outside and embrace the season!