Summertime Dining

Dining al fresco is the quintessential summer experience that combines nature, friends, food and drink!

Whether you are creating a menu for a picnic basket for the park, a cooler for the beach or planning your own summer soiree at home planning is key to ensure you and your guests have a deliciously fun time!

Get inspired to create a unique menu by pulling out your recipe books. Once you’ve created your menu, visit your local farmer’s market to find the freshest ingredients. Support local food artisans who make breads, cheeses, jams etc. that can be added to your summertime menu.

Plan your table scape. Make sure you have enough dishes, flatware, napkins, table clothes, candle sticks serving platters, serving spoons and vases

Here are 4 tips to keep in mind when planning your outdoor dining experience:

Make sure you check the weather and radar for your upcoming gathering and make “back-up” plans in case of inclement weather. Also, extremely hot temperatures may require a “back-up” plan.

Other than planning your dining experience at home, keep in mind everything you must lug to get to your destination. Pack smaller lighter cooler for ease. Keep in mind the weight of ice, cutlery, storage containers etc.

While dining al fresco and enjoying nature is menu items that contain mayonnaise, milk or yogurt. These ingredients can easily break down and cause health issues.

You want to ensure that you and your guests enjoy your menu ideas. Prepare small bites that can be enjoyed with ease. Create a selection of mini meal boxes (similar to lunch boxes – complete with entree, salad and fresh dinner roll)

The Quintessential Summer Soiree Menu

Always visit your farmer’s market and support local food artisans! Try to create a 100 mile radius meal. Highlight the farmers and food artisans on your menu cards.Decorate with fresh local flower arrangements. Be creative and festive!

Non-Alcoholic self serve bar:

  • Elegant glasses
  • Fruit – melon, berries, pineapple
  • Variety of glass bottled still and bubbly waters in large tins on ice (Pellegrino, Acqua Panna, Voss, Saratoga etc…
  • Variety of iced teas and lemonades

Appetizer Bar:

  • Gazpacho soup served in glass canning jars – display them in a shallow bucket filled with ice
  • Skewer bar: prepare a variety of skewers for your guests to enjoy. Create an self serve skewer bar display. Fill lovely glass bowls with items such as artichoke hearts, mini mozzarellas, grape tomatoes, olives, shrimp, melon balls, salami, red grapes, roasted zucchini, etc…
  • Chilean Empanadas

Main Meal:

  • Roasted salmon with yogurt dill sauce
  • Roasted Asparagus with lemon zest
  • Lentil salad with wilted garlic spinach and diced red pepper
  • Fresh garden salad
  • Fresh baguette sliced served with whipped salted butter


  • Mini mixed berry pies topped with vanilla ice cream
  • Fruit kabobs drizzled with dark chocolate

RECIPE: Chilean Empanadas
Download Patti Green Recipe