Summer season is around the corner and what’s the best way to celebrate but with a relaxed and uncomplicated al fresco dinner with your friends?
Al fresco entertaining should be as easy and effortless as possible and fun to put together during the week after work and weekend.
My recommended recipes come together in less than 1 hour, so you won't spend the day cooking for your friends—you'll spend those precious hours actually enjoying their company. Also, this menu hits on a lot of the same flavors, which helps keep the shopping list to a minimum. Accompany this menu with a bottle of Sardinian Vermentino or freshly made mint lemonade to wash it all down.
Ready to open the door of your home, enjoy your garden or you city terrace in the company of your besties?
Lets start then!
BARLEY SALAD WITH GREEN PEA AND FRESH MINT (35 minutes)
INGREDIENTS : 500gr barley, 300 fresh pea, 10 gr fresh parsley, 15 gr fresh mint, 10 gr baby spinach leaves, 30 gr dried sultanas, juice of 2 lemons and zest, olive oil, 2 tbs honey, 1 garlic, salt and pepper
Combine barley with 1 liter salted water in a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and cook at a gentle boil for about 25 minutes, or until tender. Drain, cool under running water, then drain thoroughly
In a large pan of boiling salted water, cook fresh peas for 3 minutes, until bright green and just tender. Drain, cool completely in cold water, then drain thoroughly.
For the dressing, combine the crushed garlic, lemon juice, zest and honey. Slowly whisk in the extra virgin olive oil with plenty of salt and pepper in a small jar. Shake to combine.
To assemble the salad, combine barley and peas in a wide mixing bowl and dress with two-thirds of the dressing. Taste then adjust dressing and seasoning. Fold in the mint, parsley, spinach leaves, dried sultana and lemon disk ( finely shaved as it then picture) and serve on a large platter.
TOMATO SALAD (10 minutes)
INGREDIENTS : 4 Tomatoes, 1 red onions, bunch of fresh basil, 25 capers, 1 buffalo mozzarella, gulp of olive oil, salt and pepper.
1. Whisk vinegar and salt in a medium bowl. Add red onion and toss to combine. Let stand for about 5 minutes.
2. Slice the heirloom tomatoes into disks or wedges and arrange the tomatoes in a larges serving plate. Add capers and mozzarella ( or ricotta cheese) or a cheese of your choice.
3. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with basil and a generous pinch of salt.
4. Serve with your favorite bread.
ITALIAN BRUSCHETTA ( 10 minutes)
INGREDIENTS: Cherry tomatoes, 1 garlic, bunch of fresh basil, gulp of olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.
1. Make sure your tomatoes are really ripe when making this topping and finish with a drizzle of top-quality olive oil for a really tasty treat.
2. Place the tomatoes in a bowl, tear in the basil, season with salt and pepper, then toss with a good glug of olive oil and a good swig of vinegar to balance the flavours to your taste. You can serve the tomatoes either chunky or finely chopped.
3. The bread is best sliced 1cm thick and toasted using your toaster. In this recipe, I used friselle from Puglia ( bagel shaped toasted roll). .
4. After toasting your bread, it should be lightly rubbed a couple of times with a raw garlic clove for extra punch then pile high with the seasoned tomatoes.
SUMMER FRUIT SALAD ( 10 minutes)
Fresh. Simple. Healthy. Delicious. This fresh fruit salad is perfect on its own, I most often serve a fruit salad without dressing because I love the flavors of the fruit itself. To elevate the fruit salad into a dessert, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or two!
FRUITS: Bananas, Blueberries, Grapes, Kiwis, Strawberries, Pineapple, Mango but any other seasonal fruits will do.
Feeling more inspired about hosting a relaxed summer dinner at your place?
Let me know how it goes!