The Alfresco Dinner Guide

There’s nothing better than dining alfresco on summer evenings. With warm weather on the very near horizon, we’ve gathered inspiration for an Italian-inspired feast and our tips for hosting the perfect outdoor gathering in today’s Alfresco Dinner Guide. The main ingredients are simple–a palette of white, some fresh herbs and flickering candles on the table, and a deliciously light menu with refreshing spritzers. We’ve got you covered on the setting, the menu, the ingredients, and the recipes. The only other thing you need is to gather up some friends for a relaxing evening. So what are you waiting for?

We’re planning to use this guide to host an alfresco evening of our own, which we’ll be back to share in a few weeks. Use our guide and show us how you dine alfresco by posting your next gathering on Instagram (tag it #TheEverygirlCooks), and we’ll share our favorites!

  1. Set a fresh, clean slate with a white tablecloth spread across a table outdoors. 
  2. Keep the look simple with white plates and striped napkins.
  3. Set out bruschetta on wood cutting boards–or these gorgeous marple and wood serving boards–for an organic feel.
  4. Forget fancy flowers. Instead, set the table with pitchers or pots–whatever you have on hand–filled with fragrant, fresh herbs.
  5. Don’t forget to stock up on San Pellegrino Sparkling Water, our favorite crisp beverage for summer gatherings and an essential ingredient for our Wine Spritzer below! Serve up drinks in everyday glassware to keep things casual.
  6. Just before guests arrive, light votive candles down the table for a beautiful, welcoming glow.

Wine Spritzer

1 bottle of pinot grigio, chilled
San Pellegrino sparkling water, chilled
Lemon, peel cut into twists

Pour pinot grigio into glasses. Top with a splash of sparkling water and garnish with a twist of lemon zest.

Marinated Olives

3 c. of mixed olives
3 Tbsp. orange juice
2 Tbsp. orange zest
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint or parsley
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. 

Bruschetta

1 1b. ripe tomatoes, diced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. honey
1 French baguette

Combine tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil, salt, pepper, lemon juice and honey in a bowl. Let sit. Slice the baguette on the diagonal into 1/2-inch thick slices. Brush top of each slice with olive oil. Places slices, oil side down, in a toaster oven to lightly toast. Place toasted bread on serving platter oil side up, then spoon tomato mixture on each one and serve.

Orange Fennel Salad

2 Tbsp. capers, drained and rinsed
4 small fennel bulbs, very thinly sliced 
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
4 large navel oranges, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
Juice of 1 orange and 2 lemons
1 c. olive oil

Whisk together the orange and lemon juice, then whisk in olive oil. To assemble the salad, start with a layer of fennel slices, followed by the orange slices, then the sliced red onion on top. Drizzle with the orange-lemon juice vinaigrette to taste. Sprinkle with capers. Season with salt and pepper.

Linguini with Scallops and Avocado

1 lb. scallops
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. butter
12 green onions, minced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. basil leaves, chopped
1 tsp. fresh tarragon leaves
1/4 tsp. fresh thyme
1/2 c. dry white wine
3-4 c. chopped fresh tomatoes, drained
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream or half and half
Pinch of sugar
Salt and pepper
12 oz. linguine, cooked
1 avocado, diced

Soak the scallops in cold water for 10 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Cut into quarters and drain well. Heat oil and butter in a large skillet. Add the scallops and saute until barely firm, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a mixing bowl. Adding more butter, if necessary, saute the onion in skillet until soft. Add garlic, herbs and wine. Cook until liquid has evaporated. Stir in the tomatoes. Increase heat and boil until sauce is thick. Stir in the cream. Season with sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Add the scallops. Toss with hot pasta. Serve with the chopped avocado.

Affogato

2 generous scoops of vanilla bean ice cream
1 shot of espresso or 3 Tbsp. strong brewed coffee, cooled just slightly to slow down the melting
Flaky sea salt

Add two scoops of ice cream to small glasses. Top each with the espresso and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt.

Images via Kinfolk, Style Me Pretty, Anna WolfFrench LarkspurAprès Fête

This post is sponsored by San Pellegrino. Practice the Art of Fine Food, every time you can.

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