Weekend Entertaining: Casual Alfresco Dinner

Dinner Parties, Entertain, Menu Ideas

Weekend Entertaining: Casual Alfresco Dinner

The weather is warming up — time for your first outdoor dinner party! To keep it simple, cook the food indoors, then move outside to enjoy the meal. Prep is easy for our menu: steak and vegetables are cooked on the stovetop, so you don’t have to heat up your backyard grill. Read on for recipes and entertaining tips, and savor an evening of good food and fresh air.




A casual meal on the patio calls for simple, satisfying dishes that easily feed a crowd. Serve this grilled steak with chimichurri, a spicy Argentinian sauce made with fresh herbs, garlic, vinegar and olive oil. Since the steak is seared on a stovetop grill pan, you can finish it inside and let it rest on the table outside before slicing and sharing.


A quinoa salad with grilled vegetables and feta is the perfect accompaniment, combining hearty whole grains with the best warm-weather bounty: squash, grape tomatoes and plenty of bright herbs. End the meal on a sweet note with this strawberry galette, a beautiful and rustic tart topped with a dollop of crème fraîche.


Weekend Entertaining: Casual Alfresco Dinner


Party Planner


  • 1 to 2 days ahead: Make the chimichurri sauce, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Make the dough for the galette. Cook the quinoa for the salad.
  • Day of: Grill the vegetables and finish the quinoa salad. Bake and finish the galette.
  • Just before serving: Grill the steak. Remove the chimichurri sauce from the refrigerator an hour before serving. (The galette may be served warm or at room temperature.)


Layers of complementary colors and prints add interest to an outdoor table. Place a patterned runner over a white linen tablecloth for a fresh, modern look. The same rule applies for place settings: arrange detailed plates over rustic chargers to create a lively, colorful combination. Staying within the same color family — sunny yellow, turquoise and azure — makes disparate patterns and textures work together.


With nature as your backdrop, your table doesn’t need much adornment. Skip vases of flowers in favor of a potted plant in a simple galvanized pot, which looks perfectly at home on a patio.


Wondering what wines to serve? Our Williams-Sonoma Wine team recommends a crisp, full-bodied white to sip with the salad and a bold, full-bodied red for the steak. Have both on hand to satisfy every guest.

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