Slow down this weekend and linger over an outdoor meal with friends long into the afternoon. Our menu is inspired by the flavors of the Mediterranean, featuring grilled whole fish and fresh salads passed on elegant platters. Read on for recipes and entertaining tips, and savor the gorgeous spring day.
Simple hors d’oeuvres are perfect for snacking while guests are arriving and the grill is heating up. An assortment of cheeses and crackers or crostini is always a crowd-pleaser. We also love mixing up a quick tapenade, perfect for dipping crudités or spreading on pita wedges.
One of the joys of dining outside is the relaxed, communal vibe. Pass a couple of salads at the table: one simple, green salad with plenty of herbs, and a heartier orzo salad with seasonal vegetables. For the main course, this grilled whole branzino is a show-stopper, impressive to serve but easy to prepare. Arrange it on a platter with grilled fennel and whole tomatoes on the vine and smashed potatoes drizzled with an herbed vinaigrette.
- 1 to 2 days ahead: Make the biscotti, cool completely, and store in an airtight container. Make the tapenade and refrigerate. Make the fruit salad and refrigerate overnight. Cook the orzo for the salad and refrigerate overnight.
- Day of: Prep the crudités for serving the tapenade. Finish the orzo salad. Boil the potatoes so they are ready to smash and grill.
- Just before serving: Make and toss the green salad. Finish the potatoes on the grill. Grill the tomatoes, fennel and branzino.
An outdoor table looks beautiful with light colors and a mix of textures. We love our subtly patterned coastal melamine plates, which look like ceramic but are incredibly durable. Layered on top of woven chargers, the result is elegant but natural.
For lighting, get creative with classic hurricanes. Filled with pastel stones and a single starfish, these are the perfect decor for a party inspired by the sea.
A soft, bright white wine is the ideal partner for grilled fish and the season’s first tomatoes. We recommend this 2011 Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Chardonnay, with hints of lemon, apple and toast.