This post was created in partnership with Ruffino Wines.
Summertime… and the living is outdoors. The days are getting longer and the weather is finally nice enough to enjoy meals and get-togethers outside. I find the summer months are always much busier for entertaining and it seems like there are many more impromptu get togethers than in the winter – I know that a quick drink on the porch or on the back patio can often lead to a meal with a whole group of my neighbours so I have a few “go to” ideas to help me entertain effortlessly (or at least appear as if it’s effortless!). In the summer more than the winter, we have a lot of different beverages on hand (so we’re prepared for any occasion) but it’s always good to have some wines chilling that work just as well as an apéro as they do for pairing with food (so you can transition easily from drinks to dinner!). When the folks at Ruffino Wines sent me their Prosecco and Pinot Grigio to enjoy, I was more than happy to test them out to see whether they fit the bill!
I really enjoyed the light and crisp Pinot Grigio because not only does it pair well with food, but it’s equally nice to have on its own for a pre-dinner drink. Serve with a side of outdoors.
The Prosecco is a little bit on the sweet side (it’s kind of fruity and floral at the same time) so, for me, it was more successful as a drink to pair with food. At under $20 a bottle, it’s a great wine to have on hand for when you feel like a few bubbles but don’t want to go the Champagne route. And let’s be honest, bubbles make everything better, right?
So, imagine you have your cellar and fridge stocked with a few well-chosen bottles. What about food? I’m going to refer to a recent outdoor get-together we hosted for friends, organised very last-minute and with very little planning to give you a few tips to make your summer parties memorable (without too much work for you!).
Tips for “effortless” outdoor entertaining
1. Make-ahead dishes.
Dishes you can prepare in advance are your friend. Even better are dishes you can prepare in advance and that can be served at room temperature. That way you’re not spending time in the kitchen instead of with your guests. Dishes like roasted vegetables, “tartes salées” (quiches, tarts etc…) are all excellent companions to the usual suspects of salads.
Make the most of in-season produce! Find the recipe for this easy asparagus tart here.
2. Grill it!
No time to make-ahead? The grill is your friend! Burgers, hot dogs, kebabs, vegetables and even pizza – the BBQ offers endless possibilities to cook and entertain at the same time! Dishes like salad bowls with grilled meats or vegetables are perfect because they introduce an element of interactivity into a party (i.e. get others doing the plating work!).
If planning a get-together seems like too much work, how about a potluck. Make sure everyone is bringing something different (dips and chips, appetisers, salad, vegetables, meat or other protein, dessert) so you don’t end up with a dessert buffet (although that might be nice too!) and take most of the stress out of entertaining. If you’re not game to leave the meal completely in other people’s hands (i.e. you’re me and you want control over the “flow” of the meal!), ask people to bring cheeses or charcuterie to round out the meal.
4. Be prepared for a crowd to eat and drink
Making sure I have enough plates, glasses and cutlery for everyone is important. Something I’ve only recently started doing but which saves my sanity is using paper plates and disposable cutlery. You can actually get really nice compostable cutlery and plates these days if you’re worried about how they look too! We tend not to serve wine or beer in plastic cups though – preferring the Govino range (because it doesn’t break and it’s nice to drink out of!). Yes, they need washing by hand but they are classy and outdoor friendly (we were thrilled to add to our growing collection with the lovely champagne flutes that came with our wines!).
With just a little bit of forward planning and organization, you can entertain friends and host a gathering that doesn’t actually take you that long to prepare where everyone eats well! What could be better?
Please drink responsibly.
Disclosure: This post was created in partnership with Ruffino Wines. I received compensation and product in exchange for this post. As always, all opinions my own. I only work with companies and brands that I use myself. Thank you for supporting the brands that support eat. live. travel. write.
Please note: This post contains product affiliate links, meaning if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price (at no extra cost to you) which goes towards maintaining eat. live. travel. write. Thank you in advance!
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