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Menu of the month: a casual al fresco dinner

A casual al fresco dinner menu - chicken pita wraps, sweet potato fries, tabbouleh and more | www.ricottaandradishes.com

It’s four o’clock on a Friday and you’ll be hosting a get-together for friends and family this weekend. Fun! Except that you’ve seriously procrastinated and still have no idea what to do about the food.

This has happened to me more times than I’d care to admit! Though I’m still trying to get the hang of things in the entertaining department, I’ve learned a few lessons over the years.  One of them is that choosing a theme and planning the menu around it is key to stress-free party planning.  A theme not only makes it fun and memorable, but it also helps limit your food and drink choices to just a few items so that it’s easier to decide what to serve.

Each month I’ll be sharing a new menu to give you some fresh ideas for the season. They’ll be designed to serve four, but you may want to adjust amounts based on your specific needs.

The recipes will be simple to prepare and on the lighter side with a focus on whole foods and plant-based ingredients.  Once in a while some more indulgent options will sneak in because, well, not everyone digs tofu and kale :)

Today I bring you the first menu of the series: a casual outdoor summer meal.  When the weather is warm (and the flies aren’t too bad!), it’s such a treat to sit outside during dinnertime.  You don’t need a special occasion or fancy food to celebrate this simple pleasure.

If you have a table outside, set out colourful plastic or disposable plates, cutlery and napkins along with a pitcher of water and some serving spoons and tongs.

It’s always a smart idea to have extra condiments on hand when serving something customizable, like these chicken pitas.  Put out some thinly sliced onion, shredded lettuce, chopped cilantro and hot sauce in small bowls.  The more options the better!

Menu of the Month:

A Casual Al Fresco Dinner

Appetizers

Fresh fruit platter – watermelon, grapes, strawberries

Prosciutto-wrapped asparagus

Main

Grilled lemon chicken pita wraps with Greek yogurt raita

Sides

Red quinoa tabbouleh

Chili spiced sweet potato wedges*

Drinks

Iced tea

Chilled white wine such as sauvingon blanc

 * To make the chili spiced potato wedges: cut 4 scrubbed sweet potatoes into wedges, toss with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp chili powder and salt and pepper and arrange in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet (you might need two pans). Bake at 400°F  for 20-30 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.

Printable menu and shopping list

Click to download the shopping list.

What’s your ideal outdoor meal?

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