Breathe in the most delicious life. Here are all of the elements for enjoying your dearest friends, the great outdoors and the pleasure of Mediterranean fare, all at once.
The warm temperatures of summertime beg for an al fresco dining experience with friends. Here are five essential tips to ensure you are well prepared to impress your guests.
1. Location, location, location. Select a location that offers easy access to important locations such as the bathroom and kitchen. Then, offer a well-lit path to get there.
2. Creative tablescapes set the theme. They should be consistent and practical. For example, instead of delicate floral centerpieces, try using substantial potted plants that won’t be affected by the weather. In addition, try using cloth napkins. They look great and are less likely to blow away.
3. Pick the right light. When the sun goes down, illuminate your dining experience with a combination of string lights, lanterns, hurricanes and candlelight. It’s important to shed just the right amount of mood light and ensure your guests can see their food.
4. Prepare for the weather. Should get a little chilly after dark, provide throw blankets for guests. Too sunny? Offer seating plenty of seating in the shade. Regardless of the hour, use citronella candles or tiki torches to keep the bugs away.
5. Let the music play. To set the perfect vibe, create a party playlist, in advance. In addition, make sure your outdoor or portable speakers are in good working order.
Light and flavorful, these recipes bring the best tastes of the Mediterranean to your backyard.
Caprese Salad with Balsamic Glaze
Grilled Salmon & Leek Kebabs
Mixed Berry Sorbet
RED SANGRIA, POR FAVOR
2 bottles fruity, medium-bodied red wine (such as a Garnacha, Tempranillo, Zinfandel, Bonarda, Nero d’Avola or a Ros)
4 shots of Cointreau
2 lemons cut into thin slices
2 limes cut into thin slices
2 oranges cut into thin slices
Fresh or frozen mixed berry fruit (such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries)
16 oz. bottle of lemon-lime pop
Add all of your fruit into a large pitcher. Next, add the Cointreau and red wine. Place into the fridge for several hours to meld the flavors and chill it well. Right before you are about to serve, add in the lemon-lime pop and ice.
NOTE: It is best to let the flavors soak together as long as possible. The longer sangria sits before drinking, the smoother and more mellow it will taste. A full day is best, but if that isn’t possible, give it an absolute minimum of two hours to sit.
CAPRESE SALAD WITH BALSAMIC GLAZE
2 cups balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup honey or organic raw blue agave
4 large tomatoes, vine-ripe, Beefsteak or heirloom
1 package fresh mozzarella cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, torn
Extra-virgin olive oil
8 olives, pitted (optional)
Stir balsamic vinegar and honey together in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low. Stir and simmer until the vinegar mixture has reduced, about 5-10 minutes. Don’t overcook. Set the balsamic reduction aside to cool. Slice tomatoes into 1/2-inch-thick slices and mozzarella into 1/4-inch slices. Arrange alternate slices of tomato and mozzarella cheese decoratively on a serving platter. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper, spread fresh basil leaves over the salad, and drizzle with olive oil and the balsamic reduction.
1 cup bulgur wheat
1 red onion
1 small bunch of chives
1 English cucumber
½ cup cherry tomatoes
1 bunch parsley
1 small bunch of mint
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled
Place bulgur in a large bowl. Cover with cold water. Let stand for one hour. Drain in a sieve. Set aside. Meanwhile, finely dice the onion. Mince the white and light green portion of the scallions. Mince the chives, parsley and mint. Small dice the cucumber. Quarter the cherry tomatoes. Spread the bulgur out in the bowl. Season evenly with kosher salt and black pepper. Add all of the chopped vegetables, crumbled feta and minced herbs. Pour in the olive oil and lemon juice. Toss well. Enjoy!
GRILLED SALMON & LEEK KEBABS
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. honey
2 tsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves grated
1 lb. skinless salmon fillet
1 large leek
1 lemon halved
1/8 tsp. tarragon
¼ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
Whisk rice vinegar, soy sauce, honey, olive oil and grated garlic to create a marinade for the kebabs. Cut salmon and leeks into 1-inch-thick pieces. Toss the salmon and leeks into the marinade. Chill in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes. Thread salmon and leeks alternately onto skewers. Squeeze lemon juice over top of kebabs. Sprinkle with tarragon, salt and pepper. Place skewers on a grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill 6 minutes or until done, turning skewers occasionally for an even char.
NOTE: If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 20 minutes before grilling.
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Meet The Designer
As lead Kitchen and Bath Designer for Waypoint Living Spaces®, my goal is to become a partner and support you in the creation of beautiful living spaces. As a busy mother of two, I have a true understanding and appreciation for a well-designed, functional space. That's why I'm here - to deliver expert support and content that makes your job easier. Together, let's achieve exactly what you have in mind!
Jennifer LeMarr, CKBD
Certified Kitchen and Bath Designer