Al fresco is an Italian word that means, "in the fresh air." As warmer spring days lure us outside, it is the perfect time to transition to dining in nature and keeping the food and decor fresh and airy too. These recipes are easy to assemble and will be a hit with you and your guests and take you right into summer! (Hint- you can even use store-bought ingredients to make these hassle-free recipes even easier!) Vibrant pops of color are key when it comes to making a splash - for both the food and the table. A bright monochromatic centerpiece nestled in greenery in an earthy urn sets the stage for alfresco dining. White plates add crisp contrast and provide a neutral palette so the food is the star of the show.
Woven elements that provide a bit of coastal flair are more popular than ever and outdoor furniture can weather the elements while exuding airiness - think wicker, rattan and other natural fibers. Enjoy time with friends and family this spring!
Tomato Peach Burrata Salad
YIELD: Serves 6
· A few big pinches of Kosher salt
· Freshly ground black pepper
· 1 teaspoon dried oregano or 2 teaspoons fresh oregano
· 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
· 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
· 2 large heirloom tomatoes or large plum tomatoes, or cherry tomatoes. (about 2 1/2 pounds total)
· Two peaches
· 8 ounces mozzarella pearls or small balls
· 4 ounces burrata cheese
· 1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves plus additional whole leaves for garnish
· Combine salt through olive oil.
· Place the burrata cheese round on a platter. Arrange the tomatoes, peaches and mozzarella balls around cheese.
· Drizzle with dressing from bowl. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper. Garnish with additional basil leaves and serve.
Hummus with Toppings
YIELD: Serves 6-8
· Your favorite store-bought hummus, or make my recipe @ Lauren-Lane.com
· Topping Options:
· 1 small zucchini or a few radishes, thinly sliced
· 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
· 1 handful watercress or microgreens
· Additional topping ideas: fresh basil, crumbled feta cheese, 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts or capers
· Spoon the hummus into a serving bowl. Using your spoon, make a few swirls on the top.
· In medium bowl, toss toppings together. Add a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss well to combine.
· Drizzle hummus with olive oil and top with the dressed toppings. Serve with pita chips and/or veggies for dipping.
Grilled Corn Salad
YIELD: Serves 4-6
· 2 ears corn, grilled and cut from the cob
· 1 small shallot, thinly sliced into rings
· 1/4 cup fresh feta or goat cheese, crumbled
· 3 sprigs basil, leaves removed and torn
· 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
· 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
· Black pepper to taste
· Jalapeño, thinly sliced (optional)
· Place corn kernels into a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.
· Taste, and re-season with salt, pepper, and vinegar to taste.
Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
YIELD: Makes about 1 cup
· 1 cup (packed) fresh Italian parsley
· 1/2 cup olive oil
· 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
· 1/4 cup (packed) fresh cilantro (optional)
· 2 garlic cloves, peeled
· 3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
· 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
· 1/2 teaspoon salt
· 1 ½-2 pounds flank steak, or steak of choice.
· Make sauce: Puree all ingredients in processor. Transfer to bowl. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.)
· Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Sear steak for 6-8 minutes on each side until heavily browned on the outside and slightly pink in the middle.
· Thinly slice steak across the grain and top with Chimichurri sauce.
Pitcher Vodka Lemonade
YIELD: Makes six cocktails
· 48 ounces homemade lemonade (or store-bought)
· 12 ounces vodka
· Ice, for serving
· 1 lemon, sliced thinly
· Fresh mint for garnish
· Make the lemonade or pour store-bought in a pitcher.
· Add vodka and lemon slices (can be made the day before).
· To serve: pour cocktail over ice and garnish with fresh mint.
Recipes by Lauren Lane Culinarian For more recipes Follow her at: