Mangia! The Italians are famous for their love of food, so delicious flavors naturally become the centerpiece of our Capri-inspired soiree. Al fresco dining calls for light and seasonal fare, and serving it all family-style is more fun, casual, and a quick way for all your guests to get to know each other!
A menu of colorful antipasto, fusili with fresh tomato sauce, grilled steak & arugula salad, and an assortment of fruity sorbets creates a luscious yet simple summer meal. Limoncello is the drink of the Italian Riviera, so it’s a festive base for the evening’s signature cocktail.
From Cocktails 2007, Food & Wine Magazine
- 16 oz limoncello
- 12 oz gin
- 8 oz fresh lemon juice
- 24 paper thin lemon slices
- 16 oz chilled club soda
- 8 mint sprigs
In a pitcher, combine the limoncello, gin and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours. Press 3 thin lemon slices against the inside of each of 8 collins glasses. Add ice to the glasses. Stir the limoncello mixture and pour it into the glasses. Stir 2 ounces of club soda into each drink and garnish with a mint sprig. Makes 8 drinks.
From Rachel Ray, foodnetwork.com
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella
- 1/2 pound deli sliced sweet sopressata
- 1/2 pound deli sliced hot sopressata
- 1/2 pound deli sliced Genoa salami
- 1 pound sharp provolone
- 2 cups good quality large olives
- 2 cups giardiniera hot pickled vegetable salad, drained
- 2 cups marinated artichoke hearts
- 1 (16-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into pieces
- Grissini breadsticks and crusty french bread, for serving.
Arrange meats and cheeses on cutting board, surrounded by french bread and grissini. Pile olives, giardiniera, artichokes and red peppers into small bowls and set along edge of board or serving tray. Place knives near cheeses and seafood forks in olives and veggies to serve. Place an extra ramekin out to collect pits from olives.
Fusilli with Fresh Tomato Sauce
From Martha Stewart Living
Serves 8 for light first course
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- 6 medium tomatoes
- 6 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- Coarse salt
- 1 pound pasta (fusilli or spaghetti)
- Parmesan cheese, for serving
- Make chile oil: Stir together 1/2 cup oil and 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes. Let stand at room temperature at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
- Make sauce: Core tomatoes and tear into bite-size pieces directly into a serving bowl. Add garlic, remaining 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, the oregano, basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and remaining 1/2 cup oil. Lightly crush together using a wooden spoon. Let stand at room temperature 1 to 8 hours.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add salt to taste. Add pasta; cook until al dente. Drain. Add hot pasta to tomato mixture. Discard garlic cloves. Serve with Parmesan cheese for grating and with the chile oil for drizzling.
Seared Rib-Eye Steak with Arugula & Roasted Peppers
From Giada De Laurentiis, foodnetwork.com
- 8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
- 4 (1-inch-thick) rib-eye steaks (about 1 pound each)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 cups arugula, washed and spun dry
- 3 cups roasted peppers, rinsed and patted dry
- 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Small block Parmesan (about 12 ounces)
- In a large saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season steaks with salt and pepper. When pan starts to smoke, carefully add 2 of the steaks. Allow the steaks to cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on 1 side, without moving or piercing the meat. This will help create a good, crusty sear. When steaks are brown, flip and sear the other side for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove meat to a large plate and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Add 2 more tablespoons of oil to pan and repeat with remaining steaks.
- Decoratively line a large platter with arugula. Tear the roasted peppers into large pieces and scatter over the arugula. In a small bowl, whisk in the remaining olive oil, balsamic vinegar and any meat juices that may have collected on the plate from the steaks. Season with salt and pepper.
- Slice the steaks across the grain and on a bias into 1 1/2-inch thick pieces. Lay the slices on top of the salad and drizzle with dressing. Using a vegetable peeler, shave about Parmesan over the dish.
For summer gatherings, I like to keep dessert simple and serve delicious store-bought ingredients that are easy to assemble. Nothing is more refreshing than an assortment of colorful sorbets, in flavors like lemon, coconut, orange, and chocolate. My all-time favorite brand is Ciao Bella, and I serve tiny scoops so that guests can try a few flavors. To make it a bit more special, set out small bowls of garnishes like fresh mint, chocolate shavings, and toasted coconut. Finally, offering a dessert wine, such as Vin Santo, encourages friends to linger a little longer as the laughter flows late into the night.