Is there any better way to savor the longer days of summer than a casual dining with friends or family? Our beautiful West Texas sunset provides the perfect backdrop for an “alfresco dinner at dusk.” A friend of mine and I share a love of creating wonderful tablescapes, so creating this story was an absolute blast. We decided we would use things we already had, her vast dish collection and my fascination with mixing odd, unexpected elements to yield two looks that we both loved. One would lean towards a more colorful and casual evening, while the other is a tad dressier, using a cool, calm color palette; both perfect for entertaining.
Both looks would begin with basically the same; a wooden farmhouse table and chairs for seating, and a fun statue with an English Ivy sprouting out of her head (truth be known, we’ve been dying to use this as a centerpiece) our creations began. Prim, our lovely garden statue, added the height and texture that our tables needed. Bright yellow flowers and petite ferns gave a casual look, while elegant Opera pearls provided a dressier feel. Using natural elements eliminated running around searching for specific items. We used what we had and this is what we ended up with.
Colorful & Casual
Allowing fun patterned salad plates to create our color scheme, shades of turquoise and green popped against a neutral wicker charger. Casual, yet classic, stemware blended with antique silver flatware and daisy napkin rings. We chose turquoise cloth napkins for another splash of summer color. A simple yellow posy at each place added a little something extra and completed the casual, colorful look we hoped to achieve.
Calm & Cool
Where is it written that your china can only be used on a formal dining table? Entertaining outdoors is elevated when you bring the indoors outside. Simple, yet elegant, white dinner plates atop the same wicker chargers used before set the tone. Tiffany blue, scalloped salad plates provide a hint of color, echoing the hues of the pool. A “dressier” feel is enhanced with crisp, white linens, heirloom silver pieces and white roses arranged in mint julep cups.
Sunset Summer Recipes
This menu is a breeze and has become a favorite at our house. It can be ready in about 30 minutes! I serve it on platters and everyone helps themselves. It is perfect with a cold bottle of Pinot Grigio or your favorite red wine. – Nancy Roberts
Marinated Flat Iron Steak
- 1 3/4 pound flat iron steak (flank steak is fine)
- 2 Tablespoons of good olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon of Greek seasoning
- Flat-leaf parsley (garnish)
- Rub steak with olive oil, sprinkle evenly with seasoning
- Grill steak over medium high heat (350-400) for 10 minutes on each side or to desired degree of doneness. Let meat rest for about 10 minutes; slice diagonally into thin strips across the grain.
Tomato – Feta Salad
- 2 Roma tomatoes – cubed (I use whatever I have–homegrown are BEST)
- I/2 Cucumber– cubed
- ½ sliced calamotta olives
- 1 tablespoon of chopped flat leaf parsley
Mix together–Season with kosher salt and fresh black pepper top with a simple balsamic/olive oil vinaigrette
- 1 cup of Greek yogurt
- ½ grated cucumber
- Mix together
- Season with Greek seasoning and fresh black pepper
Do this last!
Brush Naan Bread lightly with roasted garlic paste and olive oil
Grill lightly, slice into small pieces
*You can use your favorite hummus recipe or pick it up at the grocery store.
**We don’t always have the olives, nuts and apricots as appetizers (or even at all); most of the time we snack on it informally while we prepare the other dishes.
*** Serve whatever fruit is in season.