It’s time to eat outside!

By Laura Rege
Janelle Jones

Gather everyone outside for tonight's family dinner. Set the table in your backyard (or on the deck) and serve a garden-inspired menu of easy-to-eat-outdoors finger foods and a family-style main that's full of fresh, healthy, and seasonal ingredients.

Pluck fresh herbs from the garden to garnish homemade herbal sodas and roasted beet bites. A beautiful make-ahead riff on Niçoise salad, filled with fresh garden vegetables and grilled meat, is the star of the meal. On the side, serve freshly grilled asparagus flatbreads. And for an easy sweet ending, arrange rhubarb bars on a platter so everyone can help themselves to a piece-or two.

The Menu


Fresh garden herbs are highlighted in these homemade sodas. They have just the right balance of sweetness for the kids and plenty of sophisticated herbal flavor for the adults, all complemented by loads of bubbles.

MAKE AHEAD: Make and refrigerate the syrup the day before.

Get the Herbal Sodas Recipe


Create a hand-held salad by separating endive leaves and filling each one with roasted beet salad. Scatter fresh tarragon on top or substitute any leafy herb growing in the garden. Either roast the beets ahead of time or use vacuum-packed cooked beets.

MAKE AHEAD: The beets can be roasted, diced, and dressed the night before.

Get the Roasted Beets with Tarragon Recipe
Janelle Jones


We named tonight's main Leftover Niçoise because you can build this salad around any leftover grilled meat, poultry, or fish. Our version has both salmon and shrimp. Each vegetable element is dressed separately and has a unique add-in, like garden herbs or cheese. Hard-boiled eggs and anchovies are a Niçoise-must. Use whatever greens or herbs you have in the garden to decorate the platter.

MAKE AHEAD:Use leftover meat or fish and prep the elements of this salad the night before, then assemble before serving.

PRO TIP: Cut the proteins and vegetables into bite-size pieces so everyone can eat this salad with just a fork.

Get the Leftover Salade Niçoise Recipe
Jennifer Causey


While you are outside, fire up the grill and make this delicious pizza-like side. Char both the asparagus and the bread slices, then spread each slice with a creamy cheese such as ricotta. This helps lock the roll-prone asparagus in place when you add the spears. Cut each slice in half and eat with your hands-no silverware needed. Olives in the bread add a briny bite, but any rustic loaf will suffice.

Get the Grilled Asparagus Flatbread Recipe
Dana Gallagher


Utensil-free desserts are perfect for outside dining-and that's just one reason to love these cakey bars. The other reason is that they're finished with seasonal rhubarb and a crisp streusel topping. Talk about irresistible!

MAKE AHEAD: Bake the bars up to a day before and let cool completely.

Get the Rhubarb Buckle Recipe

Watch for table setting ideas and gorgeous DIY upgrades for your garden dinner table:


Be the first to comment!