3 Tips for Easy Summer Entertaining

3 Tips for Easy Summer Entertaining

We are back from our Italy trip and I am feeling revived and ready to enjoy summer in Toronto. With our new backyard we hope that means lots of entertaining! There’s nothing that makes me happier than sharing a home cooked meal with friends, but it can also come with lots of prep work! I’ve hosted too many gatherings where I’ve been so busy throughout the day/night to even enjoy myself so over time I started coming up with ways to make entertaining easier. I am excited to be teaming up with Summer Fresh to share 3 tips for simple entertaining this summer.

1. Plan in advance

This includes everything from planning your menu to grocery shopping and doing as much cooking/prep work before the day of possible. Leaving things to the last minute or the day of will leave you feeling stressed even if it’s just a dinner four people. 

Typical planning schedule for me:

  • 1 week in advance: craft my menu. These days people have multiple dietary preferences – (ie vegan, vegetarian, gluten free etc) so you might need more time to look up alternative recipes. The last thing I want is someone showing up to my house and not being able to eat!
  • 3-4 days in advance: buy the groceries (depending on the ingredients/freshness required)
  • 1 day/2-3 hours before: prep ingredients as much as possible. For example, marinate your meat, chop veggies for salads, pre-cook pasta al dente.

Reasons why I love this tip:

Taking the time to figure out a meal that accommodates your guests’ preferences will give you extra hosting brownie points. Planning and prepping in advance also minimizes the amount of work you have to do while your guests are over.

Involve your guests

Ever since starting Megs Cucina I find that people love the behind-the-scenes experience and either want to get involved or watch as I prepare my dishes. Over time I realized getting your guests involved is a great way to elevate the entertaining experience. Just make sure to plan out how you want your guests to get involved so that you aren’t scrambling.

For example – when I create my charcuterie masterpieces I’ll have friends cut the veggies and cheese or wash the fruit. If you are making burgers, have your guests cut the toppings (pickles, tomatoes, onions). If you are making antipasto skewers, lay out all of the ingredients and have your guests help skewer with you!

Reasons why I love this tip:

  • Guests get to learn how to make a new dish and feel a sense of accomplishment when they’ve contributed to the meal. 
  • If you are like me and get FOMO when you are the host preparing food in another room while everyone else is having fun – this avoids that conundrum!
  • Not to mention it helps if you didn’t have time to follow my first piece of advice to plan in advance 😉

Self-serve dishes

If you couldn’t tell already, my motto for entertaining is to minimize the amount of work you are doing during the gathering – because you deserve to enjoy too! My final tip is to incorporate self-serve dishes like my Italian Summer Salad Board below – so that you can set up buffet style and have the guests serve themselves. I brought this to my friends’ engagement party this weekend and it was a HUGE hit!

Reasons why I love the Summer Salad Board: 

  • It’s a win-win-win because it incorporates my first two tips! First, it cuts down on prep time a lot because I start with three ready-to-serve bases on the board: Summer Fresh Pasta ItalianoRoasted Garlic Hummus and Roasted Red Pepper Hummus. Second, it gets your guests involved because they can pick and choose how to build their plate 2. 
  • You can make it fun by picking a theme for your board like I did with the Italian Summer. I am already brainstorming ‘My Big Fat Greek Charcuterie’ featuring the Greek Pasta Salad and a Mexican Fiesta Board featuring the Bean Medley Salad!
  • I love supporting Canadian brands and featuring local ingredients in my recipes so the fact that Summer Fresh products are made in Canada is a BIG PLUS for me
  • Considering the amount of Summer Fresh hummus I consume it’s refreshing to know that all of their hummus, dips and salads are made with fresh and simple ingredients and no added preservatives – plus I know I am serving up wholesome food to my guests!
  • Once you have prepped your board the only other thing to worry about is picking a protein to serve with it like sausages, salmon or burgers

Ingredients for Italian Summer Salad Board:

  • Summer Fresh Pasta Italiano
  • Summer Fresh Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
  • Summer Fresh Roasted Garlic Hummus
  • Marinated artichokes – store bought in a jar
  • Red, yellow & orange peppers sliced
  • Cucumber sliced
  • 250 grams of prosciutto
  • Breadsticks (your fave kind store bought)
  • Tomato, bocconcini, prosciutto & basil skewers
  • Melon, prosciutto, bocconcini & basil skewers
  • Figs
  • Fennel sliced

How to build an Italian Summer Salad Board:

  • Start by laying out your bases – the pasta salad and two hummuses. These will be the focal points for you to surround with other ingredients.
  • The rest of the board is really a free for all – I put these things down and see if it fits, move it around if it doesn’t and keep it if it does.
  • Try stacking ingredients, combining ingredients (ex. artichokes on top of prosciutto) and using different patterns
  • Use small ingredients like nuts, figs or berries to fill holes on the board

Hopefully these tips make your summer entertaining that much easier!

*This post was done in partnership with Summer Fresh, however the opinions are 100% my own.