spring meal in the garden

There really needs to be a word for an afternoon meal that's between lunch and dinner. I realize "lunner" doesn't quite have the same ring to it that "brunch" does, but there ought to be something more descriptive than "afternoon meal." I suppose "supper" somewhat gets at the idea, but not in a way that's uniformly understood.

Anyway, semantics aside, yesterday I had friends over for a lovely spring afternoon meal in the garden. They arrived at two o'clock and we ate and drank until the evening. Afternoon is actually my favorite time of day for entertaining because you have the morning to prepare and the evening to clean up and still get to enjoy a good part of the day with your guests. There's also something about the afternoon that feels like the most relaxed time of day. People usually aren't as tired, or rushing and tend to like to hang out longer. It also works well with kids (who can run around while the adults are socializing.)

When I was planning what to serve I knew I wanted the menu to revolve around spring, the herbs in my garden, and of course on the cheese I had made earlier in the week. I also wanted to have a collection of light vegetable-based "first plates" that could be eaten casually over time rather than a formal sit down meal. Here's what I came up with:

  • Ricotta crostini with fresh thyme (based on a recipe from the NY Times)
  • Pesto pizzette (with pesto made from last summer's garden and my fresh goat mozzarella)
  • Ricotta ravioli with sage butter
  • Roasted asparagus
  • Dandelion salad with anchovy dressing and herbed croutons
  • Meringues with zabaglione and strawberries in red wine

I think the best evidence of how the meal turned out is that I didn't manage to get one photo taken of any of the food! (Partly the result of it being gobbled up quickly and partly because I was too busy enjoying myself and my Campari and grapefruit soda!)

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