10 May After the Tent: Food Ideas for Your Outdoor Reception

Hosting a reception outdoors can be a dream come true … or it can turn into a not so pleasant day if things don’t go quite as planned. When considering whether or not to host an event outdoors, it’s helpful to ask yourself (and your caterer) some important questions to determine whether celebrating alfresco is right for your reception. But once you’ve settled on the idea of hosting your party outside, consider the food you will serve to your guests. As the temperature rises, your menu should consist of lighter fare to keep your guests cool. Here are some of our favorites to serve during the dog days of summer.

Hors d’Oeuvres

It’s always a good idea to focus on seasonal fruits and vegetables, especially those grown locally, to increase the freshness factor. Consider a salsa bar with pico de gallo, pineapple and mango salsa, cucumber and green bell pepper salsa, green tomatillo salsa, queso fresco and guacamole. Serve with homemade chips made from white Yukon potatoes, yuca, green plantains and tortillas.

Other ideas for refreshing summertime starters include tomato gazpacho with cilantro lime crème fraîche or pineapple-mango gazpacho served in disposable shot glasses, watermelon cubes with feta and balsamic drizzle, a raw bar or individual shrimp cocktails set on cups of shaved ice.

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First Course

Suggestions for a first course include vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes served with fresh mozzarella, basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar or a salad of field greens and romaine with fresh sliced strawberries, toasted pine nuts, goat cheese and a tropical vinaigrette.

Ideal Entrées

For instant seasonal style, grilled chicken, meat and fish can add the perfect touch to your menu. Chili-lime rubbed chicken breasts, grilled salmon topped with watermelon and grapefruit salsa or flat iron steak rubbed with lemon-basil pesto are summer menu staples. Bonus: all of these entrée options go great on a skewer!

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Starch & Veggies

Add a splash of summer to your menu with fresh vegetable kebabs with lemon vinaigrette, zucchini and summer squash planks drizzled with balsamic and chilled asparagus with orange segments and sautéed fennel. Keep your starch sides light by adding fresh seasonal elements such as lemon and fresh basil risotto cakes and roasted red bliss potatoes with lemon, rosemary, garlic and olive oil.

Delightful Desserts

Add some cool treats for your guests, including a shaved ice station. Let the chef present a demonstration tableside in front of your guests by shaving large ice blocks, scooping the ice into paper cones and then adding the guests’ choice of fresh, all-natural, homemade flavors like lemon zest, strawberry-basil, blueberry-mint and pina colada. Another fun idea is to serve a trio of bite-sized waffle cups with homemade fillings including Nutella, French toast and tres leches.

An ice cream bar is a surefire way to keep your guests cool. Make sure there are plenty of toppings to choose from, like sauces, fresh fruit, sprinkles, nuts and of course, fresh whipped cream.

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Ready to start planning? Schedule a consultation with one of our event managers today!

Join us for an open house event on Saturday, May 21, 2016, and explore the historic Columbia Station, the area’s most unique location to host your next affair.

Robert Ryan Catering and Design plans and executes over 400 events each year, boasts a five-star rating on WeddingWire and has received WeddingWire’s Couple’s Choice/Bride’s Choice Award seven years in row. Learn more about Robert Ryan Catering & Design and tour our venuesSubscribe to our e-newsletter for exclusive offers, up-to-date news and recipes from our executive chef.

Ronna Dewey



From inception to execution, Robert Ryan Catering & Design works with you to realize your vision for your event, and translate it into a successful affair.