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7 Alfresco Menus for Memorial Day and Beyond

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photo: Scott Phillips

There are 15 summer weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day. And right now we’re ready to enjoy a dinner outdoors for each and every one of them (ask us about that again in the heat of August). So we’ve gathered together some of our favorite outdoor menus–think cookouts, lakeside picnics, and roll-your-own-taco parties, drawing their inspiration from the south of France, India, and the New England coast. Why settle for ho-hum burgers on the grill when you can choose one of these menus?

  • Menu

    A Francophile Picnic

    This French-inspired picnic menu stars pan bagnat, a pressed sandwich from the south of France that is basically Niçoise salad on bread. It's paired with fingerling potato salad in a tarragon vinaigrette, and a mixed berry-puff pastry slab pie.

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  • Menu

    BBQ Cuban Style

    This family-style menu features lechon asado (grill-roasted pork shoulder) and platters of black beans and rice, crunchy sweet plantains, and yuca with mojo. Hemingway's favorite daiquiri is the must-do cocktail.

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  • Menu

    A New England Style Clambake

    Skip the traditional fire-pit-on-the-beach clambake for this less laborious version in a kettle grill, full of shellfish, lobster, corn, and potatoes. Blueberry pie is the classic dessert.

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  • taco party menu

    A Summer Taco Party

    This menu pairs homemade tortillas and salsas with a few inventive fillings for a great DIY-style party: encourage guests to roll up their sleeves, shape and cook the tortillas, and choose their own fillings. All you need to do in advance is make the salsas and the margaritas.

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  • Menu

    A Texas Steak Cookout

    Punch up your Memorial Day cookout with a little Tex-Mex flavor: the grilled skirt steak is marinated in lime and tequila, topped with a tomatillo salsa, and wrapped in warm corn tortillas. The menu is rounded out by two bright, fresh veggie salads sparkling with cilantro, lime juice, and jalapeño.

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  • Menu

    A Chesapeake Dinner on the Water

    Celebrate summer Delmarva-style (that’s DELaware-MARyland-VirginiA). This dinner starts off with grilled-in-the-shell shrimp with an Old Bay-spiked cocktail sauce, then pairs the definitive Chesapeake crabcakes with two salads bursting with fresh-from-the-farm corn, beans, and tomatoes.

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  • Menu

    An Indian-Inspired Barbecue

    This flavorful menu gives a twist to familiar summer favorites like barbecued ribs, green beans and potatoes with fragrant Indian spices.

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