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Dining Al Fresco

Toddler hands with dough, tomatoes and basil
Written By
Parachute Team
Photographs By
Jessica Schramm for Parachute
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Gathering for a delicious and nourishing meal is one of our favorite daily rituals. From carefully selecting recipes, to gathering ingredients at the local farmers market, to sipping a cocktail while stirring, every aspect of preparing a meal can be an exercise in enjoyment. To celebrate the summer, we’ve planned the perfect al fresco menu that is sure to leave your heart and stomach feeling full.

For the dough:

  • ¾ cup of luke warm water

  • 1 teaspoon of active dry yeast

  • 2 cups of all purpose flour

  • 1 ½ teaspoons of salt

For the toppings:

  • 1 large bunch of tuscan kale

  • ⅓ cup of pine nuts and/or almonds 

  • ¾ cup of grated parmesan 

  • 2 cloves of garlic

  • ½ cup of olive oil 

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes 

  • 1 ball of fresh mozzarella 

  • 1 bunch of fresh basil

Toddler eating pizza

To make the dough (makes two 10 inch pizzas): 

  • Pour water into the bowl of a stand mixer or a medium bowl. Sprinkle in the yeast, and let stand until the yeast has dissolved, about 5 minutes.

  • Stir in the flour and salt with a stiff spatula until you’ve formed a floury, shaggy dough.

  • Using the dough hook on the stand mixer, or kneading by hand against the counter, knead the dough on medium speed until it forms a smooth, slightly tacky ball that springs back when you poke it, 5 to 8 minutes. If the dough sticks to the bowl or your hands, add a tablespoon of flour at a time until it’s easier to work with; avoid adding too much flour.

  • Coat a clean bowl with a little olive oil, and transfer the dough into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let the dough rise until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours at room temperature. 

To make the pesto: 

  • Blanch the kale quickly in boiling water, then drain. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out excess water by hand. 

  • Blend nuts, oil, garlic, and ⅓ cup water in a blender or food processor until very smooth. Add kale and Parmesan. Purée, adding olive oil 1 Tbsp. at a time until smooth. Transfer pesto to a large bowl.

 To assemble and bake: 

  • Preheat your oven to 500 degrees, or it’s highest temperature setting. 

  • Divide the dough in half, and pat or roll the pieces into 10-inch rounds, and transfer to parchment paper lined baking sheet. 

  • Dollop a large spoonful of the pesto into the center of the dough and use the back of the spoon to spread it out evenly. Top with fresh basil leaves, torn mozzarella, and whole cherry tomatoes. 

  • Bake until the cheese is melted, the crust is golden, and you see a some charred bits on the top and edges, about 5 to 10 minutes depending on crust thickness and oven temperature.

Mediterranean meal

Recipe: Mediterranean Picnic Menu

For the feta: 

  • 8 oz. good quality feta in brine

  • ¾ cup olive oil 

  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns 

  • 1 lemon, zest stripped off with vegetable peeler

  • 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds

For the Couscous:

  • 1 cup israeli couscous

  • 4 small persian cucumbers, diced 

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

  • Juice of 2 lemons

  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped

  • ¼ cup chopped mint

  • ¼ cup chopped dill 

  • ¼ cup chopped chives or scallions

For the roasted veggies: 

  • 3 summer squash and/or zucchini 

  • 3 bell peppers (red, yellow, and/or orange) 

  • 4 sprigs of oregano and/or thyme 

  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

food in jars

Recipe – Marinated Feta: 

Lightly toast coriander and peppercorns in a small skillet until fragrant, then crush or coarsely chop. In a medium bowl, stir together the olive oil, strips of lemon zest, peppercorns and coriander. 

Cut the feta into 1/2-inch cubes and gently fold into olive oil mixture until well coated. Transfer to a jar or lidded container and drizzle with more olive oil, if needed to immerse the feta. Refrigerate overnight. 

Allow to come to room temperature before serving.

Recipe – Israeli Couscous Salad: 

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Add couscous and stir until the couscous begins to color slightly and smell toasty, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 2 cups water and salt to taste and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes, or until the couscous is tender. Drain any liquid that remains. 

Transfer the couscous to a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice, parsley, mint, dill, cucumbers, tomatoes, chives and add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with a healthy amount of olive oil, toss together and adjust seasoning if needed.

Recipe – Jarred Roasted Veggies: 

Preheat oven to 475°. Place squash and peppers on separate baking sheets. Drizzle each sheet of vegetables with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. 

Roast turning once, until tender, 15–20 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Stir smashed garlic, vinegar, olive oil in a large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add veggies and herbs, then toss to coat. Cover and let sit at least 1 hour. Divide into jars, which can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.

Toddler making ice cream

Recipe: Homemade Ice Cream in a Bag

1st small storage bag: 

  • 1 cup half and half

  • 2 tablespoons of sugar

  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract or mint extract

2nd gallon sized storage bag:

  • Ice

  • 2 tablespoons of very coarse salt

 To make: 

  • Place half and half, sugar, and vanilla or mint extract into smaller bag. 

  • Fill larger bag with ice and add salt.

  • Make sure the smaller bag is tightly sealed and place inside the larger bag with the ice. 

  • Agitate gently for about 10 minutes by rolling the bag around and back and forth between your hands. Avoid shaking too vigorously.

  • Serve immediately with toppings of your choice!  

Berry lemonade cocktail on a quilt with a lemon

Recipe: Fresh Berry Lemonade Cocktail

  • 3 cups sugar

  • 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries or raspberries, or a combination

  • 4 cups fresh lemon juice

  • 1.5 ounces vodka (optional) 

  • Mint garnish (optional) 

Bring 3 cups of water and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved. Let cool. Muddle fresh berries, or process in a blender or food processor. Strain through a mesh sieve into a large pitcher, pressing with the back of a wooden spoon to extract as much juice as possible. Add cooled simple syrup and lemon juice to the pitcher and stir to combine. Serve over plenty of ice and vodka if you’d like it spiked! Garnish with fresh mint.