We’ll miss it. The earthy scent of freshly mown grass. Open windows. A breeze that breathes through the curtains. The clink-clink of ice tumbling into glasses and frosty beads of sweat promising cool comfort. We will miss summer soon enough.
So let’s celebrate its last balmy nights with the fête it deserves: an Indian summer dinner party with candles, romance and plenty of red, white and rosé. Tell your guests all they need to bring is good conversation.
It’s a misconception that an elegant gathering takes days of planning and lots of fuss. Outline a simple but special menu like grilled pepper jack and avocado quesadillas to start. Then serve suave skewers of shrimp and prosciutto and a festive Moroccan carrot salad with spicy lemon dressing.
Now set the stage. Pick a spot for the table where you and your guests will be comfortable sitting for hours. Gather a loose bouquet of freshly cut roses and make it a focal point. Bring out the china and glassware, linen runner or posh placemats. It’s wonderful how the tenor of the moment shifts into the realm of the uncommon with small touches like these.
Involve your welcome guests. Before the sun slips low on the horizon, invite them to carry something to the table. One brings the napkins, another a stack of salad plates, yet another the wine.
And have them light the candles. Quantity is key here. Scatter votives haphazardly around the table. Dot the landscape with lanterns. Place hurricane-topped pillars on the porches, patios and poolside like stationary fireflies. Your guests will find the task of lighting all of them a playful, celebratory scavenger hunt. Passersby will notice the happy illumination and yearn to be invited—some enchanted evening must be happening there.
Yes, it is an occasion that comes around once a year: Indian summer. Our chance to give the season we love so much a proper send-off.
Tackle every outdoor fête with grace using inspiration from our Pinterest board.
Moroccan Carrot Salad with Spicy Lemon Dressing
Courtesy of Food & Wine
1/4 cup harissa
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
4 lbs carrots, julienned on a mandolin or coarsely shredded in a food processor (about 12 cups)
2 cups raisins
4 cups flat-leaf parsley leaves
1lb feta, crumbled
In a large bowl, whisk the harissa with the lemon juice. Gradually whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Add the carrots, raisins, parsley and feta to the dressing and toss well. Serve lightly chilled or at room temperature.
The carrot salad can be made without the feta and parsley and refrigerated for up to 6 hours; add the feta and parsley just before serving. The lemon dressing can be refrigerated overnight.
Harissa is a chile paste used in Tunisia and Morocco. It is available in jars and tubes from specialty food shops.