Take Family Favorites Al Fresco: Advice for Enjoying Easy Meals Outdoors

Bright sunshine, warm patios and fresh foods go hand in hand. As warm weather and sunny days call you outdoors, bring the whole family along with favorite meals that blend perfectly with a soft breeze and the subtle sounds of nature.

Al fresco dining doesn’t have to be difficult. Just gather a few supplies, whip up a favorite recipe or two and ask for a hand in heading outside. Take these tips into account to help ensure your backyard dining goes off without a hitch.

Create a Cozy Spot
Dinner in the backyard means convenience and the comfort of your own patio furniture, but you can always enhance the experience with an umbrella to add a touch of shade or a small fan on those still, steamy evenings. If a busy day means a later dinner, hanging strings of soft lighting can help illuminate the table.

Make It Fresh
Salad season means fresh ingredients from lettuce and veggies to favorite toppings and beyond. Add a crisp bite to your next al fresco occasion with this Southwest Ranch Taco Salad featuring Newman’s Own’s Southwest Ranch Dressing. The dressing is creamy and smoky with a kick of spice and features no artificial flavors, no colors from artificial sources and no MSG, making it a perfect companion for salads and dips. In fact, you can enjoy this seasonal salad even more knowing that 100% of profits from the sale of the dressing goes toward helping nourish and transform the lives of children facing adversity.

Don’t Forget the Essentials
No outdoor meal is complete without a few must-have utensils. Avoid trips back and forth from the house by writing a list of everything you need so you don’t head to the deck without forks to share a salad or napkins to help clean up the mess. Bring the basics like plates, cups, utensils, napkins and a cloth to rest food on. Don’t leave behind serving spoons, trash bags and other convenience items that make al fresco dining a breeze.

Serve a Perfect Salad Partner
While a hearty salad alone is enough for a filling al fresco meal, you can take your backyard dining to the next level with the perfect partner for satisfying salads: crudites. Arranged neatly on a platter or board, a seasonal variety of sliced or whole raw vegetables such as snap peas, celery, carrots, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, mini bell peppers, broccoli and more can make for a perfect accompaniment to nearly any outdoor meal. Serve with a dip or two, such as Newman’s Own’s Southwest Ranch Dressing, to complete your al fresco appetizer.

To find more al fresco food options that give back, visit NewmansOwn.com.

Southwest Ranch Taco Salad

Total time: 25 minutes

  • 1/2 head romaine lettuce
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 2 small avocados
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef (80/20 ground chuck)
  • 2 teaspoons Newman’s Own Mild Taco Seasoning
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 can (15 1/2 ounces) black beans
  • 1 1/2 cups canned corn
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus additional for serving (optional), divided
  • 1 cup Newman’s Own Southwest Ranch Dressing
  • 6 ounces tortilla chips
  1. Coarsely chop lettuce, halve cherry tomatoes and pit, peel and slice avocados. Set aside.
  2. In large frying pan over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Brown ground beef, stirring occasionally, 4-5 minutes. Add taco seasoning and water; cook according to package directions, 5-8 minutes, or until meat is thoroughly cooked.
  3. Drain and rinse black beans. Set aside.
  4. Divide lettuce among serving bowls or plates. Top with ground beef, tomatoes, avocados, black beans, corn, cheese and 2 tablespoons cilantro. Tuck in tortilla chips.
  5. Drizzle with southwest ranch dressing and sprinkle with additional cilantro, if desired.

Source: Newman’s Own (Family Features)

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