Is there anything better than dining under the Umbrian sun?
The thick pergola umbrella casts a calm Italian ambiance perfect for those slow dinners with the family that last for hours. We dressed the table with a white table-cloth, placed candles, olive branches and lavender here and there creating that relaxing rustic chic look. We sipped on wine and grilled some simple seafood on an old-fashioned char grill that was built into the stone wall. We made a pot of classic french mussels set in the middle of the table where we all scooped some for ourselves. Looking back at these pictures, I still can taste the rustic bread that I scooped into the white wine sauce with a hint of fresh herbs in the background. The view over the hills was purely breathtaking, just green after green as far as the eye can see. We got dressed nicely, my sister-in-law dabbed on some red lipstick as she put baby B to sleep. We all cooked together and the men naturally took charge of the grill. We listened to music, danced and enjoyed the evening that prolonged until late after midnight and still cooked some steak later on. I still remember when my brother asked his wife P to dance and they were spinning in the backyard, it was one of the best nights of summer!
Seafood is such a great social food as everything is placed in the middle, easy to cook and always looks and tastes great! The key is to make a great marinade for the seafood, grill it to get that lovely char flavour and dress it with lemon and simple flavours, that’s really all you need! Scroll down for the recipes and inspiration for dining al fresco, country-style!
How to make the Seafood Marinade
Make the marinade in a bowl; add some olive oil, chopped parsley, chili and garlic. Use this marinade for the different shrimps and octopus ( in separate bowls) and let them marinate for a few hours. Grill the seafood and add ground black pepper and salt if needed and brush the remaining marinade on top. Serve with lemon wedges.
Classic Moules Mariniére
|2 kg Mussels (cleaned & beards removed)||Wash mussels in cold running water. Press the shells of any open mussels together; if they don’t close, discard them. With a sharp knife pull out the beards and drain well.|
|1 onion finely chopped, 4 cloves garlic, handful of thyme, 2 bay leaves||Over a medium heat in a large pot, sauté the onion, garlic and herbs in the butter for a few minutes.|
|150 ml dry white wine||Add the mussels and white wine into the pot and cover with a lid. Cook for 5 minutes, until the mussels open.|
|Handful of chopped parsley||Ready to serve: add in some chopped parsley (can add a splash of cream if you wish) and serve with rustic loaf to scoop the juices with.|
Spinach Pea side dish
Add a dollop of olive oil on a pan along with the grated garlic, a few leaves of chopped sage and the chopped shallot. Stir for a few minutes before adding the peas (we used frozen ones). Add ground black pepper, a pinch of salt. Then stir in a few large handfuls of fresh spinach and about a handful of grated parmesan cheese. Cook for a few minutes until the spinach wilt.