When it comes to summer entertaining, the Barefoot Contessa is the grande dame of throwing elegant and memorable events without a hitch. She takes simple ingredients and transforms them into fresh and gorgeous dishes that are guaranteed to impress any crowd. As with all parties, the presentation is as important as the food. Take a page from Ina Garten‘s entertaining book with these table-setting ideas and delicious summer recipes.

Champagne Cocktail Bar

Create a self-serve cocktail bar for guests, featuring one bowl each of strawberries, raspberries and sugar cubes. Make sure the table is fully stocked with fruit juices and a large ice bucket with a few bottles of champagne. Keep a few bottles of sparkling water on display for your non-alcoholic guests. And don’t forget the champagne flutes!

Appetizers and Mains

Take the stress out of throwing a formal affair — outdoor parties are all about cool and comfortable ambiance! You can create a buffet-style table where guests can create their own plate of yummy items. When decorating, it’s all about the details and colourful accents, such as flower arrangements (think pretty hydrangeas or sunflowers), table linens and napkins.

eggplant-dip

Roasted Eggplant Spread

Serve this chunky and colourful veggie dip with pita bread bites. The best part? You can make this spread the night before!

Roasted Shrimp with Green Goddess Dressing

This absolutely addictive, creamy dip features basil, lemon, garlic and scallions, and pairs perfectly with large roasted shrimp.

Arugula, Watermelon and Feta Salad

This fresh summer salad is so easy to make and features a light citrusy vinaigrette and the best produce of the season.

Oven-Fried Crispy Chicken

Who doesn’t love buttermilk fried chicken? When it comes to filling large appetites, these tender pieces will do the trick. It takes just 15 minutes to prep and then into the oven it goes.

Dessert and Sweet Treats

A party isn’t complete without a serving of sugary delights. Ina has so many delicious summery desserts to choose from, including these popular sweets that’ll have guests singing your praises.

ina-garten-lemon-squares

Lemon Bars

A perfect combo of sweet and tart flavours, these palate-pleasing treats make a pretty display for your dessert table. Have little baggies on hand so guests can take these home with them, too!

Summer Fruit Crostada

This dessert is seriously gorgeous and boasting a variety of fruit including black plums, blueberries and peaches.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

This childhood favourite will have friends smacking their lips and sneaking seconds (and thirds).