Make the most of the light and balmy evenings this summer by inviting your nearest and dearest over for a relaxed Italian-inspired meal in the garden – just make sure to do a little bit of planning beforehand, it will go a long way…

set the scene

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set the scene

Conjure the perfect ambience for your al fresco meal by creating an Italian courtyard feel in your garden. You can have romantic lighting with soft bulbs, add shade with a lovely parasol, give your table a rustic edge by decorating it with basil planted in old tin cans and citronella candles to keep away the bugs.

taste of italy

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Taste of italy

Take your taste buds on a trip around Italy. Inspired by northern Italy, where you’ll find lots of butter-based sauces that are rich with cream and infused with fresh herbs and garlic? Try making a hearty chicken pasta traybake. If you prefer the vibrant cooking of southern Italy, which features lots of the fresh, lively flavours that most people associate with Italian cuisine, go for a Mediterranean fish bake. Enjoy with a refreshing glass or two of Grande Alberone Zinfandel, Prosecco or Pinot Grigio.

be prepared

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be prepared

Try to prep most of your food in advance and buy a few ready-made options to take some of the pressure off on the day – and if you’re worried about running out, it’s worth bulking up on staple items like bread, potatoes and salad. Also make sure to prepare for all eventualities. Just in case it gets chilly later in the evening, have blankets ready and waiting.