Summer Grilling Gets An Elegant Upgrade at This Outdoor Pavilion Dinner

outdoor dining pavillion with dotted rug
Photo: Peter Krumhardt

On a shady pavilion, sophisticated grilled fare pairs with an elegant tablescape.

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Elegant Outdoor Dining

outdoor dining pavillion
Peter Krumhardt

Engaging the grill to prepare an outdoor feast is as common during the summer months as surfboards and sunshine. But grilling doesn't always equate to barbecue sauce and burgers. Case in point: Under the canopy of an arresting outdoor pavilion, this table impresses with casually placed wares for an unexpectedly elegant setting.

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Stylish Outdoor Pavilion

outdoor dining pavillion with dotted rug
Peter Krumhardt

Anchored by an outdoor rug sporting random white dots on its black ground, the palette of cool garden hues emerges from the floral linen cloth that drapes the table.

The black "Marina" indoor-outdoor rug from Ballard Designs tosses happy white dots under the furniture. "Emerson" armchairs with white slipcovers from Frontgate at the host and hostess spots offer an opposing sturdy presence to the airy, wood cross-back chairs from Tops Tents & Rentals.

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Summery Color Palette

table set with jamesse crystal stemware
Peter Krumhardt

The "Positano" tablecloth from Mode Living sets the palette with floral garlands of purple, white, and green on a linen ground. Olive trees, hydrangeas, and plants from Better Homes & Gardens for FTD show summer's beauty.

"Jamesse" crystal stemware from Lehmann Glass provides elegant vessels for the dinner's flight of wines.

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Coordinated Place Settings

mixed place settings
Peter Krumhardt

On top of white wicker placemats, three collections of formal dinnerware (tone-on-tone chargers in green or gray, a toile-like pattern depicting country life, and stone-color plates with a pebble motif) coordinate when stylishly mixed at each seat so no two settings are exactly alike.

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Plates with Pattern

stacked plates on placemat
Peter Krumhardt

A green "Rua Nova" charger from Bordallo Pinheiro grounds Juliska's "Country Estate" and Lenox's "Pebble Cove" patterns.

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Colorful Glassware

aqua water goblet
Peter Krumhardt

Cut-glass stemware in aqua and gray accents the simplicity of clear crystal wineglasses, while gray glass votives dance around a pair of tiny olive trees on the table's center. Vista Alegre's "Bicos" aqua water goblet contrasts with clear wine stems.

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Simple and Dramatic

candles in clear votives
Peter Krumhardt

Candles in a group of 20 votives from Villeroy & Boch light the table's center with simple but dramatic impact.

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Fancy Flatware

wood-handled flatware
Peter Krumhardt

Wood-handled flatware demonstrates the visual impact of a contrasting material. "Orio" stainless-steel flatware from Capdeco injects attractive wood grain into the setting.

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Lovely Floral Accents

floral accents
Peter Krumhardt

From Better Homes & Gardens for FTD, white hydrangeas are planted in geometric pots.

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Farmer's Market Fare

Lisa Johnson pours pinot noir
Peter Krumhardt

The menu, mostly prepared using the grill, includes a grilled cauliflower steak salad; smoked pork loin sweetened with plum, cherry, and sage sauce; and a Dutch baby pancake topped with strawberries.

Homeowner Lisa Johnson pours a Pinot Noir.

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Seasonal and Creative Menu

wine and dutch pancake with strawberries
Peter Krumhardt

Casual summer entertaining doesn't necessarily need to sacrifice style and creative cooking. This menu takes advantage of the bounty of the season, making efficient use of the grill, the seashore, and the farmer's markets. Recipes are by chef Mary Payne Moran of Hail Mary, Food of Grace.


  • Mussels with Red Pepper Sauce
  • Grilled Cauliflower Steak with Baby Greens
  • Smoked Pork Loin with Grilled Plum, Cherry, and Sage Sauce; Grilled Asparagus
  • Dutch Baby Pancake with Strawberries
  • Summer Wine Pairings

Shopping List

We've organized a shopping list to make shopping for this party menu easy for you. Package sizes are included so you have enough for duplicated recipe ingredients.

Check your pantry for these necessary items before shopping.

Note: Unless specified, when we call for "butter," we mean the unsalted variety. When we call for "olive oil," we are suggesting good-quality extra virgin. Eggs are large eggs.

  • Kosher salt (need 1 cup + 2-1/2 teaspoons)
  • Ground black pepper (need 1-1/8 teaspoons)
  • Paprika (need 1 tablespoon)
  • Vanilla extract (need 1 teaspoon)
  • Granulated sugar (need 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon)
  • Powdered sugar (need 2 tablespoons)
  • All-purpose flour (need 1/2 cup)
  • Eggs (need 3)
  • Whole milk (need 1/2 cup)
  • Butter (need 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons)
  • Olive oil (need 1/2 cup plus 1-1/2 teaspoons)
  • Red wine vinegar (need 1-1/4 teaspoons)
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Heavy-duty aluminum foil for grilling

Specialty grocery store

  • Saffron threads


  • 2 bunches Italian parsley
  • 1 bunch sage
  • 1 (5-ounce) container mixed spring greens
  • 3 lemons
  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 1 small shallot
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 large red sweet pepper
  • 3 (2-pound) heads cauliflower
  • 3 to 4 bunches medium asparagus spears (need 35 to 40)
  • 1-1/2 pounds plums (about 6)
  • About 8 ounces fresh tart cherries (or 1 package frozen pitted tart cherries)
  • 1 pound strawberries


Hickory wood chips (generally located in the "Seasonal" section)

Baking aisle

  • 1 (8-ounce) package roasted, salted pistachio nuts
  • 1 (12-ounce) box golden raisins


  • 2-pound pork top loin roast (single loin)


  • 2 pounds mussels in shells


  • 1 (8-ounce) container ricotta cheese


  • 1 loaf crusty sourdough bread

Cheese counter

  • 1 (4- to 6-ounce) package cotija or feta cheese

Alcohol section

  • 1 (750-millilitre) bottle dry white wine for cooking (need 2 cups)


  • Scrub and soak the mussels in the morning. Store prepared mussels in a bowl covered with a damp paper towel or kitchen towel in refrigerator until ready to prepare.
  • Prepare Lemon Vinaigrette up to 24 hours in advance. Keep chilled until ready to serve.
  • To maximize grill use, grill the cauliflower, plums, and asparagus in stages while the pork loin cooks. Simply use the heated side of the grill to prepare each item as directed. The food will pick up some of the smoke flavor from the hickory chips.
  • Store the grilled cauliflower, covered, in the refrigerator until just before ready to serve. Allow time for cauliflower to come to room temperature.
  • The Grilled Plum, Cherry, and Sage Sauce may be stored, covered, at room temperature until ready to serve.
  • The Grilled Asparagus should be grilled during the last 10 to 12 minutes of the pork cooking time.
  • For the Dutch Baby Pancake, prepare the batter up to 24 hours ahead. Wash, hull, and slice the strawberries in advance; cover and keep chilled.
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Mussels with Red Pepper Sauce

mussels with red pepper sauce
Peter Krumhardt

Soaking mussels prior to cooking ensures they are free from grit and sand.

Soak: 45 minutes

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 15 minutes

  • 2 pounds mussels in shells
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 2 lemons
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped yellow onion
  • 1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped red sweet pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 4 pinches saffron threads
  • 1 loaf crusty sourdough bread
  • 4 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley (optional)

Scrub mussels under cold running water. If present, remove beards from mussels. In 6- to 8-quart Dutch oven, combine 4 quarts cold water and 1/3 cup salt. Add mussels; let soak 15 minutes. Drain, discarding water. Rinse mussels. Repeat soaking, draining, and rinsing two more times.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Juice one lemon (you should have 3 tablespoons). Cut other lemon in wedges; set aside.

In 6- to 8-quart Dutch oven, melt 3 tablespoons butter and olive oil. Once butter has melted and oil is hot, add onion and red pepper. Cook and stir 5 minutes or until tender; season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.

Remove from heat and add wine; return to heat. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 3 to 4 minutes until alcohol is cooked out. Stir in saffron and lemon juice. Add mussels. Return to boil; reduce heat.

Cover; simmer 4 to 6 minutes or until shells open. Discard any mussels that do not open.

While mussels are cooking, heat bread in oven.

Add remaining butter to mussels; stir, covering mussels with sauce and vegetables.

Remove bread from oven. Slice bread; serve with mussels. Garnish with parsley, if desired. Makes 8 servings.

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Grilled Cauliflower Steak with Baby Greens

grilled cauliflower steak with baby greens
Peter Krumhardt

Cauliflower has come into its own as a dinner favorite. You'll see a lot of recipes for roasting the cauliflower—grilling gives you the same caramelized flavor with the added taste of smoke and fire.

Hands On: 20 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

  • 3 (2-pound) heads cauliflower, washed and leaves removed
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 cups mixed spring greens
  • 1/2 cup roasted salted pistachio nuts, shelled
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup crumbled cotija or feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley

Lemon Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped shallot

Cut eight 3/4-inch-wide center slices from cauliflower heads, cutting crosswise through core. (Reserve remaining cauliflower for another use.) Coat cauliflower slices with nonstick spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Line grill rack with heavy-duty foil coated with nonstick spray. Add cauliflower slices to foil. Cover; grill directly over medium heat 15 minutes. Coat again with nonstick spray. Carefully turn cauliflower. Cover and grill 10 minutes more or until charred and crisp-tender. Carefully remove from grill.

Meanwhile, in large bowl combine greens, pistachios, raisins, cheese, 1/4 cup parsley, and Lemon Vinaigrette. Toss; season with additional salt and pepper. To serve, place cauliflower steak on each plate; top with salad. Makes 8 servings.

For Lemon Vinaigrette, in small bowl or glass jar with lid, whisk or shake together olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, and shallot. Let stand 20 minutes.

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Smoked Pork Loin with Grilled Plum, Cherry and Sage Sauce; Grilled Asparagus

smoked pork loin
Peter Krumhardt

The delightful combination of hickory smoke, juicy pork loin, and grilled summer fruits gives dinner on the grill a brand-new perspective.

Prep: 25 minutes

Grill: 1 hour 40 minutes

Smoked Pork Loin:

  • 2 cups hickory wood chips
  • 2 pounds pork top loin roast (single loin), fat trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon paprika*
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Grilled Plum, Cherry, and Sage Sauce (recipe follows)
  • Grilled Asparagus (recipe follows)
  • Sage leaves

Grilled Plum, Cherry, and Sage Sauce:

  • 1-1/2 pounds plums, (about 6) halved and pitted
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen thawed pitted tart cherries, halved and pitted
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Grilled Asparagus:

  • 35 to 40 medium asparagus spears
  • 4 to 6 small cloves garlic, peeled
  • Nonstick spray
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

For Smoked Pork Loin, place wood chips in large bowl. Cover wood chips with water. Soak at least 1 hour.

Meanwhile, brush pork loin with oil. Sprinkle with parsley, paprika, salt, and pepper, and rub into pork.

For charcoal grill, arrange medium coals around drip pan. Test for medium-low heat above pan. Sprinkle wood chips over coals. Place pork loin on grill rack over drip pan. Cover; grill 1- to 1-1/2 hours or until instant-read thermometer inserted into meat registers 145°F, adding more charcoal to maintain heat as necessary. (For gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium-low. Adjust heat for indirect cooking. Grill as above, except place meat in roasting pan. Place on unlit side of grill. Place wood chips in foil packet. Cut slits in packet to allow smoke to escape. Place packet beneath grill rack directly over heat.)

Slice pork loins and top with Grilled Plum, Cherry, and Sage Sauce. Serve with Grilled Asparagus and garnish with fresh sage leaves.

For Grilled Plum, Cherry, and Sage Sauce, pat plums dry with paper towels. Coat with nonstick spray. Grill, cut side down, on rack of covered grill directly over medium-high heat 4 minutes or until lightly charred. (For grill pan, heat grill pan over medium-high heat. Pat plums dry with paper towels and coat with nonstick spray. Grill plums, cut side down, 4 minutes or until lightly charred.) Remove plums from grill and cut in thirds.

In large bowl combine grilled plum slices, cherries, olive oil, sage, red wine vinegar and sugar.

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Grilled Asparagus

grilled asparagus
Peter Krumhardt

For grilled asparagus, tear off 18x18-inch sheet of heavy-duty foil. Fold each edge over twice to shape shallow box to use as grill pan. Place asparagus and garlic in pan. Coat asparagus spears with nonstick spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place pan on rack of covered grill directly over medium-high heat. Grill asparagus 10 to 12 minutes or until just tender and lightly charred, turning once or twice. Makes 8 servings.

*Tip: Use traditional Hungarian paprika for this recipe. It will pick up a smoky flavor as the pork loin cooks. Smoked paprika will be overwhelming.

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Dutch Baby Pancake with Strawberries

dutch baby pancakes with strawberries
Peter Krumhardt

This Dutch baby pancake was prepared in a cast-iron pan from Lodge. Ricotta gives the classic dessert a savory-sweet edge.

Hands On: 10 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

In blender add eggs, milk, flour, ricotta cheese, granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt. Cover; blend 1 minute or until smooth. Cover; chill at least 15 minutes or up to 24 hours.

To bake, preheat oven to 425°F. Place butter in 10-inch cast iron skillet. Place skillet in oven 5 minutes or until butter melts. Swirl to coat bottom of skillet with butter. Add batter to hot skillet. Bake about 20 minutes or until puffed and golden.

Remove and cool slightly. Fill with strawberries, and sift powdered sugar over berries and pancake. Makes 8 servings.

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Summer Wine Pairings

summer wine pairings
Peter Krumhardt

1. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc: The unique terroir and coastal water composition of New Zealand are admirably suited for the exuberant Sauvignon Blanc grape. It is the country's most widely planted varietal. Sauvignon blanc is one of New Zealand's most popular exports.

Here's a wine that won't weigh down your palette with heavy flavors. It's a perfect companion for sipping on the deck.

Located on a northeastern bay in Marlborough, Cloudy Bay Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2016 embodies the characteristics of its origins: pungent, aromatic, grassy, citrusy, with hints of its coastal location. Overtones of red bell pepper, lemon, and butter make this wine a unique partner to Mussels with Red Pepper Sauce.

2. Oregon Willamette Valley Pinot Noir: The Willamette Valley boasts a long, gentle growing season with warm summers and cool evenings, bursts of Indian summer, mild winters, and long springs—prime conditions for the subtle flavors of pinot noir grapes. These wines show nuanced fruit flavors and a reasonably high acidity. Flavors vary from plum and currants to cherry and cinnamon, and from raspberry and black tea to black cherries and vanilla.

The Fairsing Vineyard Estate-Grown Pinot Noir 2014 offers warm earthy scents and dark fruits with hints of toasty vanilla, pepper, and smoke. In every aspect, this wine reflects the bounty of summer, a lovely complement to the Smoked Pork Loin with Plum, Cherry, and Sage Sauce.

3. Côtes du Rhône Rosé: Rosé wines have grown in popularity as summer sipping wines, and no doubt, they are light, refreshing, and fruity. Sparkling versions are popular cocktail hour wines. But rosés that come from the Côtes du Rhône, the hilly southwestern river valley that leads to the Mediterranean, have a depth from the hot sun and flinty soil that makes them good matches to food.

Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Reserve Roséis an excellent example of a food-appropriate summer rosé. It's full-flavored and crisp, with aromas of summer fruits. Pairing it with an airy Dutch Baby Pancake, given a savory-sweet edge with ricotta, balances the inherent minerality of this wine.

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