Improving Your Restaurant

Improving Your Restaurant

Ideas For An Italian Cookout

Julia Payne

Tired of grilled burgers and hot dogs for your holiday cookouts? Why not consider an Italian theme for your next summer party? Bowls of pasta and garlic bread are great, but they can be too heavy when the weather is warmer, so you need something light and healthy. Here are some tantalizing Italian food ideas perfect for a fun in the sun get together.

Caprese Salad

Everyone loves this light and refreshing appetizer. Pair fresh Buffalo mozzarella with fresh basil, ripe tomato slices, and drizzle with a good quality balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Serve on a platter, or if you have the time, make individual skewers. You can alternate with skewers of prosciutto-wrapped cantaloupe for even more color and variety. Goat cheese-stuffed dates are another easy yet tasty appetizer.

Grilled Summer Veggie Salad

Grill zucchini, summer squash, asparagus spears, onions, red peppers, and mushrooms. Cool and cut into bite-sized pieces. Toss with a vinaigrette of olive oil, fresh dill, fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, lemon juice and zest, and Dijon mustard.

Another great salad option is an Italian antipasto pasta salad. Spiral pasta, cherry tomatoes, olives, peppers, onions, peppers, cubed salami and mozzarella cheese, and for some inexpensive extra protein, garbanzo beans or cannellini, are tossed with a red wine vinaigrette. You can also skip the salami and cheese to make it vegan or add quality tuna for a more traditional feel.


For the main event, serve assorted sliders. Italian porketta roasts are easy to cook ahead of time. Season a pork shoulder or Boston butt roast with garlic, fresh rosemary, fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, and cracked black pepper. Slow cook or smoke until tender and easily pulled. Briefly sauté rapini (broccoli rabe) with garlic and red pepper flakes. Top each slider with the pork, rapini, and a slice of smoked Provolone.  

For your next slider, make-ahead meatballs make a great mini meatball sub. Generously season your ground beef, veal, and pork, add egg, panko bread crumbs, and chopped parsley. Form into small meatballs and bake until almost done. Cool and freeze until the morning of the party, then simmer in a zesty arrabiatta sauce in your slow cooker until showtime. Serve with sliced mozzarella or shaved Parmesan.

Lastly, prepare a classic Italian hoagie slider. Use assorted cold cuts, such as ham, capicola, and Genoa salami. Consider making an olive tapenade and basil pesto as well as a tasty vinaigrette for the condiments, and load on the veggies and cheese.

These are all simple and easy ideas for a great make-ahead meal that will have you enjoying your party rather than being stuck in the kitchen. However, if cooking isn't your passion or you just want total relaxation, leave the cooking to a good, professional Italian catering service instead. 


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About Me
Improving Your Restaurant

After I inherited my father's restaurant, I knew I needed to change a few things. The menu was outdated, the clientele was bored with the offerings, and the dining room was absolutely ancient. Fortunately, I knew what to do to infuse a new sense of style into the place. I started changing things right away, and within a few days, customers were complimenting my efforts. Our profits started to skyrocket, and it was incredible to see our bottom line start to grow. This blog is about improving your restaurant for the better so that you don't have to worry.