Lunch in the Garden

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Photos by Keri White

With distance socializing the new normal, hosts and hostesses have had to adjust and realign their methods. For now, no more large gatherings, sit-down dinners around a dining room table or crowded cocktail parties.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t see friends and even share a meal if done carefully. I recently enjoyed a ladies lunch in my garden with a friend.

On this occasion, my friend was comfortable eating food that had been prepared in my kitchen, but if that is not the case, you can host a BYO — friends can bring their own food and drink and sit around your yard, appropriately distanced, for a good old chin wag.


The main thing is to avoid getting offended; no one is refusing your tuna salad or kebabs out of rudeness. We are all trying to navigate worrisome and uncertain times, and humans are social creatures. Getting together can surpass the importance of who caters.

Whether you prep this for your guests or they carry a packed meal over, the key is to connect.

Using some store-bought items, some fresh ingredients, some leftovers and one dish made just for us, I put together a simple quartet of salads. My friend and I enjoyed a nice visit on a pleasant, sunny afternoon.

The plated meal looked like I had put a lot more work into it than I did — I had cut up the leftover roasted broccoli from last night and served it cold. A scoop of store-bought hummus with some baby carrots and snow peas from the farmers market looked special, but really wasn’t. The green salad was a quick toss of some spare ingredients with honey-mustard vinaigrette.

And the tuna salad, see below, delivered the perfect blend of lemony-herby freshness. I prepped it all, covered it with plastic wrap, stuck it in the fridge and, when my friend arrived, pulled it out and set it on her end of our picnic table with utensils.

Lemon Dill Tuna Salad

Serves 4

A note on the mayo: Some folks like a lot of mayo, others just barely enough to hold the tuna together. Do what works for you.

3 cans white tuna packed in water and drained

½ cup chopped fresh dill

Juice of 1 lemon

⅓-½ cup mayonnaise

Sprinkle of salt and pepper

In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients well.

Refrigerate for at least ½ hour.

Serve on a bed of lettuce or on a sandwich.

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