easy italian dinner party

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Something about the summer just has me in an Italian state of mind. I think a lot about the meals shown in movies like Call Me By Your Name---the little breakfasts with marmalade and fruit in the orchard outside the villa in Lombardy. This inspired me to put together a little Italian dinner party toward the end of the summer. It was super easy, but felt really special. Here's how I did it:

I started, of course, by putting together a menu. The traditional Italian dinner party menu consists of an aperitivo (cocktail), antipasto (appetizer), primo (first course), secondo (second course), contorno (sides), formaggio e frutta (cheese and fruit), dolce (sweet), caffe (coffee), and digestivo (coffee killer). Honestly, we don't eat that much so I cut back the menu to aperitivo, il primo, contorno, dolce, and caffe, as well as some little slices of bread on the side.

The aperitivo was actually a non-alcoholic Italian blood orange soda I picked up from Trader Joe's to make things easy. We also had a bottle of Gerolsteiner (which is German, but whatever) and flat, ice water. Il primo was a gorgeous rigatoni dish topped with a vegan sundried tomato cream sauce and basil as well as cashew ricotta. The side dish was a yummy panzanella, or bread salad made with greens, toasted bread, and a vinaigrette. For the dolce, we had a tiramisu that I picked up from the bakery.

Home entertaining goddess Ina Garten always recommends making a few dishes at home, then picking up the rest from the market. I totally agree with this idea. It makes everything so much easier, plus it's fun to get a treat from the bakery, isn't it?

For decor, I set the table simply with our gingham napkins, some clay pottery serving pieces, candles, and little green plants. As for the soundtrack, we listened to the Call Me By Your Name soundtrack, of course!