Indulge In {Outdoor Spring Eating}

Happy Thursday y'all. I'm excited to share today's guest post from Meredith who represents Hunt's. She has some great ideas and recipes for easy but impressive outdoor entertaining. Hope you all enjoy!

Now that spring is in full swing, it’s the perfect time of year to take advantage of eating outdoors! Unlike summer, when sweltering temperatures can often keep people indoors, spring is known for more comfortable and inviting weather that’s perfect for spending a warm night in the backyard.

Just as spring styles transform from chunky winter sweaters into pastels and bright floral prints, the foods you crave and cook in the spring tend to change, too. If you need some inspiration for what to make for your next cookout or dinner outdoors this spring, use the following guide to light and delicious outdoor spring eating:

      Light Appetizers: Nothing feels more “springtime-y” than lounging on a porch, sipping an iced tea and munching on fresh, light snacks. While you probably served thick, creamy dips like spinach artichoke or hearty buffalo chicken at your Super Bowl party, outdoor gatherings are better suited for lighter appetizers like bruschetta and salsa. Even a simple veggie tray can be the perfect start to a spring meal.

   Grilled Meats: There’s no need to wait until summer pool parties to fire up your grill. If it’s nice enough to stand outside, it’s nice enough to grill, so take advantage of pretty weather and grill up everything from hot dogs and burgers to zucchini, tomatoes and even peaches for a sweet dessert.

   Produce Based Sides: Skip heavy, starchy casseroles this spring and keep the focus on what’s fresh. A fruit salad or chopped green salad always adds a pretty pop of color to any spring spread, and you can feel good about serving them, too. Another great side option for spring is grilled vegetables; they’re fresh, healthy and so easy to toss on the grill alongside kebabs or burgers.

    Chilled Salads: For salads with a little more oomph to them, throw in some pasta! Pasta salads are a staple of most barbecues and cookouts and can be eaten either as a side or main dish. Mayonnaise, sour cream and Greek-yogurt based pasta salad dressings are more traditional, but you can also dress pasta and veggies with olive oil, red wine vinegar, balsamic and pesto. Experiment with different variations, from BLT pasta salad to mixed bean salads. Tomato recipes are especially nice for adding color to a picnic table, as are recipes with red or green peppers.

S Seasonal Treats: So many fruits and vegetables come into season during the springtime that it only makes sense to cook with them as much as possible! Apricots, artichokes, arugula, asparagus, green onions, new potatoes, peas and spinach all experience seasonal peaks during the spring.

   This easy recipe for Greek-Style Pizza makes a delicious dinner or appetizer—just cut it into smaller pieces if you’re feeding a crowd. It uses seasonal spring foods like artichokes and spinach, making it perfect for this time of year. Enjoy!

:;  :: Ingredients ::
     8 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed (14x9-inch sheet)
·       PAM® Olive Oil No-Stick Cooking Spray
·       1 pkg (10 oz each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
·       1 can (14.5 oz each) Hunt's® Petite Diced Tomatoes, drained
·       1 jar (6 oz each) marinated artichoke hearts, drained, chopped
·       1/3 cup sun-dried tomato/basil flavor crumbled feta cheese (1/3 cup = 2 oz)

    :: Directions ::
1. Preheat your oven to 425°F. Place 1 sheet phyllo on an ungreased large cookie sheet; lightly spray with cooking spray. Repeat layering with remaining phyllo, lightly spraying each layer with cooking spray.
2. Crumble spinach over phyllo; top evenly with tomatoes, artichokes and feta cheese.
3. Bake 15 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Transfer pizza to large cutting board. Using a pizza cutter or large knife, cut pizza into 6 equal pieces to serve.

Author Bio: This is a guest post by Meredith K. on behalf of Hunt’s®. For more spring dinner ideas, from veggie-filled easy lasagna recipes to cool pasta salads, visit www.hunts.com.

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