Our First Al Fresco Dinner of the Season

Al Fresco Dinner

I really don’t like candid photos. Whenever people want to take a picture of me, I a.) make them sign a contract that gives me full PhotoShop approval–in perpetuity–over any image of me they publish, and b.) insist on spending an inordinate time on my hair and teeth. Once contractual obligations as well as buffing and fussing are out of the way, I give the go ahead to take that sparklingly spontaneous shot.

But when I saw this little moment of supper loveliness tonight, I grabbed my iPhone and just snapped. I didn’t even have enough sense to remove the Costco salt grinder or fluff the spaghetti. This was our supper table, unstyled. But to me, it sums up everything about outdoor dining: casual, simple, unpretentious, and, yes, bounteous. (It’s The One and me we’re talking about here. That man can polish off three-quarters of a pound of pasta in a single sitting.)

Dinner took as long to put together as it took the spaghetti rigati to cook. What–15 minutes, maybe? Meanwhile I sautéed tiger shrimp in a lake of brown butter and a bit of oil, then tossed in a big-ass handful of chopped garlic. I had about 1 1/2 cups of leftover homemade tomato sauce and spooned that in, too, for good measure. I dumped the drained spaghetti into the skillet and the sautéed it all together for another two to three minutes.

As I began plating, our frequent dinner companions, whom we haven’t seen since last October, dropped by for a visit. I mean, of course, the backyard bats and mosquitos. To prevent The One, a long-suffering chiroptophobe, from letting loose with his 12-year-old-girl shrieks that blow like a train whistle, I demanded he don a baseball cap and keep his eyes on his plate. Me, I’m just a great big flashing neon sign that sputters on and off “All You Can Eat Buffet!” We haven’t yet bought bug spray this season, so I wore thick wool socks with my pant legs tucked in and a dirty dish towel over my head. Lucky for us, the paparazzi didn’t know we were in town. Do you know how hard it is get them to agree to that PhotoShop contract?

David Leite's signature



  1. Great write up and methinks it’s better you didn’t have pictures of you and The One added. I would have been laughing too hard, and it would have taken my eyes away from the deliscrumptious skillet of heaven that you shared.

    Rigati you say, I’ll have to go looking for it and see what I can concoct from your vague ingredient list. Thanks for sharing the laughter as well as the picture.

    1. Yes, Anne, we were a sight! Spaghetti rigati has four ridges down the length of the noodle. Helps pick up a but more sauce. As far as ingredients (and I’m guessing amounts here):

      5 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
      2 tablespoons olive oil
      1 1/2 pounds tiger shrimp
      5 garlic cloves, minced
      Salt and pepper
      1 pound spaghetti rigati
      1 to 1 1/2 cups homemade chunky tomato sauce

      Yeah, that’s about it.

  2. Wish I wasn’t allergic to shrimp. That does look nice and if my hubby hadn’t been ill today with a major headache (which he is rarely sick) I would have had us eat outside. The day was perfect for it. I thought the bright sunlight outside would have bugged him, so I didn’t even suggest it. Well, it’s suppose to be a great day again tomorrow, so maybe we’ll eat out then.

    1. My dearest Lauralee, I’m sorry to hear of your allergy. You can do the same with white meat chicken. So if it’s a nice day, get thee and thou husband outside.

Have something to say?

Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Attach it below. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

Upload a picture of your dish