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One great aspect of sum­mer din­ing is the obvi­ous, more relaxed approach to meals. “No fuss” and “effort­less” are hall­marks of any indeli­ble al fresco lunch or sup­per in July.

Whether a crunchy radish or car­rot is plucked from our own gar­den, pur­chased from a sea­sonal farm­ers mar­ket or for­aged from the pro­duce aisle of a local gro­cer, they get sliced the same.

In sum­mer, straight­for­ward ingre­di­ents and sim­ple serv­ings lead to plates that are an invi­ta­tion to relax and chill out.

Noth­ing for­mal is required. Take note of com­pat­i­ble part­ners or oppo­site attrac­tions. Bright col­ors, var­ied tex­tures, a dip or spread here, a bowl of olives or Mar­cona almonds there and “voilà”.

The point of eat­ing, after all, is to nour­ish, restore and replen­ish. What we eat mat­ters more than how it is served. The plate itself is only a visual invite. If it looks good, we want to dive in.

Fiber, fats and pro­teins will help con­quer appetites dur­ing heat waves. Veg­eta­bles cooked in advanced or pick­led or mar­i­nated, then added to sal­ads and sand­wiches will boost the nutri­ent fac­tor. Think roasted root veg­eta­bles (beets), fen­nel or aspara­gus.

A soli­tary veg­etable or fruit sliced just right on the plate gets atten­tion with a con­trast­ing gar­nish.

High­light the stars with a sprig of mint, laven­der or rose­mary from the gar­den bed. Aro­matic and edi­ble, they add drama to mix.

Besides herbs, other edi­ble gar­nishes include flower blos­soms, cit­rus wedges, berries and raw nuts like almonds and wal­nuts.

The hum of kitchen music prepa­ra­tion is the sound of run­ning water to wash veg­eta­bles, knife blade on a cut­ting board and hope­ful con­ver­sa­tions among fam­ily mem­bers and friends.

Shar­ing food con­nects peo­ple and has the power to influ­ence good health and hap­pi­ness. Infor­mal pre­sen­ta­tions can be a bit messy and yet encour­age com­mu­nity and con­ver­sa­tion.

A gath­er­ing of any size can be sophis­ti­cated, yet uncom­pli­cated. Curate a chance for inter­ac­tion by hav­ing din­ers rub elbows.

Pick­ing and choos­ing from a boun­ti­ful table allows for talk about cher­ished fam­ily recipes, child­hood food mem­o­ries or upcom­ing cel­e­bra­tions with food at the cen­ter.

Crowd-​pleasing, casual sum­mer foods yield more time pool­side or on the patio. Grab a plate. Sip and sit awhile. Relax, chill out, and unwind.