The Essentials You Need For A Dinner Under The Stars

Moonstruck by moonlight? What better way to enjoy la bella luna than with dinner al fresco. It takes a little planning, but the results are magical. Here are some easy tips.

  • If scheduling permits, plan to host your dinner on the night of a full moon (bonus points for a harvest moon). Even though moonlight is the…err, star of the show, you’ll still need additional sources of light. Keep the wattage low by scattering votive candles around the entire dining area. Use a fire pit to add natural light, and if electricity is available, string fairy lights through the trees for a charming effect that won’t detract from the magic of the moonlight.

glass table top outdoor firepit on top of a wooden table with bows and wine glass around it.

  • Pick the spot for your magical dinner… then have a backup plan. Unfortunately, Mother Nature really doesn’t care how much planning went into your moonlit affair. Whether the venue is your backyard or the beach, have an indoor location or an outdoor umbrella on standby in case the weather is uncooperative.

Rain drops falling from a black umbrella

  • You’re going to be transporting food and drinks to your dining area, so make it easy on yourself and your guests. Load glasses and plates on large trays to reduce trips. Fill a large container with ice to keep beverages cool and handy outside. And opt for alluring one-dish meals. Dishes like Paella, Jambalaya, or Roasted Sausages and Vegetables are perfect with just a salad and bread.

antique bronze tone metal serving trays with snacks and bottles in them.

If you’ve planned your own moonlit soiree and have any tips, we’d love to hear them. In the meantime, here’s a mouthwatering recipe for Paella that looks beautiful and will keep everyone satisfied.

Chicken Paella made with yellow rice, vegetables and garnished with lemon slices.

Chicken Paella (serves 8)


  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 soft chorizo or another spicy sausage
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tomatoes peeled and chopped or 1-14oz can chopped tomatoes, drained
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups uncooked medium-grain paella rice or short-grain white rice
  • 1 large pinch saffron threads, soaked in ¼ cup water and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 quart chicken stock (add more if needed)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 lemon in wedges for garnish
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • Salt to taste

– In a medium bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil, paprika, oregano, and salt. Add chicken and sausage, cover and refrigerate.

-Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a paella pan or large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and sausage; cook until lightly browned and remove to a plate.

-Add 2 tablespoons oil to the pan, and add onion, bell pepper, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook until onions are translucent. Add rice and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes, crushed saffron threads in liquid, parsley, chicken stock, and wine, and browned chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer 20 minutes.

-Add shrimp, and peas. Cook until shrimp are pink. Serve in paella pan or move to a large serving platter.