Light & Rustic Dinner Party Menu

This light and rustic dinner menu can take you from spring parties all the way through fall parties. It’s easy to prepare, looks pretty with its fresh ingredients, and it’s perfect for summer entertaining outdoors too.

Light Dinner Menu

A light meal is just what you need when hosting a casual get-together. And these dinner party menu ideas turned out delicious! Serve them family-style on a fall tablet design and their vibrant color complements the setting.

Whenever I entertain at home I’m guilty of thinking that I have to create a gourmet meal that takes hours to prepare. Although that’s actually my idea of ​​fun, I’m also learning the art of restraint and embracing the idea of ​​serving food in a more natural and rustic state.

Simple Ingredients

If you’ve ever been to France or Italy you know how they serve a casual meal with fresh wholesome ingredients and minimal prep. And it’s amazing!

I was inspired by that concept and decided on this menu consisting of a cheese board, nicoise salad, and rustic pasta with sausage. It’s the type of meal that ignites your taste buds with simple ingredients and fantastic flavor combos.

fall themed small cheese board with grapes, almonds, figs and walnuts.

Cheese Board Starter

Nothing is as classic and satisfying as a party cheese board when entertaining at home. There’s no need to go overboard for a casual dinner party, just add 2-3 cheese options, nuts, fruit, and bread or crackers.

The beauty is in the arrangement and you really can’t go wrong there. Just add:

  • blue cheese
  • white cheddar
  • purple grapes
  • fresh figs
  • Walnuts
  • almonds
  • french baguette slices
salad with tuna, olives.  Tomatoes, eggs, and greens on wood platter.

Nicoise Salad

This salad is more like part of the main coarse rather than a starter salad. The protein packed salad is a fabulous combination of ingredients, and oh so French! Add the ingredients in separate rows to add beauty to the presentation.

  • Mixed bed of spinach and arugula
  • white tuna – I like tuna from the pouch rather than the can because there’s less liquid.
  • hard boiled eggs, quartered
  • cherry tomatoes
  • black olives
  • whole caper berries
  • sliced ​​green onion for garnish
  • vinaigrette dressing
round bowl of penne pasta with sliced ​​sausage, sundried tomatoes, mozzarella balls, and basil leaves.

Pasta with Sausage

Nothing satisfies a crowd like pasta tossed with flavorful add-ins. To keep this light and rustic I added sausage medallions. You don’t need a heavy sauce, just some good quality olive oil.

I actually used the oil that the sun-dried tomatoes were packed in, to drizzle over the top and it was superb.

This dish can also be served cold or at room temperature. Just use sliced ​​pepperoni or salami instead of the sausage.

  • penne pasta, cooked al dente
  • cooked Italian sausage medallions
  • sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
  • mini bocconcini
  • fresh basil leaves
  • regular or flavored olive oil, or oil from the sun-dried tomatoes

Round out the table with a baguette served with soft butter or ricotta in a bowl drizzled with olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper.


Choose a crisp dry or semi-dry white wine to wash it all down. A Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc are nice, or try a lovely Rosé.

Rustic Galette

For dessert, serve this rustic apple galette with caramel drizzle, or this mixed berry galette.

More Ideas for Fall Menus

If you like this rustic dinner menu, here are more menus for entertaining to check out.

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Nicoise Salad

  • 1 bag ready-to-eat spinach and arugula salad mix

  • 5-6 ounces chunk light tuna (use 2 pouches)

  • 4 hard boiled eggs

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes

  • 1/3 cup black olives

  • handful of whole caper berries

  • green onion, sliced

Vinaigrette Dressing

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • Pinch of onion powder

Sausage Pasta

  • 12 ounces penne pasta

  • 12 ounces Italian sausage or Smoked Sausage links

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup sundried tomatoes (from jar packed in oil) cut into strips

  • 3/4 cup tiny mozzarella balls (boccuncini)

  • bunch of fresh basil

  • Extra virgin olive oil or the sundried tomato oil, to taste


  1. For the salad, layer a platter with a bed of greens. Top the greens with remaining ingredients; add in rows for pretty presentation.
  2. Add dressing ingredients to an 8-ounce mason jar and replace the lid securely. Shake until dressing if fully emulsified. Drizzle lightly over salad when ready to serve, or let guests add their own.
  3. Meanwhile, slice sausage links into 1/2-inch medallions. Add to preheated skillet and cook until hot and the outside begins to get a caramelized crust. Remove and pat off any residual oil using a paper towel.
  4. For pasta, fill a large stock pot with water. Add about a teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions and then drain.
  5. Remove pot from heat but add the warm pasta back in. Add remaining ingredients and toss to combine.
  6. Pour into a serving dish and serve.

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