I know we will look back on this summer and appreciate all the things we were able to do versus all the things we were not. Small, simple, outdoor summer entertaining in an intimate setting with close friends being one of them. And truly, no matter what the circumstances, entertaining outside in the summer is always preferred here! For one, there is less pressure to clean the house from top to bottom! Two, dining outdoors in warm weather brings out an element of lingering relaxation among us. And three, the abundance of fresh ingredients to create simple summer meals makes menu planning that mush easier!
Summer Lunch Menu Ideas for Entertaining
In addition to creating a simple summer luncheon menu, I find a few other things helpful when summer entertaining:
- When setting your tabletop, never underestimate the use of simple white serving pieces. A white palette always works, while still allowing you to add elements of color if you so choose!
- Do not save or leave your “good stuff” just for the holidays. Incorporate your silver, china or stemware into the mix. I literally paired five dollar salad bowls from Target with my sterling silver flatware from my grandmother!
- Play around with flower and greenery. An alternative to creating a floral centerpiece is to take your blooms and lay them flat on a long cutting board or in a baguette bowl. Utilizing a variety of smaller vases dispersed with flowers throughout the table is a pretty touch as well! It can also be as simple as adding a flower sprig or green to the napkin holder at each place setting!
- Make use of candles, even if hosting a luncheon during the day. In addition to soft illumination, the presence of lit candles is so soothing. Candles are also a great way to keep mosquitoes at bay. And although the citronella scent is effective it often can be overpowering. Consider these then from Skeem Design. They will make your backyard smell like a vacation oasis. I am linking them below but they are locally available at M on the Square and Seasons 440.
Summer Entertaining Essentials:
Lunch Menu for Entertaining
Fresh grown cucumbers are always in abundance during the summer. This simple cucumber salad is so flavorful and refreshing that is made all the more desirable by it’s low calorie content! Plus, it is a recipe you can make ahead of time!
3 cucumbers peeled and diced
1 small onion sliced
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
Dash with dill weed
Mix all in a bowl. Chill for an hour or more and serve.
If you can get your hands on in, there is nothing better than fresh arugula from your farmer’s market! And honestly there is not a simpler salad to make and serve in the summertime! Because arugula has a strong pepper flavor, the squeeze of lemon and the salty cheese balance it out perfectly. You do not need to necessarily add the salt and pepper but I always do!
Shaved pecorino or parmesan
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Drizzling of olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
Dash of sea salt
Mix together and Voila!
Lemon Aglio Olio Pasta Salad with Kale
This pasta salad can be served hot, room temperature or cold. If serving cold, drizzle with additional olive oil and lemon juice! You may even want to substitute the spaghetti with a shorter pasta like farfalle.
6 oz cooked spaghetti
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 minced garlic clove
4 cups chopped kale
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Toasted pine nuts
Shaved percorino cheese
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over low heat. Add 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, minced garlic, 4 cups of kale, plus a dash of salt and pepper. Heat through until kale begins to wilt. Toss with 6 ounces of cooked spaghetti and two tablespoons of lemon juice. Top with lemon zest, toasted pine nuts and shaved pecorino cheese!
Avocado Sandwiches with Greens and Pesto
These sandwiches are divine! Perfect in warm weather, they have a fresh, clean bite! Store bought pesto is perfectly acceptable but it so easy to make it fresh when there is plenty of fresh basil in abundance right now. Plus, you can make it the night before for even easier assembly the following day! Another tip on saving time is to hard boil your eggs the night before too!
2 cup packed basil leaves
Pinch of coarse salt
2/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup parmesan or pecorino cheese
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp salt
1 avocado, sliced
Dash of cumin
Squeeze of lemon
1//2 cup of fresh greens such as watercress or arugula
Place the basil, pine nuts, cheese and coarse salt in a food processor and pulse until smooth. With the motor running, gradually pour in the olive oil, blending until the olive oil is fully incorporated.
Put the eggs in a small pot and cover completely with water and add salt. Bring the water to a boil, remove the pot from the heat, cover it, and let it sit for 10 minutes. Drain the eggs, then run under cold water and let them cool slightly. Peel and slice them into rounds or store in the fridge overnight. Tip: It helps to peel the eggs under running cold water.
Assemble the sandwiches by spreading the basil pesto over the bottom of each brioche roll. Then add a layer of egg slices, followed by avocado slices, a sprinkle of cumin, a squeeze of lemon juice and the fresh greens. Cover the with the tops of brioche rolls.
Makes 4 regular sandwiches or 8 mini sandwiches.
Adapted from: Sunday Suppers
Lemon, Ricotta & Thyme Mini Loaves
I recently added the cake recipe book, “The New Way to Cake” to my kitchen bookshelf. This was the first recipe I tried out of it. When I recently served it at a luncheon, this was one recipe everyone asked to have! What I love about Benjamina’s recipes is that she pairs unexpected ingredients with one another but they end up working flawlessly together! For all you bakers out there, this collection of recipes will put a fresh spin on your baking!
For the loaves:
1 cup superfine/caster sugar (I just take regular sugar and pulse it in my food processor)
Zest of two lemons
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
1/2 cup sunflower or vegetable oil
1 cup ricotta
1 1/2 cups all purpose flower
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
For the icing:
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Fresh thyme springs for garnish
Pre-heat the oven to 350°. Grease 4 mini-loaf pans (see below) and line each with parchment paper.
To Make the Loaves:
Place the sugar and zest in a large bowl. Using your fingertips, rub the zest into the sugar. This helps to bring the fragrance of the zest out. Stir in the thyme. Add the oil, ricotta and eggs and whisk until smooth. Gently stir in the flour, baking powder and salt and divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Bake for 27-30 minutes, or until the loaves are slightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Leave to cool for a few minutes in the pans before turning them out onto a wire rack to complete cooling.
To Make the Icing:
Add the sugar to a medium bowl and add enough lemon juice to make a think but pourable glaze. If the glaze becomes too runny, mix in more sugar. If you need to thin it out, add a little more lemon juice. Spoon the glaze onto the cakes, letting it drip over the edges. Lastly, top with a sprig of thyme.
What I love best about this Paloma recipe is that it uses fresh, all natural ingredients without any added sugar. It is refreshingly good, making it the perfect drink accompaniment to a warm weather luncheon.
Rosemary Agave Syrup:
1/2 cup blue agave tequila (Jose Cuervo makes one)
1/2 cup water
3 sprigs rosemary
2 cups blanco tequila (I just use the blue agave again)
1 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (about 2 grapefruits)
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 8-12 limes)
3/4 cup rosemary agave syrup (from recipe above)
Rosemary sprigs for garnish
Lime or grapefruit sliced for garnish
To make the rosemary agave syrup: Combine blue agave, water and rosemary in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain cooled mixture through a messed strainer. Discard rosemary and use immediately.
To make the paloma: Combine tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice and rosemary agave syrup in a large pitcher and stir. Divide evenly between 6 ice-filled glasses. Garnish each cocktail with a sprig of rosemary and a slice of citrus.
Source: Pacific Natural
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