Weekend Entertaining: Casual Summer Lunch

Entertain, Menu Ideas

Weekend Entertaining: Casual Summer Lunch

Now that summer has officially kicked off, we’re looking for any excuse to take meals outside! Enjoy lunch under the sun this weekend with a few fresh and simple dishes, easy to make and serve — whether you’re around a table on the patio or picnicking in the park. Read on for recipes and tips to get inspired.




Classic chicken salad makes a delicious main course for a summer meal. Spoon it onto crisp lettuce leaves or tuck between slices of toasted bread for sandwiches (scroll down for our favorite recipe).


On the side, prepare this bean and radish salad, a medley of bright colors and crisp textures. For something a little heartier, try a twist on traditional pasta salad with our orzo version, full of fresh peas, heirloom tomatoes and peppers. Guests will love to snack on giardiniera, or pickled vegetables, as an antipasto or alongside their sandwiches.


For dessert, a chocolate brownie cake has everything you love about rich, dense, chewy brownies, in the presentation of an elegant cake. Top it with whipped cream and a handful of fresh berries. On the lighter side, try our lemon buttermilk bars, perfect for taking on the go.


Weekend Entertaining: Casual Summer Lunch


Party Planner


  • Lemon Verbena LemonadeAt least 1 week ahead: Make the giardiniera.
  • 1 to 2 days ahead: Make the brownie cake and keep covered at room temperature. Make the chicken salad and refrigerate overnight. Cook the beans and make the vinaigrette for the bean and radish salad and refrigerate separately. Cook the orzo and peas for the orzo salad and refrigerate.
  • Day of: Make the lemon buttermilk bars and cool. Finish both salads and serve at room temperature.


A sunny summer day calls for lemonade. Put a flavorful spin on it with our lemon verbena lemonade, which uses a simple syrup infused with the herb. For outdoor gatherings, you also can’t go wrong with a crisp rose wine.


Whether your lunch is a picnic or not, serving salads in jars makes a charming presentation. (Bonus: these are great for individual portions.) Wooden boards keep a serving style looking casual and are perfect for arranging anything that needs assembling, like those chicken salad sandwiches.


Tarragon Chicken Salad


3 Tbs. sour cream

2 Tbs. Dijon mustard

2 Tbs. mayonnaise

2 Tbs. chopped fresh tarragon

2 tsp. honey

1 tsp. chopped pink peppercorns

2 cups (12 oz./375 g.) diced cooked chicken

2 ribs celery, thinly sliced

2 green onions, thinly sliced

2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


In a bowl, whisk together the sour cream, mustard, mayonnaise, tarragon, honey and pink peppercorns. Fold in the chicken, celery, green onions and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Serves. Serves 2-4.

5 comments about “Weekend Entertaining: Casual Summer Lunch

  1. Maite Rocha

    Could you please suggest a substitute for grapeseed oil for the orzo salad? I cannot seenm to find it in Spain. Thank you.

    1. Wanda

      I think extra virgin olive oil would be a good substitute for the grapeseed oil.

  2. Sara

    Grapeseed oil is flavorless and a healthy substitute for vegetable oil. Olive oil would be fine if you want the flavor. Otherwise, vegetable oil is also good.

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