An Elegant & Easy Summer Luncheon

Guest blog post by: Penny Lyons of LyonsLifestyle

The easiest and most relaxing way to prepare for guests is to master the art of make-ahead!  And what better way to do it than with Summer’s freshest bounty? This can be challenging with certain menu selections, but not with my new favorite summer recipes! Think English cucumbers, bright yellow peaches, succulent heirloom tomatoes, crisp fresh spinach and fresh herbs such as basil pulled into the most delicious pesto. And don’t forget sunflowers!

Try to create a scene or vignette that blends with your menu choices or theme. For this luncheon I was thinking of a small garden in Italy where I would serve bounty fresh from my garden! 

Menu for 4

  • Chilled Avocado & Cucumber Soup
  • Tomato, Peach and Burrata Salad with Balsamic Glaze and Basil
  • Italian Pasta Salad in a Jar topped with Poached Chicken
  • Drizzle of Pesto or Hot Pepper Relish

chilled avocado soup

Chilled Avocado & Cucumber Soup


  • 1C water

  • 2 Medium avocado

  • 2 Large English cucumber peeled

  • 1 Tsp Fresh dill

  • 1 Clove garlic

  • 1 Fresh squeezed lemon

  • Pinch of Sea salt (to taste as it depends on the avocado / cucumber ratio)

  • Pinch of Black Pepper

  • Tiny pinch of crushed red pepper (to taste)

  • Fresh Dill for garnish

  • Chopped Red onion for garnish

  • Chopped cucumber fo garnish with skin on

  • Zucchini Bread and Honey Butter (Optional) But delicious!

Let’s Cook

  1. This soup could not be easier to make!

  2. Cut cucumber and avocado into pieces

  3. Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until creamy (The color is beautiful!)

  4. This is truly a S & P to taste kind of dish!  (I added more salt and pepper than I usually use)

  5. The pinch of crushed red pepper gave it a nice kick 

  6. The onions and cucumbers on top add the perfect crunch it needed

  7. The side of zucchini bread with honey butter beautifully elevated the first course  

Food Styling

  • Divide amongst 4 soup tureens OR in Mule cups! Either is perfect!
  • Top with garnish and cover
  • Refrigerate until serving!
  • Your guests will be impressed….

Tomato, Peach and Burrata Salad with Balsamic Glaze and Basil


  • 3 Large ripe peaches

  • 3 Large ripe Heirloom tomatoes

  • Balsamic glaze

  • Burrata, Feta or Mozzarella cheese

  • Fresh basil  

Let’s Cook

  1. Cut tomatoes into sections

  2. Cut peaches into sections (I prefer skin on)

  3. Arrange on a beautiful platter

  4. Open one ball of burrata and place small mounds of it around the platter OR scatter other cheese crumbles of your choice. I also love feta!

  5. Drizzle balsamic glaze in a decorative swirl

  6. Top with chopped fresh basil

  7. Garnish with basil sprig


Italian Pasta Salad in a Jar topped with Poached Chicken

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 13.5 Ounces Segiano toscani organic pasta or Sfoglini Trumpet pasta

  • 1 Cup sliced black olives

  • 1 Cup halved cherry tomatoes 

  • 2 Cups baby spinach

  • 2 Cooked full chicken breasts (4 halves) thickly sliced on a diagonal 

  • (***Poach or bake or buy already cooked!)

  • Pesto Sauce (store bought) or Hot Pepper Relish

Italian Dressing

  • 1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil 

  • 1/4 Cup red wine vinegar

  • 1 Tsp Dijon mustard

  • 1/2 Fresh squeezed Lemon

  • 2 Tsp Italian Herb Blend

  • S & P to taste

  • Tiny pinch Red crushed pepper (optional) 

Let’s Cook!

  1. Whisk together oil, red wine, dijon, lemon and Italian herbs.  

  2. Add S & P and pinch of crushed red pepper to taste

  3. Divide evenly among 4 mason jars

  4. Layer with black olives

  5. Layer with tomatoes

  6. Pat down gently as you go along. I use a small masher

  7. Press handfuls of baby spinach or arugula down to completely fill jars

  8. Cover tightly and refrigerate until serving!

  9. Serve jar at each place setting allowing each guests to open and pour into large bowl

  10. Suggest shaking jar to combine dressing with ingredients

  11. Pass platter with poached or baked slice chicken topped with pesto or hot pepper relish 

  12. OR serve table side

August 18, 2021

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