The casual season of summer calls for effortless entertaining with make ahead salads and quickly grilled dinners. Relaxed entertaining is at its best when the host can enjoy the party as much as the guests. Create an easy breezy menu that keeps you out of the kitchen and in the conversation. A dash of rustic elegance will give your table a summery ambience and make your guests feel special.


Carefree doesn’t have to mean paper plates and plastic forks. You can keep your table informal with neutral colors and white dishes. Add a little on-trend luxe with touches of gold for some laid back elegance and you have the formula for beautiful entertaining with minimal effort.

Start with a paisley print paper runner by “Cake Paper” you cut to size for an easy-going first layer on your table. Next, layer in some texture with “Chilewich” woven placemats in a bamboo color, and you have a neutral foundation. A scalloped wood charger at each setting is topped with a white china dinner plate rimmed with a gold floral motif for a touch of refinement. Mismatched salad plates keep things interesting but stay within the same color tones for a cohesive look. Graphic print napkins have a modern appeal or use natural linen for a rustic effect.

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Keep your cut crystal in the cabinet and use more casual glassware. Try short and stem less for wine and a large goblet for iced tea just to mix things up.


Instead of a floral centerpiece, try a more earthy approach with small potted plants or herbs. The contrast of warm terracotta plays off the cool smoothness of the formal china for an unfussy modern vibe.


As the sun slowly fades, candles will cast a shimmering light on the conversation. Try a row of votives down the table or go big with chunky hurricanes.


Your guests will appreciate the relaxed ease of the evening that strikes a balance between effortless and elegant. Keep your menu streamlined but delicious and the preparation stress free. Welcome guests with a tray of Blueberry Lemon Drops but be sure to have some other cooling drinks like ice cold water with sliced cucumber and maybe an herbal iced tea. A colorful pasta salad keeps the dinner summery and light. Italian Harvest’s Trottoloni “little spinning tops” add a bit a whimsy to your plate. Fresh from the farmer’s market strawberries drizzled with balsamic vinegar is a simple yet tasty way to end a meal. Offer up some coffee and luscious lemon cookies as a final gesture to a wonderful evening with family or friends.

Easy Breezy Menu



Bungalow 23 Blueberry Lemon Drops

Cucumber Water, Iced Tea

Chive Crackers with Red Bell Pepper and Ancho Chile Jam by Earth & Vine




Italian Harvest “Trottoloni” pasta salad with sautéed shrimp, English peas, and leeks with Earth & Vine “Meyer Lemon & Rosemary Dressing”

Panne Rustico Flatbread by “Bella Cucina” served with olive oil and shaved Parmesan Cheese

Well chilled Pinot Grigio



CiCi’s “Italian Lemon Cookies”

Fresh sliced strawberries drizzled with Earth &Vine “Tangerine Fig Balsamic Dressing”

Static Coffee



Trottoloni with Shrimp


1 package Italian Harvest “Trottoloni” (little spinning tops)

1 pound of Shrimp, cleaned

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 leek sliced

4 ounces fresh English peas

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

10 ounces of baby spinach

1 bottle of Earth & Vine Meyer Lemon and Rosemary Dressing


Boil water for the pasta (the pasta will take longer to cook than the shrimp and veggies)

In a large pan heat olive oil on medium heat and saute garlic for a minute

Add the shrimp, turning once (they cook in about 2 minutes)

Add in the peas and leeks and quickly toss with the shrimp. (about 1 minute)

Transfer the shrimp mixture to a large bowl and let cool a little

Drain the pasta and combine with the shrimp. Add the Lemon and Rosemary Dressing

Serve warm or cold over a bed of baby spinach

Makes 6 servings