This No-Fuss Summer Luncheon Features Farmers Market Ingredients

Bright colors and flavors blend at a casual luncheon.

Summer. It's a time for laid-back, carefree living. That means a seasonal pause from dress-up affairs in which lunch marches through multiple courses. For this small informal gathering, friends called dibs on the dishes they would bring to a midday potluck. There's no need for a main entrée. In this moment, farmers markets abound with a rainbow of color and flavor, inviting us to fully savor the salad days of summer.

summer table with bright colors in dining room
Adam Albright

In keeping with the no-fuss mood, the table is set in a light-filled breakfast area, intimate but without the serious undertones of a formal dining room.

A printed cotton tablecloth lays a sunny yellow foundation for dinnerware, amplifying the summer aesthetic. Porcelain dessert plates decorated with a delicate flower motif add to the happy color scheme. Glass chargers layer in linenlike texture and enhance the florals with bright pops of blue. White dinner plates with pleated edges clear the palette for the rainbow of food to come from a serve-yourself buffet.

Glassware mixes colors and decades as new wine glasses patterned in blue and gold mingle with vintage olive green goblets. Floral napkins and oak-handle flatware nod to nature's abundance outside the door.

summer menu on plate for bright place setting
Adam Albright

Seasonal panache continues with the menu full of summer-fresh flavor. First, a fruity martini with its pineapple goodness transports taste buds to the sunny tropics. Pickled vegetables showcase delicacies discovered close to home at the local farmers market. Purple endive happily interrupts a rice and pesto salad while pink shrimp-and-crab Louie tempts on a bed of butter lettuce leaves. Coconut panna cotta tops off the afternoon, sending guests home with memories of the sweet-tart taste of plump and juicy summer blackberries.


  • Tropical Fruit Martini
  • Overnight Pickled Summer Vegetables
  • Pesto Rice Salad
  • Shrimp-and-Crab Louie
  • Coconut Panna Cotta with Blackberry Sauce

Shopping List

We've organized a shopping list to make shopping for this gathering menu easier for you. Package sizes are included so you have enough for duplicated recipe ingredients.

Check your pantry for these necessary items before shopping.

Note: Unless specified, when we call for "butter," we mean the unsalted variety. When we call for "olive oil," we are suggesting good-quality extra virgin. When we call for "eggs," we are suggesting large eggs. Unless specified, when we call for "milk," we mean whole-fat milk.

Amounts below allow for 8 cocktails.

  • Olive oil (need 1¼ cups + 3 tablespoons)
  • Canola oil (need 1¼ cups)
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Kosher salt (need ½ cup + 2½ teaspoons + to taste)
  • Ground black pepper (need ¼ teaspoon + to taste)
  • Crushed red pepper (need ¼ teaspoon)
  • All-purpose flour (need 1 1/3 cups)
  • Granulated sugar (need 1¼ cups + 3 tablespoons)
  • Baking powder (need 1 teaspoon)
  • Baking soda (need 1 teaspoon)
  • Vanilla (need 2 teaspoons)
  • Milk (need 1½ cups)
  • Eggs (need 4 eggs)
  • White vinegar (need 3 cups)

Specialty grocery store

  • 1 (12.2-ounce) can evaporated coconut milk
  • 1 (7.05- or 11.25-ounce) can sweetened condensed coconut milk
  • 1 (4-ounce) container Marcona almonds
  • 3 heads purple endive
  • Coarse decorating sugar (for glass rims)


  • 3 bunches dill
  • 2 bunches basil
  • 2 pints blackberries
  • 2 star fruit
  • 7 lemons
  • 5 limes
  • 6 ounces carrots
  • 5 ounces fresh whole okra
  • 4 ounces green beans
  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 ears sweet corn
  • 2 heads butterhead (Boston or Bibb) lettuce
  • 12 ounces asparagus
  • 1 pound unshelled peas (1½ cups shelled)
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 head garlic


  • 1 (14- to 14.8-ounce) can or jar hearts of palm
  • 2 (10-ounce) bottles passion fruit juice
  • 2 (6-ounce) cans pineapple juice
  • 1 (15.2-ounce) bottle mango juice
  • 1 (8-ounce) jar pitted green olives
  • 1 (2.2-ounce) package pine nuts
  • Ketchup (need 1 tablespoon)
  • Hot pepper sauce (need 3 dashes)
  • Yellow cornmeal (need 1 cup)
  • Unflavored gelatin (need 3 envelopes)
  • Shredded coconut (for garnish)
  • Paprika (need ½ teaspoon)
  • Mustard seeds (need 2 teaspoons)
  • Dill seeds (need ¾ teaspoon)
  • White rice (need 1 2/3 cups dry or 5 cups cooked)


  • 1½ pounds fresh or canned refrigerated lump crabmeat
  • 1 pound extra-large (16 to 20 per pound) shrimp


  • 2 (½-pint) containers heavy cream
  • 1 (1-pint) container half-and-half


  • 1 (750-milliliter) bottle vodka
Tropical Fruit Martinis on white acrylic tray
Adam Albright

Tropical Fruit Martini

Enjoy a tropical taste twist with a combination of passion fruit, pineapple, and mango juices and vodka.

Hands On: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

  • Coarse decorating sugar
  • Lime wedge
  • 1½ ounces (3 tablespoons) vodka
  • 1½ ounces (3 tablespoons) passion fruit juice
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) pineapple juice
  • ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) mango juice
  • Ice cubes
  • 1 slice star fruit

Spread layer of sugar in small dish. Run lime wedge around rim of cocktail glass. Dip rim of cocktail glass in sugar to coat.

In cocktail shaker combine vodka, passion fruit juice, pineapple juice, mango juice, and, if desired, a squeeze of the lime wedge. Add ice; cover and shake until very cold. Strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with star fruit slice. Makes 1 cocktail.

Overnight Pickled Summer Vegetables
Adam Albright

Overnight Pickled Summer Vegetables

Freshly pickled vegetables make a colorful and tangy addition to a potluck table. Fat, buttery Castelvetrano olives are especially good here.

Hands On: 30 minutes

Total Time: At least 12 hours 30 minutes including chilling

Marinated Olives:

  • 1 8-ounce jar pitted green olives, drained (2 cups)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper

Pickled Vegetables:

  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 3 cups warm water
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • ½ cup chopped fresh dill
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • ¾ teaspoon dill seeds
  • 6 ounces carrots, cut into 4½-inch sticks
  • 5 ounces fresh whole okra
  • 4 ounces fresh green beans, trimmed to 4½-inch pieces
  • 1 cucumber, sliced or cut into 4½-inch pieces
  • ½ cup Marcona almonds

For Marinated Olives, in medium bowl combine olives, olive oil, lemon zest, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Cover; chill at least 12 hours or overnight.

For Pickled Vegetables, in large saucepan combine vinegar, warm water, salt, fresh dill, sugar, mustard seeds, and dill seeds. Bring to simmering, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar. Remove from heat; cool completely.

Place vegetables in pint canning jars. Pour cool pickling liquid over vegetables, covering completely and leaving ½-inch headspace (discard any remaining liquid). Seal jars; place in refrigerator at least 12 hours or overnight.

To serve, drain pickled vegetables. Arrange drained vegetables, Marcona almonds, and olives on a serving board or platter and/or in bowls. Makes 8 servings.

Pesto Rice Salad with purple endives
Adam Albright

Pesto Rice Salad

You can use a high-quality purchased pesto for this salad, but nothing compares to the fresh flavor of pesto you make yourself.

Hands On: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Basil Pesto:

  • 4 cups fresh basil
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons pine nuts
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Rice Salad:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ cups 2-inch pieces fresh asparagus
  • 1½ cups peas
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 cups cooked white rice, cooled
  • 1½ cups Basil Pesto
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 14- to 14.8-ounce can or jar hearts of palm, drained and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3 heads purple endive, trimmed and peeled
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 small lemon, halved

For Basil Pesto, in food processor or blender combine basil, olive oil, lemon juice, pine nuts, and salt. Process or blend until almost smooth.

For Rice Salad, in large skillet heat olive oil over medium. Add asparagus and peas. Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Remove from heat. Season with ¼ teaspoon of the salt.

Place rice in large bowl. Slowly fold in 1½ cups Basil Pesto. Season with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and the pepper. Add half of the hearts of palm, half of the asparagus mixture, half of the endive, and half of the pine nuts. Gently fold into rice.

Transfer rice salad to serving bowl. Top with the remaining hearts of palm, asparagus mixture, endive, and pine nuts. Squeeze lemon halves over salad. Makes 8 servings.

Shrimp-and-Crab Louie on platter with iceberg lettuce
Adam Albright

Shrimp-and-Crab Louie

This platter is richly flavored with a creamy homemade mayonnaise sauce. Fresh corn pancakes provide a savory-sweet balance.

Hands On: 25 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Louie Sauce:

  • 2 egg yolks*
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped shallot
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 3 dashes hot pepper sauce
  • Kosher salt

Corn Pancakes:

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups milk
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 cup fresh sweet corn, cut from cobs, blanched and cooled

To Assemble:

  • 4 cups fresh lump crabmeat or canned refrigerated lump crabmeat (1½ pounds), drained
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 heads butterhead (Boston or Bibb) lettuce
  • 1 bunch fresh dill
  • 1 pound extra-large (16 to 20 per pound) shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cooked
  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges

For Louie Sauce, in blender or food processor combine egg yolks and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Pulse several seconds to combine. With the machine running, slowly drizzle canola oil and olive oil through opening in lid until incorporated and a thick emulsion forms.

Transfer sauce to bowl. Stir in ketchup, shallot, paprika, and hot sauce. Season to taste with salt and additional lemon juice.

For Corn Pancakes, preheat oven to 200°F. In medium bowl combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, beat together eggs, milk, and canola oil. Add to dry ingredients; whisk until smooth. Stir in corn.

Heat greased griddle over medium. Spoon batter in 2-tablespoon portions onto hot griddle. Cook 1 to 1½ minutes until edges are dry. Turn; cook about 1 minute more or until golden. Keep warm in oven until ready to serve.

To assemble, in large bowl combine crabmeat and ¾ cup of the Louie Sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Line platter with lettuce leaves and fresh dill. Top with crab mixture and shrimp. Serve with lemon wedges, the remaining Louie Sauce, and warm Corn Pancakes. Makes 8 servings.

*Tip: If you do not want to use raw egg yolks in the sauce, place 2 whole eggs in a pan of boiling water; boil 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer eggs to ice water and cool completely. Separate egg yolks from egg whites and use as directed.

To Make Ahead: Corn pancakes can be made ahead, placed in an airtight container, and chilled up to 1 day. To reheat, wrap pancakes in foil. Heat in a 350°F oven 10 minutes.

Coconut Panna Cotta with Blackberry Sauce
Adam Albright

Coconut Panna Cotta with Blackberry Sauce

Sweetened condensed coconut milk and evaporated coconut milk add delicate coconut flavor to this panna cotta. Find them online and at some grocery stores, such as Whole Foods.

Hands On: 20 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours 20 minutes

Blackberry Sauce:

  • 2 cups fresh blackberries
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¼ cup lime juice

Panna Cotta:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 12.2-ounce can evaporated coconut milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons sweetened condensed coconut milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ½ cup fresh blackberries
  • Lime slices and toasted coconut*

For Blackberry Sauce, in medium saucepan combine blackberries, sugar, water, and lime juice. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool 30 minutes. Place berry mixture in blender. Cover; blend until smooth. If desired, press sauce through fine-mesh sieve to remove seeds; discard seeds. Cover; chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 week.

For Panna Cotta, coat twelve 4- to 6-ounce ramekins with cooking spray. Place in shallow tray. In small bowl sprinkle gelatin over water (do not stir). Let stand 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in large saucepan combine evaporated coconut milk, sugar, and sweetened condensed coconut milk. Cook over medium until hot but not boiling and sugar is dissolved. Add gelatin mixture; cook and stir over low 5 minutes or until gelatin is completely dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in cream, half-and-half, and vanilla. Pour into prepared ramekins. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

To serve, invert a ramekin on each plate. Allow panna cotta to release from edges. Serve cold with Blackberry Sauce and fresh blackberries. Garnish with lime slices and toasted coconut, if desired. Makes 8 servings.

*Tip: Toast shredded coconut on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Shake pan twice during toasting.

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