Dana Slatkin

Summer Entertaining 101

The grilling season officially kicks off this weekend, and so do my shoes! Time to unplug, unwind, and reboot for summer. But how easy is it to pull off? Here are a few do’s and don’t’s to keep your cool…


Blend In. Summer cooking tends to rely more on fresh fruits and vegetables in the raw. Blend them into smoothies, frozen cocktails, creamy salad dressings, gazpacho and yogurt-based soups. Invest in a powerful but quiet blender to do the job.

Healthy Fresh Vegetables

Healthy Fresh Vegetables

Go casual. Family-style is the way to go in summer…meaning glass pitchers, giant wooden bowls and beautiful platters. Your guests help themselves while you enjoy the company.



Improvise. You don’t need elaborate centerpieces to decorate a summer table. A pair of charming firefly lanterns and a vase filled with fruits or vegetables from the farmers market are all you need to create that easy, breezy vibe.

Put away perfection. We love when we spot mismatched dishes, cocktails served out of glass jars, flowers thrown into an old coffee tin, or a hostess with a few hairs out of place. Why? Because we crave humanity, and let’s face it, perfection is just so yesterday.

Mismatched Dishes

Fun, Festive, Mismatched Dishes

Smoke. My son bought me one of these for my birthday so I’m always armed in the kitchen. You can enjoy the flavors of a summer cookout without ever having to fire up the grill. If you ask me, it’s the only kind of smoking that’s sexy!


Cook solo. Now that the kids are out of school and your spouse may be taking more time off, recruit them to help with cooking, serving, and dishes!

Tomato Feta Salad

Tomato Feta Salad

Be afraid to serve at room temperature. Eliminate the pressure to serve your guests hot food. Stick to crudités and dips, sandwiches, salads and pastas that can sit out for a few hours (keep them covered). Smoked fish, tofu, canned tuna, hard-boiled eggs, crumbly cheese, tempeh and canned beans lend themselves to cold dishes and are easy sources of meatless protein.

Use dried herbs when you can use fresh. Even better, grow your own and clip them as needed.

Basil and Oregano

Basil and Oregano

Be tempted to purchase processed foods. Did you know studies have found that people who eat whole foods burn about 50 percent more calories digesting the them than those who eat processed foods? Besides, cooking burns calories, too!

Here’s what will be on my table this summer:

For more ideas, don’t miss my archives on Summer Entertaining.

There are still a few days left to enter the May Giveaway and Cooking Contest. The 90210 Farmgirl wants you to win!

50 Shades of Summer Produce

50 Shades of Summer Produce by Maxine Greenspan

Photo credits: D Magazine; Madabella; Martha Stewart; Maxine Greenspan; and Reese and Marie

This post may contain affiliate links. Though all content is unsponsored, some items mentioned editorially may have been provided at no charge to the author.

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