We’re getting closer and closer to the official end of summer which really makes me sad, even though I live in a city whose summer extends into October. For me, summer eating is all about fruit- and vegetable-based recipes and fresh ingredients. If you’re thinking about hosting a lunch for some friends, here are some recipes that look and sound delicious and you might want to consider. There is a balance of sweet and savory, different textures and flavor combinations that should please a variety of palettes.

The Menu:

  • Heidi Swanson’s Zucchini Ricotta Cheesecake
  • Eggplant Bruschette
  • Mixed Berries with Lemon Verbena Cream
  • Triple Berry Margaritas

Heidi Swanson’s Zucchini Ricotta Cheesecake

How delicious does that look? I love 101 Cookbooks and highly recommend it for anyone looking for healthy, creative and delicious recipes. And Heidi, besides taking amazing photos, is also great about giving really helpful tips and instructions. This cheesecake (and keep in mind that the texture is not going to be like that of a cream cheese-based cheesecake) would make a perfect centerpiece of an afternoon party at home with friends.

Tip: Because this is served at room temperature, you won’t have the worry of trying to time the cheesecake to finish baking right when your guests arrive. You can slice it and set it out on your buffet table. Feeling ambitious and want to make your own ricotta? Check it out here.

Eggplant Bruschette

This is the type of recipe with which you can play around with the ingredients. If you want to amp the garlicky flavor you can easily do so. And it may be a good idea to prep more ingredients than the recipe calls for so that you’ll have enough on hand to adjust the flavors.

Tip: You can make the spread a day ahead of time. Dana and I like to prep as much as possible in the days leading up to a party so that we have less to do on party day. This is especially helpful if you are like us and plan to clean your home the morning of the party because you’ll have more time to take care of those last-minute details.

Mixed Berries with Lemon Verbena Cream

This looks mouth-watering delicious. It’s easy to serve and eat which makes it a good choice for a party.

Tip: You can make the cream a day ahead and that will save you some time. Also, make sure to taste the berries before serving to see if you need to adjust the sugar (more or less) in the cream for a flavor-balanced dessert.

Triple-Berry Margaritas

Let’s not forget the cocktails. Staying with the berry theme, this triple-berry margarita and its gorgeous red color will look beautiful on your table and there’s no doubt your guests will love it. For a fun addition to this drink, you can purchase colored sugar to rim the glasses. Or better yet, make your own.

Tip: Making colored sugar is pretty stimple: all you need is granulated sugar and food coloring. Add coloring, a drop at a time, to an airtight jar of sugar and shake vigorously until the color is evenly dispersed. Keep adding food coloring in stages to prevent the sugar from becoming too wet. Keep the sugar sealed in the jar until you are ready to use it.

If you need margarita glasses, here’s a beautiful set from Pottery Barn.