Easy Summer Entertaining With American Express


Hi friends!  I’m excited to share today’s post with you- I’ve got the makings of a beautiful Mediterranean dinner party here to inspire your own backyard summer entertaining as these long hot days beg to be celebrated with friends and family!  I created a menu that keeps your oven off and kitchen labor to a minimum, but will still provide a delicious, memorable evening for your loved ones.  The trick- seasonal produce that’s fresh and beautiful, it’ll save you the trouble of hours of prep time!

Speaking of saving, Lou and I have been watching our spending in ways we never have before now that we’ve got a little one on the way and find ourselves all of a sudden facing things like preschool tuition (I swear I had no idea that was even a thing), saving for college and the general financial responsibility of providing for this little guy who will be joining us in the next few months. As we make these adjustments I’ll be finding ways to make every penny count- including using my Blue Cash Everyday card from American Express, which that offers a host of savings opportunities, including 3% cash back on groceries!  You can bet I’m happy for that 3% back when I’m shopping for summer soirees, PLUS the $250 I will earn back if I spend $1,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership!  Click through to see all of the dishes and decor, with details on how to make everything below.  Hope you love, and happy entertaining!!!  xx- Sarah

This post was produced in partnership with American Express.  Thank you for supporting our sponsors!

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For the tabletop items I wanted to keep it neutral and let the colorful food pop, so I used our Heath Ceramics plates/serving platters/bowls, these wooden charger plates, these gold bottomed glasses, and bronze flatware & linens from Hostess Haven.  The napkin rings are an Etsy find (similar).  Before the food arrived the table felt fresh and easy, as perfectly unfussy as you want a backyard summer dinner party to be!  And after the food arrived it was a color explosion- a feast for the eyes!

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In keeping with my goals of utilizing just the season’s finest, this salad is made from the ripest, juiciest heirloom tomatoes I could find, fresh crumbled feta cheese, a healthy drizzle of high quality extra virgin olive oil (I love this brand), and fresh cracked pepper.  It’s the kind of simple food that makes you wonder why you ever fuss over anything else!


Also in the spirit of chop and go- this peach, red onion, pesto and burrata salad takes minutes to whip up and will not disappoint a single soul.   To save time I bought pre-made pesto, but here’s a recipe for my homemade version if you’re interested!  Again, the secret to this bowl of heaven is finding the juiciest, ripest peaches you can and the creamiest, loveliest burrata.  Quality ingredients are critical when a dish is a simple as this one!


Edible table decor is my favorite- and with peaches being so especially lovely at the moment I had to include a few scattered throughout the table.  And then I adore having mini bowls of tasty things spread around- they fill up space and who doesn’t love grabbing for a cherry or a few olives as they nosh?!


My favorite drink this summer has been watermelon agua fresca (made by blending ripe juicy watermelon and then straining through a cheesecloth).  Of course adding a little bit of vodka and some torn mint leaves might make it more appealing to your libation loving pals, but the juice just as it is works for this pregnant lady!  I offered our guests the choice of either, to be fair.

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This grilled eggplant and tomato dish was the most involved to prepare, but still in the scope of things a total breeze!  To make: slice eggplant into 1/4″ pieces, halve tomatoes, and brush all pieces with coconut oil.  Heat grill to medium/high and grill eggplant slices and tomatoes until black lines appear (the secret to those lovely lines is to avoid moving the food on the grill as much as possible).  To make the labneh: strain 2 cups of plain yogurt through a cheesecloth for 6-8 hours, add a clove of crushed garlic, a little salt and a squeeze of lemon juice.  Combine well.  To make the Za’atar, combine 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh oregano, 2 tablespoons of Gomashio (or 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds and 1 teaspoon of hearty sea salt), and 2 teaspoons of sumac.  To serve, spread grilled eggplant and tomatoes on a platter, top with thinly sliced red onion.  Drizzle generously with labneh and sprinkle with za’atar!


This simple green salad is a light and refreshing addition to the table.  To make: combine mixed greens with halved easter egg radishes, herb whipped goat cheese (recipe here), a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a few splashes of balsamic vinegar and fresh cracked salt/pepper.


Lighting is so important when dining, and generally I prefer cafe lights and candles.  BUT, I saw this adorable video and thought that the LED lights in jars is a special kind of magic too!  So I borrowed the idea for our party and bought two boxes of these to put into jars for an added bit of festive lighting.


Ok I think that covers all that I did to create this magical evening for our friends-  I hope it inspires lots of summer fun for you and yours! *As you know, you must be 21+ to consume alcohol. Please drink responsibly.

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Reader Comments

  1. Karen|

    Hi Sarah,
    I love your blog and your pictures are always beautiful!
    I was unable to click on the links for your favorite olive oil and the lights; I was just wondering if anyone else has had an issue with it. I love checking out the links whenever you post them!

    • Sarah Yates|

      Hi Karen, Thank you so much for the kind words! So sorry those links malfunctioned- I just replaced them! Olive oil is here and lights are here! 🙂

        • Karen|

          Hi Sarah,
          Another question for you.
          Where did you get the lights that are hanging above the table? Do you happen to have a link for those, as well?
          Thank you again,

  2. Whitney|

    Do you mind me asking where the dishware is from? Love the serving dishes and the little dishes used for the olives and crushed pepper. And also the stemware? Love it all!

    • Sarah Yates|

      Yes Whitney! I linked to everything in the post- third paragraph I believe! 🙂

      • Whitney|

        Amazing – the wooden serving bowls are also from heath? And also the wine glasses?

        • Sarah Yates|

          Oh gosh Whitney I just realized the links weren’t working properly! Adjusted them and all is good to go! The wooden serving bowls are no longer available, but the glasses are from Anthropologie (link is working this time I promise!) 🙂 Thank you for your patience!! XX

    • Sarah Yates|

      Thanks Rachel!! Your fiesta looks like a great time! 🙂 The chalkboard was a gift, I can’t take credit for making it!