The Perfect Easy Summer Menu, Full of Farm Stand Freshness

With all the goodness spilling over from gardens and farm stands, I feel a menu  in my heart…

A hand-written menu is a nice touch, a keepsake, and a handy reference for staff, which in this case would be me.

Maestro, cue Porgy and Bess: Summertime, and the cookin’ is easy / Bacon’s fryin’ and the corn is high / ‘Maters burstin’ and zucchini’s good lookin’ / Set your pretty table / Company’s nigh.

Okay that was dorky. But the menu is grrrreat, trust me. Recipes below.

Peanuts and pickled okra are my go-to hors-d’oeuvres. (go-d’oeuvres?) I order Aunt Ruby’s peanuts  from North Carolina because they are the best in the solar system. The okra is Talk o’ Texas from the grocery store.

My mother said heavy hors-d’oeuvres were a sign of insecurity. 

Cold Cucumber Soup. The addition of bell pepper, jalapeno, and fresh herbs take it somewhere new.

The soup you make ahead, and yes you can freeze it. The pasta you prep ahead and assemble last minute, no big deal.

Pasta With Bacon, Corn, Tomatoes, and Zucchini. A variation with olives and feta cheese is also delicious.

Make a simple lettuce salad with homemade vinaigrette. Take the cheese out early so it is room temp when served. I do one firm, like Gruyère or Cantal; one gooshy brie or triple-cream; and a goat or sheep’s cheese. Slice a baguette and that’s that.

Use store-bought ice cream bars or popsicles to lend a certain I-have-nothing-to-prove charm.

Cold Cucumber Soup
Serves: 6
The bell pepper, jalapeno, and fresh herbs make this ol' cucumber soup tangy and bright. It's a lot of ingredients but really so simple. This is one of those recipes you can experiment with--as I did with Emeril Lagasse's original.
  1. 5 pounds cucumbers (about 5 cucumbers) peeled, seeded, coarsely chopped (10 cups)
  2. 1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, coarsely chopped
  3. 4 green onions, chopped
  4. 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
  5. 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  6. 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  7. 1 tablespoon chopped dill
  8. 2-3 garlic cloves, mashed to a paste with 1 teaspoon salt
  9. 1 teaspoon salt
  10. 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  11. 2 cups plain yogurt
  12. 2 cups sour cream
  13. 1/2 cup buttermilk (or substitute*)
  14. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  15. 2 teaspoons wine vinegar
  16. 2 tablespoons chives, minced
  1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except chives and puree by batches in blender. Chill at least 2 hours, then taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve sprinkled with chives.
  1. To substitute for buttermilk, add 1/2 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice to regular milk. Unsweetened almond or soy milk work, too.
Adapted from From Emeril Lagasse, via
Frances Schultz
Pasta With Bacon, Corn, Tomatoes, and Zucchini
Serves: 6
Bursting with summer goodness and easily adapted to what vegetables and herbs you have on hand, give or take. Use what you have and don't worry about it. Any short pasta will do--cavatappi, campanelle, conchiglie, farfalle, whatever-i. Pictured is "calamari" similar to paccheri.
  1. 12 ounces uncooked pasta
  2. 6 pieces of bacon
  3. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  4. 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  5. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  6. 1 1/2 cups fresh corn (about 3 ears)
  7. 1 - 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
  8. 2 small zucchini, cut lengthwise into quarters and sliced
  9. 1/2 cup slivered black or green pitted olives (if desired)
  10. 1 cup Parmesan or Feta cheese, divided
  11. 1/2 cup chopped basil, loosely packed
  12. 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  13. 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
  1. Cook pasta by package directions for al dente.
  2. Meanwhile, in large skillet over medium high heat, cook bacon until crisp. Remove to drain but keep drippings in pan. Add oil to drippings.
  3. Add onion and garlic to pan and saute 2 minutes.
  4. Add zucchini and cook about 3 minutes.
  5. Stir in corn, tomatoes, and olives (if using), and cook about 5 minutes, until tomatoes start to burst.
  6. Add pasta to vegetable mixture and stir to heat through, about a minute.
  7. Remove from heat and add half the cheese, herbs, and salt and pepper, and toss to combine.
  8. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  1. I also tried this adding olives and substituting crumbled feta for Parmesan. The saltiness of these two balanced the sweetness of the corn and tomatoes, and to my palate, made a good thing better.
Adapted from From a recipe for Cavatappi With Bacon and Summer Vegetables via
Frances Schultz
The best basic salad dressing there is. Also good on cold vegetables, asparagus, artichokes etc., and even cold beef or fish.
  1. 1 garlic clove, minced
  2. 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
  3. 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  4. 1/4 cup wine vinegar (red or white)
  5. 3/4 cup olive oil
  1. Whisk together garlic, salt, mustard, and vinegar.
  2. Add oil in a steady stream, continuing to whisk until emulsified.
  3. Alternatively, whir all ingredients together in a blender, or shake them up in a jar.
  1. Once you see how easy and good this is, there is no reason to buy bottled dressing. Ever.
Frances Schultz


    1. Thank you, Splendid Market, and I will indeed try it with the tarragon wine vinegar! Tarragon is underrated, don’t you think? 😉 Frances

  1. Love the menu card. You graciously shared your recipes….would you share where you got the card done? Displayed on the green fabric makes it pop.

    For a change up, serve white gazpacho. It’s was suggested to serve it in Demi-tasse as soon as the guest arrives. How do you hold a drink and use a Demi-tasse spoon? I’m not that coordinated. Probably why they suggest white gazpacho – less mess.

    1. Thank you, Cara! The white gazpacho is a great idea, as are the hors d’oeuvres-in-demi-tasses. I think the idea is to drink the soup straight from the cup, no spoons necessary, and importantly, no spoons to wash!

      Re the menu “cards”, and I have revised the post since your comment, they are not cards but just a plain ol’ note pad with hand-scribbling by moi. The pads, with numerous motifs and monograms, along with other paper goodies, are from Maison de Papier in Georgia. She is great! Here you go:

      Cheers, Frances

    1. Oh heck, I left out the zucchini! Thank you, Holly! 2 small, cut lengthwise into quarters and sliced. The recipe cards are actually just a paper pad, and I get them very reasonably from Jennifer Stephens at Maison de Papier I will correct the post thanks to you! x Frances

  2. Well…- bet the bees were a buzzin over this yummy fare! Sliced summer peaches over vanilla ice cream is a great go to served in a stemmed wine glass! I put two Pepperidge Farm pirrouuette cookies tucked in for a little crunch!

  3. I too love the recipe cards with the “little Pic” of the dish on it. Cold cumber soup is my second favorite to the gazpacho I am having while I read this. (Speaking of reading.) I am IN LOVE with The Bee Cottage Story! I have a long note in the works to you , but let me just say, I was like a kid on Christmas morning seeing that package on my stoop. THEN amazingly humbled that I was thanked in it! ME? It is now my show and tell. I take it everywhere and show my friends. One friend said she was going to get it for her sister’s 50th. Then she said,”Have you met her?” Someday.(-; It is Beau-ti-full!! I am slowly savoring it. Much like those who will enjoy that summer recipe…(See how I brought it back around to food?) Much Love and thanks. Les XOOO

  4. Thanks for the great recipes. You are so creative in all that you do . Thank you for great information that you always share on your blog.

    1. Hi Mary Wayne! The soup serves 6 to 8, and the pasta a generous 6,depending on serving size of course. 🙂 The pasta portions are easy to adjust. Thank you for writing – I updated the post accordingly. xo F

  5. I brought home your book, The bee cottage story from the library yesterday and sat down with my morning tea to start reading. You captured my attention from the beginning with the line,”…(the) desire to create a beautiful harmonious environment was a place of clarity for me in an emotional morass”. For the first time I understood why after loosing my husband I found such relief in redoing my kitchen…many thought it was strange, but creating, what I consider a lovely space has always been such a part of my life and it got me through the first terrible months of grief. You stated it so well and I thank you.

    1. Dear Adrienne, Your lovely comment has stopped me in my tracks. Such a simple idea–to live in a space that is lovely, inviting, embracing–but such a powerful one. Thank you for taking the time to express it so beautifully. Your husband was a lucky man, and something tells me he was grateful for your every day together. Blessings, Frances

  6. Hello! My first visit to your blog and I’m addicted already. The menu is just perfect and I love how you personally wrote out the menu. Love it! And I’m going to definitely try the soup, it looks so refreshing.

    I just received your book the other day and I am really enjoying it. What a ride! It really is so much more than a decorating book—which, ahem, I thought I was getting. Wonderful surprise This is just fabulous. I love your writing style, humor and candor. I’m savoring my time reading!

    Looking forward to following your blog and if you have a chance, stop by! 🙂

    Jane x

  7. Hi Frances, I was hoping to make this pasta this weekend, but for some reason I can’t find the recipe here. Would you mind re-posting it or sending it to me? Thanks. Craig

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