While we’re cool with eating this classic combination all year long, it’s especially delicious when tomatoes are at their ripest and juiciest. Crisp cucumber and piquant red onion are essential for balance, but the real stars of the show are the salty add-ons: olives and feta. This recipe from Delish.com is a great pick for a daytime to-do, since all of the ingredients keep well at room temp (yes, even the feta) for a decent spell. Somehow the whole shebang tastes even better after it’s had time to sit together—
a sort of summer barbecue miracle, if you will!
Another goodie that will stand up to an extended stay on the porch or picnic table, this recipe takes shelled peas and blitzes them with lemon, garlic, and herbs for a delicious take on a universally beloved dip, aka: hummus. We love how adaptable this Bowl of Delicious dish is. Don’t have mint and parsley on hand? No prob, just sub in some basil. You happen to have a bumper crop of shelled peas rather of frozen? Just blanch ‘em in hot water and continue the same way. Serve it with seeded crackers and/or sliced veggies for maximum dipping potential.
Grilled Cilantro-Lime Shrimp
Go ahead, throw some shrimp on the barbie! Ok, so…we know that no one in Australia actually says this, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea! Shrimp are so quick to cook that you can go from grilling to eating in almost no time flat, which is always handy if you have children eating with you. Make the super-flavorful (and easy-to-adapt) marinade while you’re getting your ‘cue up to prime cooking temp. Alternatively, if the weather forecast didn’t get the memo to be sunny, you can cook the shrimp in a skillet or grill pan indoors, according to Dinner Then Dessert.
Fresh Spring Rolls With Peanut Sauce
Yeah, we know these nibbles are called “spring” rolls, not “summer” rolls, but who really cares when they look this pretty and taste this good? Turns out that it’s not so hard to duplicate this restaurant favorite in a home kitchen when you follow this recipe from Feasting At Home. Does it involve a fair amount of chopping, dicing, and slicing? Yes. Does the end result, a light and veggie-packed feast for the senses, make for a totally impressive hand-held appetizer? Absolutely. And for the love of all that’s holy(basil), do not skip the peanut sauce, people!
Everything Deviled Eggs
Deviled eggs are the O.G. apps of summer, but leave it to the popular cooking blog, Gimme Some Oven, to revamp this way-back snack for the moment at hand. At this particular moment Americans are more divided than ever; fortunately, there’s something we can all agree on—Everything Bagel Seasoning. It’s like the popular kid who’s both a valedictorian and a varsity athlete; there’s nothing this shake-on topping can’t do. While we’ve been known to sprinkle some on our plain hard-boiled eggs, it’s definitely fancier and more fit for a celebration when liberally applied to deviled eggs. Both sides of the picnic table will definitely concur: this recipe gets their vote.
Herbed Couscous Salad
The mission: you’ve been tasked with bringing a people-pleasing side dish to a barbecue. Then the panic sets in: you need to find a recipe that’s suitable for lots of different palates (from epicurean to the grown man who eats like a toddler). You need something that’s lighter than the mayonnaise-heavy salads of yore, something that can also withstand hours on the backyard table. Enter the herbed couscous salad, a recipe from the oh-so-French food blog Chocolate & Zucchini, that will please everyone. Summer herbs and ripe tomatoes add a fresh component, while a touch of spicy harissa paste and a wee pinch of cinnamon give a nod to couscous’ Moroccan origins. Though not gluten-free (you can make it with quinoa if needed), this vegan, nut-free recipe is otherwise innocuous and still seriously delicious.
Zucchini & Goat Cheese Tart
It’s basically a given that you will end up with a surplus of zucchini at some point over the summer. Whether you or someone you know is growing it, when it’s time to harvest it, there’s always too many on hand for one household to handle. Go ahead and take that poor, unneeded summer squash and turn it into something elegant for a party (even if it’s just your family-only party). Bonus snaps to the delightful Ina Garten and her Barefoot Contessa recipe for pairing the humble zucchini with creamy-yet-tart goat cheese. PS: don’t spit out your lemonade when you see how much butter is in the pastry that forms the base of this tart. It’s not like you’re going to eat the whole thing yourself, so quit worrying and just go with it. Zucchini discards never had it so good!
Cucumber With Sesame Seeds
Summer is full of days when it’s just too hot to cook. The only things that sound appealing are cold, crisp, refreshing dishes with less hands-on time than you’d give to the on/off switch of your ceiling fan. May we please suggest this cucumber salad from Japanese Cooking 101? There are approximately one zillion versions of this recipe online, but we love this option for its simplicity: four ingredients and you’re done. Don’t skip the smacking step, however, because it’s totally crucial for the taste (crazy but true—and also really delicious). You might even find yourself converted, choosing the smacking method over slicing as your preferred way of serving cucumbers from here on out.
Pasta With No-Cook Tomato Sauce
Then there are days that’s still too hot to cook, but you want, nay, even need, some pasta. Hey, we’ve all been there. This recipe from Just A Taste involves a minimum of prep and comes together quickly because it’s kind of like a bruschetta topping (aka: the Italian version of salsa), plus a dollop of ultra-rich burrata cheese on top of pasta—a win all around in our humble opinion. Hosting family or friends for a late lunch or long dinner? Double or triple it for a larger group, and don’t skip on the burrata or guests might—reasonably—wonder if you’re hogging it all for yourself!
Steak Kebabs With Chimichurri
Now, don’t get us wrong...we’re always ready to snarf down a fire-kissed burger or a perfectly char-marked hot dog. But there’s nothing novel or exciting about these two cookout staples, and we’re pretty sure you don’t need a recipe for either of them. So, level up with steak cubes skewered alongside fresh vegetables, all served with an herby chimichurri sauce rather than ye olde mustard and ketchup. Hey, you’ll always have the opportunity to serve burgers and dawgs to your crew, but we’re all adults here (well, mostly), and we deserve a barbecued meat dish that’s all grown up to prove it. Also, like turkey burgers and meatless dogs, this recipe from Skinny Taste can be changed to chicken or made with veggies only for vegans. Unlike dry turkey burgers and mealy meatless dogs, the chicken and veggie versions of this dish are actually tasty.
Raspberry & Lemon Rosé Sparkler
Summer is also the season of rosé wine. Some bottles of this gloriously pink wine are meant for savoring, chilled in glass and preferably served on a patio somewhere in the South of France. Other bottles are...not. While even a meh rosé is still better than no rosé, a less-than-cellar-worthy bottle of sparkling rosé will really shine when it's transformed into this summery, lemony, berry-filled punch from Country Living. This recipe makes for a near-effortless batch cocktail, too: it has only a few ingredients, it takes almost no time to make, and it creates six servings in one go. All in all, this drink is basically the American cousin of the fancy French wine, and we’re totally here for it.