Southern-Style Summer Menu

Enjoy a nice, light summer dinner from the South.

It's Good, Y'all

Photo: Squire Fox

It's Good, Y'all

Southerners may find that the current vogue for Southern cooking in New York City and elsewhere brings to mind that Barbara Mandrell song from the '80s, "I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool."

But this attention is real and deserved: Regional heritage, flavors, and ingredients are all being celebrated in the passion for country ham, grits, fried chicken, and chowchow.

Cooking Light's Test Kitchen and editorial offices are in the heart of the South, down in Birmingham, Alabama, where agrarian roots run as deep as any. We wanted this menu to reflect the exciting culinary developments of the new South, characterized by reverence for the past and spiked with lots of inventive ideas. We wanted a menu perfect for cooks with overactive vegetable gardens and healthy mind-sets. The recipes abide by Southern kitchen principles: Keep it simple, get creative in combining native Southern ingredients, and find some use for all that fragrant garden mint that will take over everything if given half a chance.

Sweet Tea Mint Juleps

Photo: Squire Fox

Sweet Tea Mint Juleps

Chill your glasses while the tea mixture chills. You can also shake the cocktail with ice before serving, but strain the ice before you pour.

View Recipe: Sweet Tea Mint Juleps

Pimiento Cheese-Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Photo: Squire Fox

Pimiento Cheese-Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Fresh squash blossoms are a lovely seasonal treat. Enjoy the contrast of crisp, fresh flowers with rich, creamy cheese spread. Be sure to use the best bacon you can find–brands that smoke with real wood offer the best flavor. And roast your own pepper; jarred versions may taste tinny. Use plain cheddar cheese for a mild flavor, or choose extra-sharp for more tang.

View Recipe: Pimiento Cheese-Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Mini Cornmeal Cakes with Heirloom Tomato Relish

Photo: Squire Fox

Mini Cornmeal Cakes with Heirloom Tomato Relish

With tomatoes fresh from the garden, these mini cornmeal cake appetizer treats encompass the full flavors of the season's best produce.

View Recipe: Mini Cornmeal Cakes with Heirloom Tomato Relish

Roasted Cider-Brined Pork Loin with Green Tomato Chutney

Photo: Squire Fox

Roasted Cider-Brined Pork Loin with Green Tomato Chutney

For the deepest flavor in this pork main dish, use unfiltered cider.

View Recipe: Roasted Cider-Brined Pork Loin with Green Tomato Chutney

Lady Pea Salad

Photo: Squire Fox

Lady Pea Salad

Delicate green lady peas are perfect in this summer side. If you can't find them, sub any field pea, such as pink-eye or crowder.

View Recipe: Lady Pea Salad

Peach Cobbler Ice Cream with Bourbon-Caramel Sauce

Photo: Squire Fox

Peach Cobbler Ice Cream with Bourbon-Caramel Sauce

Here's a delicious ice-cream recipe that doesn't require an ice-cream maker: Just stir the ingredients together, and freeze. Fold the whipped topping in with as few strokes as possible while making sure everything is well blended.

View Recipe: Peach Cobbler Ice Cream with Bourbon-Caramel Sauce

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