Lobster Roll Bruschetta
Though we love the sweet flavor of lobster in this appetizer, you can easily substitute 1/2 pound of shrimp with delicious results.
Forget shrimp cocktail—this will be your go-to party staple from now on. You could take the shrimp off the skewers for the platter, but the pick-up nature of kebabs is great for parties.
Goat Cheese Crostini with Watermelon-Beet Salsa
You can use any type of beet, or substitute chopped tomato or more watermelon. Juicy produce adds a nice balance to the tangy flavor of the goat cheese, without becoming runny or mushy. These mini crostinis make for the perfect appetizer for a crowd, or a fun summertime snack
Yellow Bell Pepper Gazpacho
This soup just screams "summer" with its bright, refreshing flavor and cool temperature. You can make the soup a day ahead and keep it chilled; just give it a good whisk or another turn in the blender before serving.
Grilled Baba Ghanoush
Tomato and Peach Flatbreads with Basil
Grill the naan just until warmed through so the peaches and tomatoes stay juicy. Think of whole-grain naan as pizza crusts without the wait. Just throw on the grill and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until marked.
Grilled Eggplant and Purple Cauliflower Caponata
Purple cauliflower is becoming more widely available at farmers markets; white cauliflower would also be delicious here.
Cucumber and Green Tomato Gazpacho
Vibrant and refreshing, this is the soup you'll crave on summer's hottest days. Adding a little bread soaked in water, a traditional Spanish trick, thickens the soup without muting the flavors or making the final dish too heavy. After peeling, halve cucumbers lengthwise and run a metal teaspoon down the center to quickly remove the seeds.
Crab-Stuffed Grilled Bell Peppers
This fast appetizer combines stuffed mini bell peppers and creamy crab dip into one pretty, portable bite. Use multicolored peppers for extra pop.
Zucchini Pesto with Crudités
Small bites allow for more conversation while entertaining. Serve this summery appetizer on a platter than can be passed and shared. The cooked zucchini is delicious on its own (try it as a spread) and even better blended with almonds, fresh herbs, and cheese. Garnish with a little extra cheese, if desired.
Zesty Heirloom Gazpacho
Green tomato adds nice tang to the mix. White wine vinegar works in place of sherry. Chilled bowls will keep the soup extra refreshing.
Artichokes with Roasted Garlic-Wine Dip
The ritual of eating whole artichokes―tear off a leaf, eat the tender flesh, and repeat―is as much a part of the experience as the flavor. The creamy texture and sweet savoriness of roasted garlic in the dipping sauce serve to enhance everything to heavenly levels.
Dill and Beet-Cured Salmon with Cucumber Salad
Summer is the best time for wild Pacific Northwest salmon, and Pacific Northwest salmon is the best kind to use in this dish. Combined with fresh beets and dill, and contrasted by the cool, crisp cucumber salad, this salmon is a dish you'll be begged to make again.
Yellow tomatoes are a little less acidic than red, making this chilled soup's flavor sublime.
Nectarine and Radish Salsa
Sweet, crunchy, and tangy, this condiment should be a constant presence on your summer table. Use as a sauce for any grilled meat or fish. Spread on grilled or toasted bread with goat cheese for bruschetta. Add some jalapeño slices for a tortilla-chip dip. The possibilities are endless.
Fig, Prosciutto, and Gorgonzola Salad
This colorful, elegant dish combines all the different flavors and textures―sweet, tender figs; salty, crisp prosciutto; tangy, creamy cheese; and brightly sour balsamic vinegar―that are necessary for a perfect summer starter.
Chilled Avocado Soup with Seared Chipotle Shrimp
A delicious combination of tastes and textures, this first course soup combines smoky chile heat, crisp sweet corn, and silky-rich avocado.
Four-Herb Green Goddess Dressing
Grilled Peaches over Arugula with Goat Cheese and Prosciutto
Fruit is not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about grilling, but peaches and other stone fruits work beautifully with the charring flames of a grill. Here, the slight smokiness of the peaches complements crispy prosciutto and is mellowed by creamy goat cheese, all tied together on a bed of peppery greens.
Learn More: How to Cook with Summer Peaches
Grilled Pepper Poppers
The breaded and deep-fried version of this dish is a nutritional nightmare, but our version, with spicy pepper flavor and generous amounts of cheese, has only 84 calories per popper. Try swapping out the Parmesan for cheddar, jack, or your favorite smooth-melting cheese for a whole new taste.
Heirloom Tomato and Avocado Stack
For many, fresh tomatoes are the purest expression of summer in food form. This dish takes advantage of their flavor as well as the dazzling palette of colors that heirloom varieties display. Topped with ripe avocado and a simple creamy dressing, this is about as close as you can get to summer on a plate.
Fire-Seared Antipasto Platter
This classic Italian appetizer makes a great fridge-clearer: Throw whatever vegetables you've got on the grill, and pair with cheese, cured meats, condiments like capers and olives, and anything else you want to include. Virtually anything can go on a platter like this.
Peach and Brie Quesadillas with Lime-Honey Dipping Sauce
We've completely reinvented this Mexican classic to take advantage of summer. The mild brie rounds out caramelized peaches without overpowering, while the sweet-tangy sauce brings it all together.
Stuffed Squash Blossom Bruschetta
Most summer produce is available year-round at supermarkets today, but not so with squash blossoms. These special treats can only be found between late spring and early fall. Their subtle taste goes well with soft cheese and fresh herbs, and we pair them here with grilled bruschetta for body.
Golden Peach Soup with Shrimp and Crab Seviche
As intriguing as it is beautiful, this sweet-tangy-slightly spicy soup makes a stunning first course.
Muhammara with Crudités
Muhammara is a sweet-spicy Middle Eastern dip made from roasted bell pepper, walnuts, and, traditionally, Aleppo pepper and pomegranate molasses. We subbed in readily available crushed red pepper and honey with delicious results.
Quick Pickled Dilly Green Beans
A fresh alternative to pickled cukes, these crisp, crunchy treats make a zesty summer snack, garnish for a Bloody Mary, or condiment in a sandwich or salad. They're easy to prepare and will keep up to a week in the refrigerator.
Spicy Squash Pickles
These summer squashes offer meatier flavor and texture than traditional cucumber pickles.
Chilled Fresh Corn Soup with King Crab
This chilled soup is full of delectably sweet fresh corn and gorgeous pieces of king crab legs.
Creole Deviled Eggs
Chef Stage, of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in New York City, remembers his mother's deviled eggs, which he updates with vibrant Creole seasonings.
Sweet and Spicy Pepperonata
Use a variety of hot and sweet peppers in red, orange, and yellow for superior flavor and color in this dish. Serve as a side with grilled meat or fish, or as an appetizer spooned over grilled bread.
Rosé and Raspberry Pickled Beets
Well worth the wait, these pickled beets have an intense flavor and super sweet aroma.
Indian-Spiced Grilled Shrimp and Okra
Here's a fun way to cook okra; it retains some crunch and doesn't even think of getting slimy. The fresh serrano chile and curry powder offer a good bit of heat; seed the chile or omit it for a milder dish.
Grilled Ginger-Glazed Chicken Livers with Spicy Plum Sauce
This is a fantastic appetizer, a delicious departure from the usual featuring rich chicken livers paired with a Southeast Asian--inspired sauce. Any leftover sauce will keep in the refrigerator up to two weeks.