10 Cool Summer Appetizers

Summer is here: the season of light, hot and outdoors.

There’s no better way to kick off summer meals with some tasty, feel-good foods that are simple – and cool to make.

vegetable platterHere are some quick, easy tips:

  1. Veggies – A great, light summer choice. Carrots, cherry tomatoes, sugar peas, celery and more: serve them raw – simple and quick. Or for more taste, marinate, grill and serve veggies such as onions, peppers, zucchini and mushrooms.
  2. Dips – Dips are so popular because they’re easy to make and eat. Serve with chips, crackers or veggies. Try edamame-ginger dip, a protein-rich, Asian alternative to hummus. Serve with carrots or rice crackers.
  3. Salsa – Like dip, salsa is always popular because it’s fun to scoop up your favorite. Go exotic, and add in interesting flavors like mango. Or how about pineapple-ginger-habanero salsa? Spike pineapple salsa with habanero peppers and fresh ginger for a nice kick.
  4. Spreads – Like dips, enjoy them with crackers, chips, veggies and more. A tasty suggestion is spicy hummus – add sauteed jalapeno peppers to hummus. Keep some of the chickpeas chunky for a spread that’s heartier and spicier than most.
  5. Salad Cups – Just like bread bowls or taco-shell salads, but with a lighter, healthier base. Put your favorite filling in a curved salad leaf, and voila – a light, fun, eat-it-all summer bowl. I like chicken salad with a little paprika and fresh parsley and sage- summer zest.
  6. Meats – Grilled meats are always tasty, and provide much-needed protein. But sometimes it’s too hot for the grill. So simply grill – and chill – summer meats. One of my favorites is Asian wings, glazed with ginger for a unique flavor. Light and great for hot days and nights.
  7. Seafood – With so much summer time spent at pool, beach or lake, seafood is always a favorite. How about smoked salmon bites? Use wasabi mayonnaise for kick, with smoked salmon on rice-crackers.
  8. Skewers – A tasty option, grilled ahead of time and served chilled. Make up any variation from meats, veggies, or all the above. Try different dips and sauces, such as peanut, chutney and tamarind – for an exotic summer taste.
  9. Nuts – They’re delicious, savory, and come in many varieties. For extra fun, get flavored or herbed varieties.  I recommend curried cashews. Or try spiced Spanish almonds: salty, sweet, and smoky – perfect for a party. Enjoy over a salad topped with sliced pears and Manchego cheese.
  10. Mini Sandwiches – Like sliders in cool months, cool summer mini sandwiches are a popular favorite. Virtually any variety ca be made mini. How about mini Italian club sandwiches, loaded with turkey, provolone, bacon and pesto. Just make your favorite sandwich, cut into bite-sized squares, and decorate with colored toothpick.

Remember – the coldest, darkest days of the year are just 6 months away. Get out and now and enjoy the season – starting with light, delicious, feel-good food. Enjoy these cooking suggestions all summer and stay cool.

This is actually a pretty decent resource of a website over here – chefs dot edu

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