Our Favorite Summer Go-To Ideas and Meals

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Summertime is all about fun, food, friends and feeling refreshed. Simple, delicious, light fare is the key to dining in the warmer months. You don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen, laboring over the stove, when you can be outdoors – soaking up the sun, enjoying lazy days and sharing time with those you love.

Our favorite summer dishes use whole foods and take less prep time. Slice a watermelon and dress it up with fresh squeezed lime and a few dashes of chile powder and salt for a peppy party-starter. You can also add slices of fresh cucumber, pineapple and jicama to make it a colorful, yummy display. On an especially warm day, stick wooden popsicle sticks into the fruit chunks, place in the freezer for a few hours and – voilà – a delicious frozen treat! If mangoes are in season, slice them for the perfect, juicy, post-pool snack.

Fresh salads are this season’s starters. Try a creamy and crunchy cantaloupe, tomato and burrata salad for lots of texture and flavor. Sliced heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil and mozzarella dressed with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper make an easy option for a classic, caprese salad. Add avocado if you’re feeling adventurous.

Summer is the time to ditch fancy meals. It’s about casual dining al fresco. If you want to cook, fire up the grill. Make sure you have everything you need on hand so you don’t have to leave your grillside post. Essentials include gas or charcoal and matches, aluminum foil, separate tongs and plates for raw and cooked meats, plus all the spices, rubs and marinades. You can stuff your burgers with blue cheese for a delightful surprise. Serve herb-rubbed chicken thighs with a chimiverde sauce for a fully flavorful feast.

For grilling, buy organic, locally grown produce, like sweet summer corn. Pull back the husk, remove the silk, lather with butter, cover again with the husk, wrap in aluminum foil and grill well. Colorful chunks of green, red and yellow peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, eggplant and onions can be stacked on skewers, brushed with a mix of olive oil, salt and pepper and grilled until desired tenderness. 

Simple drinks are best. Plenty of chilled rosé and ice-cold beers are sure to put a smile on faces. But if you want to make cocktail hour exciting, muddle berries for a blackberry vodka smash and traditional Moscow mules in chilled glasses will do the trick.  

Our final tip? Never, ever forget the ice cream!

For more insight on the wonders of easy, delicious food – anytime of year – visit us at The Mad Table website.  And be sure to like The Mad Table on Facebook and follow us on Instagram for all the latest news, fabulous recipes and gorgeous entertaining tips and ideas.