Tastes of Summer

Liven up your summer menu with these fresh recipes.

Summer is a season of sunshine, warm days, and delicious fresh fruits and vegetables. Explore your local farmer’s market and take advantage of the seasonal bounty – enjoy the flavors of summer with these tasty fruit-inspired appetizers, entrees and desserts.


Strawberry Basil Crostini

Chopped strawberries and fresh basil make for a savory sweet party appetizer.


  • 2 cup chopped strawberries
  • ¼ cup chopped basil
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • 3oz Goat Cheese, softened
  • 24 slices Toasted Baguette


Stir together the strawberries, basil, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Spread the goat cheese on the lightly toasted bread slices. Place the strawberry mixture on top of the goat cheese and serve. Add extra basil if desired.

Mango Salsa

A fruity twist to a traditional spicy salsa.


  • 3 ripe mangos, chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • ¼ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1 large lime, juiced (about ¼ cup lime juice)
  • ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon salt, to taste


In a serving bowl, combine the prepared mango, bell pepper, onion, cilantro and jalapeño. Drizzle with the juice of one lime and mix well. Season to taste with salt. For best flavor, let the salsa rest for 10 minutes or longer.

Figs and Toasted Almonds Brie

A new take on cheese and fruit.


  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 6 fresh figs, stemmed and quartered
  • 1 (14 ounce) round 4 1/4-inch diameter round Brie cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds


Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit

Heat brown sugar and water over medium heat till sugar is dissolved. Add figs and vanilla, and cook about 10 minutes until soft. Stir in almonds and vanilla. Place brie wheel in a baking dish; pour fig mixture over

Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes – softened but not melted. Serve with crackers.

fruit, rainbow, summer, raspberry, strawberry, pineapple, kiwi, blueberry


Chilled Peach Soup with Goat Cheese

Sweet and tangy as summer itself.


  • 3 cups sliced peeled peaches (about 4 peaches)
  • 1/4 cup finely diced peeled seedless cucumber, plus thin slices for garnish
  • 1/4 cup finely diced yellow bell pepper, plus thin slices for garnish
  • 1/4 cup diced dried apricots
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons crumbled fresh goat cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 cups diced baguette (1/2 inch)
  • Basil leaves, for garnish
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Toss the peaches,  cucumber,  pepper and apricots. Add the honey, 3 tablespoons of goat cheese, 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Add the garlic. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Next day, remove garlic and transfer the contents to a blender. Puree. Add 1/4 cup of water until  smooth and creamy; add more water to thin. Season with salt and vinegar. Refrigerate until very cold for around 1 hour.

In a medium skillet, heat the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add the diced bread and stir over moderate heat until golden (about 2 minutes). Transfer  croutons to paper towels; season with salt.

Pour  soup into bowls; garnish with sliced cucumber, sliced bell pepper, goat cheese, croutons and basil. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, season with black pepper and serve.

BBQ Chicken & Pineapple Grilled Cheese

Who says an old standby can’t be fabulous?


  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup sweet and spicy BBQ sauce, divided
  • 8 slices good quality bread
  • 2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated large
  • 12 thinly sliced pineapple strips
  • Butter
  • Nonstick spray


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place chicken breasts in an oven safe baking dish, spread 1/2 cup BBQ sauce over chicken to coat. Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through.

Remove from oven and shred chicken. In a bowl combine shredded chicken and 1/2 cup BBQ sauce until evenly coated.

Take 8 slices of bread and butter one side each. Butter side down, spread 1/4 cup of cheese onto 4 slices. On top of  cheese, spread one fourth of chicken mixture. Add 3 pineapple slices on top; top with the remaining cheese (about 1/4 cup on top of each slice). Taking the slices that have only been buttered, place them on top of the cheese layer, butter facing out. Press down with hand or spatula.

Heat a skillet or grill pan over medium heat and spray with non stick spray. Place 2 sandwiches butter side down on the pan, and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until browned. Flip and cook on the other side for 1-2 minutes or until browned.

Cut sandwiches in half and serve immediately.

Macadamia Salmon with Pineapple Salsa

Fish dish to the tune of zest.

Ingredients (salmon)

  • 4 small salmon fillets (or 2 large)
  • 2 cups Diamond of California Macadamia Nuts, finely chopped
  • 1 cup shredded coconut flakes (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste (I used ½ teaspoon each)
  • 4 tablespoons water+2 whole eggs

Ingredients (salsa)

  • 1 whole fresh pineapple, diced
  • 1 white or red onion, diced
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped (just the leaves, discard the stems)
  • 1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon salt


Prepare the salmon fillets first. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly grease a baking sheet.

Stir together chopped macadamias, coconut flakes, garlic powder, and salt and pepper. In a small bowl whisk water and eggs until light and foamy.

Place salmon fillets on foil sheet and brush top with egg mixture. Sprinkle macadamia-coconut mixture over, pressing lightly so it sticks. Turn fillets over and repeat egg and macadamia mixtures.

Transfer salmon fillets to prepared baking sheet (without foil). Bake for 10-20 minutes until the macadamia crust is golden.

While salmon is baking, prepare the pineapple salsa by stirring together all ingredients in a bowl. When salmon is done, serve warm with pineapple salsa.

line row of fruit


Cherry Chocolate Pie

Cherries, rum and chocolate, oh my!


  • 3/4 cup turbinado sugar (save some for sprinkling)
  • 1/2 cup light rum
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 pounds Bing cherries, pitted and halved
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Cooking spray
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1 1/2 14 -ounce packages refrigerated piecrust dough (3 pieces)
  • Heavy cream, for brushing
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving


Whisk  sugar, rum, vanilla, orange zest and 1/4 teaspoon salt in bowl till the sugar dissolves. Add  cherries and cornstarch and toss; set aside about 30 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Place six 5-to-6-inch ceramic tart dishes on the  pan. Add 3/4 cup cherries to each dish with a slotted spoon; top each with 1 tablespoon butter and 2 teaspoons chocolate. Transfer the remaining cherry mixture to a saucepan; add 1/2 cup water and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. Divide among the dishes; cool completely.

Dust a surface with flour. Using a paring knife, cut out 6 circles from the piecrust, 1/2 inch bigger than the tart dishes (use  dishes as  guide). Place on another baking sheet and chill till ready to bake.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Top each dish with a piece of dough, pressing the edge against the dish to seal; pierce several times with a knife. Bake 45 minutes, then brush each pie with heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar. Continue baking until golden, about 15 more minutes. Serve with ice cream.

Strawberry Shortcake Trifle

Nothing trifling about this summerful combination.


  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 c. chopped pound cake or angel food cake
  • 2 c. sliced or chopped strawberries


In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat cream with sugar until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Stir in vanilla until combined. Transfer mixture to a piping bag.

Using four glass Mason jars, layer pound cake or angel food cake, whipped cream mixture, and strawberries, ending with strawberries.  Enjoy!

Frozen Fruit Dessert

Sweet and cool for a hot day.


  • 1 can mandarin oranges
  • 1 can fruit cocktail
  • 1 jar maraschino cherries
  • 1 8 oz. container of cool whip
  • 3 tbsp of butter melted


Drain mandarin oranges, fruit cocktail, and cherries well. Mix into bowl with cool whip and butter. Prepare an 8×8 pan with cooking spray and place mixture in pan and freeze hard. Let thaw 15 minutes before serving. Add mint or cold fresh fruit as desired.

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author: Melissa Nilan