It's the First Official Day of Summer — Here's What to Make

By: Emily Lee

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Although we’ve been focused on warm-weather dishes ever since Memorial Day, today marks the first actual day of summer, which means it’s time to roll out the grill and usher in a long season of outdoor meals featuring summer’s greatest hits. Think corn on the cob, watermelon, juicy grilled burgers and, most importantly, s’mores. If you’re wondering what to put on tonight’s menu, here are a few ideas to get you started.

Red and yellow grape tomatoes are the star of this two-bite appetizer. These juicy in-season bites need only a bit of garlic, oil, balsamic and basil before they’re ready to be spooned onto grilled baguette slices.

The only way we could possibly improve on watermelon was to cut the cool, sweet fruit into thick cubes and toss them with a sweet and tangy dressing made of cream, sweetened condensed milk and lime juice. Serve it as a cool, refreshing dessert, or enjoy it as a midday treat with some flaked coconut and aromatic cinnamon sprinkled on top.

Food Network Kitchen’s 4Ingredient

Food Network Kitchen’s 4Ingredient

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©Copyright 2015

Matt Armendariz, Copyright 2015

S’mores are the ultimate sweet of summer, but they’re not the tidiest dessert. Give the campfire classic an unexpected makeover by combining the three key ingredients of s’mores — marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers — into this easy-to-make, easy-to-eat pie. For the chocolate layer, combine chocolate chips with heavy cream (the fourth ingredient) to create a smooth and velvety ganache.

Bobby Flay's Perfectly Grilled Corn as seen on Food Network

Bobby Flay's Perfectly Grilled Corn as seen on Food Network

Photo by: Stephen Johnson ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Stephen Johnson, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Corn on the cob is fantastic, but grilled corn on the cob is even better. Soak a few ears of corn — with the silk removed but the husks intact — in cold salted water for 10 minutes, then place them on a hot grill until the kernels are tender and smoky. Give your guests a choice between two compound butters: barbecue or herb.

These juicy burgers are possible to replicate whether you’re working with a freestanding grill, a grill pan or a cast-iron skillet. It’s all about buying the right beef — preferably ground chuck that is 80 percent lean — and flipping only when the patties are golden brown and slightly charred on each side. Feel free to add your favorite toppings, but we think these babies are perfect with just a couple of slices of sharp cheddar.

American Macaroni Salad: Food Network Kitchens

American Macaroni Salad: Food Network Kitchens

Photo by: Tara Donne

Tara Donne

Nothing says summer like a creamy batch of macaroni salad, and we like ours with a little kick from apple cider vinegar and dry mustard. For hearty texture, toss in some fresh chopped vegetables, such as celery, tomato and red onion, as well as fresh parsley. Despite the presence of mayo and sour cream, one serving has only 3 grams of sugar, so consider that a bonus.

No pie dough here, just some juicy grilled peaches slathered in cinnamon-sugar butter. This is a great recipe for when you want to assemble a simple summer dessert in 15 minutes or less; sometimes the best desserts are the simplest desserts.

Food Network Kitchen’s NoChurn Chocolate Ice Cream as seen on Food Network.

Food Network Kitchen’s NoChurn Chocolate Ice Cream as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2015

Matt Armendariz, 2015

Of course, no summer meal is complete without a scoop or two of ice cream. Surprise your guests with a batch of this rich homemade chocolate ice cream, no fancy equipment required. Prepare the mixture in a loaf pan the night before you plan to serve it, or mix it up before you leave for work in the morning — it takes only 10 minutes — and it will be ready to scoop by the time you get home.

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