Cool Recipes for Summer Celebrations

From Memorial Day through Labor Day, we gather with friends and family for cookouts, picnics, pool parties, and other celebrations. Savor fresh summer flavors and relieve some of the North Carolina heat with these recipes, served cold:

Smoky Corn and Basil Salad

from Kayte Fry, Boards & Bites

This salad is delicious cold or at room temperature, as a side dish or even as an appetizing dip with crackers or chips.

6 ears sweet corn, shucked and cut off the cob
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium tomato, chopped
¼ cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
¼ cup scallions, finely sliced
1 small avocado, chopped
juice from 1 large lime
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (Duke’s is recommended)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon each: coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons freshly chopped basil

  1. To enhance its sweet flavor, saute corn kernels in olive oil over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Be careful not to overcook; corn should still have a nice crunch. Set aside, and let cool for 10-15 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine sauteed corn, tomato, red and jalapeno peppers, scallions, avocado, lime juice, mayonnaise, and spices. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. Just before serving, toss in fresh basil.

Watermelon, Roasted Corn and Mint Salad

from Chef Joseph V. Fasy, Fuquay-Varina
Makes 2 to 4 servings

3 ears fresh sweet corn, shucked
2 tablespoons canola oil (more for corn)
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
sea salt, to taste
4 cups watermelon chunks, seeded
¼ cup red onion, sliced into rings
2 tablespoons fresh mint ribbons
¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled

  1. Drizzle corn with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Grill, turning on occasion, until slightly charred; about 8 minutes. Remove and cool, then slice kernels off the cob. When slicing, try to leave sections of corn still joined.
  2. Whisk 2 tablespoons oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
  3. Add corn, watermelon, onion, and mint, and gently toss all ingredients.
  4. Sprinkle with feta cheese. Serve immediately or chill.

Fresh Watermelon Martini

from Bonefish Grill

2 cucumber slices
2 watermelon chunks
¼ ounce simple syrup
1½ ounces vodka (recommended: Cold-Distilled Cucumber Vodka from Durham Distillery)
½ ounce fresh sour mix (recipe follows)

  1. Combine the watermelon chunks, cucumber slices, and simple syrup in a glass, and muddle well. Add vodka and fresh sour mix.
  2. Shake with ice in a cocktail shaker; strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with more watermelon cubes or a fresh cucumber slice.

Fresh sour mix:
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
¾ cup lime juice, freshly squeezed

  1. Make a simple syrup by heating the water to a simmer, and stirring in the sugar until it dissolves. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool completely.
  2. Pour the cooled simple syrup into a quart-sized jar with a lid. Add the lemon juice and lime juice. Stir and store in the refrigerator until needed.

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