Summer’s all too brief appearance means action-packed weekends and holidays filled with friends, family and plenty of food. Appetizers are a requisite for the summer nights that seem to last forever, and on these days, something to snack on before the main event is a must. With summer’s bounty and, at long last, the BBQ open for business, there are as many options as there are hours in a summer day. From dips to soups to kebabs to crostini and more, here are some ways to have your appetizers and eat them, too.
Vegetarian Spinach-Walnut Pâté
Put a vegetarian spin on traditional pâté and get the evening started with this creamy spread made from walnuts and cilantro, topped off with juicy pomegranate seeds.
Chicken Summer Rolls
A great recipe for leftover grilled, roasted, poached or rotisserie chicken. Vibrant summertime flavours are wrapped up in rice paper wrappers and served with homemade peanut sauce. This appetizer skips the deep-fryer for a snack-sized, portable salad or light meal.
Cottage Cheese Tzatziki Mezze Plate
Create a Mediterranean spread using high-protein cottage cheese as the centrepiece. Surround the simple dip with juicy summer tomatoes, olives, stuffed grape leaves and pita chips. Easy to whip up, and a gorgeous addition to your table when it comes time to entertain.
Watermelon and Haloumi
Salty, squeaky haloumi cheese is the ultimate foil to sweet, crisp and juicy watermelon. This appetizer plays with temperatures, textures and flavours, receiving a final refreshing hit from a glistening honey-vinegar oil dressing.
Baked Falafel Sliders with Tabbouleh and Maple Tahini Sauce
The deep fryer is not required for these adorable bites of the Middle East. Their dainty size is not reflective of their massive taste, showing that healthy apps can also mean tasty apps.
Grilled Yucatan Chicken Skewers
These skewers, featuring lean chicken and Mexican flavours, wake up taste buds for the main meal ahead, and pair particularly well with ice-cold cocktails.
Goat Cheese and Asparagus Crostini
Crostini is the saving grace of summertime entertaining, giving you a quick and healthier option for last-minute guests. Goat cheese and seasonal greens, here, asparagus, top toast for one tidy, from-scratch package to serve this summer.
Guacamole with a Kick
This is not your average guac. Kicked-up a notch with spicy garlic, jalapeño and chipotle, this healthy dip is not for the faint of heart. Serve with cucumber rounds of baked tortilla chips to keep things light.
Grilled Strawberry Kebabs with Lemon-Mint Sauce
Throw your berries on the grill for a juicy-sweet appetizer wand that both kids and adults will love.
California Rolls with Brown Rice
At-home sushi is easier than it may appear, here, made wholesome using brown rice instead of white. Sushi’s hand-held size and cool temperature make it a great option for a summer appetizer, quelling hunger pangs before the main event.
Mediterranean Hummus Trifle
This next-level hummus is a more nutritious alternative to prepared layered dips. Serve with whole-wheat pita bread, cucumber slices or endive spears to keep things on the lean side. It also pairs beautifully with a glass of something sparkling to cut the richness, be it fizzy lemonade for kids or spritzes for adults.
Lycopene, found in plenty in this soup, helps to protect skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays – a truly appropriate pick for an outdoor summertime party. For a sit-down dinner, serve this nourishing, chilled soup in bowls; for a standing room only party, small espresso cups are the solution.
Sweet Potato Toast with Steak, Roasted Peppers and Arugula
Take a page from Instagram and make this nutrient-dense appetizer with your guests this summer. There’s no bread required in this modernized crostini appetizer, and the sweet potato “toast” base is easily adaptable. For instance, if diners prefer a meatless option, replace the steak with fresh mozzarella or hummus.
Pureed Artichoke Crostini with Lime Salt
Artichokes blend up into a creamy, hummus-like paste that easily spreads on crostini. A bit of lime salt perks things up for a fast, ferociously delicious (and healthy!) summer app.
Get the recipe for Pureed Artichoke Crostini with Lime Salt
Allison Day is a cookbook author, nutritionist (RHN) and the creator of the award-winning food blog Yummy Beet.