Finally! Summer is here (at least in Canada) which means restaurant patios are filled and many of us try to eat outside as often as possible. There’s nothing like a lazy day in the backyard or sitting around a table on the patio with family or friends – a drink in hand and some great food.
Check out our 17 Great Summer Patio recipes – main dishes, sides and appetizers. All of the recipes are make ahead, at least partially, and most are are quick and easy to prepare, under 30 minutes. ALL the sides and appetizers are vegetarian.
Get the recipes by clicking on their TITLES.
This pasta is light, fresh and flavourful. The sweet summer ripe tomatoes bathed in lemon zest, olives, capers, basil, garlic, olive oil and Parmesan make a delicious sauce for the pasta. Vegetarian. Under 30 minutes. Make ahead (partial).
If you like the combination of sweet, spicy, garlic and citrus, you’ll love this Spicy Honey-Lime Chicken recipe. It can be skewered or not and you can use white or dark meat (my fave is boneless thighs). You can make this ahead and serve it at room temperature or even as an appetizer on toothpicks. Make ahead.
Grilled shrimp rolls may be the poor man’s lobster roll, but the dressed-up plump juicy morsels of shrimp in a buttery toasted roll are simply scrumptious! I love our Two Kooks In The Kitchen Old Fashioned Lobster Rolls, but they are expensive and take quite a bit of effort to extract the lobster meat from the shell. Our version of Shrimp rolls is a darn close – and much cheaper – alternative. Mix up a simple dressing of mayonnaise, lemon, herbs and Dijon (and sriracha if you like), then use half of it for grilling the shrimp and half as a dressing for the shrimp salad. Under 30 minutes. Make ahead.
Yes, this is a copycat recipe that I’ve unabashedly been making for years. And it’s delicious! The recipe is based on the mouth-watering famous Montreal ribs from a restaurant I used to go to when I lived in Montreal. My husband and friends who have been there agree that the ribs are pretty close to the original. Sticky, sweet deliciousness with two secret ingredients. Make ahead.
If you’re tired of dry, bland pork chops or shake ‘n bake (ok, I’m publicly admitting I eat those sometimes), look no further. These glazed Pork Chops are tender, moist and incredibly flavourful. The trick is in the brining, meaning soaking your pork chops in a bath of water, salt and some seasonings of your choice. What a difference this makes! Huge! My husband pays no attention to what I’m cooking, but he never fails to rave about my pork chops when they have been brined. Make ahead.
We had one grilled chili lime chicken wing left over from dinner one night, only because I pried it away from my husband who figured ‘why save one wing’. As I wrote this blog, I was looking at the pictures I took and just couldn’t resist – downstairs I went to eat that lone wing. Delish! Fresh lime, honey, chili, garlic – the robust flavours permeate the wings and don’t just coat the top. Make ahead.
This rustic Warm Salmon Salad with Spicy Tomato Citrus Sauce served on a bed of greens, quinoa and asparagus makes a really tasty, healthy, fresh spring/summer meal. Perfect for outdoors. Don’t be fooled by the ingredients – this dish is is substantial and filling with its multiple layers – a full meal with some crusty bread. The whole thing is ready in 30 minutes or you can make the various parts ahead and just assemble it right before serving. Stress free and delicious! Under 30 minutes. Make ahead.
Sous Vide Steak with Balsamic sauce is tender, perfectly cooked and flavourful. Go one step further and create a complete meal in one dish with a steak salad. At the heart of this recipe is stress free sous vide steak, where you plunge your meat into a water bath, walk away and come back to beautifully tender meat at the perfect temperature every single time. Make ahead.
Easy broccoli apple slaw with avocado dressing makes a wonderful healthy side dish for any meal, potluck or buffet. There’s no shortage of textures in this slaw recipe – you get varying degrees of crunch from the apples, broccoli, nuts and carrots; and creamy smoothness from the avocado dressing. It’s a lovely side for a light fresh lunch/brunch or summer patio meal. Vegetarian. Under 30 minutes. Make ahead.
In the summer, or when freshly picked peaches are ripe and juicy, Grilled Summer Peaches are a perfect pairing with, well, almost anything – chicken, pork, fish – and of course as a dessert. We look forward all year to making these. So good! Just takes a few minutes. Vegetarian. Under 30 minutes. Make ahead.
Finally, tomatoes taste like tomatoes and not like… well, nothing. Like peaches, I wait all year for summer local ripe, deep red, nothing-like-it tasting tomatoes. When tomatoes are this good, I like to keep tomato salad really simple so that the taste shines through. Here are four ways I use summer ripe tomatoes in tomato salad. The salads take between 2-10 minutes to make. Vegetarian. Under 30 minutes. Make ahead.
Grilled corn salad is a perfect summer patio side – also great for for any picnic, potluck, buffet, dinner or lunch bag. The slight crunchiness and charred taste of the fresh corn is the star, but the lime, sriracha, cilantro and other add-ins elevate the dish even more. My friend Fran and her son, Daniel created the recipe. Our friends at a recent potluck I hosted raved about it. Vegetarian. Under 30 minutes. Make ahead.
Savoury Peach Panzanella Salad is a simple, rustic bread salad that starts with a loaf of crusty bread turned into golden bread cubes. You then add a few fresh-from-the-market peaches, tomatoes, basil and cucumbers (and some ripped bocconcini or mozzarella cheese if you want), toss it with a vinaigrette and let it sit around to let the bread soak up all the flavours. Mmmm. Vegetarian. Under 30 minutes. Make ahead.
Here’s a delicious, vibrant, healthy side for any BBQ or summer meal, served warm or room temperature. The honey and lime glaze/vinaigrette adds a sweet zesty boost to the sweetness of the potatoes and the slight tartness of the apples. Vegetarian. Under 30 minutes. Make ahead.
We love this potato salad with its herb-y vinaigrette dressing. It seems lighter and fresher somehow than a mayonnaise-based potato salad. The lemon, Dijon, garlic and fresh herbs add a wonderful flavour boost, making this potato salad one of our (and our guests’ favourites. Vegetarian. Under 30 minutes. Make ahead.
I got this recipe from a nutritionist when I was living in Montreal many years ago and I’m asked for it all the time. I have to admit I’m slightly embarrassed by how easy and basic it is. Not upscale, not fancy, not foodie-esque. Just super tasty. I’m a big sucker for fast, easy, good and pretty on the plate. The blend of salty tangy olives with the cheddar, onions and curry works really well. Even non-olive lovers love these apps. Vegetarian. Under 30 minutes. Make ahead.
Crostini, or “little toasts” in Italian, are a great base for a ton of different and easy appetizers. They are semi-crisp with a hint of garlic and easy to manage in two bites. The toppings are endless. I love the avocado, lime, salt, tomato and balsamic combo and they are so easy to put together. Vegetarian. Under 30 minutes. Make ahead (but drizzle balsamic just before serving).