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  • Heather McDorman & Jodi Blake

Summer Meal Planning: Recipes Ready for Warm Weather

an outdoor dining table with guests enjoying summer foods

Summer brings with it many advantages – the pools are open, flowers are in bloom, and most fruits and vegetables are at their very best! A fresh crop of summer foods means it’s a great time to put together a new batch of dinner menus.  


Summer menus, which are often lighter in order to beat the heat, tend to feature grilled protein options and bright fruits and veggies that are rich in nutrients and bright in flavors. It’s fun to mix it by finding new dishes to add to meal planning and maybe retire some of well-tested meals from summers past. 


If you are feeling the same, your friends at Friendsville Square have got you covered. We’ve scoured the ‘net for a batch of summer-appropriate appetizers, entrees, sides and salads, desserts, and even a couple of delectable drinks. Ready to add some zing to your summer meal planning? Let’s go! 



A plate with bruschetta



White plate of stuffed tomatoes with fresh basil garnish

  • Air-Fried Italian Stuffed Tomatoes (from Allrecipes)  What’s more synonymous with summer eating than tomatoes? This Air-Fried Italian Stuffed Tomatoes is a meatless entree featuring cooked brown rice, grated Parmesan cheese, crumbled goat cheese, toasted walnuts, fresh basil, garlic and Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs. Maybe the best part – not heating up the whole kitchen because this dish cooks in an air fryer! 

  • Grilled Halibut with Blueberry Salsa (from Taste of Home)   Looking for a fresh topping for grilled fish? This Grilled Halibut with Blueberry Salsa recipe hits the spot. The flaky, grilled halibut fillets are dressed with a salsa of sweet and spicy flavors – blueberries, red onion, cilantro, jalapeno pepper, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. 

  • Easy Chicken Pesto Stuffed Peppers (from Taste of Home)   Here’s another stuffed food recipe with the perfect summer twist – Easy Chicken Pesto Stuffed Peppers. Look for sweeter yellow or orange peppers to bring a bright taste and splash of color to this dish. Then add shredded rotisserie chicken, cooked brown rice, prepared (or homemade) pesto, and shredded Havarti cheese. Have other ingredients in your fridge? Try your own variations. 


Salads and Sides 

  • Easy Fresh Corn Salad (from Delish)   Another favorite summer ingredient is sweet corn, and this Easy Fresh Corn Salad recipe is a great way to showcase these sweet kernels. (Good news – you can also use frozen corn any time of the year.) Toss in cherry tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese, red onion, fresh basil, olive oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper to create a great side dish to any meal! 

Pot of baked beans sitting on a wooden cutting board

  • Root Beer Baked Beans (from Country Living)  Baked beans are a staple of the BBQ menu. In this Root Beer Baked Bean recipe, there’s an unexpected flavor punch from the addition of a bottle of root beer. See if your family and friends can guess what’s different about your next batch of baked beans. 

  • Watermelon Strawberry Caprese Salad (from Delish)   Vying as a contender for your new favorite summer salad, this Watermelon Strawberry Caprese Salad combines the sweet goodness of watermelon and strawberries with a tangy bite of feta cheese. It needs only a simple drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper seasoning. A fresh basil garnish is the perfect finishing touch.  

  • Asparagus Pasta Salad (from Beyond the Chicken Coop)   Pasta salads are a summer salad category unto themselves, but let’s mix it up a bit with a new ingredient combination. As expected, this Asparagus Pasta Salad starts with pasta – in this case, the rice-sized orzo, which is dressed with a simple vinaigrette and then combined with chopped pieces of asparagus, grape tomatoes, green onion, and fresh basil. It’s great to make it ahead of time and can be further enhanced with cooked chicken for an entree-worthy salad.


a plate with a piece of Strawberry Pretzel Salad on it.


Glass of sangria with fresh fruit

  • Peach Rosé Sangria (from Recipe Runner)   On a warm summer afternoon or evening, a cold glass of fruity sangria can be the perfect liquid refreshment. This Peach Rosé Sangria recipe uses a sweeter rosé wine (several rosé recommendations are mentioned) instead of the more traditional white or red wine options. With the addition of fresh peaches and raspberries, brandy or peach brandy, peach juice or nectar, and sparkling water, you’ll have a pitcher full of sweet, fruity goodness.  

  • Summer Melon Slushies (from Woman’s Day)   Looking for a grown-up slushie? This recipe can be made in your own kitchen with simple ingredients and some lead time to freeze the mixture before serving. Try any of the three slushie versions – watermelon-lime, honeydew-ginger-mint, and cantaloupe-basil – or experiment with your own flavor combinations. 


Let's Rev Up Our Meal Planning 

If we could host a Friendsville Square BBQ for our readers, we would set up a buffet that showcases all these dishes. Instead, we’ll settle for trying one or two of them this weekend as we celebrate the Memorial Day holiday.  

Give these recipes a try yourselves and let us know your reviews in the comments! We would also love you to share links to your favorite warm-weather recipes, so we can all add some new dishes to our summertime meal planning. Happy eating! 


 Thanks for reading this post! We encourage you to comment – and if you do – would you consider signing off on your comment with your first name and last initial? We love to know who’s commenting, but we don’t want to require a sign-in to add your thoughts.  


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~ Heather M. and Jodi B. 


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May 23

Just wondering if you have tried any of these recipes and how they turned out?

Heather McDorman
Heather McDorman
May 24
Replying to

Full transparency, we have not - except the Strawberry Pretzel Salad (9.5/10!). The recipes seemed exciting and fun to us, and we plan on trying a few in the near future. We’ll provide our reviews in the comments. 

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