Grill It or Chill It: Appetizer Recipes Perfect for Summer Entertaining
Let's say you don't have all day to prepare for your party, but you hope to enjoy time with your guests during a casual cocktail hour. Ideally, you'll be outside, instead of in a hot kitchen. Your friends can hang out with you while you grill bread (to go with tomato salad and goat cheese) or vegetables, and help you keep an eye on the bamboo-skewered shrimp to make sure they're not burning. That way, you don't have to miss out on the conversation while the appetizers are flowing. These are recipes for quick grilling, so get one batch grilled at the beginning, then take a break; you can cook more when the second round of drinks is poured. After the grilled appetizers, you can take the party elsewhere for the rest of the evening—even if it's just indoors where the mosquitoes can't get you.
When relaxing is your ultimate goal, serving chilled appetizers is another way to achieve it. These internationally-inspired bites require a bit of planning ahead, but once you've done that, they're no sweat at all. In the event that you'll be rushing home from work, or meeting guests at the station or dock, chilled appetizers are the way to go. They allow you to prep in stages, and keep the food in your refrigerator, perhaps even in serving dishes; pulling them out just as the party starts.
Of course, a little bit of "grill it" and a little bit of "chill it" together is a brilliant solution to summer entertaining; that way, while you're busy at the grill, there are also chilled bites at the ready. No matter which route you take, remember your mantra for summer gatherings—grill it or chill it!
Grilled Shrimp and Bacon with Lemons
You'll please pretty much everyone with this informal appetizer of shrimp and bacon with sizzling lemon slices. Pile them onto a platter or paper-covered board and place a plate for shells on the side.
Grilled Bread and Chiles with Burrata
Lamb Kebabs with Herbed Yogurt
The savory spices in these delicious kebabs will make fans out of even those who say they don't like lamb. Both the kebab mixture and the herbed yogurt sauce can be made ahead.
Grilled Peas with Toasted Coconut
For a hands-on, fun appetizer, try grilling fresh peas in the pod—they'll steam until tender.
Grilled Prosciutto-Wrapped Melon
This spin on the classic antipasto of prosciutto-wrapped melon will surprise everyone—is one of the quickest appetizers to grill.
And while you've got the grill hot, consider adding a "grilled cocktail" to the mix, like this twist on an old fashioned, garnished with grilled peach.
Oysters with Bloody Mary Granita
Ceviche with Avocado, Tomato, and Cilantro
Vegetarian Summer Rolls
These are a crowd pleaser, especially when served with two dipping sauces. Add shrimp to the filling for a variation, if you like. Perfecting the rice paper wrapper technique might take a bit of practice, but once you do, these rolls will forever be in your repertoire.
Chilled Tofu, Japanese-Style
Take a cue from the Japanese for those hot summer days when the last thing you want to do is get out the pots and pans. Silken tofu is creamy and cooling, and an assortment of spicy and crunchy toppings turns this appetizer into an adventure.