8 Summer Starters ...

When it comes to summer meals (that is, if you are in a country that has a summer), light and refreshing dishes are what appeals, so a lot of people are in the mood for great summer starters. Nobody wants to spend long hours slaving away in a hot kitchen, so I’ve picked out some lovely starters that make the most of fresh produce (great for those green-fingered gardeners with fertile vegetable plots). Check out these scrumptious summer starters for your next menu!

1. Potato Salad

Potato salad is a classic dish, so why buy those bland shop versions when you can easily make your own? I’d leave out the gherkins as I can’t stand them. The recipe suggests using tarragon, which goes well with potatoes, but I’d try experimenting with other herbs. No matter what you include or exclude, this is a classic summer starter.

2. Balkan Cucumber Soup

Here in Spain, everybody’s knocking back the gazpacho now the hot weather has hit us. It’s not just the Spanish that do chilled soups, however – try this Bulgarian recipe (unless you hate cucumber). It really couldn’t be any simpler to make – just whizz up the ingredients in a blender, and do remember to allow time for it to chill.

3. Summer Chickpea Salad

Salads are naturally the perfect summer dish, but there are so many more variations than the lettuce/cucumber/tomato combination. You can, of course, cook (and freeze) chickpeas (or garbanzos) yourself, although with a jar or two in the storecupboard you can throw together a quick and tasty salad like this. It makes a great summer treat.

4. Garlic Mushroom Patties

There’s a little bit of preparation and cooking time involved in this recipe, though not too much. In less than half an hour you could have a delicious summer starter for a dinner party, or an outdoor lunch. They could also be packed for a picnic.

5. Mediterranean Chicken and Pasta Salad

Here’s an adaptable recipe to cater for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. Either leave out the chicken for veggies, or try a meat substitute like quorn chunks instead. The salad could also be turned into a light lunch with an accompaniment like couscous or ciabatta.

6. Marinated Roast Summer Vegetables

Here’s another easily adaptable recipe that can be altered according to whatever vegetables you’ve grown yourself or picked up at the market. Try red onions, celery or carrots (baby carrots would be gorgeous). It's both delicious and nutritious, and perfect for hot weather.

7. Broad Bean Bruschetta

Chances are that when you think of bruschetta, you think of tomatoes. Here, for a change, is a recipe that uses broad beans. If you like experimenting, why not try mushrooms or mashed chickpeas instead?

8. Watermelon and Feta Salad

Fruit is ideal for a refreshing summer starter, and we all know how it can combine wonderfully with savoury ingredients. Watermelon is just perfect for really hot days, and there’s absolutely no cooking involved in this recipe. It might seem an odd combination with cheese, but be adventurous and give it a try!

There are so many possibilities for summer starters, and many of them require little or no cooking. So why not introduce starters to some of your meals this summer. What is your favourite recipe?

Top Photo Credit: zangshu.com