As soon as the days get longer and warmer, our appetites turn to summery fresh fare, afternoon barbecues, and refreshing, fruity cocktails worthy of sipping by the pool. These recipes below are as appetizing to the eye as they are to the tummy and will tantalize your guests when you bring them out on an iced food server, so they stay crisp and delicious even on a hot summer day.

Easy, Fast Caprese on a Stick

There’s almost nothing so herbaceous and simple as a Caprese salad, the traditional Italian dish of fresh basil leaves, tomatoes, and buffalo mozzarella. In this version, using short bamboo fruit picks, and miniature mozzarella balls, called bocconcini (it means “little mouthfuls”), your guests enjoy an easy eat and go treat that perks up the palate.

  • Fresh basil leaves
  • 1-pint ripe cherry tomatoes
  • 8-ounce container of bocconcini mozzarella
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt

Strip your basil leaves from the stems. Dip them in ice-cold water in a stainless steel or glass bowl to wash. Drain and dry them completely on paper towels. Fold each basil leaf in half or a quarter, so it fits easily onto the end of the fruit pick. Slide on a single cherry tomato and then one bocconcini. Repeat until you’ve used all the cheese. Drizzle olive oil generously over the top, add a few flakes of kosher salt to taste and arrange on your iced food server.

Everyone Loves Charcuterie

This is where you can have some fun. Visit a local specialty butcher or the meat counter at the supermarket. Get 1/4 to 1/2 pound of thinly sliced salamis, cured meats like prosciutto, sausages, and cheeses. Arrange slices freely and creatively on a food server and place a plate alongside filled with crackers, olives, and crusty bread. Keep the party lively by bringing out new selections regularly, and serve small enough portions so the cold food gets eaten quickly.

Langoustine Salad Dip

Langoustine is a small lobster that is roughly the same size as shrimp. They are flaky and light when cooked, and can usually be found in the frozen fish section at the market; when they’re in season, your fishmonger may occasionally have them thawed. When you mix them in a refreshing salad, your guests will get a heavenly taste sensation that’s quite rich and tastes indulgent, but is reasonably low-fat and healthy, especially in comparison to oil-packed fish or cheese dips.

  • 1 pound cooked langoustine lobster
  • 1/2-cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Gently flake the lobster into a bowl. Fold in mayonnaise, capers, and dill. Add salt and pepper as desired. Serve in a decorative bowl on your cold food server tray surrounded by water crackers or crostini.

Try This Trick with Ricotta

Ricotta is one of the main reasons that a lasagna is so indulgent and delicious. It’s rarely served on its own, which is a shame. Its mild, creamy flavor is perfect for eating with healthy, fresh veggies that just came out of the garden. Whatever you grow this summer, like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, snap peas, and carrots, serve them up with a dollop of ricotta on a chilled food server as soon as you pick them out of the garden. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on top of the whole tray for a little extra sweetness.

Slim Down with Tasty Salad

We know that once you start on a diet, salad becomes a mainstay. But, salads don’t have to be boring. This salmon salad takes almost no time to make and is even better when it’s chilled. Season a four-ounce salmon filet with salt and pepper. Place in the broiler on high for 8-10 minutes until cooked in the middle. Toss two cups of washed spinach with 1 1/2 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar and two tablespoons olive oil. Place the tossed spinach on your chilled food server. Flake the cooked salmon with a fork and sprinkle over spinach along with salt, pepper, 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds and, if desired, a few crumbles of feta cheese.

These foods keep you light on your feet, whether you’re having a big celebration or dinner for two. Any of them pair well with a crisp white wine, your favorite rose, or a sparkling mocktail for your peeps who are under 21. Experiment with a few of the and have fun toasting those warm summer nights with friends and family.