A vibrant end of summer feast

This morning all three of my children left for school and I found myself with a quiet house for the first time since June.

Always the planner, I made myself a second cup of coffee, grabbed a note pad and began scribbling down my menu for the long weekend. Labour Day is just around the corner and we’re getting together with friends for a vibrant end-of-summer feast.

I’m guessing you probably have similar plans: shop the local markets for the most beautiful produce, invite a few people over, and fire up the barbecue. Maybe you’ll toast the start of a new school year or raise your glasses to the end of the heat wave – both are welcome changes.

In case you’re looking for menu inspiration, today’s post provides a few ideas – my absolute favourite recipes of the summer.

All photos by Alison Slattery

A vibrant end of summer feast

We’ve been in the middle of a heat wave here in Quebec, and it’s unfathomable to think about turning on the oven at dinner time. My backyard grill has been the center of many, many meals over the past few months, so naturally most of these recipe play out over the coals.

Peaches, berries, tomatoes, cucumber, melon, zucchini, corn – the recipes below include all the great fruits and vegetables of the season. And what a season it has been. I can’t remember  a year when everything – corn, strawberries, melons – has been so sweet. I guess we have the unusual heat to thank for that.

Grilled Peach and Chicken Kebabs

Herb-scented chicken, sweet charred peaches…now here’s a main dish that everyone loves. Trust me on that; I’ve served it at nearly every barbecue this summer with a giant side of Tzatziki sauce.

You can cut and marinate the chicken a day in advance and the kebabs only take a few minutes on the grill. Win/Win.

If chicken isn’t your thing, make my do-ahead Apple Cider Pork Ribs. Prefer beef? Grill these Cumin & Oregano Beef Kebabs.

Watermelon Greek Salad

This standby has been on repeat ever since I busted into my first watermelon back in June and the juices ran down the side of the counter and onto the floor. It’s refreshing, filling and absolutely beautiful.

You can prep all of the ingredients a day in advance. The trick for keeping this them crisp is to store the vinaigrette and the salty feta separately from the cut fruits and vegetables. Toss just before serving.

If Greek salad isn’t your thing, make this: Fresh tomato + peach Caprese salad with wild blueberries & thyme.

Grilled Mexican Street Corn

My friend Kerrie reminded me of the joys of elotes – or Mexican street corn – when she served them up at our pot-luck barbecue. I don’t have a recipe for them on this blog, but this version from Serious Eats is about the closest I’ve found to the real deal.

Grilled Vegetable Platter

Since you’ve got the grill hot, why not throw on some vegetables for a side dish? Young zucchini, pattypan squash, new onions, and baby white turnips are some of my favourites. Simply brush them with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt, cook them to al dente before heaping them high on a platter.

Serve them with a homemade chimichurri – it goes with everything and uses up those garden herbs.

Dinner is served: Kebabs with tzatziki, elotes, Greek salad and grilled vegetables. If you need a little carb fix, toss a few pitas on the grill like this recipe: Garlic-Oregano Grilled Pita.

I served up simple lemon balm iced tea with this feast, but obviously a classic Aperol Spritz would be a great choice as well.

Yogurt Sheet Cake with Summer Berries

Don’t forget dessert! Now I know I said it has been too hot to turn on the oven, but you can bake up this easy sheet cake in the morning when it’s a little cooler in the kitchen. It’s a fabulous do-ahead dessert that the kids can help decorate. The best part? It feeds a crowd.

Happy cooking. Happy grilling!

Images provided by my fellow feasting friend, Alison Slattery of Two Food Photographers. Thanks, Ali!

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. Retail Boxes says

    Loved all your ideas, This all looks so exciting and delicious. Also eating healthy and good is really important and this all looks healthy and organic to me. would definitely love to try it, so thanks for posting it.

  2. All looks amazing! Wondering if I missed it, did you already publish the recipe for those awesome looking grilled tomatoes in….. is that feta? I have been keeping my eye out since you first posted these pictures a big ago! Thanks for all the fun recipes.

    • Hi Jesse,
      You didn’t miss it…I haven’t posted any recipe as that dish was a creation of my friend Kerri. I don’t have the recipe, sorry!

  3. Oh my, yes to all of this. The end of the summer is the perfect time to have a huge grillout in the backyard.

  4. Well, So Healthy and Organic Environment! Thanks for sharing your routine with us 🙂

  5. Thanks for appreciating. Really means and inspires a lot to hear from you guys.I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work..Believe me, This is very helpful for me.

  6. Really nice recipes i just read them all.I can”t wait for the weekend to come so i can ik cook for my family ….Thanks you for sharing those ones…

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