Last weekend en route to the supermarket, I couldn’t believe the temperature gauge in my car. I looked twice thinking I had read it wrong because it was registering 105 degrees. We were in the midst of yet another heat wave here in New England, and definitely headed for a scorching, even record-breaking day. It just so happened that my husband and I had invited a few friends over for wine and appetizers late that afternoon, and had planned to entertain on our porch.
It didn’t take long to figure out that our gathering would have to be moved inside where there was air conditioning. To counter the heat, I changed the menu to include refreshingly cool skewers of watermelon, feta, and mint. Then when I spotted fresh figs in the produce aisle of the grocery, I added those to my cart to serve with some creamy blue cheese and walnuts.
Each of these appetizers calls for only three ingredients, takes only about ten minutes to assemble, and requires no cooking. Simple, quick, and fresh, these nibbles turned out to be incredibly popular with our guests. I hope they’ll become “go to” recipes when you need a couple of fast, easy, and tempting summer bites, especially when the heat starts to rise!
Skewered Watermelon, Feta, and Mint
20 cubes of watermelon (cut into 1-inch dice)
20 medium mint leaves
20 cubes of fresh feta (cut into 3/4-inch dice)
20 wooden skewers
1. Spear a watermelon cube on a skewer pushing it down only about 1/2 inch from the pointed end. Spear a mint leaf next and then very gently spear a feta cube so the tip of the skewer barely pierces the cheese. (Feta cheese crumbles easily so you need to take care not to push the skewer all the way through the cheese; simply prick the cube with the tip of the skewer to make it adhere.) Repeat with remaining ingredients.
2. Arrange the skewers on a platter. (The skewers can be prepared 3 hours ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Serve chilled or at room temperature.) Makes 20 servings
Fresh Figs with Creamy Blue and Walnuts
10 fresh figs such as Black Mission (See market note.)
5- to 6- ounce wedge creamy blue cheese such as Saint Augur or Maytag Blue at room temperature
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted, and then chopped finely (See note.)
1. Halve the figs through the stems, leaving the latter in place. Using a small metal spatula or a table knife, spread each fig half generously with some blue cheese, saving any extra for another use. Sprinkle the figs lightly with chopped walnuts, saving any extra for another use. Arrange on a platter. (Figs can be prepared 3 hours ahead; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before serving.) Makes 20 servings.
Market note: If fresh figs are not available, you can substitute fresh halved or quartered apricots.
Note: To toast walnuts, spread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until fragrant and lightly browned 5 to 6 minutes. Remove and cool.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2013