Summer dinner parties call for appetizers that are crisp, cool and bright, savory bites that delight the palate without killing the appetite. All too often, hosts opt for the always-welcome but unimaginative chips and dip or crudite trays because they're easy and expected. If you're hosting a summer dinner party or bringing appetizers to a neighborhood cookout, look to international cuisine for savory summer appetizer ideas.
Gourmet chefs often present their guests with an "amuse bouche", a bite-size morsel meant to literally "entertain the mouth". Start off an elegant summer soiree with an appetizer that showcases the fresh tastes and bright colors of summer. Toss finely chopped firm-fleshed tomatoes and Bermuda onions with olive oil, lemon juice and chives. Spread thinly sliced rounds of Italian bread with ricotta cheese and top with the tomato and onion mixture. Finish each round off with a sprinkle of crumbled feta cheese and chopped chives.
Shrimp Cocktail Thai
Whet your guests' appetites for a barbecue with an elegant twist on a popular appetizer. Spoon homemade shrimp cocktail sauce into liqueur or shot glasses. Hang a single shrimp over the edge of each glass, tail end out. Make it a little more substantial with a pair or a trio of shrimp on each glass. Give the dish a Thai spin by adding a dash of lime to the cocktail sauce to bring out the sweetness of the shrimp.
Deviled Egg Variations
No cookout is complete without a plate of deviled eggs, especially if they're out of the ordinary. The standard deviled egg filling calls for egg yolk, mayonnaise, salt, pepper and maybe a little mustard, but there are ways to dress it up. Mix in a spoonful of horseradish to give the filling a bit of a kick. Pay homage to breakfast with crumbled bacon and shredded cheddar cheese. Go upscale by topping each egg with a sliver of truffle, or a dollop of caviar, or skip the egg filling altogether in favor of deviled crab or ham.
Italian Basil Bites
Elevate the classic Italian herb, basil, to the starring role in this savory appetizer that makes the ideal starter for a meal featuring steak and grilled vegetables. Choose basil leaves that are about three inches long and at least an inch across. Soften goat cheese with a few tablespoons of cream, seasoning it with salt and pepper to taste. Spread each basil leaf with a spoonful of cheese, then sprinkle with diced fresh tomato and drizzle with olive oil.