Summer is officially here, and with that means endless days and nights of hanging outside, gathering with friends and hoping that the fun never ends. With the start of summer also begins the great combination of eating al fresco. When dining outside, you want something with flavors that burst in your mouth like the tang of lemongrass and the heat of sriracha in the Spicy Lemon Scallop Skewers. Pair that with a light, cool and crisp side of garbanzo beans, corn and tomatoes in the Mediterranean Summer Salad you have a flavorful meal perfect for mid-afternoon rays or catching the evening sunset. Wash these down with the refreshing Watermelon Slushies (spiked or not), it’s the perfect way to usher in the months we call summer, summer, summertime!

Mediterranean Summer Salad

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can sweet kernel corn
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes (halved the long way)
  • ½ cup diced green pepper
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • ½ cup black olives (coarsely chopped)
  • Juice of one large lemon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Prep and chop all ingredients, and combine in a bowl with a lid.  Add the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Cover with lid and shake to thoroughly incorporate all ingredients.  Garnish with lemon twist.

Spicy Lemon Scallop Skewers

  • 6 lemons
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons, olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons sriracha (Asian chile hot sauce)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 30 medium to large scallops, muscles removed
  • Vegetable oil for the grill
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped for garnish

Finely grate the zest from 4 of the lemons, then pulse in a food processor (or mortar and pestle) with tablespoons of salt, Squeeze juice from 2 of the zested lemons into a large bowl. Add to that the lemongrass, olive oil, sriracha, garlic, fish sauce, brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of the lemon salt.

Add scallops to the bowl of lemongrass marinade, and refrigerate for 1 hour. Soak 12-15 wooden skewers in water.

Preheat grill to medium high. Thread the scallops onto skewers and brush the grill with vegetable oil.  Cut the rest of the lemons in slices and add slices to the grill, about two minutes per side until you get char marks and grill lines (If you do not have a grill or are going to do this inside, a George Foreman Grill can be substituted).  Add the mint to the remaining marinade, and stir. Put the scallop skewers onto the grill, and brush with the mint marinade about 3 minutes per side until they also begin to char. Transfer to a large platter, decorate with the grill lemon slices and sprinkle with remaining lemon salt.

Watermelon Slushies

  • 2 bags green tea
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 inch piece gingerroot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 cups chopped watermelon, seedless
  • 1 12-ounce can ginger ale
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup fresh mint leaves

Bring 1 ½ cups water to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat, add the 2 green tea bags, then let steep for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags, and let cool until room temperature.

Bring 3 tablespoons water, sugar and gingerroot to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat, keep stirring until the sugar dissolves. This will take about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool, take gingerroot out of the mixture and throw away. Stir the ginger simple syrup into the tea. Pour the green tea, ginger mixture into ice cube trays and let freeze until solid, about 3-4 hours.

Freeze the chopped watermelon until solid, about 2 hours

Combine half the ice cubes, half the melon, half the can of ginger ale (6 ounces), half the lemon juice, and half the mint in a blender and puree until smooth. This makes about 2 glasses. Repeat for 2 more glasses.

Samantha Davis is the owner of Savor by Sam Catering ( Her Jamaican background, world travels and training in NYC have led her to have an appreciation for food of the world and a love of mixing them all together for the perfect meal.