Summer may look a little different here in Vermont, but it is by no means cancelled. For us, summer means the sound of goats bleating, blue skies and rolling green hills, warm days and long evenings, and now, socially-distant farmers markets overflowing with seasonal produce—the perfect recipe for one of our favorite ways to enjoy summer: eating outside. From backyard dinners with family to picnics to barbecues, there is no better way to soak up the fleeting days of summer than dining alfresco (with a schmear of goat cheese and dollop of crème fraîche, of course).
Summer meals should be no-fuss: quick and easy to make, centered around seasonal flavors, and easy to take on the go. We’ve created a menu of some of our favorite summer recipes, made with our fresh goat cheese and crème fraîche, and featuring the abundant produce of the season as the star. We’ve also shared a few simple tips for creating the ultimate outdoor dining experience.
We may not want to admit it, but the long days of summer are numbered. So get out of the kitchen, spread out a blanket, spread on the goat cheese, and slow down with the flavors of the season.
Crème Fraîche Coleslaw
No barbecue is complete without a side of crunchy coleslaw—and making your own dressing easily elevates any meal with only a few extra minutes in the kitchen. We make our coleslaw dressing with crème fraîche, of course, which adds a delicious tang to this easy summer salad.
Summer dining tip: Prepare salads in the dish you plan to serve them in, cutting down on clean-up and making it easy to transport to your backyard or favorite park.
Fresh and Grilled Vegetable Sandwiches
Veggie and goat cheese sandwiches are a summer staple around here. The beauty of these sandwiches is that you can use any seasonal produce, raw or grilled (though grilling brings out the vegetables’ natural sweetness).
For the grilled version, our favorite combination includes zucchini, summer squash, eggplant and peppers. Slice vegetables and brush with olive oil, then grill until softened and slightly charred. Layer between two slices of fresh bread spread with goat cheese mixed with fresh herbs.
For the fresh version, we like to layer tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots and sprouts between French bread or an everything bagel spread with harissa goat cheese. Simple summer goodness that’s perfect for picnics.
Summer dining tip: If you’re taking sandwiches on the go, wrap in butcher paper and tie with twine for a simple yet impressive presentation
Honey Crème Fraîche Ice Cream With Cherry Swirl
We promise homemade ice cream isn’t nearly as intimidating as it sounds. This is a favorite recipe of ours, made with crème fraîche, homemade cherry jam and honey for a sophisticated take on an iconic summer dessert. Serve in bowls or cones, or eat straight out of the pan—we promise we won’t judge.
Summer dining tip: If you need extra seating in your backyard, lay out a variety of mismatched blankets and pillows. It will create a casual picnic feel, inviting people to linger long into the night.
Summer Watermelon Salad
Nothing says summer like watermelon. Aside from eating big, cold slices with a dash of salt, watermelon salads are our second-favorite way to enjoy this iconic fruit. This recipe combines goat cheese, mint, basil and red onions for a bold, refreshing salad, tossed with a homemade dressing with Vermont favorites maple syrup and apple cider vinegar. Just don’t expect to have leftovers.
Summer dining tip: Keep a picnic basket stocked with the essentials—plates, cutlery, napkins, tumblers—so throwing together a last-minute picnic on a perfect summer day is that much easier. Fun fact—America’s oldest basket company started in Vermont in 1842, and to us nothing is more iconic than a woven picnic basket.
Wild Berry Slab Pie With Crème Fraîche
Summer berries mean pie for all, and this combination of strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries makes the perfect summer dessert—with a dollop of crème fraîche as the cherry on top of this crowd-pleasing crowd-feeder.
Summer dining tip: Fresh-cut flowers immediately elevate any meal. Snip a few stems from your yard or grab a bundle at the market and put in your favorite vase—or even easier, a mason jar—for an easy arrangement.