Summer Cheese Recipes: Salads, Summer Sausage & More
June is Dairy Month: a great time for a summer cheese plate and cool sandwiches. We’ve got easy picnic recipes you’ll need to enjoy your dairy best June!
Is there a more perfect month than June? That’s obviously a bit subjective, but there’s a reason it’s been the most popular month for weddings for decades. June boasts pretty consistently warm weather, even at northern latitudes, but typically without the stifling heat and humidity (and bugs) of the July and August “dog days”.
June has also traditionally been prime time for dairy products. Cows are out to pasture and at the peak of milk production—both in quantity and quality—and there’s simply no better time of year to enjoy a tall glass of cold milk, a cool cheese sandwich, or a brimming bowl of ice cream. No wonder June is National Dairy Month…in fact, there are a couple of special days within June where you can let your cheese flag fly!
Summer Cheese Plate for National Cheese Day
June 4 is National Cheese Day, and we can’t think of a better way to celebrate than by getting together with friends over a delicious cheese plate. It’s very easy to do; just keep these general tips in mind:
- Offer a variety of textures. You don’t need more than three or four cheeses—especially if you offer complementary snacks—but keep it interesting with a mix of soft-ripened (such as Brie), washed-rind (such as Limburger), semisoft (Havarti, Muenster), firm (Swiss, Cheddar) and hard (Parmesan) cheeses. Serve each with its own knife to keep the delicate flavors separate.
- Same for the accompaniments. Put out bread and crackers (preferably both) to complement the cheeses. Soft, spreadable cheeses are perfect on crusty bread (like a baguette), while hard cheeses work best on a cracker. Charcuterie, such as summer sausage, salami, or prosciutto, adds savory interest and substance. Fruits and fruit preserves, olives, and mixed nuts complete the presentation.
- Know what to drink. Not every wine or beer goes well with every cheese. If you want to save on beverages, you can select a variety of cheeses around a particular wine or beer, or find a small variety of drinks that complement the cheeses you have. Wisconsin Cheese Cupid is a handy pairing guide.
- Plan ahead. Cheeses are best at room temperature, so be sure to take them out of the fridge an hour before serving. Also, if you order cheese online, many of your favorites may not be shippable when temperatures are too warm. Find out what’s available, place your order, and plan the rest of the menu.
Summer Salad Cheeses
There is perhaps no better way to enjoy cheese in the summer than on a salad. The appeal of summer salads lies in their colorful presentation and ability to provide a cool and satisfying eating experience in hot weather.
A summer salad is a light and refreshing dish composed of fresh, seasonal ingredients. These salads showcase a mix of vibrant flavors and textures, often featuring crisp leafy greens, vegetables, fruits like berries or watermelon, and herbs. They can include grilled or cold proteins (chicken, ham, bacon), hard-boiled eggs, nuts, and seeds for added depth. Dressings are typically light and complement the ingredients.
Cheese, in particular, is the perfect topping to provide complimentary flavor and texture to the salad and dressing. Here is a list of cheeses commonly used in popular summer salad recipes:
- Feta Cheese: A classic choice for Greek salads (whose dressing typically includes a combination of olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, and black pepper.), feta adds a tangy and creamy element. Feta is also an interesting choice for watermelon salads.
- Mozzarella: Fresh mozzarella balls or slices work well in Italian Caprese salads, providing a mild and soft texture. Mozzarella is also often used with balsamic vinaigrette dressings.
- Goat Cheese (Chèvre): Adds a creamy, slightly tangy flavor to salads like mixed greens or strawberry spinach salads, and is often paired with a lemon vinaigrette dressing.
- Parmesan: Shaved or grated Parmesan can be a delightful addition to various salads, such as Caesar salads.
- Blue Cheese: Crumbled blue cheese is often used to add a bold and pungent flavor to salads like wedge salads. You can’t get too much of a good thing, and blue cheese crumbled over blue cheese dressing is a popular combination.
- Gorgonzola: Similar to blue cheese, Gorgonzola adds a creamy and tangy kick to salads.
- Cheddar: Sharp cheddar can be grated or cubed to add a rich and savory component to salads. It perfectly complements Ranch dressing (visually as much as flavorfully!)
- Swiss Cheese: Sliced or shredded Swiss cheese can be included in salads for a mild and nutty taste.
- Brie: Slices of creamy Brie can be used to add a luxurious and indulgent touch to salads. It is a perfect partner to a raspberry vinaigrette dressing.
- Provolone: This cheese offers a mild and slightly smoky flavor, making it suitable for a variety of salads. It is a common topping used with Italian dressings.
- Mascarpone: Creamy and smooth, mascarpone can be used in fruit-based salads or as a dressing ingredient.
- Ricotta Salata: A firm and salted version of ricotta, this cheese can be crumbled over salads for a mild, milky flavor.
- Cottage Cheese: Cottage cheese can be used to add a creamy texture to salads and provides a source of protein.
Remember, the choice of cheese depends on the overall flavor profile of the salad and your personal preferences. Experimenting with different cheeses can produce exciting and delicious combinations in your summer salad recipes.
Cheese & Summer Sausage
Cheese and summer sausage go together about as well as peanut butter and jelly, and they make a really tasty combination. The creamy and smooth texture of cheese mixes well with the strong and flavorful taste of summer sausage (typically made from beef or pork with a variety of salts & seasonings). When you eat them together, it’s like a delicious dance of different flavors and textures in your mouth. It’s perfect for enjoying during summer picnics or fancy gatherings, and it leaves you with a yummy and memorable taste.
Here are some of the most popular cheeses to pair with summer sausage include:
- Cheddar: Its sharp and robust flavor contrasts well with the smokiness of summer sausage.
- Swiss: With its nutty and slightly sweet taste, Swiss cheese complements the savory notes of summer sausage.
- Pepper Jack: The spicy kick of Pepper Jack cheese adds a zesty element to the sausage.
- Gouda: Its smooth and slightly sweet taste pairs harmoniously with the savory richness of summer sausage.
- Monterey Jack: Its mild flavor and creamy texture make it a versatile partner for summer sausage.
- Colby: This cheese’s mellow flavor provides a gentle backdrop that enhances the sausage’s taste.
- Provolone: Its semi-sharp taste and smooth texture offer a balanced accompaniment to summer sausage.
- Parmesan: The bold and nutty profile of Parmesan adds depth and complexity to the pairing.
- Mozzarella: Its mild and stretchy texture provides a neutral base that complements the flavors of summer sausage.
- Brie: The creamy and buttery texture of Brie creates a luxurious contrast with the sausage.
Remember, personal preferences vary, so feel free to experiment and find the cheese that suits your taste and enhances your enjoyment of summer sausage. Pairing cheeses and summer sausage can create a delightful experience that satisfies both your savory and creamy cravings.
Easy Picnic Recipes for International Picnic Day
June 18 is International Picnic Day…and who doesn’t love a picnic?
You could enjoy a truly international date for two by having a French-style picnic: a wedge of your favorite cheese, a knife and cutting board, a crusty baguette and a bottle of wine. Pack it in the old-fashioned wicker picnic hamper with a checkered tablecloth, and head for a secluded park. If you want to put forth a little effort and transform that baguette into a flavor-packed appetizer, this Crabby Pico do Gallo Bruschetta is delightful with a Sauvignon Blanc or a sparkling Champagne or Asti Spumante.
To make your picnic a family affair, change the wine to a nice sparkling cider and pack sandwiches and a salad. This New Age Egg Salad Sandwich is classic picnic fare, and we have plenty of great ideas using cheese for salad.
If your idea of alfresco dining is a picnic in your own backyard, fire up the grill and make it a cookout! We’re happy to recommend the best cheeses for cheeseburgers.
Summer Cheese Recipes for National Dairy Month
There are plenty of ways to enjoy dairy products in this month of fabulous food.
Before planning your celebration, kick back with a tall glass of milk and learn some fun facts about dairy foods.