With the unofficial start of summer just days away, wondering what to bring to that next potluck, picnic or pool party? These tasty salads will have friends and family asking for seconds … and the recipes.

First up: Mexican corn salad, “a kicked-up version of corn on the cob” that’s “good on a buffet table” and “great with any kind of barbecue.”

“This is one of my favorite things. Both my kids request it,” said executive chef Brenda Kieffer of Kieffer’s Appliances in Upper Gwynedd. “Every picnic that comes up in the family: ‘Would you bring it?’”

She combines corn, cucumber, tomato, pepper, onion, sour cream and mayonnaise.

However, “you can make a very similar thing without the creaminess by using olive oil for your fat, which can sit out a lot longer than mayonnaise and sour cream,” Kieffer explained.

Another crowd-pleaser: summer panzanella, a Tuscan bread salad from Terrain Garden Cafe in Glen Mills.

“It’s colorful. It’s different. It’s really easy to assemble,” said event and pastry chef Robert Toland, who’s shared panzanella at potlucks. “It’s bright and full of vegetables” that “can be swapped out for whatever you have at the time.”

His pesto pasta salad’s equally versatile and vibrant with arugula and peas.

Just remember, Toland stressed, “recipes are more of a guideline rather than something set in stone.”

“Food is supposed to be nourishing, and it’s supposed to be an example of love that you give someone,” he added. “A potluck is, in my opinion, just that.”

Mexican Corn Salad – “Mexicorn”

Another riff on a corn salad. This dish, like revenge, is always served cold and should be made a day ahead. It’s perfect for entertaining and I have made large quantities of this salad for huge picnics and it’s always a hit. Sometimes I spice it up with a minced habanero or add a teaspoon of chipotle powder to the dressing. It’s creamy without being “goopy” and gives you all of the crunch you could want; it’s the flavors of summer in a bowl!

Ingredients1 dozen ears of corn, husked, cleaned, boiled, and taken off the cob

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced

2 tomatoes, diced2 green peppers, diced

1 red pepper, diced1 jalapeño pepper, diced

1 red onion, dicedSalt, pepper, to taste

½ teaspoon celery seed3 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise

2 tablespoons sour cream2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (optional)

InstructionsCombine all vegetables in a bowl, season with salt, pepper and celery seed. Mix mayo, sour cream and rice vinegar. Combine the vegetables and dressing. Refrigerate. Before serving, mix in the cilantro, if using.

Note: Can substitute 3½ to 4 tablespoons of olive oil for the mayonnaise and sour cream.

RECIPE COURTESY OF EXECUTIVE CHEF BRENDA KIEFFER, KIEFFER’S APPLIANCES

Summer PanzanellaServings: 8 to 10

Ingredients2 whole zucchini, thinly shaved with a vegetable peeler

3 whole corn, shucked and removed from cob

4 pints heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved (leave some whole too)

1 large seedless cucumber, large diced

1 bag baby arugula1 red onion, thinly sliced

1 large baguette, torn into medium-sized pieces

5 garlic cloves, sliced thinly¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Sherry vinaigrette:1 teaspoon Dijon

1 tablespoon honey4 tablespoon sherry vinegar

½ cup extra virgin olive oilInstructions

Over medium heat, add ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil to a sauté pan. Add garlic to the pan and lightly sauté until golden brown. With a spoon handy, carefully take the garlic out of the pan and reserve for later. Add baguettes to the pan and toast until golden brown, stirring frequently to avoid burning, set aside and allow to cool. While the toasted bread is cooling, make your vinaigrette. In a small bowl, whisk sherry vinegar, Dijon and honey together. Slowly whisk in oil and set bowl aside. In a large bowl, begin to assemble the salad by adding all of the vegetables and greens together. Drizzle vinaigrette over the salad and toss until evenly coated. Toss in toasted bread just before serving

RECIPE COURTESY OF CHEF ROBERT TOLAND, TERRAIN GARDEN CAFE

Pesto Pasta SaladServings: 8 to 10

IngredientsPesto:6 ounces arugula

2 ounces basil½ cup walnuts¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 ounces Parmesan cheese2 lemons, zested and juiced

Pasta salad:½ pound campanelle (trumpet) pasta

1 pint snap peas, blanched or steamed

1 pint English peas, blanched or steamed

½ bag arugula¼ cup Parmesan, shaved

1 recipe pesto (see above)Instructions

Place one large pot of water on the stove with ¼ cup salt and bring to a boil. While water is coming to a boil, prepare the pesto. Place walnuts in a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped. Add basil and arugula in processor. With the processor running, drizzle in olive oil, followed by cheese, lemon zest and juice. Set aside in a large bowl

Once water has come to a boil, add your pasta and cook for about 7 to 8 minutes or al dente. Take the pasta out of the boiling water and place in a bowl of ice water, stir until pasta is cool. Transfer the chilled pasta to the bowl with the pesto and stir or toss until all the pasta is coated liberally with pesto, add peas and arugula and continue to toss until well coated. Serve with freshly cracked black pepper and shaved Parmesan.

RECIPE COURTESY OF CHEF ROBERT TOLAND, TERRAIN GARDEN CAFE

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