Tomato Salad

Photo: Lynn Andriani

The Garden Celebration on a Platter
If we had to pick the most-loved summer vegetables, they'd probably be the ones that chef Katie Hagan-Whelchel of Ad Hoc (one of Thomas Keller's restaurants in Yountville, CA), packs into this stunning yet simple salad. She layers tomato slices, peeled cucumber slices and grilled corn kernels that have all been seasoned liberally with olive oil, salt and pepper on a big plate, and scatters sliced red onion and basil leaves on top. Be sure to make it ahead of time for the best flavor.

Get the recipe: Tomato Salad
Watermelon, Arugula and Toasted Almond Salad

Photo: Jim Franco

The Totally Weird and Delicious Way to Eat Warm (Yes, Warm) Watermelon
We had never considered eating watermelon at any temperature other than ice cold until we tried this untraditional salad; now, we're hooked. You puree the melon into a juice, and then warm it in a saucepan with onion, olive oil and vinegar. As it simmers, it thickens slightly and turns into a delightful dressing for chunks of (cold) watermelon piled with arugula, almonds and sliced scallions.

Get the recipe: Watermelon, Arugula and Toasted Almond Salad
String Beans with Fried Shallots, Pecorino and Basil

Photo: Lucy Schaeffer

A Beloved Green-Bean Dish with a Seasonal Makeover
This bright and fresh-tasting side takes the best elements of a classic green-bean casserole and gives them a summer update. You quickly cook the beans in a small amount of water, and then finish them in olive oil, so they're crisp-tender with a slight char. Fried shallots stand in for canned, fried onions and crumbled Pecorino cheese takes the place of a heavy mushroom sauce.

Get the recipe: String Beans with Fried Shallots, Pecorino and Basil
Grilled Peppers with Bay Leaves

The Classic Italian Snack You Didn't Know You Could Make at Home
You can buy jarred roasted peppers, but making your own is simple, and the results taste worlds better than any store-bought version. This recipe has you grill the peppers (they're practically impossible to overcook, since you want them charred on all sides), place them in a bowl and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Once the vegetables have cooled, the blackened skin will peel right off. Toss them with oil, salt, pepper and bay leaves and let everything sit for an hour, and you'll wind up with sweet, smoky peppers that are a great accompaniment to grilled meats and nearly any Italian dish.

Get the recipe: Grilled Peppers with Bay Leaves
Grilled Corn with Toppings

Photo: Andrew Purcell

Grilled Corn You Can Take in Any Direction
Corn on the cob may not be the most substantial side, but it's a breeze turning it into one. This basic recipe has many variations; we particularly love the Mexican spin, which entails a cumin mayonnaise, crumbled Cotija cheese and chopped cilantro; and, the Italian option, with grated Parmesan, minced garlic and chopped parsley. They both highlight the beloved summer vegetable in a brand new way.

Get the recipe: Grilled Corn with Toppings