What to cook in June: Grilled everything, dips for picnics, and desserts that make you excited for summertime

Lean into the nostalgia of the season, and dine on anything that tastes like summer.

Lean into the nostalgia of the season, and dine on anything that tastes like summer

As spring slips into summer and we officially welcome a new season with the solstice this month, I'm reminded of how much I love June — it always feels so hopeful to me. There's a whole summer ahead for spending plenty of time in the sun, and delicious, fresh produce really begins to hit its stride.

It's the ideal time to take your cooking and dining outdoors again. You can welcome back BBQ season, whether you're in your backyard or taking your grill to the park (rules and permits, permitting!). Plus, I love a lazy picnic, with plenty of lounging in the park and foods like make-ahead dips, for a luxuriously low-key day. 

Farmers markets and grocery stories alike come alive with an abundance of fresh produce. It's an exciting time particularly if you love fresh peas and beans. Grill them with a bit of butter, sautee them on the stove, toss them into a salad, or shuck some peas and puree them for a dip for snacking on — like this Sweet Pea and Ricotta Dip. It's also a marvellous time to use up mangoes.

And no matter how old I get or how long I've been out of school, June will always feel like the end of the school year to me. This month always, without fail, brings a mix of nostalgia for summers spent growing up in rural Nova Scotia, particularly strawberry picking with my grandmother. Nanny, my sister and I would head to a local "you-pick", with last year's wooden berry quart boxes in hand, and pick from rows of red berries for hours on end, and secretly snack on a few sun-warmed ones along the way. Those berries would be baked into Nanny's delicious creations, often along with lingering stalks from her rhubarb patch, that taste just like summer to me. 

To this day, hulling a box of berries over my counter in Toronto takes me right back to my grandparents' kitchen, and conjures up memories of summers spent with family. It doesn't look like I'll be getting back to the East Coast this season to eat my grandmother's homemade strawberry shortcakes or her strawberry rhubarb pie, but I plan on trying to make both of them. In fact, I plan to use berries for as many recipes as I can

May the recipes below inspire you to lean into your own summertime nostalgia, and get you excited about summer cooking, dining outdoors, and all the warm weather ahead.

BBQs and Picnics

Smoky Stone Fruit and Bourbon BBQ Ribs

(Photography by Michael Gozum)

Orange-Basil Watermelon Salad with Grilled Calamari

(Photography by Michael Gozum)

Grilled Radicchio Salad with Tahini & Chive Dressing

Three easy dips for picnics

Lamb Rib Burger with Pineapple Salsa

(Credit: David Loftus)


Spring Pea Soup with Dungeness Crab

(Photography by Kevin Clark)

Lemon Dijon Snow Peas

Sweet Pea and Ricotta Dip 


Nadiya's Mango Lime Lassi Bircher

(Credit: Hungry Gap Productions Ltd.)

Sarosh's Mango Chaat

Summer Mango Black Rice Salad with Broiled Tofu

(Photography by Marcella DiLonardo)

White Wine Mango Granita

Mango Vanilla Mousse

(Credit: Nassima Rothacker)


Strawberry "Shortcake" Drop Scones

Strawberry Cobbler with Bourbon & Brown Sugar Sour Cream

(Photography by Michael Gozum)

Strawberry Rhubarb Tarts

Strawberries and Cream Freezer Fudge

(Photography by Walker Jordan)

Cardamom Strawberry Country Slab Pie

(Photography by Michael Gozum)

Brittany Toole is an associate producer at CBC Life.

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