28 Nostalgia-Worthy Retro Summer Recipes
Pool days, catching fireflies after dark, pickup baseball games, picnics--after the holidays, summertime might be the season that most inspires all the nostalgic feels. The foods we traditionally associate with summertime are no different. Juicy peaches, cold fruit salads, succulent ribs, homemade ice cream, creamy coleslaws and potato salads--these delicious summer dishes (and more) make us feel all the warm (and often hot and humid) fuzzies. Take a trip down memory lane with this collection of retro summer recipes that deserve a comeback in 2021.
Strawberry Pretzel Squares
Old-fashioned Tomato Pie
Nothing says "summer"—or shows off summertime's best produce—like a classic tomato pie. Old-fashioned Tomato Pie is summer perfection thanks to garden fresh tomatoes and chopped herbs such as basil, thyme, parsley, or chives. When you serve Old-fashioned Tomato Pie, this plate of goodness is always a home run.
Almond Jelly Roll with Raspberry Filling
Almond paste makes the cake a bit sticky, so be sure to coat the wax paper in the pan with cooking spray and dust with flour before spooning in the batter. Combining the almond paste and sugar in a blender or food processor helps incorporate the paste into the batter without lumps. This cake can be made a day in advance; just wrap it in plastic wrap, and store in the fridge.
Classic Potato Salad
Banana Fluffer Nutters
For the perfect, all-purpose macaroni salad, look no further than this easy recipe. Our version of the staple summertime side dish delivers everything you love about a classic, creamy pasta salad, but with an extra touch of vibrancy. Chopped bell peppers deliver colorful, sweet crunch, while cream cheese provides a tangy depth and fresh dill lends a flavorful kick of freshness. Whether you're heading to a picnic or potluck-style barbecue, a large bowl of this macaroni salad will always be more than welcome.
Jack's Fried Catfish
Catfish were readily abundant in the Antebellum South and, due to their status as "bottom feeders," weren't deemed the most stylish dinner staples. Once the South's seafood secret, mild-flavored catfish has gained popularity nationwide. Simply soak the catfish in milk for an hour before frying to eliminate any leftover fishy taste. The cornmeal crust creates a perfect light and crispy texture. The catfish are done when "most of the bubbling stops and the fillets begin to float."
Real Banana Pudding
You've never had homemade banana pudding like this before. It's a simple, from-scratch dessert that'll leave your guests speechless: homemade vanilla pudding layered with vanilla wafer cookies and banana slices and topped with a cloud of meringue. Some like it warm. Others prefer it nice and cold. The hardest part is waiting for it to fully chill.
Skillet Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Summertime Peach Ice Cream
Cool off this summer with a refreshing scoop (or a few) of our homemade peach ice cream. Offering the classic peaches-and-cream combo in every bite, this fruit-based ice cream is the perfect way to showcase bright summer flavors. If you're able to use fresh Georgia peaches, you're one of the lucky ones. Make a batch while peaches are in season, and enjoy the silky-smooth treat all summer long. Pair it with a fresh slice of peach pie, a toasted pecan topping, or just a warm evening outdoors. This delightfully creamy dessert is sure to become a summertime favorite.
Lemony Cucumber Salad
Classic Chess Pie
If you've got baking staples in your kitchen, then you probably have everything you need for a classic chess pie. This old-fashioned pie typically has two distinctive ingredients, cornmeal and vinegar, plus other on-hand ingredients such as sugar, flour, eggs, milk and vanilla. This version is made easy with the use of refrigerated pie crusts.
Easy Peach Cobbler
What could be a more perfect ending to a summertime meal than easy peach cobbler? Savor the flavors of summer with sliced fresh peaches cooking away with butter and spices. The topping can made from pantry ingredients you have on hand and peaches can easily be substituted with any fruit you have depending on the time of year. The tang of the lemon juice paired with the sweetness of the peaches is perfectly balanced with the crisp topping. Want to make dessert even better? A dollop of fresh whipped cream or cold vanilla ice cream truly makes it the perfect way to end a summer night.
Fried Green Tomatoes
No one does Fried Green Tomatoes like Southern Living. The cornmeal and flour crust is what sets this recipe apart from others. In only a matter of minutes, your tomatoes will be battered, fried and perfectly crispy. Not only can you enjoy these as a perfect summer appetizer paired with Buttermilk Herb Ranch Sauce, you can also try sandwiching them with lettuce and bacon for an elevated BLT,or scattering them in between fresh tomatoes and mozzarella for crunch and flavor in a caprese salad.
The tuna melt--you either love it or hate it. However, if you happen to be one of the few on the fence, you should definitely give this one a try. Our take on a classic tuna melt offers an element of childhood nostalgia, but with a layer of grown-up flavor. The incorporation of capers, Dijon, and fresh lemon juice give the tuna salad brightness and complexity to balance the buttery, toasted bread and rich, melty Swiss cheese. This classic sandwich is also delightful when served open-faced, so feel free to lose the second slice of bread if you'd prefer.
Mixed Herb-and-Tomato Salad
Make this simple yet memorable tomato salad in the height of summer, when tomatoes and fresh herbs abound. It doesn't matter what variety of tomatoes you use, or the type of herbs (choose soft herbs, not woody ones like rosemary or thyme), as long as you mix them up—any combination will look beautiful and taste great. Be sure to let the tomatoes stand for at least 10 minutes, to allow them to marinate in the dressing and fully release their juices into the vinaigrette. Serve the salad at room temperature alongside burgers, grilled chicken, or even a simple piece of fish. It also makes a colorful (and portable!) addition to a summer potluck or cookout.
Crunchy, Creamy Coleslaw
Cheddar-and-Corn Spoon Bread
Try this light broccoli salad with creamy dressing, grapes, celery, and raisins. This quick and easy green salad is perfect for making ahead to enjoy for lunches to come. It is also a delicious side for entertaining. The salad is sweet and light, but still filling. This is a classic recipe, but you can add an original twist with toppings like cranberries, pistachios, or almonds. Pair it with a nice grilled chicken recipe for lunch or dinner.
Ambrosia with Chantilly Cream
There are three must-have ingredients in a good pan of succotash: fresh tomatoes, cream or butter, and fresh herbs. We prefer cherry tomatoes to slicing to boost the sweetness of the dish and add a little acidity for balance. Instead of the more traditional heavy cream, this recipe calls for salted butter to give the colorful vegetables richness without turning them gray. And where many succotash recipes call for soft herbs, such as tarragon, chives, and parsley, we prefer basil. Its classic flavor and aroma just says "summer".
Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs
Barbecue season is here, but we'll let you in on a secret: All you really need for crowd-pleasing ribs is the right recipe and a slow cooker. Savory, tender, juicy, and slow-cooked to perfection, this recipe for Easy BBQ Ribs is our newest and best. And just because it's easy doesn't mean this recipe lacks character. Add our homemade Rib Rub and Fancy Barbecue Sauce for a foolproof meal that's truly special.
Layered Salad with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
The various colors and textures of Layered Salad with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing make for a pretty presentation in a clear glass bowl. You can even prepare this layered salad a few hours in advance up until the point at which you add the dressing. Dress the layered salad no more than 10 minutes before serving.
Lemon-Buttermilk Icebox Pie
When life gives you lemons, use it to make this pie! The filling is pure heaven, not too sweet, and full of tartness from lemon juice and zest. If you like, you can speed things up with a premade graham cracker crust, but don't compromise when it comes to using fresh lemons.