Summertime is approaching, and it’s the best time of year to entertain some friends and family at home. Sometimes there isn’t enough time to run out and get something to serve guests besides cheese and crackers, so it’s always best practice to have a few go-to appetizer recipes to whip up at home. Whether it be something light like a nice summer salad, or a small dish that’s a little more fun and filling, Steven Leung, an executive chef at the Red Lotus Asian Kitchen in the Tropicana hotel in Las Vegas, has you covered with some great summer appetizer ideas.
Easy Appetizers for Summer Entertaining
Chef Leung has picked out a few of his favorite summertime appetizer ideas to share with us. All three easy summer recipes work well at home the next time you need something quick to prepare before a few guests stop by.
“Gatherings are all about enjoying good food and wine with your favorite people, instead of overworking yourself in the kitchen. I personally love salads, and the two I picked are perfect for get-togethers because they can be prepared and dressed hours ahead. So when your guests arrive, just add a simple garnish and they’re ready to serve.”
Nothing can beat a fresh salad in the summertime. Salads are light, tasty, and easy to prepare. Chef Leung has two salad recipes that are sure to impress – they’re simple, yet more sophisticated than your average caesar salad. Pair these with your favorite spritzer, and you’ll have a refreshing snack ready to go for you and your guests.
Beets Salad (Serves 4)
• 2 Medium sized Red Beets
• 1 Medium sized Yellow Beet
• 5 ounces of Chèvre Fresh Goat Cheese
• 2 ounces of Baby Arugula
• 1 ¼ ounces of Shallots (chopped finely)
• 1 teaspoon of Dijon Mustard
• ½ teaspoon of Dried Oregano
• ¼ teaspoon of Freshly Grind Black Pepper
• 1 ½ fluid ounces of Red Wine Vinegar
• 4 ½ fluid ounces of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Preheat oven to 375F, once oven is 375F, place the beets with skin on into the oven and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes. After taking the beets out, shock it into ice water to chill. Meanwhile, combine all the ingredient for the dressing into a mixing bowl except for the olive oil. After all 5 of the ingredients are mixed well, slowly drizzle all of the oil into the mixture while gradually mixing using a whisk, reserve. Take beets out from the ice bath and peel the skin off, diced the beets into ½” x ½” form. Mix all the greens together and tossed with dressing. Lastly, crumble goat cheese on top of salad and serve.
Green Papaya Salad (Serves 4)
• 12 ounces of Green Papaya (1/8” x 3” Shredded)
• 8 ounces of Carrots (1/8” x 3” Shredded)
• 8 ounces of Baby Heirloom Tomatoes (Halves)
• 12 ounces of Napa Cabbage (Shredded)
• 4 ounces of English Cucumbers (Sliced)
• 1 ounce of Mint Leaves
• Limes (Optional Garnish)
• 3 fluid ounces of Fish Sauce
• 2 ounces of Granulated Sugar
• 4 fluid ounces of Freshly squeezed Lime Juice
• ½ teaspoon of Dried Red Chili Flakes
• 6 fluid ounces of Canola or Grapeseed Oil
For the dressing: Place fish sauce, sugar, lime juice and dried red chili flakes inside a small mixing bowl. Slowly drizzle the canola or grapeseed oil into the mixing bowl while whisking all the ingredients, this way the dressing can all come together. Reserve. Cut all of the vegetables as described above, mix and toss well with the dressing and serve.
Perhaps you would like to serve your guests an appetizer more filling than a salad? This Pizzadilla is an easy and tasty recipe that allows you to create more personalized dishes to share. The recipe below is Chef Leung’s original recipe, but you can always incorporate any and every pizza “topping” that you wish. Prepare different variations of this recipe to give your guests options before they arrive (i.e. meat, vegetarian, etc.).
Chef Leung believes one of the greatest bonding experiences are when a group of people can create something together. If you have the space and want to make mealtime a little more fun, set up a no-fuss pizzadilla bar with toppings and dipping sauces so people can customize their own dish. You can also create a few types of pizzadillas to share amongst each other.
Pizzadilla (Serves 2)
• 2 Large 10” Flour Tortillas
• 4 ounces of Red Onions (Thinly sliced)
• 1 ½ ounces of pitted black olives (Thinly Sliced)
• 2 ounces of Green Bell Peppers (Small Diced)
• 2 ounces of Italian Sausage (Chopped to small pieces)
• 1 ounce of Sliced Pepperoni
• 4 ounces of Shredded Mozzerella Cheese
• 2 ounces of Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
• 6 fluid ounces of Tomato Sauce
Preheat oven to 400F. Place 1 piece of flour tortilla onto a baking sheet tray, spread tomato sauce onto the tortilla. Evenly scatter all of the other ingredients onto the tomato sauce, place another piece of tortilla on top of all the ingredients. Bake at 400F for 8-10 minutes, serve.
Get to Know Chef Steven Leung
Chef Steven Leung grew up learning how to cook from his father, who was a cook at Yung Kee in Hong Kong – a popular restaurant known for its authentic Cantonese BBQ, dim sum, and stir-fries. Since the age of 12, Chef Leung has been cooking dinners for his family and never thought he would follow in his father’s footsteps and become a professional chef since cooking always seemed like it was “just a house chore.” However, after spending a couple years in college, he decided he wanted to find something he truly enjoyed, so he chose to give Culinary School a try. Upon graduation from The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Las Vegas, Chef Leung took on an internship and spent time abroad in Italy, then returned to Las Vegas and gained further experiences in International cuisine. He’s held positions at the Mandarin Oriental, the Cosmopolitan, and Restaurant Guy Savoy at the Caesar’s Palace. You can currently find him as an Executive Room Chef at the Red Lotus Asian Kitchen in the Tropicana Las Vegas.
No matter what the occasion is, these simple summer appetizer ideas should be both fool proof and fun to create for (or with!) your guests.