Summer fruits and vegetables are delicious unto themselves for sure, but I also like to add a bit of richness when using them raw as pre-dinner hors d’oeuvre. Here are three examples of just such combinations, which I hope will inspire you to create your own permutations for similar pre-dinner nibble.


This is a lovely riff on the by-now classic watermelon and feta salad, and the picks are as pretty to look at as they are delicious to eat. You can assemble the picks up to about two hours ahead, store them loosely covered in the refrigerator, and place them on their bed of oil and vinegar at the last minute. You’ll need toothpicks to make this recipe.

Makes about 32 picks

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar


6 ounce chunk of feta (not crumbles)

About 1 pound watermelon

Small rosemary sprigs (about 3 leaves each)

Freshly ground black pepper

Pour oil and vinegar on a serving platter and tilt to coat platter.

Cut feta into ½- to ¾-inch squares. Slice watermelon, remove rind, and cut into same size squares. Pierce cheese with toothpick, add watermelon square, and stand upright on platter. Continue with remaining cheese and watermelon. Garnish each with a rosemary sprig, and grind black pepper over all.



I can find at least three brands of salmon mousse (sometimes labeled as “salmon pate”) at my supermarket. Typical ingredients are cream cheese, chopped smoked salmon, sometimes cream and various seasonings. Some brands (usually the less expensive products) are looser and runnier than you want for this recipe, so try to get one with some body and plenty of delicious smoked salmon flavor. If you don’t have a pastry bag, simply spoon or spread the mousse onto the cucumber rounds. Taste the mousse; if it already contains dill or another herb, you may not want to add the chopped dill.

Makes about 24 canapes

1 long English seedless cucumber

1 small (7-ounce) container good quality smoked salmon mousse

2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill, if desired, and dill sprigs


Freshly ground black pepper

Use a fork to score cucumber down its length all around its circumference. Cut into ¼- to ½-inch slices, thick enough so they can be picked up by hand. Arrange on serving tray.

Mash mousse with a fork to soften a bit if necessary and stir in dill, if using. Spoon into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe a 1- to 1½-teaspoon rosette onto each cucumber round. Grind black pepper over and garnish each with a dill sprig. Refrigerate until ready to serve to firm up mousse. (Can be made about 2 hours ahead.)


Rich, soft-ripened triple crème St. Andre cheese is the perfect foil for sweet-sharp bell peppers, and its buttery texture allows for easy spreading. A restrained garnish of thyme leaves or blossoms adds interest and a complementary flavor.

Makes about 30 canapes


1 red bell pepper

¼ pound St. Andre, left at room temperature for a couple of hours to soften

Tiny thyme leaves or small blossoms

Cut pepper into strips about 3/4-inch wide. Use a small blunt knife to spread a teaspoon or so of cheese into center of each pepper “boat.” Arrange on serving platter and garnish with thyme sprigs. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 hours.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Chowderland: Hearty Soups & Stews with Sides and Salads to Match.” (Storey, 2015). She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at:

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