13 easy midsummer food combinations that will create flavor fireworks

Summer always brings an explosion of flavors to the table – but there are fireworks and then there are fyahworks. If you want to put on a holiday spread that impresses, try these easy-but-unexpected combinations that bring together fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, cheese and spices. Some are breathtakingly simple; others might take a single specialty shopping trip – but not one of them requires you to turn on an oven or a burner. Pair these summer delights with grilled and chilled meat or vegan options at your next concert picnic or lakeside dinner.

Fruits

1. Strawberries and black pepper.

Counterintuitive, you say? Not so. Fresh, farmers-market strawberries become incandescent when sprinkled with the merest dusting of finely (but freshly) ground black pepper. Store-bought berries actually become edible. Back way off on how much you sugar the berries (a tablespoon per pint maximum) and add a pinch of the black stuff. Let it sit in the refrigerator for a day; then spoon over shortcake, crumbled shortbread cookies, or thick Greek yogurt.

2. Pears and balsamic vinegar.

We like crisp Bosc pears and Cara Cara Orange and Vanilla White Balsamic from Rocky Mountain Olive Oil company, but any sweet white balsamic will do. Sliver the pears and drizzle the balsamic across them, along with some toasted walnut halves, or chop them on top of a salad and mix the balsamic with a light oil in a dressing.

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