Take the Kitchen Outside with 7 Flavor-Packed Recipes

By Ann Thelen

It's time to take the kitchen outdoors, fire up the grill and fill the menu with homegrown produce and Iowa's quintessential proteins. These seven recipes capture the crisp, colorful foods of the season and are perfectly paired flavor sensations.

Sunny skies and warmer days mean it’s time to brighten up the menu routine with new recipes. When grilling takes the kitchen outside, everything fresh is on the menu. Fragrant herbs and zesty spices signal the foods of summer are back in town!

We’ve pulled together a cool collection of recipes that are perfect for planning a picnic, relaxing around a sizzling campfire, hosting a neighborhood barbecue, or enjoying a weeknight meal with the family. From salads to burgers to steaks, these recipes embrace Iowa-produced proteins paired with the season’s fresh vegetables.

As you savor the foods of the season, know that Iowa’s farmers likely had a hand in creating the bounty of delicious foods around the table or picnic blanket. With the state being the No. 1 producing state of many foods, such as pork, eggs, corn and soybeans, and strong in beef, turkey and dairy production, Iowans don’t have to travel far for delicious and nutritious options!

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Grilled Campfire Queso Dip | Midwest Dairy

Planning a picnic or backyard barbecue? Or maybe you’re ready to bring next-level dining to your campsite. This campfire queso recipe is for all the outdoorsy grillers and everyone lucky enough to hang with them. A Mexican blend of cheese melts perfectly with cream cheese and Greek yogurt and packs a kick of flavor and a little heat with jalapenos, peppers, onions, spices and cilantro. Find the recipe here.

Tasty Tip: Chop and assemble these fresh ingredients at home and carry them in a cooler to wherever you plan to unleash the spicy-gooey goodness.

Edamame, Corn, and Radish Salad | The Soyfoods Council

This delicious salad works as an ideal side for a grilled burger or an easy dish to bring to a summer picnic. With edamame (green soybeans) and corn, the salad could be a nod to Iowa’s farm families who recently finished spring planting. Slightly spicy radishes provide a crispy surprise in every bite. Vinegar, onions, soybean oil and garlic combine for a light dressing that feels like summer. Edamame is a high-quality source of protein, and with 17 grams of protein in a serving of this salad, you’ll have the energy to reign as the champion of a backyard Bocce ball or badminton game! Find the recipe here.

Tasty Tip: The best way to shell fresh edamame is to blanch the edamame first and then remove the edamame from the pod.

Frito Corn Salad I Iowa Corn Promotion Board

Add some crunch to your summer side dish with this easy Frito Corn Salad recipe! Sweet corn, creamy dressing and crunchy corn chips are tossed together for one epic salad worthy of any occasion, big or small. Plus, the kiddos will love the addition of chips! Sweet corn is a summertime favorite and the textures of the salad come alive with red and orange peppers, jalapenos, taco seasoning and cheddar cheese. The fiesta of flavors and colors spell sunshine in every scoop! At your next gathering, impress your guests by sharing this kernel of trivia: Unlike field corn, which is harvested when the kernels are dry and fully mature (99% of the corn grown in Iowa), sweet corn is picked when immature! Find the recipe here.

Tasty Tip: Make the salad in advance and then top with corn chips right before serving. Or, instead of mixing in the corn chips, serve them alongside for dipping.

Creole Shrimp Egg Salad with Bacon & Avocado | Iowa Egg Council

Salad and sandwiches are synonymous with sunshine and summertime, and this recipe combines both into a fabulous creation. Shrimp is cooked with Cajun seasoning, smoked paprika and lemon zest, creating a tangy flavor with a zip. Hard-boiled eggs, which can be made in advance, are combined with avocado, shallots and parsley, blended with a bacon-flavored mayonnaise, mustard and lemon sauce. Thick-cut bacon shares the spotlight with shrimp and egg salad for a sandwich begging to be entered in a state fair contest for a blue ribbon! Plus, the sandwich boasts equally award-winning amounts of protein and vitamins to power you through summertime fun! Find the recipe here.

Tasty Tip: In the shell, hard-boiled eggs can be refrigerated safely for up to one week. Refrigerate in their original carton to prevent odor absorption. Once peeled, eggs should be eaten that day.

Italian Marinated Pork Chops | Iowa Pork Producers Association

Simple marinade. Flavorful chops. Your next favorite pork recipe is made with Italian salad dressing! Use a store-bought brand or homemade dressing for this easy grilling recipe. It's perfect for either a Sunday meal or a quick weeknight dinner. For a meal that is like a “soundtrack of summer,” serve with potato salad, baked beans and rolls. While this dish uses Italian-style salad dressing, you can apply this method using other types of dressings. For a sweet and spicy Asian pork chop, use an Asian dressing like sesame ginger or Teriyaki. Find the recipe here.

Tasty Tip: Pork can be safely cooked to medium rare at a final internal cooked temperature of 145 degrees F as measured by a food thermometer, followed by a three-minute rest time. Ground pork, like all ground meats, should still be cooked to 160 degrees F.

Mediterranean Turkey Burger | National Turkey Federation & Iowa Turkey Federation

No need to catch a flight to embrace the flavors of the Mediterranean region. Whip them up in your backyard with this zesty turkey burger recipe that will transport your taste buds abroad with each bite! Pickled red onions add a great burst of bright flavor to these turkey burgers. Serve in a pita with arugula, pickled red onions and tzatziki. Or this burger can be customized with additional toppings such as hummus, feta, black olives and tahini. The possibilities are endless for a protein-packed burger dressed up with the flavorings of cool seasonings.

Find the recipe here.

Tasty Tip: When preparing, form the mixture into four equal portions and shape them into 1-inch-thick patties. Transfer them to the lined baking sheet and chill for at least 30 minutes. This can be done up to a day in advance.

Ribeye Steaks with Fresh Tomato Tapenade | Iowa Beef Council and Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.

Ribeye steaks are rich, juicy and full-flavored with generous marbling throughout. It's one of the most popular cuts of steak and perfect for a special weeknight meal or weekend celebration. Container gardeners will love picking cherry tomatoes to create a delightful fresh tapenade that incorporates fresh basil and Parmesan cheese for a bright pop of additional color and flavor. In many parts of the world, tapenade is used as a sauce for many foods. In this recipe, the olives add salt, while the tomatoes add a touch of acidity. The result is a stunning accent to a sizzling steak, grilled to perfection. Find the recipe here.

Tasty Tip: Use an instant-read thermometer to monitor doneness, and let it go – don’t flip the steaks so much! One flip is usually all you need but take care to avoid charring or burning and be ready to turn down the heat (or move to a cooler spot on the grill) if necessary. Keep in mind the internal temperature will continue to rise for a few minutes after coming off the grill.