4 gorgeous summer recipes to serve for dinner at your next garden party

From Taste Buds: A Field Guide to Cooking and Baking with Flowers, these summer recipes for dinner will help you achieve the perfect fairytale garden party aesthetic. 

Summer recipes for dinner | Flower Pasta with Marigold Pesto

As much as we love dining out on the amazing Toronto patios at the city's best restaurants and newest restaurants, sometimes we want to make a little magic in our own outdoor spaces. We can't all have sprawling backyards (especially in this city), but serving the right summer recipes for dinner can make even a balcony with a budget bistro set and some string lights feel like a fairytale.

Summer recipes for dinner | Taste Buds: A Field Guide to Cooking and Baking with Flowers

Taste Buds: A Field Guide to Cooking and Baking with Flowers, $35

To help us achieve our al fresco fantasies, Nikki Fotheringham, the "foraging, wildcrafting, flower eating, puddle jumping, star gazing, fungi loving, forest dwelling, midnight swimming cookbook author," shares four enchanting summer recipes for dinner from her new book. A rural Ontario resident, Fotheringham lives in the woods where she grows flowers in the meadow and works them into delicious and beautiful dishes.

For anyone who ever dreamed of being a flower fairy in the summertime, Taste Buds: A Field Guide to Cooking and Baking with Flowers is a gorgeous and whimsical cookbook and flower guide. Learn how to identify and forage different flowers, discover tips and tricks for growing your own and then incorporate them into over 90 summer recipes.

Perfect for gardeners, foragers, foodies and anyone who loves flowers, Taste Buds will get you stuck into the summertime frolicking spirit. Try serving these four summer recipes for dinner at your next garden party or enjoy any day to add a little whimsy to your week.

Roasted Veggie Salad with Saffron

This summer recipe features a delicious and colourful combination of veggies topped with an earthy, almost floral saffron dressing.

Summer recipes for dinner | Roasted Veggie Salad with Saffron

Serves 6

Preparation time 15 minutes

Cooking time 8 minutes



  • 3 small parsnips, peeled
  • 6 medium carrots, peeled
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 2 medium beets, peeled
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp coarse kosher salt


  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 piece ginger (2 inches), peeled and finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp saffron threads
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  2. Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, slice the parsnips, carrots, sweet potatoes and beets into round, paper-thin slices. Place on 2 baking sheets greased with olive oil and drizzle olive oil over the top of the veggies. Season with kosher salt.
  3. Bake until you can poke a fork in them with no resistance, about 8 minutes. Place the roasted veggies in a large serving bowl.
  4. Place the dressing ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Pour over the veggies and serve immediately.

TIP: You can roast pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds in a little olive oil and sprinkle on top for a crunchy element.

Nasturtium Star Tear-and-Share Bread

Whether you're serving appetizers or a full meal at your patio party, satiate guests with this easy-to-share summer recipe for fresh baked bread made flavourful with a cheesy pesto.

Summer recipes for dinner | Nasturtium Star Tear-and-Share Bread

Serves 8

Preparation time 30 minutes

Cooking time 20 minutes



  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 3 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 envelope (2¼ tsp) active dry yeast
  • 2⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • ¼ cup salted butter


  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup nasturtium leaves and flowers, washed and dried
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
  • 1 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted (see tip)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

TIP: Pine nuts are easy to toast. Simply pop them in a pan over medium heat (no oil needed). Cook, stirring constantly, until they are brown and fragrant, about
3 minutes. Immediately transfer from the pan to a plate to cool.


  1. To make the bread, place the milk in a medium bowl and warm it in the microwave until lukewarm, about 15 seconds. Stir in the sugar and the yeast and set aside until foamy, 10–15 minutes.
  2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, mix the yeast mixture, flour and egg yolks on high speed until a soft, silky dough forms, about 4 minutes. Add the butter 1 Tbsp at a time, mixing well between each addition. The dough should be soft and silky, but not sticky.
  3. Oil the sides of a mixing bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, to make the pesto, place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Divide into 3 equal parts.
  5. Place a 10×10-inch piece of parchment paper on a work surface.
  6. Knock the dough down and divide it into 4 evenly sized pieces.
  7. On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 piece of the dough into an 8-inch circle. Place it in the centre of the parchment paper.
  8. Coat the dough with 1 portion of the pesto, making sure you go right to the edges. Repeat the process with the next 2 dough pieces, stacking them on top of the first one. Roll the last one out and place it on top so it looks like a stack of pancakes. The last piece of dough has no pesto on it.
  9. Turn a small glass upside down and place it in the centre of the stack. Now make 4 straight, evenly spaced cuts in the dough circles, like wheel spokes, cutting all the way through the dough but taking care not to cut the dough under the glass. Make another 4 evenly spaced cuts so you have 8 pieces, and repeat so you have 16 evenly sized pieces in total, all still connected to the dough under the glass.
  10. Pick up one of the pieces and turn it gently twice to the right. Pick up the next piece and turn it twice to the left. Go around the circle, alternating directions, until all the pieces are twisted. Remove the glass. Your dough should resemble a 16-legged spider.
  11. Gently pick up the parchment and place it on a baking sheet or in a Dutch oven. Leave the bread in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. You can cover it with a large plastic bag or a damp tea towel as long as they don’t touch the dough.
  12. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  13. Place the egg whites in a small bowl, gently beat them and then brush them over the bread.
  14. Bake until golden brown, 15–20 minutes. Leave to cool for 10 minutes then serve warm. Store the bread in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Flower Pasta with Marigold Pesto

Break out your pasta maker for this fresh summer recipe — or, if you're short on time (and patience) just whip up the marigold pesto and add it to store-bought fettuccine. You can experiment with other types of edible flowers, too.

Summer recipes for dinner | Flower Pasta with Marigold Pesto

Serves 4

Preparation time 30 minutes

Cooking time 3 minutes



  • 2 cups “00” flour
  • ½ tsp coarse kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1½ tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup fresh marigold petals, washed and dried, seeds removed, plus more for garnish


  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves (if you prefer, you can swap out 1 cup of the basil for 1 cup of dandelion greens)
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup fresh marigold petals, washed and dried, seeds removed, divided
  • ⅓ cup pine nuts
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Table salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. To make the pasta, on a clean work surface, pile up the flour and salt, and carefully whisk to combine with a fork. Make a well in the centre and place the eggs and oil in it.
  2. Using a fork, carefully beat the eggs, slowly drawing in flour from the edges until a shaggy dough forms. It’s okay to get stuck in with your hands as soon as the eggs are incorporated if you prefer.
  3. This step can be done by hand or in a stand mixer. If you’re using your hands, knead the dough on your work surface until it’s elastic and soft, 8–10 minutes. If you’re using a stand mixer, fit it with a dough hook and mix the dough on medium speed until elastic and smooth, about 3 minutes.
  4. Turn out the dough, cover it with plastic wrap and leave it to rest on the countertop at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  5. Divide the dough into 2 evenly sized pieces, leaving one half in the plastic. Run the first half through your pasta machine, taking care to fold the edges in so the dough comes out in a nice rectangle. Repeat until you have run the pasta through the thinnest setting.
  6. Lay the pasta out on a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle the marigold petals evenly over the top.
  7. Run the second half of the dough through the pasta machine just like you did with the first piece, going all the way to the thinnest setting. Place this pasta rectangle on top of the first one and press down gently. Run the double layer of pasta through the machine on a medium speed one last time. Now use your cutting attachment to make fettucine. Flour the pasta well so it doesn’t stick when you cook it.
  8. Fill a large pot with water as salty as the sea and bring it to a boil over high heat.
  9. Meanwhile, to make the pesto, using a food processor fitted with the steel blade, blitz the basil, parmesan, marigold petals and pine nuts until smooth. With the machine running, add the garlic, slowly drizzle in the oil and then blend for 1 minute. Taste the pesto and add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  10. Once the water is at a rolling boil, drop your fettuccine in. It should only take 1–2 minutes to cook through.
  11. Serve the pasta hot with a drizzle of pesto and a couple of marigold petals to garnish.

Salted Honey Chamomile Cake

Salty and sweet, this summer recipe can be served as an occasion cake to celebrate big moments, a dessert cake for any meal or even as a breakfast cake. Decorate it however you please.

Summer recipes for dinner | Salted Honey Chamomile Cake

Serves 6

Preparation time 30 minutes

Cooking time 30 minutes



  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 40 crushed, dried chamomile flowers, or 4 chamomile tea bags
  • 3⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp fine kosher salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • 1½ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs + 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract


  • ¼ cup salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice


  1. To make the cake, place the milk in a small pot and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Do not let it come to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the chamomile. Leave to steep until the milk is room temperature. Strain out the chamomile, but do not squeeze it or the milk might taste bitter. Discard the chamomile. Set the milk aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans.
  3. Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda into a large bowl.
  4. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, egg whites and vanilla and mix well to combine, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed.
  5. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. You want everything to be just mixed in for this batter. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Once the batter is combined, pour it into the prepared cake pans.
  6. Bake until a skewer inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean, 25–30 minutes. Place the cake pans on wire racks and let the cakes cool completely in the pans.
  7. To make the frosting, using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter with the icing sugar, salt, honey and lemon juice on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  8. Once the cakes are cool, remove them from the pans. Place one cake layer on a cake stand and top it with about one-third of the buttercream. Sandwich the second layer on top. Now use the remaining frosting to cover the outside of your cake.
  9. You can decorate it as you wish, but if you have fresh, edible flowers, they add a splash of colour and pizzazz. You can use chamomile flowers or whatever you have on hand.
  10. Store the cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.