Blog June 29, 2023

Summertime and the Living is Easy: Summer Food in the South, is Unique!

Summertime and the Living is Easy: Summer Food in the South, is Unique!

I guess as you have guessed it by now I am from Virginia.  I have family all over the state of North Carolina.  So I was raised on Southern and county food.  I would like to share with you a few STRANGE ALL TIME FAVORITES OF FOLKS IN THE South! I myself have in fact eaten and enjoyed everyone for years.

There are the usual suspects that frequent Southern meals during summertime, such as fresh succotash, squash casserole, peach cobbler, and deviled eggs. However, there are also plenty of unexpected and lesser-known dishes that Southerners can’t wait to eat all summer long. Not only is our favorite produce abundant at the farmers’ market, but family cookouts and warm-weather gatherings with friends fill the calendar, giving the perfect opportunity to make certain beloved Southern recipes that feel fit for the season.

Whether we’re talking about a fruit-studded casserole, leftover cornbread concoction, or controversial sandwich that many folks love to hate, the South has plenty of summer recipes with personality to spare. Here are 16 hilariously “weird” dishes that Southerners make during the summer.

Southern Tomato Sandwich….My Mothers and Grandmothers favorite! 

Let’s call out the elephant in the room. Tomato sandwiches get a lot of hate, but we won’t accept any slander here. It’s the most perfect use of those gorgeous summer tomatoes, and all you need is fluffy white bread and mayonnaise. I cannot wait till this time of year for fresh tomatoes!  YUMMMMMMM

Pineapple Casserole

Anyone who won’t at least try this sweet-and-savory casserole is missing out. Everything from the pineapple filling to the buttery cracker topping is completely balanced, and it goes well with saltier main dishes such as glazed ham and barbecue picked up from your favorite local joint.

Pear Salad……My Aunt Dap and my Mother’s favorite lunch!

Perhaps it’s the maraschino cherries paired with mayonnaise and shredded cheese, but this dish sure does rile folks up. You’ll likely see this unique pear salad anywhere from a baby shower to a summer cookout.

Old-Fashion Tomato Pie…….Please, give me a fork!

Tomatoes are Southerners’ most beloved summer produce, so it’s no surprise that we’ve tried out all different variations of ways to use them, including tomato pie. With cheese and herbs, it’s completely savory, so there’s no need to be scared.

Classic Macaroni Salad with Ham

It wouldn’t be summer without a creamy mayonnaise-based pasta salad, and this retro recipe has never been retired. To us, mayonnaise is never a bad idea, and the cubed ham and chopped vegetables bulk up this dish perfectly for a family cookout.  Ham is scared in the South, but any meat or seafood will work.  We do like shrimp if you are from the coastal part of the South and I make mine with shrimp a lot.

Creamy Cucumber Salad

Another mayonnaise-championing recipe, this cucumber salad fits in at almost any summer meal. It’s simple and surprisingly fresh.  Plus add onion dill and tomato is optional but we like out Duke’s and Blue Plate mayonnaise as the mayo of choice.

Strawberry-Pretzel Jello Salad

It might seem odd to some to refer to this fruity gelatin-infused creation as a side dish, but that’s how you’ll see it served at many Southern reunions, potlucks, and holidays. During the summer, it’s a welcome reprieve from the hot weather.

Heirloom Tomato-Cracker Salad

While it’s logical to assume that crunchy crackers on top of moist tomatoes could be a recipe for a soggy outcome, this salad will surprise you. Southerners do love to dress up saltine crackers, after all. Crackers goes on last.  Made on individual salad plates. Butter, garlic, mayo, fresh chives, Tbs of apple cider vinegar, fresh corn uncooked), fresh basil leaves and of course the beloved tomato.  Crackers on top and it is blissful!

Funeral Potatoes

Another name for hash-brown casserole, this creamy concoction is no stranger on a buffet table. And yes, it can often be seen on funeral spreads, but also at family holidays, cookouts, brunches, and showers. Just done the Southern way!

Homemade Baked Beans

It eludes us why folks find it odd that we like so much brown sugar in our baked beans, but all we can say? Southern recipes use sweet (sugar, molasses or Karo syrup), smoky flavored bacon, onions, a little extra ketchup and pork n beans! Southern version.

Cornbread & Sweet Milk…this is also taken with Butter Milk, or Pot Liquor (another blog) about the Sothern food!

In the South, particularly the Appalachian Mountains, people have long enjoyed Cornbread and Milk, a creation made by crumbling leftover cornbread into a tall drinking glass and topping it with milk. It’s usually buttermilk, although some people prefer “sweet milk”, a term for regular fresh milk and even pot liquor.  May be eaten in place of a meal or just a snack.

Corn Pudding….move over and save a seat for me!

The name might fool those who aren’t from the South, but the natural sweetness of the fresh corn makes for a sweet, buttery, savory side dish that’s even better in the summer when corn is in season.

Tennessee Onions

This simple casserole is lesser-known and packed with one of our favorite summer stars: sweet vidalia onions. These Georgia-grown onions come into season in late spring through the end of summer, so summertime is perfect for trying out this cheesy, buttery side dish.

Fried Green Tomatoes….which I have done another Blog on, so you know how I love them!

Those not well-versed in the South or Southern cuisine might not even know the magic of a green tomato, especially when it’s deep-fried and served with a tangy sauce, ranch dressing or even the beloved mayo.  Eating with nothing on them is just as delicious!

Crab Pie…..yes, please!

Those in Virginia and Maryland specifically can expect crab pie during the summer, but coast-residing Southerners also enjoy the unique dish. It’s akin to a quiche and can be easily added to a brunch lineup, main dish for dinner, lunch or breakfast (yes I said breakfast)!

Cucumber Sandwiches…may Granddaughter’s all-time favorite!

Another frequent dish at Southern luncheons and showers, cucumber tea sandwiches are fresh, crisp, and accented with a healthy dollop of mayonnaise, of course. Southern choice of bread is plain ole white sandwich bread.  Some will put fresh dill or basil from the garden on them.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and there you have it!

Old-Fashioned Tomato Pie Recipe

Nothing says “summer”—or shows off summertime’s best produce—like a classic tomato pie.

Old-fashioned Tomato Pie is summer perfection thanks to garden fresh tomatoes and chopped herbs such as basil, thyme, parsley, or chives. When you serve Old-fashioned Tomato Pie, this plate of goodness is always a home run.




1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into pieces

4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

3 to 4 Tbsp. ice-cold water



2 1/4 pounds assorted heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided


1 sweet onion, chopped

1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground pepper, divided

1 tablespoon canola oil

1/2 cup assorted chopped fresh herbs (such as chives, parsley, and basil)

1/2 cup freshly grated Gruyère cheese

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1/4 cup mayonnaise



Prepare Piecrust: Process first 4 ingredients in a food processor until mixture resembles coarse meal. With processor running, gradually add 3 Tbsp. ice-cold water, 1 Tbsp. at a time, and process until dough forms a ball and leaves sides of bowl, adding up to 1 Tbsp. more water, if necessary. Shape dough into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 30 minutes.


Unwrap dough, and place on a lightly floured surface; sprinkle lightly with flour. Roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness.


Preheat oven to 425°F. Press dough into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim dough 1 inch larger than diameter of pie plate; fold overhanging dough under itself along rim of pie plate. Chill 30 minutes or until firm.


Line piecrust with aluminum foil; fill with pie weights or dried beans. (This will keep the crust from bubbling up.) Place on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.


Bake at 425°F for 20 minutes. Remove weights and foil. Bake 5 minutes or until browned. Cool completely on baking sheet on a wire rack (about 30 minutes). Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.


Prepare Filling: Place tomatoes in a single layer on paper towels; sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt. Let stand 10 minutes.


Meanwhile, sauté onion and 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper in hot oil in a skillet over medium heat 3 minutes or until onion is tender.


Pat tomatoes dry with a paper towel. Layer tomatoes, onion, and herbs in prepared crust, seasoning each layer with pepper (1 tsp. total). Stir together cheeses and mayonnaise; spread over pie.


Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or until lightly browned, shielding edges with foil to prevent excessive browning. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.