No need to break a sweat assembling all the rolls yourself. Make a small batch to kick-start the party, then offer a platter of the fresh ingredients with the dipping sauce so guests can build their own. Just dip the rice paper sheets in hot water as directed, and wrap with a damp towel to keep them soft. Look for rice paper rounds in the international aisle of large grocery stores or Asian markets.
No Southern appetizer board is complete without spicy-sweet pickled okra. Our new obsession: Wickles Wicked Okra (wicklespickles.com). We also recommend Olli Salumeria salami, slow-cured in Virginia and found in gourmet grocery stores across the South, but you can choose any of your favorite cured meats.
Not your mother's fruit salad. A cold, thick, steak-like slice of ripe watermelon pairs unexpectedly well with salty Cotija cheese and a smoky vinaigrette. Also try it with leftover grilled chicken or beef.
Here's the secret to nice pimiento-cheese texture: Grate the cheese by hand, half on the large holes of a box grater and half on the small holes. Choose an aged sharp Cheddar cheese for extra bite. Chopped chives and Dijon mustard add piquant punch in place of grated onion.