Summer Recipes Sourced from Venn Neighbors Around the World


Erika Riley

– VOL. 14

Summer is here and as the temperatures rise, we often find ourselves indulging in fresher, cooler meals with refreshing drinks on the side. And so do our neighbors and partners from around the country.

The chefs in our communities—of both the professional and home varieties—shared some of their favorite recipes with us for the summer season. Read on for yummy cocktails, easy shareables, and quick weeknight recipes, plus the reasons why these chefs love cooking in the summer.

Gin Cocktails from Runner! Cocktails in KC

Runner! Cocktails is part of the larger Runner LLC, co-owned by Brian Shellenberger. The company serves up craft cocktails at events like weddings, corporate happy hours, and backyard barbecues. 

Summer is a big time for events, and Brian  says Runner! is looking forward to their first official summer season as a business. For example, Runner! teamed up with Venn for a block party in June.  

“A lot of why people hire Runner! is because of the experience that we provide,” he said. ”We just want to make sure everyone else is having a good time, that’s why they hired us.”

Brian shared two gin-based cocktail recipes with us. He says gin cocktails are gaining popularity this year, and can create a very drinkable end product.

Image of summer recipes from neighbors around the world

Runner! makes a punchy French75 that is just right for warm weather in KC, and just about anywhere. 

French 75

Ingredients, to taste:

  • Gin
  • Lillet Blanc
  • Rosemary Syrup
  • Lemon juice

Shaken and strained up into a champagne flute. Top with sparkling wine. Garnish with torched rosemary and lemon peel.


Ingredients, to taste:

  • Gin
  • Aperol
  • Giffard Peach
  • Lime juice
  • Simple Syrup

Shaken and strained over ice in a wine glass. Top with sparkling wine. Garnish with orange peel.

Summer Pizza & Falafel from Susan Skelding in KC

Susan Skelding first got into cooking when she moved out on her own in her twenties, and quickly fell in love with creating meals from different ingredients for her friends and family. 

A neighbor in Venn’s Kansas City community, Susan is the head of the culinary interest group, a collection of 20+ neighbors who share recipes among one another and occasionally get together to cook. While she does have many recipes of her own, she says she enjoys cooking on the fly, using flavors that she knows work well together. 

“For me, I find that approach to be easier when you’re cooking for others,” she shares. “As long as you have that foundation, knowing what items taste well together, what textures go well together, and what’s complementary, you can make anything.”

Susan tries her best to not run the oven as much in the summer and cooks with seasonal ingredients. Two of her favorite and her most well-regarded recipes among family and friends are falafel and a cool summer pizza. 

“It just makes a really refreshing, cold summer pizza that you can have by the pool or after a hot day,” Skelding shares. “I think part of the reason I gravitate towards pizza is because it’s easily shared amongst pizza and most people really like it.”

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Susan and a fellow neighbors in the KC cooking interest group prep a communal meal together at a recent meet up at Venn’s Arcade.

Cool Summer Pita Bread Pizza


  • 1 whole wheat pita
  • ⅓ cup hummus
  • ¼ cup diced cucumber
  • ¼ cup diced tomato
  • ¼ cup feta crumbles
  • ¼ cup sprouts
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • Olive oil for brushing
  • Salt
  • Crushed red pepper


  1. Brush with olive oil and top with garlic, salt, and red pepper.
  2. Spread hummus evenly across pita bread.
  3. Top with remaining ingredients.
  4. Cut into quarters and enjoy!



  • 2 cups chickpeas
  • ½ onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • ½ tbsp turmeric
  • ½ tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander seed
  • Handful cilantro
  • Handful parsley
  • ½ tbsp salt
  • Oil for frying


  1. Soak dried chickpeas overnight.
  2. Combine all ingredients in food processor fitted with blade attachment and blend until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a deep saucepan on medium heat, until it reaches 350 degrees (a pinch of batter will sizzle immediately).
  4. Using an ice cream scooper, drop one level scoop of batter into the oil being careful not to splash and fry until golden brown.
  5. Remove falafel from saucepan and place on rack or paper towel to remove excess oil. 

Easy One-Bowl Recipes from Jenna Lee in Brooklyn

Jenna Lee, a neighbor in Venn’s Bushwick community, views cooking as a great way to spend time with her loved ones. Growing up, gathering around the dinner table was her family’s way to connect at the end of a long day.

While she enjoyed cooking on her own in college, it wasn’t until she was living at home with family during the beginning of the pandemic that she became more involved. 

“Everybody was in charge of cooking a certain day of the week. That re-sparked my love for cooking.”

Now that she lives with roommates in Bushwick, it can be hard to strike a balance between eating out at the many great local restaurants and taking time to cook.

“I think either way, whether it’s going out with people or staying in and cooking with your roommates or your friends, eating together is always a nice social activity,” Jenna says. “And I find it pretty therapeutic.”

Jenna enjoys cooking with seasonal ingredients, which can be more affordable and better for the environment than cooking with out-of-season ingredients. Some of her favorite recipes involve cooking with whatever you have on hand, or whatever you like, for an easy one-bowl dinner or lunch.

Pasta Salad

  • Bowtie pasta, cooked
  • Fresh tomatoes, chopped or cherry
  • Olive oil
  • Feta
  • Basil

“Chickpeas, beans, cucumbers. You can put anything you want in pasta salads,” Jenna explains. “That’s always an easy go-to, and you don’t even need to heat it up.”

Buddha Bowls

  • Grain for the base, such as quinoa, rice, or farro
  • Roasted vegetables, such as broccoli or carrots
  • Dressing of choice
  • Toppings, such as lemon juice, avocado, olives

“I’ll make roasted broccoli, or carrots or whatever else I have the night before, and then I’ll either make some rice or some quinoa and I’ll put that on as the base. Then some sort of dressing on top of that,” Jenna says. “You don’t need a set ingredient list. Change it up depending on what you have in the fridge.”