The official start of summer is upon us, and for those who prefer the smell of grill smoke over chimney smoke, love a dip in cool water on a hot day and cold drinks and dinner on the porch — well, this is our time, kindred spirits.

The official start of summer is upon us, and for those who prefer the smell of grill smoke over chimney smoke, love a dip in cool water on a hot day and cold drinks and dinner on the porch — well, this is our time, kindred spirits.

This is a good time to cook, but not a time for fussiness. Summer food should be simple: burgers on the grill, big dinner salads full of seasonal produce, sandwiches hearty enough to make a meal, a leisurely meal at an out-of-the-way spot. No matter which you prefer, chances are good that one of the many new cookbook releases will satisfy your appetite.

Grilling

"The Grilling Book: The Definitive Guide from Bon Appetit," edited by Adam Rapoport (Andrews McMeel, $45), contains almost 400 recipes culled from the pages of Bon Appetit magazine over the years. The basics are more than covered, from grill prep to chicken, burgers, dogs, fish and meats such as lamb, beef and pork. But vegetables do get a nod, along with pizza, sides and salads, drinks and sauces. Two words: grilled bacon.

Edward Lee brings us "Smoke & Pickles" (Artisan, $29.95), a book most any foodie will enjoy reading and one the more experienced home chef will enjoy tackling. Don't misunderstand — there's plenty of fun here for anyone who likes to play in the kitchen, but some folks might prefer to buy the roti for the Toti with sliced lamb leg, say. But who wouldn't like to have fun with pickled chai grapes, or pickled beets that include coffee beans? And Lee, the son of Korean immigrants, offers plenty of kimchee recipes, too.

Bobby Flay sure likes to grill. In "Bobby Flay's Barbecue Addiction" (Clarkson Potter $35), he grills everything from potatoes and peaches to sardines and salmon. There are recipes for quesadillas, black beans and plenty of burgers and steaks. You'll find a few cocktails and starters, including guasacaca, an herbaceous take on guacamole.

Picnicking

Oh, my. Topping steel-cut oats with harissa and olive oil instead of butter and sugar? Have the authors of "Le Pain Quotidien Cookbook," Alain Coumont and Jean-Pierre Gabriel, gone mad? (Mitchell Beazley, $29.99, June release.) Before you decide, consider the tartine, an open-face sandwich. Whether you start with your own bread — there are plenty of recipes featured in the book — or with something good from the market, you'll be inspired to pack a picnic when you pick up this book. The options range from a corn-jalapeno-goat cheese tartine to a toasted one with Camembert, walnuts and figs.

"The Picnic Cookbook" by Annie Bell (Kyle Book, $19.95) serves up ideas from a DIY sandwich bar to roasted dishes such as chicken and lamb that are totable. There are recipes for savory anchovy buns and cheese-and-onion muffins, and lush chicken-liver pate and potted crab. Salads, desserts and even a chapter on what to cook if you take your grill with you are included in this softcover book.

Road-tripping

Summer isn't complete without a road trip, whether near or far. You can fashion one of your own by picking up a copy of the Southern Living book "Off the Beaten Path: Second Helpings" by Morgan Murphy (Oxmoor House, $22.95). This fun book is divided geographically, starting with Texas in the west and going as far north as Maryland.