Get it while it’s fresh and don’t fuss
By Deirdre Parker Smith
Hot days and humid nights may mean you just don’t want to cook anything that involves heat, including firing up the grill.
As you shop the produce aisle or Farmers’ Market, you’ll begin to see the real signs of summer — corn, tomatoes, cantaloupe and watermelon.
Of course, the easiest way to serve cantaloupe and watermelon is to slice it open and have at it.
Corn needs a very short boil, some salt and butter, and tomatoes are the heart of our favorite summer sandwich— white bread, mayo, tomato and a sprinkling of salt (there’s argument about pepper, so we’ll leave that up to you.)
Since we’re feeling a little fried by the end of the school year, planning things or the kids to do, multiple holidays, vacation planning, and all that, here are some easy recipes that use summer ingredients.
So, be sure to wear sunscreen, mosquito repellent and a hat if you go outside. Reduce your inside stress as much as possible.
If you’re picnicking or hanging out at the pool, a salad of those popular melons sounds good, refreshing and cool.
Melon Salad with Feta and Basil
4 cups watermelon, cubed into 1-inch pieces
4 cups cantaloupe, cubes into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup purple (red) onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup shredded basil
1/3 cup feta cheese
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1 dash red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Add watermelon, cantaloupe, onion, basil and feta to a large bowl. In a small bowl, mix lime juice, vinegar, salt and pepper and slowly whisk in the olive oil.
Pour dressing over melon mixture and toss gently.
You can easily make a smaller recipe by using 2 cups of each melon and less onion and basil. Cut the feta to 1/4 cup. Make the dressing and save any leftover for a salad later.
You could also substitute green onion for the purple or red onion, as those tend to be rather hot around here.
Adapted from Fork in the Kitchen.
This is a great way to use up some of the zucchini that might show up on your doorstep, and no cooking is required.
Zucchini and Basil Salad
1 large zucchini or 2 small
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts
3 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
1 handful of basil leaves
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Slice zucchini as thinly as possible, widthwise. Use a mandolin slicer if you have one. Put the slices in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Toss lightly and let sit 15 minutes. After this, the zucchini will have softened. Rinse in fresh cold water and drain well on paper towels.
Put the zucchini in a mixing bowl and add shredded basil leaves, walnuts, cheese and olive oil and toss gently.
This recipe from Eating Well would make a nice lunch salad, or could be served with some rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.
Heirloom Tomato and Summer Vegetable Salad
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 tsp. honey
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
1 cup sliced cherry, grape or pear tomatoes.
1/2 medium cucumber, halved, seeded and sliced
1/2 medium yellow squash, quartered and sliced
1/4 medium sweet onion
kernels from 1 ear of corn
1 Tbsp. freshly chopped herbs, such as basil or dill or cilantro
Make the dressing by whisking together the vinegar, honey, garlic, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add tomatoes, cucumber, squash, onion and corn. Stir well to combine. Let sit at room temperatures for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours for flavors to blend, stirring occasionally. Garnish with the herb of your choice.
Luscious Bean Salad
2 pounds beans, green, yellow wax and purple, if you can find them
1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
Green and white parts of two green onions
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Goat or feta cheese, optional
Place beans in salted boiling water and cook 6-7 minutes, until beans are crisp tender but still bright. Yellow and purple beans often turn green when cooking.
Remove beans from boiling water and place in a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. After they are completely cool, drain and pat dry.
Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.
Add drained, rinsed cannellini beans and the fresh beans to a large bowl with the cherry tomatoes and onion and drizzle dressing over all. Refrigerate. Just before serving, add the cheese, if using.
If you can’t find purple beans, just use more green and yellow beans. The cannellini beans add a creaminess to the mixture, as well as protein and fiber.
To avoid adding sugar, the balsamic vinegar adds sweetness, but its flavor can be intensified by reducing the vinegar in a small saucepan until syrupy.
Another way to add sweetness is to use fresh corn right off the cob.