Summer

Healthy Picnic Food: Not Your Usual Vegetarian Wrap

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by Susan Russo

picnicwrapWith our year-round temperate San Diego climate, we have picnicked in November, in March, and many months in between. But like chilled watermelon, slushy lemonade, and buttery ears of sweet corn, picnics taste best in the summer months.

That's why last weekend Jeff and I went on our first summertime picnic. I could tell you about the weather (grey skies) or the view (choppy ocean waters), but I think you'd be more interested in the food. I was. 

We brought a bottle of chilled pinot grigio, a salad of heirloom tomatoes, fresh corn kernels, basil, and olives, and eggplant, asparagus, and smoked mozzarella sandwich wraps with red pepper mayo. Dessert was simple: juicy, sweet fresh cherries from the farmers' market.  

When it comes to vegetarian sandwich wraps there's much more than just hummus, tomatoes, and sprouts. With creamy eggplant, crisp asparagus, and smoky mozzarella cheese, these healthy picnic wraps taste like warm rolled up pizzas but without all the fat and calories.

Really Easy Summer Salads

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by Matt Armendariz

grapesaladI had two ideas for salads pop into my mind because it’s summer and I cannot be bothered with cooking just right now. I mean I can’t be bothered with Summer Main Dish cooking: ribs, burgers, whole chickens, you know what I mean. I’m happy just eating bowls of side salads right about now. Less time in the kitchen, you know. Something about being busy. And these salads are more ideas than anything else, really.

First, I roasted sliced grapes with a little olive oil until soft, then I sprinkled a bit of feta on top. Ok, two things (plus oil) don’t really make a proper recipe, but then again, it’s super fast and easy. And it tastes like perfect roasted fruit, plums even, and while I probably couldn’t eat an entire bowl of this, it’s marvelous once it’s on a plate with anything smoky/garlicky/sticky/salty. Oh man, it really is. It’s the perfect compliment to probably any grilled meat you might be cooking. That makes me happy. Plus I love feta. You could add more to it, really.

Scamorza alla Griglia for a Simple Dinner

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by Evan Kleiman

Scamorza-1-e1402685587280Cheese and tomatoes go together like, well, pizza.  But sometimes you don’t want all that bread.  Sometimes you want something satisfying, fresh, that’s hot and quick.  Insalata Caprese is great, but when I want something a bit more substantial and warm I make Scamorza Affumicata alla Griglia.  

Or grilled smoked mozzarella topped with seasoned cherry tomatoes.  It’s the easiest dinner ever.

Take a few cherry tomatoes, cut them in half and toss with good extra virgin olive oil, salt, the pepper of your choice (I love Aleppo pepper) and some oregano (I have a bunch of dried Sicilian oregano that I use by crumbling a bit into the bowl.

Radishes with Blue Cheese and Butter Spread

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by Joseph Erdos

radishesbluecheeseI love the crunch of radishes. It's a sound that resonates with all the radish-lovers in my family especially my mother, the biggest lover of the crunchy root vegetable. I learned to love radishes form her. At first I didn't appreciate their mild, earthy flavor, but then I came to love them more for their watery crunch. Then I discovered they could also be spicy and peppery. I have been an aficionado for many years now. Every spring I look for the best and brightest ones.

Radishes are best enjoyed raw, sliced thinly, and served alongside cold meats and charcuterie. From my mom I learned to eat my radishes on a bed of blue cheese and butter spread on crusty bread. With her in mind, I created this spread/dip that includes chopped chives for a bit of onion flavor. The dip works great with crudités as well. Here I serve the dip with a selection of crackers and of course the radishes.

Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb

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by Cathy Pollak

Grilled-ButterfliedLambWe have a whole lamb in our freezer. My husband couldn't be happier. He is the resident lamb fanatic in our household and it turns out so are my boys. I didn't grow up with lamb as part of my regular diet, so it has taken longer for me to get used to the taste. As many of you know, it's very different than beef.

So many recipes try to cover up or cut through the taste of the lamb with various sauces or sides, the most popular being mint jelly. My husband prefers to taste the flavor of the meat so we rarely serve it. It would work well with this dish if you would like to include it. 

This recipe does a great job tenderizing the meat, while providing lots of flavor. Honestly, it was delicious, BUT I would personally not attempt it without a wireless meat thermometer. You need one in order to not overcook a cut of meat like this. Plus you will use it constantly. It's a wonderful kitchen tool and cheap investment!

Strawberry Poke Cake

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by James Moore

pokecakePoke Cake was created by Jell-O in 1969 to help increase sales of their product. I saw this recipe on a cooking show a couple of months ago, and they had updated the method to include real strawberries (and less Jell-O) which made the dessert more appealing to me.

Although it’s great summer dessert, you can make all year round because it uses frozen strawberries. Note: The top of the cake will look slightly overbaked—this keeps the crumb from becoming too soggy after the gelatin is poured on top.

Oven Roasted Potato and Green Bean Salad

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by Lisa McRee

potatogreenbeansThis is a dish that is perfect for all of the endless “end-of-school-year” pot luck dinners or for BBQs all summer long: Oven Roasted Potato and Green Bean Salad with Skinny Basil “Pesto.”

Real pesto–which is made with basil and garlic but also loads of oil, nuts and cheese–is delicious…but also very calorie dense. (The Barefoot Contessa’s recipe costs you 430 calories for a 1/2 cup serving.)

But by using more herbs, calorie free lemon juice and Dijon mustard, less cheese and oil and skipping the nuts altogether…this skinny “pesto-ish” dressing has just 120 calories but still packs a flavorful punch and a toothsome texture. And by using an equal amount of green beans (40 calories a cup) as potatoes (140 calories a cup), you can have the sensation of a pesto potato salad with less than half of the calories!

Eton Mess

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by Joseph Erdos

etonmessIf you've ever had a meringue, then you know how ethereal it can be. But combine it with cream and ripe strawberries and you have an exquisite dessert. Eton Mess takes these ingredients and jumbles them together in a mess, hence the name. The dessert hails from England's famous Eton College. As the story goes, it was either created by cheeky boys who mixed all their desserts together—and one day it happened to be strawberries, cream, and meringue—or it was invented by a crafty shopkeeper at the local food shop. However the dessert was founded, I'm glad it was invented in the first place.

I'm a big sucker for desserts with whipped cream and I'm a big fan of British desserts like trifle, so Eton Mess is easy for me to adore. The traditional way of making this "mess" is to mix all the ingredients together, but I like to layer the dessert so you can see the berries through the glass. I also tend to use more cream than other recipes specify, making this a very plush dessert. There's nothing like billowy clouds of cream enveloping crunchy cookie bits and sweet, mushy berries in this easiest and most pleasing of desserts.

Olive Oil Citrus Cake

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by Susan Salzman

citrus-oliveoil-sliceIn my house, olive oil, zest and the juice from citrus, generally means – marinate the chicken breasts and light the BBQ. However, today, I used these few ingredients in a whole new way. In a cake!

The fusion of the citrus zest and the olive oil, mixing around in my kitchen aid, permeated my kitchen with the most wonderful scent. I could not wait for this cake to emerge from the oven. I am going to make this cake over and over again.

Next time, mini olive oil citrus cakes, anyone?

Strawberry-Banana Crumble

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by Cathy Pollak

Strawberry-Banana-Crumble-from-Noble-Pig-the-perfect-dessert-with-ice-creamIt's strawberry season and the markets are filled with this seasonal gorgeous red fruit. Just a great reminder that it's spring and summer is right around the corner.

One of my favorite fruit combinations is strawberry-banana. It's perfect for smoothies, yogurt and even ice cream. I figured why not put these two together and make it into an irresistible crumble. What a good idea that was. It is delicious. And the topping...I could eat it by the bowlful.

I washed my strawberries, hulled them and cut in to quarters lengthwise. This keeps them mostly intact as they bubble away in the oven. I decided to use my smallest cast iron skillet for this rustic dessert. I love the way it heats up and keeps things warm once removed from the oven. My whole family loved this dessert. I think it's the perfect ending to a summery meal. Next time I'm going to serve it with this fried chicken.

 

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