Summer

lobstersaladongreenswideThere is no place I’d rather be in the summer than the breathtaking coast of Maine...And nothing I’d rather eat, anytime of year, than Maine lobster.

But if you can’t get to Maine, here’s a way to experience the region’s magical flavors (and this year’s record setting lobster harvest) in a healthy and delicious way: Skinny Lobster Salad and Light Lobster Rolls.

Unlike the salads and rolls you’ll find at the ubiquitous lobster stands that dot the roadsides of Maine, this one has no mayonnaise…which lets the natural flavor of the sweet lobster come through and drastically cuts the calories and fat.

(On it’s own, lobster is a fairly low calorie and nutrition dense food…with just 145 calories, less than a gram of fat and 29 grams of protein per cup of cooked meat. Mayo? About 900 calories and 80 grams of fat per cup!)

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rhubarbcompoteIt's rhubarb season. Or is it?

When I was a kid, rhubarb season was usually a couple of months long. You didn't have to buy it at the market because half of your neighbors grew it in their yards. I remember going to my great aunt's house where those crimson stalks stood at attention along the side of her house. I'd rip one right of the ground and bite into it like it was a carrot. I'd do it till my eyes watered, my lips went numb, and my belly turned sour. Ah, those were good days.

Nowadays, I have to rush to get my rhubarb fix. And rhubarb should not be rushed.

Since my belly isn't as steely as it used to be, I forego raw rhubarb for stewed, sweetened dishes like crumbles, crisps, and compotes. I have made many rhubarb compotes, but this one is special. The rhubarb is tempered by sugar and enhanced by freshly squeezed orange juice, aromatic ginger, and sweet blueberries.

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wheatberry.jpgMy mother, brother and a couple of friends were coming to dinner Sunday night. I had the main course – some organic St. Louis-cut pork ribs (according to the Whole Food’s butcher these are meatier though less tender than baby-back ribs – and they MUCH cheaper). I had plenty of peppery arugula for a vinegary foil for the sweet and smoky barbecued ribs. What I needed was a side dish salad – something that I could make before my guests arrived. Something starchy, but showcasing summer vegetables. Of course, I really did not want to go to the market. I’ve got a vegetable garden – isn’t that supposed to supply me with veggies?

Well yes, and no. See my day’s harvest? This would be perfect for three or possibly four, but I had seven people coming to dinner. Hence, the Wheatberry Whatever Salad. The salad pictured is farro combined with the beans, squash, tomatoes, basil and garlic chives with olive oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic, salt and pepper too. It was great. It would also be an excellent way to use odds and ends of produce in your refrigerator.

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salmontacoTo be honest, I haven't been feeling very inspired in the kitchen lately. I've been busy with lots of things including travel, and when I'm home I've been trying to eat the food in the freezer since it is on the verge of overflowing. But yesterday I was at the store and I found local king salmon on sale and some beautiful white corn. I thought about the mango I had and just like that, a plan came together.

Sometimes ingredients speak to you and the lightbulb goes off. I diced the mango to serve with dessert a few nights before but it was firm and a little too sour. That's not good for dessert but it's excellent for salsa. The salsa can be used with chips, with roast chicken or scallops. It's actually pretty good without the tomatoes too. I was a little undecided as to which way I preferred it, so try it both ways and you tell me which you like better!

This recipe has a lot of parts, but you can make the salsa and the sauce for drizzling ahead of time. You can even use already cooked salmon if that's what you have on hand. Even though it's cooked on the stove and not on the grill, it really tastes like summer--the fresh corn, tomatoes and salmon look like summer too. Here's to a little summery inspiration!

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tomatosoup.jpgHomemade tomato soup is good, but roasted tomato soup is even better. With the abundance of tomatoes right now in the markets, this makes great use of all those tomatoes and may be the best tomato soup you will ever have.

This method calls for roasting the tomatoes, along with some whole garlic, before making the soup. Roasting the tomatoes concentrates their flavor and adds a depth to the soup that you would not have otherwise.

I used beautiful San Marzano tomatoes for this soup because a vendor at my farmer's market had them. Use whatever nice, ripe tomatoes you have. Any Roma or plum tomato is a good choice.

The parmesan crisps, sometimes called fricos, are a favorite in our household and we use them to accompany salads sometimes (or a glass of Prosecco). These lacy wafers make the absolute perfect flavor compliment to this soup. They are surprisingly easy to make – they only have one ingredient – and fast, too.

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