Summer is great with its long warm days that seem like they will never end! I tend to spend as much time outdoors as I can during the summer as long as the heat does not get too extreme.
From June – September, I am more motivated to eat fresh and healthy produce since we have many more in-season options like: tomatoes, squash, peppers, cucumbers just to name a few. It is my favorite season for eating. Also, due to the summer heat –and being six months pregnant – I am less inclined to turn on the oven or the stove – I don’t want to be even more hot, thanks!
Lately instead of cooking, I find myself doing a lot of chopping, mixing, and assembling of fresh ingredients into light and satisfying dishes. I know what you are thinking – are you just eating salads every day? I do eat many more salads this time of year because there are many tasty and fresh ingredients available that mix with a leafy salad, but there are other options to consider like freshly prepared vegetable pasta with a light sauce and vegetable toppings, or a chilled soup that just involves a food processor or immersion blender as the main kitchen tool.
Summer time can allow your creativity to wander a bit and challenge you to consume new foods and try new recipes. Chilled soup is a new one for me, but I have found it to be very satisfying on a hot evening instead of a heated meal. It is sort of like a vegetable smoothie with herbs. I recommend you take advantage of purchasing fresh and local produce from your local farmers markets or utilize fresh ingredients from your own herb garden or vegetable garden this summer. The freshness is not comparable to the supermarket and often you will save money.
Summer is such a fun time for enjoying outside as well as cooking!
Zucchini “Fettuccine” with Tomato Sauce (Recipe modified from Food Network)
- 4 large zucchini or yellow squash
- Kosher salt
- 5 medium vine ripened tomatoes
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil and more for drizzling
- ½ clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon chopped jalapeno pepper, optional
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional (I usually add a small amount of red pepper flakes to a homemade tomato sauce)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup chopped pine nuts or optional canned garbanzo beans (this is usually what I add to a dish like this because I tend to keep them in my pantry)
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
- Trim and peel the zucchini or squash, then use a mandoline or a vegetable peeler to thinly slice lengthwise into wide ribbons (stop when you get to the seeds).
- Cut the ribbons into 1/4-to-1/2-inch-wide strips to make them look like fettuccine.
- Transfer to a colander and toss with 3/4 teaspoon salt; let drain in the sink, tossing occasionally, about 30 minutes. Rinse well and pat dry.
- Meanwhile, peel the tomatoes using a sharp vegetable peeler, then halve horizontally and squeeze out the seeds.
- Puree 1 tomato with the olive oil, garlic, jalapeno if using, red pepper flakes if using, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a food processor or blender.
- Transfer to a bowl.
- Chop the remaining 4 tomatoes and add to the bowl; add the pine nuts or garbanzo beans, basil, oregano, and salt to taste.
- Divide the zucchini among bowls and top with the tomato sauce.
- Top with more pine nuts or garbanzo beans and drizzle with olive oil.
Recipe notes: This recipe is so quick because it does not involve any cooking. You also do not need many kitchen tools either which makes for a faster clean up to allow you more time to enjoy summer activities like chasing fireflies!
Photo source: Food Network
Chilled Cucumber Soup with Avocado and Dill (Recipe from Food Network)
Serving: Makes 4 cups
Tips: Middle Eastern or Persian cucumbers are best here. If you can’t find them, use English cucumbers or a regular cucumber with the skin removed.
- 1 pound cucumbers, roughly chopped
- 3/4 cup filtered water
- 1 ripe avocado, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons minced onion
- 1/2 clove garlic
- 1/4 cup chopped dill
- 6 mint leaves
- 1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
- Salt to taste
- Chopped chives to garnish
- Place all ingredients in an upright blender and blend until completely smooth, add salt to taste and serve chilled.
- Garnish with chives. That’s it!
Recipe notes: This is a great recipe to prepare ahead of time and keep in your refrigerator as a quick and refreshing meal option. It will keep up to four days. I think fresh bread with a crispy crust (like sourdough) would go great with this dish.
Photo source: Food Network
Post by Lemma