You are probably aware by now that I am a huge fan of summer.
I love the sunshine, long days, and those special things that only come along this season (in Denver anyway) like picnics and farmers markets.
But what do I make with those farmers market goodies that I can bring on my picnics?
Here are a few of my favorite simple summer recipes…
(adapted from nytimes.com)
Ratatouille is a simple dish that deliciously combines some of the best summer vegetables. It is great as a side for any grilled meats, or perfect to pack up hot or cold for a picnic treat.
1 large eggplant, diced with skin on
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium zucchini, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 medium (firm) tomatoes, roughly chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley or basil leaves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Trim the ends from the eggplant and cut it into 1-inch cubes.
Put the oil in large skillet and turn heat to medium. Add the eggplant, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
Add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens, about 2 or 3 minutes. Add the onion and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and keep cooking until the tomatoes begin to break down, another few minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary, garnish with the herb, and serve immediately, at room temperature, or chilled.
Watermelon is one of the most special summer treats, and it can be used in so many ways. Here is a great recipe for watermelon salad. Give it a try and it just may become your new favorite.
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 lime, zested and juiced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
4 cups seeded watermelon chunks
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup mint chiffonade
2 cups baby arugula
Add the white wine vinegar, lime zest and juice to a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the thinly sliced red onion and let marinate for 5 to 10 minutes as you prepare the rest of the salad.
Add the watermelon, feta, mint, and arugula to a large bowl. Toss with the vinaigrette and serve immediately after dressing.
Farmers Market Pasta Salad:
This hearty summer recipe is perfect to pack up and go. It also gives you options for endless variety as you can swap out vegetables for whatever looks the best to you. Also, to kick up the health factor, I recommend using whole wheat or quinoa pasta.
2 cups halved baby heirloom tomatoes
2 small zucchini, thinly sliced into half moons
1 small red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 cup fresh corn kernels
1 cup diced firm, ripe fresh peaches (about 2 medium)
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
Olive oil vinaigrette
1 (8-oz.) package penne pasta
2 cups shredded smoked chicken (about 10 oz.)
1/3 cup torn fresh basil
1/3 cup torn fresh cilantro
Toss together first 7 ingredients in a large bowl, and let stand 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package directions. Add hot cooked pasta and chicken to tomato mixture; toss gently to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving platter, and top with basil and cilantro.
And of course, iced oolong tea is the perfect beverage to wash it all down.