Words, Recipes and Photography by
The Seasonal Summer Dish
Delicious recipes for What’s fresh this Season
After a blustery spring that at times felt more like second winter than a transition to flip-flop weather, summer’s eventual arrival is a welcome respite from having to hunt for both gloves before heading out the door, swaddled in a layer of down that both buffers and distances from the outdoors. Whenever winter trails deep into spring, the fear is always that this will be another short, cold summer, like that one a few years back.
What summer may lack in duration, though, it makes up for in intensity. A single summer day may include early-morning blueberry picking for the day’s pancakes, then a hike in the mountains with a quick dip in the stream to cool off or perhaps a few hours spent alternating between warm sand and cool ocean. With an appetite thus stimulated, the evening’s meal provides a chance to recharge before a few rounds of flashlight tag or staying up late, circled around the fire pit with a pile of long, skinny sticks and a bag of marshmallows, only a few of which fall in the dirt before being roasted.
Fortunately, the mosquitoes hovering just beyond the glow of the fire pit are not the only ones who feast come summertime. After the inevitable slow start of spring where a single new vegetable appears at the farmers’ markets and roadside stands every week or two, by the time school lets out for summer vacation, multiple new finds are popping up every week: little green cardboard treasure chests of jewel-toned berries, every shade and shape of green imaginable, and, of course, the inevitable onslaught of summer squashes. Despite every home gardeners’ resolution not to overplant zucchini this year, by late August, even once-novel uses for the vegetable, such as sautéing it down into a creamy sauce for pasta, are wearing thin.
Happily, nearly all of the seasonal summer crops are at their best when fussed with as little as possible, leaving maximum time for soaking up the warm feeling of sun on the skin and for embarking on after-dinner walks to enjoy refreshing breezes as the sun begins to set.
Tomatoes are sublime sprinkled with salt and pepper (a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil is usually a welcome addition). Berries need no more than a quick rinse under a cool stream of water. Melons are sliced and eaten out of hand. Even vegetables such as corn, which require cooking, demand little of the cook.
All of these simple preparations are ideally suited to the shared ambitions of nearly every home cook in the summer—maximize time available to spend outdoors, minimize effort required to get dinner on the (porch) table, and, above all, do not heat up the kitchen—all while eating well, of course. The time will come soon enough when a long, slow braise warms the hearth and the soul, but for now, savoring a fresh peach warmed only by the sun is the best way to celebrate the season.
Watermelon, Mint, and Grilled Halloumi Salad
Mini watermelon (4 pounds), chilled
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
8 ounces halloumi cheese, thickly sliced
2 teaspoons avocado oil
¼ cup gently packed fresh mint, torn into pieces
Slice the watermelon into triangles; set the triangles in a colander to drain while you prepare the rest of the salad.
Combine the olive oil, lime juice, and vinegar in a small glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.
Preheat a grill (or frying pan) to medium-high heat. Brush the cheese lightly with avocado oil on both sides.
Arrange the watermelon on a serving platter.
Place the cheese on the grill and cook for 2–4 minutes per side, or until grill marks develop and the cheese begins to melt. Cut the slices into large pieces.
Arrange the cheese on the platter with the watermelon, sprinkle with mint, and pour the dressing over the salad.
Serve immediately, while the cheese is warm.
Sweet Corn Ice Cream with Blueberry Swirl
Makes 1 quart
1½ cups blueberries
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Sweet Corn Ice Cream
2 cups whole milk, divided
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese (full-fat cream cheese may be substituted), softened
⅛ teaspoon salt
1¼ cups heavy cream
1 ear of sweet corn, kernels removed from the cob
⅔ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Ice cubes and cold water for an ice bath
At least 24 hours in advance
If using a canister-style ice cream maker, chill the empty canister in the coldest part of the freezer (usually the back) for at least 24, and ideally 48, hours before making ice cream.
Make the blueberry swirl
Combine the blueberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a small saucepan.
Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. The berries should be soft. Transfer the mixture to a shallow plastic container with a lid; refrigerate until cold.
Make the ice cream
Measure out the 2 cups of whole milk. In a small bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons of the measured milk with the cornstarch to form a slurry. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the mascarpone and salt to form a smooth paste. Set aside.
In a heavy-bottomed, 4-quart saucepan, combine the remaining milk, heavy cream, corn kernels, sugar, and corn syrup. Turn heat to medium-high and bring mixture to a roiling boil; the mixture will foam a lot. Boil for 4 minutes, stirring frequently with a heatproof spatula, making sure to scrape the bottom and edges of the pan to prevent scorching or boiling over.
Remove from heat and strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer, pressing on the corn kernels to release liquid. Discard the corn.
Return the liquid mixture to the saucepan. Gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry, then bring the mixture to a boil again over medium-high heat. Stirring constantly with the heatproof spatula, cook for about 1 minute, until the mixture thickens slightly.
Remove from heat and whisk a small amount of the mixture into the mascarpone. Once smooth, slowly whisk the rest of the liquid into the mascarpone.
Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl. Pour the ice cream mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc bag, carefully press out excess air, and seal the bag tightly.
Place the bag in the ice bath and chill for 15–30 minutes, replenishing ice as necessary, until the ice cream base is cold.
Set up the ice cream maker in a cool spot in the house. Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister and churn according to machine directions. The base is ready when it reaches 21° (or colder) and looks creamy and thick.
Transfer one third of the ice cream to a shallow, plastic storage container with a lid. Drizzle ⅓ of the blueberry swirl over the top. Repeat with two more layers, ending with blueberry swirl. Do not stir the blueberry swirl into the ice cream. Cover tightly and immediately transfer to the coldest part of the freezer (usually the back). Freeze until very firm, at least 4 hours.
Summer Vegetable Pasta
12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 small clove of clove, minced
½ teaspoon salt, divided
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound short tubular pasta
1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced into ¼-inch-thick slices
5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper
¾ cup water
6 ounces sugar snap peas, halved crosswise
¼ cup torn fresh basil, divided
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ cup grated pecorino Romano cheese, plus additional for serving
In a large, non-reactive bowl, combine tomatoes, 2 tablespoons olive oil, minced garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper. Stir to combine; set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to boil, then add the pasta. Cook until al dente, following package directions. Drain and return the pasta to the now-empty pot.
Meanwhile, heat remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet with a lid over medium-low heat. Add the zucchini, sliced garlic, crushed red pepper, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, covered and stirred occasionally, for 10–15 minutes, until zucchini breaks down. Depending on how tender the zucchini is, an immersion blender may be helpful to coarsely chop the zucchini if it is not fully soft and creamy after 15 minutes.
Add the water to the skillet, cover, and turn the heat to medium-high to bring the water to a simmer. Add the sugar snap peas and cover to cook for 2–4 minutes, just until pods are crisp-tender.
Add vegetables, half of the basil, and lemon juice to the pasta and stir gently to combine. Transfer to a large, shallow serving bowl and sprinkle evenly with ¼ cup pecorino. Arrange tomatoes and their juice across the top, then scatter remaining basil across the top. Serve warm, passing extra pecorino at the table.
Strawberry Thyme Buckwheat Scones
These scones can be made in a food processor fitted with the metal blade attachment, a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or by hand.
Makes 12 scones
2¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¾ cup plus 2 teaspoons buckwheat flour
2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
2 tablespoons sugar (ideally 1 tablespoon granulated and 1 tablespoon turbinado, otherwise 2 tablespoons granulated)
½ cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into 8–10 pieces
10 ounces strawberries, hulled and cut into ½-inch dice (2 cups)
¾ cup crème fraîche (can substitute full-fat sour cream)
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
Set a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Briefly mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, thyme, and 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar, until just combined.
Add the cold butter pieces and pulse/beat on low speed, until the butter is beginning to break down, but there are still pieces the size of a pea. This takes about 15–30 seconds in a food processor, 30–60 seconds in a stand mixer, and likely a few minutes by hand (using two butter knives or a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour).
Turn the flour mixture into a large bowl and use a wooden spoon to gently fold in the strawberries.
In a small bowl, whisk together the crème fraîche, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk. Use the wooden spoon to combine the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and stir until the dough just comes together. The dough may need to be kneaded once or twice by hand, and will be soft and very sticky.
Use a ½-cup measuring cup to scoop out rounds of dough and set them at least 2 inches apart on the lined baking sheets. Sprinkle the 1 tablespoon of turbinado or granulated sugar across the tops of the scones. Put one baking sheet in the refrigerator to keep the dough cool while the other sheet bakes. Bake the scones for 30–35 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through, until the scones are golden brown on the edges and pale golden brown in the centers. Let the scones cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool a few more minutes. Serve warm.
Grilled Eggplant with Tahini Sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon water
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium eggplant, sliced into 1-centimeter-thick rounds
3 tablespoons avocado oil
4 scallions, thinly sliced
¼ cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, tahini, water, and crushed red pepper. Add the extra-virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon at a time and whisk well after each addition. Set aside.
Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Lightly brush both sides of the eggplant rounds with the avocado oil. Grill the eggplant for about 5 minutes per side, until grill marks develop and the eggplant softens.
Arrange the eggplant on a serving platter. Drizzle the tahini sauce over the slices. Scatter the scallions and cilantro across the eggplant, then sprinkle with cumin seeds. Serve warm.
Dandelion Greens Quinoa Salad with Beets and Goat Cheese
1 cup uncooked quinoa
½ cup shelled, dry roasted pistachios
½ cup packed fresh basil
Zest of 2 lemons
3 cloves of garlic
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon avocado oil
8 ounces beets, diced
1 large bunch dandelion greens, finely chopped
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons finely sliced fresh basil
Cook quinoa according to package directions. Spread in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet to cool. Set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the pistachios, ½ cup basil, lemon zest, garlic, and extra-virgin olive oil. Pulse to create a coarse pesto.
Heat the avocado oil over medium heat in a large skillet with a lid. Add the beets and cover. Sauté, covered, for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beets are tender and beginning to turn golden brown. Uncover and set aside to cool.
Bring a large pot of water to boil then add the dandelion greens. Blanch for 2–3 minutes, until crisp-tender. Drain, run under cold water to stop cooking, and cool. Drain and spin-dry or dry well on a clean towel. Return the greens to the empty pot.
Add the cooled quinoa to the pot with the greens. Add the pesto and stir to combine. Spread the quinoa and greens in a shallow serving bowl and top with beets, goat cheese, and sliced basil. Serve at room temperature.
Kate Rogers is a successful food blogger. She has had a passion for and been creating things in the kitchen since she was in elementary school, has spent a lifetime creating and photographing her culinary creations and is thrilled to share them with the world.