Simple Summer Cooking

by Maria on June 19, 2012

In the summer I find that I don’t plan my meals in the same way that I do during the rest of the year. I still plan a few days every week, but otherwise I let the local produce be my guide. Rather than elaborate recipes and slow cooking, in the summer it’s all about using the fresh fruits and veggies that I drop in my basket every Tuesday from my farm share and Saturday from the local farmer’s market. With fresh ingredients you don’t need to do much to make meals taste good. And because I never know what I’m going to get in my farm share I’m often better off not planning too much.  

Pan-fried wild salmon, quinoa cooked in chicken stock, chard sauteed with olive oil and garlic, and roasted fennel:

salmon, chard, fennel.JPG

Here is my guide for making simple healthful summertime dinners with minimal planning. All you need to ensure is that you have a well-stocked pantry and refrigerator, and of course, fresh produce. 

Step 1: Pick at least two different vegetables.

Step 2: Choose how you are going to cook the veggies (e.g., steam, blanch, roast, grill, sauté) or just leave them raw. Consider roasting vegetables ahead of time so that they are ready to go when it's dinner time; when you do roast, make enough for several days. 

Step 3: Choose a grain side, such as bulgur, quinoa, rice, pasta, millet, couscous, tortillas, or fresh bread. Cook to your liking. Try a new recipe or keep it simple.

Step 4: Include a protein, such as lean meat, fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs, tofu, beans, nuts, or legumes. Cook to your liking. Grilling is always a favorite go-to in the summer. 

Step 5: Season your food to taste with Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Then complete your dish with a sauce, dressing, or sprinkling of cheese and some garnish. 

Of course, a little planning is involved, but summertime is a great time to mix it up and try new sides. So go ahead and cook up some of your tried and true favorite dishes, but mix up the sides. If you can, try a new vegetable every week. And if your grains tend to vary between rice, pasta, or bread, why not try something new, such as quinoa or couscous.

Roasted beets:

roasted beets.JPG


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