Saturday, May 31, 2014

Summer Eats

Technically, it's still spring according to the calendar, but here in Alabama, 90+ degree days mean that summer's here. I do love to cook, but when the temperature rises I find myself turning to recipes that don't necessitate turning on the oven. In fact, recipes that can be served at room temperature or cold are my ideal this time of year.

Here are a few favorites that are on a regular rotation at my house in the summertime:

Until a few years ago, the thought of a chilled soup seemed nutty to me. Then I read You on a Diet by Drs. Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet C. Oz and gave Lisa's Great Gazpacho a try. (How could I pass up a recipe with that name?) Oh. My. Word. Talk about a flavor explosion. I make a couple of tweaks to the book's version--I use low sodium V8 instead of tomato juice, and don't always put in red peppers--and I eat it on a near-weekly basis throughout the summer. It's fast, easy and definitely hits the spot on a hot day. I like it with hard crackers (like Wasa crackers) or some crusty bread.

Blue Cheese, Nectarine & Walnut Flatbread
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Remember how in the opening paragraph I said I turned to recipes that don't necessitate turning on the oven? Okay, so this one necessitates turning the oven. But it's worth it, I promise. I love recipes that marry sweet and salty flavors, and this one packs a punch with ripe nectarines and tart blue cheese, with some salty mozzarella and walnuts. I do take the easy route and use pre-made thin pizza crusts rather than make my own, and occasionally I'll substitute whole wheat pita bread for the crust and create several mini pizzas. With nectarines in season this time of year, this is a lovely way to use them for something besides dessert.

Mango Coconut Chia Pudding
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This recipe is for a dessert or snack rather than a main dish, but it's another one that's full of summery goodness. I've only made it with mangoes, but I'm sure you could use most other fruit that would go well with coconut. In case you're wondering, yes, the chia seeds used in the recipe are indeed the same that turn into kitschy pets. Don't blame me if you're now singing "Cha-cha-cha-chia."

Greek Chopped Salad
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And now here's a recipe that I recently found on Pinterest that I will most likely be adding to this week's menu. I love Greek and Mediterranean food, and this recipe once again hits the fast-easy-no oven required points. I'll probably add some feta cheese and kalamata olives to it.

So, do you have any summer recipes that you enjoy on a frequent basis when the mercury's rising?

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