Summer Recipe Roundup

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine asked if I could post some fun, summer recipes. The problem is that because summer has just begun (or not even, officially), I can’t really start experimenting or playing around with summer recipes yet until the produce is available. I did get a pretty good haul this past weekend and hopefully will have some recipes to share with you at the end of the week, but for now, what I thought might be nice is to round up several recipes from previous summers, with links, so you can dive into the archives and go with something tried and true. So here ya go, Janessa.

Summer Recipe Roundup

Creamy Avocado Linguine with Meyer Lemon and Arugula
shrimp avocado pasta

Although avocados are technically in season all the time, this dish is decidedly summer. The addition of shrimp make it seasonal for the Eastern Seaboard, and it’s just so damn refreshing.

 

Dried Strawberries

Dried Strawberries

There are still some strawberries in the fields around here – if they’re still available where you are, a great way to save them is to dry and freeze them. Great on salads, in cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, etc.

Eggplant Rotini with Roasted Veggies

eggplant Rotini

This is one of my favorite summer recipes. Quick, fresh, easy and adaptable to whatever veggies you have on hand. Don’t go through the summer without making this.

Local Yokel Mojito
20130415-183149.jpg

Of course I had to add a beverage in, but mojitos, with fresh mint from your garden, are the epitome of summer sipping. My mint is already coming up like crazy, and if yours is too, then don’t let another Happy Hour go by without making this.

Roasted Beet Salad with Vinaigrette
Beets in vinaigrette

I just got a bunch of beets from the farmers market this past weekend, so beet salad with vinaigrette is not far away. This is by far my favorite beet recipe out there and a summer staple at our house.

Shrimp Ceviche
20130316-202832.jpg

Shrimp Ceviche is so fresh, light and healthy that it screams summer. Dish it out into martini glasses for a classy, but super easy app.

Summer Beef and Rice Skillet Casserole
beef skillet

This recipe was great and I’m furious at myself for not making it this past summer between our epic move and living in two different states. This is a great way to use up all that squash and zucchini that presents itself mid to late summer. It’s also great for a family or for a small crowd. This summer, I’ll be making it as much as is reasonable and/or until my husband starts complaining.

 

OK! There are so many more recipes, many of which are summer seasonable, over on the RECIPES PAGE, but hopefully this gave you a good start. This is such an exciting time of year when things start to pop up and the options are endless, so don’t let it pass you by – get out to your local farmers market, farm stand or local grocery and BUY LOCAL and EAT FRESH!

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Pimento Cheese

Only in the south would someone throw together shredded cheddar cheese, mayonnaise and some pimentos and call it fancy. But that is, in fact, what we have done. Southerners have a way of doing this – cutting up cucumbers, mixing some dill with some mayonnaise and putting them on white bread and suddenly everything is elevated.

A week ago I was headed to a committee meeting that I chair that is putting together an amazing local food event called Farm to Fork. I wanted to bring something for people to snack on, so I dropped into local gourmet retailer, Taste, and picked up the biggest container of their homemade pimento cheese they had. Upon arriving at the meeting location, I found out that our host had made her own homemade pimento cheese (of course!) and that mine was not necessary, so home with me it went.

Now, what to do with a giant, half-pound container of pimento cheese? Traditionally this delightfully spicy, rich treat is spread on crackers for hors d’oeuvres or on white bread for sandwiches that are perfect at the beach or for a picnic, but there’s only so much of that you can do before you’re over it, so I started brainstorming and the answer came to me that weekend as Jeremy and I put together our traditional Sunday breakfast of eggs, bacon, grits, toast, jam, coffee coffee coffee. PIMENTO CHEESE GRITS. Duh. I mean, seriously.

Oh the beauty of Sunday breakfast

Oh the beauty of Sunday breakfast

I’d like to think I invented this, however a brief googling of such shows that I am actually a little late to the game. But nonetheless, it was new to us and totally amazing.

All you do is make your grits as usual, then at the end, add in the amount of pimento cheese you like and add a little milk to cream it in. I like to serve my grits with a farm-fresh, over-easy egg on top, so that when you crack your egg open, this happens:

*drooooool*

*drooooool*

and you have to keep yourself from just sticking your face right into the bowl.

With a few crispy pieces of bacon, some whole wheat bread slathered with homemade jam from Jeremy’s Aunt Liz and all the coffee you can drink. I just…I can’t…it’s too much.

SO let’s say you don’t live near one of the six Taste locations (poor you, you should really move to Hampton Roads), and you want to make your own Pimento Cheese? Well, my friends, you’re in luck because it’s literally the easiest thing you’ll ever make:

Pimento Cheese

pimento cheese up close

Ingredients

  • 1 (8-ounce) package shredded sharp Cheddar
  • 1 (8-ounce) package shredded extra-sharp Cheddar
  • 1 (4-ounce) jar pimientos, with juice
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Mix the shredded cheeses together with the pimientos and their juice. Stir in the mayonnaise until well blended. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and stir. Keep covered in the refrigerator until ready to use. It is easier to spread if left on the counter for 30 minutes before serving. Great on bread, celery sticks, or crackers.

Recipe credit to the Food Network

Yes, this is a Paula Deen recipe. Look, for better or worse statements, love her or hate her, if anyone is going to tell you how to make Pimento Cheese, it’s that lady. Period. Because in the south, “fancy” is sometimes just a spoonful of mayonnaise (or a stick of butter) away.

Dried strawberries

It’s strawberry season in Hampton Roads, and that is major. We love our strawberries around here. Every city in the region that has farms has pick-your-own strawberry fields and it’s a tradition for kids and adults alike to pick strawberries on field trips or on Mother’s Day or Memorial Day weekend when Virginia Beach hosts the Strawberry Festival.

Last week I got an email from a farm saying that they had so many berries in their field that they were going to be offering pick your own berries for $1.25/lb. That is unheard of. You would never ever find berries that cheap in the grocery store. So after sharing it with the Buy Fresh Buy Local Facebook fans, I got in the car and headed to the farm, which thankfully, is only about 10 minutes from my house. Yeah, it was a week day. Yeah, I had a lot of work to do, but sometimes you just have to get up and go pick strawberries. All that work will be there for you when you get back, I promise.

If you’ve never picked strawberries, it’s very easy – they are literally low hanging fruit. When they’re ripe, they get so heavy they just sort of dangle below the leaves and pretty white flowers of their plant. And they pop right off their stems and get tossed right into your strawberry carrying device. The only issue is that if you have a bad back like I do, you may be in a bit of pain the next day (like I was), but that’s why you bring your kids – to do the hard work of bending over and finding the ripest strawberries. When picking, look for deep, red berries. Before plucking them off the plant, lift them up and make sure the underside isn’t white or green (unripe) or that it hasn’t been noshed on by any bugs.

Sometimes you just have to leave your desk and go pick strawberries.

Sometimes you just have to leave your desk and go pick strawberries.

So what to do with 10 lbs of berries once you get them home? Most people I know make strawberry bread, pie, muffins, etc etc. We all know how I feel about baking, so I do one of (or all of) three different thing:

1. Eat them. Duh.

2. Freeze them. Rinse and dry the berries, cut off the caps and then halve each berry and lay in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place the sheet in the freezer for several hours, then put the berries into a freezer ziploc bag. Pull out what you need, when you need it. I freeze pounds and pounds of berries like this every year to use in my smoothies all year long.

3. Dry them. Dried berries are sort of like craisins – tart, but still a little sweet. Perfect in salads, on yogurt or oatmeal, granola, etc. Wash and dry the berries, cut off the caps and halve each berry. Lay in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 210 degrees for 3 hours. Let them cool completely, then store in an airtight container in the fridge OR you could freeze these also and just thaw them as you need them. I’m not sure exactly how long they’ll keep in the fridge….you’ve probably got about a week?

Dried Strawberries

Dried Strawberries

Strawberries are pretty amazing little fruits. One cup of berries has only 49 calories and almost 150% of your daily Vitamin C. They also have fiber and protein and good amounts of folates and potassium as well as manganese.

So get out there and pick some today. Or, make your kids do it. Also, can I borrow your kids for an afternoon?

Dairy Free and Delicious

I made a recipe I found on Pinterest this week that sounded interesting to me because it was a creamy style pasta dish with NO DAIRY. I’ve recently come to terms with the fact that I’m lactose intolerant. I’ve probably known this my entire life, I just wasn’t ready to admit it. It also doesn’t mean that I don’t ever eat dairy, I do. I just suffer through it later. But when I can find something that satisfies my want for something creamy and rich, without making me feel like hell later, then that’s an awesome thing.

This recipe uses avocados and lemons and olive oil to create a sauce that is creamy and tangy and rich, without an ounce of animal product (in the sauce). I added several jumbo steamed shrimp, which I thought went really well with the original recipe. The arugula was from a local hydroponic grower, and was awesome and crunchy and fresh and peppery. In fact, this whole dish felt incredibly “summery” despite the fact that everything in here is pretty much in season. Citrus season is winter, shrimp are in season in several places in the winter, hydroponic greens defy all concept of season which is why they are so amazing, and avocados have a year round season as well. Fun fact – avocados grow all year long, but they will never ever ripen on a tree. These mostly Mexico and California-grown tree fruits do not begin to ripen until they are cut from their branches. At which point you have a questionable amount of time to eat them before they turn into green mud. Hass avocados are named for a California postal worker who grew and started selling these delicious “meat fruits” as my friend Emily calls them. Hass avocados are actually patented, and have been since 1935. It was the first US Patent to ever be made for a tree. This is the part of the commercial where a shooting star flies over my head touting “The More You Know….”

Thank you, Conan (And Tina Fey and Matt Groening and Mike Judge), for understand everything that is funny to me, ever.

Anyways, back to the pasta . . .

Creamy Avocado Linguine with Meyer Lemon and Arugula

By: Sylvia Fountaine, feasting at home blog January-5-2013
A creamy vegan pasta in a flavorful creamy avocado sauce, bursting with bright flavors of Meyer lemon, tossed with fresh arugula.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz Linguine
  • 2 ripe Avocados
  • 3 T Meyer Lemon Juice (I just used regular lemons)
  • 3 T Good olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 2 whole garlic cloves
  • generous handful arugula
  • 1 tsp Meyer lemon zest

Instructions

  1. Boil 8 oz Linguine in salted water
  2. Puree the rest of the ingredients ( except arugula and zest) in a food processor until completely smooth, scraping down the edges.
  3. When Pasta is al dente- drain and place in a bowl. Toss pasta with avocado puree and a handful fresh arugula.
  4. Taste for salt. Garnish with Meyer lemon zest and fresh cracked pepper.

Prep time: 10 mins Cook time: 15 mins  Total time: 15 mins Yield: 4 servings

shrimp avocado pasta
The only thing I changed, was that I used regular lemons (if you can find a place with Meyer Lemons, tell me where and send me instructions on how to move there), and of course, I added the shrimp. I steamed 10 jumbo deveined shrimp over the pasta water while it was cooking, in a steamer basket. Steam them (in the shell) for just a few minutes until they are all bright pink – no longer.
Since this was the first time making this recipe, I do have a couple of suggestions and things I would do differently if I made it again (and I will):
  • I would use soba noodles over linguini. Soba noodles, if you don’t know, are noodles used primarily in Japanese cuisine and they are made from buckwheat. They are often served chilled, and I honestly think this whole dish could be served chilled and would be great, especially in the summer. 
  • I would process about half of the arugula into the avocado sauce. I think this would add a nice peppery flavor and would be a little easier to eat – arugula can be a bit difficult to work with – it’s very stemmy, like cilantro. I also think watercress could be used in place of arugula and would be interesting.
  • I would actually let this be four servings instead of trying to divide it in half with Jeremy. Usually when a recipe says “4 servings” it’s really enough for the two of us with a small amount of left overs for the next day. But in this case, the avocado is so filling that we were done about halfway through the bowl.

This recipe comes together so quickly, only requiring you to boil water and throw things into a blender or food processor, and it’s delicious and will satisfy those “I want alfredo no matter how bad I will hate myself for it later” cravings. Enjoy.

Are there things you are intolerant to or that you can’t/won’t eat? Tell me about them and I’ll try to find recipes to try and share that suite your dietary issues.