In the summer, meals in my house become a constant picnic. I’m too lazy to turn on the oven, and way too lazy to slave over a hot stove. In the warmer months I like food that is simple, refreshing, and delicious. If it’s a hot summer’s night and you’re in a bind about what to cook, here are some delicious and easy summertime meal suggestions.
Jazz Up Fresh Fruit
Sure, you could eat an apple. But what about an apple, sliced up with some walnuts and gorgonzola cheese? Get creative and you can easily turn a fruit snack into a light summer meal. A few of my favorites are cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto, strawberries with ricotta and french bread, watermelon with feta and fresh mint, blueberries with spinach leaves, walnuts & balsamic vinaigrette, a big juicy orange chopped up with beets and walnut oil, honeydew melon with lime juice and cilantro, and grilled pineapple with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. When in doubt, simmer some balsamic on a low heat in a small sauce pan until it’s thick and sweet. You can then drizzle this over the fruit of your choice. It immediately makes your fruit feel more gourmet and adds an element of sweet acidity that’s perfect for a summertime treat!
Ohh You Tart
Another great summer meal that’s super easy to whip up is a tart. Yes, this requires turning on the oven, but overall it’s very low involvement and can be tailored to suit anything floating around in the fridge. Once you’ve got a basic tart recipe down, you can easily make a sweet or savory tart any night of the week. I like CHOW’s easy tart dough recipe. I like to choose tart ingredients based on the fresh herbs I have in the fridge. If I have a bunch of basil, I’ll make a savory italian tart with heirloom tomatoes, parmesan, capers, and smoked salmon. Or if I have some thyme, I might go for something savory-sweet with blackberries, goats cheese, and balsamic. I’ve also man an avocado, egg, and herb tart which was out of this world. Don’t forget to top your tart off with a dusting of quality olive oil, and you’ll be golden. Serve with some sour cream, fresh grated cheese, or a sprinkle of chives.
Dips and Such
This next one is B’s summertime favorite – he’s absolutely addicted to making humus!! When in need of a quick and delicious summertime fix, center your meal around a high-protien dip, and lay out an array of crudite accompaniments. B loves to make homemade humus, and while he blends, I’ll chop up granny smith apples, colorful peppers, zucchini, pita, and chorizo for dipping. You could also easily make a white or black bean dip with all the same accompaniments. I’m a big fan of yogurt and guacamole dips as well. A new delicious dip I have been making often is a sardine spread. Mix a tin of sardines with some fresh herbs, sour cream, a dollop of mustard and some hot sauce or cayenne if you want a kick. This is dip is amazing on bread or with fried eggs, and is also perfect for dunking veggies.
One Pot Wonders
OK, so if you’re going to turn on the oven, make it a one pot wonder. Or a one pan wonder, I should say! Throw in colorful vegetables with a juicy cut of meat, toss your bounty with fresh herbs and olive oil and set ‘er to bake! You can get creative with your combos to make your meal feel more summer than winter – try to shop for produce that’s in season and you’ll end up with a flavor perfect for summer. For example, roast thick-sliced peaches with rosemary, olive oil, and lamb. Or sliced peppers with fennel, onions, and sausages. The whole point of a one pan wonder is to mix something delicious in one pan, chuck it in the oven, and not have to worry about anything else. Try to pair meat with vegetables that take approximately the same time to cook. And remember, fresh herbs are your best friends, and you can never have enough olive oil!
This one might be a no-brainer to some, but salads make a great meal in the summertime! The simple house salad with carrots, tomatoes, lettuce and cukes might get boring after a while, so mix up your produce, don’t be scared to experiment with fruits or fancy cheeses, and always try to make your own dressing. I keep loads of different oils on hand – sesame, walnut, truffle, olive, and several infused oils as well, as these are perfect for making delicious and unique salad dressings. Add a spritz of acidity to your oil of choice and you’re golden – this could be in the form of lime juice, lemon juice, orange juice, red or white wine vinegar, or my personal favorite a good quality balsamic vinegar. I always start my salads by thinking of the kind of meal I am craving. If it’s oriental I’ll make a dressing with sesame oil and orange juice, and will then fill my salad bowl with colorful leafy greens, nuts, chillies, pea pods, mandarin oranges, etc. You can also make a delicious salad based around your favorite whole grain or bean, like quinoa or lima beans. I love chopping up left overs, throwing them on a bed of crisp lettuce, and making a fresh dressing. Simple dinner in 5 minutes? Done.
Icy Cool Concoctions
Sometimes I go a little overboard at the farmer’s market. I just get so excited when I’m surrounded by a rainbow of produce, and I want my basket to look the same! A lot of the time I end up bringing home too much fresh food. So if I have berries that are starting to get a bit soft, or oranges that are starting to look a bit too ripe, I’ll make them into juice for the next day or two. Juice is much easier to finish off, and you wont pay any mind to the maturity of your fruit. Squeeze your oranges and throw them in a jug with some sparkling water. Slice your berries and throw them in an icy cold pitcher with some mint and ice water. Or jazz up your wine and make a spritzer, with some ripe stone fruit, sparkling water, and your wine of choice. These drinks are light, delicious, and the perfect treat on a sweet summer’s night.
Happy mealtime – and if you’re still lacking inspiration, here’s a lovely gallery of inspiration! x
While most of the photos on Pressed Words are my own, this post features lots of beautiful food photos from around the web. You can check out my Pinterest food board for sources and specific recipes :)