A Bounty of Summer Flavor
- July 03, 2014 |
When the mercury rises, nothing’s better than fresh summer produce. A couple of great dishes and a cool breeze make a hot, lazy day just about perfect. Grilling makes mealtime a summer event. Expand your repertoire by grilling veggies like corn on the cob, zucchini, or create a shish kebab. Rubs and marinades are just as tasty on veggies as on your burger!
Dining “al fresco”, in the open air, just seems to make food tastes better. It keeps the heat and mess out of the kitchen, too. Remember to marinate everything in the refrigerator, though, and never reuse marinade that has touched raw meat.
Save a spot for sweet, fresh corn on the cob on your grill, or cook it nestled in the coals with the husks still on. Corn on the cob slathered in butter and a few fresh herbs is as close as you'll get to the taste of summer sunshine.
You can never have too much squash, zucchini, or eggplant when it comes to summer grilling. Toss slices with a little olive oil and your favorite herb blend. Grill lightly in a perforated pan made for the purpose or place foil-wrapped veggies directly on the grill. Make sure to not overcook and watch out for steam when you’re unwrapping.
You may also want to marinate some nice 2-inch chunks of fresh veggies, along with onion pieces, fresh mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes in a nice Creamy Vidalia Onion Dressing. Chunks of chicken or beef can be marinated in a separate bag. Use fresh pineapple for a taste treat, especially with chicken. Poke chunks onto wooden skewers and grill while your “backup chef” is in the kitchen cooking some fluffy rice. Slip the finished product off onto a bed of rice, pour a glass of sweet tea, and you’re all set.
Summer is the best time to enjoy a big, beautiful green salad. Add some spinach, cucumbers, peppers and mushrooms. The more colors and textures you add, the more interesting and flavorful your salad will be. Don’t forget to add summer fruits! What could be better than visiting the Farmer’s Market on Wednesday or Saturday and returning with the locally grown makings of a scrumptious salad?
Fresh veggies are also terrific tossed with cooked, chilled pasta when it’s way too hot to cook. There’s no wrong way to do it – just put in your favorites and add dressing. Pasta salad packs well for those picnic excursions we all love, and makes great lunchtime leftovers.
Sun-kissed fruits are one of the perks of summer. Use the leftover warmth from your grill and place a foil-wrapped packet of pound cake or even waffles on the cooling grill. After your entrée, enjoy a slice of warm cake topped with fresh berries and perhaps a bit of vanilla ice cream?
When shopping for produce, look for dark, plump berries and check containers for mold or soggy fruit in the bottom. Nectarines, peaches and plums should be firm with no soft spots, plump, but not too hard. Cucumbers and eggplants should be firm and unblemished. Corn should be used promptly after purchase, refrigerate if you can’t use immediately, but don’t keep it long. Tomatoes should never be refrigerated. They’ll be happy on your counter or windowsill. Wash and drain all produce before using, and use quickly to enjoy optimal freshness and flavor!
Need ideas for preparing all that summer bounty? Stop and visit the friendly folks at Mast General Store’s Mercantile Department for a great variety of delicious sauces, dips, relishes, marinades, spice blends and rubs that lend themselves to these ideas or your own creations.
Hmm… I think it’s suppertime.