7 summer recipes for a quick meal and a cool house

7 summer recipes for a quick meal and a cool house

When it’s the last, sweaty gasp of summer, the last thing you want to be doing is cooking something complicated. Instead, you want to be grabbing those last moments of biking, hiking, fishing, outdoor-concertgoing. Or you’ve got stuff you suddenly have to do — yard chores, home repairs, all the unglamorous stuff of Front Range living. Especially after a day of back-to-school shopping, you want to be flopping on the couch with a ridiculously quick, savory, easy supper.

We’ve got you covered with seven quick, simple, healthy lunches or suppers. Add melon or fresh Colorado fruit and ice cream for dessert, and you’re on your way to a relaxing evening.

1. Gazpacho. Make your own with pre-chopped pico de gallo from the grocery store and farmer’s market tomatoes and cucumbers. Peel, seed and chop the cukes; put half in the blender with the pico and tomatoes; leave the other half chunky. Add lime juice, salt and chile spices to taste. Garnish with avocado chunks or not; serve with bread or without.

2. Tempted by that colorful mango pico de gallo sitting right there on the shelf next to the traditional tomato version? Yeah, us too. So take fresh corn tortillas, add some melted cheddar, and top with mango pico and black beans (chicken or fish works as well). That’s dinner. Just add melon for dessert.

3. Speaking of beans, you know the three- or four-bean salads that supermarket delis and Costcos sell? That bean salad has ideas above its station. My mother was the queen of the bean salad, and her version, with its green bell pepper for crunch, still reigns. I subbed the kidney beans with adzukis, but you could use White Northern, Anasazi, black or pinto – pick the legume you love. You can even add a jalapeno or use home-grown yellow string beans instead of canned wax beans. I’ve cut the sugar in half, but you’ll still want to slurp this vinaigrette after the beans are gone.

4. Couscous without the wheat. Use quinoa, amaranth or a pre-mixed pilaf, rather than the traditional bulgur, to make this Middle Eastern vegetarian staple — a cool, sweet and easy break from the grill, not to mention a boost over bulgur’s protein stats. Green peas, garbanzos and raisins add more fiber and protein; a yogurt-based raita adds tang.

5. Heirloom tomato chopped salad. No sight primes the salivary glands more than a heaping pile of heirloom tomato slices (Brandywine or Cherokee Purple suggested). But put them in a bowl with crumbled goat cheese, olive oil, salt, pepper and some tangy salad greens, and you have an elegant substitute for the classic tomato sandwich (and you won’t need to mop the tomato juice off your summer-white shirt).

6. Colorado has been humid enough
this summer to fry tempers — especially commuter tempers. Chill everyone down with chicken salad spiked with pretty yellow or red bell peppers, lots of fresh parsley and sweet chopped pecans. This cold dish is so healthy you can bind it with real mayo and stuff it in a pita with zero guilt.

7. The ultimate low-brow, high-speed meal hack: Your favorite store-bought potato salad with lunch meat. Most grocers now carry nitrate- and nitrite-free ham or turkey “ham” — an oxymoron food that refers to dark turkey meat that’s pressed and sliced. Dice the meat and add about 12 ounces to a pound and a half of your favorite potato salad. Serve alongside a green salad or sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, and dinner is just done.

The recipes

Photo by Susan Clotfelter, Special to The Denver Post

Lightning-fast Gazpacho1. Lightning-fast Gazpacho
The best thing about this gazpacho is there’s no need to seed or peel the tomatoes. You can even use last summer’s frozen tomatoes; just thaw them a bit first and cut out any core or tough parts. Serves 4.

Ingredients

5 tennis-ball-size tomatoes, any tasty variety or color

2 cups prepared pico de gallo

1 large cucumber peeled and seeded, cut into large chunks

1 large cucumber, peeled and seeded, cut into half-inch dice

Juice of one lime

Chile powder to taste

Salt to taste

Avocado wedges (optional)

Directions

Wash the tomatoes and cut out any white core, bruised or cracked parts. Combine the pico de gallo and tomatoes in a blender, food processor or smoothie machine and process until smooth. Add the cucumber cut into chunks and process again. Taste; Add lime juice. Add chile powder and/or salt, tasting to adjust seasoning as you go. Finally, add the diced cucumber chunks. Chill until ready to serve; garnish with Avocado wedges if desired. Keeps refrigerated for several days. Freezes well.


Photo by Susan Clotfelter, Special to The Denver Post

Mango Pico Street Tacos2. Mango Pico Street Tacos
A two-cup container of mango pico de gallo makes 6 to 8 of these little tacos. Mango pico is sold in the Albertson’s fresh vegetable case, but it seems to sell out fast, so get yours in the morning. For a variation on this idea, try nachos made with taco-spiced ground turkey atop blue corn tortilla chips.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon avocado or other vegetable oil

6 to 8 6-inch corn tortillas

4 to 5 thick slices of good-quality white cheddar

2 cups fresh mango pico de gallo

1  15-ounce can black beans

Directions

Heat oil to medium in a non-stick, cast iron or enameled cast iron skillet. Place corn tortillas in skillet; top the center of each with 1 half-slice of cheddar. Heat until just melted; remove to platter. Top each tortilla with a heaping tablespoon of mango pico de gallo and black beans. These can be served cold, or warmed a bit in a low (200-degree) oven until ready to serve.


3. Jean’s Four-Bean Queen Salad
Canned yellow wax beans can be hard to find — they’re a 1970s thing, as is this venerable Midwestern recipe — so call local grocers first before heading out to fetch them. You can vary the amount of green beans. Serves 8 as a side dish, but people tend to want seconds.

Ingredients

1-2 cans of green beans, drained and rinsed, OR 2-4 cups chopped and blanched fresh, young green beans from the farmer’s market (see below)

1 can yellow wax beans or fresh yellow beans from the farmer’s market, drained and rinsed

1 can adzuki, kidney or black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 small green pepper, seeded and finely diced

3 green onions, white parts only, diced, or one small onion, diced

1 cup apple cider vinegar

½ cup sugar

½ cup vegetable oil (any oil that remains liquid when refrigerated, so not olive)

1 teaspoon celery seed

1 teaspoon mustard seed

¼ teaspoon salt

Green pepper rings for garnish, if desired

Directions

If using fresh green or yellow beans, heat 2 quarts of water to boiling. Blanch the beans for 3 minutes; rinse with cold water. Place all of the vegetables in a covered container, preferably glass, that can be refrigerated; stir to evenly mix and set aside. Combine the last six ingredients in a saucepan; bring to a boil and allow to cool to merely hot. Pour over vegetables. Refrigerate for 6 to 12 hours before serving.


Photo by Susan Clotfelter, Special to The Denver Post

Quinoa Couscous with Yogurt Raita4. Quinoa Couscous with Yogurt Raita
You can make this recipe with regular wheat couscous, but other grains pack a bigger nutritional and color punch. The book “How Can it Be Gluten-Free,” from America’s Test Kitchen, recommends buckwheat groats and says they have the texture — fluffy, not clumpy — that’s most similar to couscous.

Ingredients

3 cups cooked quinoa, couscous, buckwheat groats or other grain pilaf, prepared according to package directions

1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

1 package frozen petite green peas, thawed

1 cup raisins or dried currants

2 green onions, white parts only, finely chopped

2 teaspoons cumin, preferably freshly ground

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon salt or to taste

Finely chopped fresh mint, parsley, oregano or chives for garnish, if desired

1 cup plain Greek yogurt, unsweetened

1 small or 1 half large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 tablespoon chopped onion or fresh chives

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon paprika

Directions

For the couscous: Prepare the pilaf or grains according to package directions and allow to cool carefully — you want the grains to be fluffy, not clumpy. In a wide, shallow bowl, mix the grains with the garbanzo beans, peas, raisins or currants, and onions. Stir gently just to evenly combine. Add the cumin, cinnamon, vinegar and salt; stir gently again. Taste to correct seasoning; garnish with herbs if desired.

For the raita: Combine all remaining ingredients in a small bowl; Serve alongside couscous.


Photo by Susan Clotfelter, Special to The Denver Post

Heirloom Chopped Tomato Salad5. Heirloom Chopped Tomato Salad
This salad is easy to make, easy to eat, and easy to scale up or down. Serves 4.

Ingredients

4 mouthwatering heirloom tomatoes (I recommend Cherokee Purple or Brandywine)

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 ounces crumbled goat cheese

4 slices stale bread, any kind (toast it if fresh or soft), cubed (crusts on)

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

6 cups spicy salad greens

Directions

On a cutting board that lets you capture the juices, cut the tomato top, white parts of core, and any cracked parts away. Thickly slice the remainder of the tomato; then cut those slices into bite-size chunks. Place in a medium-sized bowl. Add fresh goat cheese, crumbled, and bread cubes. Stir gently; as the bread and tomatoes combine, add olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Taste; add salt and pepper if desired.  Divide salad greens into four bowls or onto four plates. Divide tomato mixture and spoon atop salad greens.


6. Red and Green Summer Chicken Salad
If you’re low-carbing it, you can put this chicken salad in a butter lettuce wrap or just in a bowl. But something about red bell peppers, parsley, pecans and mayo just cries out for a warm, soft pita. Serves 4 with 2 pockets each.

Ingredients

2 cups cooked chicken, either from a rotisserie chicken or a poached, chopped chicken (instructions below)

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 bunch curly or 2 bunches Italian parsley, finely chopped

1 cup chopped pecans

½ cup or more full-fat or light real mayonnaise (not fat-free)

Salt and pepper to taste

4 pita rounds or 8 pita halves

Directions

To poach chicken, use 2 split breasts or 4 thighs, or 1 breast and 2 thighs, skin and bones off or on as desired. Place chicken in a large saucepan; add water to cover by at least an inch. Add 2 tablespoons soy sauce, tamari or a half-cup of white wine to the pot. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 8 to 14 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer reads 165 degrees and juices run clear. Cool chicken; remove skin and bone if applicable and chop. In a large bowl, combine cooled, chopped chicken with red bell pepper, parsley, pecans and mayonnaise, adding more mayonnaise if desired. Halve pita rounds if needed; toast in toaster or oven if desired. Serve while pitas are warm.

Source : http://www.denverpost.com/2016/08/10/7-summer-no-cook-recipes/

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