Seasonal Recipe Favorites: A Summer Full of Flavor

by Jane Ahrens

And just like that—the summer season has arrived! From late June’s strawberries and bright sugar snap peas to fresh sweet corn, blueberries, peaches, and juicy August tomatoes, the riotous hues of summer’s bounty are as dizzying as a night on the Pequot dance floor. As you’re busy trying to pack in every activity there is to do on this not-so-sleepy little island, be sure to make time to slow down, cook and enjoy the best of summer’s food, flavor—and color.

This recipe for Burrata with Charred and Raw Sugar Snap Peas is a treat for an early summer lunch or first course with its lustrous green sugar snap peas spread over creamy burrata cheese—it offers vibrant color, smoky flavor and a wonderful combination of textures.

This Summer Vegetable Quinoa Salad is one of those recipes you can prepare in advance and enjoy over several days—its makes for a healthy lunch on the go or a main course along with a leafy green salad on a hot night.

Not all summer meals should require cooking over a hot stove and this recipe from The Splendid Table (one of my favorite radio show/podcasts) for Chinese Chicken Salad is a great example. Here rotisserie chicken steps up its game with a fresh ginger dressing and crunchy veggies—and all tossed together makes a delicious one-dish lunch or dinner.

This simple pasta recipe for Toasted Orecchiette, Zucchini and Corn cooks in a flash and can be enjoyed as a side dish or the main course (plus it makes yummy leftovers). Just be sure to heed the advice in the recipe header and don’t overcook the fresh veggies—you don’t want to get mushy here!

For a light supper try Seared Scallops with Orange Lime Dressing, which is one of those recipes you can adapt to pretty much any kind of fish, though you’ll want to try it with scallops at least once. Here the bright citrus gives an acidic contrast to the sweet meat of the scallops while fragrant fresh herbs add complexity and a fleck of color.

When it’s time for the grill, here is a recipe for spicy Grilled Tandoori Chicken with a cooling yogurt sauce, plus grilled veggies. You can marinate the chicken up to a day in advance, using pieces of bone-in chicken or skewered boneless chicken kabobs depending on your mood. Just be careful about adding one whole teaspoon of cayenne pepper (as the recipe calls for), which can make it a bit too spicy for some.

Salsa verde might be my all time favorite sauce. You can elevate the most basic grilled meat or fish with a dollop of the fresh green herbal, garlicky sauce. There are endless variations, but once you get the knack you won’t even need a recipe. This version for Grilled Steak Salad with Italian Salsa Verde is a perfect foundation from which to build your salsa verde repertoire. Salsa verde turns an otherwise dead simple entrée into something special.

If you’ve got fishers in the family don’t let them throw back the bluefish! Smaller bluefish offer rich, meaty flavor without being overly unctuous yet can stand up to bold flavors. Try this recipe for Grilled Whole Bluefish with Charred Corn Yogurt Dressing and Peach Tomato Salad and I think you’ll agree. Wait for August when the tomatoes and peaches are at their peak of ripeness—it will make all the difference. The charred corn yogurt in this recipe is another keeper as it will go with any grilled protein or pep up a leafy salad.

Entertaining this summer? Here’s a great recipe if you’ve got a packed schedule and still want to have friends for dinner. This Roast Lamb with Marinated Eggplant is served cold and can be made up a day in advance or the morning of your party. The recipe suggests serving with another variation of my favorite salsa verde (see above) or a lemony yogurt sauce. Either way, you’re winning, with time for a swim at 6 pm and guests arriving at 7!

Moving on to dessert, here is a tasty gluten-free Almond Flour Cake that welcomes any combination of fresh stone fruit or berries to go on top. Another recipe for individual Blueberry Tarts can be made into one larger tart if you prefer. And if you don’t have the time or inclination to make the homemade pastry dough (worth it in my book!), the blueberry filling called for in this recipe would also work as filling for quick turnovers using store-bought puff pastry.

This last dessert is a little gift from Italy called Zabaglione—an ethereally light and creamy custard enhanced with a splash of wine. It’s perfect over fresh strawberries and blueberries (think stars and stripes) and as oh-so-better-than-whipped-cream dolloped on your favorite lemon or pound cake.

Happy summertime!

Genie McPherson Trevor is the founding editor of Edible Rhody magazine, a quarterly food journal that celebrates the local, seasonal bounty of Rhode Island. Edible Rhody is a member of Edible Communities, the James Beard award-winning publishing group with over 80 local Edible magazines in print across the United States and Canada.

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USCG Eagle passing the Race early morning March 18, 2023 on her return from the Chesapeake Bay. Photo Credit Marlin Bloethe

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