Quick and Cool

Grab locally grown goodies and make these easy summer salads and soups

If ever there was an optimum time to become a vegetarian, it is now. With all the fresh local produce available this month, a person could make the change and not feel at all deprived. A visit to the farmers market is an exercise in excess: Tables overflowing with tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet corn, zucchini, summer squash, beets, leeks, arugula, new potatoes, green beans, wax beans, radishes, bell peppers, eggplant, blueberries, blackberries — and that’s just for starters. Everything is so beautiful and fresh that it’s almost impossible not to buy more than you really need.

Someone once suggested that the best way to deal with so much produce is to start preparing and cooking as soon as you return from the market. If you can do that, you’re likely to find that you’ve reduced waste and made life easier in the coming week. For instance, if you’ve bought green beans, trim and blanch them, cool them under running cold water or in an ice bath, then dry them, wrap them in a clean kitchen towel and refrigerate. Now they’re ready to add to a salad or sauté in butter for dinner.

Try turning some vegetables into cold soups, such as a curried zucchini soup. Keep it in the fridge and you’ll have an instant snack or light meal. For soups that are finished with milk, cream, sour cream or yogurt, don’t add the dairy until you’re ready to serve it.

Those who love cold food in the summer, as I do, can cook vegetables ahead and keep them in the refrigerator. If you roast beets and poach asparagus ahead of time, for instance, it takes almost no time at all to turn them into salads.

If you’ve bought some new potatoes, boil them and keep them in the fridge to make a quick batch of home fries. Or use them to make a niçoise salad in combination with the green beans you’ve already blanched, hard boiled eggs, tuna, anchovies, black olives and tomatoes on a bed of lettuce.

All of the recipes this month are a cinch to make. After all, if you have good ingredients, the cook’s work is mostly done. You can prepare several of the recipes without even turning on the stove, and the others only require minimal cooking.


Kitchengourmet Pearsalad Ft

Romaine, Pear and Feta Salad

½ cup walnuts
1 romaine lettuce
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons white wine vinegar
coarse salt
1 pear
½ cup feta, crumbled
freshly ground black pepper

Toast walnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat, while tossing and turning them, until fragrant. Remove from skillet, sprinkle with salt and set aside.

Cut lettuce from its base, discarding limp or bruised leaves. Wash and dry romaine. Tear leaves and add to salad bowl. In a small bowl, whisk olive oil and white wine vinegar until emulsified. Add half of the vinaigrette to salad bowl and toss to coat lettuce. Season with salt and toss again. Peel, core and slice pear. Arrange pear slices on top of salad and top with feta. Drizzle remainder of vinaigrette over pears and cheese. Sprinkle walnuts and grind some black pepper over the salad. Makes 4 servings.


Kitchengourmet Beetsalad

Blackberries With Ginger and Lime Syrup

1½ cups water
¾ cup sugar
6 quarter-size slices of fresh ginger, peeled
3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
3 cups blackberries

Combine water, sugar and ginger in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Cool. Add lime juice.

Combine blackberries and syrup in a bowl. Cover and chill. Makes 4 servings.


Salad of Arugula and Shaved Parmesan

4 cups loosely packed arugula
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Italian Parmesan (Parmigiano-Reggiano)

Combine arugula, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste in salad bowl and toss well to coat. Arrange salad on serving plates. Using a vegetable peeler, shave thin slices of Parmesan over the tops. Makes 4 servings.


Beet Salad

1-1½ pounds beets
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chives, chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut greens from beets, leaving about one inch of stem. Reserve greens for another use. Wash beets and wrap individually in aluminum foil. Place foil packets on baking sheet and bake in oven until a toothpick or the point of a small knife pierces them easily, about 30-60 minutes, depending on size of beets. Remove from oven and cool.

Whisk oil and vinegar together in a mixing bowl. Peel beets and slice or cut into wedges, as desired. Toss beets in vinaigrette and arrange on serving plates. Season to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle with chives and parsley. Makes 4 servings.


Cold Watercress Soup

6 cups chicken stock or broth
1 large onion, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
1 bunch watercress
coarse salt
½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon chives, chopped

Combine chicken stock or broth, onion and potato in a pot and boil until onion and potato are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Cut and discard the bottom ½-inch of watercress stems. Coarsely chop remainder of watercress and add to the pot. Purée with an immersion blender or, working in batches, purée contents in a standard blender until smooth. Season to taste with salt. Chill. Before serving, adjust seasoning. Whip cream until soft peaks form. Ladle soup into bowls and top with a dollop of whipped cream. Sprinkle with chopped chives. Makes about 6-7 cups.


Cold Cucumber and Dill Soup

This is probably the easiest soup on the planet to make, and it is very refreshing on a hot day.

3 cups chicken stock or broth
3 large cucumbers, peeled and sliced
½ cup plain yogurt
coarse salt
fresh dill

Combine chicken stock or broth, cucumbers and yogurt in a mixing bowl and purée with an immersion blender. Or, working in batches, purée chicken stock or broth, cucumbers and yogurt in a standard blender and until smooth. Season to taste with salt. Chill. Serve cold garnished with chopped fresh dill. Makes about 6 cups.


Cold Curried Zucchini Soup

6 cups chicken stock or broth
2 medium onions, chopped
4 medium zucchini, sliced
4 teaspoons curry powder, or to taste
Coarse salt
½ cup plain yogurt

Combine chicken stock or broth, onions and zucchini in a pot and simmer until vegetables are softened, about 15 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender or, working in batches, puree contents in a standard blender until smooth. Season to taste with curry powder and salt. Chill. Before serving, whisk in yogurt and adjust seasoning. Makes about 8 cups.



Categories: Food+Drink