June 2018 Class
When I think about summer, I think of bright colors and bold flavors. I think of long, warm days spending time outdoors leading in to cool nights and having dinner in the backyard under the stars. I believe this menu captures the essence of summer. The bright colors are captured in the vegetables, the orzo salad and the stunning colors of the fresh berries. There is nothing better than lighting up the grill, whether it is gas or charcoal. It’s a center gathering spot for family and friends. This is one of my student's favorite menus. These easy-to-prepare summertime recipes are waiting for you after you return from a day out in the sun, and are fun to share with their friends and family. I love to make it all summertime. I hope you will too! So, what are we cooking?
These long, skinny, crunchy, herby, and cheesy breadsticks are positively addictive! They are the perfect for your aperitivo and pair very well with a cool and refreshing Aperol Spritz, one of my favorite summertime cocktails, very elegantly served in a stem glass with lots of ice. Together, they are perfect for sitting on the patio and enjoying the colorful sunset. I like to make my cocktail 1 part Aperol liqueur, 2 parts prosecco or sparkling wine, and a splash of soda.
One of my favorite summer memories is planting vegetables for a summer garden with my children. This dish captures that memory of a summer garden, that unbelievable flavor of just-picked veggies. If you don't have a garden, find a local farmers markets for the freshest produce. A layer of sautéd onions, peppers, and garlic that’s then topped with thinly sliced eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, and tomatoes. The flavors are perfectly married together, a balance of sweetness & summer goodness. It’s as beautiful to look at as to eat.
Orzo, Pancetta, Feta, & Greens Salad with Basil Lemon Vinaigrette:
This is one of my favorite salads to make. It makes an excellent starter dish, served along the main course or can be served as a light main dish. The crispy pancetta, sautéed onion, and wilted spinach are all tossed together with orzo pasta and a lemony basil vinaigrette. Crunchy toasted walnuts and creamy feta are tossed in and really complete this dish. One thing I love about this salad is that there are so many different kinds of feta to experiment with. I prefer the French feta because of the balance of creaminess and saltiness, but I am currently working my way through the feta counter at the Middle Eastern market near me. They are so superior in taste to the pre-crumbled packages at the market. I encourage you to try and find a market near you. It makes a great salad to enjoy under the setting sun in the summer air.
Grilled Rosemary & Lemon Chicken Brochettes:
There’s nothing better than grilling in the summer. The smoky charred flavor that the grill imparted on food is just wonderful, and nothing says summer like grilling. You get to be outside, and your kitchen is free from the heat and the mess. This simple, tangy, and herby marinade adds a fantastic punch to the perfectly grilled chicken and is sure to be a hit at your summer dinner party. This recipe calls for boneless chicken thighs, which I think definitely have more flavor than the breast meat. They are also more forgiving when cooking since they have a little more fat than breast meat, but not so much that you don't have to feel guilty. And of course, you'll still have room for dessert!
Triple Berry Crumble:
This a one of the most delicious combination for a summer dessert. Fresh berries and a buttery, crumbly topping. It's a classic summertime dessert. I like to use a combination of whatever berries are at the farmers market. By combining the berries, you get different layers of sweetness and at the same time a little tartness too. Pick berries that are ripe, juicy and really look good, like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries. You can use just one type of berries or a different combination of fruit to change it up. This is going to be your summer "go-to" dessert, so you can make it different each time you make it. The crunchy and nutty crumble topping is so easy to prepare, then is placed on top of the berries, and baked to bubbly goodness. Topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it's heaven in a dish. I always get tons of compliments on this dessert, and I feel a little guilty since this dish takes no time to make. It's sure to be a hit at your house too that I'm sure you'll be making it all summertime. Just don't tell anyone how easy it really is!