Sunday, August 30, 2015

Today's Top Ten List: Favourite Summertime Dishes
Even though I love to cook, I don't do a whole lot of it in the Summertime. Yes, it's often too hot to heat up the kitchen, but Summertime is for easy living and lighter cooking. I also like to take advantage of seasonal foods when I can and my own herb garden as much as possible.

Here, then, are

Ten Favourite Summer Dishes At the Dept. of Nance

1. Strawberry Pie with Cream Cheese
2. Beer Can Chicken with Garlic and Herbs
3. Cold Tuna Pasta with Peas, Lemon, and Fresh Dill
4. Grilled Louisiana Shrimp Skewers
5. Grilled Flatbread Pizzas
6. BLTs on Toast
7. Corn on the Cob
8. Corn and Tomato Salad
9. Vegetable and Pesto Pasta
10. French Potato Salad with Tarragon

Every single one of these foods screams out Summer to me and my family.

1. June is Strawberry Time in NEO, and while I refuse to pick my own (too worky), I'm happy to pay for lovely farm berries at a stand. I make my own pie, my own glaze (not that fake blood stuff), and on the bottom crust, I smear lightly sweetened cream cheese. It makes a heavenly contrast and keeps the pie from getting soggy. So good.

2. Even though it has a decidedly Hillbilly Connotation, a whole fryer cooked this way is incredibly moist and flavourful. I stuff the half-full beer can with fresh herbs and five or six whole garlic cloves. Make sure to plug up the hole from the neck with an onion or potato and enjoy terrific chicken.

3. Such a nice meal on a hot day. I use small shell pasta, white albacore tuna, real mayonnaise, lemon juice and zest, a whole bag of frozen peas (don't cook them, just drain the pasta over them), and a ton of fresh, fragrant dill. You can go lightly with the mayo. There is plenty of flavour from the rest of the ingredients. Dash a little Old Bay in there. I do.

4. I love this marinade recipe I found and tweaked--whether it's "Louisiana" or not--and shrimp is so quick. It's got Red Hot, lemon, oregano, Old Bay...and it only needs an hour and a half to marinade and moments to grill.

5. This is our Saturday night supper almost every Summer. Grilled flatbreads topped with my basil pesto, diced fresh tomatoes marinated in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and fresh mozzarella. Period. I'd get more fancy, but why mess with what works and what Rick loves?

6. Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes. I cannot get enough of them in Summer. When they peak, we eat BLTs. We'd eat them every day if we could, but that's not healthy. I insist on toast; Rick prefers not. We both agree that there has to be Miracle Whip. No lettuce on hand? Not a dealbreaker.

7. There have been many, many times that Rick and I have made corn on the cob our meal. And then gone out later for ice cream. Hey, we are grownups now and we can do that if we want. There will only be Real Butter on the corn at the Dept. Ever. I always get a dozen. We never eat it all at once, but I use the leftovers for...

8. Corn and Tomato Salad is also an entire meal for us sometimes and a favourite leftover for both the boys if they happen to drop in. Fresh, rough-diced tomatoes and cut-off leftover sweet corn with a red wine vinaigrette. Period. Salt and pepper to taste. So Good.

9. Vegetable Pasta with Pesto is another use for leftover corn on the cob. And every other farmstand vegetable you cannot resist. I just made it for a big family dinner. You can saute or grill small zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, mushrooms, onions, eggplant, green beans--anything. Boil up your pasta (I used spaghetti). Toss the vegetables in the pasta, add fresh grated asiago or parmesan, and mix in basil pesto and a glug of good olive oil. At the last minute, add fresh halved cherry tomatoes and kalamata or ripe olives and leftover corn off the cob, and toss.

10. Tiny new red potatoes are wonderful for a potato salad. I boil them, then make a dressing with red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, and garlic with my hand blender. I chop up some fresh tarragon and add it. The only other thing I add is sliced scallions. (Salt and pepper are a given for everything.)

Don't those all sound Summery? What do you always make when Summertime rolls around?


  1. We love a pasta salad that we call, 'leftover salad'...Although you have stated that you do not like pasta salad, I think you would like this one...It isn't really a standard run-of-the-mill pasta salad; more of a veggie salad with a little bit of pasta in it...I put any veggies we have on hand in it, fresh and frozen...To that I add onion, peppers, seasonings (that we like), herbs from the garden (our personal preference), and a dressing of our choice...To this brightly color mess, I add any leftover pasta I have in the frig. It's very yummy and is tailored to our individual taste...

    1. Denise Fortney--Hi! Haven't seen you in a while. I love pasta. It's such a great canvas for so many wonderful foods. This dish sounds like my Vegetable Pasta, above, which is also great to eat cold or even room temperature. Great Minds...!

  2. That all sounds fabulous - especially because it's almost dinner time here :) Mike eats tons of tomato sandwiches - just tomato, salt, pepper, & mayo for him. I like tomato sandwiches, but one a season is enough for me. This year we've made three bean salad a lot, and also the cucumber, onion, & tomato salad that I've already told you about. We've been sauteing zucchini with olive oil & spices too. I could eat all of it right now!

    1. Bug--I don't eat sandwiches often, but tomato sandwiches like The Professor's (but with Miracle Whip, not mayo) are summer perfection.

      I made the cucumber, onion, and tomato salad with red wine vinegar and olive oil tonight, but I added avocado. Outstanding.

      Have you ever made a simple zucchini gratin/casserole? Slice up the zucchini and an onion and layer it in a loaf pan or shallow casserole dish which you've buttered first. After you've layered half, sprinkle with salt and pepper, freshly grated asiago or parmesan cheese, and drizzle with olive oil. Finish with the rest of the layering. Top with more grated cheese and some bread crumbs. Drizzle with a little more olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake at 375 until the zucchini is soft and the top is browned, about 40 minutes.

    2. I've saved the email of your reply to try that gratin - sounds fabulous!

    3. Bug--I also use yellow summer squash, which I love. The smaller squash works best. Older, big squashes are just tough and not as delicate in flavour. So glad you'll be trying this!


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