David Leite is the publisher of the James Beard Award-winning website and the author of The New Portuguese Table cookbook.
I don’t know about your home, but there’s a very handsome hammock in our backyard, strung between two trees, looking to all the world like a giant smile. And The One and I would very much like to spend the better part of the month in it, which is why these 7 easy summer recipes are worthy of your printer. (Now if only I could find a way to move the kitchen closer to the hammock. Time to call Contractor Dan.)
1. Rigatoni with Artichokes, Garlic, and Olives What would summer be without pasta, I ask you? And this rigatoni recipe (pictured above) is packed with high-octane flavors. Besides artichokes, garlic, and olives, you’ll also find orange zest, rosemary, and a bit of butter. And Fatty Daddy here would never be caught melting over a pot of boiling water in August heat with guests nipping at his heels, and neither should you. What I love about this is you can make the pasta ahead of time: Cook as directed, drain it, toss it lightly with olive oil, dump it into a zip-top bag, and chuck it in the fridge. When dinnertime rolls around, whip up your sauce and add the cold pasta to the pan and stir until heated through.
2. Cantaloupe Soup with Prosciutto-Mozzarella Sandwiches Let’s face it. There aren’t a ton of recipes that come together in minutes and have sass and surprise to spare. But this cantaloupe soup is an exception. The ingredients list: cantelopes, mint, salt, and pepper. That’s it. On the side, a gussied-up ham and cheese sammie. Boo-yah!
3. Lobster Salad Okay, before you start squirming around the kitchen howling like Woody Allen in “Annie Hall,” you don’t have perform crustacean murder to make this recipe. Most markets will either cook your lobsters for you or have the meat already cleaned and packaged. Just ask. Either way, you’ll love the combination of chunks of lobster, lightly dressed with mayonnaise, red onion, and basil, and the cherry tomato salad. And the best thing for all you low-carb and/or Paleo folks, there’s nary a top-split roll in sight.
4. Tomato and Green Bean Salad Fresh, fresh, fresh. That’s what comes to mind when I think of this tomato salad. It’s called Tomatosalata me Fasolakia in Greek. Toss in toasted chunks of day-old bread that are brushed with extra-virgin olive oil, and you’ve got yourself a Greek version of the Italian favorite panzanella. And here’s a fun idea: Grab a copy of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” throw pillows around the family room for atmosphere, and invite your guests to lounge while supping on their salad. Serve grilled lamb chops as a main course and somepastelli (sesame, pistachio, and honey candy) as a sweet finish.
5. Smoky Gazpacho Sorry for two tomato recipes, but it is August, after all. Because this gazpacho, rich with smoky flavor–not from smoked paprika, as many think–but from tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, onion, and garlic that are lightly smoked on the grill, was such a favorite of my recipe testers, I’d be strung and quartered if I didn’t include it. Serve it room temp or just slightly chilled so as not to mute the smokiness of the dish. And this concludes the tomato portion of our program. We now return to our regularly scheduled recipes.
6. Parmesan-Crusted Chicken This one’s for the kids–no matter their age. It’s a simple dip (in egg white), flip (in Parmesan cheese), and bake (in the oven) recipe. And what I like about it, besides how quick it is to make, is that it’s not first slathered with mayonnaise before being coating with cheese. Not that I have anything against mayo, mind you, but I’d rather pull it out for the aforementioned lobster salad.
7. Thai Grilled Pork If you’re like me, you just roll your eyes at any summer recipe with more than a handful of ingredients. And when I think Thai, I think bigshopping lists. But not with these little lovely pork skewers. They’re a cinch to put together. The marinade, made with cilantro root (more on that in a minute), garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and coconut cream, is what gives the pork flavor and keeps it moist. This recipe plays nicely with a green papaya salad and sticky rice. If you can get cilantro with its roots still attached, just wash, scrape, and finely chop it. If not, plain ole cilantro leaves will do.