Summer recipes: four lunches or dinners to celebrate the season

me I can hardly believe it, but here we are in barbecue season, beach picnic season, dinner salad season—summer, my favorite time of year to cook. Some people prefer fall for its coolness; winter for its warmth; spring for its promise of something green. I do not. I am here for the summer.

Proof that this is one of my favorite topics: yesterday I was invited to a radio show talking about summer cooking and having fun. We talked at length about the hot honey butter fried chicken biscuits (other recipes that came up: gazpacho, cold corn chowder, egg salad, lemon mint potato salad, blueberry pie, and antipasto caprese, aka the super caprese).

Salmon and couscous salad with cucumber and feta dressing

The dressing in this 30-minute recipe is inspired by the green goddess dressing and mast-o khiar, a Persian side dish of cucumbers and yogurt. Here, thick yogurt is paired with fresh herbs, tangy feta, and crisp Persian cucumbers. If you have trouble finding Persian cucumbers, you can swap them for similarly sweet-skinned English cucumbers or regular peeled cucumbers. Shredding the salmon into the salad distributes it evenly and is a good alternative to serving a steak for dinner. Leftover salad can be enjoyed cold for lunch the next day, refreshed with a splash of lime juice and more fresh herbs.

By: Yasmin Fahr

It serves: 4

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

3 (170 g) salmon fillets with skin (or without skin)

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling

salt and black pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

2 limes, 1 halved and 1 grated and juiced

225g pearl couscous

rocket baby 40g

250g thick, full-fat yogurt, such as Greek, Skyr, or labneh

125g feta cheese, crumbled

A handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, cilantro or dill leaves, and baby stems, coarsely chopped

A handful of fresh mint leaves and young stems, coarsely chopped

1 Persian cucumber, cut into 1½-cm cubes

2 scallions, light green and white parts, sliced

Method:

1. Heat the oven to 200C. In the center of a baking sheet, place salmon skin-side down. Pat the salmon dry, then coat it with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, ½ teaspoon cumin and ½ teaspoon turmeric. Coat 1 of the lime halves with a little olive oil in the pan, then place cut side up in the corner.

2. Grill salmon on center rack until opaque on the outside and light pink in the center, about 18 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

3. While the salmon is grilling, prepare the couscous: In a covered pot over medium-high heat, toast the couscous, uncovered, stirring until fragrant, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add 3 cups of water, season with salt, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain an active simmer, then cook until couscous is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain couscous in a colander, then drizzle with olive oil, tossing to coat. Add the arugula, letting it wilt. Leave it in the sink to cool slightly while you make the dressing.

4. Prepare the dressing: In a serving bowl, combine the yogurt with ¼ cup room temperature water and the zest and juice of 1 lime, then whisk until smooth. Add the remaining ½ teaspoon cumin, plus half the feta cheese, most of the herbs (reserving some for garnish), and the cucumber. Stir to combine, then season to taste with salt. Set aside.

5. Add cooked couscous and arugula to yogurt mixture, stirring to combine. Remove the salmon from the skin, then flake it with a fork. Add half of the salmon to the couscous, mixing it up. Arrange the remaining salmon on top, squeeze half of the roasted lime onto the plate, then garnish with the scallions, remaining feta, parsley, and mint. Quarter remaining lime half and serve on the side.

Creamy pasta with ricotta and herbs

A simple, elastic and flavorful pasta.

(Getty/iStock)

In this simple, springy pasta, milky ricotta diluted with a little cooking water from the starchy pasta makes for a spicy, brothy dish that’s seasoned with lots of black pepper and herbs. For the best flavor, use at least three different types of herbs, squeeze out some nicer olive oil, and go for fresh ricotta. Lemon lovers can also grate the zest from half a lemon.

By: Melissa Clark

It serves: 4 portions

Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

Salt

450g short pasta, such as shells, cavatappi, chiocciole, farfalle, ditali, or wagon wheels

340g fresh whole milk ricotta

70g freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

60 ml extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper, plus more for serving

170g coarsely chopped soft herbs, such as basil, chives, fennel leaves, parsley, mint, tarragon, chervil or dill (try a combination of at least 3 types)

Method:

1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Reserve 2 cups of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.

2. In the same pot, make the sauce: Add ricotta, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, pepper, and a large pinch or two of salt, and stir until well combined.

3. Add 1 cup pasta water to sauce and stir until smooth. Add the pasta and herbs, continuing to stir vigorously until the noodles are well coated. Add more pasta water as needed for a smooth, thick sauce. Taste and add more salt if needed.

4. To serve, spoon pasta into bowls and finish with more Parmesan, olive oil, and pepper.

Chicken, artichoke and broccoli bake

This might be a casserole, but it’s bright, light and effortless.

(Getty/iStock)

This one-dish dinner is actually a casserole dish, but it’s bright and light, and almost effortless. Toss canned artichokes with capers, garlic, and chicken broth, pour over chicken breasts and broccoli florets, then let the oven do the work. Canned artichokes are the main flavor generator here, so opt for the firmer water-packed variety, which holds its shape better during cooking. While the casserole is baking, toast the panko breadcrumbs and season with dill. Serve chicken with a squeeze of lemon for gloss and a sprinkle of herbed breadcrumbs for crunch.

By: Kay Chun

It serves: 4

Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

4 boneless chicken breasts (680-900g)

1 small head of broccoli (about 450g), tough stem removed, head cut into 5cm florets

5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

salt and black pepper

2 cans (400g) quartered artichoke hearts in water, drained

60 ml low sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons drained capers

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

60g panko breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

lemon wedges, to serve

Method:

1. Heat the oven to 200C. In 2.8 L baking dish, combine chicken, broccoli florets and 2 tablespoons oil; Spice with salt and pepper. Toss to evenly coat, spread the broccoli into an even layer, and place the chicken breasts on top.

2. In a large bowl, combine artichokes, broth, capers, butter, garlic, and 2 tablespoons oil and season with salt and pepper. Gently mix, then pour mixture over chicken and broccoli. Bake until chicken is cooked through and artichokes are browned in places, 30 to 35 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add panko, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool, then add the dill and season with salt and pepper.

4. Divide the chicken and vegetables into shallow bowls and pour over some of the pan juices. Squeeze with lemon and top with dill breadcrumbs.

Skirt Steak with Salsa Verde Salad

Salsa verde is both a marinade and a dressing in this summer dinner salad.

(Getty/iStock)

Salsa verde made with scallions, mint, parsley, capers, and garlic becomes both the marinade for the steak and the dressing for the vegetables in this summery salad. For an extra smoky flavor, try grilling the romaine lettuce hearts (drizzle with olive oil and grill, cut-side down, until lightly charred). Or, if you love sour greens, substitute coarsely chopped escarole leaves for the romaine lettuce.

By: Lidey Heck

It serves: 4

Total Time: 35 minutes, plus marinade

Ingredients:

680g flank steak

60 ml of extra virgin olive oil

60ml red wine vinegar

25g spring onions, thinly sliced ​​(about 2)

2 tablespoons capers, drained and chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 2 large cloves)

½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

½ teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons minced fresh mint

25g toasted pine nuts

2 hearts of romaine lettuce

90g feta cheese, crumbled

Method:

1. If necessary, cut the steak crosswise into large pieces that will fit in a shallow, non-reactive dish. Transfer fillets to plate. In a glass measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, scallions, capers, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Pour about ⅓ of the dressing over the steak and flip to coat both sides.

2. Add parsley and 1 tablespoon mint to reserved dressing, stir and set aside until ready to use. Cover and refrigerate steak for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours (if marinating steak overnight, cover and refrigerate reserved dressing).

3. In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the pine nuts, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Set aside.

4. Put the grill on medium-high heat, or heat a skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. Pat the steaks dry with a paper towel and grill for 3-5 minutes on each side so they are medium rare. Transfer to a plate, sprinkle with salt and let rest for 10 minutes.

5. While steak is resting, cut romaine lettuce hearts lengthwise into quarters. Arrange the romaine hearts in one layer on a large plate, leaving room on one side for the steak. Sprinkle feta cheese, pine nuts, and remaining tablespoon of mint over romaine lettuce. Cut the steak crosswise into 7½-cm pieces, then slice against the grain to cut the steak into wide strips. Arrange sliced ​​steak on plate, then drizzle reserved dressing over romaine lettuce and steak. Serve immediately.

© The New York Times

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