The best part about summer cooking is that the produce perfectly aligns with our needs: when it’s way too hot to turn on the oven or sit in front of the stove stirring, summer produce asks for just a pinch of salt and maybe–at most–a quick sear.
For the few months where the farmer’s market stands are the most delicious and vibrant and fragrant and enticing, we only have one responsibility: take full advantage while we can.
One of the glories of summer is the non-recipe. The “what can I make with a handful of the best looking things I found at the market” recipe. Here are the chef’s top go-tos:
Watermelon Salad: grab the juiciest watermelon you can find. Cube enough of it for the amount of people you’re snackin’ with, then throw it in a bowl with a bunch of torn or chiffonaded fresh mint and/or basil, feta or mozzarella, maybe some toasted pepitas if you’re feeling fancy. Set aside to macerate for an hour, and enjoy at room temp.
Orzo Salad: Boil about a cup of orzo until al dente. Chop a literal ton of herbs–okay maybe not a literal ton but like a lot, a lot! We like lots of herbs in our orzo salads. Add torn mozzarella, halved cherry tomatoes, and any fresh veggies you have on hand. Don’t under dress! Finish with a good amount of vinaigrette, a healthy pinch or two of salt, and plenty of fresh cracked pepper.
Grilled summer veggies: go to your farmer’s market and ask your farmer what they’re stoked on–chances are it will differ each year. Think big planks of summer squash, bright red and yellow peppers, eggplant and the like. Brush them with oil, season with salt & pepper & maybe some fresh oregano, and grill them fast and hot - they don’t need much time on there. Brush them with a vinaigrette made of 1 part extra virgin olive oil, 1 part lemon juice. Finish with more salt and pep and eat immediately, ideally outside with a refreshing beverage in hand.
Summer Salads: the fresh lettuce you can find, stone fruit, something salty (i.e. feta or parm, but creamy–like burrata–works too), and something crunchy (i.e. homemade croutons or nuts), and a simple vinaigrette. Micro greens and tiny radishes are extra cute in a summer salad, don’t sleep on them!
Chef Tuck’s Elote: grilled corn with lots of crema–yes please, Chef!
Chef Tuck’s Farro Salad: can be tweaked for the season, but summer’s our favorite
Chef Connie’s Bacon Fat Potato Salad with Truffles & Scallion: just as good at room temperature
Lemon-Garlic-Truffle Aioli: perfect for grilled veggies, steamed artichokes & grilled meat
How to Tourne Artichokes: when hard work pays off! When you're up for a project, use this as a guide to create a beautiful braised artichoke salad. (Between us, though, you can also just steam or roast them whole, doused in olive oil and wrapped in foil. Or steam them whole, halve them, scoop out the choke, and throw them on the grill. It's summer and the vibes are good, people can dig for a minute for the tasty leaves!).
Chef Jeremy’s S’mores Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches: no churn, all fun!
Cheers to all your summer cookouts, picnics, al fresco dinner parties! Here's hoping we all get to take full advantage of life's simple gifts this year.
Chefs Connie, Jeremy, & Tucker