Summer Food Bucket List & Favorite Summer Recipes

Summer Food Bucket List & Favorite Summer Recipes

One of the joys of any season is the food and as the temperature rises and days get longer, I look forward to indulging in all of my favorite summer foods……

Fresh peaches picked from local orchards eaten straight off of the tree, baked in pies, and  grilled and tossed in salads…… Flatbreads on the grill drizzled with olive oil, topped with cheeses, and hopefully, plenty of vegetables from our own garden (which is coming along!)…… My most favorite summer dessert: Eton Mess……  A crab feast with plenty of Old Bay. (You can take the girl out of the DC/MD/VA but…..)

A paella party is a summer must-do as well……

When it comes to day to day meal prep in the summer, I want fresh, light food and uncomplicated recipes. Okay, I want that all year round but I want it easy especially easy breezy in the summertime. These recipes fit the bill which is why they’re in my repertoire year after year. (I’ve also included a paella recipe which I wouldn’t consider an everyday dish but it’s the perfect thing for a casual summer dinner party. It’s a little more involved but not difficult at all.) I hope you’ll try some of these recipes and like them as much as I do. Please let me know if you do!  Happy summer and bon appetit!




Traditional Andalusian Gazpacho from the New York Times

Serves 8-12

About 2 pounds ripe red tomatoes, cored and roughly cut into chunks
1 Italian frying (cubanelle) pepper or another long, light green pepper, such as Anaheim, cored, seeded and roughly cut into chunks
1 cucumber, about 8 inches long, peeled and roughly cut into chunks
1 small mild onion (white or red), peeled and roughly cut into chunks
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar, more to taste
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, more to taste, plus more for drizzling

Combine tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, onion and garlic in a blender or, if using a hand blender, in a deep bowl. (If necessary, work in batches.) Blend at high speed until very smooth, at least 2 minutes, pausing occasionally to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula.

With the motor running, add the vinegar and 2 teaspoons salt. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil. The mixture will turn bright orange or dark pink and become smooth and emulsified, like a salad dressing. If it still seems watery, drizzle in more olive oil until texture is creamy.

Strain the mixture through a strainer or a food mill, pushing all the liquid through with a spatula or the back of a ladle. Discard the solids. Transfer to a large pitcher (preferably glass) and chill until very cold, at least 6 hours or overnight.

Before serving, adjust the seasonings with salt and vinegar. If soup is very thick, stir in a few tablespoons ice water. Serve in glasses, over ice if desired. A few drops of olive oil on top are a nice touch.

*The traditional version calls for no garnishes but a little chopped tomato and chives never hurt anyone. 😉


Ajo Blanco (Spanish Chilled Bread and Almond Soup) from Serious Eats

1 cup blanched or Marcona almonds
3 cups cold water
1 to 2 medium cloves garlic
1/2 pound fresh, crustless rustic bread cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sherry vinegar, plus more if desired
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish and for serving
Green seedless grapes, crushed toasted almonds, and thinly sliced fresh mint leaves, for garnish

In a blender, combine almonds with water and garlic and blend at high speed until milky; you may need to stop and scrape down sides of blender jar once or twice. Add bread and blend until very smooth. Season with salt, then blend in vinegar and olive oil. If using a less powerful blender, you may want to pass the soup through a fine-mesh strainer at this point; with a high-powered blender, that won’t be necessary.

Transfer soup to a sealed container and refrigerate until very well chilled, at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.

To Serve: Cut up grapes into smaller pieces and toss with almonds, mint, and just enough olive oil to coat. Season garnish with salt. Shake or stir soup well. Check consistency and thin with cold water, if desired. Adjust seasoning, adding more salt and/or vinegar, if desired. Pour into chilled serving bowls. Spoon grape garnish on top, lightly drizzling more olive oil onto each serving in a decorative manner. Serve.


Arugula and Peach Salad with Creamy Chive Vinaigrette from Bon Appetit

Serves 6


2 large ripe peaches
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons whipping cream
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh chives
12 cups (loosely packed) arugula (about 6 ounces)

Wash peaches, rubbing to remove fuzz. Cut in half; remove pits. Thinly slice peaches. Place peach slices in large bowl. Add 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice; toss. Whisk 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice and olive oil in small bowl. Whisk in cream, then chives. Season with salt and pepper.

Add arugula to bowl with peaches. Add dressing and toss. Season with more salt and pepper, if desired, and serve.

*If the grill happens to be on, I like to grill the peaches in quarters before slicing them.


Couscous Salad with Peas and Mint  from the Washington Post with a few tweaks

Serves 8


1 1/2 cups plain (uncooked) couscous
1 1/2 cups fresh peas (or 8 ounces frozen)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons  lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil, or more as needed
Freshly ground black pepper

Optional: feta*

Prepare the couscous according to the package directions. When it’s ready, transfer it to a large bowl, fluffing it with a fork to break up any clumps.

Meanwhile, bring a 2-quart pot of lightly salted water to a boil and prepare a bowl of ice water. Add the peas to the boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Pour the peas into a colander and immediately transfer them to the ice water. Let them cool for 5 minutes, then drain in the colander, shaking off any excess water.

Add the mint, lemon juice, and oil to the couscous, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix to thoroughly combine. Taste, and adjust the seasonings as needed. If the couscous is too dry, stir in more oil, 1 tablespoon at a time. Add the blanched peas and stir to combine. Serve immediately.

*Top with cubed feta if desired.

Paella a la Marinera (Fisherman’s Paella) from Saveur with a few tweaks



25 threads saffron, crushed (a heaping 1⁄4 tsp.)
1 lb. boneless monkfish (or other firm white fish) filets, cut into 2″ pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 extra-large head-on shrimp in the shell
1/2 lb. cuttlefish or small squid, cleaned and cut into 1″ pieces
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
4 medium tomatoes, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, cored and chopped
1 small onion, minced
7 cups fish broth
2 1⁄2 cups short-grain rice, preferably Valencia or bomba

Put saffron and 1⁄4 cup hot water in a small bowl; let sit for 15 minutes. Season monkfish with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 16″-18″ paella pan over medium-high heat. (I use a cast iron pan.) Add fish and shrimp and cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes; transfer them to a plate and set aside. Add cuttlefish, paprika, tomatoes, garlic, peppers, and onions to pan and cook, stirring often, until onions are soft, about 6 minutes. Add reserved saffron mixture and broth, season with salt, and bring to a boil over high heat.

Sprinkle in rice, distribute evenly with a spoon, and cook, without stirring, until rice has absorbed most of the liquid, 10-12 minutes. (If your pan is larger than the burner, rotate it every two minutes so different parts are over the heat and the rice cooks evenly.) Reduce heat to low, add reserved fish and shrimp; cook, without stirring, until rice has absorbed the liquid and is al dente, 5-10 minutes. Remove pan from heat, cover with aluminum foil, and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Eaton Mess from Nigella

Serves 4

4 cups strawberries
2 teaspoons superfine sugar*
2 teaspoons pomegranate juice
2 cups heavy cream
4 small meringue cookies

Hull and chop the strawberries and put into a bowl. Add the sugar and pomegranate juice and leave to macerate while you whip the cream.
Whip the cream in a large bowl until thick but still soft.
Roughly crumble in 4 meringues nests – you will need chunks for texture, as well as a little fine dust.
Take out about ½ cup of the chopped strawberries, and fold the meringued cream and rest of the fruit mixture together.
Arrange on four serving plates or glasses, or in a mound, and top each one with some of the remaining macerated strawberries.

*I’ve used regular sugar and it worked fine but if you want to do it properly, you can just blitz the sugar for 30 seconds in a food processor to get superfine sugar. Add an extra teaspoon or so if you do to get a full 2 teaspoons.

[Art: Still Life with Plate of Cherries, Paul Cézanne, 1885-87]

Summer Food Bucket List & Favorite Summer Recipes