We are well into summer now! As much as I can, I like summer cooking not to involve heat. Unless we’re talking about barbecuing. That falls into a totally different category. But still, it is easy to run out of flavorful side dishes that require no stovetop or baking and to get bored of eating salad all the time. One way to get around it is to pimp it up! Look at a few tips to make your food full of flavor and refreshing this season.
There are plenty of delicious greens out there. Boost your salad with herbs! Mint and cilantro and, surprisingly, a chopped fennel bulb can be most refreshing when added to arugula or spinach. Mesclun green mixes available at most grocery stores are great to add a bistro touch to your plate. Don’t be shy to get grapes or raisins in there, or dried cranberries, cut strawberries, tangerines, pineapple, watermelon… Get out of the ordinary.
A simple salad dressing made with virgin olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice will add a refreshing kick! Try using a different oil to change the taste of your dressing. For example, sunflower oil also mixes very well with lemon juice or soy sauce, baby spinach leaves, sunflower seeds and Corinth raisins.
You can save the half of squeezed lemon you used for your salad dressing with coarse salt to clean the wood cutting board on which you chopped your herbs as mentioned in a previous article too.
Another one I like is chopped green onions and an half and half mix of balsamic vinegar and sesame oil. It also makes a great marinade for a beef flank steak. Just barbecue your piece of meat until it is rare, and then drop it in the marinade. Put it in the fridge in an airtight plastic container for a few hours, slice it and serve cold on greens (I prefer arugula).
It’s no secret, I, your Cutting Boards USA chef, just love mixing sweet and salty flavors, as well as sweet and spicy or tangy ones. And I have a slight tendency (understatement alert) to put balsamic vinegar in pretty much everything. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the stuff. My favorite summer treat is vanilla ice-cream, topped with freshly cut strawberries, a few cranks of pepper mill, chopped basil and a spoonful or two of balsamic reduction. Yes, you read right! Vinegar and ice-cream! Will you be adventurous enough to give it a try? I sometimes make homemade ice-cream too, and lately the recipe I make over and over again is Caramel-Balsamic ice cream from Humphrey Slocombe Ice Cream Book.
All a well-equipped kitchen needs during summer time is good sharp knives, strainers, mixing bowls, tongs and a few cutting boards, or even better, a butcher block. Much of the cooking involves only washing food, cutting, chopping, slicing and mixing. Keep things simple and enjoy life!