There are a myriad of options for healthy meals these days that rely on the freshness of their ingredients that when paired with fresh herbs and seasonings, elevate your summer dinners. When hosting guests in the summer months, there are so many options that are fairly simple that just take a bit of prep time typically slicing, dicing and chopping. Here, based on that premise, I would like to share with you some of our favorites thus far this summer.
Grilled Citrus – Marinated Shrimp
Yield: 4 servings
1 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for coating grill pan
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
To prepare marinade: In a small bowl, use a whisk to combine the honey, cilantro, ginger, lemon zest, orange juice and olive oil. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper; set aside.
To cook shrimp: Prepare a medium-high charcoal fire, preheat a gas grill to medium-high or heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush the pan with a thin coating of oil using a silicone pastry brush.
Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, carefully place them on the grill, and sear on both sides. Turn once with tongs or a fish spatula, until no longer pink, about 3 to 4 minutes per side, depending on size of shrimp. (You could also thread the shrimp onto large skewers and grill them on the skewers, sliding them off into a bowl once cooked)
Transfer the cooked shrimp to a medium bowl, toss with marinade. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
To serve: Transfer the cooked shrimp to warmed plates and serve immediately.
Summer Squash Carpaccio with Arugula, Pecorino and Almonds
Yield: 4 servings
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 pound small zucchini, preferably a mix of green and yellow varieties, no more than 5 inches long
2- 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, minced to paste
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 handfuls of arugula (about 3 ounces)
Chunk of pecorino toscano, ricotta salata, or other medium-aged pecorino cheese, for shaving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Toast the almonds on a baking sheet until golden brown and fragrant, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool.
Trim the ends of the zucchini. With a mandoline or other manual vegetable slicer, or a vegetable peeler, shave the zucchini lengthwise. Discard the first and last slices of each squash, which are mostly skin. Put the zucchini ribbons in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt to taste. Add the dressing to the shaved zucchini and toss with your hands to coat it evenly. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Let stand for 5 minutes to allow the zucchini to soften.
Add the arugula to the zucchini. With a cheese plane or vegetable peeler, shave about 3 ounces of cheese, or as much as you like, into the bowl. Add several grinds of black pepper, then toss gently with your hands. Transfer the salad to a serving platter, leaving any watery juices behind. Top with the toasted almonds. Serve immediately.
Deconstructed Tomato, Mozzarella and Arugula Salad
2 cups of arugula
1 package of fresh mozzarella sliced
1 pint of tear drop cherry tomatoes
Very good finishing olive oil
Freshly ground sea salt (I used Pink Himalayan )
Coarsely ground pepper
*Optional – balsamic glaze
Any grilled protein you would like to serve alongside the salad. Our favorite is grilled chicken.
Arrange the above ingredients on a pretty platter similar to the one shown in the photo above. Drizzle great olive oil, salt and pepper. If you like the taste of balsamic glaze drizzle that over top as well.
Entertaining in the fresh outdoors is my favorite. There is so much to pull from around you, in your own surroundings, that’s simple in nature but when combined can elevate your summer afternoon or evening.
Look around you… take those elements and make them your own.
Grab a vintage tablecloth and set your table with it. Decorate that table with freshly picked flowers from your garden, slow down a little and enjoy it… after you’ve whipped up a delicious meal to gather around and partake in with others. It’s the summertime friends! Grab it and enjoy the moments it gives you!