It’s easy to get off track from healthy cooking in the summer- it’s too hot! And it’s so much more tempting to take the invite out for dinner when the days are longer, and you can sit outside to dine! I get it. But, here are a few recipes I found from NY Times Cooking that will keep it light and easy for summer… and tasty too!
Chilled Watermelon Soup
- 7 cups diced watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes
- Salt and pepper
- Pinch of cayenne
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
- 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
- 2 cups diced honeydew melon or cantaloupe, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 cups diced cucumber, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons snipped chives
- Handful of small basil leaves
- Handful of small mint leaves
- Pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)
- Pinch of flaky salt such as Maldon or fleur de sel (optional)
- Put 5 cups of diced watermelon in a food processor or blender and blitz to a purée. Strain purée through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl. You should have about 4 cups purée. Season with salt and pepper and cayenne, 1 tablespoon vinegar and 2 tablespoons lime juice. Taste and adjust seasoning. Chill bowl on ice or refrigerate.
- To serve, place remaining diced watermelon, honeydew melon and cucumber in a small mixing bowl. Toss with a little salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons lime juice and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Divide mixture evenly into chilled soup bowls.
- Ladle watermelon purée into each bowl. Sprinkle with chives, basil and mint. Add a sprinkle of crushed red pepper and flaky salt if desired. Pass lime wedges separately.
Grilled Steak Tacos with Cherry-Tomato Avocado Salsa
For the steak:
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 ½ teaspoons New Mexican or other mild chile powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 large garlic clove, finely grated or minced
- Finely grated zest of 1 lime (cut lime into wedges for serving)
- 2 ½ pounds skirt steak (usually 2 steaks)
For the salsa:
- 1 white onion, peeled and sliced into 1-inch-thick slices
- 2 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 2 jalapeños
- 1 quart cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 avocado, diced
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves and stems
- 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice, more to taste
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
- Corn or flour tortillas, for serving
- Sliced radishes, for serving
- Mexican crema or sour cream, for serving (optional)
- Prepare the steak: In a small bowl, mix together the salt, chile powder, coriander, cumin, garlic and lime zest. Rub mixture all over the steaks, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or preferably overnight.
- Prepare the salsa: Light the grill or heat to medium-high (or heat the broiler). Grill onion, garlic and 1 jalapeño until tender and charred on all sides, 5 to 10 minutes (or place on a broiler pan and broil). Remove from heat until cool enough to handle, then roughly chop onions, peel garlic and remove seeds and stem from jalapeño.
- Transfer grilled onion, garlic and jalapeño to a blender or mini food processor. Halve the fresh jalapeño and seed it, if desired, then add it to the blender. Process to a chunky paste. Scrape into a serving bowl and toss with tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, lime juice and salt.
- Add more charcoal to the grill, if needed, and grill the steaks until done to taste, about 2 minutes per side for rare (or broil). Let meat rest on a cutting board covered with foil for at least 7 minutes. Meanwhile, grill or broil the tortillas until warm.
- To serve, slice the meat across the grain, and serve with the warm tortillas, radishes, lime wedges, salsa and crema. Let people assemble their own tacos at the table.
Grilled Chicken Breast with Spicy Cucumber
For the chicken:
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 8 ounces each)
- 1 ¼ teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper, more as needed
- ½ teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
- Finely grated zest of 1 lime
- 2 garlic cloves, grated on a Microplane
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
For the sauce:
- ⅓ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
- ⅓ cup packed fresh parsley leaves
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 to 3 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt, more to taste
- 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice, more to taste
- 3 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced (about 2 1/4 cups)
- Place a chicken breast between a layer of parchment paper or plastic wrap and use a mallet, rolling pin or the flat side of a heavy knife to pound to a thickness of about 1/2 inch. Repeat with remaining breasts.
- Season chicken with salt, pepper and paprika. Place in a bowl and toss with lime zest, garlic and oil. Cover and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes or overnight in the refrigerator.
- Meanwhile, prepare the sauce: In a blender, combine cilantro, parsley, oil, jalapeños, garlic, salt and lime juice. Blend until smooth, adding 1 or 2 tablespoons water if necessary to blend. Taste and add more salt and/or lime juice if needed.
- Heat the grill to medium-high or heat up the broiler or a grill pan. Grill or broil until chicken is lightly browned at the edges and just cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes per side.
- In a medium bowl, toss cucumbers with a pinch of salt. Let sit for 5 minutes. Right before serving, toss cucumbers with sauce and serve alongside chicken, drizzling chicken with any leftover sauce from the bottom of the cucumber bowl, and a little olive oil.
Sautéed Corn, Greens, Bacon, and Scallions
- 4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 shallot or small onion, minced
- 3 cups corn kernels, from about 4 ears corn (or a combination of corn and diced summer squash)
- ½ cup chopped red or orange bell pepper (or carrot)
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 or 3 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
- 4 to 6 cups shredded, de-stemmed greens, like chard or kale (or whole baby spinach, or another tender green)
- Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-low heat, turning occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain; pour off all but a teaspoon of fat from the skillet.
- Add butter and melt. Add shallot (and carrot, if using) and adjust heat; vegetables should sizzle, but not scorch. Cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. Add corn, peppers and pepper flakes and let sizzle, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Crumble bacon and add to skillet with scallions. Add greens two cups at a time, stirring to wilt before adding more. Cook together 1 minute and serve hot.
Minty Fruit Salad
- 4 ½ to 5 pounds chopped fresh stone fruit
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice
- ¼ cup fresh chopped mint leaves
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Add chopped fresh stone fruit (any of the following: peaches, cherries, plums, nectarines, apricots or mangoes), orange juice, mint leaves and honey. Stir and serve.