Summer Dishes

AioliImage via Wikipedia

Mid-August and it's sizzling out there. This is no time for elaborate meals and dinners. We want something fast, nutritious and cool. Below are some quick summer dishes one can create in minutes. All dishes should be served at room temperature.

Mushroom Salad: Wash and clean a bunch of mushrooms (about 1-2 pounds---you can choose whatever you want: white mushrooms, criminis, portabellos, etc.); cut in half or quarter any large ones. Steam about 5 minutes. While still warm, toss with sliced shallots or onions; add olive oil, minced garlic, ground black pepper, coriander, chopped fresh cilantro, and red wine vinegar.

Combination Beans: Combine cooked or canned beans, drained. You can mix any variety: black beans, red beans, chickpeas, etc. Add diced red and green pimentos, and a minced jalepeno or tabasco pepper (make sure you remove seeds). Season with juice from one lime, chopped marjoram, oregano and ground black pepper to taste.

Horta (a seasoned salad): Steam or poach two pounds of dark leafy greens (spinach, collards, kale, etc.). Drain, cool, squeeze dry and chop coarsely. Add olive oil, oregano, ground black pepper, and fresh lemon juice to taste.

Basic Green Salad: Wash and cut plum tomatoes into slices. Lay in a circle on a big plate with mixed greens, black olives cut in half, and cubes of goat cheese (preferably manchego---if you can get it). Season with ground black pepper, salt and oregano. Drizzle with red wine vinegar and olive oil. Garnish with a sliced boiled egg.

Aioli is a sauce popular in Provence that's served with seafood, shellfish, boiled eggs, and potatoes. In a blender or food processor, blend 3 cloves peeled garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil until creamy and smooth. Transfer to a bowl (preferably wood), and very slowly add 3/4 olive oil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until mixture thickens. Traditional Aioli included a raw egg, but nowadays that's not recommended due to health reasons.

Whichever recipe you prefer, enjoy. Or you can try making up your own summer snack. The possibilities are endless.
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