This could be due to my former disdain for traditional schooling and my eagerness to laze in a lawn chair. Books grabbed from the icy cold library were piled high next to me, ready to be devoured alongside a fresh glass of lemonade.
Or maybe it was because my birthday marked the non-official end-of-summer because it fell just days before school would start again. Its placement would give me two free months to dream up the perfect birthday party… and the most wonderful cupcakes to complement it.
It could even be the childlike whimsy I still feel watching the exploding fireworks on the Fourth of July. This was often the first get together between family and friends for the season. I still remember the juices of a ripe watermelon dripping down our forearms and trays of homemade everything lining the kitchen counters.
You’ve woken up with the sun and stayed up past your bedtime with a sparkler in your hand.
As I write this, I realize there’s one thing all of these memories of summer have in common: the longer days give you permission to slow down.
The food experience changes in the summer too and it is truly the most wonderful time of the year for produce. Farmer’s Markets are buzzing. Blueberries are fat with juice and zucchini is spilling out of CSA boxes around the country. This is the time to find the most delicious tomato you’ve ever tasted. Your farmer’s market is selling corn 5 for $1 because the harvest is somehow always larger than expected.
If you’re planning something special (or if you’re just home in front of the air conditioner), here are some of our favorite seasonal, veggie-forward, slow food recipes for the 4th of July… none of which require you to turn on the oven. Take advantage of the gifts growing in our farms and gardens. And give yourself the permission to slow down.
This recipe is brand new in our house (featured in the July 2019 issue of Bon Appetit) and it was an immediate hit. Make sure you use plump sea scallops (the big guys) for optimal grilling conditions (caramelization is key). Most types of scallops are sustainably farmed, but we always check the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch site to make sure we’re doing the best thing for our oceans.
Shout out to us for creating this delicious, spicy cocktail that everyone will love. This spicy and sweet margarita is the perfect summer chiller. It will cool you down while spicing things up with ripe blackberries combined with the fire of ghost peppers.
This quick recipe is in heavy rotation in our house. Not only is it incredibly easy to make with many ingredients that you probably have on hand, but it goes well on its own or as a side to fish, chicken, beef, or tofu. I’ve also made it with zucchini (salt it first to get the juices out). The prep time is minimal, so you can get back to that water balloon fight.
Grilling the vegetables adds a complexity to this otherwise traditional panzanella salad. The vinaigrette is truly a gem on this dish, but if you don’t have all of the ingredients, don’t fret. We’ve finished off this salad with a drizzle of olive oil and some high-quality balsamic vinegar when we were out of mustard and it was still fabulous.
This recipe from Serious Eats is as delicious as it is affordable. Often overlooked in dessert recipes, the corn is bountiful and so fresh these days and lends a natural sweetness to every dish. Pull down the husk a bit before buying to make sure that summer’s little pest friends haven’t enjoyed it before you’ve had the chance to.
We made our paletas in a Zoku ice pop maker and it takes about 10 minutes to freeze completely. This is a must if you’ve always dreamed of spur-of-the-moment ice pop parties. This isn’t an ad, we just love our Zoku.
Ok, I know I said you wouldn’t have to turn on the oven. BUT this is my favorite summer recipe in the world (thanks Food52!) and it does require you to roast the strawberries. I can promise you won’t be sorry. The incredible summer flavors – the strawberries and the mint, not to mention the tang of the buttermilk – makes every second spent totally worth it.
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In this easy recipe Cherokee Chef Nico Albert combines the Three Sisters, corn, beans and squash, in a modern take on ancestral traditions to create a vegan sope that nourishes the soul as much as the body.