Sunny Summer Salad

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Try this yummy, refreshing and healthy salad when produce is at its’ peak during the summer. It’s a snap to put together, and stores well for a few hours, or is delicious served right away. The only special tool you need is a good sharp peeler. I prefer a Y style peeler, and I think Rösli is the best brand, it stays sharp. I love zucchini this way. It has such a different flavor than when cooked. If you don’t think you care for squash, try this recipe, you just might change your mind!

This serving size is for a generous 2, so double it for more servings.

Sunny Summer Salad

1 Yellow Squash, small
1 Zucchini, small
1/4 a medium sweet onion (Vidalia or Walla Walla)
1/2 each of 1 Red and Yellow Roasted Bell Pepper, sliced into ribbons. (store bought or homemade)
Parsley, minced
1 large clove of Garlic, peeled, minced

Dressing:
1 Tbsp fresh Lemon Juice (about a 1/4 of a lemon)
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Salt, Pepper to taste
Optional: 1/2 tsp of any mediterranean style spice mix

Optional: Fresh Ricotta Cheese.

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1. Cut the top and bottom off the squat. Using your vegetable peeler, ‘peel’ it into ribbons working from top to bottom. I peel down just to the seed core, then rotate it 90 degrees and slice the next side, working your way around the vegetable. Toss the core.
2. Cut your whole onion in half, then in half again. Lay on its cut side and holding one of the root ends, slice into thin quarter rings.
3. Whisk the olive oil into the lemon juice, add the garlic and seasoning.
4. Toss all the ingredients together.
5. If desired, top with a dollop of ricotta, fresh as possible.
Tip: If storing for longer than a 1/2 hour, do not salt it until serving. Squash has a lot of water. Salt will pull that water out and your salad dressing will be diluted and weak tasting.

This is one of those dishes where there are very few ingredients, as such, buy the highest quality produce you can find. And if your store doesn’t carry fresh Ricotta, any decent Italian Deli will carry it.

Summer in Minnesota is short, so I don’t like to dawdle in the kitchen. Toss this together, pair it with a protein and head outside for a picnic!


Easy Elegant Dessert: Raspberry Chocolate Cups

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Don’t those look delish? Well, they were and they are a snap to whip up and serve, requiring minimal ingredients. If you are looking for a pretty dessert to serve on the fly, keep the basic ingredients on hand and give this a whirl. Its flexible too, just modify your fruit to what is in season. Or, add some fruit purée to the filling to change up the flavor profile.

To start with, you need some of those cute little chocolate dessert cups. Mine came with pre-made white and dark chocolate curls for garnish. I like to keep these on hand, and they are sold at my local upscale grocery store. (They are also available at Amazon.com, or you can make your own)

Then, in a small bowl, I add fresh Marscapone and powdered sugar to sweeten. Yes, it really is that simple. You can whisk it, so it becomes light and fluffy, or you can just stir it in well. This is the point where you can get your ‘creative on’ by adding some fruit purée or substitute an artisan or homemade jam/jelly for the sugar. A citrus oil would be lovely with candied rinds. The combinations abound, just put on that creative thinking cap.

Then, fill your little cups with the cheese mixture, garnish with fruit and top with the curls.

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SO, SO, SO, easy! Yet impressive too!

(Forgive the ‘less than perfect’ photographs. I took these on the fly, while entertaining. Next time, I’ll be sure to try and make the photo worthy of the dish!)

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Awesomely Simple Summer Salad

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Spring has sprung and my thoughts turn to easy summer food. Minnesota winters are so depressingly long and brutal, that when the trees bloom, the sun shines and the grass greens, all I want to do is enjoy the outdoors. That means meals that are quick, easy and yet tasty. And since this is the state of bi-polar weather, I look for dishes that are light and refreshing to weather thru the blast furnace of our summers. (Where else can it be -20 degrees in January and just six months later be 90+ degrees in July? I rest my case, Bi-polar.)

I stumbled upon this years ago and it is now a summertime favorite ‘go-to’ salad for me. The combination may see odd, but trust me, the flavors merry perfectly together and as long as your watermelon is ripe and flavorful, this will not disappoint. It takes advantage of summertime produce, and it’s beautiful to boot.

In fairly equal proportions:

Watermelon – cubed
Cucumber – seeded, peeled and cubed
Jicama – peeled and cubed

Rough chop equal parts of:
Basil
Mint
Cilantro

Then generously squeeze fresh lime juice over the top and mix well. .

I am not including measurements because you can make as much or as little as you want. As you can see in my photo, I like mine full of herbs. But you can use less if you want. This is the beauty of this salad. Its so customizable. Make as much, or as little as you like. This salad travels perfectly in a cooler for a picnic or poolside, and is beautiful on a buffet table. Try it and leave me your feedback!