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The Cookstr 10: Ten Fast, Light Recipes for Summer

July 15, 2010

Even the most avid cooks reach a mid-summer moment where their driving culinary thought is, “How fast can I make dinner?” We still want it to be good, we still want it to be interesting, but most of all, we want it to be quick. Words like “braise,” “roast,” and “slow simmer” take a backseat to words like “grill,” “sear”, “toss,” and “chill.” It’s like putting your sled into storage, and pulling out the inflatable raft (knowing you’ll be happy to see the sled again in a few months).

Jasper White's Chilled Maine Shrimp with Cabbage and Peanuts, Vietnamese-Style

This Cookstr 10 is a collection of dishes that will get you in and out of the kitchen with alacrity, fill you up without weighing you down, and just feel right for summer. We will happily spend hours standing in front of a hot stove…just not today.

Gordon Ramsay's Linguine with Lemon, Feta and Basil

1. Marie Simmons’ Summer Couscous. Couscous is always a smart go-to starch in the summertime because instead of cooking in a huge pot of water, a small amount of boiled water is poured over the tiny grains and then it steams itself right in the bowl. This salad has flecks of aromatic vegetables and herbs and a light dressing, and would be at home on the side of just about anything you can think of.

2. Debra Ponzek’s Green and Yellow Squash Ribbons. A delicious solution to the perennial issue of too many zucchini at one time. Paper thin slices of squash get a 3-minute sauté with some herbs and they’re done.

3. Gordon Ramsay’s Linguine with Lemon, Feta, and Basil. Set the table and pour the wine, because in about that amount of time hot cooked pasta gets a quick toss with lemon, Parmesan, basil, and feta, and toasty pine nuts are strewn on top.

4. Laura Werlin’s Watermelon, Ricotta Salata, and Fresh Herb Salad. Watermelon salads have taken the country by storm, and for good reason. The unparalleled sweetness and refreshing quality of the fruit creates eye-popping flavor combinations with all kinds of ingredients. In this case, slightly salty, slightly sweet ricotta salata, tart lime, and handfuls of herbs play against the ripe melon.

Giuliano Hazan's Spaghetti with Scallops, Fresh Tomatoes, and Basil

5. Giuliano Hazan’s Spaghetti with Scallops, Fresh Tomatoes, and Basil. Try to buy dry scallops, instead of wet, as the dry ones aren’t treated with chemicals or soaked in water (which, by the way make them heavier–i.e. costlier–and don’t allow them to brown properly when cooking).

6. Marcus Samuelsson’s Open-Face Salmon Sandwich with Sweet Mustard Sauce. Open-faced sandwiches look and feel more sophisticated than your regular two-hander. This one salutes Scandinavia, with a good-looking piece of grilled wild salmon (bountiful at this time of year) layered up on dark bread with sweet mustard sauce, tomato, avocado, and hard-boiled egg.

7. Jasper White’s Chilled Maine Shrimp with Cabbage and Peanuts, Vietnamese-Style. Next time you are poaching or grilling up some shrimp, throw in a few extra and hide them in the fridge so you can make this simple, healthful, and elegant salad later. Fish sauce, Asian chile paste, and ginger intone Vietnam, and are what make this not-your-everyday salad.

8. Poopa Dweck’s Zucchini Fritters. If you have a garden starting to fill with zucchini, these little fritters offer up some nice rose colored glasses with which to view the multiplying green vegetables.

9. Sarma Melngailis’s Cucumber-Mint Gazpacho. There are dozens–probably hundreds–of takes on gazpacho, that archetypal hot-weather cold soup. Cucumbers are like the air-conditioner of vegetables, and they are the central ingredient in this low-calorie version, bouncy with jalapeño and lime. You can puree it for a smoother soup, or leave it a bit chunky.

10. Lidia Bastianich’s Peaches with Mascarpone. Fruit and cheese makes idyllic dance partners in cuisines all over the world. In this Italian no-cook combination, fresh mascarpone makes a dreamy date for juicy peaches, and a sprinkle of walnuts offers up crunch.

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 16, 2010 9:32 am

    I can’t wait to try the cucumber gazpacho and the peaches with mascarpone. Great timing! I was just at the store the other day, looking at all the cheeses, wondering what would be something fun & seasonal to do with mascarpone. Wonderful!

    For more quick meal ideas, feel free to check out this recent post of mine…

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