It’s hot here. It may not be hot where you are right now, but it will get hot soon enough. Summer is on its way. And summer is when, around here at least, we begin to think about Cool Food.
No, I’m not talking about eating at the latest, hippest restaurants — although if you have the disposable income then by all means, do your worst. I’m talking about food that is easy, requires little cooking, and helps you stay cool in the heat.
Salads. Sandwiches. Fresh fruit and veg. Barbequed goodness. (Okay, that’s not so much cool food as it is food that is cooked outdoors, thereby keeping the house cool. But I think you can follow the way that I have drifted.)
What I really like about cool food is that it’s often made from fresh stuff, local produce hopefully, and that means getting out and enjoying your local farm market during the week. Ours is called Corn Parking. That’s not its ACTUAL name — it’s got a proper local Farm Market name. But when you drive by Corn Parking, there is a big white sandwich board sign out front, and in big red letters it says:
So, over the years, we’ve just taken to calling it Corn Parking.
Anyway. Bit of a segue there. My point is not so much about Corn Parking, but rather that in our very short growing and harvesting season here, you can go out and take advantage of the fresh local produce, which can sometimes be fairly economical, while supporting your local growers and producers, and also enjoying a nice day out.
(Also, they have great baked goods. I’m just sayin’.)
So, yes. Cool food. As soon as the weather warms up, we start looking at our meal plan and finding ways to eat cool, or at least, keeping the cooking and heat to a minimum. We grow things in our little kitchen garden to help us eat cool. And, being as lazy as we are, the less effort, the better.
We start to have corn on the cob with some fresh bread as a meal. CORN ON THE COB IS SO A MEAL SHUT UP. Or maybe baked potatoes, with various toppings, if it’s not too hot to cook them. Wraps have recently come into favour here, with ham and salami and provolone and roasted red peppers. And all with or without the option of a fresh green salad with ingredients from Corn Parking. Fruit is always good (for me at least) — already today I’ve eaten half my body weight in cold watermelon.
Two of our favourite things in summer are pesto and feta tomato salad.
This is something BDH just made up one day of a bunch of things he likes. That’s the good thing about salads — you can mix ‘n’ match your fave things until you find a combination you like. This one was actually kind of inspired by an appetizer we had at the restaurant in the ACC one night while we were waiting to watch Eric Clapton in concert.
The ingredients are kind of… general… because we put in what we feel like. More of some things some days, less on others. And it makes a LOT. Do what you want. You know we trust you.
FETA, TOMATO AND BOCCONCINI SALAD
a decent-sized hunk of feta (we use the stuff from the deli counter packed in brine), drained
1 tub of bocconcini (mozzarella) pearls, drained
1 pint container of grape tomatoes
1 medium vidalia or sweet onion, sliced
1 medium English (seedless) cucumber, sliced
fresh ground pepper to taste
basil leaves, torn (if you’re feeling Fancy)
dressing to taste (BDH goes with straight balsamic vinegar; I prefer Newman’s Own Italian)
Combine the tomatoes, onion, and cucumber in a big-ass salad bowl. Pour the bocconcini pearls over top. Crumble the feta overtop of that. Give it a good grind of pepper, if you feel inclined. Sprinkle your Fancy Schmancy basil on top. Lookit that, a pretty layered salad. (Or you can mix it all up. Whatever.)
Dish up and drizzle the goodness in your bowl with whatever dressing floats your boat.
Goes well with a nice bread and some balsamic and olive oil for dipping.
I’ve posted the pesto recipe before, three years ago maybe, from Canadian Living’s cookbook, but here it is again.
2 c. packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 c. grated Parmesan
1/4 c. pine nuts
1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
In food processor, finely chop together basil, Parmesan, pine nuts, salt and pepper. With motor running, add oil in thin steady stream. Stir in garlic (I just blend it in using the food processor, myself).
Makes about 3/4 c. I always double it to make a batch to freeze. Use in pasta, pasta salad, on pizza… whatever works for you.
Nothing like fresh local stuff to make you feel like summer is here. And when it gets to be as hot as Satan’s underpants out there, the last think you need is the stress and aggravation of cooking. So start digging out your cool food recipes. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It just has to be healthy, and easy, and help you stay cool.
And so, if you will excuse me, I’m going to go prepare a salad, and then go sit in Stinkerbelle’s kiddie pool until dinnertime rolls around.