Relish fresh flavors of summer

My friend, Cathy, listed three criteria for finding the perfect date. First, the man’s car must have a working muffler; second, her perfect guy would have free time during the day; finally, Mr. Right must display a well developed sense of humor. While Cathy envisioned a Subaru-driving, silver-haired smiling retiree, I conjured memories of the Good Humor man, his white truck and the beginning of summer.

The Good Humor bells — to which I developed a canine’s auditory sensitivity — encouraged me to be one of the loudest voices in the pack of neighborhood children yelling “Stop!” When the truck parked, I’d frantically run home and beg my mother for 15 cents to buy the weekly special. While other kids sat on the curb slurping ice cream, I practically had to sign an affidavit promising I’d save mine until after dinner. Pink, white, or speckled, coated with a thin chocolate layer and elegantly balanced on a stick, it sang to me from the freezer during dinner.

I eagerly awaited my after-dinner routine. When it got dark enough to see fireflies lighting up the back yard, I’d take my frozen prize, sit on the stone steps, and slowly savor. And, with ice cream running down my elbows, I’d grin, knowing I was the last kid on Woods Lane eating their Good Humor.

I hope these recipes help you slow down and relish the fresh flavors of summer.

Marinated Summer

Eggplant

Serves 6

Here’s a salad to help celebrate summer’s first eggplant.

4 6-7-inch Japanese style eggplant, split length-wise

2 tablespoons olive oil

Marinade

Whisk together:

1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon minced red onion

1 tablespoon minced fresh basil

Brush the 2 tablespoons of olive oil on the cut side of the eggplant, and lay face down on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, until the eggplant looks wilted and wrinkled, and is easily pierced with a fork.

When the eggplant is done, put it in a glass dish face up, pierce the fleshy side with a fork, and spoon on the marinade.

Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.

This looks beautiful presented on a bed of greens.

Quinoa Tabouli

Serves 6

I’ve always loved tabouli, and decided to use quinoa to update the traditional recipe.

1/2 cup raw quinoa

1 cup water

1 cup halved cherry tomatoes

1 cup garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

6 scallions, whites and greens, cut in Os

1/4 cup halved Kalamata olives

1/2 cup chopped cucumbers

2 tablespoon minced fresh basil

1 tablespoon fresh mint, or 1 teaspoon dried

4 ounces Feta cheese, cubed

Dressing

Whisk together:

7 tablespoons olive oil

6 tablespoons lemon juice

6 garlic cloves, pressed

Combine the quinoa and water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes until the grains look transparent. Spread the cooked quinoa in a bowl to cool.

Combine the remaining ingredients and the cooled quinoa in a bowl, toss with the dressing, and chill well before serving.

Chilled Avocado Soup

6 Summery servings

Who said soup and salad is only winter fare? Try this with the above recipes on a warm starry evening.

2 ripe avocados

2 medium cucumbers, peeled and seeded

2 garlic cloves, pressed

Juice of 3 limes (about 6 tablespoons)

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup ice water

2 generous tablespoons minced fresh dill (Yes, make it fresh!)

1/4 cup minced red onion

Salt and pepper

Puree the avocados, cukes and garlic with the lime juice, buttermilk, and water until smooth. Add the dill, onion, and salt and pepper by hand.

Chill, serve, sigh.

Trifle Americana

8-10 servings, but easily halved or doubled

Serve this beautiful summer dessert for a July 4th party.

3/4 pound angel food cake, cut in bite-size pieces (If you don’t mind gluten, make it simple and buy a cake. If you’re gluten-free, I’m afraid you’ll have to bake your own using the by-now famous, gluten-free flour recipe.)

32 ounces Greek honey-flavored yogurt (I use Greek Gods Traditional brand)

3/4 cup amaretto or fruit juice

1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

1 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

3 tablespoons sliced blanched almonds

Whip the yogurt with electric beaters until soft.

I made the above recipe in three layers. Depending on the size of your bowl, you’ll have to do your own math.

Each layer should start with cake pieces soaked in amaretto. I suggest soaking the pieces layer-by-layer, so they don’t get soggy while waiting around.

Spread yogurt on the cake layer, followed by berries and almonds. The fruit layer should be the top.

Serve the Trifle in a glass bowl, and you’ll earn even more hoots and hollers.

Ronnie Paul is a freelance writer in Nevada City.


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The Union Updated Jun 25, 2013 10:46PM Published Jun 25, 2013 10:46PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.