Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cool Produce for Hot Weather

If the mere thought of turning on the oven for preparing dinner during this seemingly endless heat wave causes you to perspire, there are cooler alternatives to be had in the summer kitchen.              
It’s the perfect time of year to consider seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables that are both crisp and juicy.
Here are a few core recipes to build upon, from which you can easily create a snack, salad or main dish.
Bon app├ętit in the heat!
Core Recipe: Fresh Corn, Tomato & Black Bean Salsa
2 ears fresh corn, cut off the cob
1 medium ripe tomato, cored and diced
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained (to reduce sodium content by as much as 40%)
Juice of 1/2 fresh lime
Pinch of salt
Dash of hot sauce, to taste

Combine all ingredients in medium bowl. Season to taste. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.

Quick Lunch
Slightly mash the Corn, Tomato & Black Bean Salsa with fork.  Place several spoonfuls of salsa on one-half of a whole grain tortilla. Sprinkle with lowfat Cheddar cheese and fold in half. Heat until cheese is just melted.  Let cool, then cut into wedges and serve with your family’s favorite tossed green salad on the side.

Easy Dinner
Cook desired amount of whole wheat pasta such as small shells or rotini according to package directions. Drain, rinse and toss with 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add Corn, Tomato & Black Bean Salsa and mix.  Season to taste and serve. Sprinkle with an optional spoonful of shredded Jack cheese.


Core Recipe: Cool Cucumber Salad
1 medium cucumber, peeled if desired, cut in half lengthwise, seeded
2 tablespoons finely minced red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Greek yogurt, 0% fat
Splash of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
Pinch of garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Quick Side Dish
For a cool change from the usual mayonnaise-dressed potato salad, add 4 or 5 cooked, cooled and diced red bliss potatoes to Cool Cucumber Salad. Season to taste and toss. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.

Burger or Sandwich Topping
Spoon chilled Cool Cucumber Salad on top of a freshly grilled turkey burger tucked into a whole wheat pita bread pocket.


Core Recipe: Mom’s All-Time Favorite Summer Tomato Salad
2 perfectly ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into small wedges
1 tablespoon diced red onion or shallot
Splash of red wine vinegar
Dash of olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves (optional)

Combine all ingredients in bowl. Toss gently. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.

Watermelon Salad  (really- try it!)

Add chunks of seeded watermelon and cucumber to Mom’s All-Time Favorite Summer
Tomato Salad. Sprinkle with feta cheese crumbles. Surprisingly refreshing.

 Easy Dinner Idea
Top a mound of cooked, cooled cous-cous (small “instant” pasta made from semolina
wheat) with Mom’s All-Time Favorite Summer Tomato mixed with a can of drained,
rinsed chickpeas or garbanzo beans. Season to taste with ground cumin. Cover and
refrigerate until serving time.

Core Recipe: Mom’s All-Time Cooked Summer Fruit Compote
4 or 5 very ripe peaches, sliced (peeled is optional)
1/2 cup cold water
Pinch of ground cinnamon or nutmeg

Combine ingredients in medium-sized saucepan. Simmer over low heat until fruit is tender. Let cool before serving. No need for added sugar!  Cover and refrigerate until serving time.

Super Quick Dessert
Stir some of Mom’s All-Time Cooked Summer Fruit Compote into a small dish of plain or vanilla nonfat yogurt. Less sugar and more flavor than the commercial variety! Sprinkle with lowfat granola or wheat germ.

Spoon Mom’s All-Time Cooked Summer Fruit Compote over a small slice of Angel Food Cake. Heavenly!

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