Now we’re coming to every food lover’s favorite season… ”summertime, summertime, sum, sum, summertime”! I’m lucky that I don’t work during the summer and every day that I want to cook I can go to one of the New York Greenmarkets for fresh produce and foods straight from local farms. The colors and the fragrances of those markets are really effective in stimulating creativity in the kitchen. I admit that I sometimes buy more than I will ever use, but it looks so amazing on my kitchen counter or on the dining room table. Summer foods bring bright colors, sweet tastes, and raw foods that just need a drizzle of olive oil and a squirt of lemon.
We’re already seeing fresh Jersey asparagus, pungent arugula, Persian cucumbers, radishes, and rhubarb. Those are just the first veggies. Fruits are beginning to show up as well. Last Saturday at the Union Square farmer’s market there were cherries, strawberries, melons, and apricots. There is still so much to come. By July we’ll be seeing such an array of beautiful foods in season. Watch for fresh garlic (nothing better), baby turnips with their greens (memories of my youth!), baby squashes, beets, baby carrots and tiny eggplants. And I am longing for the juicy tastes of peaches, plums, and nectarines along with tomatoes – all kinds. My favorite summertime lunch is fresh tomatoes, a chunk of good feta cheese and some sliced onions drizzled with a bit extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of some red wine vinegar. Soon, we’ll also be seeing even more strawberries along with blueberries, blackberries, and grapes.
I don’t usually mention animal protein, but being an omnivore, I do eat all kinds of meat, poultry, and fish. At the fish market look for beautiful, plump scallops. Artic Char is also a summertime treat – it’s like salmon, but extra light. The flesh is the color of salmon but the taste is lighter. It’s good poached, roasted or grilled. It’s also a good time for trout and tuna. Spring and early summer are also good times for lamb. I love the various lamb sausages I’m able to purchase at the Union Square market. The merquez is hot and spicy and great with pasta and some bitter greens. There’s also some lamb sausages which are seasoned with rosemary and orange zest. Add it to your best Greek meal.
Now, let’s get your some summertime recipes to enjoy! They’re all dishes that are served cold which is perfect for a hot summer day!
Spoons with the Chef
Robert “Chef Bobo” Surles, Executive Chef at The Calhoun School