The long awaited summer brings more daylight hours and more things to squeeze into our already busy lives. Combine the seasons extra activities with warmer weather and it is no surprise that many of us are looking for quick, simple and light meals that do not require hours of prep in the kitchen and that are less filling when it seems almost too warm to eat.
At Glutenfreeda.com, we pride ourselves in offering our readers recipes with a gourmet flare. After all, just because one is gluten or wheat intolerant doesn't mean one can't enjoy fabulous food. We believe in that statement just as we believe that a shared meal should be as special as one can make it. Gourmet means different things to different people, but it usually brings to mind rich, creamy sauces and anything that takes hours of preparation. Gourmet can however, be simple, fresh and just as elegant.
The key, as always, is in the quality of ingredients. It's easy to prepare a superb meal if one uses the freshest seafood, the crispest vegetables or sun ripened fruit by simply letting the food's natural flavor take center stage.
Warm weather makes us all want to spend less time in the kitchen but it doesn't mean that we can't still enjoy spectacular summer meals. What makes elegant summer dining so simple is summer's abundance of fresh produce. Farmer's markets and fresh produce are everywhere! Fruit and vegetable stands line country roads as well as dot sidewalks throughout major cities across the nation. If you can't find fresh produce this time of year, you're not looking!
Now for the great news; fresh seasonal and simple dining is largely naturally gluten-free. To create satisfying, spectacular summer dinners simply combine grilling with a fresh salad. Sound easy? It is, easy and delicious! Select just about any protein food to grill, seafood, beef, chicken, pork, etc. and serve it with what I call the "Kitchen Sink Salad". The Kitchen Sink Salad is a salad that includes almost anything; every fresh vegetable or fruit that you have on hand. It can look like this,
- Handfuls of fresh greens
- Handfuls of fresh spinach
- Fresh Italian parsley
- Fresh scallions
- Fresh peas in the pods
- Fresh radishes
- Fresh mushrooms
- Fresh orange slices
- Fresh blueberries
To this wonderful combination, I might add a little goat cheese sprinkled on top. To dress your salad, keep it light. It would be a shame to drown your fresh flavorful vegetables and fruits with a heavy, thick dressing. Instead, try a 3-to-1 ratio of olive oil to balsamic vinegar. Whisk in a small bowl to emulsify and drizzle over salad. Sprinkle lightly with Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper and you have a masterpiece! There are no wrong combinations in making a salad, just expressions of your creativity. Serve your salad with grilled anything and you have a satisfying, sensational summer meal that will take you less than 30 minutes to prep, cook and serve.
Keep it Simple, Keep it Spectacular
Here are a few tips to help you create great summer meals:
Center your meal around an unusual salad. Don't hesitate to include a variety of vegetables and fruits.
Keep your salad dressings simple and light. Dressings should be a means moisten and pull your salad flavors together, not to drown them.
Grill, grill, grill! Grilled meats and seafood are perfect accompaniments for spectacular salads and will complete a filling meal. Grilling will also eliminate clean up in your kitchen!
Omit the greens and add grilled and sliced meat or seafood and vegetables to gluten-free pasta.
Stir-fry. Fresh vegetables and any meat or seafood are a fabulous summer meal, cooked in minutes.
If you are entertaining, a creative salad and grilled meat/seafood is a perfect choice. Keep appetizers fresh and simple like sliced cucumbers with arugula and goat cheese or fresh tomato and basil bruschetta.
Cool desserts. Serve cool, light desserts that you can make a day or more ahead when you have more time and when you can take advantage of cooler weather. Try sorbets, or ice cream with fresh fruit and fruit sauces.
Here's to a delicious, light and fresh summer!
- Chef Yvonne