Friday, August 17, 2012

The Friday Four: Summertime Food Edition

Watermelon/Mint Slushie Fresca

Summer food is either made in a blender or it's cooked outdoors. No air conditioning does not lend itself to cooking inside when the temperature creeps up into three digits. Fortunately, Portland only has a week or so of extreme weather, then it goes back to pleasant, mild temperatures before the rains come.

This week's Friday Four features food. The first two can be made with a blender. Yay! No stove required!*

1.  Watermelon/Mint Slushie Fresca
A bit thicker than Agua Fresca, thinner than a smoothie, this recipe can be made with no added sugar. I used limeade because I didn't have any limes around the house, but feel free to substitute fresh lime juice for a less sweet, tangier drink. This recipe makes approximately 16 oz of slushie.

1 cup ice
1 teaspoon chopped mint, plus extra for garnish
1 tsp lime juice or splash of limeade
cubed watermelon (approximately the amount to fit loosely in a 16 oz glass. I made biggish cubes (1"x2")

Crush ice in blender. Add mint and lime(ade) and pulse a few times. Continue to pulse and add watermelon. Pour into glass, garnish with mint, and enjoy!

2. Classic Summertime Gazpacho.
I've posted this recipe before. I know there are many variations of gazpacho, including some that call for tomato juice instead of fresh tomatoes, but I stick with this tried and true recipe.

My family lived in Madrid, Spain when I was little, and summer in Spain meant gazpacho in the fridge. My mom gave me this recipe. She isn't a fan of blending the cucumber into the soup, she only uses it as garnish, but I blend in just a little. I'm sure gluten-free bread can be used in place of Italian bread, but I leave out that part of the recipe ever since giving up the gluten.

*This recipe does require using the stove to peel the tomatoes.

3 medium, ripe tomatoes, skin removed and cut into wedges (plus extra for garnish)
2 green peppers, seeded and sliced (plus extra for garnish)
1 cucumber (set 1/2 aside for garnish)
1 clove garlic
1/2 onion
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
2 TBSP tomato paste
2 TBSP red wine vinegar
4 cups water

Add all ingredients, except 3 cups of water, to blender. Blend, slowly adding the rest of the water. If you like thicker soup use less water or add pieces of Italian bread to the mixture and blend some more.

Serve chilled. Garnish with diced cucumber, green pepper, tomato, and bread cubes.

3. Fennel Salad
The yummiest summer salad ever. And one of the easiest. Goes with everything, from barbecue to salmon. I've seen similar recipes using zucchini, summer squash, even radishes!

1 large fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced (use a mandoline if available)
juice of 1 lemon
splash of apple cider vinegar
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
dill, to taste
dry, aged cheese, such as parmesan/reggiano or asiago

Toss fennel in salad bowl with lemon juice, vinegar, and olive oil. Sprinkle with dill, toss. Mix in cheese right before serving (again, to taste). Serve chilled (it's better after sitting awhile in the lemon/vinegar/oil mix).

Salmon with grilled zucchini and fennel salad.
4. Grilled veggies
Veggies are delish, and grilled veggies are even more delish. No major prep work is needed, just a bit of olive oil and freshly ground pepper, then cook en papillote or directly on the grill. Works with asparagus, sweet potato, zucchini, you name it, it can be grilled. I tend to use foil when cooking in a packet; just keep an eye on the veg so as not to overcook.

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