Around The Table – May 29, 2019

Summer Stock

As we get into serious summer weather, let’s face it, it’s just too hot to think about shopping for ingredients and preparing complicated dinners.

This list of must-have ingredients will prepare you for a no-fuss summer of culinary success!
THE CAST
Let’s begin with ingredients. Everything you want is ripening soon or ready in the markets. Fruits, summer vegetables, and the herbs that tie it all together will soon be plentiful and at the peak of taste quality. Below are some favorites with quick suggestions on how to employ them.

Cherries
In many varieties, get them while you can. They’re wonderful for snacking and, of course, in baked items.

Peaches
Pies, cobbler and crisps, raw slices with ice cream, pureed for bbq sauce or grill brushing.

Watermelon
In gazpacho and in salads, a fun twist on caprese with feta cheese, or spike a whole one with Titos vodka!

Plums & Apricots
Plain and simple is best, a must on summer salads!

Greens
Basil: At its utmost peak of flavor. Look for Thai and Opal varieties to mix it up.
Arugula: As a salad with olive oil & lemon, or quickly sautéed as with spinach.
Spinach: Spinach, spinach, spinach! Also spinach.

Lettuces
Butter lettuce, Boston lettuce, and don’t forget the mighty iceberg wedge—ice cold!

Bell Peppers of every persuasion
Stuffed, grilled, oven roasted. Enjoy alone with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing.

Summer Squash & Zucchini
Julienne for salads, grill it, sauté it, stuff it.

Eggplant
Marinate it, grill it, slowly caramelize it, bake it with tomato sauce and cheese.

Green Beans
Most tender and sweetest in the summer. Serve them hot, cooked and served cold, or pickled.

Figs
Best for appetizers, snacking and as dessert. Stuff these beauties with goat cheese, wrap them in bacon, or broil them with balsamic—trust me on this one!

Chiles & Hot Peppers
Bring it on with grilled fish, steaks, ribs—virtually anything off the grill.

Cilantro
Try it on anything grilled.

Limes
Limes are at their best in the heat of summer, which means skinny Margaritas, Mojitos, tonic & lime drinks.

PROPS DEPARTMENT
Keep these other summer supplies on-hand to pull together a hit show:

Tomato Paste in a Tube
Add a squirt for flavor and to help caramelization. Remember to pop the cap back on. It will deepen the flavor of your clam soup and Picatta sauce.

Anchovy Paste in a Tube
See “Tomato Paste in a Tube.” Repeat!

Selection of Nuts
Toss dry-roasted peanuts in your next stir fry to add a salty crunch.

Whole Garlic
Fresh only—it goes in everything.

Various Oils
Have EVOO for finishing, corn oil for shallow frying, dash of sesame for stir frying and non-aerosol pan spray for the grill.

Lemons & Limes
Squeeze something fresh on everything—whether grilling or tossing a salad, and drizzle on anything else for the perfect finishing touch.

STAGE CREW
No matter how beautifully you play, using an old, worn-out instrument will hurt your performance. If you replace just one piece of equipment all summer, make it this one:

A New Grill Brush
Retire the old stuff and start fresh. You’ll thank me later.

Summer is a great time to buy local produce. Look for ways to buy fresh, buy less, buy less plastic packaging and for ways to keep shrinking that footprint!

-Chef Robert

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