Summer recipes fresh from the garden

July 17, 2014 

It’s the height of summer. The garden is bursting with produce. Who wants a big complicated dinner?

These days when the sun lingers into the evening and the languid temperatures make us yearn to sit a little longer on the porch enjoying the sounds of nature, who wants to slave over a hot stove for hours? These are the times when freshness and simplicity should prevail.

In the spirit of the warm, sultry season of summer, I offer here a few quick and easy recipes that fit this relaxed time of the year.

Tomatoes with fresh mozzarella

Try to find fresh mozzarella, preferably imported, not the shredded stuff in the plastic bag. Slice the freshest tomato you can find, warm off the vine if you’re lucky. Harvest fresh basil leaves (steal them from a neighbor if necessary).

Place a piece of mozzarella on each tomato slice, top with a basil leaf or two, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle the tomatoes with a pinch of sea salt.

Then place each of the slices of tomato on top of a cheeseburger and enjoy!

Hot bruschetta

Turn your oven to broil. Take a French baguette or a long loaf of Italian bread and slice into half-inch-wide pieces cut on the diagonal. Drizzle olive oil – and melted butter if you like – on each piece of bread. Place under the broiler, oiled side up. Watch closely because they will toast in a hurry. Turn the bread over so it toasts on the other side as well.

When light brown, take each piece and rub the oiled side with a raw piece of garlic. Then take a cooked patty of ground beef topped with cheese and a pickle and place between two pieces of bruschetta and enjoy! (Tip: They’re small, have a few!)

Baby spinach and radicchio salad

Gather the greens – again, the fresher the better – rinse under cold water and dry. Let them sit on a paper towel while you prepare the vinaigrette.

Finely chop a clove of garlic or a shallot if you have one. Put in bowl, add a quarter cup of red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and a dollop of mayonnaise. The mayo will help the dressing stay in suspension. Slowly add half a cup of virgin olive oil in a stream, whisking the whole time.

There you have it! Drizzle over greens, add a pound of crumbled, cooked ground beef, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped pickles and toasted croutons. Enjoy!

I hope you will kick back, open a cold bottle of proseco and try these simple summer recipes. I and my family have found them to be both tasty and satisfying.

Next week I will be exploring more fresh and easy recipes that use the bounty of the garden. Look for my recipe for fresh summer squash briefly sauteed in butter with onions and then gently roasted atop a large bacon and pepperoni pizza.

As always, buon appetito!

James Werrell, Herald opinion page editor, can be reached at 329-4081 or, by email, at

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