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The arrival of summer means we are often looking for lighter meals that require minimal cooking and preparation time. There is a chapter full of delicious salad ideas using seasonal salad ingredients in The Food Book (pp.202 – 219).

Salads can be served at any point throughout a meal – but are often served as the main dish of meals during summer. The choice of ingredients that can be used in salads are endless, but a favourite of ours, which is very  simple to prepare and suitable for vegetarians, is made by combining some rocket, toasted walnuts, canned lentils (drained) some goats cheese and slices of roasted pumpkin, splashed with balsamic vinegar. It is a perfect meal on a hot summer evening as it is quick and refreshing and contains a range of textures from the crunchy nuts to the smooth creamy cheese. If you do not want to do any cooking at all, you can always substitute the pumpkin with baby beets.

What ideas do you have for simple salads this summer?

Rocket and walnut salad

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Boy, it has been hot! Summer has definitely arrived, and brought along with it record-breaking temperatures. We, The Food Book Team, have not only been looking for ways to cool down, but also ways to make your summer eating pleasurable. Nobody wants to be slaving over a boiling stove for hours in a 40 degree day, so if you are looking for recipes that will help you stay cool and not heat up the kitchen, think about making some frozen treats like icecream or sorbet. There is a delicious recipe for Easy Icecream on p. 335 of The Food Book – just add some flavouring ingredients at step 3  to add your own personal twist, we’ve been enjoying some icecream with chopped mango and mashed banana.

What ideas do you have for frozen treats to keep you cool in summer? We’d love to hear it!

However, if you do have to cook, the trick is to cook early in the day when it is cooler, keep the meal in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat and then use the microwave to heat it up. Frittatas are a good idea during the heat, they can be made early and served warm or at room temperature. The Vegetarian Frittata on p. 140 of The Food Book makes a deliciously light meal for a hot evening, especially when served with a fresh garden salad (try the Green Garden Salad recipe on p. 205).

If it is simply too hot to cook, then consider using fresh seasonal produce to make delicious, yet substantial salads (so you do not wilt in the kitchen). The Food Book has lots of easy-to-prepare salads you could try. Tabbouleh (p. 212) is full of fiber and bite – burghul can easily be substituted for quinoa for a bit of variety. The delightfully refreshing Watermelon and Feta Salad (p. 208) is perfect for that hot summer day – the salty creaminess of the feta and the toasted crunch of the walnuts are the perfect match for the sweet, juicy watermelon. 

What ideas do you have for quick summer meals?

Watermelon & Feta Salad

Summer is coming! The days are getting longer, the nights are getting warmer and our appetites are getting bigger – this can only mean one thing – al fresco dining!

Kebabs for the summerHaving a barbecue is the perfect way to prepare a delicious and fuss-free dinner outside during the summer. Barbecuing has always been a popular way of cooking food in Australia, because food cooked over a flame lends itself to a delightfully charred and smoky flavour that you simply can’t substitute. Traditionally, we have barbecued sausages, hamburgers, steaks and kebabs but these days more and more Australians are getting adventurous with the types of foods they cook on their hallowed grills. Kofta, satay pork and kangaroo are some of the things that are finding their way onto the barbecue, along with scallops, calamari and vegetables such as corn, asparagus, zucchini, eggplant and sweet potato.

Why not try it for yourself? Check out pp 300-321 of The Food Book for great barbecuing recipes and ideas.  But here is a delicious barbecued asparagus recipe to help kick-start your barbecue. It’s straight-forward to make and only needs items commonly found in the pantry, so you can easily add it to your repertoire of barbecued foods.

Simply barbecued asparagus

IngredientsAsparagus

  • 500 grams asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Drizzle oil on asparagus and place on hot barbecue plate.
  2. Cook for 3 minutes and then season with salt and pepper before serving.

Another delicious asparagus recipe with a few extra ingredients is described below. It sure beats the traditional sliced onions and potatoes on the barbie!

Barbecued asparagus with balsamic vinegar

Ingredients

  • 500 grams asparagus, trimmed
  • 3 tablespoons(60 mL) balsamic vinegar
  • 23 tablespoons (40 mL) lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon (20 mL) olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon (20 mL) soy sauce
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Crush garlic and mix with balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil and soy sauce in glass casserole dish (long enough to place asparagus )
  2. Add asparagus and cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to marinate for at least 30 minutes
  3. Drain marinade and place asparagus on hot barbecue plate.
  4. Cook for 3 minutes and then season with salt and pepper before serving.

How do you like to spend these long summer nights? Do you have a favourite barbecue recipe you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you!