“Feast on This” features the best seasonal recipes you should cook every month.
August’s late summer days string along under sweltering heat, earning the name “the dog days of summer.”
If you think its moniker has to do with lazy, overheated pooches, think again. Rather, the nickname dates to ancient Rome, where Sirius — the brightest star in the Northern Hemisphere and part of the Canis Major constellation (meaning “big dog” in Latin) — appeared in the sky at sunrise during August. According to the ancient Romans, the “big dog” was responsible for late summer’s scorch.
Heat, fire, and ways to manage the two were at the center of the annual Aug. 23 Roman festival Vulcanalia, named for the ancient Roman god of fire — and volcanoes!
We’ve compiled 10 of our favorite August recipes, including a host of summer salads, to minimize your time in a hot kitchen. And you’ll also find recipes that are ideal for “firing up” the grill for end-of-summer outdoor get-togethers. Each one features a “star-studded” lineup of peak season produce: juicy, ripe tomatoes, crisp snap peas, cooling cucumbers, tender squash, sweet corn, refreshing watermelon, and plump peaches.
With dishes this good, it’s time to unleash the dog days…
We love the grab-and-go ease of overnight oats, as well as being able to batch prep them since they last up to five days in the refrigerator (their consistency gets creamier the longer they sit). Fresh Oregold Peaches and mineral-rich chia seeds give these plant-based oats an ultra-thick texture with supreme peachy sweetness.
Create a light, refreshing salad in a snap with the veggie club's monthlong offering. Rich in vitamin K, which is essential for processing calcium for strong bones, sugar snap peas have an unmistakable crunch, and lightly sweet and earthy flavor. For a quick salad, toss them with thinly sliced radishes for a spicy counterpart. Add cooling herbs, such as mint or basil, sea salt flakes, and extra-virgin olive oil for dressing. Or use fresh sugar snap peas to make a delectable snap pea and bacon frittata for a brunch get-together.
The next best thing to eating hydrating fruits and vegetables in summer's heat is to use them as natural flavor enhancers for water. Add freshly cubed watermelon, sliced cucumbers, citrus, and berries — in combination with fresh mint, basil, and vanilla bean — to water for various infused refreshers. Their naturally sweet flavor is better for you than dehydrating store-bought, sugary drinks, and you'll reap the benefits of the produce's nutrients, too, since they are pulled into the water as they soak.
This variation on a classic Caprese salad, which appeared on the island of Capri's Grand Hotel Quisisana in the 1920s, takes advantage of sun-ripened tomatoes and sweet peaches. Mix up the texture and beauty by using a combination of heirloom tomato varietals, along with cherry and grape tomatoes. Add prosciutto slices for a salty punch, creamy mozzarella, and fresh, cooling basil, and you have a quick and easy summer meal. Beat the heat, and check out several other of the world's most famous salads here.
The bright strawberry and melon aromatics of Harry & David 2021 Pinot Noir Rosé make this wine a beautiful base for this lightly sweet summer wine spritzer. Purée freshly cubed and seeded watermelon in the blender for about 30 seconds, then pass it through a fine-mesh sieve to remove some of the pulp. Add 2 ounces of the watermelon juice to a wine glass filled with ice, top with wine, followed by a splash of soda, and garnish with more freshly cut watermelon cubes. Gorg!
August is peak season for grapes, and apples are available year-round. And what do you get when you combine sweet grapes and crisp, chopped apples with rich, crunchy walnuts, and mayonnaise-laced chunks of chicken over romaine lettuce? The Waldorf salad, of course. The recipe for this classic dish harkens back to a charity event at New York City's Waldorf Hotel in 1896. Lighten the mayo dressing by swapping it out for yogurt and chill a store-bought rotisserie chicken to keep the prep time — and heat — to a minimum.
The blue sky is the limit for threading and grilling meat and produce on a stick to make summer skewers! We love green and yellow squash and cherry tomatoes alternating with tender lamb or beef cubes. Or thread dark meat chicken thighs with in-season stone fruits, such as peaches, plums, and apricot wedges; the natural sugar in fruit caramelizes on the grill, deepening its sweetness. Here, cubes of chicken breast are first marinated with teriyaki dressing and threaded with a rainbow of orange, red, and green bell peppers, and then garnished with charred pineapple relish for a tangy, sweet finish.
Thick, firm white fish, such as halibut or mahi-mahi, is perfect for outdoor grilling. Its heartier texture means it won't break apart over high heat and doesn't lose as much moisture as a thinner filet. Say toodaloo to Taco Tuesday and "How do you do?" to these grilled fish tostadas, our new summer favorite any day of the week. We love the crunch of the tostadas, the tangy slaw, and the bright honey mango and avocado salsa accompaniments.
A backyard burger bar with all the fixins — beefsteak tomatoes, pepper and onion relish, and tender lettuces — is a great way to get your summer grill on! Wagyu beef, a breed of Japanese cattle, is exceptionally flavorful since the cows it comes from have, genetically, more interstitial fat. When the marbled fat hits the grill's heat, it melts, giving way to a supremely tender, juicy, flavorful burger. Pro tip: Use your thumb to make a small divot in the center of each Wagyu patty. This technique gives room for the patty to shrink and allows for an evenly sized, round burger.
This Southwestern-inspired dish makes great use of summer's fresh, sunshine-colored, vitamin C-rich sweet corn. Toss the corn with black beans, red onion, and avocado, and dress it with one of 12 sweet and zingy Harry & David salsas for a terrific side dish. Or enjoy it as a topping for grilled fish tostadas or with tortilla chips for a poolside snack that packs a ton of flavor, fiber, and healthy fat.
Theresa Gambacorta is a food writer and 25-year veteran of New York City's restaurant industry. Her writing has appeared in such titles as La Cucina Italiana, Men's Fitness, Muscle and Fitness, and Centennial's special interest publications. She is the co-author of chef Joey Campanaro's Big Love Cooking (Chronicle) and is currently working on a cookbook about Persian cuisine to be published by Knopf.