“Feast on This” features the best seasonal recipes you should cook every month.
The month of July can be a scorcher, so if you can’t stand the heat, then definitely stay out of the kitchen!
July is bursting at the seams with fresh produce, including tender lettuces, ruby red watermelon, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, corn, stone fruit, and cucumbers. So, turn off the oven and pare down your prep time.
These nine no-fuss, refreshing July recipes include plenty of fruits and vegetables and are ideal nourishment after a jump in the pool (remember to wait an hour after eating to jump back in) or frolic in the ocean, or for bringing to a backyard party or park picnic with pals. Fire up the grill this Fourth of July for a feast of ribs or kebabs (or both!), and watch as each of these recipes set off fireworks of flavor!
Each of the Mediterranean ingredients in Chef Geoffrey Zakarian's "Greek Sunday Morning" is scattered across the top of protein-rich, Greek yogurt in this crowd-pleasing colorful brunch parfait. You'll get a taste of dried fruits, almonds, ripe avocado, seedless grapes, citrus, and sweet honey in each crunchy, chewy, luxurious bite.
This must-have heatwave refresher infuses peak season watermelon juice with spice from lightly grilled jalapeño peppers. To choose the ripest watermelon, look for deep green-colored stripes and a creamy yellow patch on the bottom from where it sat on the ground, signifying it is ready for eating. If the patch is white, that melon ain't ripe! Or, for a backyard party libation, blend fresh watermelon juice with pinot noir rosé and top with a floater of bubbly prosecco or any sparkling wine of your choice.
Clean, bright, fresh ceviche originates from Peru and is a fish-curing preparation whereby the acid in lemon or lime juice “cooks" the fish. To make scallop ceviche, combine one pound of excellent quality fresh scallops in a medium bowl with the juice of two lemons or limes and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Add finely chopped jalapeño, cucumber, avocado, tomatoes, red onion — even mango — gently stir, and serve as a light main course salad or dip for tortilla chips. Use shrimp, or cubes of a white fish, such as tilapia or halibut, for a modified version.
Aromatic, juicy stone fruits, such as peaches, apricots, nectarines, and plums, are in peak season in July, but their sweet goodness shouldn't be relegated to just summer desserts. For an easy summer appetizer or addition to a seasonal charcuterie board, wrap your choice of stone fruit with thin slices of salty prosciutto for a delightful salty-sweet mouthful. Serve with fresh mozzarella, creamy ricotta, and rustic toast drizzled with olive oil, and call it dinner.
Panzanella is a Tuscan salad made with tomato, onion, and stale bread. Tuscans have been baking bread without added salt since the Middle Ages, when the ingredient was heavily taxed and, thus, too expensive for most of the region's residents to afford. Still today, plain Tuscan bread is the preferred vehicle to taste the grassy flavors of Tuscany's olive oil or soak up the tomato juices from the panzanella. This Tuscan-inspired salad swaps the tomatoes and onions for extra sweet Oregold Peaches, ripe summer berries, crisp cucumbers, and toasted day-old bread drizzled with a bit of honey for la dolce vita.
Farm fresh summer produce, such as tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, and summer squash, are lovely for layering on skewers between cubes of chicken and steak for a grilled kebab dinner al fresco. Try pork cubes skewered with fresh pineapple or glazed with sweet marionberry preserves, or shrimp and bell pepper skewers. Pro tip: When grilling different meats and fish, be sure and layer one type of protein/produce combination per skewer since each one has varying cook times.
Fourth of July celebrations warrant massive plates of grilled meats, particularly succulent ribs made more delicious with your choice of barbecue sauce. Or try your hand at Elizabeth Karmel's recipe for North Carolina-style barbecue sauce and homemade Lexington coleslaw. You can also use your sauce to make quick BBQ summer appetizers, such as roasted chickpeas, cheese dip, and chicken, celery, and blue cheese skewers.
Whip frozen bananas, ripe peaches, and coconut milk in your blender for a thick, creamy, three-ingredient treat that is a take on soft-serve ice cream. By swapping dairy for coconut milk, you'll reap the benefits of the latter's electrolytes, such as phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium, which are necessary for optimum hydration and keeping our bodies functioning on hot days. And since coconut milk is naturally sweet, there is no added sugar!
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.