When I think of my favourite summer recipes I think of that saying, 'It’s summer and the livin' is easy!' Anyone who cooks every day knows it's not always easy. In this post I'm sharing my tips to make it a little easier and hopefully get you excited about your list and that easy living feeling . It's taken me several years to get these all posted but many of the recipes are naturally gluten free and have been on my list of summer favourites for decades.
My best tip for making cooking easy is to create a collection of recipes you love. The kind of recipes you look forward to making, eating and sharing with friends. That might sound easy but it does take a little effort and probably a few systems that work for you. I've got several systems but here I'm talking about cooking by the season and that season is summer!
A Seasonal Strategy
One of my favourite strategies is cooking around the seasons. Grocery stores seem to sell everything year round so you need to pay attention if you want to enjoy strawberries bursting with flavour and that perfect peach where the juice runs down your chin and you're happy about it. You'll improve your chances of experiencing that by taking the time to visit a Farmer's Market. Wherever you are in the world, locally grown means it's in season.
Early Summer Favourites
What are your favourite memories of food and summer? It's rhubarb and strawberries for me. As a young child growing up on a farm in Manitoba, I remember us kids running around the backyard with giant rhubarb leaves on our heads. It's a food memory because some kids were more interested than me in getting their own little dish of white sugar for dipping the rhubarb stalk in. I just love the look of those rhubarb leaves and I still do. I let them grow and grow in my garden all summer long. If you come and visit me in summer I'll let you have one to wear!
These are the rhubarb and strawberry recipes I try to make every year.
As a young cook I learned about asparagus and over time collected recipes so I was ready to use it as soon as it was available. Pansies and mint are blooming around the same time so they often appear on my table together.
Plant and Enjoy Edible Flowers
Edible flowers look beautiful and the only effort is to buy them, put them on your patio and water them. If you haven't tried it before you should.
Worth The Effort
There's always something to celebrate so make sure you have what I call 'once-a-year recipes'. I think they're worth the effort and of course I would be sharing them with friends. I can't wait to make that Grilled Shrimp Martini, best served on or near a lake.
All The Berries
Berries are abundant all summer! Blueberries travel well and are the easiest to keep but I grow raspberries in my garden so have lots of recipes to use them. Saskatoon berries are local for me and bushes are plentiful if you know the right people and are willing to pick. Look for what's unique in your area and find out what home cooks have been making with them for year.
The seasons overlap and you can make whatever you want whenever you want. Once we're well into August I make recipes with corn, green beans, Swiss chard, tomatoes, snap peas, new potatoes and always more fresh herbs.
Stone fruit like peaches and apricots are plentiful in August and I'll grill up fruit just to sit on my deck and enjoy the evening a little longer. Maybe with a glass of Prosecco Berry Sangria in my hand.
There's Nothing Like Fresh Herbs
There's something about growing fresh herbs that makes me put all of these dishes on my list of summer favourites. Of course I can buy those herbs any time I want but pinching them just minutes before I eat makes me feel like it's summer and the livin' is easy! What about you?
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Tools For Summer Cooking
Everyday cooks need a few tools and these might be on your list for summer cooking.
- A nice barbecue and/or a roadtrip stand up barbecue might be on the top of the list.
- Be sure reusable grilling sheets are on your list too. They're perfect for anyone eating a gluten free diet. Cut them to the sizes you need, take them with you and grill anywhere with no worry about cross contact from gluten containing foods.
- 1-cup or 2-cup Mason jars are also perfect for individually portioned appetizers, salads and desserts. I have a very good supply and wrote this post about my 2-lid system with 7 different sizes of jars; Organize For Success with Mason Jars.
Let me know in the comments below what some of your summer favourites are or what you're adding to your list of MUST MAKE recipes this summer.