Summer is synonymous with eating in the garden, with citronella candles, iced tea, watermelon, and the company of friends around the table as the sky darkens.
I love summer nights because the food is light, the drinks are cold, and the sun of the day calms my spirit in the dark.
And I love cooking summer food, of course. I am always interested in experimenting with fresh vegetables, aromatic herbs from the garden, rice salads, grilled fish, and frozen desserts. I love cooking summer food because it’s generally healthy, tasty and full of flavor, color and energy.
The other night I decided to try, for the first time, a sprout salad, with radish and broccoli sprouts, watercress, cabbage, and wild arugula. I always munch on my vegetables au naturel, and after discovering the spiciness and bitterness of the radish sprouts I decided to add a touch of sweetness to make my salad tropical and fruity. I added pineapple, granny smiths, rainier cherries and pomegranate. The different layers of flavors and textures turned the greens into a multidimensional dish that satisfied all five senses. The colors were so vibrant that my husband and I smiled at the first bite.
I wanted to make a light dinner, as I said, so I also prepared a very simple frittata with aromatic herbs. I let myself go wild with what I have in my garden: basil, sage, mint, lemon thyme, rosemary, lavender, dill. I then added some onion powder, a pinch of herbs de Provence and some Gruyère cheese.
Since I always crave something sweet after dinner (and allow myself to have it in moderation) I sliced a juicy watermelon that at once satisfied my sweet tooth and ended dinner with color and freshness.
Yes, I do love summer nights. And this is only the first of a very long series. In fact, my parents are visiting from Italy in a couple of weeks; my mom and I will have fun in the kitchen, my husband and my father will enjoy the food and clear the table.
Time: 40 minutes
Ingredients for 4 people
3/4 cup of radish sprouts
3/4 cup of broccoli sprouts
1 bunch of watercress
3/4 cup white cabbage
1 cup of wild arugula
2-3 Persian cucumbers
1/2 Granny Smith apple
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
6/7 Rainier cherries
1/4 cup of pineapples
For the lime vinaigrette
Juice of one lime
Zest of 1/2 lime
1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
Himalayan pink salt
1 tbs of mayonnaise
First of all, thoroughly rinse all your vegetables, and then dry them in a salad spinner. This step is very important, as water makes salad soggy.
The cabbage, that gives crunchiness to the dish, has to be thinly cut. I originally wanted to use fennels, which I love, but I couldn’t find them, so I went for cabbage. Feel free to add your favorite, and to also customize the amounts. For example, I love radishes, but both the vegetable and its sprouts are very spicy; consider therefore using less if you are not a fan.
Make sure that your ingredients have dried out; if you notice water let them rest on a clean kitchen towel. I always prepare my salad 20-30 minutes in advance, so that every leaf has the time to dry.
Toss the colorful mix in a salad bowl (I love wooden ones). Add the thinly sliced apple, the chopped cherries, the pomegranate seeds and the pineapple, chopped in small pieces.
Set aside and prepare the vinaigrette in a small mixing bowl. Squeeze the lime and zest half of it; add the extra-virgin olive oil, the Himalayan pink salt, the ground black pepper and the mayonnaise. Whisk the ingredients, taste, and adjust as needed.
Toss the salad with the vinaigrette before serving.
FRITTATA WITH AROMATIC HERBS
Time: 30-40 minutes
Ingredients for 4 people
10 leaves of fresh basil
10-15 leaves of Italian parsley
5 leaves of sage
5 leaves of pineapple sage
10-15 leaves of fresh mint
2-3 springs of lemon thyme
3 sprigs of rosemary
2 tbsp of fresh lavender
3 sprigs of fresh dill
1 tsp of onion powder
2 tbsp of Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of gruyère cheese
1 pinch of dry herbs de Provence
Extra-virgin olive oil for the pan
Salt and pepper
Rinse the fresh herbs and dry them in a salad spinner. Feel free to add (or substitute) any of the herbs I used. Use only fresh ones, always according to your taste and creativity. I am still developing my aromatic garden, so I didn’t have chives, thyme, wild fennel etc.
Chop the herbs medium to fine on a wooden board with either a knife or a mezzaluna, smell their intense aroma, enjoy their essences coming together, then set them aside. In a 1-qt mixing bowl beat the eggs until creamy and homogeneous, then add the herbs, parmesan and gruyère cheese, salt and pepper, the onion powder, and last the dry herbs de Provence. Stir to obtain a smooth mix; taste and adjust the salt and pepper.
On the stove, heat a 12-inch non-stick pan over high heat, then pour in the mix and lower the heat.
I don’t have a frittata pan, but if you do, cook on one side for approximately 5 minutes at very low heat; flip the pan and repeat on the other side. With a regular pan like the one that I used, cook one side covered with a 12-inch lid for 5 minutes (you can check whether the frittata is ready to be flipped when, by moving the pan, the frittata is completely detached from the pan). Flip holding the pan firmly over the lid (use a towel because the lid will be hot). Cook on this side for approximately 4 minutes, or until ready. The frittata must be golden in color. Serve warm with the sprout salad as a side.