Summer Living

Summer at my house is all about easy outdoor living and casual suppers made with garden-fresh ingredients. I love serving colorful salads and charcuteries that give family and guests a chance to assemble a plateful food that suits their appetite.

This salad, made with diced peppers, cucumber and avocado and tossed with a light vinaigrette is always a winner.

I call this my Summer Gem Salad.

Quinoa salad is always a big hit. This one is made with red quinoa, shredded carrot, frozen peas (no need to cook them) and chopped green onions and tossed with a homemade vinaigrette.

This quinoa salad is both fresh and hearty.

Charcuterie is another summer favorite and these can range from simple to spectacular.

An easy-to-assemble assortment that I like to serve crackers and slabs of multigrain bread.

A more elaborate charcuterie is perfect for al fresco dining, and it gives me a chance to use the various platters, bowls and compotes I’ve found at various thrift stores over the years. Meals like this require a trip to the deli (one of my favorite outings!) and offer the chance to use up what’s already in the fridge. I call that a win-win!

Al fresco charcuterie. Grab a plate and help yourself!

My favorite summer salad is based on the Summer Glow Buddah Bowl recipe from the Oh She Glows website. I’ve changed it up a little, and I serve it family-style on a huge platter instead of prepping it in individual bowls.

My version of the Summer Glow Buddah Bowl.

Here’s how I make mine:

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 medium clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Put everything in a mason jar and give it a good shake.

1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa
2 cups fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 cups fresh snap peas, trimmed and left whole
2 cups yellow zucchini, sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt, or to taste
3 to 4 cups fresh baby spinach or other salad greens
1 medium carrot, peeled and spiralized, julienned or shredded
1 medium beet, peeled and spiralized, julienned or shredded
2 large ripe avocados, pitted and sliced
½ cup toasted, unsalted pumpkin seeds

Cook the quinoa (I use double the amount of water and cook it until the water is absorbed, about 15 to 18 minutes).

Blanche the beans and peas in boiling water (2 minutes for the beans, 1 minute for the peas), submerge them in ice water to stop the cooking, and drain when cool.

Sauté the zucchini in olive oil and sprinkle with salt to taste. If you have a spiralizer, go to town on the carrot and beet; if not, these vegetables can be shredded or julienned into nice matchstick-sized pieces.

Slice the avocados just before serving so they don’t have a chance to turn brown.

To assemble the salad family style, cover a large platter with the spinach or salad greens, pile on the quinoa and top it with the blanched beans and peas and the sautéed zucchini, arrange the carrot and beet spirals and the avocado slices. Sprinkle the whole salad with pumpkin seeds. Drizzle the whole thing with the vinaigrette. And bon appétit!

Until next time, wishing you happy summer living!


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