From a simple squash sauté to a sort-of Caesar dressing, these riffable ideas are perfect for the lazy days of summer.

By Hunter Lewis
July 20, 2020
Advertisement
Hunter Lewis

If you’re like me, you’ve been cooking more consistently these past few months—maybe cooking more than ever. (So many dirty dishes!) With the farmers markets peaking and the weather inviting us outdoors, I find myself seeking out recipes that tend toward simple, reaching for chef Traci Des Jardins’ salsa macha, which adds toasty, smoky flavor to just about anything, or Andrae Bopp’s blueberry-adorned cheesecake. You’ll find those and 39 more new summer recipes in our August issue. Before you dive in, I invite you to start with a taste of five keepers from my own summer kitchen. Fine-tune them to your liking. Keep them in jars in the fridge to spark a spur-of-the-moment dinner, or carry them along in a cooler for wherever your cooking adventures take you.

Five Simple Summer Recipes

A Sauté: Melted Squash

That squash lazing in your kitchen isn’t going to cook itself. Grate it on the large holes of a box grater and cook it down into a condiment to use on pizza, sandwiches, or toast. To turn it into a pasta sauce, add some pasta cooking liquid and grated Parmesan directly to the skillet.

Sauté 4 chopped garlic cloves and 1 finely chopped small onion in 1/4 cup olive oil. Add a pinch of crushed red pepper and 4 small grated squash or zucchini (about 2 pounds). Season generously with kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is soft. Stir in 1 tablespoon each red wine vinegar, fish sauce, butter, and chopped tender herbs. Refrigerate up to 4 days.

A Sauce: Tomato Butter

Melting down cherry tomatoes with aromatics and wine and then stirring in cold butter and herbs creates a rustic sauce for spooning over grilled fish or tossing with cooked pasta or rice.

Sauté 1 finely chopped shallot and 3 minced garlic cloves in 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add a pinch of crushed red pepper and 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved; simmer until tomatoes begin to soften. Add 1/4 cup white wine (or 2 tablespoons vinegar); cook, mashing from time to time with a spoon, until tomatoes are very soft. Stir in chopped tender herbs and 1/4 cup cubed cold butter until sauce is glossy and loosens a little. Refrigerate up to 6 days.

A Drink: Japanese-Style Shrub

2019 F&W Best New Chef Mutsuko Soma turned me on to this recipe after I bought too many green plums from the market. It’s a great way to utilize any sturdy and unripe fruit, from peaches to green tomatoes.

Combine an equal weight of fruit (score the bottoms of fruit to speed up pickling) and granulated sugar with 1 tablespoon kosher salt in a jar. Add vinegar (I use Filipino Silver Swan or Datu Puti cane vinegar; rice vinegar works, too). Stir until sugar dissolves. Add purple shiso leaves for color, if you like. Refrigerate 3 weeks, stirring every few days. To make a drink, use a 4:1 ratio of sparkling water to shrub mixture.

Hunter Lewis

A Marinade: My Go-To House Marinade

Mayonnaise has mythical powers as a tenderizer and carrier of flavor—in this case a marriage of cilantro, garlic, chile, ginger, and fish sauce that evokes Southeast Asia. Slather this on chicken wings or grouper cooked over hardwood coals.

Puree 2 cups loosely packed cilantro, 3 garlic cloves, 1 shallot, 1 (1-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger, 1 stemmed and seeded fresh jalapeño chile, 1/3 cup mayonnaise, the juice of 2 limes, 3 tablespoons fish sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a blender until mostly smooth. Add to chicken or fish in a bowl; toss to coat. Marinate fish up to 2 hours; marinate chicken up to 8 hours.

A Dressing: Sort-of-Caesar Dressing

This one’s for my friends and family, who keep texting me for the recipe for my Caesar-esque summer salad dressing. It’s my favorite way to get through the avalanche of greens I tote home from the farmers market. It’s equally good for crunchy, sturdy kale, cabbage, or chopped romaine salads.

Puree 5 anchovy fillets, 2 garlic cloves, the juice of 2 lemons, 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon capers, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper, salt, and freshly ground black pepper until smooth. Buzz in 1/4 cup loosely packed finely grated Parmesan. Refrigerate up to 7 days.