Cool Summer Recipes

Hot weather, longer days, fresh local produce, Summertime is a great time to cook. This time of year we can balance the heat of the sun with cooling and refreshing meals. I love to cook, and I love to eat, but I don’t like to fuss with fancy recipes. Especially in the summer when I could be out in the garden!

Here are a few of my favorite summer recipes




Cucumber Salad

serves 2-4


3 large cucumbers

1 can garbonzo beans

1 can pitted black olives

2 scallions

fresh parsley

fresh fennel herb and bulb

oil and vinegar dressing


  • Chop cucumbers into bite sized pieces. I like quarter rounds. You can peel them if you prefer, but I find the peels add a depth of flavor to the overall salad
  • Coarsely chop scallion, a handful of fresh parsley, and about half as much fennel as parsley
  • Drain garbanzo beans
  • Drain olives and cut them in half (or buy pre-sliced if you prefer)
  • In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until well mixed. Serve immediately or refrigerate for 6-8 hours to let flavors mingle
  • This will last several days in the fridge



While this next recipe is great year ‘round, I particularly like it this time of year, since it’s an easy, one-pot meal that can simmer happily on the stove while you’re enjoying a moment in the sun. For convenience, I use a pre-made simmer sauce, usually a mild Indian spice. A taco or fajita sauce is also great. Feel free to experiment with flavors that make you happy!


Slow-simmered Chicken*

serves 2-4


1 lb boneless chicken (breasts or thighs, both are good!)

1 jar simmer sauce

4-6 small to medium yellow potatoes (you can skip these if you are reducing carbs or want to serve the chicken over rice)

3 medium zucchini squash


  • Cut chicken, potatoes, and zucchini into bite-sized pieces. In my family, we like big chunks of everything, so go for what suits you best.
  • Place all the pieces in a large pot, cover with the simmer sauce and enough water to make sure everything is covered
  • Cover the pot and simmer over medium-low heat for 30-45 minutes or until the chicken chunks are cooked through
  • Serve as a thick stew on its own or over rice


Note: cooking it longer will not be a problem as long as it’s covered and has plenty of liquid and room to move around in the pot. It’s great re-heated the next day, too, so go ahead and make a big batch to last!

*This recipe works equally well with fresh tuna steak!


On The Grill

We’ve been using our gas grill a fair amount already this year, and enjoying it thoroughly. In addition to grilling chicken and tuna steaks, we’ve been having a great time experimenting with grilled vegetables! Here are our favorites so far:


Sliced beets (red or golden, about ¼ inch thick)

Portabella mushroom caps

Zucchini and/or yellow summer squash



  • Baste generously with olive oil
  • grill at a steady 400F
    • 7 minutes per side for beets and zucchini
    • 5 minutes per side for Portabellas
    • 3 minutes per side for asparagus


For crispy kale, spinach, or other large green leaves, baste generously in olive oil and place in the warming section of your grill while the other veggies are cooking.

If your grill doesn’t have a warming section, these can be done in the oven on baking sheets at 400F for 10-15 minutes. I wish I could be more exact, but ovens vary a great deal, and so does the water level in the leafy greens! You want them to be slightly browned and crispy.

Be sure to make lots, because these will be popular!


Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

It seems a little strange to even call this a recipe, but this is one of the most delicious summer foods I can think of!


Fresh mozerella, sliced

Fresh, locally-grown tomato, a good beefsteak variety, sliced

Fresh whole basil leaves

Olive oil

Fresh cracked black pepper


  • Lay your mozerella and tomato slices out across a plate, with basil leaves in between
  • Drizzle with olive oil and dust with cracked black pepper
  • Serve over a bed of lettuce and/or baby spinach
  • Add olives if you wish, my favorite is garlic stuffed Greek olives



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