Summer Salads

With such a wide selection of flavorful, succulent fruits and vegetables at their peak ripeness during summer, I almost always enjoy a large salad at lunch and often as a generous side at dinner.  These delicious salads leave me feeling full, yet energized, and help me stave off afternoon tiredness in the heat. At lunch, pair them with peppery arugula and at dinner with simply grilled fish or pork chop. Making a batch of essential vinaigrette on Sundays allows for quick meal prep. Enjoy!

nectarine/tomato/basil/mozzarella

  • 12 mini heirloom tomatoes, sliced in half OR 2 large heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1” cubes 
  • 2 ripe nectarines or peaches, cut into 1/2″ thick wedges 
  • 8 mini mozzarella balls, sliced in half OR 1/2 large mozzarella ball, cut into 1/2” cubes
  • handful of basil, coarsely chopped 
  • Using ripe fruit is key here as the juices released from slicing the fruit will add a sweetness to the salad that balances the basil. 

watermelon/avocado/tomato/mint/feta

  • 2 c watermelon diced into 1/2″ cubes 
  • 1 c heirloom tomatoes, diced into 1/2″ cubes 
  • 1 medium avocado, diced into 1/2″ cubes 
  • 1/4 c crumbled feta or herbed feta 
  • handful of mint, coarsely chopped 

Use a ripe, but not overly soft avocado. 

strawberry/arugula/almonds/goat cheese

  • 8 oz strawberries, sliced 
  • 4 oz arugula or watercress, coarsely chopped 
  • handful of basil, coarsely chopped 
  • 1/4 c crumbled goat cheese 
  • 1/8 c sliced almonds (optional) 
  • Strawberries may be substituted for 2 ripe peaches or nectarines. 

Protocol: 

  1. Mix all ingredients and leave at room temperature
  2. Just before serving, add light coating of essential vinaigrette 
  3. Add salt/pepper if needed

Essential Vinaigrette

  • 1 c first cold-press extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1/8 c aged balsamic vinegar 
  • 4 tbsp agave 
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice 
  • 1/2 tsp pepper 
  • salt to taste 

Protocol:

  1. Whisk together EVOO and balsamic vinegar
  2. Whisk in agave and lemon juice
  3. Add pepper and then salt to taste

I usually make a batch of this dressing so that I can add it to salads just before serving and without having to prepare fresh. Store for 1 week in the refrigerator in this handy salad dressing mixer or in a glass jar. 

Turkey Burgers

Turkey burgers

Weeknight dinners need to be simply prepared and sometimes prepped ahead of time when we are busy with after school activities or trips to the park. These turkey burgers are a go-to weeknight meal for our family because you can prep them in a flash, set aside in the fridge to cook just before dinner, or prepare and take out on the go. The Ras El Hanout seasoning, a traditional warming Moroccan flavor, contains turmeric and clove, which are both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich, and cumin, which aids digestion.  Enjoy!

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 12 min

Ingredients

  • 2 lb organic ground turkey meat
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp Ras El Hanout seasoning 
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan 
  • 1/2 cup panko or bread crumbs
  • For serving: toasted wheat buns, spinach, tomato, mustard, ketchup 

Add ons:

  • finely chop 1/2 cup turkish figs for sweetness and add to burger mix
  • coarsely chop 1/2 almonds for added crunch and add to burger mix

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine ground turkey, eggs, finely diced onion, all seasonings, parmesan and panko.
  2. Mix until combined.
  3. Separate into 8 patties.
  4. Grill at 350-400 degrees or cook in large pan coated with olive oil at medium/high heat for approximately 5 min per side. Burgers should be firm when pressed with spatula to indicate meat is fully cooked.
  5. Serve over greens or on a toasted bun with tomato and your favorite condiments.
  6. Freeze extra burgers wrapped in foil and sealed in freezer bag.

Weeknight bolognese

Servings: 2 children and 2 adults + leftover sauce to freeze for future meal

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lb lean ground turkey or beef (or combination of both)
  • 1/2 large red onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 28 oz can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 2 c red wine, preferably a wine with pepper flavors
  • 1/2 c chicken stock (more as needed)
  • 2 tbsp herbs de Provence (dried mix or make with fresh herbs)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • gluten free pasta, as much as needed
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tbsp cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil (EVO)
  • large, deep pan or cast-iron pot

Instructions

  1. Add EVO, garlic, salt, and pepper to hot pan over medium/high heat and sauté for approximately 3 min
  2. Add onion and sauté until transparent for approximately 5 min
  3. Add ground turkey or beef and season with salt and pepper
  4. Sauté beef until browned, using spatula to break meat into smaller pieces
  5. Add red wine, chicken stock, herbs de Provence, bay leaf, and tomato paste
  6. Stirring frequently, simmer for at least 30 min on medium heat
  7. While sauce is simmering, boil large pot of water and cook pasta al dente
  8. Serve sauce over pasta and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes if desired

Everyone I’ve served this dish to has loved it! The best part is, it’s so simple to make on a weeknight. If you have several guests for dinner, just double the recipe, and make sauce ahead of time.