Rich, hot beer-cheese soup may not sound like ideal summer fare, but this version is made with a warm-weather cookout star—smoky grilled brats—that transform it into a dish that's seasonally appropriate. Flavored with cheddar and spike with a bit of Velveeta for improved texture, it's my go-to meal when I want a taste of my Midwestern roots.
This Paul Prudhomme-inspired pie is essentially a sweet pastry crust filled with a savory mixture of Cajun-spiced ground pork and beef. It's topped with rich seasoned cream cheese, which turns bubbly and browned in the oven—in short, it's bliss on a plate.
Grains come in many forms, and they're a wonderful vehicle for flavors. The trick is striking the right balance: when combined with sweet, seasonal fruits, green herbs, and crunchy, fresh vegetables, simple grains have the potential to become magical. Here are five tasty ways to get started!
What's better than pizza? Not much, but pizzaiola, a Neapolitan dish of meat cooked pizza-style, is a strong contender. Often made with steak, this indulgent version features thinly pounded pork-tenderloin medallions tied around a scamorza-cheese filling. The bundles are seared, then simmered in a rich red-wine tomato sauce. A final topping of cheese on each piece of pork and a trip under the broiler to get it browned and bubbling is the killer last step. It's delicious served on pasta.
Sure, whole-wheat pasta is healthy. It's also tasty, offering a bit more "chew" than the refined-starch variety. That extra texture is a plus in this chilled salad, which mixes grilled zucchini, briny Kalamata olives, tomatoes, salty feta, and basil, all of the ingredients dressed in a simple vinaigrette.
Summer Grain Salads: Quinoa Salad With Dried Tart Cherries, Mint, and Feta in Lemon-Sumac Vinaigrette
This quinoa salad takes Middle Eastern flavors and ties them together with sumac-laced lemon vinaigrette. Fortunately, the mix of tart, dried cherries, mint, parsley, salty feta and pomegranate seeds is enough to make you forget you're eating healthy.
In this simple recipe, farro is simmered with onion, garlic, and carrot to impart extra flavor. Then it's combined with a host of fresh ingredients: juicy tomatoes, cucumbers, and herbs, all of which are tied together with red wine vinaigrette, pine nuts, and crumbled blue cheese.
This black rice salad is full of color: avocado and cilantro for a shock of green, mangoes, and oranges for some stark contrast, followed by a sprinkle of red onion and a shower of earthy, crunchy pepitas, all tied together with chili and cumin-spiked orange vinaigrette.
Inspired by Thai grilled beef salad (neua nam tok), this salad replaces the meat with grilled vegetables and adds fragrant jasmine rice. It's loaded with fresh herbs and dressed with a bracing, fish sauce-spiked lime vinaigrette. Plus, because the vegetables are grilled, they give the salad a deeper, smoky flavor.
Braised short ribs are one of the most comforting of comfort foods, but they're not exactly summer fare. By borrowing some tricks from Korean cooking—such as flavoring them with a kalbi-style sauce and topping them with refreshing green onion and pear—this version transforms them into a warm-weather-friendly main course.
This vindaloo is made with pork meatballs, an array of peppers, juicy tomatoes, and a finishing sprinkle of cilantro. Serve it with pearl couscous, which stands up nicely to the bold sauce.
Inspired by gigantes plaki (Greek-style baked beans), this flavorful salad features butter beans enveloped in a vinegar-spiked tomato dressing, with dill, oregano, and a touch of cinnamon.
Two types of beans, red kidney and green beans, are mixed with pickled red peppers and fire-roasted jalapeños in this amped-up redux of the time-honored three-bean salad.
Chickpeas go a bit rogue in this pepperoni, lemon zest, and Parmesan-stippled salad—the perfect option for an oven-free, summertime side.
Black beans are pitch-perfect in this Southwestern-style bean salad, which is finished with sweet nubs of corn, cilantro, jalapeño, and a crumble of corn chips.
The classic side dish of rice and beans gets a summery facelift in this bold, chilled salad, packed with tomatoes, sharp cheddar, onions, cilantro, and an in-your-face vinaigrette made with both banana peppers and ancho chilies.
Pork shoulder is beloved for good reason: it's cheap, forgiving, and it can feed an army. Those reasons alone make it a winner of a cut in my book. It's also barbecue spice-ready, too, as you'll see here. And when that version is paired with a homemade, garden-fresh condiment, it comes mighty close to being my personal version of heaven on earth.
Easy enough for a weeknight dinner but impressive enough to serve guests, this fennel, chili, and cinnamon-rubbed chicken—inspired by a Michael Chiarello spice rub—is roasted with lemon and potatoes for a delicious one-dish dinner.
Corn chowder with pancetta and potatoes is finished with garlic croutons and fresh, snipped chives.
Pan-fried whitefish is the perfect blank canvas for a medley of fresh and bright summer flavors: sweet corn, red onion, avocado, tomatoes, and basil, all tossed in a bright lime vinaigrette. The resulting dish—quick and easy to prepare—is full of flavor and color, texture and tang.
Stromboli stuffed with Italian sausage, garlic, red peppers, cheese and tomato sauce is a great alternative to pizza.
A simple dish of pasta tossed in a creamy, lemony, sherry sauce, with sweet red peppers and gently poached chicken.
The first time I made this dish was for Christmas dinner, and it was an instant hit. Who can resist buttery-tender beef tenderloin with a red wine marinade and not one, but two sauces: a pan sauce made with the drippings and extra marinade, and a parsley, dill, and mint-flecked horseradish cream?
These chicken thighs are stuffed with a mixture of crème fraîche and sautéed wild mushrooms. Seared and roasted along with fingerling potatoes, the whole dish is served in bright sauce made with wine, vinegar, garlic, and olives.
Ropa vieja, the classic Cuban dish of shredded stewed beef flavored with a vinegary tomato and pepper sauce, is a natural choice for the slow cooker, stewed all day and served with rice and beans.
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