Who wants to stand around a hot stove in the middle of the summer? Not too many folks in South Mississippi would think that a good idea. Maybe firing up the grill under a shady tree appeals to some, but if you leave it up to me, summertime menus are going to be all about the chill.
Here are three simple recipes that I think you will like. The deviled egg certainly has Southern roots, but I like to pair it with olive salad (found premixed in most grocery stores) that is famously used in making a muffuletta, so perhaps you could think it has an Italian connection as well. The other two recipe ideas have a definite European slant, in fact, the photos for each were taken at Stalla, the Italian restaurant at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino, my hands down favorite Italian place. But feel free to put your own spin on these recipes, use your imagination and impress your family and guests!
This is about as simple a recipe as can be found, and the only mistake you could make would be to overcook the eggs and have a hard time getting them out of the shell. Please use the best and freshest eggs you can find. By far, the very best can be found at the farmers market, where the eggs you buy will only be a day or two old.
- 2-3 eggs per person
- Olive salad
- Red pepper flakes
- Additional olive oil as needed
Cook the eggs in rapidly boiling water for 7-8 minutes, remove and place in an ice bath. Carefully remove the shell, cut the eggs in half, and remove the yolk. Mix the yolks, olive salad and a good pinch of red pepper flakes and refill the halved eggs. If the mixture is too dry, add a little more olive oil. Chill and serve with a well-chilled bottle of dry Riesling.
Tomato and Mozzarella Salad
Many of you will recognize this recipe as being Caprese Salad, an Italian classic. It is perfect this time of the year, but you absolutely must buy the best tomatoes you can find. Some of the better grocery stores, like Rouses, are now caring heirloom tomatoes. They are pricey but delicious.
Remember the tomato test: smell it, if it doesn’t have any smell, it doesn’t have any flavor. It is equally as important to use the best quality olive oil. Remember olive oil is not just a lubricant to cook in, it is an ingredient that should be bursting with flavor. Wal-Mart is now caring a few pretty good oils from Chile, Greece, Sicily, and Italy. They are not outrageously expensive, so check them out:
- 3-4 best quality tomatoes
- Best mozzarella cheese
- Fresh basil leaves
- Best olive oil
Please make sure the tomatoes are ripe. Slice about a quarter of an inch thick, or leave them in big, bite-size chunks. Slice the cheese in the same proportion, garnish with the basil leaves (whole) and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with a good Italian red wine or a cold craft beer.
Cheese and Fruit Platter
This is another simple summertime idea that I think you will love. But, as always, the quality of the ingredients will determine your success. If you use processed cheese, the results will be grim. Many grocery stores carry a good selection of imported cheese like Parmigiano-Reggiano, aged gouda, a variety of domestic and imported blue cheeses (Gorgonzola, Maytag) Swiss and French Gruyere, and Spanish Manchego. For fruit, just use what is in season, fresh and fragrant.
If you would like to stick with a theme, like French cheese, make sure to serve French wines. Food and wine that come from the same regions always go together well. If you want to serve a nice ripe French brie, pair it with nice Burgundy or a Bordeaux.