When summer arrives and the weather gets hot we all start to think…Barbecue! Along with barbecue comes our anticipation of the first garden fresh ripe tomatoes of the season. There are so many varieties of tomatoes to choose from, I’ve forced myself not to over plant–so I can experiment with new varieties. When cooking, the old school method is to blanch and peel tomatoes however I like to leave the skin on all my fruit and vegetables plus with tomatoes the skin holds much of the healthy carotenoids and flavonoids. Either way tomatoes are a gift of summer–prepare to your liking and enjoy. Along with my tomatoes I also grow eggplant, a close relative of the tomato. They don’t always produce fruit but they have beautiful summer blossoms.
Summer also brings us squash and I’ve found a new one: Chayote, a squash that originated in Mexico and is grown worldwide. It hasn’t really caught-on yet in this country but it is available. I used Chayote for the first time when I lived in Jamaica and love its firm quality that makes the squash easy to use and it holds up well in a variety of recipes.
Grilling Tips: When grilling salmon steaks over an open flame, I wrap the steaks in foil. Salmon has a layer of fat between the skin and flesh which is easy to catch fire – so use caution or wrap in foil. Leaner fish and shellfish like Halibut, Ahi Tuna, Mahimahi, Scallops and Mussels, are all fairly flame-resistant. For grilling starters try Mussels, they make a great appetizer and are quick and easy to barbecue. When cooking tuna, remember not to over cook – tuna is best served medium rare. And, if you’re among those who like to use skewers when grilling, I recommend using metal skewers… it’s easier, no soaking first to avoid catching fire.
Seasoning Ideas: I recently discovered red palm oil and have enjoyed learning how to use it. If you’ve not yet had the pleasure, give it a try, I think you like it. It can be used in any of my recipes replacing your usual oil for sautéing. Last year I recommended Tellicherry black pepper (the king of spices) from India’s Malabar Coast and that still holds. Its hard to overstate the difference a high quality black pepper can make in your recipes. To round out my summer seasoning recommendations try fresh herbs such as dill and fennel. They’re in season and readily available but if you don’t have access, you can use the seeds instead…either is nice. Note: A fresh herb is mild and delicate while the dried seed is stronger in flavor.
My summer recipes feature ingredients commonly grown in home and community gardens ready to combine with summer’s seafood harvest–Enjoy!
Summer Seafood and Your Garden’s Bounty
- Ahi Tuna with Watermelon, Red Wine Vinegar and Black Pepper
- Ahi Tuna with Tomatoes and Dill Seed
- Mahi-Mahi with Kale, Basil and Tomato
- Mahi-Mahi with Peaches and Cherries
- Halibut with Swiss Chard and Bacon
- Halibut with Cantaloupe and Cherry Compote
- Salmon Steaks with Fennel Butter
- Salmon Steaks with Chayote
- Coho Salmon Fillet with Fire Roasted Vegetables
- Coho Salmon Fillet with Asparagus
- Sea Scallops on a Stick with Veggies
- Sea Scallops with Asian Eggplant
- Green Shell Mussels Mojito Style
- Green Shell Mussels with Dill Seed and Shallots