Appetizers, Healthy Eating, Salads
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Hello Summer

Sometimes Simplicity Is The Ultimate Sophistication- Clare Boothe Luce

Summer is the perfect time to pack in some fresh flavours and ingredients into your cooking.

I love the flavours in these recipes as they are a great way to move over to lighter and brighter meals. It’s most certainly time for quick and easy cooking and these recipes here will get done in less than 30 minutes from start to table. Also a great way to use wonderful seasonal produce and locally grown vegetables and fruits. These recipes lend a sense of vibrancy to the palate and ignite one’s taste buds.

From fresh Asparagus, Beets, Cilantro, Eggplants, Zucchini, Oyster Mushrooms and Watermelons, here are some of my absolute fav recipes that I often toss together.

Now you could serve these up as sides or they work great as mains and appetizers too. Either way’s they make a meal complete.

The roundup of recipes here celebrate summer and are primarily vegetarian , some vegan and mostly gluten free. They are easy to put together and accompany just about anything you are cooking. I love roasting vegetables or sometimes giving them a quick saute as that way they retain most of their nutrition, while some have been used in their raw form too.

I love using a multitude of vegetables and fruits in my cooking and love playing around with flavours and textures. Whilst some recipes have been adapted from global chefs or perhaps even friends, the others are easy one’s that I’ve experimented with and worked on in my kitchen. You may like to customize any of them to your taste and what is available locally around you.

Summer flavours are definitely back in my kitchen and I’m quite enjoying the warmer weather and sunny days. I do hope you enjoy going through these and get excited for welcoming this season. Most of the recipes here are fairly low in carbs and keto friendly too.There is a great range of deliciousness in this roundup for you.

Cheers to healthy and delicious cooking!

Hope you are having a wonderful Summer!

1.Beetroot & Potato Mini Sliders/ Patties:

Beets make up for such flavorful recipes and work wonders in most salads, soups, sides and desserts. This recipe for a beetroot appetizer was shared by a dear friend Alyona kapoor on her Food Food channel recently. We made a batch of these recently and are absolutely hooked to the flavours. This recipe is slightly modified from the original one and have substituted Indian chat masala with the use of chili powder and raw mango powder. ( All spices are available at most Indian stores or International aisle across North America. These are so hearty and satiating along with a garden salad or perhaps served as a veggie slider option too, and sans the bun for a great gluten free meal.

For This Recipe:

  • Two medium beetroots (boiled and grated finely)
  • One medium Potato (boiled and grated finely)
  • 1 pod garlic (minced)
  • 2 tablespoons grated white onion
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon raw mango powder (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons rice flour or corn flour (to bind)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil for frying.
  • Mix all of the above (except oil) really well and let the mixture rest for half an hour.
  • Form small balls and flatten them slightly.
  • Heat a frying pan and add the vegetable oil. Shallow fry the cutlets till medium brown.
  • Serve hot with any dipping sauce of your choice.

2. Diced Watermelon & Feta ( with Balsamic drizzle and Radish Microgreens):

For This Recipe:

Summer fresh flavours and colours in this easy to put together side.

Simple ingredients here call for diced watermelon, crumbled feta cheese and some radish microgreens that add a great crunch and add to the visual appeal as a garnish too. You may choose any garnish of your choice. Microgreens are chock a full nutrients, vitamins and beta carotene compared to the mature plants. You may buy store bought ones that include a variety of microgreens like kale, beet, peas shoots, broccoli or even perhaps sunflower and wheatgrass. This summer salad ticks off all the boxes.

For The Balsamic Reduction:

Heat 1/4th cup of balsamic vinegar on medium heat for about 15-20 minutes till it thickens and coats the back of your spoon. Drizzle over the watermelon and feta and season with salt and pepper.

3. Roasted Eggplants with Tahini Aioli, Sumac and Blistered Cherry Tomatoes:

An everyday lunch can look as easy and pretty as this beautiful roasted eggplant dish. This works great for busy afternoons when I’m prepping up for my virtual workshops and need something to be put together in a hurry. This can be served as a main along with a garden salad.

For This Recipe:

  • Wash two long eggplants and split them in half.
  • Place them on a baking tray and drizzle two tablespoons of olive oil and mix well.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Place in a preheated oven at 400F for about 30-40 minutes till the eggplant has roasted well.
  • Halfway through the roasting you may add in about 5-8 cherry tomatoes so they get well blistered.
  • Place the roasted aubergine on a serving platter and drizzle with Tahini aioli, sumac, fresh arugula and crumbled feta cheese.

4.Oven Roasted Asparagus & Courgette:

Spring heralds an enormous amount of fresh produce here in Ontario. While asparagus is available all year around, local asparagus is harvested in abundance from early May to end June. Most asparagus grown here are green and a very small percentage of the white variety. Local fresh produce is the ultimate treat and while the farmers markets start off much later in the summer, most stores seem to have ample of these beauties.

For This Recipe:

  • Wash and trim the fresh asparagus (8-10)
  • Wash and chop the yellow courgettes into roundels.(1 medium)
  • Toss the asparagus and the courgettes in 1 tablespoon Olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Mix well and arrange this on a baking tray in a single layer.
  • Bake in a preheated (425F) for about 12-14 minutes.
  • Garnish with some grated parmesan cheese and toss in a teaspoon of capers too.

5.Grilled Eggplant with Tahini Sauce:

This recipe is just a burst of wonderful flavours and has been adapted from a favorite Yotam Ottolenghi recipe. His original recipe calls for grilled eggplants with anchovies but I’ve skipped that and gone ahead and added some tahini sauce for a more middle eastern pizzazz. The arugula, walnuts and sprinkling of sumac lend complex flavours to an otherwise ordinary meal.

For This Recipe:

  • 3 medium eggplants (washed and cut into thin roundels)
  • 3-4 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Handful toasted walnuts
  • 5-8 arugula leaves
  • Sprinkling of Sumac
  • 2-3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
  • Tahini Sauce (2-3 tablespoons)
  • For the Tahini sauce mix together 3 tablespoons of store bought tahini paste with 4-5 tablespoons of yogurt, add in one minced garlic pod and drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • For the eggplants: Place the thin roundels on a baking tray lined with parchment.Sprinkle some salt and mix well. Then mix the olive oil generously all over the eggplant. Ensure they are lined in a single layer.Bake the eggplant in an oven at 425 F for about 35 minutes or until crisp. Cool
  • Arrange the baked eggplant on a serving platter. Drizzle some tahini sauce. Now garnish with crumbled feta cheese, sprinkling of sumac and arugula leaves and toasted walnuts.
  • Serve Warm.

6. Zucchini Ribbons with a Spiced Tofu Scramble:

For This Recipe:

The Zucchini ribbons have simply been made with a kitchen peeler. I have used 1 large zucchini and gone ahead and washed and peeled the skin.
Use the kitchen peeler further to make thin ribbons.
For the Tofu scramble. Crumble 250 grams of soft tofu to which you may add 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger, dash of tamari, pinch of brown sugar and half teaspoon of sriracha sauce.
Tomato caper Sauce: This is a robust sauce made with fresh pureed tomatoes simmered into a thick sauce along with some minced garlic and seasoned with some salt and pepper. Garnished with capers.

Assemble the Tofu scramble on one edge of the Zucchini ribbon and then roll them up to form a tight roll. Plate and garnish with the Tomato caper sauce.

7. Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Burrata:

These delicious roasted cherry tomatoes pair so well with fresh Burrata and dried herbs and makes up for an easy appetizer for your spring get togethers. The roasted tomatoes are bursting with flavour and with these simple ingredients this dish comes together fairly quickly.You could even use grape tomatoes if you like.

This one sure works out great as an entertaining favorite.

For This Recipe:

  • 10-15 cherry tomatoes (washed and halved)
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Dash of fresh pepper
  • Mixed herbs of your choice ( dried mint or thyme work well)
  • Small ball of fresh burrata
  • Place the tomatoes on a baking tray and mix in the olive oil and pepper.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 F and place the tomatoes in the oven for 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are slightly charred.
  • Turn off the oven and place the burrata in the center of the tomatoes for just a minute and remove from the oven.
  • Place on a serving platter. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle some more olive oil and sprinkle some mixed herbs of your choice.
  • Serve warm with pita crisps or crackers.

8. Vegetable Medley with Oyster Mushrooms:

This medley of assorted vegetables is a good weeknight option and so easy to put together.

For This Recipe:

  • 4-5 Oyster Mushrooms ( cleaned and roughly chopped)
  • 2 assorted Coloured Peppers ( Chopped)
  • 1 medium white Onion
  • 2-3 small potatoes (cubed)
  • 1 pod garlic (minced)
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive Oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Oregano leaves
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Fresh chives to Garnish
  • Heat a cast iron pan and add in the Olive oil.
  • Saute the onions to a medium brown and add in the garlic.
  • Add the chopped potatoes and cook on high for 5 minutes.
  • Next and in the peppers and and mushrooms and continue to saute the vegetables.
  • Saute on medium heat for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with fresh chives.

9. Roasted Carrots & Grilled Halloumi Cheese:

These Oven Roasted Carrots are inspired by Chef Yotam Ottolenghi. I’ve added some grilled Halloumi  cheese to complete the meal. The original recipe call for the carrots to be glazed with honey which I’ve omitted in this recipe. Roasting carrots brings about their  natural sweetness and trust me its the only way I will ever cook carrots! Wouldn’t you agree?

I served these delicious carrots along with some grilled Halloumi cheese and a paired it with a Tahini sauce. The sharp notes of the Tahini sauce hit the right notes with the sweetness of the roasted carrots and the light saltiness of the grilled Halloumi. This semi hard and brined cheese is  popular around the Levant region and is a perfect blend of sheep and goat milk. It works well served raw ,however the wonderful salty and nutty flavours are enhanced once this cheese is fried to a medium brown colour.The best part about this cheese is that it retains its shape without melting. Infact fried halloumi works as a great appetizer served with some capers and mint.

For This Recipe:

  • 4-6 Medium Carrots (Washed & Peeled)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder (roasted)
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 20 grams butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt to season.
  • Preheat the oven to 230 C.
  • In a large bowl mix together the cumin powder,Olive oil,butter,salt and cayenne pepper
  • Mix in the carrots to the above.
  • Line a baking tray with parchment paper and spread the carrots onto it.
  • Roast for about 15 minutes till the carrots seemed slightly charred
  • Remove and plate. Squeeze some lemon juice over the roasted carrots.

Grilled Halloumi Cheese:

  • 1 pack Halloumi Cheese (store bought)
  • Oil for pan frying
  • Heat a frying pan and drizzle some oil.
  • Cut the Halloumi cheese into 1 inch thick slices
  • Lay the cheese onto the frying pan or grill pan till nicely browned on either side.
  • Remove and plate it with the oven roasted carrots.

10. Coriander & Walnut Pesto:

Move over pine nuts and basil as fresh coriander and toasted walnuts blend together to make this wonderful and easy pesto.

In this modern version the pine nuts are substituted with walnuts and the star ingredient is fresh Coriander leaves or Cilantro and just some basil leaves thrown in for good measure. All the ingredients compliment each other really well and trust me you will be tempted to eat this pesto by the spoonful.

For This Recipe:

  • Small bunch Fresh Coriander  (de stemmed, cleaned, rinsed and chopped)
  • 1-2 pods garlic (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 30-40 grams Parmesan cheese (grated either fresh or packaged)
  • ½ teaspoon Black pepper powder
  • 30 grams walnuts (roughly crushed)
  • 60 ml Olive Oil
  • 8-10 Basil Leaves (roughly chopped)
  • Dash of salt to season
  • Blend the coriander leaves, minced garlic, vinegar, basil leaves, Parmesan cheese, pepper, and walnuts in a small grinder.
  • Mix the ingredients well.
  • Season with salt.
  • Lastly keep drizzling olive oil till the Pesto reaches desired consistency.

11. Beetroot Hummus:

Hummus, the  delightful and quintessential middle eastern dip that works magical as a healthy and delicious snack. A combination of crushed chickpeas, tahini (sesame paste) some lemon juice,garlic and olive oil all blended together to luscious creamy texture.

And Voila a delicious dip to serve with grilled meats,crisp pita or even some chopped vegetables.

How about jazzing up your favorite Hummus recipe with the goodness of beetroot? I’ve used some beetroot puree into a batch that I made up earlier this week.The beetroot adds a wonderful vibrant hue to the hummus, lends a delicate flavour too and looks absolutely stunning.

For This Recipe:

  • 1 cup boiled chickpeas ( or canned)
  • 2 tablespoons Tahini
  • 1 pod garlic (crushed)
  • 2 tablespoons Olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup yogurt (optional)
  • 1/4 cup pureed beetroot ( 1 small beetroot boiled and pureed)
  • Water (as required)
  • sprinkling of sumac
  • Put the chickpeas into a food processor and blend for a minute.
  • Now all  ingredients (except yogurt ) and blend further for 3-5 minutes till the mixture is smooth. Add water as per requirement, enough to grind the chickpea  mixture into a creamy texture.
  • Place in a small bowl and whisk in the yogurt.This is optional. You may omit this step if you would like it to be dairy free.
  • Drizzle some more Olive oil and sprinkle some sumac or zaatar powder.
  • Garnish with some chopped parsley.


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