Summer is the time for cookouts, parties, beach days, and enjoying a drink or a treat by the pool. The weather’s warm, the kids are home from school, and it’s the perfect time to get in some relaxation and rest. One way to ensure an enjoyable, relaxing summer is to keep things simple in the kitchen. Save the intensive preparations and comfort foods for the cold weather, and choose fresh dishes that are full of flavor and light on prep work.
One of the challenges of summer cooking is the heat. Running your oven or even the range can make your kitchen heat up in a hurry. If you have access to an outdoor grill, it’s a great option for those nights when you just can’t bear the thought of cooking indoors. However, it’s also wise to have a good list of recipes that work well for indoor summer cooking for those times when you don’t have access to an outdoor grill.
Search Out New Recipes
Everyone gets in a cooking rut every so often, and the start of summer is a great excuse to skip the normal weekly menu and try new things. A fun way to get inspired for summer cooking is to find some delicious new recipes. If you enjoy grilling, pick up a new cookbook with techniques or recipes you haven’t tried yet. There are cookbooks now for every gourmet niche imaginable, and it’s easy to find a grilling cookbook at your local bookstore or library.
You can also find new recipes online. You could search for a Pinterest board dedicated to summer cooking, or even start a new group board to encourage others to participate as well. You could follow a few new food blogs, or a check out social media platforms dedicated to food. When you are choosing online recipes to try, remember to skim through the comments section to see if other people enjoyed the recipe or had any helpful tips.
Update Your Current Recipes
Finding and trying new recipes is interesting, but most people can’t commit to cooking something totally new every night of the week. It’s helpful to have a repertoire of recipes you are comfortable cooking that you can pull out on a Tuesday night when you’ve spent the day gardening or taking the kids to swim lessons. For those nights when you want an easy standby dinner, your go-to recipe box of family favorites is there for you.
Even if your standard weekly menu options aren’t focused on grilling, you can still modify them to make them a better fit for the hot summer weather. For example, if you normally bake homemade pizza on Friday nights but don’t want to spend an hour with the oven running at 450, try grilling your pizza instead! Or go for a lighter option that keeps the traditional pizza flavors my making a caprese salad and serving it with foccacia from your local bakery.
You can also modify your recipes so you get the same flavors in a summer-friendly package. For example, try serving your taco filling in a lettuce wrap. It’s lighter and cooler than a tortilla, and is great for anyone trying to limit carbs. Another idea is to switch out the noodles in your favorite pasta dish for spiralized veggie “noodles.”
Try Lighter Options
Between the hot weather and the motivation of a swimsuit, most people choose to eat lighter dishes in the summer. If you don’t want to commit to finding an entirely new library of light summer dishes, you can make easy swaps here and there to keep your meals on the lighter side. You can focus on eating more fruits and vegetables, which is easy in the summer because so many things are in season, and therefore delicious and inexpensive.
Choose one night a week and commit to making a vegetarian or even vegan meal. With all the alternative options available now, such as vegan mayo from Hampton Creek, cooking a vegetarian meal is easier than ever. Starting with one meal per week is a great way to try out vegetarian cooking, and you may even find some meals you love to add to your go-to recipe box.
Summer is a favorite season for many people and there are so many food-related reasons to love it too, with endless varieties of fresh produce and the chance to grill out often. Forget spending hours in an overheated kitchen, and try out some new summer-friendly recipes. You can find dishes that require little or no cooking at all, or modify some of your favorites to be lighter. You can even use the season to experiment with vegetarian or vegan options.