“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.”
Now that the summer solstice has welcomed the season of sunshine, and family schedules tend to be a bit more relaxed, it is the perfect time to exit the kitchen and head outdoors to enjoy backyard barbecues and s’mores around the fire pit.
I so look forward to this time of year and the freshly grown fruits and veggies we have at our fingertips. One of my favorite places to “shop” for the season’s finest are the farmers markets. I’m like a kid in a candy store trying to find the perfectly ripe and delicious treats, while at the same time supporting local small businesses. If you don’t take advantage of your local farmers market, you are really missing out!
I grew up next door to my grandfather, who was an avid gardener. He planted rows of tomato plants, 200 in all, along with lettuce, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, etc. We had our own farmers market in the backyard, where all our summer fruits and vegetables came from my grandfather’s garden. I recall sitting in the backyard with him as he sliced crisp cucumbers and peppers for my sisters and me to snack on while we played outside. There was nothing more delicious then going into the garden and picking a tomato and eating it like an apple. And if I didn’t want veggies, there were plenty of red grapes on the vine to pick. That vine still grows today in my father’s yard, and when I eat those grapes, the memories are just as sweet.
During these warm summer months, I love to prepare simple delicious meals using the fresh products of the season. When I return home at the end of the day, our meal consists of grilled meat or chicken, roasted vegetables or potato and a salad. I mix up the combination nightly; it’s healthy, tasty and quick, which gives my family time to catch up and relax.
Growing up in Revere, we lived close to the beach. I fondly recall packing up our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, walking the mile to the beach and spending our days in the water, playing in the sand and hunting for shells and sea life. In the afternoon, Dad would join us after work so we could all be together.
No matter the season, it is always the perfect time to share a meal with family and friends and enjoy the local specialties. I hope you take some time during the summer months to spend time with those you love and enjoy the fruits of the season.
Watermelon, Feta, Tomato and Cucumber Salad
2 cups cherry tomatoes cut in half
3 1/2 cups watermelon, cubed
1/2 English cucumber, sliced and halved
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup crumbled feta
3 T. cider vinegar
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, rough chopped
(can substitute mint for basil)
Prepare the salad: Gently toss tomatoes, watermelon, cucumber and onion
together in a large bowl and set aside.
Prepare the dressing: Combine vinegar, oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
Pour vinaigrette over the watermelon mixture, add basil and gently toss to
combine. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours. Sprinkle feta over top of salad