Nothing says summer like grilling on the barbecue, eating seasonal fruit and vegetables, and sipping on refreshing cocktails. Below are some ideas for building a healthy summer meal without skimping on the flavor.
Build your summer menu by starting with one of these delicious grilled entrees. You can’t go wrong with a nice rib-eye, shrimp kebabs, or salmon burgers. Rely on fresh herbs and marinades to get the most flavor from your meats, while still keeping them healthy. Get inspired with a Jerk, Teriyaki, or even Moroccan marinade. EatingWell.com has several easy, low calorie marinades that will have you thinking you went on a mini vacay in your backyard.
Fresh Vegetable and Fruit Side Dishes
You won’t want to fill up on heavy side dishes in warm weather. Instead look for fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables to accompany your grilled entree. Check out your local farmer’s market for the freshest choices. You may even come across some unique fruit and vegetables you haven’t seen before. You can also ask the produce manager or farm stand staff for recommendations based on your entree. They can suggest which type of tomato or squash you might want to use to best complement your dinner.
With a spiralizer you can substitute noodles with your thinly peeled squash. You can even toss some of your veggies in the same marinade you used on your barbecue meats for extra flavor. If you are looking to add more texture along with flavor, slice some radishes and cucumber for a nice crunch. You can even use them as “chips” for dips and hummus.
CookingLight.com has popular side dishes like Cavatappi with Arugula Pesto and Cherry Tomatoes and Bulgur Salad with Figs and Preserved Lemon that are sure to become summer traditions.
Fresh herbs are perfect for your marinades. If you don’t have your own herb garden, pick up some fresh dill, basil, and mint for your meal at the grocery store or farmer’s market. The herbs will add flavor and complexity to your meats. Add some fresh mint on your dessert to add a touch of something special to the end of your meal.
Refreshing Summer Cocktails
And of course you’ll want a refreshing cocktail with these delicious summer meals. Something fruity and sparkling is perfect for dining outside on a summer evening. White wine Sangrias are a great choice since they are flavored with fresh peaches, oranges, and apples. Or a white wine spritzer with soda water or seltzer for some summer fizz. Using fresh herbs in your cocktail is also a nice way to salute summer in your glass. Sage or mint are great in cocktails. What a perfect way to relax and enjoy the summer evening!
Save Room for Dessert
Summer brings some of the best desserts! Add fresh berries to just about anything and its the perfect way to finish the light summer meal. Add just a dollop of fresh whipped cream to a bowl of berries and your family wont even know its good for them. Grilling fruit can also bring out the natural sugars, making it an easy and great tasting dessert. Grilled pineapple with caramel sauce or grilled peaches with lemon whipped cream are two simple yet sophisticated ways to satisfy any summer sweet tooth.
Your summer feast will look so good, you’ll want to invite friends over to enjoy these delicious meals and celebrate the longer days and warm weather. Before you know it, you’ll be sharing your own recipes. If you love summer entertaining, you’ll enjoy reading about these Hamptons-Inspired Outdoor Dining Ideas.