Dinspiration: 10 Dishes To Shake Up Your Summer Routine

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1. Tomato, Goat Cheese and Basil Strata

You can assemble this the night before and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake. Heat the oven to 400°F. Soften a chopped onion in butter; off heat, stir in chopped fresh tomato, six beaten eggs, a cup fresh shredded basil, a splash of milk or cream, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Top with bread cubes and dollops of goat cheese. Bake until just set, about 20 minutes; put under broiler quickly to brown top if necessary.

2. Avocado Soup with Crab

Puree a couple of ripe avocados with two cups of whole milk and a pinch of salt. Season a mound of fresh lump crabmeat with minced fresh red chiles, chopped cilantro, and a squeeze of lime or orange juice. Serve the soup with a scoop of the crab.

3. Tuna Tabbouleh

Soak about one-half cup of fine-grain bulgur in boiling water to cover. Peel, seed, and chop a cucumber and toss with lots and lots of chopped parsley, scallions, and fresh mint. Squeeze the bulgur dry and add to the cucumber mixture, dressing with lemon juice (again: lots), olive oil, salt, and pepper. Use a fork to add a can or two of good- quality tuna; toss to fluff the salad and serve.

4. Soba Noodles and Cucumber with Dipping Sauce

Perfect hot-weather food; add a bit of freshly grated ginger or wasabi for more spice and top with bits of cooked meat or tofu if you like. Boil and salt water for pasta; meanwhile, combine a quarter cup of chicken stock or water, three tablespoons of soy sauce, two tablespoons of mirin, and a teaspoon of sugar in a bowl; mix to dissolve the sugar. Cook the noodles for about four minutes, then rinse under cold water. Serve a nest of the noodles along with sliced cucumbers in a bowl (set over ice cubes if you like), with a small bowl of the dipping sauce on the side, garnished with chopped scallions.

5. Sausage and Grape Bruschetta

Squeeze two Italian sausages from their casings and break the meat into a hot skillet with a little olive oil and a chopped red onion. Cook, stirring once in a while, until browned all over. Meanwhile, cut several thick slices of good Italian bread, brush with olive oil, and toast or broil until crisp outside but tender inside. when the sausage is done, stir in about a pound of grapes, mashing a bit to break some of them up. Cook until just warmed through. Top the bread with the sausage mixture and pan juices.

6. Grilled Tomato Sandwiches with Blue Cheese Spread

Mash blue cheese with a little softened cream cheese, chopped chives, and just enough milk to make it spreadable. Smear a thin layer on slices of good bread. Top with ripe tomato, salt, and pepper. Make sandwiches and slip into a buttered hot frying pan. (If you’re making more than one sandwich, assemble them on a baking sheet and broil them on both sides.) Press down gently when you flip the sandwich and keep cooking until golden and gooey. Cut on the diagonal and serve with pickles.

7. Taco Slaw

Load a big bowl up with shredded cabbage. Add precooked or canned drained pinto beans, a handful of corn kernels, lots of chopped tomatoes and red onions, sliced red bell pepper and avocado, bits of chopped smoked chorizo, and crumbled queso fresco. Break up some tortilla chips on top. Put a bunch of fresh cilantro in the blender with lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and as much fresh or dried chile as you can stand. give the mixture a good whirl, then use it to dress and toss the salad. Serve with crema for last-minute drizzling.

8. Shrimp with Toasted Coconut

Great over a bead of jasmine rice. Toast some shredded unsweetened coconut, shaking the pan to keep it from burning, until just golden; remove and set aside. Add some oil to the pan, along with peeled shrimp and some curry powder, and cook until the shrimp are pink. Add enough coconut milk to make the mixture saucy, along with some soy sauce and the toasted coconut. Serve garnished with fresh cilantro.

9. Jerk Chicken

In a food processor, combine a half cup of white vinegar, two tablespoons of rum, one or two habanero chiles, a red onion, one tablespoon of dried thyme, two teaspoons of salt, one teaspoon of cracked black peppercorns, one tablespoon each of allspice, cinnamon, and ginger, and two teaspoons of molasses. Process until smooth. Cover a pound of boneless chicken (thighs or breasts) in this mixture and let sit for about five minutes (or up to an hour). grill the chicken, turning once, until browned and cooked through.

10. Fresh Fruit Gratin

Use stone fruits (peaches, nectarines, plums, or apricots) or berries. Wash, pit, and prepare the fruit as needed; heat the broiler. Combine one cup of sour cream with about two tablespoons of sugar and one teaspoon of vanilla. Put two to three cups of fruit in a baking dish just large enough to hold it, top with the sour cream mixture, and sprinkle with a teaspoon of sugar; broil for about two minutes, or until the cream begins to brown.