Monday, May 1, 2006

Simple Spring to Summer Menu

There are times when I love to spend hours in the kitchen preparing one unbelievably delicious but complex dish. It seems, though, that I choose this route less and less often. Even my slow cooked dishes like chili or stew or roasts take only a few minutes to prepare and then the oven does the rest of the work for me while I’m off doing other things. By the time dinner is ready the house smells awesome and I get all the credit. How bad is that?

So the traditional Friday night dinner with the family - chicken soup and roasted something with at least 3 other dishes plus a variety of fancy desserts are kept for very special occasions in my house. Couple that with beautiful weather here we've been having here in Toronto (it’s very much sunshine and spring-in-bloom around here) and I decided that it’s time to think quick, easy and colorful for dinner. This, because I’m already thinking ahead to summer, eager for sandals and brightly colored sundresses to replace the cozy (and usually black) sweaters of winter – I bore easily.

BBQ'd Asparagus
I love asparagus and now that it’s accessible here even in the dead of winter, we eat it often. But nothing says “spring” to me more than when the locally grown springtime variety pops up everywhere. The flavor seems richer and the color more vibrant. It tells me winter is finally over and local feasting is about to begin.

Kevin at Seriously Good is having a month-long asparagus event, so you can check out another million ways to prepare asparagus, but I bet you won’t find any that are easier to do than this BBQ’d version. It takes 5 minutes, tastes great and looks stunning.

Cedar Planked Salmon on the BBQ
One of my favorite fishes to serve (especially since my Honey hates to deal with bones) is salmon. I love it baked, and poached, or marinated, but I love it best simply grilled on the BBQ, especially when I “smoke” it on a cedar plank.

Quinoa Tabbouleh
Nothing says “summer” to me more than interesting salads (I told you I always like rushing the seasons – by early August, I’m impatient for colder weather and slow cooked soups and stews). So I decided to use my new favorite grain – quinoa to make this flavorful minty version of tabbouleh. Many years ago I had a Lebanese neighbor who made the best tabbouleh I ever tasted. Her secret – tons of mint with a little parsley and lots of lemon juice.

Chickpea Couscous Salad
Being on the South Beach Diet, I’m always looking for alternative carb choices and I found a very tasty chickpea and couscous salad in Dr Agatston’s book. This dish made me think of picnics and I was visualizing the spread of cold salmon, asparagus spears squirted with lemon juice and salads all served out of a wicker basket while we're lazing on a huge blanket beside some rambling brook…..but back to dinner.

Blueberry Mint Granita
When flipping through my latest edition of Delicious magazine – one of my favorites, I found a beautiful blueberry mint granita. Just try to tell me it doesn’t say “summer” to you! I even was able to make it very South Beach Diet friendly by using Splenda instead of sugar.

We had a great Friday night dinner even though it wasn't terribly traditional and what's more, there were lots of great herbs involved so I get to submit to another great Weekend Herb Blogging event over at Kalyn's Kitchen.

So, just to recap (and don’t forget to follow the links for the recipes) here’s a wonderful

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Anonymous said...

The Friday night dinner was great. The pictures are good but they dont tell the whole story!


Kalyn Denny said...

All this food sounds just wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm blown away by that menu. I agree with everything you said. That salmon was to die for. :):):)

Mahek said...

ruth nice to see your post
you cook such a lot i really appreciate the way you love to cook and feed

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

This menu looks very appetizing and fresh; exactly what I like!...

Anonymous said...

Hi Ruth,

All those dishes... the asparagus definitely spells out spring, doesn't it? I have posted asparagus & cheese tart - it's the season indeed!

Hope your low-carb diet is doing well and that your book is near completion.

I'm so sorry for having deleted your comment on my new site - you commented on a test page and it got deleted when i got rid of the test page. ooops!

Anonymous said...

That's a delicious menu.How's your book faring,Ruth?

Deetsa said...

I'm so overwhelmed by all your great looking food. I want one of each, please!

Ruth Daniels said...

Everyone - thanks so much for all the positive comments.

Mae, the diet is going okay - I'll be writing more about it next week. Somehow, though I'm still holding at 12 pound loss, which isn't bad, but I'd like to lose more. - I know - eat less, move more.

Mae & Sailu,
The book is coming along as well. I've finished all but 3 recipes (I want to only do 1 a week as these really aren't South Beach friendly). Still waiting for many of my volunteer testers to send back feedback. What I've been getting so far has been great. And if there's anyone out there reading this and thinking they'd like to help me out, there are still lots of recipes to test. I'm working on the index which is a royal pain, but necessary. So it's all coming together. Thanks for asking.