Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Quick and easy summer meals

I hope you had a lovely Christmas, filled with family, food and lots of fun. We certainly had lots of all three, and now we're solidly into the season of spending more time outdoors enjoying the summer, and therefore less time inside on dinner prep.

Also, given the recent indulgences (and the treats still lingering), light, healthy and summery meals are what we're favouring. If I'm on dinner I tend to focus on salads and vegie-centric meals at this time of year - not only do they keep things a bit lighter but there's so much delicious produce available to keep things interesting.

Because we've been holidaying with family I haven't been doing much cooking of my own, and although we've supplied a few dishes for Christmas and various other celebrations, working out of other people's kitchens means it's easier to go with simple recipes.

With all that in mind I thought I'd share a few old favourites for quick and easy meals. Some of these are ideal if you have to take something to a barbie, and all are beautifully suited to laid back summer meals.

1. Homemade burgers

There are a million ways of doing your own burgers. This option sneaks extra veg into the patties, but if you want a really quick option use loosely formed mince on its own, buy pre-made patties or even haloumi and shortcut the whole process.

Our favourite burger buns are the Paneton parbaked grain ones (we keep a pack of the ficelles in our freezer for nights where we run out of time for cooking from scratch),

2. Greek salad

My favourite simple salad still, for its varied flavours and ease of construction. It also looks gorgeous - I prefer to layer mine in a wide deep bowl, but if your bowl (or personal preference) calls for a tossed salad hold aside a little of each topping ingredient to scatter on top.

The version at the link uses fried feta to really up the ante, but if that's too fiddly just crumble it on top - it'll still be adored.

3. Souvlaki / kebabs with felafel

Again you can get the premade felafel mix, but really it's pretty easy to throw together your own patties with tinned chickpeas.

An alternative felafel recipe we sometimes make adds 1/4 of a pumpkin, chopped and roasted, and 100g of feta to the patties. Top with poached eggs and have the salad on the side and you can skip the pita pockets altogether.

4. Potato salad

Leftover spuds? This is your dish. So simple, so tasty, so much the taste of Kiwi summer. Perfect to use up leftovers but worth boiling potatoes especially if the cooked ones all got eaten.

We always have The Collective Dairy's Straight Up yoghurt in our fridge, and it's perfect for this - creamy and slightly tangy. If you've got bacon on hand adding a little of that is never going to hurt, but this is a super flexible recipe - as long as you've got potatoes and yoghurt you're good to go.

5. Roast Beetroot Balsamic Salad

Beetroot is definitely the star here, and roasting it in balsamic vinegar is the magical secret to tasty perfection. If you can get someone else to shell fresh walnuts for you that's always the best way (our Little Monkey has learnt to throw them on the concrete path until they crack... It's slow going) but supermarket nuts will of course do just fine.

The recipe claims the feta is optional (and, worse, apparently I made it without feta that time), but really, the feta is worth adding. Unless you're unable to eat cheese, in which case I am very sorry for your loss and it will still be cheeselessly delicious.

We're off to two barbeques today, so we're making a Greek salad and an ambrosia. What's on your menu? Do you have any killer easy meals you think I might be missing out on?

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