- Cut up 4-6 washed peaches into bite sized pieces (about 4 cups)
- Add a big handful of chopped cilantro or mint (about 3/4 cup)
- Add about 3 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
- Squeeze in one juicy lime (3-4 Tablespoons) and toss.
Did you know it was National Farmers Market Week? I found out from a Union Square Greenmarket post yesterday. As those of you who follow A Good Dish know, I am a devotee of our local markets and always seek out a market when I travel. With the internet, it is easy to find a market near you. This time of year, markets are bursting with tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, carrots, leafy greens, melons, peaches and nectarines, plums, flowers and herbs as well as the year round offerings of meat, dairy, bread, pickles, onions, potatoes and root vegetables. If you don’t already shop at your neighborhood farmers market, find one near you and go weekly. There is no fresher produce to be had unless you actually go to a farm or grow it yourself. Check out these photos and then tell me, how can you resist?
All these images are from the Friday 97th Street Greenmarket in Manhattan.
One of my favorite summer drinks is a version of the St. Germain cocktail. It is more sweet than sour but light and refreshing. Summer in New York can feel too hot for either bourbon or red wine, my winter default drinks when I want warm and cozy. When the temperature climbs, I turn to the increasingly popular Aperol Spritz, which I wrote about a couple of years ago, a gin and tonic, sangria, a citrusy IPA (even a shandy) or an elderflower cocktail.
We first tried St. Germain, which is an elderflower liqueur, about 7 or 8 years ago when it was being promoted at our local liquor store and each bottle came with a complementary carafe and recipe cards for drinks using the liqueur. Having just discovered an inexpensive rose Cava that we liked, the St. Germain cocktail immediately appealed to us. Somehow, we seem to make it only during the summer – because it is so fresh tasting, it is particularly well suited to warm weather concoctions. The recipe for this libation is simply a 2-2-1 mix of Prosecco or Cava, bubbly water like seltzer or club soda and St. Germain. The result – a slightly buzzy but pretty light and spritzy drink.
The shapely St. Germain bottle with its old style lettering on the label was well designed to make it appear as if it had been around forever but it was actually first produced in 2007 by the Cooper Spirits Company and then bought up by Bacardi in 2013. The liqueur is sweet but not sugary, floral but not perfume-y and fruity, but in a non-specific way. It is not the only elderflower liqueur out there but clever marketing and packaging, including the faceted bottle and bold graphics, have made it the most well known. The company’s recipe calls for 2-2-1.5 but I think 1 part St. Germain is sufficient and lightens up the drink so you can continue imbibing all evening. If you don’t have or don’t like bubbly wine, just substitute a dry white. You can even mix up a pitcherful before guests arrive and not be bothered bartending. Slices of lemon, lime, grapefruit or peaches add a festive touch.
There are other ways to use St. Germain. To up the ante on a gin and tonic, add 1 part St. Germain to 1 1/2 parts gin to 4 parts tonic and squeeze in a lime. And adding a big splash of elderflower liqueur to a disappointing bottle of wine improves a meh white or rose. Add slices of citrus, peaches or some berries and you’ve rescued your purchase by creating a light style sangria. I don’t mean to sound like an advertisement for St. Germain but it does make delicious summer cocktails.
Combine and stir:
- 1 part Elderflower liqueur, such as St. Germain
- 2 parts Prosecco, Cava or Champagne
- 2 parts bubbly water like seltzer or club soda
- Slices of lemon, lime, grapefruit or peach
Serve over ice or chilled.
One of the simplest and most universally liked dishes I serve at parties or take to a potluck is a wild rice salad with walnuts, cherries, parsley and an orange raspberry vinaigrette. All you do is mix together the cooked wild rice with finely chopped raw vegetables, a dried fruit, nuts or seeds and toss with an easy dressing. You might think of wild rice as a Thanksgiving food but this salad makes a great summer meal because all you have to cook is the wild rice and then add the other, uncooked, ingredients.
Originally, I got a version of this recipe from the Whole Foods website. It is like the one that shows up on their salad bar from time to time. I just varied it to meet my tastes. It is an extremely flexible recipe. Almost every ingredient in the salad may be substituted for by another depending on season and what you have on hand. No celery, use fennel or zucchini. No red onion, use scallions or shallots. No dried cherries, use cranberries, currants or apricots or substitute fresh berries, cherries or citrus sections. No walnuts, use almonds, pecans or pumpkin seeds. No red pepper, use green, orange or yellow peppers or jalapeños, jicama or leave it out altogether. I had sugar snap peas this week so I sliced some and tossed them in. If you don’t like the raspberry vinegar in the dressing, use wine, pomegranate or sherry vinegar instead.
Last week I had some leftover wild rice and I tried a completely different version, essentially rice mixed with a Greek salad minus the lettuce. I added chopped cucumber, radishes, scallions (I didn’t have any red onion), cherry tomatoes, arugula, crumbled feta cheese, oregano and a dash of cayenne to about an equal amount of wild rice and tossed it with a balsamic vinaigrette. It made a very tasty and quite satisfying summer supper plus it held up well for lunch the next day. You could also use the raspberry version as a main course since it contains nuts for protein, or top it with crumbled feta or goat cheese, baked tofu strips, bacon or cooked salmon and plate it on a bed of arugula or lettuce leaves.
Wild rice is really a nutritional grass and like true rice, its cousin, it does not contain gluten. It can be blended with brown rice in this recipe, if you prefer a milder flavor or have leftover rice to use up. This salad is quite hearty and will last (and even improve in flavor) for a couple of days in the refrigerator. I often serve it at a buffet supper because it can sit out for hours. Every time, someone asks for the recipe.
WILD RICE SALAD WITH RASPBERRY VINAIGRETTE
- 4-5 cups cooked wild rice (I cook it like pasta in lots of water until tender and then drain)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1 cup finely chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh red bell pepper
- 1/3 cup dried cherries, without pits or 1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and sliced
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, raw or lightly toasted
- 2 TBs raspberry vinegar
- 2 TBs orange juice
- 3 TBs olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Serves 6 and keeps well for a few days refrigerated.
Happy Summer wherever you find yourself or it finds you!