Summer cooking should be all about simplicity. The warm weather and the fresh produce call for easy, light and flavorful dishes and a healthy summer diet paired with Pilates classes is the perfect recipe for a fit body. There’s nothing better than a summer barbecue, so take a look at some of my go-to meals ideal for your next outdoor dinner party this summer!
Grilled Chicken with Roasted Yellow Tomato Sauce
• 4 yellow tomatoes, halved crosswise and seeded
• 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
• 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, each about 5 ounces
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill or broiler. Away from the heat source, lightly coat the grill rack or broiler pan with cooking spray. Position the cooking rack 4 to 6 inches from the heat source.
Arrange the tomatoes skin side down on the grill rack or skin side up on a broiler pan lined with aluminum foil. Grill or broil until the skins begin to blacken, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let steam until the skins loosen, about 10 minutes.
In a small frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until softened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Core and peel the tomatoes. In a blender or food processor, combine the tomatoes, the garlic with the oil, and the vinegar. Pulse until well blended. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the basil and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper.
Sprinkle the chicken breasts with 1/4 teaspoon salt and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper. In a shallow dish, stir together the parsley, thyme and the remaining 2 tablespoons basil. Dredge the chicken in the herb mixture, coating completely. Grill or broil the chicken, turning once, until browned on both sides and no longer pink on the inside, about 4 minutes on each side.
Transfer the chicken breasts to warmed individual plates. Spoon the tomato sauce on top, dividing evenly. Serve immediately.
Cucumber, Tomato & Feta Salad
• 6 cups coarsely chopped English hothouse or Persian cucumbers (about 2 pounds total)
• 2 large tomatoes (about 1 pound total), coarsely chopped
• 1 bunch scallions, chopped
• 1 cup assorted pitted olives (such as Kalamata or Gaeta), halved
• 1 7-ounce package feta, crumbled, divided
• 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
• 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine cucumbers, tomatoes, scallions, olives, half of feta, and mint in a large bowl. Whisk oil and lemon juice in a small bowl; season dressing with salt and pepper.
Pour dressing over salad; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle remaining half of feta over and serve.
Grilled Fruit with Balsamic Vinegar Syrup
• 1 small pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 4 wedges
• 2 large mangoes, cored and cut in half
• 2 large peaches, cored and cut in half
• Butter-flavored cooking spray
• 2 tablespoons brown sugar
• 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
• Mint or basil leaves for garnish
In a large bowl, combine the pineapple, mangoes and peaches. Spray generously with cooking spray. Toss and spray again to ensure the fruit is well-coated. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Toss to coat evenly. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat the balsamic vinegar over low heat. Simmer until the liquid is reduced in half, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.
Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill or broiler. Away from the heat source, lightly coat the grill rack or broiler pan with cooking spray. Position the cooking rack 4 to 6 inches from the heat source.
Place the fruit on the grill rack or broiler pan. Grill or broil over medium heat until the sugar caramelizes, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove the fruit from the grill and arrange onto individual serving plates. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and garnish with mint or basil. Serve immediately.