from Jude’s Kitchen: Celebrate summer

This week the summer solstice means the start of summer and the barbecue becomes king, while salads become his queen.

BBQ beef

With the first day of summer just a few days away, it’s time to think of lighter food, like salads, with barbecued meats and eating outdoors.

The summer solstice is June 21 this year, the day when we have the most hours of daylight of any day in the year. The next day, those daylight hours begin—imperceptibly at first—to become shorter.

But, instead of celebrating the beginning of shorter days, let’s celebrate the beginning of summer when the longer hours of sun finally begin to warm up the earth for a few months.

Those longer, warmer days ripen fruits and vegetables and help make everything grow, so for the coming few months we can look forward to a varied, healthy diet of fresh, local produce.

With the first strawberries begins a series of fresh fruit from B.C.’s orchards and fields that continues right into fall. It’s the perfect time for all those smoothies and salads to be focussed on the freshest fruit of the year.

I love a salad made with fresh fruit and greens, a little tart cheese crumbled over it and something nutty and crunchy, so for the next few months, it’s salad heaven.

Indulge yourself with fresh produce while it’s at its best, including herbs that are scrumptious at the moment. Catch them before they begin to flower, and toss a few, along with some flowers, into your next salad.

There are a couple of hundred seasonal recipes, including a few for fresh fruits and for salads, in my book, Jude’s Kitchen, which is available in local bookstores and wine shops. Pick up a copy and drop by the office. I’ll personalize it for you.

Red & Green Salad

Local strawberries are ready now and boy, are they ever full of flavour when they’re picked ripe from the plant. There is lots of contrasting flavour in this salad which makes good use of what’s available right now, fresh. We used Donna Dennison of Westside Road’s Little Creek Dressing, Okanagan Caesar, on this and it was just excellent. It’s made from all organic ingredients too.

If you wanted to serve this as a lunch salad, just add a protein such as crumbled feta or goat cheese, chopped steak or cold chicken to it, and presto, you have the full meal deal.

4 c. (1 l) salad greens

8 strawberries

4-6 small radishes

1 avocado

2 tbsp. (30 ml) pine nuts

4-6 young mint leaves

Tear the salad greens into a serving bowl.

Cut the strawberries into bite-sized pieces, and quarter the radishes. Add to the greens in the bowl. Add bite-sized pieces of the avocado.

Sprinkle with the pine nuts and minced fresh mint leaves.

Dress lightly just prior to serving with a fairly simple vinaigrette like the Okanagan Caesar.

You could omit the avocado and substitute local nuts for the pine nuts, for a completely local version of this salad.

Serves 3 to 4.


Barbecue Beef (or Pork) Rub

This elevates a bite of beef to a celestial level. It’s got lots of spicy flavour with a hint of sweet as well and is delicious with the smoky barbecue flavour. Pair barbecued beef with the Plume 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (if you can get any) with its rich, full berry flavours and hint of spice. It’s a great wine for a special occasion—very smooth and elegant.

2 tsp. chilli powder

2 tsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. cumin powder

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Combine and rub onto a steak or roast of beef an hour or so before grilling. I bet it would taste great on pork chops, steaks or a roast too.

This recipe can be doubled or tripled.



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