Quick summer meals to keep you out of the kitchen

The season is bursting with fresh, ripe ingredients requiring little fuss.

Credit: Flickr / reasonableguy

Fig and mozza salad

Make quick and easy summer meals using fresh, seasonal ingredients from the garden or market

Summer is the time of year to relish all the fresh foods. But as summer’s heat begins, finally, to knock at the front door, the desire to spend hours in a hot kitchen sidles toward the back door.

All that food is bursting with flavour and goodness in its raw state so you don’t have to mess around with it too much. So, before you resign yourself to sandwiches and take out sushi, try some of these quick and easy meals that’ll have you back in the sun before you can say, “I wish it would rain.”

Shopping list: Fresh, local ingredients in Vancouver

Fruit and Veggies
Explore your local farmers market or try Granville Island for more exotic ingredients.

I like Benton Brothers, Les Amis de Fromage, and the Mount Pleasant Cheese Shop on Cambie for a range of local and foreign cheeses.

Granville Island is a good one-stop-shop. Lobsterman has a lot of live fish, but there are also four other fishmongers in the market. I’ve also heard good things about Finest at Sea, but haven’t been there myself.

Fig and mozzarella salad

This is a very visceral recipe to get your fingers into. Cut open 6 figs and splay them open like a flower. Rip up a handful of basil (green or purple), tear up 6 medium sized bocconcini balls, and shred 6 slices of parma ham. Toss this with some soft green leaves and drizzle with a dressing of (1 tablespoon) honey, (6 tablespoons) olive oil and (3 tablespoons) lemon juice. Season to taste.

Trout Tartare
Trout Tartare


Trout tartare

Finely chop 1 1/2 lbs of fresh trout and mix in a bowl with a tablespoon of capers, 2 finely chopped shallots, 1 tablespoon of sliced chives, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the juice from half a lemon and a pinch of mustard powder. Season generously with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Combine well and refrigerate for half an hour. Place tartare into four molds, then unmold onto plates.

Chevre tarte

Cut four squares of puff pastry, approximately 3-4 inches in width. Into the centre spoon your choice of filling. Some of my favourites are basil pesto and sundried tomato, red onion marmalade, or artichoke hearts with sliced olives.

Chevre Tart
Chevre Tart

Break up the chevre with your fingers and sprinkle it liberally over the pastry squares. Bake at 350° F until the pastry rises and turns brown. Serve on mesclun tossed lightly with balsamic and olive oil.

Pasta and arugula salad

I generally don’t like my hot food to touch my salad but this dish is an exception. Bake 8 slices of prosciutto at 375° F until crispy (around 5 minutes). Boil 16 oz of casaraccia (or a similar short pasta) in well-salted water. Drain the pasta and toss with a couple of healthy handfuls of arugula, a 1/4 cup of olive oil, and some salt and pepper. Over the top, crumble 8 oz of feta cheese and the baked prosciutto. 

What are your favourite summer dishes?