Healthy summer recipes are easy enough: add fresh, crisp ingredients, toss and enjoy. But iceberg lettuce and a plain vinaigrette don’t have to be the be-all and end-all of your summer diet. When creating healthier recipes, there are so many ingredients that pack flavour but don’t add excess kilojoules to your plate.
Right now, you want food that’s fresh and fast – and that features the season’s bounty of healthy ingredients. These recipes from creative culinary guru Mark Bittman do all that. Best of all, each one takes less than 20 minutes to make!
Healthy Summer Recipes
1. Feta and Watermelon Salad
Combine watermelon balls or cubes in a bowl with crumbled feta cheese, sliced radishes, chopped fresh chives and a few drops of olive oil; toss well. Spoon over a crisp wedge of iceberg lettuce, being sure to use all the extra juice left in the bottom of the bowl.
2. Deviled Eggs with Crab
Hard-boil eggs; meanwhile, combine crab meat with a spoonful of Dijon mustard and mayonnaise or yoghurt, lemon juice, diced red bell or small salad pepper, paprika and cumin; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Run eggs under cold water, shell and halve them, remove and mash the yolks into the crab mixture; stuff into the whites. Sprinkle the top with chopped parsley (or caviar, for that matter).
Mark’s Tip: Buy fresh crab meat or use chopped cooked prawns.
3. Rocket with Balsamic Strawberries
Hull and slice about two cups of strawberries and place them in a large salad bowl. Toss with two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and several twists of the black pepper grinder. Let it sit for five minutes. Add a bunch of rocket, some crumbled goat’s cheese and a sprinkle of salt; drizzle with olive oil and toss.
4. Prosciutto, Peach and Mozzarella Salad
For each person, cut a fresh peach into eight wedges. Tear prosciutto and sliced mozzarella into bite-size pieces. Dress mixed greens with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Toss in the peaches, prosciutto and cheese.
5. Wholewheat Spaghetti and Cucumber with Dipping Sauce
Boil and salt water for pasta; meanwhile, combine a quarter cup of chicken stock or water, three tablespoons of soy sauce, two tablespoons of a little honey mixed with warm water, and a teaspoon of sugar in a bowl; mix to dissolve the sugar. Cook the noodles until al dente, then rinse under cold water. Serve a nest of the noodles along with sliced cucumbers in a bowl (set it over ice cubes if you like), with a small bowl of the dipping sauce on the side garnished with chopped spring onion.
Mark’s Tip: Add a bit of freshly grated ginger or wasabi for more spice, and top with bits of cooked meat or tofu.
6.Courgette and Dill Soup
Grate a couple of courgettes. Cook a chopped onion in butter until softened, then add the courgette and stir until softened (five minutes or so). Add vegetable or chicken stock and bring to the boil; simmer for about five minutes, then purée until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and lots of fresh chopped dill.
Mark’s Tip: For a richer texture, add fresh ricotta, sour cream or yoghurt while puréeing.
7. Fish Tacos
Cook a chopped red onion in olive oil for a minute or two. When it’s soft, add a big pinch of ground cumin or coriander and some salt and pepper. Keeping the heat relatively high, add about 450g of fish fillets (white fish works well here; you can also try crab or prawns) and stir to break them into chunks, cooking until they’re just opaque. Remove from the heat, squeeze lime juice over the mixture and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Warm corn tortillas and fill with the fish mixture. Top with shredded cabbage, chopped tomato, a splash of hot sauce (red Tabasco is good) and a dollop of sour cream.
8. Honey Eggplant
Combine half a cup each of chopped parsley and breadcrumbs with three tablespoons of olive oil, two tablespoons of honey, a minced garlic clove and a pinch of salt. Cut one large or two medium eggplants crosswise into 2.5-centimetre slices and score the top of each slice.
Put the slices in a dish and spread the breadcrumb mixture over the tops, pressing it into the slits. Partially cover with wax paper and microwave on high for about five minutes. Remove the paper and cook for another two or three minutes, until very soft. Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve with yoghurt on the side.
9. Korean Braaied Beef
Slice a fillet steak into two-centimetre pieces. Mix together a teaspoon of sesame oil, a tablespoon of brown sugar, three tablespoons of soy sauce, a tablespoon of a little honey mixed with warm water, two minced cloves of garlic and a pinch of dried chilli flakes. Brush the meat with the sauce and braai until it begins to crisp (about two minutes per side), basting frequently. Serve the beef sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds and chopped spring onions.
10. Spicy Braaied Pork with Peach Marmalade
Combine a quarter cup of peach or apricot preserve with some minced garlic, a tablespoon of olive oil, a tablespoon of soy sauce, half a teaspoon of mustard powder, a pinch of cayenne pepper and salt. Coat thin, boneless pork chops with the marmalade and place on the braai, taking care not to let the marmalade burn. Slice fresh peaches or apricots in half and remove the pits; sprinkle with salt and cook flesh-side down until they start to brown and just soften. Serve the fruit with the pork.