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Classic Summer Recipes: As Fun To Cook As They Are To Eat

Classic Summer Recipes: As Fun To Cook As They Are To Eat

Classic Summer Recipes: As Fun To Cook As They Are To Eat

Summer is coming and everything is heating up — both outside and in the kitchen. Summer means more fresh ingredients along with fun cooking techniques that we don’t get to utilize as much during the colder months.

So how do we cook delicious summery meals and stand the heat in the kitchen?

Hexclad has compiled all the best summer recipes and pro tips to keep you from feeling like you’re in Hell’s Kitchen.

This summer, don’t be dull and keep feeding yourself or your family the same menu week after week. Switch things up and find some new favorites that even the kids won’t be able to turn their noses up at.

What Does Summer Cooking Mean?

Overall, summer means heat — and this applies to your summer cooking too. 

Summer cooking means you need to embrace spice, flavor, and texture. Here are a few pro tips to start your summer cooking without letting things get too hot:

  1. Mix spicy foods with creamy, juicy, or tangy flavors. This will add flavor to your foods without too much heat. 

  2. Plan to grill outside at least two or three times a week. You can dominate the grill with your BBQ master skills while keeping the hot temperature outside your home.

  3. Mix and match warm and cold sides and mains. It’ll make for a pleasant dining experience on the hottest days and give you a chance to prep some dishes ahead of time.

Why Shouldn’t We Just Eat Cold Foods?

We know eating cold food throughout the summer makes everything feel cooler. They can also cut down on your cooking time and oven usage for some heat relief. However, there are some benefits to having a hot meal, even in the summer. The most important being that hot meals and warm liquids aid in digestion.

Why? Experts have found that the stomach can better digest foods when they are closer to your internal body temperature. So to keep things moving, be sure to mix a few warm dishes with your cold ones. 

Don’t Stick to the Same Old Dinner Ideas

Sometimes we can fall into a cooking rut — making the same tired meals week after week. During the summer, though, there are just too many incredible ingredients available to waste your meals eating hot dogs and hamburgers every day. 

This year, spend some quality time with your grill. Ditch those old standbys and try something new for your summer dinners. 

Healthier Alternatives to Classic Summer Foods

When that summer sun gets turned up, we often crave these less healthy favorites. But this summer, you can decide to make healthier choices, and that starts with what you cook. 

Instead of a cheeseburger, why not opt for a grilled sandwich? Try a delicious grilled chicken, lettuce, and tomato (CLT) with creamy avocado or hummus instead of mayo. 

These are subtle changes that go a long way in managing cholesterol and overall health. 

Instead of traditional chips, why not air fry or bake some seasoned kale? You’ll still get a salty, crunchy snack but with a lot more iron and fiber than the greasier option. 

Need to put some meat on the table? Try juicy kebabs with peppers, onions, and squash instead of a burger. You’ll still get the red meat and protein, but with less of the fat in ground beef. 

Eat Foods With a High Water Content 

Summer means seriously high temperatures, which means our bodies will be sweating. When we sweat, we get rid of a lot of the water in our bodies.

Often, this can lead to dehydration. This especially rings true for those living in desert climates. 

You won’t notice how much water you’ve lost until you’re exceptionally tired, no matter how much sleep you get, and your skin is drier than that Sahara desert. 

While adding to your daily water intake will help rectify this loss, there are also some foods to add this summer that will help keep you hydrated and feeling good through the blazing temperatures. 

Some items you should add to your summer recipes are:

  • Watermelon
  • Cucumber
  • Berries
  • Stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, apricot)
  • Lettuce
  • Bell peppers
  • Cauliflower
  • Mango
  • Grapefruit
  • Avocados 
  • Leafy greens

You don’t have to eat these foods every day, but adding them to your recipes and creating some new recipes to feature these items will go far in keeping digestion and gut health on track all summer. 

Helpful Tips for Keeping the Kitchen Cool

We want to turn up the heat on our ingredients, but we have to stay cool while doing it. That can be hard in the summer when the heat outside seeps in. 

Here are a few ways to try out those new recipes you’ve been eyeing and still keep it cool in the kitchen.

Get Half Your Meal Ready-To-Eat

Those long oven times can make you feel like you are cooking in the middle of the desert..

Instead of heating up your home with the stove, pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. Make some cool summertime sides and you’ve got a summer-friendly meal.

Get Foods Ready Ahead of Time

Between preparing foods and cooking them, we spend a lot of time laboring over the stove. Instead, get your veggies washed, diced, and throw them in a mixing bowl with seasoning and oil ahead of time. 

This way, when it’s time to get dinner cooked, everything will be ready to go directly into the oven. It cuts down on the amount of time you’re in the kitchen at any one time to keep you cooler and conserve energy through the heat of summer.

Make Double Meals

Instead of cooking every day, make two or even three meals at once. This way, you can reheat your delicious leftovers, but skip heating up the kitchen.

The best meals for reheating are simple to cook and easy to adjust to create portions for multiple meals. One recipe that is great for this is our Garlic Herb Chicken and Asparagus. With just two main ingredients, it’s easy to cook large portions for two or three dinners. 

Meals like this are easy to make all in one HexClad pan. Plus, reheating it is a breeze. You can heat it up in a microwave or air fryer or at most, you use a low stove temperature that won’t heat your house.

Get to Cooking

Just because we have special recipes that are better for summer than other seasons doesn’t mean the list is limited. 

We’ll break it down all your options, one menu section at a time. You’ll have so many options of

appetizers, salads, mains, and desserts that you’ll basically be able to open your own summertime restaurant. 

Appetizers

You may not always have one of these dishes as an appetizer, but these are delicious ways to start a meal in the hotter months. These are especially great options if you’re having friends and family over for dinner. 

Salsa, Chips, and Guac

Fresh guacamole might be about the best recipe ever, especially when it’s herby and full of cilantro. 

Fresh salsa is a close second with its tangy, acidic mix of veggies.The best part about fresh salsa is the number of combinations that are available. Mango salsa, which is both spicy and sweet, is perfect for this time of year. 

Chips bring it all together for a shareable way to take the edge off everyone’s hunger.

You can even enjoy it alongside a margarita and some fish tacos for a Mexican-themed dinner.

Pro tip: Make sure you use stainless steel or glass bowls that won’t react to your more acidic ingredients. With HexClad bowls, our matching vacuum-sealed lids allow you to take your leftover dips from the table to the fridge. No extra cleaning or mess.

Spring Rolls

The savory and light flavors of a fresh spring roll are hard to beat. The possibilities, from shrimp to chicken to vegetarian, give you so much range as well so it’s easy to make this recipe for a big party. 

A sharp knife, like our HexClad 7” Santoku Knife, will let you perfectly julienne all your veggies. 

Serve your spring rolls with a spicy peanut sauce for a creamy kick of heat. 

Bruschetta

Bruschetta is another recipe that can be modified to your specific tastes. For a run of the mill recipe, mix chopped tomatoes with fresh basil, olive oil, a little vinegar and diced shallots and top a piece of grilled bread with the mixture. 

It’s light but so flavorful and fresh. Buschetta is perfect to start any meal, and is best when made ahead of time to give the ingredients time to settle together. 

If a tomato salad isn’t your thing, try a few modifications. Summer fruits are abundant and have gained a lot of popularity as a component of appetizers. 

Try adding blackberries and burrata or brie for a salty-sweet combination that’ll knock your socks off. 

Artichoke Dip

As a creamy, savory option, artichoke dip is always a good choice. 

It’s a cinch to put together as well, so it can be added as a late or last minute option on the table, making it perfect for a quick weeknight dinner or a midday weekend app. 

Mix cream cheese with a can of artichokes, salt, pepper and any other additions you like (the most popular is spinach) and fill a ramekin to the top. 

Sprinkle some Parmesan on top and bake till melted together and warmed through and broil the Parmesan on top for a little extra color. 

Soup or Salad

Crispy, crunchy, sweet, and savory. The combinations for a good salad recipe or soup course are endless, but one thing never changes — the satisfaction you get from all the different textures in one dish. 

Panzanella

One of the most classic summer salads is panzanella. It consists of stale pieces of bread soaked in a mixture of tomatoes, onions, fresh basil, olive oil and vinegar. 

It’s a staple recipe that is light and flavorful but so simple it’s appealing to the masses. 

Cucumber Salad

A cucumber salad is a crunchy and light way to start a meal. You can use it as a palate cleanser for a heavy dish or a light snack. Again, a big bonus is being able to make it ahead of time, and you can make a lot and enjoy it for a few days. 

For a classic recipe, combine thin slices of cucumber with a little sugar, salt, white wine vinegar and thin slices of onion. Mix everything in an airtight container and let mingle for a little bit before enjoying. 

Fruit Salads

No, we don’t mean your grandmother’s fruit salad. We mean the new age fruit salads that are a mix of the best summer produce and salty, creamy cheeses. 

Apples and Brie are always a wonderful pairing, but those flavors are best left for fall. This summer, grill a few peaches and mix them withdollops of creamy burrata and fresh arugula.

Or try a watermelon and feta salad with ribbons of mint: Light, bright, and so delicious.

Tomato Salads

There are a few options for a tomato salad, and thankfully, they’re all delicious. 

The most traditional is a tomato salad with onion and olive oil and vinegar. Mix cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes and heirloom tomatoes together and let them marinate overnight to bring out the most flavor. 

Another option is an Italiancaprese salad with fresh basil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar with fresh, salty, and tangy, perfect for summer. A fun idea would be to build the salad on skewers to make it easy to share with a big group. 

You could even go for a purist approach and marinate tomato wedges in your favorite vinaigrette and pop a few on the go when you need something quick to snack on. 

Corn Chowder

Chowder might initially scream winter, but the nutty sweetness of corn makes it the perfect hearty soup for a hot summer day. 

You get the same creamy texture with a lighter finish than heavier chowders. This means you can enjoy soup all year now, not just after daylight saving time ends. 

Gazpacho

Feel like you need to cool down after a long day hiking? Good thing you prepared that chilled soup beforehand.

Gazpacho may be an oldie, but it’s still a goodie. Blend together your favorite summer produce to get the perfect combination of chilled flavors and you’ve got yourself a refreshing meal that’s light on the belly. 

White Chili

Chili is definitely one of those go-to dishes for a cold day, but how do we translate that to a warm day and still enjoy chili?

White chili uses lighter seasonings (cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder versus chili powder) and cream cheese as the base. Want a way to keep it extra light? Use ground turkey or chicken in place of ground beef. 

Main Course Summer Dinner Recipes

Summertime main dishes have all the fun. 

Here’s a roundup of some of the best ways to enjoy your main dish this summer. 

Wraps

One of the easiest mains to throw together quickly is a wrap. This is the perfect fast, delicious weeknight dinner. Put out a spread of your favorite fixings like pesto, chickpeas, veggies, perfectly grilled proteins, and tortillas. 

Everyone can make their own combination and still get a delicious meal on their plate in minutes. 

One of the most popular wraps is a chicken Caesar and you can add some extra health points by subbing in a spinach tortilla and an avocado oil-based caesar dressing. 

For other options, try a steak or prosciutto wrap, with a little dill greek yogurt and roasted bell peppers and spinach. Now, you are looking at your new favorite finger food. 

Chicken With a Twist

While grilled chicken in a classic summertime meal, it’s time to elevate your bird to higher standards. Try out Rosemary Mozzarella Peach Chicken, for a summer chicken that is just *chef’s kiss*

For something with a little more spice, try our Coconut Curry Chicken and Sweet Potato recipe. It’s the perfect combination of salty, fresh, and sweet.

Wok-Fried Noodles

If you’ve been looking for a good excuse to buy yourself a wok, here it is. 

Our delicious Spicy Udon Noodles recipe comes together quickly and can be full of whatever seasonal produce you and your family like the most. 

Prep and season all veggies and cook the noodles to al dente ahead of time to get your dinner ready faster. 

Seared Scallops

Who would we be if we didn’t bring up Gordon’s signature dish? Seared scallops are light and delight. They’re perfect as the main star on a hot summer night. 

Sear them to golden perfection in a shallow HexClad pan and serve with a corn succotash for a light but filling dish. 

Salmon

It’s filling but light and pan-seared salmon is so healthy. 

If you’re looking for the perfect recipe to try, we suggest this Sockeye Salmon With Summer Succotash or Sicilan Salmon With Garlic Broccoli and Tomatoes. Both of these recipes use fresh summer ingredients for a kickass meal that can be enjoyed solo or with friends.

Tacos

The ideal handheld delight. 

Again, tacos are fun and easy for the entire family and so many options can be added to the table. If you’re looking for great picnic inspiration, buy personal-sized bags of your favorite chips and make walking tacos!

Side Dishes

What would mains be without their side piece? Here are a few of our favorite options that make the perfect addition to summer menus. 

Elote Corn Salad

Elote corn is a Mexican street food staple, but an easy way to serve it for the whole family is as a corn salad. Yes, we know there’s a whole section for salads, but this is a side dish and we are sticking to that. 

Cut grilled corn off the cob and mix with chili pepper spices, mayo, a touch of lime, and crumbled cheese to create the ultimate corn dish without the mess. 

Grilled Zucchini

Zucchini is not only a popular side dish in the summer, but it also makes a great addition to the grill. A few pieces of grilled zucchini are not only light and refreshing but filling and so good for you.

Add a few dashes of crushed red pepper for a kick of flavor. 

Potato Salad

What BBQ would be complete without a potato salad? While everyone has their favorite recipe, the staple ingredients remain the same. 

You’ll need cooked potato chunks, mayo, salt, pepper, onion. For a little extra kick at the next cookout, add some curry spices to pump new life into this classic dish. 

Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is always refreshing and delicious. Add cooked pasta to halved cherry tomatoes, cucumber, olives, shallots, small chunks of mozzarella and Italianvinaigrette. 

It’s a dish we recommend making a day before to get the most out of your flavors, but it will be delicious for a few days after as well. 

Summer Desserts

We all need a little dessert in our life, but we aren’t here to talk about dull ice cream in a bowl. Here are a few of the most popular summertime creations that you need to get your hands on.

Strawberry Shortcake

Is there anything that screams summer quite like strawberry shortcake? We didn’t think so. 

The best part is you can get the round mini cakes in a four-pack from the grocery store and all you have to do is add whipped topping and diced strawberries on top for the ultimate sweet treat.

Peach Cobbler

Peaches are perfect for summer dining, and a fresh cobbler with vanilla ice cream just can’t be beat. 

Make your own peach filling by boiling fresh peach slices with sugar and water until the syrup is thick and the peaches are soft and sweet. 

Eton Mess

One of Gordon’s favorites, this dessert consists of meringue, fresh berries, and whipped cream. Simple and so delicious. 

Ring the Dinner Bell

It’s time to eat, and between our dinner suggestions and our products, we know you’re ready for anything. Bon appetit!

 

Sources:

Is Hot or Cold Food Healthier For Us? | Step To Health

19 Water-Rich Foods That Help You Stay Hydrated | Healthline

7 summer cooking tips to keep your kitchen cool | The Washington Post

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