I can’t believe we’re here already. Mid-September. The nights have already gotten cooler, the sun is setting a little earlier, and my food literature is beginning to switch gears from grilling to roasting. The great seasonal shift is just around the corner. I can feel it and it makes me wish I were here.
As much as I can sympathize with the rest of the country anxiously awaiting cooler weather, and as much as I love Fall, I’m really not ready to let Summer go just yet. This year has just been brimming with inspiration and I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface. It’s true there’s still time. The tomatoes are still coming in, ice cream is still being churned, and there’s still a fridge full of white wine to help ease the day away. Summer is still here. And I intend to soak up every last minute of it.
The following recipes are embarrassingly easy to put together and represent some of my favorite flavors of the season: sweet tomatoes, crisp green beans, tender shrimp, luscious strawberries. Please don’t go Summer, not yet, not just yet.
Tuscan Beans with Basil and Shrimp
1 medium or 1/2 a large sweet yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 – 15 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1 – 15oz. can cannellini or other white beans
1/2 lb. fresh or frozen shrimp
Pinch of red pepper flakes
A handful of chopped basil
Pecorino Romano or parmesan cheese to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tblsp. olive oil
1 tblsp. butter (substitute a little olive oil if you prefer)
In a deep sauté pan or Dutch oven, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil for 3-5 minutes (until onion is soft and garlic is fragrant). Season with a little salt and pepper, add the red pepper flake and cook for another minute or two. Add tomatoes and basil, cover, and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Add the beans and shrimp, simmer for approx. 5-7 minutes until the shrimp are fully cooked and the beans have softened. Add cheese, salt, and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and finish by stirring in the butter or olive oil.
Serve with grilled or toasted bread ( drizzled lightly with extra virgin olive oil and salt) and green beans sautéed in garlic and olive oil.
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries with Fleur de Sel
4 – 8 oz. (1/2-1 cup) good dark chocolate ( chopped or chips)
6-12 ripe strawberries (rinsed, with stems on)
Couple pinches of Fleur de Sel French sea salt (Kosher sea salt would also work)
Melt the chocolate in either a double boiler* or the microwave**. Once fully melted, dip the strawberries one by one into the chocolate, twirl off the excess, and place on a dish or baking pan covered with wax paper. Sprinkle the Fleur de Sel over the chocolate covered strawberries and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to harden.
*Double broiler – place chocolate in a heat proof bowl and set on top of a small pot of simmering water (approx. 1/4 inch). Using a spatula, stir the chocolate until it is fully melted.
**Microwave – place chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 30 seconds. Remove and stir (use a spatula) to help with the melting process. Do this as many times as it take for the chocolate to melt completely. (Usually 2-3 times should do it).