Sultry afternoons and warm, starry nights lend themselves to al fresco dining. With the pandemic, you might not be eating out—but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a restaurant-style meal in your own backyard or patio.
Focus on light fare that celebrates summer produce, such as arugula, fresh herbs, heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, and corn. Lighten up the mayo in your side salad recipes, and use low-fat Greek yogurt, lime juice, or a tangy vinaigrette. For dessert, offer fresh, in-season fruits: serve a colorful combo of melons and berries in a simple fruit salad, or skewer and grill chunks of pineapple. For beverages, try pitchers of mint lemonade, sparkling water mixed with mango juice and pomegranate seeds, and iced hibiscus tea with lime. Celebrate summer with these recipes for fresh, clean-and completely natural-takes on cookout classics.
Grilled Corn Guacamole
Grilled corn gives this simple guacamole extra depth of flavor and texture. If you don’t have a grill, you can broil the corn in a pinch: preheat the broiler pan for 5 minutes, place the corn on the pan, and broil on high. Leave the oven door cracked to prevent the corn from steaming.
4 ears corn
2 Tbs. olive oil
½ medium red onion, minced (½ cup)
½ cup coarsely chopped cilantro
¼ cup fresh lime juice
1 small serrano chile, seeded and finely minced
2-4 Tbs. sour cream or plain yogurt
- Preheat grill to medium-high.
- Shuck corn. Brush ears lightly with olive oil. Grill over medium-high flame, 4 to 6 inches from heat, for 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until browned. Remove from heat, and let cool. (Alternatively, broil in oven under high heat.) Remove kernels from corn cob with sharp knife. Set aside.
- Peel, pit, and coarsely chop avocado. Combine with red onion, cilantro, lime juice, and serrano in medium bowl, stirring gently to mix. Stir in sour cream.
- Stir in about two-thirds of corn. Sprinkle remaining corn on top, and serve immediately.
PER SERVING: 232 CAL; 4 G PROT; 17 G TOTAL FAT (3 G SAT FAT); 21 G CARB; 3 MG CHOL; 22 MG SOD; 6 G FIBER; 5 G SUGARS
Gluten-Free Crispy Oven-Fried Chipotle Chicken
A crisp crust makes oven-roasted chicken taste fried. Leaving the bone in creates more authentic, pan-fried chicken flavor.
3 cups plain yogurt
2 medium chipotle chiles, seeded and chopped
6 medium cloves garlic, pressed
5 chicken thighs and 5 chicken drumsticks, skinned, or 8 small chicken breasts
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 cups gluten-free crackers (we like Mary’s Gone Crackers)
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tbs. dried thyme
½ tsp. chipotle powder
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. black pepper
- Combine yogurt and chipotles in a food processor, and purée until smooth. Add garlic, and pulse until well blended. Pour into large bowl, and set aside.
- Add chicken to yogurt-chipotle mixture, turn to coat pieces well, cover, and marinate in refrigerator at least 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly coat large, shallow baking pan with olive oil, and set aside.
- Add crackers to food processor, and pulse until coarsely ground. Add oregano, thyme, chipotle powder, salt, and pepper. Pulse to blend well. Pour onto large platter or shallow dish.
- Remove chicken from marinade, shaking off excess. Dredge each piece of chicken in cracker mixture to coat well. Place chicken on large baking sheet, and bake 40 to 55 minutes, until cooked through and golden brown. (If crust is browned before chicken is cooked, cover baking sheet with foil, and continue baking until chicken is done.) Remove from oven, and serve hot.
PER SERVING: 252 CAL; 21 G PROT; 12 G TOTAL FAT (3 G SAT FAT); 16 G CARB; 60 MG CHOL; 390 MG SOD; 2 G FIBER; 5 G SUGARS
Red Cabbage, Green Apple, & Jicama Slaw
3 medium limes, halved (¼ cup)
2 Tbs. honey
¼ cup canola mayonnaise
½ small head red cabbage (1 lb.)
1 medium jicama root (2 lb.), peeled and thinly julienned
3 green apples, peeled and thinly julienned
1 large bunch green onions, chopped (white and some green parts)
½ cup packed chopped fresh cilantro leaves, plus extra leaves for garnish
- Grate zest from 1 lime, and set aside. Squeeze lime juice into medium bowl. Rapidly whisk in honey until well blended. Slowly whisk in mayonnaise. Set aside.
- Cut cabbage in half lengthwise. Remove and discard core. Cut cabbage crosswise into very thin slices using mandoline or sharp knife.
- Combine cabbage, jicama, apples, green onions, and cilantro. Toss to mix. Add dressing, and stir gently until vegetables and apples are lightly coated. Season to taste with sea salt and white pepper. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
- Sprinkle slaw with lime zest and cilantro. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
PER SERVING: 154 CAL; 1 G PROT; 6 G TOTAL FAT (1 G SAT FAT); 26 G CARB; 3 MG CHOL; 64 MG SOD; 8 G FIBER; 14 G SUGARS
Heirloom Tomato, Yellow Bell Pepper, & Arugula Salad with Cucumber-Basil Dressing
This savory, refreshing salad is the perfect accompaniment to almost any al fresco meal. Use heirloom tomatoes in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes.
1 English cucumber
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup coarsely chopped basil leaves
2 lb. heirloom tomatoes
4 cups baby arugula leaves, loose
2 medium yellow bell peppers, cored and sliced into ¼-inch-thick strips
¼ tsp. coarse sea salt
½ tsp. coarse black pepper
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
- Peel cucumber, halve lengthwise, and scoop out seeds with spoon. Chop cucumber, and combine in food processor with vinegar and oil. Purée until smooth. Add basil, and pulse until basil is chopped into small pieces, but not completely combined. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
- Core tomatoes and quarter. Spread arugula on large serving platter, and add tomatoes and bell peppers on top. Drizzle with dressing. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Sprinkle with feta cheese and toss before serving.
PER SERVING: 160 CAL; 4 G PROT; 12 G TOTAL FAT (3 G SAT FAT); 11 G CARB; 11 MG CHOL; 223 MG SOD; 2 G FIBER; 6 G SUGARS
Peach Almond, & Cardamom Crumble
A cardamom-laced topping and toasted almonds add depth and rich contrast to fresh summer peaches.
¾ cup gluten-free flour
¼ cup almond meal
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. cardamom, or to taste
¼ tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. sea salt
¼ cup coconut oil (oil should be semisolid, but not hard)
1/3 cup raw, unfiltered honey
2 lb. fresh peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced ½-inch thick
¼ cup apple juice
1/3 cup slivered almonds
Coconut or vanilla ice cream (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Combine flour, almond meal, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and salt in medium bowl. Beat together coconut oil and honey in small bowl. Cut oil and honey mixture into flour mixture, working quickly to keep oil from melting, until mixture has small pea-sized clumps; do not overmix. Place mixture in refrigerator 5 minutes to cool.
- Set oven rack in middle position, and lightly oil 8-inch-square baking pan with coconut oil. Spread peaches in pan, sprinkle with apple juice, and toss to mix. Spread crumble mixture atop peaches.
- Bake in oven until peaches are soft and crumble is golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle almonds on top, and broil 1 to 2 minutes to toast almonds. Let stand 5 minutes before serving, then spoon warm crisp over ice cream, if using.