Are you as ready for summer as my family is!? Hurray for no more making lunches! Boo for concession stand food and camp "C.R.A.P" - Chemical-laden, Refined And Processed. While we can't steer our kids away from unhealthy foods all the time... the pool club and highway rest stops come to mind... we can ensure that meals at home are nourishing and fun ... and easy for us. One way to do this is through salsas, dips and dressings that can make cold leftovers exciting and jazz up simple broiled or lightly grilled meats and veggies with that extra pop of flavor.
More than that, homemade summer condiments are wonderful ways to use summer herbs that contain powerful anti-oxidants and provide amazing health benefits such as strengthening the immune system and helping manage blood pressure. Summer condiments can also help provide healthy fats (think avocado, seeds, olives and oils) and contain anti-inflammatory fruits and veggies that add important vitamins and minerals to your meal.
Here are two of my favorite summer condiments to make and serve, especially when the weather gets super steamy.
Melon Salsa with Garlic Scapes
I love all summer melons but have a special place in my taste buds for Sugar Kiss melon. This salsa tastes amazing with any kind of ripe melon and features garlic scapes, which are the beautiful long tops, or flower buds, of the garlic plant that are removed in early to mid June to help the garlic bulbs fatten up a bit. Scapes taste like a milder form of garlic and if you dice them up and roast them they are like a vegetarian bacon bit so incredible for salads, soups and roasted veggies. This salsa is ripe with (ha!) Vitamin A (carotenoid) and polyphenols and contains impressive anti-inflammatory properties through the scapes and the melon. The addition of cilantro is a known detoxifier which we could all use after those summer cocktails.
I love to serve this salsa with turkey burgers or lightly grilled cod or atop pork tacos.
- 2 cups cantaloupe (or other melon)
- 1/4 cup garlic scapes, minced
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- Cut up melon and place in small bowl. Check out this video for the smart way to cut melon.
- Add scapes, cilantro, oil, salt and cumin. Mix gently and serve immediately.
- Lasts about 2-3 days tightly sealed in the fridge.
Tapenade is a traditional French condiment which is fabulous on vegetables as well as grilled fish, eggs, meat and chicken. This omega-3 rich dip can also be served with a snack of crackers or crudité. Mostly oil, olives are high in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid which has been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, while anchovies have been named the safest fish to consume with the lowest levels of mercury. Like other oily fish, anchovies are rich in the omega-3 fatty acids that lower inflammation, boost brain health and lower blood pressure.
- 3 cups pitted Kalamata or Niçoise olives
- 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
- 1 tablespoon anchovy paste or 2 salt-packed anchovies
- ½ cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped
- Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
- Pinch of cayenne or a twist of black pepper
- Place all the ingredients – except the olive oil – in the bowl of a food processor.
- While pulsing, drizzle the olive oil into the mixture and continue to pulse until all ingredients are very finely chopped. Add a pinch of salt if necessary.
- Serve or store in a jar in the refrigerator capped with olive oil. It should keep this way for several weeks.
Note: I just served this up with cut-up veggies at a BBQ without the anchovies and walnuts as I was concerned about food sensitivities in a big crowd and everyone loved it. I knew though. I knew.
Enjoy your summer eating!