Here’s a summer weeknight menu using colorful, fresh ingredients and simple, clean flavors. It won’t take much time to make this and it’s a perfect alfresco meal for four people.
4 medium yellow tomatoes
1 medium to large sweet onion
1/2 large cucumber
1 clove garlic
6 large sea scallops (untreated please)
1 bunch fresh tarragon
2 TB butter
1 cup shelled pistachios
4 packaged chicken breasts (which is two whole breasts when uncut)
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 box plain couscous (10 oz)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place pistachios in food processor until they are small and look a little bigger than bread crumbs. Trim chicken breasts if needed. Pistachios are salty, but if they are unsalted season chicken first, then dip in a plate of the processed pistachios. Place on a sprayed baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through or 170 degrees internal temp. Let sit a few minutes before serving. Peel and dice tangerines. Add 1/8 tsp sea salt and one generous tsp of thyme leaves. Set aside. While the chicken is baking, make the soup, the ceviche and make couscous using package directions but add raisins to the water before boiling (usually with 1/2 tsp salt and 1 TB of olive oil). Fluff when done and stir in almonds. Serve next to chicken. Add a little tangerine salsa on top of chicken.
I do not use a specific recipe for gazpacho. The reason is, depending on the time of year and the intensity of the onion, garlic etc. I change this recipe. Also, this allows for a more creative approach. I don’t put bread or fillers in my gazpacho.
Roughly chop tomatoes and add to food processor. Roughly chop 1/3 to 1/2 onion depending upon how big it is. 1/3 of a really large one and 1/2 of a medium/large one. Add to processor. Add 1/2 clove of garlic (you can add more later if you like). Peel and roughly chop 1/2 a large cucumber. Again, you can add more if the other flavors are too strong. Add a splash of olive oil, 1/2 tsp sea salt and start with two or three hits of Tabasco. Process it until it looks like a soup. Adjust seasonings to taste. You can chill before serving, but it’s great at room temperature too.
Slice sea scallops by width thinly. Place into a medium-sized glass bowl. You should have at least four slices per scallop. Zest lime and set zest aside. Juice lime and pour the juice over the scallops. Let set for 5-10 minutes. Add a teaspoon of finely-chopped fresh tarragon, a sprinkle of sea salt and a dash of Tabasco, if desired. Put in the fridge for a few minutes while you thinly slice and saute a clean leek over medium heat with the butter melted in the pan. Serve leeks on each plate with slices of scallop fanned over the top. Garnish with a little lime zest. If you have any health concerns about eating scallops as ceviche, leave them whole, season them with salt and pepper and sear them in a dry pan over high heat until nicely browned on each side and still slightly translucent in the middle. Serve over the leeks and garnish with a wedge of lime.
Elizabeth Dougherty has been a food writer for over 10 years, attended culinary school and holds a Bachelor’s degree, Magna Cum Laude in Hospitality, Business and Labor Relations from NYIT. She has been a talk show host of nearly 150 episodes of Food Nation Radio which airs each Saturday morning at 6 on AM1010 CBS and other stations. You can read her articles and hear previous shows on her podcast page on the Food Nation Radio Network website and on Facebook.