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Simple meals for summer

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Italian Seafood Stew

SERVING UP SEAFOOD This Italian Seafood Stew from Peace Meals is an elevated meal with little effort. (Photo courtesy of the Junior League of Houston)

Cooking Buzz is produced in partnership with the Junior League of Houston, a women’s charitable and education organization founded in 1925.

If you are like me, you are ready to step out of the house and into the sunshine.  In the summer, I am typically a no-fuss cook. I enjoy meals that are light, flavorful and easy to prepare. Summer is also a time that I associate with seafood, and, due to our proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, we are fortunate to have a wide selection of seafood.

One dish that can be prepared quickly is the Italian Seafood Stew from Peace Meals. This stew is attractive and savory. For a more substantial meal, serve over linguine and pair with crusty bread to mop up the sauce.   

The Poached Salmon in Thai Green Curry Broth from Peace Meals is another relatively light meal. While the list of ingredients may look intimidating, they combine to create a vividly flavored broth. When looking for the lemongrass, look for fresh, fragrant stalks and avoid any that look dry or brown, as the entire stalk is edible. Consider serving this dish over steamed jasmine rice. 

Shrimp is a staple in my kitchen, and I love finding new recipes that feature it prominently. The Shrimp and Mushroom Sauté from Stop and Smell the Rosemary includes several other ingredients I keep on hand at home: unsalted butter, lemon juice, tabasco, rice and pasta. This recipe is easy and can be served over rice or pasta. For a healthier alternative, try serving over quinoa or cauliflower rice.  

For evenings when I want something simple and comforting, or prefer to go meatless, the Risotto Limone from Stop and Smell the Rosemary fits the bill. This recipe serves 8 to 10, so if you are dining solo or with your family, the ingredient measurements can be cut in half. Pairing the risotto with the Grilled Vegetables or Two-Bean Succotash, also from Stop and Smell the Rosemary, ensures a well-balanced meal. 

Happy summer and bon appétit!

Italian Seafood Stew

From Peace Meals

½ cup olive oil
1 shallot, diced
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Anaheim peppers, seeded and chopped
1 pint (2 cups) cherry tomatoes
2 cups chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
Coarse salt
Cayenne pepper
1 thread saffron
¾ cup dry vermouth or white wine
12 Little Neck clams, scrubbed
12 black mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
1 lobster tail (6 to 8 ounces)
1 tilapia filet, washed and halved
6 large shrimp, shelled and deveined

Heat the olive oil in a heavy stockpot over medium-low heat. Add the shallots, garlic and peppers, and sauté for about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and parsley, and season with salt and cayenne; cook for 3 minutes. Add the saffron, vermouth and ½ cup of water; bring to a boil. Add the clams, mussels, lobster and tilapia, and cover tightly. Steam until the clams and mussels open, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the shrimp, cover and steam for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside for 2 minutes. Transfer the seafood with a slotted spoon to soup bowls and ladle in the remaining broth. Serves 2.

Poached Salmon in Thai Green Curry Broth

From Peace Meals

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
4 Tablespoons coriander seed
¾ teaspoon cumin seed, crushed
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ cup coarsely chopped fresh shallots
3 Tablespoons finely chopped lemongrass (only use the bottom 4 inches of the stalks)
1 to 2 serrano chiles, seeded and thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
2 green onions (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced
1 pinch ground turmeric
3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
Zest of 1 lime, finely grated
3½ cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pound skinless salmon, bones removed and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 cups fresh spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh basil
1 Tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the coriander and cumin, and cook for 1 minute. Add the garlic, shallots, lemongrass, chiles, ginger, onions, turmeric, lime juice and zest, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until softened. Add the broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Pour the mixture through a fine sieve into a clean saucepan; discard the solids. Bring the broth to a simmer, add the salmon and cook for 2 to 5 minutes or until done. Stir in the spinach and herbs, and cook until the greens are wilted. Serve immediately. Serves 2 to 4.

Shrimp and Mushroom Sauté

From Stop and Smell the Rosemary

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives
¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
2 Tablespoons bourbon
3 cups cooked rice or pasta
1 lemon, quartered

Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and garlic. Sauté until tender. Add shrimp and cook until slightly pink. Stir in lemon juice, parsley, salt, pepper, chives, Tabasco and bourbon. Heat thoroughly, stirring occasionally. Serve over rice or pasta and garnish with lemon wedges. Serves 3 to 4.

Risotto Limone

From Stop and Smell the Rosemary

6 cups chicken broth
4 Tablespoons plus 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups raw Italian Arborio rice
8 ounces Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (2 cups)
¼ chopped fresh parsley
Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon salt
Freshly ground pepper

Bring the chicken broth to a slow boil in a medium saucepan. Set aside. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion. Sauté until translucent. Add rice and stir to coat, 1 to 2 minutes. Add ½ cup broth. Stir while cooking until rice absorbs liquid. When the rice dries out, add another ½ cup broth. Continue to stir. Continue adding broth until all is used. Never drown rice. (Risotto is done when rice is tender but al dente.) When rice is cooked, stir in Parmesan, remaining 4 tablespoons butter, parsley, lemon juice and zest. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and let stand a few minutes before serving. Risotto Limone should have a creamy porridge-like consistency.

Correct heat is very important. If the liquid evaporates too rapidly, the rice cannot cook evenly. Regulate heat so risotto will cook in 30 minutes time. After 20 minutes, reduce the amount of broth to ¼ cup at a time. Serves 8 to 10.

Grilled Vegetables

From Stop and Smell the Rosemary

1 cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon dried thyme
1 Tablespoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 Tablespoon dried tarragon
1 Tablespoon dried basil
1½ Tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into 1½-inch strips
1 large yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced into 1½-inch strips
1 zucchini, blanched and sliced lengthwise
1 yellow squash, blanched and sliced lengthwise
2 carrots, blanched and sliced lengthwise
8 ounces green beans, blanched
1 onion, sliced into ½-inch rounds
1 eggplant, sliced into ½-inch rounds
An assortment of whole fresh mushrooms
10 to 15 tiny new potatoes, unpeeled and steamed

Combine oil, thyme, garlic, red pepper, tarragon, basil and tomatoes in a small bowl. Stir to blend. Combine bell peppers, zucchini, squash, carrots, green beans, onion, eggplant, mushrooms and potatoes in a nonmetallic shallow baking dish. Pour marinade over vegetables. Toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours. Bring to room temperature before grilling.

Prepare grill. Remove vegetables from marinade. Reserve marinade. Grill, basting with reserved marinade, until tender. Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

Two-Bean Succotash

From Stop and Smell the Rosemary

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon diced red bell pepper
2 Tablespoons diced red onion
¼ cup blanched haricots verts (or green beans)
¼ cup blanched fava beans
¼ cup fresh corn kernels
Freshly ground pepper

Melt butter in a medium skillet. Add bell pepper and onion. Sauté until tender. Add haricots verts, fava beans and corn. Sauté 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Toss quickly and serve. Serves 2.

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