It’s easy to forget the true reason we celebrate Memorial Day– remembering our fallen U.S. soldiers and war heroes. I feel a profound gratitude to the men and women who serve our country; I am humbled by their sacrifice. Every year I try to attend a local Memorial Day celebration to support our troops and their families. I hope you have a chance to do the same this weekend.
In addition to being an opportunity to honor our troops, this is a long holiday weekend. It’s a perfect chance to relax with family and friends. Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer, a season best spent cooking tasty food on the grill and dining outside in the sunshine (when the weather cooperates!). I know many of you will be spending your holiday weekend doing these very things, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite summer recipes. I’ve included a little something for everyone whether you’re a meat-lover, vegetarian or vegan.
How will you be spending your long weekend?
My Aunt Carol has brought this dip to our holiday gatherings for as long as I can remember. It’s creamy, rich and delicious – no holiday would be complete without it. I love to serve it with San Luis Sourdough, a sourdough bread that originated in San Luis Obispo county where I grew up.
Hummus is the ultimate healthy snack to have on hand… it’s loaded with protein, fiber, and heart-healthy fat. This hummus is creamy, smoky, spicy, slightly sweet, garlicky goodness… a flavorful “twist” on an old favorite.
If you like dill pickles, you’re going to love this salad. The recipe came together during one of my kitchen experiments. I started with a simple family recipe, then tweaked the dressing and added a few things I found in the fridge. The result is delightfully flavorful—cold, crunchy, pickle-y, and easy to throw together at a moment’s notice.
To create this recipe, I grilled up some of my favorite summer veggies and tossed them with fresh lettuce, basil, and tomatoes. Then I dressed the whole thing in a light, creamy lemony basil dressing. The result is magnificent, a perfect blend of summer flavors.
For many years, I’ve wanted to create a turkey burger that is full of flavor– tender, juicy and the opposite of bland. Here I’ve added smoked paprika, Middle Eastern spices and a touch of applesauce. The result was exactly what I’ve been looking for. I like to top these burgers with a lemon herb mayo; they don’t really need a lot of “dressing up” with so many awesome herbs and spices in the mix.
This marinade includes many of my favorite spices and lemon juice, which brings lots of aromatic flavor to the fish. Cooking them on a smoky grill adds even more deliciousness. You can alternate the fish pieces with onion or pepper slices on the skewer if you like. Try serving them with tzatziki or tahini sauce.
In the South, black-eyed peas have been a symbol of good fortune since the Civil War. This American tradition originated in West Africa, where black-eyed peas were domesticated over 5,000 years ago. I like to top these tasty, meatless Black-Eyed Pea Burgers with smoked paprika mayonnaise, avocado, and sliced dill pickles on a warm, toasted burger bun. Good stuff!
This simple pasta salad is dressed with Meyer lemon juice and fresh basil which gives it a lovely seasonal aroma. The dressing is creamy and balanced with the sweet, aromatic flavor of fresh Meyer lemons. It’s the perfect potluck-style dish for sharing with your friends and family.
Here, I’ve made a very traditional deli-style coleslaw with the addition of chopped dill pickles. The sweetness of the coleslaw dressing combined with salty pickles is a dynamite flavor combination. A pinch of cayenne gives it just a touch of heat. Serve it up as a side salad or use it to top your favorite barbecued burger.
This recipe comes from Ree Drummond’s The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays. The cheesecake-like dessert takes a grand total of 15 minutes to assemble. Made in smaller “shooter” style portions, they’re perfect for serving on a day when you’re likely to be indulging in lots of treats.
This recipe comes from a vintage cookbook called Recipes from Old Virginia. Published in 1958, the book contains hundreds of old fashioned gems of Southern cooking. I love old cookbooks and cooking magazines; sometimes the recipes results are a a disaster, but more often than not I end up with a delightful dish that is also a slice of the past… like this Chocolate Icebox Pie.
This vintage recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Cake comes from food historian Gil Marks. It’s a quintessentially American treat that’s sweet, colorful and delicious. Add a little vintage flare to your Memorial Day buffet by serving this to your guests.
For this cocktail strawberry simple syrup is combined with basil-infused vodka (to learn how to make infused vodka, click here). The combination of sweet, ripe strawberries and crisp, peppery basil works surprisingly well together. Add a splash of fresh lime juice, an aromatic sprig of fresh basil, and voila! You’ve got a sophisticated warm weather cocktail, the perfect drink to kick off your holiday weekend.
This cocktail recipe uses mint-infused simple syrup, which means the drink does not require muddling mint leaves with sugar, hence the name “Shortcut Mojito”. All you need to do is combine the ingredients in a shaker, pour over ice, and enjoy!
Limonana is the national drink of Israel, which is where I tried it for the first time. The combination of lemon and mint is truly refreshing. We like to pour our limonana into glasses garnished with fresh mint. We enjoy them in the backyard while dreaming of dining in an ancient city on the shores of the Mediterranean.