Nothing can be simplier than grilling your sweet corn with the husks on. Don't soak them or remove the silks. Just toss them on the hot grill for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally. If you have a covered grill, you can cover it. If not, roast the corn a bit longer. If using a campfire, cook the corn in the embers. The husks and silks will come off easily.
For an extra treat with grilled corn, season the butter. To 2 sticks of softened butter, add one of the following: Juice of 1 lime with 1 teaspoon hot or sweet paprika. Or 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Or 1 teaspoon minced garlic. Or 1 teaspoon minced chives. Or choose another chopped herb of your preference. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Make corn salsa: Take off the kernels on several ears of corn and drop into boiling water for about 30 seconds. Drain and rinse in cold water. Add minced jalapeo peppers with a little fresh lime juice, minced red onion, salt and pepper, along with chopped cilantro. Add cooked black beans, or not. Serve atop anything, including hot rice, or with chips. Make mint sun tea: Clean a couple handfuls of mint. Add to a clear container with cool water. Set in the sun for the afternoon. When the water is flavored, strain the tea. (It will be clear.) Serve over ice with a few sprigs of mint as garnish. If you prefer it caffeinated, add a few black tea bags to the original water with mint. Bored with a BLT? Not this one: Toast a slice of baguette. Top with the usual bacon-lettuce-tomato. But then add a fried egg and some flavored mayo. Make it your choice: Add fresh or dried tarragon (or another herb) to the mayo. Or add minced garlic (to make aioli). Or process 1 cup of mayo with a can of chipotles in adobo sauce for a spicy topping. Mmm.
What to do with all that zucchini? Slice it thinly lengthwise with a mandolin or shredder. Then toss with a little olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Place in a tray and grill over hot coals for a couple of minutes. To serve, sprinkle with feta and a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice.
Get out the flatbreads and heat them on the grill. Once you have the grill marks on one side, add your favorite veggie toppings: slices of colorful pepper, precooked broccoli florets, bits of basil or other herbs, spinach. Top with a favorite cheese and put back on the grill till warm and melty.
Make your yellow summer squash spicy by cutting it into small chunks and cooking it in olive oil with diced sweet onions and diced hot wax peppers. Salt and pepper to taste.
Red pepper salsa: Combine chopped red peppers (roasted or not) with chopped olives, grated Parmesan, a little olive oil and chopped herbs (fresh basil, parsley, oregano). Salt and pepper to taste, and let it sit for a bit to marinate. Especially good with grilled seafood.
The cucumber-yogurt dip called raita serves as a palate cooler when spicy foods are served. It's easy to make yourself: Peel and seed half a cucumber and dry it with a paper towel. Dice to make about 1/2 cup. Combine it with 1 cup of plain nonfat yogurt, half a diced onion, salt and white pepper. Marinate at least 1 hour in the refrigerator. Make rice ahead for vegetable fried rice the next day. Pre-cook your favorite veggies (onions, carrots, greens, pea pods, broccoli). In a skillet, saut minced ginger and garlic in a bit of oil until fragrant. Add cooked rice with a little soy sauce; stir over medium heat. Add veggies and drizzle a lightly beaten egg into the mixture. Stir until the egg is cooked.
Marinate zucchini by thinly slicing it, along with an onion (red or white). Add about equal amounts vinegar (either white wine or red) and olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top sandwiches with it or serve it as a relish. Put greens to good use: add some to your chicken salad by chopping or tearing up mild greens (arugula, other lettuces, baby spinach). Do the same with egg salad sandwiches. It not only tastes good, but looks pretty. And that chicken salad? Serve it as an appetizer in tiny filo cups that are available at the supermarket.
Still more corn? Cut the uncooked kernels off the cob and add to almost done scrambled eggs, along with some chopped fresh basil for a bit of crunch and added flavor for your summer breakfast.
Pasta perfect: Precook broccoli florets in boiling water; cook pasta in boiling water according to package directions. Saut some onion, garlic and mushrooms. Stir in broccoli and toss with pasta and grated Parmesan cheese. For more color, add diced bell peppers to the vegetable mix. Roasted garlic dip: Cut off the top of a head of garlic and place cut-side up in a baking dish. Drizzle olive oil over top and roast at 300 degrees until soft, about 45 minutes. Cool. Squeeze cloves to remove garlic from skin. Mash garlic and add 1/4 cup each of grated Parmesan and olive oil. Season with pepper. Serve atop baguette. Got radishes? Add them, thinly sliced, to stir-fries with garlic and ginger. Or chop up the radish greens and use them in stir-fries. If you're making a ham sandwich, thinly slice radishes and use them atop the meat. Or make a radish salad by thinly slicing them and tossing with crumbled feta, olives, green onions and a light vinaigrette.
Blender tomato sauce: Place tomatoes in blender and process almost to a pure. Place in a skillet and add parsley, basil and a lot of oregano, along with minced garlic and several finely chopped carrots. Slowly cook until carrots are tender and texture is right for you. Simple but delicious with summer's plentiful tomatoes: Toast bread (to make it fancy, use a slice of baguette). Cover the bread with slices of tomato. Top with a favorite cheese and salt and pepper. Broil until cheese has melted. If you want to get fancy, sprinkle chopped herbs over the tomatoes before the cheese is added.
Use thick cucumber slices (or slices of daikon radishes) as a platform for appetizers. Top with a smear of goat cheese and a sprinkle of colorful diced vegetables. Or use a little smoked fish or diced seafood atop the slice. What to do with fennel? Make a salad by shaving the bulb (the end of it) thinly with a mandoline or grater. Toss the fennel with olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add either chopped fresh mint and minced onion to the salad, or sprinkle some shaved Parmesan on top with a few fronds of the fennel leaves. Remove the core of cauliflower and steam the head, covered in plastic wrap, in a little water in a microwave. When tender, spread a layer of mayo mixed with some mustard over the top of the cauliflower. Sprinkle shredded cheese across the top of cauliflower. Return to microwave and heat for a minute or two to melt cheese. Grill sweet onions (or red onions) for great flavor whether it's to go with a burger or served as a side dish. Slice onions into 1-inch-thick rounds. Rub with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Put in a grill rack and grill until nicely browned. Simple is lovely. Make caprese skewers by tossing tiny mozzarella balls in basil oil (halve the balls if they are too big); sprinkle with salt and pepper. Thread the mozzarella on small skewers, alternating with fresh basil leaves and tiny tomatoes (cherry or grape style).
Roast your tomatoes to make a vinaigrette: Chop and toss in a little olive oil. Roast at 350 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool and process in a blender with diced cucumber (peeled and seeded) and diced shallot. Add a little white wine vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Make a spread with edamame (green soybeans). Pure about 2 cups edamame without the shell in a blender with about 1/2 cup cream. Remove to another container and add about 2 tablespoons lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. To spice it up, if preferred, add red pepper flakes. Use the spread on crackers or slices of bread. A Scandinavian clubhouse sandwich: Using 3 slices of bread, preferably rye (with the third slice in the middle), top with gravlax (smoked salmon), thinly sliced cucumbers, tomato slices, pickled beets and slices of hard-cooked egg. Add your favorite leafy green, cut into triangles and you're set for lunch or a light dinner. Japanese eggplant, or any small, slender eggplant, can be sliced thinly, tossed in olive oil with a little salt and pepper, and grilled over hot coals in a grill rack. Serve them atop slices of baguette as bruschetta, or as a side to grilled meat or seafood. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, freshly chopped parsley or paprika or green onions. Dinner can look as good as it tastes by making a salad Nioise. Top greens with a pretty composition of barely cooked skinny green beans (haricots verts), quartered tomatoes, sliced hard-cooked eggs, tuna chunks (from a can) diced shallots and quartered (and cooked) new potatoes. Serve a vinaigrette on the side. Wow!
Who says a BLT needs to be on bread at all? Pick up small pastry cups at the supermarket and fill them with diced tomato, chopped iceberg lettuce, a dollop of mayo and sprinkles of diced cooked bacon. Yum.
Cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto is a traditional appetizer. Change up the game with small chunks of watermelon wrapped within the thin meat and closed with a toothpick. Serve it on a plate with blue cheese crumbles and a drizzle of herb-flavored oil, such as basil.