Recipes: Summertime Light and Fresh

Do I say this every month after a LadyFingers dinner?  This was the best one yet.
I am being sincere each month when I say it.  Diane just outdoes her self time after time.
This month was especially fun as my friend Ann was our guest!  I hadn’t seen her in months as she’s been away at Duke for nursing school and is now recently graduated.  I’m so happy to have her back in town and having her at this month’s dinner was a special treat.
And speaking of winners, Lisa H. is the big winner for July!  Congratulations, Lisa!  Diane and I look forward to having you and your guest at our table this month!
Ok, so I’m sure you’re curious to know what June’s dinner was all about.  I have to say that neither blazing temperatures nor epic thunderstorms can stop the action in the LadyFingers kitchen.  It was a hot and humid night that had some severe storms roll through, but we soldiered on!  There was a delicious and healthy meal to be had!  Let’s get to the recipes.
Watermelon-Mint Gazpach0 – serves 8
6 cups cubed watermelon, large seeds removed
1 large heirloom tomato, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 large shallot, coarsely chopped
1 seedless cucumber, peeled and divided
2 medium jalapenos, seeded and chopped
¼ cup mint leaves, packed
1 lime, zested and juiced
salt, to taste
8 mint sprig tops
Cut off ¼ of seedless cucumber and set aside for garnish step.  Coarsely chop remainder of cucumber.

In batches, place cubed watermelon, chopped tomato, chopped bell pepper, chopped shallots, chopped cucumber, chopped jalapeno, mint, lime zest and lime juice in blender.  Blend into a coarse puree.
Season with salt to taste.

Refrigerate puree until well chilled.
Using remaining cucumber, dice into ¼-inch “confetti”.
Ladle gazpacho into serving bowls and top each bowl with a small pile of cucumber confetti.  Top with mint sprigs and serve.

Grilled Asparagus Salad with Bacon – serves 6
4 slices bacon
½ small red onion
1 bunch asparagus
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash Original or any zesty spice blend
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 cups baby greens
Heat grill to medium.
Cook bacon until crisp.  Drain on paper towels and set aside to cool.
Slice red onion into thin rings and chop into bite-sized (1-inch) pieces.
Trim asparagus and coat with olive oil.  Sprinkle with spice blend and toss to coat.
Place asparagus on grill and cover.  Cook asparagus for two minutes and then turn.  Cook asparagus an additional two minutes and then remove to a cutting board.  When cool enough to handle, chop asparagus into bit-sized pieces (1-inch).

For dressing, place lemon juice, vinegar, honey, mustard, and olive oil in a small bowl and whisk until well-blended.
Place baby greens in a large bowl.  Add red onion, asparagus, and dressing and toss to coat.
Divide salad among six places.  Crumble reserved bacon and sprinkle on each salad.  Serve immediately.

Carrot and Zucchini Slaw – serves 6
1 cup grated carrots
1 cut grated zucchini
1 cup grated yellow squash
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 head Belgian endive
Grate carrots, zucchini and yellow squash and place in a medium bowl.

For dressing, combine lemon juice, olive oil, fresh parsley, fresh oregano and fresh thyme in a small bowl.  Whisk until well-combined.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Trim endive and place individual leaves on serving plates.

Pour dressing over grated vegetables and toss to coat.  Spoon slaw over wide ends of endive leaves and serve immediately.
Spicy Paprika-Grilled Chicken Kebabs – serves 6
4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf, crumbled
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Trim any fat from chicken breasts and cut into 1 ½-inch cubes.  Place chicken cubes in a gallon-sized zip-lock bag and set aside.
For marinade, combine olive oil, cumin, thyme, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, crumbled bay leaf and parsley in a small bowl.  Whisk until well blended.

Pour marinade into bag with chicken and seal tightly.  Massage bag gently to coat all of the chicken pieces evenly.  Place in refrigerator.
Allow chicken to marinate for at least two hours and for as long as overnight.
Remove chicken from refrigerator one hour prior to grilling.
Heat grill to medium.
Spray metal barbecue skewers with non-stick cooking spray.
Open zip-lock bag and thread chicken cubes onto skewers

Grill chicken 2-3 minutes per side (4 sides) or until cooked through.
Serve chicken on skewers or remove chicken from skewers and place in a serving bowl or divide among dinner plates.

Doesn’t this menu look fantastic?!  Here’s a tip: run out to the market and get everything to recreate this menu and impress your friends at your July 4 barbecue.
So, keep your eyes peeled on Facebook and Twitter to find out when the next cooking demo is going to be.  Follow along, answer the question and perhaps YOU could be our August special guest!
As always, printable versions of the LadyFingers recipes:
Watermelon-Mint Gazpacho
Grilled Asparagus Salad with Bacon
Carrot and Zucchini Slaw
Spicy Paprika-Grilled Chicken Kebabs

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