During the summer months here in Arizona, I keep it light & simple in the kitchen. I reserve the cooking for the grill & prefer to “assemble” and prep more than boil & roast. Here’s a sample simple summer entertaining menu, starting with a fresh fruit granita, a chilled zuppa fresca with fresh peaches & corn, and an all in one herbed marinade/dressing/dipping sauce to brush over grilled fish or shrimp (serve with some grilled asparagus or blistered tomatoes & you’re set).
Summertime Mango Granita
Makes 6 servings
1 pound ripe mango, sliced
2 T. maple syrup or honey
½ cup water
1 tsp. lime zest & juice of 1 lime
1 tiny pinch salt
- Transfer mango to a blender and add syrup or honey, water, lime zest & juice, and tiny pinch of salt.
- Blend until smooth in high powered blender, about 1 minute. Pour into a baking dish of your choice (a 9×13 size is perfect or divide between two smaller size dishes). Mango mix should only be a little less than an inch deep in the dish.
- Place dish uncovered in the freezer until mixture barely begins to freeze around the edges, about 50-60 minutes. Mixture will most likely still be slushy in the center.
- Use a fork to scrape and stir the ice crystals from the edge of the granita mixture and mix thoroughly. Return to freezer and chill until granita is nearly frozen, about 45-60 more minutes. Mix lightly with a fork as before, scraping the crystals loose. Repeat freezing and stirring with the fork 3 to 4 times until the granita is light, crystals are separate, and granita looks dry and fluffy.
- Portion granita into serving bowls, martini glasses or glass of your choice. Optional to finish with a drizzle of coconut milk or a splash of sparkling wine or even a shot of tequila for a boozy dessert.
*Can also be made with watermelon, pineapple, strawberry, or peach!
Maddox Lane Cucumber, Avocado & Herb Zuppa Fresca with Peach & Corn Salsa
Makes 3-4 servings
1 large cucumber, peeled and deseeded
1 large avocado, deseeded
1 tsp. seasoned herbed salt or sea salt
¼ cup filtered water
2 T. high quality extra virgin olive oil
1 T. pineapple or apple vinegar (optional, can also use an apple cider or white vinegar)
½ bunch fresh basil
½ bunch fresh cilantro (can also use parsley)
1-2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 cup green onions or shallots, chopped
Add ingredients to blender & blend until smooth.
Fresh basil, chiffonade
2 peaches, cleaned, deseeded & small diced
2 cobs of fresh corn grill & cut off cob
Drizzle olive oil & squeeze of fresh citrus (lemon or lime)
Toss and garnish zuppa fresca with the peach & corn mix
Maddox Lane “This is EVERYTHING” Sauce/Marinade/Dressing
1 large jalapeño, de-seeded & diced
2 small shallots, diced *can sub with white or red onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 anchovies *can sub with splash worcestershire sauce
1 T. capers *can sub with handful castelvetrano olives
1 bunch fresh cilantro *can sub with fresh basil, mint, or additional parsley
½ bunch fresh parsley *can sub with fresh arugula
Handful fresh basil (optional)
squeeze of lemon *can sub with splash or apple cider or red wine vinegar
Generous pinch sea salt
1/3 cup olive oil (use ½ cup olive oil if you intend to use as a salad dressing)
*add 1 cup full fat Greek yogurt if you intend to use as a dipping sauce
*add additional 1 T. lemon juice and ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil if you intend to use as a dressing
*keep as is for marinade or to finish vegetables with
Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. For a chunkier sauce, pulse in food processor instead of a full blend.