Food & Drink

Stir Crazy: Make use of summer’s finest produce and herbs

Caprese Salad is a summer delight.
Caprese Salad is a summer delight.

Tomatoes, peaches, basil. What a time of year! Three of my favorite summer things to eat.

This is the only time of year I will eat a Caprese Salad. I loved it before I went to the Isle of Capri (hence, its name) in Italy. And it’s so easy to make:

1. Slice tomatoes.

2. Thinly slice some rounds of great mozzarella. (I bought some made by Marcoot Jersey Creamery in Greenville at Eckert’s Country Store in Belleville.)

3. Clean and de-stem a handful of basil leaves.

4. Get out the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

5. Start with a slice of tomato, then slightly overlap with cheese, then basil. Repeat until you run out, or have what you need.

6. Drizzle on oil, then a little less vinegar. Season if you must. You can also use some bottled Italian dressing, but add lightly; you don’t want to smother the flavor of what’s underneath!

Best of all, you can make it in minutes instead of a tossed salad with dinner. I’ve made platters for parties and found them empty in no time.

I’m also thinking of sneaking some wedges of peaches in between the layers to see how that tastes. I think it might be spectacular.

KICK IT UP — Chicken breasts can sometimes be dry and flavorless, especially when served skinless and cooked off the bone. Not so with this recipe from Chef Lorna Yee and Ali Basye, authors of “The Newlywed Kitchen” (Sasquatch Books). Pieces of chicken are marinated in a honey, wine, garlic and lemon juice mixture. A bit of kick from the cayenne keeps things interesting and balances the sweet, tangy marinade. A great recipe for two that can easily be increased.

Sweet-and-Hot Chicken Kebabs

3 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons dry white wine

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 pound boneless white and/or dark chicken meat, cut into 2-inch cubes

15 cremini or button mushrooms

15 cherry tomatoes

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the honey, olive oil, wine, salt, garlic, lemon juice, cayenne and parsley.

Add the chicken to the marinade, mixing to coat. Let the chicken marinate for at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight. During the last half-hour, add the mushrooms and tomatoes to the marinade so they absorb some of the flavor.

2. Preheat an indoor or outdoor grill to medium-high heat.

3. Thread the chicken, tomatoes and mushrooms onto metal skewers. Grill for 8 to 10 minutes total, or until the chicken is cooked through. (Cut into a piece of the chicken to check if it is fully cooked.)

Serves 2, each with 312 calories, 483 mg sodium, 26 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 16 grams fat, 46 mg cholesterol, 22 grams sugar, 18 grams protein.

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