One day a few weeks ago, I returned home to find a folded piece of paper stuck inside my screen door. It took but a moment to figure out who had left it, as Debbie and I were talking earlier about a blueberry soup recipe she wanted me to try. The recipe, from Yankee magazine, came with notes suggesting some changes, and when Bob handed me a couple of cups of gorgeous blueberries from his garden, I knew the time had come. I went far afield of the original version in creating this no-cook blueberry apple soup, substituting a small amount of agave nectar for the sugar, and eliminating the sour cream, but I kept the cinnamon-coriander spice combination because it warms up the tart blueberries. If you prefer an absolutely seedless soup, pass the mixture through a food mill. A scoop of lime sherbet would send this straight to dessert heaven.
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Now that my husband Ted has declared kale pesto his favorite, I'm finding other ways to use the basil I planted in my herb garden to make a winter's worth of pesto for the freezer, and I'm also finding other ways to work this kale version into my summer cooking. Pasta with kale pesto, shrimp and tomato won our hearts, and I can't wait to make it again with cherry tomatoes from the garden in a month or so. The surprising thing about kale pesto is that it doesn't taste like a dark leafy green at all; it's redolent with garlic and cheese, just like pesto Genovese made with basil, but the flavor is a bit lighter and brighter. If you prefer, omit the shrimp in this recipe, or substitute shredded rotisserie chicken to make an easy dish even easier.
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Technically, summer won't arrive here in Rhode Island for a few more days, but the temperature and humidity settled in a couple of weeks in advance. Last winter I fell in love with brisket braised in apple cider, and this sweet and smoky beef spins off that flavor combination. The slow cooker, in constant use in my kitchen as the weather heats up, transforms a basic chuck roast into shredded beef that can fill sandwiches or tortillas or wraps, and tastes great on its own or with some quick and easy cole slaw on the side. Bring it on, summer -- we've got our slow cookers out, and we're ready for you.
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Perhaps not officially, not according to the calendar, but in every other way, summer has arrived here in Rhode Island. As the heat rises, my patience for spending lots of time on meal prep plummets. A few quick and easy dishes, like this simple cole slaw, go a long way to rounding out summer meals with minimum effort, and by making your own, you can eliminate the sugar that's almost always added to deli counter cole slaw. If your supermarket stocks packaged cole slaw mix, do what I do, and start with that. Of course, you can buy a head of green cabbage and a few carrots, and shred them thinly with a very sharp knife or in the food processor, but come on -- it's summer -- take some help from the store, and spend less time in the kitchen.
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