Grilled Squash Blossom and Roasted Garlic Pizza

Edible flowers? Yes, please! Squash blossoms are, as you guessed it, flowers from squash plants. These delicate flowers have a light and crisp flavor with a subtle taste of summer squash. While they can simply be used as garnish, they make a delicious and beautiful addition to your meal. You don’t need decorations on your plate when your meal is this colorful. Roasted garlic adds a sweet and mellow garlic taste that compliments mildly sweet dollops of ricotta cheese and roasted summer vegetables.

Ingredients:
1 medium head garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small zucchini, sliced
½ cup cherry tomatoes
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 homemade or store-bought pizza dough ball (about the size of a grapefruit)
8 squash blossoms, stems and stamens removed
⅓ cup part-skim Ricotta cheese
⅓ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
8 to 10 basil leaves, sliced into thin ribbons

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice off the top of the garlic head, so you can see the tops of the cloves, and place on a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle the garlic head with ½ tablespoon olive oil and wrap tightly in the foil. Roast for about 30 minutes, until cloves are tender. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  2. Pace zucchini and cherry tomatoes on a medium backing sheet. Drizzle ½ tablespoon olive oil over the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Toss to evenly coat. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned and tender.
  3. Roll and stretch pizza dough to a thin layer, about ⅛ inch thick and 12 to 14 inches in diameter. Prepare the grill for medium-high, indirect heat. For a gas grill, leave one or two burners off and for a charcoal grill, place coals on one side and use the coal free side.
  4. Place crust on the grill (a pizza peel is handy here) and cook for about five minutes, until top of crust starts to bubble and light brown grill marks appear on the bottom. Remove crust from grill.
  5. Separate cloves from garlic head. Top cooked side of crust with roasted garlic and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Spread with a knife or spatula to evenly distribute oil and spread soft garlic cloves into the crust like butter.
  6. Add zucchini, tomatoes, squash blossoms and dollops of Ricotta evenly around the pizza crust. Sprinkle with mozzarella and return pizza to the grill.
  7. Cook for about five minutes, until cheese has melted, squash blossoms have slightly wilted, and the bottom of the crust has light brown grill marks. Remove from grill and top with fresh basil before serving.

Servings: 4

Summer Fruit and Vegetable Salad

This salad tastes as splendid as a beautiful summer day feels, with sweet melon, refreshing cucumbers and juicy cherry tomatoes. Freshly chopped produce this time of year is delicious served uncooked and the combinations are endless. The addition of cantaloupe takes this salad from simple to spectacular. It is a great dish to pack for a picnic or enjoy at home along with grilled chicken on the patio.

Ingredients:
½ medium cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and cubed
2 medium cucumbers, sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes
½ small red onion or 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese
salt and pepper
olive oil
balsamic vinegar

Directions:

  1. Combine equal amounts of cantaloupe cubes, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes and red onion or shallot on small salad plates.
  2. Top with feta cheese, a pinch of salt and pepper and drizzle lightly with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Servings: 4

Summer Veggie and Steak Kebabs

Summertime meals should be easy, delicious and fun to make. Nothing says fun like food on a stick, and the aroma of grilled kebabs will make everyone thrilled to eat their veggies. Light on the meat and heavy on the vegetables, my Summer Veggie and Steak Kebabs are a great way to use seasonal produce. Substitute the squash and tomatoes for zucchini and bell peppers or use all to add even more color your plate. Serve with whole grain rolls and a simple salad for a quick and well-rounded meal. Cheers to outdoor cooking and making simple meals with fresh produce.

Marinade Ingredients:
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Kabob Ingredients:
¾ pound sirloin steak
1 medium summer squash
1 small red onion
1 pint cherry tomatoes

Directions:

  1. If using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for 30 to 60 minutes before assembling to prevent charring.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together honey, mustard, olive oil, vinegar, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper.
  3. Cut the steak, squash and onion into bite-size pieces. Thread steak and veggies through skewers and set aside on a large platter or baking sheet. Brush the marinade evenly on the kebabs and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes at room temperature.
  4. Prepare a grill to medium-high heat. Place the kebabs on the grill and cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare.

Servings: 3 to 4

Watermelon, Tomato and Burrata Cheese

When I think of summer, watermelon and tomatoes immediately come to mind. They are two of my favorite seasonal foods and they compliment each other nicely in this appetizer with creamy and decadent burrata cheese. The outer layer of this cheese is fresh mozzarella, and when you slice it in half you will discover a luscious, creamy center made of mozzarella soaked in cream. It is the perfect cheese to pair with this summertime appetizer. This is a great last-minute dish for entertaining guests or taking to a potluck. Cheers to fresh and easy dishes for lazy summer days!

Ingredients:
1 (4 ounce) ball of burrata cheese
½ small seedless watermelon, sliced and cubed
1 pound yellow cherry tomatoes
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon balsamic glaze

Directions:

  1. Place burrata cheese in the center of a large serving platter. Arrange watermelon and cherry tomatoes around the cheese.
  2. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with balsamic glaze. Cut a slit in the center of the cheese to allow the fresh cream to flow. Serve immediately.