Five Tips for Lighter, Brighter Summer Eating
March 20, 2015
Simple, fresh and delicious – that’s summertime eating at its best. Less time in the kitchen means more time to enjoy the bright delicious flavors of just picked berries, peaches, greens and other vegetables.
“It makes sense to eat lighter in the summer,” says Chef William Tillinghast, academic director of culinary at The Art Institute of Philadelphia. “Hot weather slows down the digestion and heavy foods are harder to digest.”
Chef Tillinghast got together with Chef Jeffrey Floyd, academic director of culinary at The Art Institute of Virginia Beach, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta, to offer these five tips for enjoying summer’s gastronomic delights.
- Buy local and seasonal – or grow it yourself
Summer brings locally grown specialties – berries of all types, melons, lettuces, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, sweet onions and more. Visit farmers’ markets and ask what’s in season. Consider joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to explore eating seasonally. And nothing tastes better than tomatoes from your own garden.
- Process produce as little as possible
The fresher the produce, the less preparation needed. Chef Tillinghast adds, “The longer the time between preparation and consumption, the more flavor is lost.” Try cutting up peaches and a honeydew melon, add fresh blueberries and a squeeze of lemon or lime. Serve immediately for an instant refreshing dessert.
Cook fresh veggies using the grill (see below). Or stir fry them. Cut vegetables small. Cook briefly with grapeseed oil in a wok or large saute pan over medium high heat (put it on your grill). A little coarse salt and freshly ground pepper – it’s the perfect side dish for a simple roast chicken or steak
- Keep flavors simple
Allow the flavor of fresh summer produce to shine. Chef Floyd suggests this salad, adapted from “American Regional Cuisine,” by The Art Institutes system of schools. Cut zucchini into matchstick strips. Combine with wedges of ripe tomato, finely sliced fresh basil, thin slices of sweet or green onion. Add a splash of red wine vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and serve on a bed of lettuce, spinach or other greens. Add feta or bleu cheese crumbles if you like.
- Use that grill
Cook chicken, fish and shrimp as well as burgers. Swordfish, salmon or tuna – fish with a little fat – work best on the grill. Grill chicken with the bone in (it’s more flavorful, says Chef Tillinghast). First marinate for a few hours in a simple vinaigrette (2 T red wine vinegar, 4 T olive or walnut oil, 2 t Dijon mustard, salt and pepper). Chef Floyd suggests these tasty marinades: buttermilk, lemon juice, salt and pepper; tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, chopped onion; lime juice, grapeseed oil, fresh thyme or rosemary (dill’s great with fish).
Grill eggplant, zucchini, onions and peppers. Brush with olive or walnut oil if you like. Put directly on the grill, use a griddle or wrap in a single layer in foil. Grilled peach halves and pineapple rings are also delicious.
- Soup is for summer, too
Cold soups like gazpacho, vichyssoise, avocado and cucumber, or various fruits are refreshing. Peel and chop pears and apricots (or hull and cut up strawberries). Add a sprinkling of sugar and perhaps a little cinnamon or cardamom. Mash lightly with a fork and add sour cream or yogurt, half and half or milk – even champagne.
Hot soups can work, as long as they’re broth based, not cream based. Heat chicken broth and stir in diced veggies of your choice. Cook just until veggies are heated through but still crisp.
Beat the heat with lighter, simpler meals – you’ll feel better and have more time for summertime fun!
For more information about The Art Institutes schools, visit www.artinstitutes.edu/.
The Art Institutes (www.artinstitutes.edu) is a system of more than 50 schools located throughout North America. The Art Institutes schools provide an important source for design, media arts, fashion and culinary professionals. Several institutions included in The Art Institutes system are campuses of South University or Argosy University. OH Registration # 04-01-1698B; AC0165, AC0080; Licensed by the Florida Commission for Independent Education, License No. 1287, 3427, 3110, 2581. Since The Art Institutes is comprised of several institutions, see aiprograms.info for program duration, tuition, fees, and other costs, median debt, federal salary data, alumni success, and other important information.