Recipes and Photography by Ellise Pierce
To eat sensibly in the summer means to do as little possible to whatever it is that you’ve just brought home from the market—or if you’re lucky, gathered from your own garden.
Come July in Texas, it’s sizzling outside. If you’re in Paris, like I am right now, where air conditioning is but a dim, sweet memory, it can also be hot inside, the warm air pushed from one side of the room to the other by a whirring fan.
Which is why we have chilled rosé in the summertime. Scoops of ice cream sold in pointy cones from refrigerated carts parked outside of patisseries. Chilled soups made from puréed fruits and vegetables. Plus lots of salads.
No matter which side of the pond you’re on, the idea of letting the season dictate what you’re going to eat—and how you’ll prepare it—is a good one, and it’s something that I’ve learned while living here. Summer means stovetop grilling instead of braising; roasting vegetables during down time, in the morning when it’s cooler, rather than standing over a skillet and sautéing them at dinnertime; or simply eating things raw and uncooked, or chilled or even frozen —anything can be whizzed into a gazpacho or a granita when you think about it.
To eat sensibly in the summer means to do as little possible to whatever it is that you’ve just brought home from the market—or if you’re lucky, gathered from your own garden. Because when produce is at its peak and full of flavor, it doesn’t need to be messed with much, whether it’s a juicy heirloom tomato (slice me, salt me) or a basket of homegrown peaches (crumble!).
It’s easy cooking, and very little of it at that. When you get down to it, summer’s really about assembling. A little chopping and tossing. Finding what’s fresh, then putting it together with like-minded things. Then serving it and calling it done.
So what if it’s hot? There are trails to be trekked and pools to be splashed in. Dinner will just about take care of itself, anyway.
I make the following recipes every summer, no matter where I happen to be—in Dallas, Santa Fe or Paris. They are all easily swapouttable (the Blueberry Tartelettes can just as easily be made with cherries or peaches, or whatever you’ve got on hand), and the Watermelon Granita can be a granita of any other sort you can dream of. It’s basically puréed frozen fruit, scratched back with a fork every now and then, to give you a sort of grown-up Icee. You can layer it up with sweetened Greek yogurt, as I’ve done here, or serve it as is. Likewise, the Zucchini and Corn Galette recipe can be a template for anything that you may find yourself with too much of in the summer. It’s a very forgiving recipe. The ratatouille can be eaten on its own as a side for whatever you’ve got on the grill that evening, or can be tossed onto a pizza or pasta, added to cold lentils with salmon or folded into a frittata or a tart.
Edible Dallas & Fort Worth is a quarterly local foods magazine that promotes the abundance of local foods in Dallas, Fort Worth and 34 North Texas counties. We celebrate the family farmers, wine makers, food artisans, chefs and other food-related businesses for their dedication to using the highest quality, fresh, seasonal foods and ingredients.