A Taste of Summer

These simple recipes combine to make an enjoyable summer meal. They’re perfect for dining on the patio and are easily modified for young palettes.


Shish Kebab & Yogurt Sauce


Kids love to eat these kebabs right off the skewers. You can also fold them into warmed flat bread, add grilled veggies, top with some yogurt sauce and make delicious sandwiches.



  • 1 lb. lamb sirloin, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs. fresh thyme, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pita or flat bread



1. Toss the meat with the olive oil, onion, garlic, lemon juice and thyme. Marinate for several hours, or overnight. Bring to room temperature before grilling.


2. While the grill heats, thread the meat onto skewers.


3. Season with salt and pepper, then grill over medium-high heat, turning several times, until done to your liking.


4. Heat flat bread on grill. Serve meat plain, or in bread with yogurt sauce. Serves four.


Yummy Yogurt Sauce


Thick and creamy Greek yogurt is especially perfect for this sauce, but any kind of plain yogurt will do.



  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1 handful of either dill, thyme or parsley, chopped finely
  • Salt and pepper
  • Mix yogurt with lemon juice and herb. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Arugula with Lentils and Bacon


This classic French country salad is rugged and delicious. Don’t be tempted to substitute regular lentils; the little green ones hold their shape when cooked and are essential to the dish. Vegetarians can substitute crumbled goat cheese for the bacon.


Kid-friendly tip: Give children a deconstructed version of this dish: separate piles of bacon, lentils and croutons.



  • 1 bunch arugula, washed and dried
  • 3/4 cup green lentils, cooked and cooled
  • 3 to 5 slices of thick-cut bacon
  • About 2 Tbsp. goat cheese (more if not using bacon)
  • 2 or 3 slices of Vidalia onion (optional)
  • 1/2 loaf of crusty French bread
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper



Soak the onion slices in enough red wine vinegar to cover, with a dash of sea salt, for about 15 minutes. This will mellow them.


Cut the French bread into 1-inch squares. Heat a dash of olive oil in a pan, and sauté the bread until just beginning to brown. Season with salt and black pepper. Set aside.


Cut the bacon crossways into 1/4-inch-wide strips. Cook in a pan until just crisp; drain on paper towels.


Toss the arugula thoroughly with a couple dashes of olive oil, followed by a dash of red wine vinegar. Then add the lentils, the bacon or goat cheese, and the croutons. Toss and serve.


Tabouli with Feta


I like to make tabouli the classic way, with bulgur (cracked wheat), but I also love to substitute other grains. In this recipe, I use quinoa (“keen-wa”), a Peruvian super grain with the highest protein of all grains, which cooks in about 20 minutes.


It’s so light and delicate that it’s perfect for toddlers. (Set aside a little quinoa for the younger kids, and serve it plain or with a dash of olive oil and lemon. Serve it with a few pieces of chopped tomato and cucumber.)



  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed, drained and cooked according to directions on package
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 2 bunches parsley, de-stemmed and finely chopped
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped, including green part
  • 1 block (about 1/4 lb.) feta cheese, chopped or crumbled into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice from one lemon
  • Kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped (optional)



1. Combine all ingredients up to the feta.


2. Whisk together the olive oil and lemon in a separate dish, and toss with vegetables and quinoa.


3. Add the feta and olives, if using, and toss gently.


4. Let sit for at least 20 minutes for flavors to settle.


Serves two as a main dish; four or more as a side salad.


Grilled Vegetables with Feta


This dish takes advantage of fresh summer produce and is also truly delicious.



  • 3 to 4 red peppers, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3 to 4 zucchini, sliced thickly
  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 block of feta cheese, cut into 1-inch squares



1. Toss vegetables with olive oil and garlic. Marinate for 20 to 30 minutes.


2. Preheat oven to 350°. Pre-roast vegetables in a large roasting pan for 20 minutes. (This can be done several hours ahead of time, and the vegetables covered and left to cool.)


3. Thread loosely onto a skewer (or arrange in a grilling basket).


4. Grill vegetables until soft in the middle.


5. Toss with feta.


Scrumptious Strawberry Shortcake


Summer is all about this classic dessert. Sometimes we skip the biscuits, and just serve strawberries with whipped cream!



  • 1 quart strawberries, trimmed of stems and sliced
  • 1 Tbs., plus 1/4 cup, sugar
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • About 6 Tbs. cold water



1. Put the strawberries into a bowl with the tablespoon of sugar. Mash slightly with a fork to release the juice. Leave to macerate for at least 30 minutes.


2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter a cookie tray.


3. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix with a fork or whisk.


4. Add the butter and use a fork (or pastry blender or your fingers) to combine until the mixture resembles cornmeal.


5. Add the cold water and whisk with a fork. Then use your hands to work together into a ball. Don’t overmix or the shortcake will be tough.


6. For children, scoop out balls of dough about the size of a golf ball, and flatten slightly on the cookie tray. For adults, they can be slightly larger. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


7. Slice the shortcake biscuits in half, and layer strawberries and whipped cream on the bottom half, and finish off with the top half, like a sandwich. Serve with real whipped cream.


Real Whipped Cream


Ready-made dessert toppings are convenient, but they don’t compare to the flavor of real whipped cream. Plus, kids love watching the cream transform from liquid into billowy peaks. For best results, use chilled cream and a chilled metal bowl. (And if it’s hot out, stand in front of the air-conditioner while you whip the cream!)   



  • 1 cup whipping or heavy cream
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (optional)



1. Whip the cream on high with a hand- or stand mixer. After the cream has begun to thicken and is almost at the desired consistency, add the sugar and vanilla. Continue beating until the cream holds droopy, soft peaks.


2. Whipped cream doesn’t hold its shape for more than about 24 hours, and is best used immediately. To make far ahead of time, drop dollops of whipped cream onto a cookie sheet covered with waxed paper, and freeze. Store in a Zip-Lock™ bag.


Makes 2 cups of whipped cream.


Larissa Phillips is a food editor and writer for parenthood.com.
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