Watermelon Mint Salad

We returned home and were greeted with a CSA box that declared a much hotter climate. We had three melons, tomatoes, corn, hot peppers, and more. How do you make watermelon a little more interesting? Here’s another summer recipe for you that isn’t really a recipe. Just good summer produce and very little prep.

Watermelon Mint Salad

watermelon
a splash of balsamic vinegar
a handful of mint leaves

Open, seed, and cube your watermelon. Place as much as you’d like to eat in a mixing bowl. Add a few splashes of balsamic vinegar. Chop mint leaves, sprinkle, and toss. Let sit for about an hour.

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How to Make Grilled Pizza

pizzaSummer vegetables make for great pizzas. It’s time to highlight those delicious tomatoes. Grilled pizza comes close to simulating the brick oven pizza that you might find in restaurants (and is always an impressive party trick.) If you’re organized, it’s not too hard and it’s worth every bit of work. The key to the amazing flavor really is the garlic oil. Try different variations of your own – different veggies, with or without the pesto – but never skip the oil.

Dough:

Makes 4 personal pizzas.

2 1/4 cups bread flour
2 tsp. sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp. yeast
1 cup water, warm
2 tbls. extra-virgin olive oil

  1. For the dough, mix dry ingredients (including yeast). With a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, add water and oil. Mix and knead until smooth. You want it to be elastic, not sticky.  Move dough to  a clean bowl, sprayed with olive oil. Cover and let rise for 1-2 hours. (This step is very forgiving.)Stack dough between heavily floured parchment.
  2. Deflate dough and divide it into 4 pieces. With cupped hands, roll each into a nice ball and let sit, covered, for 15 minutes.
  3. Cut 4 squares of parchment paper. With a rolling pin, roll each dough ball out to about 8 inches. Stack between heavily floured parchment paper. (Sticky dough is your worst enemy during this process. Err towards using extra flour.)

Toppings:

3 balls mozzarella, fresh or homemade, sliced into small pieces
3 or so delicious tomatoes, sliced thinly and patted dry between two washcloths
fresh garlic oil
pestoOrganize your toppings.
fresh basil or oregano, coarsely chopped
kosher salt

Prepare your toppings and lay them  out on a tray. You want everything to be easily on hand when you go out to grill. Be ready to brush on the oil with a pastry brush (or improvise with a paper towel folded into a tight rectangle.)

Time to grill:

When you prepare your grill, heap charcoal on one side of the grill. This creates a hot side and a cooler side. Arm yourself with tongs, a large spatula, and an empty cutting board. If you have an assistant around, they can help in case panic sets in, but don’t let them tell you any interesting stories. Pay attention! Constant vigilance!

  1. Grill only 2 pizzas at once. Peel off parchment and place dough on hot side of the grill. Cook for about 1-2 minutes. (Don’t be afraid to check the bottom.)After cooking one side, remove from grill.
  2. Remove pizzas from grill and place, cooked side up, on the empty board. Top your pizza in this order:  garlic oil, pesto
    (if you’re using), cheese, tomatoes, sprinkle of kosher salt over the whole thing.
  3. Return pizzas to cool side of grill. Cover with lid. Cook for about 2 minutes until cheese is melted. (Check often.)  Remove and keep pizzas warm in oven. (If your fire gets away from you and the bottom starts to burn before the cheese melts, there is no shame in melting your cheese under the broiler.  It happens.) Remove from heat and sprinkle with fresh herbs.
  4. Repeat with 2 remaining pizzas.

Fresh Peas with Minted Butter

shelled peasSince it was the hottest day of the year today, it just seemed right that I should sit on the porch and shell peas, picked fresh from the garden.

2 cups fresh, shelled peas
1 tbls. fresh mint, about 2 small sprigs
1 tbls. butter
salt, pepper

To shell peas: Snap off the tops and pull off the string. Unzip the pod and run your finger along the peas. (Don’t be worried if a few bounce on the porch. That’s supposed to happen.)

Put a pot of water on to boil. In a small skillet, melt the butter over low. Add mint and stir. Keep on low. When the water boils, blanch peas for 2 minutes exactly. Toss with the minted butter and season.

Note: Peas are one of those veggies that you want to eat right away, so try to eat them on the same day that you buy them or pick them. If you come across some at the market, they may be called English shelling peas. The pods will look a little worn and tough. The peas inside are sweet and tasty.