With the start of summer comes an opportunity to find a more casual approach to preparing meals, along with an invitation to make those meals a bit healthier. There is a time and place for elaborate three-course dinners, fancy kitchen gadgets and exotic ingredients. Now is not that time. Now is the time for longer days, bare, sandy feet and spending time outside with friends and family. Summer invites us to kick back and relax over simple, healthy fare that feels lighter to eat and less cumbersome to prepare. When making an effort to eat in support of your health and wellness, resist the urge to overthink and overcomplicate matters. Healthy doesn’t have to be hard!
The following recipes barely feel like recipes at all; rather, they can be seen as suggestions for a creative way of assembling fresh, seasonal ingredients. Feel free to modify them to suit your dietary needs — or the particular contents of your fridge on any given night. Wholesome ingredients are the foundation of any healthy dish, and you don’t have to do much to them in the way of cooking to make them taste great. In fact, you really shouldn’t do much to them; stellar ingredients taste best when left alone, paired simply in the right combinations of flavor and texture. When shopping for produce, buy the best in quality and freshness that you can afford, and buy local and organic when you can.
The recipes here require very little actual cooking; it’s more about some light chopping and assembling. Each one takes less than 20 minutes to prepare and requires only six or fewer ingredients, excluding some pantry staples such as olive oil, salt and pepper. They’re simple enough that you could invite your grandkids into the kitchen to help — or maybe even your spouse (yes, the one who is usually relegated to dish duty). When it comes to cooking for health, it’s pretty simple: The easier it is to do, the more likely you are to actually do it.
You’ll notice a discernible favoring of plants over animal products in these recipes, and that’s no accident. Adding more plants to your diet is the easiest and most effective way to improve your overall health and vitality, and you don’t have to sacrifice flavor to do it. So, whether you’re just back from a leisurely day at the beach or a long day at work, give these three simple summer dinners a try. Your body — and your taste buds — will thank you.
BLT Plus Plus Sandwiches
Servings: 2 hearty sandwiches
You could call it a gourmet version of the old diner standby, but the whole point of a BLT is the lack of pretension. When considering flavor and texture, it is arguably the most perfectly balanced sandwich ever created. This version offers two extra ingredients (hence the “plus plus” in its name) which, when combined with top-notch heirloom tomatoes, fluffy Boston bibb lettuce and a slightly-less-naughty turkey bacon, adds up to an easy summer dinner that is much more than the sum of its parts. The crucial extra ingredients that help take this classic sammy to the next level, rendering it worthy of your dinner table? An over-easy fried egg and a few slices of creamy avocado. Splurge on some fresh-baked sourdough bread from your local bakery, brushed lightly with olive oil and grilled over an open flame if you can, although the toaster works too. And definitely don’t hold the mayo; after all, some classics just never go out of style.
- 4 slices sourdough bread
- 6 slices turkey bacon
- 1 small head Boston bibb lettuce 1 large heirloom tomato
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- 1⁄2 tablespoon butter or olive oil
- 2 cage-free eggs
- 1 avocado
- 2 tablespoons real mayonnaise
Grill or toast bread to desired doneness and set aside. Cook turkey bacon according to package instructions and set aside to cool. Rinse and separate bibb lettuce leaves, then lay flat on a towel to dry completely. Using a serrated knife, slice tomato into half- inch-thick slices, then season with salt and pepper right on the cutting board. In a non-stick pan, fry the eggs over easy with butter or olive oil; you want the yolk to run just a bit when you cut the sandwich in half. Remove the flesh from the avocado and, in a small bowl, smash it with the back of a fork, making it easy to spread onto toast. Assemble the sandwiches: Begin by spreading mayo on one slice of toast and avocado mash on the other. Layer ingredients from the bottom up: toast with avocado mash, tomato slices, bacon, fried egg, lettuce, and top with mayo toast. Use serrated knife to cut the sandwich in half just before serving. Prepare to get messy and savor.