In the summer, I crave light, clean foods, cold and crisp like a wedge of iceberg lettuce that I would normally bypass for the lack of flavor and nutrients. But it has its appeal when taken straight from the fridge, hacked into large pieces and dressed with a puree of fresh tomatoes, a knob of ginger and fresh squeezed lime. Or chilled watermelon soup made with frozen cut up watermelon, fresh mint and stevia, all pureed in a blender. Freezing the watermelon keeps the soup chilled and ready to eat.

My dinner meals stay lighter too and I don’t need as much cooked foods. I like to garnish my fresh raw salads with “croutons” made out of cubed roasted eggplant or zucchini that are marinated in basil, oregano, garlic, crushed red pepper and roasted in a preheated 400 degree oven till half its size, maybe 15, 20 minutes. I will toss the warm croutons with a huge bowl of spinach dressed with lemon or balsamic vinegar with halved cherry tomatoes. It is “meaty” enough that I don’t need anything else… well, maybe some dark chocolate but I don’t really need that; I want that!

Another variation is kabocha squash, butternut squash or sweet potato, peeled, cubed and tossed with little butter or coconut butter and sea salt. Dressing up your salads with roasted vegetable croutons keeps your summer dinners light without over doing it on the starches or cooked foods.

Roasting garlic cloves with its skin intact is also brilliant. I like to toss that in the oven with a little sea salt until nice and slightly charred. The slower the better so you can keep the oven down to 350 degrees and let it sit for a while, half an hour or so. Toss the roasted garlic, skin and all in a bowl of spinach or arugula, sprinkle some raw pine nuts and lemon juice and squeeze out the garlic flesh as you go along. It is so divine!

If this doesn’t seem enough of a meal to you, you’re right, it isn’t! Did I mention the soups? I love raw soups to start like a Chunky Gazpacho Soup that is more like a Bloody Mary with 5 medium fresh vine ripe tomatoes pureed with 2 cloves of garlic, scant tablespoon of horseradish, teaspoon of celery seeds, a drizzle of hot sauce and lemon juice to taste. Finely dice celery, red bell pepper and cucumber, and add that to the puree. Season with kosher salt and coarse black pepper. I make batches of this soup and freeze. Remember the dressing for the iceberg earlier on this post? It makes a great soup! I know because I served it at a dinner party alongside Raw Daikon Rolls with Cilantro & Mint and my dear friend, Jen, picked up the bowl, stuck a spoon in it and said, “OH MY GOD! I could eat this like a soup! Just add more tomatoes and maybe the rear end of a jalapeno for some heat. Garnish it with fresh cilantro and a wedge of lime.

Cooked soups that has been chilled and garnished with the above croutons and/or garlic is a great way to finish off a mostly raw meal. Chilled Cauliflower Soup garnished with some more eggplant croutons is a perfect pairing. A head of cauliflower usually makes a lot of soup but you never know till you remove the outer leaves how much “cauliflower’ there really is. Believe me, I’ve been disappointed many times! So if you get 4 cups of florets, that’s fine. Saute a medium leek, chopped and rinsed of dirt, inner core removed, 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced, sprinkle of crushed red pepper and a couple of stalks of thyme. you can use a wee bit of butter or coconut butter. Let it saute slowly till the leeks are soft. Add the cauliflower florets and add enough vegetable stock or water to cover. Let it simmer 20 minutes or more till florets are bendy. Puree in a blender and you can sit down to it right away or eat it later on when it has been chilled. Garnish it with the eggplant croutons and fresh thyme leaves. For Zucchini Soup, substitute the cauliflower for zucchini and the thyme for basil. Keep the rest of the ingredients the same.

Nice chatting with you! I’ll throw out some more recipes soon!