Good-bye Summer

We’ve had a second summer here in southern Ontario in September. It was over 30 degrees Celsius (close to 90F) during the day for about a week now, which is actually hotter and more humid than it has been for most of the summer. This has the effect of stretching out the summer, especially since we can still get good corn at the market. And it causes me to look back on the recipes I’ve discovered this summer.

I had the chance to make a lovely summer lunch with two dear friends who are both fans of Yotem Ottolenghi’s wonderful, excessively complicated recipes. We ate outside and enjoyed cod with spicy tomato sauce, which I made a few times this summer, despite it being more involved than my usual fish dinner. We had it with basmati and wild rice with chickpeas, currants, and herbs and an Ethiopian lentil stew. The fish and rice recipes are from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook, which has enough great recipes to make it worth buying. In truth, though, I rarely make one of his recipes without skipping a step or leaving out an ingredient. In the case of the rice, it was the fried onions. It was still delicious.

Another staple worth mentioning is Sarah Britton’s Best Lentil Salad Ever. Might as well just have this in the fridge at all times. It can be lunch, dinner, picnic, potluck, and is made from pantry staples. I like to dress mine up with fresh greens like mizuna.

Another recent discovery is Melissa Clark’s fusili with lemon, capers, and roasted cauliflower from her new cookbook Dinner: Changing the Game. It comes together fast and is a great mix of flavors. You can add chickpeas or cannellini beans to make it a little heartier. The cookbook is worth a look, too, because Clark is a brilliant recipe writer who keeps things simple and streamlined but the flavors come out interesting.

Another Melissa Clark standout is her broccoli salad recipe. Okay, I haven’t made this recipe as written, but I’ve used it as an inspiration to make a raw broccoli salad, letting the broccoli “cook” in the dressing over a couple of hours. I made it with olive oil, lemon, and garlic because I was traveling and that was what I had on hand in our beach condo and then in the little apartment that we rented in Paris for a week. It proved to be just the right thing to come home to after a long day of sightseeing when you only have the energy for a very simple supper. This will keep for a day or two because the broccoli won’t wilt like salad greens will. One of these days I will get around to making Melissa Clark’s actual recipe, which created a quiet commotion on the foodie-net when it appeared in the NYT last spring.

Looking back over these recipes, none of them are exclusively summer recipes, they’re just recipes that I happened to make over this summer. So I can — and will — keep making them into the fall. The pasta with cauliflower will be in our regular dinner rotation, and the lentil salad should find a permanent spot in the fridge. The past couple of days the weather has turned more autumnal, and now we look forward to the season of root vegetables, soups, and stews.