When it comes to summer, there are those who want to spend every moment outdoors enjoying the heat and those who prefer to stay inside with the air conditioning turned on.
But whether you love it or hate it, there’s one thing that everyone can agree on – as August continues to heat up, no one wants to be in the kitchen.
That’s why light meals and thirst-quenching drinks are a must this summer. And using Michigan-grown ingredients helps to ensure that every meal is fresh, healthy and delicious.
Not planning to turn on the oven this summer? You’re not alone. Here are some quick and easy recipes for salads and drinks that feature Michigan-grown fruit and vegetables.
Watermelon, feta and mint salad
Watermelon is a summer favorite for people of all ages, and Michigan’s watermelons are bursting with just the right amount of seasonal sweetness. They’re in season –– and in store –– starting in early August.
For a light meal, serve a watermelon, feta and mint salad. Watermelon and feta have the ideal balance of sweet and salty, and the mint adds the perfect freshness. Best of all, the salad is easy to make.
In a large bowl, toss the watermelon cubes and crumbled feta. Mix in the mint leaves. Serve as is, or drizzle with a balsamic reduction. To make the reduction, whisk the balsamic vinegar in a saucepan with the sugar. Cook the reduction over medium heat for three to four minutes or until syrupy.
Spinach and red pepper salad
Spinach and red peppers are in season during Michigan summers, and a simple salad that brings together the best of both flavors can be on the menu for any weeknight meal.
To make the salad, mix the spinach and red bell pepper in a large bowl with most of the grated parmesan cheese, reserving some of it to top off the salad. In a separate bowl, whisk the extra virgin olive oil and rice vinegar. Toss the salad with the oil and vinegar dressing and top with extra parmesan cheese.
Michigan cucumbers are a summer staple that are in season from July to September. Enjoy them in an easy-to-make light summer salad –– a great vegan option.
Make a simple cucumber salad by salting the thinly sliced cucumbers and letting them sweat in a large bowl for an hour. Drain the liquid. Toss the cucumbers with the thinly sliced red onion. Meanwhile, over high heat, combine the white vinegar and granulated sugar in a pan. Stir for three to five minutes. Pour the liquid over the cucumbers and onions, then add the minced dill. Refrigerate one to two hours and serve cold.
Michigan blueberries add color and flavor to salads, yogurts and desserts –– and they’re even more delicious in drinks such as a blueberry martini.
Fill a cocktail shaker with the vodka, blueberry liqueur, blueberries and ice cubes. Shake and strain into a martini glass and add a few blueberries to top it off. For more sweetness, add some simple syrup –– equal parts sugar and water –– to taste.
Lemonade stands remind us of childhood. And by adding Michigan-grown peaches, this drink becomes a favorite for all ages.
To make a peach lemonade, start with the peach mixture. Bring to a boil the water, peaches and sugar. Simmer for five to seven minutes and allow it to cool. When the mixture is cool, strain and discard the skins. Add the peach mixture to the lemon juice and pour over ice. Add slices of lemon if desired.
Sparkling cucumber water
Cucumber-infused water is a refreshing, delicious alternative to water infused with lemon or lime. And it’s easy to make. Simply slice a cucumber and add it to a pitcher or carafe of water.
You also can take the drink up a notch when substituting sparkling water and adding a few ingredients.
Pour the sparkling water and add the cucumber and lemon into a carafe with some ice cubes. Add some fresh m…