Summer isn’t over yet, and what better time is there to be a cook, gardener, or just a food lover? Fresh vegetables are spilling out of every garden and farm, markets are stocked with fantastic fresh ingredients, and it’s warm enough to grill and eat outside. Summer is a great time to experiment with new ingredients and flavors, and on hot days you can turn a salad into a meal without turning on the oven.
If you’re following the Paleo Diet®, you can enjoy everything that summer has to offer. Your local farmers will have plenty of meat for the grill, and you can craft meals around your favorite seasonal vegetables. Here are a few summer recipe ideas (really more like meal blueprints) to whet your appetite:
A New Take on Salad
If regular lettuce is getting repetitive, try spicing up your salads with different salad greens. Baby kale, arugula, mustard greens, and radicchio all make excellent salads with a bit of extra flavor and texture. Top your salad with radishes, herbs, microgreens, or even shredded beets for another layer of flavor, and finish it with your protein of choice (grilled skirt steak is a favorite). A simple dressing of olive oil and lemon juice completes your satisfying salad. As a bonus, these different salad greens can offer more nutritional benefits than plain lettuce.
Salsa with a Twist
What could scream “summer!” more than spicy, tangy salsa? With some creativity, you can make a variety of different salsas with Paleo ingredients, and then use your creations to top all kinds of dishes. For a fruity salsa that’s great with fish, try combining finely chopped peaches, mangoes, melons, or pineapples with lime juice, cilantro, and a bit of jalapeno pepper. For more crunch, try a cucumber salsa: diced cucumber and sweet peppers mixed with red onion, cider vinegar, and your favorite hot peppers. You could add avocado pieces to either of these salsas to turn them into a heartier side dish.
Go Beyond Steak on the Grill
If you’re getting the grill fired up to cook some grass-fed steaks or lamb chops, why not make use of it for other dishes as well? While grilled eggplant, zucchini, and peppers are classic summer side dishes, you can get even more creative when cooking with fire. Have you ever tried grilled Napa cabbage? Slice a large cabbage in half, cover the cut sides in olive oil and herbs, then wrap each half in foil and grill until the cabbage is tender. This technique is also great with radicchio and escarole.
Herbs add a terrific punch of flavor to all kinds of dishes, and there’s a whole world of herbal ingredients you probably haven’t tried yet. Papalo, epazote, lemongrass, kaffir lime — they can all add a new twist to your salads, grilled meat, and vegetable dishes. As long as they haven’t been processed with non-Paleo ingredients (and you should use plain, fresh herbs for maximum flavor,) any herb you choose will be Paleo-friendly.
While the Paleo Diet doesn’t include processed sugar, there are some great desserts you can make with
fruit. For a cool treat that’s just as good as sorbet, freeze chunks of your favorite fruit and blend them until they’re the consistency of soft-serve ice cream. Banana, mango, and strawberry are all good choices for this dessert. A simple fruit salad can be livened up with fresh mint, crushed walnuts, and a squeeze of lime juice for a tasty post-meal treat.
With these basic ideas, let your imagination run wild and create a summer full of delicious, Paleo-friendly meals. We can help you find more fantastic recipes and learn more about the basics of the Paleo Diet.