Simple Art of Cooking: Simple Summer Recipes

Fresh, light and delicious.
Fresh, light and delicious. Photo credit: c8501089/iStock/Thinkstock

I have a yen for Chinese food—just a quick and tasty stir fry. The basics, which are easy to figure out if you’ve eaten Chinese food enough times, are simply garlic, ginger, scallions, vegetables such as bell pepper, snow pea pods, the poultry, meat or fish in bite size cubes, soy sauce, of course, and a bit of roasted sesame seed oil for heightened flavor and therein lies your homemade Chinese stir fry for two. Prepping ahead makes a quick meal with a side of rice.

I love beets and roast them fresh from the farmers market—they keep in the fridge for up to a week, along with fabulous crisp lettuces, which I wash and dry a portion of to keep fresh in the fridge for a couple of days by rolling the lettuce up in paper towel. Cherry tomatoes are a cheery standby and when ready to toss my greens in a bowl I simply peel a roasted beet or two, cut into cubes over the lettuce, halve the cherry tomatoes and, if a ripe avocado is on hand, dice it into the salad as well. Extra-virgin olive oil balanced with lemon or lime juice, and a bit of red wine or balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and voilà a delicious salad for an evening meal. I do like my dinner!


For two or double for four*

1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons water
1/2 pound skinless chicken thighs or breast meat, trimmed and cut into 1” cubes
3 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
kosher salt
1 red bell, trimmed of core and seeds, and diced
1/3 pound snow pea pods, strings removed
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons grated ginger
3 scallions, timed and sliced on the diagonal
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon roasted sesame oil

1. Mix cornstarch and water until cornstarch is thoroughly dissolved, put in the chicken pieces and toss to coat.

2. Heat the oil in a medium size wok or 10” nonstick skillet and, when oil is hot, add the chicken all at once, separating the pieces with chopsticks. Stir, sauté for 3 to 4 minutes until lightly golden tossing the pieces frequently and season with salt to taste. Transfer chicken to a side dish and set aside.

3. Add additional tablespoon oil if necessary and put in the bell pepper and snow pea pods. Stir, sauté vegetables for about 3 minutes then add the garlic, ginger and scallions, stirring the mixture frequently for another 2 to 3 minutes. Return the chicken to the vegetables and toss for another 3 minutes. Season with soy salt, sesame oil and salt to taste and toss mixture vigorously. Serve hot with plain or
brown rice.

*Note on doubling—If doubling a recipe, go 1 to 1 1/2 way with ingredients such as oil, and sharp flavors such as garlic, ginger, soy, etc.


Serves 3 to 4

1 head red leaf or butter lettuce, washed and spin-dried
1 to 2 roasted golden beets, peeled and diced
8 to 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 ripe avocado, cubed (optional)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons lemon or lime juice
1 teaspoon red wine or balsamic vinegar

1. Tear well dried lettuce leaves into pieces in a salad bowl. Scatter the beets and cherry tomatoes over the lettuce along with the cubed avocado, if using. Spoon over the olive oil circling the salad mix, sprinkle with salt and pepper and carefully toss. Add the citrus and vinegar and toss with abandon. Taste to adjust seasoning as necessary and serve at once. 

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