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It's Hot, So Keep It Quick and Simple

August 15, 1996|MARIE SIMMONS | Simmons is the author of the newly released "Fresh & Fast" (Chapters Publishing)

Summer's hottest months are upon us. The tomatoes are bursting with flavor, the corn is sweet and the fresh berries are brimming in their baskets.

At this time of year I try to keep the preparation to a minimum. I would much rather be outside when the weather is so beautiful. A trip to the farmer's market will take care of my grocery list.

For this menu, I quickly boil tiny, freshly dug potatoes and then toss them with chopped fresh dill from the garden and a warm chopped hard-cooked egg. Drizzle sweet corn and thick slices of tomato with a fruity extra-virgin olive oil. Sprinkle the corn with freshly ground black pepper and the tomatoes with a mixture of chopped fresh mint, basil and garlic. Season a bowl of fresh mozzarella balls with crushed red pepper and serve with squares of roasted red pepper and fresh basil.

All this food can be served at room temperature. I usually set out the filled platters and bowls on the counter. When everything is ready, dinner is served.

For dessert, serve a mix of seasonal berries that have been flavored with a little honey and topped with a scoop of Italian lemon ice.

WARM NEW POTATO SALAD WITH HARD-COOKED EGG AND DILL

2 pounds small boiling potatoes, halved

1 egg

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup snipped fresh dill

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Place potatoes and egg in large saucepan. Cover with water and bring to boil. Boil gently until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Carefully drain and peel potatoes.

Lift out hard-cooked egg and rinse with cold water to cool. Peel. Cut egg into quarters and then into large dice.

Combine potatoes and wine in large bowl and toss to coat. Add egg, dill, oil and salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional data not available.

TOMATOES WITH BASIL, MINT AND GARLIC

2 large tomatoes, thickly sliced

Kosher salt

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup packed mint and basil leaves

1 or 2 cloves garlic

Arrange tomatoes in single layer on large platter. Sprinkle each with dash of salt. Drizzle evenly with olive oil.

Place mint, basil and garlic on cutting board and finely chop together. Sprinkle over tomatoes.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional data not available.

MOZZARELLA BALLS WITH BASIL AND ROASTED RED BELL PEPPERS

2 roasted and peeled red bell peppers, drained and patted dry

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

8 to 12 (1-inch) mozzarella balls in water, drained

Dash crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves

Cut peppers into squares about same size as mozzarella balls (about 1 inch). Place in small bowl and add 1 tablespoon olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

Combine mozzarella balls, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes and dash of salt in separate bowl. Toss to coat. Add roasted red peppers and basil and stir to combine. Serve at room temperature.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional data not available.

HONEY-SWEETENED BERRIES WITH ITALIAN LEMON ICE

1 pint strawberries, sliced

1 pint blueberries

1/2 pint raspberries

2 tablespoons honey

1 pint Italian lemon ice

Combine berries in large bowl. Add honey and gently stir to combine. Let stand. At serving time, divide berries among 4 dessert bowls. Top each with 1 scoop Italian lemon ice.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional data not available.

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