It’s no surprise that in the month of July at Lake Tahoe we’re experiencing a sizzling heat wave. This is a perfect time for no-cook meals. Bring it on: Cold sandwiches with pizazz, chilled salad, and a light-but-sweet, eye-catching dessert with the patriotic colors of red, white and blue. And this holiday I’ve given these dishes a sophisticated European flair for the health and thrill of it.
The sandwich, for starters, comes from Italian-American roots. It’s been said that in Europe it would be a baguette, penned after breads baked in countries like Italy. Mediterranean salads often use fresh herbs, cheeses, and olive oil. And, last but not least, rich and flavorful desserts in Europe include cake, real whipped cream and fresh fruit. To me, a semi-vegetarian at heart, this foodfest makes me smile.
Several years ago, on Independence Day, I paid a visit to my neighbor. While the food didn’t turn out the way we all envisioned it — our dogs celebrated each other. It was my fantasy to roast s’mores on the grill — my host didn’t like sweets. It was her idea to have fish kabobs (but eating my swimming friends is a chore). As the night passed, and our food cravings clashed, the dog duo — one Rat terrier and one Brittany had one heck of a time horseplaying in the yard and scarfing down doggie treats. It was their perfect chemistry that I grew to love and cherish as our neighborly ties grew apart. But surprise! This summer, I find myself nourishing myself with European-style food and canine love (the boys are going to reunite on the Fourth of July).
Italian Hoagie with the Works
4 sourdough hoagie rolls
Mayonnaise with olive oil
4-8 slices provolone cheese
4 slices sliced ham, chicken, turkey
4 large Roma tomatoes, sliced
1 cup spinach lettuce, chopped
1/4 cup black olives, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
4 red onion slices
Ground pepper to taste
Spread mayo on rolls. Layer cheese, tomatoes, spinach, olives, bell pepper, and onion. Sprinkle with pepper. Slice sandwiches diagonally. Serves 4.
Mediterranean Potato Salad
3-4 large red potatoes, unpeeled, cooked, cooled, and cut in chunks
1/4-1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/4-1/2 cup sweet pickle relish, chopped
2-4 tablespoons mayonnaise with olive oil
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
Basil (for garnish)
In a bowl, combine potatoes, celery, and relish. Add mayo, sea salt, and ground pepper. Top with basil. Chill till ready to serve. Serves 6-8.
Lemon Cake with Berries & Cream
1 pound cake mix
1/4 cup European-style butter
2 organic brown eggs
3/4 cup organic 2 percent low-fat milk
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
2 cups fresh strawberries and blueberries
Fresh mint (for garnish)
In a bowl, combine cake mix with beaten eggs, milk, and lemon. Bake at 350 in one 9-by-5 lightly buttered pan for 50-60 minutes or in cupcake pan for about 20 minutes or till firm and golden. Sprinkle with raw sugar. Once done, cool. Spread with whipped cream, topped with strawberries and blueberries. Add mint.
So, as the temperatures are hot, I recommend that you boil the potatoes and bake the pound cake in the early morning as I did. This fun meal is easy to make, great for an outdoor picnic for lunch or dinner. I made the cake and cute cupcakes (ideal if you’re watching your weight or are solo/couple). The end result: No barbecue squabbles. This year it’s going to be sweet dog day afternoons and a senior dog friends celebration. Woof!
Motto: Friends come and go. But good food and special friendships with two-leggers and four-leggers have a way of coming back to you.
— Cal Orey, M.A., is an author and journalist. Her books include “The Healing Powers” series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. (The Healing Powers of Honey and Coffee are offered by the Good Cook Book Club.) SWEET NEWS: The Healing Powers of Vinegar, Olive Oil, Honey will be sold on site at Walmart stores nationwide. Her website is www.calorey.com.