Let Peak Produce Do the Heavy Lifting

Whole roasted red peppers are a vibrant meatless main, and tender lettuces are tossed in an onion-dip dressing.

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By Melissa Clark

Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer, kicks off the official season of laid-back feasting. Whether it’s a simple weeknight dinner or a weekend blowout with friends, summer dining demands easy recipes, or at least ones that don’t require hours in the kitchen when it’s sunny outside. Good thing the season’s bounty of bold, vivid produce makes even low-prep meals feel extra deluxe.

A case in point are Ali Slagle’s roasted red peppers with beans and greens. She roasts the peppers whole, so you don’t even have to slice them and deal with deseeding. But the real magic happens in the oven, where instead of evaporating away, the juices caramelize and condense inside the whole peppers, turning them especially sweet. Velvety pepper flesh mixed with garlicky beans and greens makes for a stunning meal you won’t have to sweat over.

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Roasted Red Peppers With Greens and Beans

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You could serve the peppers with Jesse Szewczyk’s green salad with sour cream and onion dressing. It’s a bright and punchy salad with onion dip vibes, and Jesse makes the whole thing even more fun with an optional crunchy potato chip topping. Think croutons, but camp.

Another low-pain-big-gain dish that flaunts A-list seasonal produce is Christian Reynoso’s verdant asparagus ricotta pasta, adorned with a lemony almond crumble. When combined with pasta water, the ricotta thins out into a creamy sauce that coats the pasta and crisp-tender asparagus spears, with the nuts adding even more texture. A dash or two of hot sauce right at the end adds just the right zip.

But a dish with maybe the biggest wow factor is Abi Balingit’s pastillas de leche (Filipino milk candies, and I swear that’s not just my sweet tooth speaking). In her recipe adapted by Ligaya Mishan, Abi offers a truly brilliant shortcut: Instead of spending hours at the stove reducing milk and sugar to a syrup, she uses a blend of dry milk powder and sweetened condensed milk that mixes together in minutes. You can leave the candies daisy white, or tint them green with matcha powder. Either way, they make an incredibly special, fuss-free treat at the end of any meal.

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That’s all for now. See you Wednesday!

Melissa Clark has been a columnist for the Food section since 2007. She reports on food trends, creates recipes and appears in cooking videos linked to her column, A Good Appetite. She has also written dozens of cookbooks. @MelissaClark Facebook

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