Summer is finally here, and with it comes some of the easiest cooking of the year.
Local farmers markets are offering fresh vegetables for salads or grilling, and nothing beats burgers, hot dogs, steak, chicken, chops or fish cooked on the grill.
Not everyone is a fan of leftovers, but I like to cook extra meats when the grill is hot, then warm them up the next day and serve them with a fresh salad, fries or a steamed vegetable. Green beans and zucchini are now in season; the always popular tomatoes and corn will be here before we know it. Locally grown salad fixings include lettuces, arugula, kale, cabbages and radishes.
Another use of leftovers is to add strips of cold steak to a mixture of greens, lettuces and vegetables for a hearty salad served with a chunk of fresh bread.
If heating up the kitchen for a hearty meal is unappealing in warm weather, there are options to avoid that kind of cooking. A rotisserie chicken is a good entree when you bring it home, and any leftovers can be turned into a quick stir-fry or chicken salad for a meal another night.
Another way to keep the kitchen cool is to use your slow cooker. While most of us think of slow-cooker meals as wintertime fare, there are plenty of lighter dishes that can be appropriate for summer. You don’t have to make soups; instead make buffalo wings, pulled meats, taco fillings and desserts in your slow cooker. Or you can use it for this tasteofhome.com recipe for peach pork chops. This recipe calls for canned peaches, but in a few weeks you should be able to find good local peaches at farm markets and farms.
Serve these chops warm with the peaches as a side dish or piled on top.
2 bone-in center-cut pork loin chops (7 ounces each)
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 can (8 ¼ ounces) sliced peaches in extra-light syrup
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
½ cup water
1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon dried basil
Dash to 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
In a small skillet, brown pork chops in oil; drain. Transfer to a 1½ quart slow cooker.
Drain peaches, reserving juice. In a bowl, combine the tomato sauce, water, soy sauce, rosemary, thyme, basil, cayenne and reserved peach juice; pour over pork. Top with peaches. Cover and cook on low until pork is tender, about 5 hours.