Friday, August 21, 2009

17. Dining Alfresco

Here in Maine we are in the midst of an unusually uncomfortable hot spell. After breaking out in a sweat from a simple walk down the block I try to remember the interminable winter with its endless snowstorms as well as this year's June and July with days and days of rain. And when I voice a complaint about the heat people often say Aren't you from Texas? You should be used to this! But the truth is one usually deals with the heat in Texas by turning on the air-conditioning; in most cases that is not possible here. And after a week of 90-degree plus temperatures and equal humidity everything is hot. Even the pets stretch out under the ceiling fans and move as little as possible.

Finally, though, we can eat outdoors on the balcony without wearing a sweater! Despite the sultry house I look forward to preparing a cool meal and dining alfresco after the sun drops below the maple trees. Here's the perfect menu after practicing all day in a hot church or doing paperwork in my sweltering 2nd floor office, and you never have to turn on the stove or oven:

Mediterranean Tuna Salad

Chilled Canataloupe

Hearty Bread with Real Butter

Sauvignon Blanc

I'll include the recipe for the salad, adapted from the August issue of Eating Well.

1 can beans (make it easy and use whatever you have on the shelf)

2 cans water-packed tuna, drained and flaked (5 to 6 ounces each)

1 red bell pepper, finely diced

1/2 cup finely chopped onion (red or Vidalia is nice)

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided

4 teaspoons capers

1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 cup lemon juice, divided

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Freshly ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 cups mixed salad greens

Combine beans, tuna, bell pepper, onion, parsley, capers, rosemary, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons oil. Season with pepper. Combine the remaining lemon juice, oil and salt in a large salad bowl and add the greens, tossing to coat. Divide the greens among 4 plates and top with the tuna salad.

I generally have all these ingredients on hand and am lucky to have these herbs in my garden. Make sure the cantaloupe is perfectly ripe and the wine a little dry, then ENJOY! A scoop of sorbet or a piece of chocolate tops it all off nicely.

Bon appetit!

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