Mouthwatering Summer Meals

Relax and enjoy the tastes of summer with these easy recipes

These summer dinner recipes will help make hosting any cookout a breeze. To make the most of the season, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite summer meal recipes, ideal for enjoying in the backyard with family and friends.

Sous Vide Hanger Steak

Recipe by Chef Matt Provencher of The Foundry in Manchester 

Chef Matt Provencher has been using sous vide since his days at Portsmouth’s Martingale Wharf. He is famous for his work with succulent meats, including BBQ short ribs, and now for his prime rib, served on Thursday evenings at The Foundry. “With sous vide, the beef is always spot-on, staying a bit pink in the center, but it’s a 9-hour process,” says Provencher. Many of his meat cuts are removed from the bag and then quickly seared on the stovetop or in the oven to caramelize. The low-and-slow method breaks down the sinew and fat, rendering tougher meat cuts beautifully fork-tender. Provencher also likes to make soft-boiled eggs in the water bath, claiming they come out perfect every time.

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Photo by Susan Laughlin


1 hanger steak cut into 2, 3 or 4 portions
1 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh thyme leaves, chopped

Start to heat the water bath to 129 degrees (the finish temperature for medium rare) with sous vide tool.

Clean and chop the thyme. In a mid-size bowl, combine the soy, oil and thyme.

Put one steak with marinade in each Ziplock bag, slowly submerging to remove the air. (Follow directions if you have a vacuum sealer.)

Sous vide for two hours. Depending on the thickness of the cut, times can vary. Generally more time will not ruin the perfect outcome — that’s the beauty of sous vide.

Once cooked, cut out of bag, pat dry and rub in salt and pepper. Sear on a very hot stovetop grill or hot cast iron pan for a minute or two. In season, you can finish outside on the grill.

Remove the steak from the grill and let rest for at least five minutes. Slice thinly against the grain and serve, maybe with a chimichurri sauce.

Buying a Sous Vide Tool

Chefs use a powerful heater and circulator that is part of a plastic 18-gallon bin with a cover. No stovetop space is required. Several companies have developed tools for the home cook that attach to a pot and heat and circulate using less than 900 watts. One option is the Joule ($179), totally controlled via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi through your cellphone, which can be flaky. It heats quickly at 1100 watts while the magnet at the bottom holds it upright in a metal pot. The Anova Nano is also highly rated, costs less than $100, and offers manual options for control in addition to Bluetooth and runs at 750 watts.

Tips From Chef Matt Provencher

Plan ahead. Even carrots can take 2 to 3 hours, while a pot roast can take a full day.

Be careful that the water stays up to temperature, as you run the risk of bacteria if the water drops to 130 degrees or below.

Use plenty of water, which helps keep the temperature even for the whole process.

Experiment with vegetables, but maybe not green vegetables. Provencher says he doesn’t like the taste of sous vide asparagus.

Use a Ziplock bag for ingredients. Close the bag slowly while dipping in the water, and let the water pressure remove the air.

Any dish that is normally braised can be made sous vide.

Google recipes for compound butters, egg dishes, etc.

Be careful not to overcook as proteins can get mushy.

Find time and temperature charts online.

Remember that this is an exacting science, but the window of perfection is larger than with other methods.

Zucchini Noodles With Herb Pesto

Recipe by Chef Liz Barbour

Flowers are more than dressing for your garden. Chef Liz Barbour of Hollis wrote a cookbook that features creative culinary uses for edible flowers, fresh herbs and garden vegetables. “Beautifully Delicious: Cooking with Herbs & Edible Flowers” features more than 60 delightful recipes that are as visually appealing as they are clever, but not difficult to master.

As an avid gardener, Barbour offers tips for harvesting, storing and using flowers in baking, cooking and garnishing. The frosting on the cake is several recipes for adding flower power to drinks, both potent or not, that create an additional layer of flavor and a large dollop of eye appeal.

Zucchini Noodles With Herb Pesto

1 1/2 lbs. zucchini
(about 2 medium)
1/2 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 cups baby spinach
1 cup loosely packed flat-leaf
parsley, stems removed
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
3 tablespoons chopped mint
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt
Pepper, freshly ground
Optional: 1/3 cup pine nuts, slivered almonds or sunflower seeds

Using a spiralizer, make noodles out of the zucchini and set aside.

Place the oil and mayonnaise into a food processor. Add the spinach, parsley, rosemary, mint, garlic and Parmesan cheese (and nuts, if using). Process until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Toss 3/4 cup of pesto with the noodles, adding more to taste.

If you would like to serve this dish hot, don’t cook it on the stovetop. Zucchini can get soggy if heated too long. Chef Barbour heats the pesto-dressed zucchini in the microwave until warmed through, about 3 minutes for the al dente texture. Leftover pesto can be refrigerated up to five days or frozen for later use.

Barbour suggests using the pesto to elevate the flavors of chicken, sirloin, pork and seafood. Or spread it on sandwiches or as a side to scrambled eggs. In the book she describes how the above recipe can be made into zucchini herb pancakes with the addition of an egg and breadcrumbs.

P.S. Zucchini blossoms are the perfect garnish.

Slow Cooker Venison Tacos

Recipe taken from “New Hampshire’s Wild Eats” by Becky Johnson

How do you cook a moose, squirrel or bear? Becky Johnson, writer and cooking enthusiast, saw the need for an easy but sophisticated cookbook that would appeal to hunters, anglers and locavores. As a public affairs employee for New Hampshire Fish and Game, she gathered and tested the recipes for “New Hampshire’s Wild Eats” to support the adventurous cook’s creativity with local wild game. The 50 recipes span options from local seafood to bear, moose, squirrel, rabbit and grouse, with each recipe adding an interesting twist — the turkey soup has a touch of turmeric, and a pheasant is glazed with pomegranate juice. The spiral binding makes the book easy to use, and the beautiful photos of each dish will inspire you to get cooking. Find plenty of suggestions for substituting farmed proteins as well, so you don’t need a rifle or fishing pole to enjoy this well-researched compilation. But, if you’re an outdoors person (and a good shot), this is the book that will help you make the most of your seasonal harvest.

Slow Cooker Venison Tacos

Yield: 8 Servings


6 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 venison roast (3 to 4 pounds), room temperature
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup real mayonnaise
3/4 cup fresh cilantro, rinsed, dried and chopped fine
1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper
1 gala or Fuji apple, peeled and julienned
1/2 Spanish onion, chopped small
3 cups green cabbage, shredded
1 cup jicama, peeled and julienned
Corn (16 each to double wrap) or flour (8 each)taco-size tortillas


Combine the beef stock and tomato paste in the slow cooker, and then warm for about 10 minutes on the slow cooker’s high setting.

Combine the cumin, coriander, chipotle powder, chili powder, pepper, garlic powder, salt and flour, and then coat the venison roast on all sides with the mixture. Sprinkle any remaining spices into the slow cooker.

Add the olive oil to a skillet, and over medium-high heat, brown venison roast on all sides. Place the venison roast in the slow cooker and cook on high, covered, for about 4 hours, or until the meat is tender and falling apart.

Allow the meat to rest for 30 minutes. Shred apart the meat and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, honey, mayonnaise, cilantro and olive oil; add salt and pepper to taste. In a mixing bowl, combine the apple, onion, cabbage and jicama. Add the sauce to the cabbage blend and toss, thoroughly coating the ingredients. Cover the slaw and refrigerate for 1 hour, then toss before serving.

Heat tortillas, and then fill each with shredded meat and slaw.

Ricotta Gnocchi

Recipe by Chef Amanda Pomer

Both Tuscan Kitchen restaurants, the beautiful Italian eateries in Salem and Portsmouth, have separate markets that are filled with artisan Italian food supplies for making your own Italian-inspired meal. The aisles are filled with imported goods plus Tuscan’s own pasta (frozen and fresh) and sauces (fresh and jarred), plus olive oils, truffled honey, well-seasoned sausages, hearty breads, pastries and an array of gelatos, oh my! Sometimes it takes a little help to figure out how best to use these ingredients. Fortunately, they offer a cooking school, La Scuola Culinaria, to learn the art of pasta-making and more. Here instructor and chef Amanda Pomer shows how to make gnocchi with ricotta. It’s much easier to master than potato gnocchi.

Ricotta Gnocchi Recipe

7 ounces OO flour
2 large eggs
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
2 tablespoons black truffle oil
9 ounces ricotta impastata (otherwise drain
excess liquid from regular ricotta)
Semolina flour to keep gnocchi separate on cookie sheet

Combine ricotta with eggs and add Parmigiano Reggiano and truffle oil. Mix well. Slowly incorporate the flour and knead briefly until the dough is a smooth consistency. Cut the ball into four pieces and roll out with your fingers into a 1-inch diameter tubes. Cut lengths into 1-inch pieces.

Cup the small pieces in the palm of your hand and roll fork tines across the piece to give the gnocchi some ridges for the sauce to eventually settle.

Place small batches in rapidly boiling salted water and remove when they begin to float (just a few minutes). Be careful not to overcook, as they will become too soft to work with properly.

The gnocchi at this point can be refrigerated or frozen for later use.

Take the pieces and toss them in a saucepan with about 1/4 cup of butter. Heat through for about one to two minutes. Sprinkle with slivered sage or chopped truffle pieces (if desired) and/or drizzle with more truffle oil.

Categories: Food & Drink, Recipes, Summer Food and Recipes