Culinary Curious

Hot Summers Night Menu Photo: Carl Tremblay

Hot Summers Night Menu

Presented by America's Test Kitchen

Couscous with Carrots and Chickpeas

Do not use Israeli couscous in this recipe; its larger size requires a different cooking method. For an accurate measurement of boiling water, bring a full kettle of water to a boil, then measure out the desired amount.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups plain couscous
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 1 (15ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro or parsley

Method

  1. Toast couscous with 2 tablespoons olive oil in 12inch skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes; transfer to large bowl.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add carrots and onion and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and coriander and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to bowl with couscous. Stir boiling water, chickpeas, and 1 teaspoon salt into couscous. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit until couscous is tender, about 12 minutes.
  3. Fluff couscous with fork, breaking up any clumps. Combine remaining 3 tablespoons oil and lemon juice in small bowl, then drizzle over couscous and gently toss to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (Couscous can be refrigerated for up to 1 day; bring to room temperature or microwave, covered, until hot, 3 to 5 minutes before serving.) Fold in cilantro and serve warm or at room temperature.

Tomato and Mozzarella Tart

To thaw frozen puff pastry, allow it to sit either in the refrigerator for 24 hours or on the counter for 30 to 60 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 2 (9 1/2 by 9inch) sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (2 cups)
  • 4 plum tomatoes, cored and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese (1 cup)
  • 2 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Method

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Overlap sheets of pastry by 1 inch in middle of large piece of parchment. Smooth out seam with rolling pin. Brush edges of pastry with egg, then fold over short edges by 1 inch. Fold long edges of pastry over by 1 inch and press lightly to secure. Brush folded edges with egg.
  2. Carefully transfer parchment with pastry onto rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle 1 cup Parmesan evenly over center of pastry. Using fork, poke holes in center of shell. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake until golden brown and crisp, 13 to 15 minutes longer. Transfer to wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes. (Pastry crust can held at room temperature for up to 2 days.) Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees.
  3. Meanwhile, spread tomato slices out over several layers of paper towels, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let sit for 30 minutes, then blot dry with paper towels. Combine 2 tablespoons oil, garlic, pinch salt, and pinch pepper in small bowl. In separate bowl, mix remaining 1 cup Parmesan, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, ricotta, and mozzarella and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Spread ricotta mixture evenly into baked crust. Shingle tomato slices widthwise on top of cheese, then brush with garlic oil. Bake tart until shell is deep golden brown and cheese is melted, 15 to 17 minutes. Let cool on wire rack for 5 minutes, then sprinkle with basil. Slide tart onto cutting board, cut into pieces, and serve.

Even Easier, don't have time to make a tomato tart? Thinly slice 6 large tomatoes and 11/2 pounds fresh mozzarella, then shingle them, alternating, on large platter. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle lightly with extra-virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil. Serve with sliced bread or Garlic Toasts.

Zucchini Ribbons with Shaved Parmesan

Using in-season zucchini, good olive oil, and high-quality Parmesan is crucial in this simple side dish. Our preferred brand of regular (not extra-virgin) olive oil is DaVinci. Be ready to serve this dish shortly after it is assembled.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds zucchini
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
  • 6 ounces Parmesan cheese, shaved

Method

  1. Using vegetable peeler or mandoline, slice zucchini lengthwise into very thin ribbons. (Zucchini ribbons can be refrigerated for up to 2 hours before continuing.) Gently toss zucchini ribbons with salt and pepper, then arrange attractively on shallow platter. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, sprinkle with mint and Parmesan, and serve.

Grilled Shrimp Skewers with Lemon-Garlic Sauce

You will need eight 14inch metal skewers for this recipe. Using a warmed bowl in step 5 to toss the cooked shrimp with the butter sauce will help keep the shrimp warm for serving.

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
  • Lemon wedges

Method

  1. Pat shrimp dry with paper towels. Thread shrimp tightly onto 8 metal skewers, alternating direction of heads and tails. Brush shrimp with oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle one side of each skewer with sugar.
  2. Cook butter, lemon juice, garlic, pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt together in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until butter melts, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
  3. For a charcoal grill: Open bottom grill vent completely. Light large chimney starter mounded with charcoal briquettes (7 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
  4. For a gas grill: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave all burners on high.
  5. Clean and oil cooking grate. Place shrimp skewers, sugared side down, on grill. Use tongs to push shrimp together on skewer if they have separated. Grill (covered if using gas) until shrimp are lightly charred, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip shrimp skewers and continue to grill (covered if using gas) until second side is pink, about 2 -minutes longer.
  6. Remove skewers from grill and gently slide shrimp off skewers into large, warmed bowl. Toss shrimp with warm butter sauce and parsley. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Freeform Summer Fruit Tart

Makes one 8-inch tart, serving 6

Though we prefer the tart made with a mix of stone fruits and berries (our favorite combinations were plums and raspberries, peaches and blueberries, and apricots and blackberries), you can use only one type of fruit if you prefer. Peeling the stone fruit (even the peaches) is not necessary. Taste the fruit before adding sugar to it; use the lesser amount if the fruit is very sweet, more if it is tart. However much sugar you use, do not add it to the fruit until you are ready to fill and form the tart. Once baked, the tart is best eaten warm, or within 3 or 4 hours, although leftovers do reheat well in a 350-degree oven. Excellent accompaniments are vanilla ice cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream or creme fraiche.

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (7 1/2 ounces), plus additional for work surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks), cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 - 6 tablespoons water (ice cold)

Fruit Filling

  • 1 pound peaches, nectarines, apricots, or plums
  • 1 cup berries(about 1/2 dry pint)
  • 3-5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar for sprinkling

Method

The amount of water that the dough will require depends on the ambient humidity; in a dry environment, it may need more water, in a humid environment, less. The dough can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight or tightly wrapped in two sheets of plastic wrap and frozen for up to one week. If at any point the dough becomes soft, sticky, and difficult to work with during rolling, chill it until it becomes workable.

For the dough

  1. In food processor, pulse flour and salt to combine, about three 1-second pulses. Scatter butter pieces over flour, then pulse until texture resembles coarse bread crumbs and butter pieces about the size of small peas remain, ten to twelve 1-second pulses. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon water over mixture and process 1 second; repeat until dough begins to form small curds and holds together when pinched with fingers.
  2. Empty dough onto work surface; dough will be crumbly (if dough has large dry areas, sprinkle additional 2 teaspoons water over dry areas and incorporate by gently fluffing entire amount of dough with fingers). Using bench scraper, gather dough into rough mound about 12 inches long and 4 inches wide (mound should be perpendicular to edge of counter). Beginning from farthest end, use heel of a hand to smear about one sixth of dough against work surface away from you. Repeat until all dough has been worked. Using bench scraper, gather dough again and repeat. Dough should now be cohesive. Form dough into 4-inch disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until cold and firm but malleable, about 1 hour.

For the filling

  1. During last 30 minutes of chilling, prepare fruit. Halve and pit stone fruit and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges.
  2. Gently wash and dry berries. Combine fruit in medium bowl (you should have about 3 cups); set aside. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.

To Assemble and Bake

  1. (If dough has chilled longer than 1 hour and is cold and hard, let stand at room temperature 15 to 20 minutes before proceeding.) On large sheet of parchment paper lightly dusted with flour, roll dough to 12-inch round about 3/16 inch thick, dusting with flour as needed. (If dough sticks to parchment, gently loosen and lift sticky area with bench scraper and dust parchment with additional flour.) Slide parchment and dough onto baking sheet and refrigerate until cool and firm yet pliant, 15 to 30 minutes (if refrigerated longer and dough is hard and brittle, let stand at room temperature until pliant).
  2. Sprinkle fruit with sugar and toss gently to combine. Remove baking sheet with dough from refrigerator. Mound fruit in center of dough, leaving 2 1/2-inch border around edge. Carefully grasp one edge of dough and fold up outer 2 inches over fruit, leaving 1/2-inch area of dough just inside of fold free of fruit. Repeat around circumference of tart, overlapping dough every 2 to 3 inches; gently pinch pleated dough to secure, but do not press dough into fruit. Working quickly, brush dough with water and sprinkle evenly with 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake until crust is deep golden brown and fruit is bubbling, 50 to 55 minutes. Cool tart on baking sheet on wire rack 10 minutes. Using offset or wide metal spatula, loosen tart from parchment and carefully slide tart off parchment onto wire rack; cool until warm, about 30 minutes, or to room temperature, about 1 hour. Cut into wedges and serve.