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5 Incredibly Easy Cool and Delicious Recipes for Summer

You won't believe the recipe for a tasty light dessert!

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Berry terrine, chickpea salad, chicken salad, ratatouille, pasta salad
Photographs by Joel Goldberg (Prop Stylist: Andrea Greco; Food Stylist: Hadas Smirnoff)
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Summer is all about cooling meals — for picnics, beach days or just chilling on the porch. As the creator of Once Upon a Chef, I have you covered with recipes that you can prepare well ahead of time. From veggie-packed ratatouille to a fresh berry medley, here’s to eating well and savoring the season!

Chickpea Salad

Chickpea salad
Joel Goldberg

This super-simple salad makes a nutritious lunch or side dish.

Servings: 4

⅓ cup finely diced red onion, from 1 small red onion

2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice

⅓ cup finely chopped fresh parsley

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

⅛ teaspoon sugar

Place the diced onion in a small bowl; cover with cold water. Let sit for 10 minutes, then drain.

Combine onions with remaining ingredients; toss well. Taste and adjust seasoning with more lemon, salt, and pepper, if necessary. Refrigerate until serving. Toss well before serving.


Joel Goldberg

Delicious hot or cold, ratatouille is the perfect way to enjoy all your favorite summer veggies.

Servings: 8

1 large (1¼ pounds or so) eggplant, cut into ⅓-inch cubes


6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

2 medium zucchini, cut into ⅓-inch cubes

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

1 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, cut into ¼-inch dice

5 large cloves garlic, chopped

5 large tomatoes (1¾ lbs), cut into ⅓-inch cubes, with their juices

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme, plus more for serving

¾ teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add eggplant and season with ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until soft and starting to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate; set aside.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add zucchini and cook, stirring frequently, until tender-crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with ¼ teaspoon salt; transfer to a plate; set aside.

Add two more tablespoons of oil to the pan; add onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; continue cooking for about 3 minutes. Don’t brown. Add the tomatoes and their juices, tomato paste, thyme, sugar, red pepper flakes (if using) and ¾ teaspoon salt. Stir occasionally, until the tomatoes become a sauce, for about 8 to 10 minutes. Add eggplant; bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat to low; simmer, uncovered, until the eggplant is soft, about 10 minutes. Add zucchini; cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until warmed through. Sprinkle with basil and thyme; drizzle with olive oil if desired; serve warm or chilled.

Classic Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad
Joel Goldberg

Everything you love about deli-style chicken salad, but better!

Servings: 6

⅔ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup sour cream

1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon black pepper

4½ cups cooked shredded chicken (see note)

3 scallions, thinly sliced

2 ribs celery, finely diced

3 tablespoons fresh chopped dill

3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

In a large bowl, whisk mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, mustard, salt, sugar and pepper.

Add chicken, scallions, celery, dill, and parsley. Toss until combined. Taste; adjust seasoning, if necessary. Refrigerate until serving.

Note: I use poached chicken. If using roasted chicken, you'll need 3 pounds of bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. Preheat oven to 425°F; line a baking sheet with foil. Arrange chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Coat with 1 tablespoon olive oil; sprinkle both sides with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, or until done. Let cool. (You may also use rotisserie chicken.)

Summer Pasta Primavera

Pasta salad
Joel Goldberg

With roasted tomatoes, zucchini and corn, this dish is a celebration of the bounty of summer.

Servings: 4-6

2 pints grape tomatoes

4 shallots, thinly sliced

5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

2 teaspoons salt

1½ teaspoons sugar

1 medium zucchini, cut into ¼-inch chunks

1½ cups fresh corn kernels, from 2 ears corn

12 ounces fusilli

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon herbes de Provence

⅛ teaspoon crushed pepper flakes

½ cup grated pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving

½ cup tightly packed basil leaves, roughly chopped

⅓ cup pine nuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with heavy-duty foil.

Combine tomatoes, shallots, garlic, olive oil, salt and sugar on the baking sheet. Toss until vegetables are evenly coated. Arrange in a single layer; roast for 15-20 minutes, or until the tomatoes are starting to brown. Remove pan from oven; add the zucchini and corn. Toss with a spatula (tomatoes will collapse) and spread into an even layer. Roast for 5 minutes, until the zucchini and corn are tender-crisp.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in salted water. Drain, then add the pasta back to pan. Add vegetables and their juices to pasta, with butter, herbes de Provence, red pepper, cheese, basil, and pine nuts. Toss well; taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Drizzle with olive oil, if desired. Serve with more cheese.

Fresh Berry Terrine

Fresh berry terrine
Joel Goldberg

This fresh berry terrine in white grape-flavored gelatin is the perfect light dessert.

Servings: 8

1¼ pounds mixed berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries (cut the strawberries in half)

2 cups white grape juice

2 (¼-ounce) packets of unflavored gelatin

3 tablespoons sugar

Place the berries in an 8x4-inch loaf pan. Distribute them around evenly.

Pour ½ cup of the grape juice into a large bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin in a thin, even layer over top (no need to stir) and let sit for 5 minutes. The powder will absorb into the juice and become very thick.

Meanwhile, bring the remaining 1½ cups of juice and the sugar to a boil in a small saucepan; whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the mixture over the thickened gelatin and whisk to combine.

Carefully pour the warm gelatin mixture over the berries. Chill in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 hours, or until very firm.

To unmold, quickly run hot water over the sides of the pan (tilting it so that the inside of the pan doesn't get wet). Invert an oblong platter over the pan and flip over. The terrine should slide right out; if it doesn’t, try running a blunt knife along the edges of the pan to loosen, or run the pan under hot water briefly again. Blot any excess liquid on the platter with a paper towel. Refrigerate the terrine until ready to serve. Cut into 1-inch slices with a sharp knife. The terrine can be made up to three days ahead of time. Once set, cover the loaf pan with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. Unmold before serving.

What is YOUR all-time favorite summer recipe? Let us know in the comments below.

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