The Main Menu: Recipes to get you into a summer mood

Jan Main has some recipes to get you in the mood for dining outdoors now that the warmer weather has arrived.


At last – with warming temperatures, we can look forward to dining outdoors and greater freedom!

Perhaps we could have a few friends join us? Safely of course, with social distancing.

Almost like the “olden days” when a backyard barbecue was a regular activity. Nothing is taken for granted anymore. The thought of sharing a meal with friends, even if they bring their own food, sounds like a party!

Here for that special occasion or even solo dining are some summery ideas to get you in a sunny mood for summer living!

Marinated Coleslaw

This is one of my favourites. By marinating the cabbage in vinaigrette, it makes the cabbage more digestible.

It also gives a delightful sweet and sour taste to a homely vegetable.

By marinating, you can prepare a big batch and keep the coleslaw covered and refrigerated for up to one week.

Although this recipe calls for the common green cabbage, you can use one or a combination of cabbages to give variety and colour – kale, (yes, kale is a member of the cabbage family) nappa, red cabbage, and bok choy are all cabbage cousins. As cabbages, they pack a nutritious punch containing calcium, vitamin C and fiber.

8 cups (2 L) finely shredded cabbage or mixture of varieties (about 1/2 cabbage, use sharp knife or food processor to shred)
1/3 cup (75 ml) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (150 mL) cider vinegar
1/3 cup (75 ml) vegetable oil
2 tsp (10 mL) dried basil
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) fresh black pepper
Optional Additions:
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup (250 mL) thinly sliced English cucumbers, halved
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped fresh parsley or chopped green onions or sliced celery

In large bowl, add thinly sliced green cabbage or mixture of cabbages. Sprinkle with sugar; toss and let stand about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in saucepan add vinegar, oil, basil, salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil; boil 2 minutes. Let cool slightly then pour over shredded cabbage. Toss to coat. Stir in chosen vegetables.

Cover and refrigerate at least ½ hour before serving.

Keeps well covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week. Makes 12 generous servings.

Scalloped Potatoes with a Difference

The original recipe for this potato dish came from Foodland Ontario. I came across it just as we were starting into isolation with food rationing.

The cupboard was bare. I had some potatoes in the refrigerator (my least favourite vegetable), onions and after much digging into the depths of my freezer, a few pieces of bacon several years old.

The recipe required four main ingredients: bacon, potatoes, onion and cheese.

Wow! The decision was made and the recipe was in the making with some changes to Foodland’s original.

It was a big hit served with a hearty salad.

Here’s my version. It would be a tasty accompaniment to any oven or barbecued meat, fish, sausage or vegetable dish. For the vegetarian, substitute sun-dried tomatoes and olive oil for the bacon as described in the recipe below.

4-5 slices side bacon, trimmed of excess fat and chopped OR substitute: 1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
2 cups (500 mL) onion, thinly sliced (about 2 large onion)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
4-5 (2 lb/1kg) potatoes, scrubbed, unpeeled and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) shredded old cheddar cheese
1 1/4 cups (300 mL)chicken or vegetable stock

In frying pan, cook bacon until browned. Remove bacon to bowl reserving fat in pan. (For vegetarian add 3 tbsp (45 mL) olive oil to pan.)

Cook onions over medium high heat in pan until softened about 8 minutes; add garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Remove onion and garlic to bacon or sun-dried tomatoes in bowl.

Pre-heat oven to 425 F (220 C). Spray 12 inch oven proof pan (pie plate will do nicely) with baking spray.

Arrange 1/3 potatoes in a single layer of concentric circles. Sprinkle with half the onions and garlic and a sprinkle of cheese.

Repeat another layer of potatoes, onion, garlic and cheese then a final layer of potatoes with a small sprinkling of cheese. Pour stock evenly over potatoes.

Cover with foil. Bake about 30 minutes; remove foil and continue to bake another 10-15 minutes, or until tender. Cut into 8 wedges to serve.

Any leftover is yummy the next day re-heated at 350 F( 180 C).

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