When the temperatures start to rise and the days get longer, sometimes the last thing you want to do it heat up the kitchen and house by using your big appliances like the oven or stove. And while there are tons of top rated restaurants in Sonoma and Marin County, it’s also nice to spend time with friends and family in the comfort of your luxury home. By incorporating fresh, local and seasonal fruits and vegetables into some simple no-cook Sonoma dishes, you can create a new spin on fine dining!
What’s in Season?
Start by considering what’s in season. Whether you have your own garden or you love to hit up the farmer’s market on the weekends, there is a great variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables that are at their peak in the summer. Tomatoes are one of the top summer foods that are perfectly ripe even when it’s warm. The slicing variety, like Beefsteak and heirloom are readily available, as well the bite-size versions like cherry tomatoes.
Of course based on its name you know summer squash is in season, but you may not know that eggplants are, too. Hearty and flavorful greens like kale, basil and arugula are harvested most of the year and make great compliments to tomatoes and cucumbers, also a summer staple. In the sweet fruit department, nothing says summer like fresh melons and berries! Keep in mind that most herbs – parsley, thyme, sage, chives, basil, oregano and rosemary – can be grown and found year-round.
Fresh and Fast Sonoma Dishes
Now that you have your fruits and vegetables, get creative or search for recipes that incorporate what you have in your produce bin. You can never go wrong with a fresh summer salad. Try an arugula, watermelon and feta salad. While these elements may not seem to go together, they create a light yet delicious combination that may become your pot luck go-to.
Another summer stand-by is a fresh, flavorful gazpacho soup. Either served as an appetizer or a main course, this tomato-based soup is surprisingly hearty yet still light. The best part is that you don’t have to follow one recipe; you can adjust the ingredients based on what you have in your garden or what you find at the market. Also a perfect way to use those ripe tomatoes, since the soup starts as a tomato-base. Zucchini, cucumbers, squash, carrots, peppers and herbs all add depth to this fast fine dining dish. The soup is also a wonderful compliment to grilled seafood, especially shrimp.
Sonoma dishes for dessert aren’t limited to just ice cream. You can make a no-bake cheesecake in half the time and effort as a traditional cheesecake, plus use fresh summer berries as a topping. Or create fruit skewers and serve raw with a honey yogurt to dip, or even grill the fruit skewers. Grilling fruit adds a carmelization that brings out the sweetness and goes great with grilled meats and more traditional barbeque fare.
A Toast to Summer
Sonoma dishes wouldn’t be complete without a little something to sip on throughout the meal (and after). Use your favorite Sonoma County wine to make a white sangria. All you need is some white wine, berries, citrus, juice, club soda and sugar (or agave). Or consider using a sparkling wine and skip the club soda. Berries and herbs also pair nicely together to create cocktails with your favorite liquor, like vodka or tequila. Strawberries and basil muddled together and added to lemonade and vodka are oh so refreshing on a warm summer afternoon or at a Sonoma brunch.
Don’t feel like you have to spend hours in the kitchen this summer just to prepare a fine dining experience. Gourmet restaurants will have nothing on your local, fresh Sonoma dishes! And if you’ve been dreaming of a Sonoma County home where you can cultivate your own go-to garden, Rebecca Celli has the perfect properties for you to explore!