Summer Guide: Recipes to add flavor to any gathering

Warm weather beckons people outdoors. Al fresco dining offers a chance to spend even more time outdoors, and many people will attest that no outdoor gathering is complete without the requisite grilled fare and complementary sides that are staples of spring and summer dining. Try these recipes for a light and healthy summer meal.

Is shrimp on the menu tonight? Maybe it should be. Coming in at just around 7 calories per medium-size shrimp, this crustacean is low

Shrimp quesadillas make for a light, healthy and flavorful summer dinner. Metro Creative

in calories and high in lean protein and is one of only a few dishes that provide the beneficial antioxidants selenium and astaxanthin,

according to The American Shrimp Company. The majority of North American shrimp is harvested from the Gulf of Mexico, providing fresh catches for the US and Canada. Around 244 million pounds of shrimp are produced each year. An abundance of shrimp means the opportunities for delicious meals are endless.

For something with a lot of flavor and crowd appeal, try this recipe, courtesy of Eastern Fish Company. Plump shrimp are nestled between tortillas and seasoned with familiar Latin flavors, ideal for a fast meal any time.

Shrimp Quesadilla

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 onion, sliced

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (optional)

1 lime, juiced

1 teaspoon vegetable oil, or as needed

6 large flour tortillas

3 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend

Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir onion and red bell pepper in the hot oil, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, and peppers are soft, around 6 to 8 minutes.

Stir salt, cumin and chili powder into onion and bell peppers. Stir shrimp into mix and cook until shrimp are opaque and no longer pink in the center, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; stir jalapeno pepper and lime juice into shrimp mixture.

Heat a skillet over medium heat and brush with about 1 teaspoon vegetable oil. Place a tortilla in the hot oil. Spoon about 1 / 6th shrimp filling and 1/2 cup Mexican cheese blend on one side of tortilla. Fold tortilla in half.

Cook until bottom of tortilla is lightly browned, about 5 minutes; flip and cook other side until lightly browned. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling. Serves 6.

Substitute Greek yogurt for mayonnaise-based dressing to make a healthier potato salad.

Potato salad is a dish that turns up regularly this time of year in many shapes and forms. Traditional potato salad is delicious, but it may not be so great for health-conscious individuals, as it’s typically swimming in Mayonnaise. A lighter version featuring Greek yogurt in the dressing is ideal for those who want to eat healthy. Greek yogurt also adds gut-healthy live active cultures to the recipe, which may provide gastrointestinal benefits. Enjoy this recipe, courtesy of The Diabetes Council and Pitchfork Foodie Farms.

Greek Yogurt Potato Salad

2 pounds Yukon Gold or red potatoe

1/2 onion

6 eggs

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

4 tablespoons sour cream

1 tablespoon vinegar

2 tablespoons yellow mustard

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed

1 teaspoon fresh 1/2 cup dill pickles, chopped

Paprika, for garnish (optional)

Parsley, for garnish

Peel and dice potatoes and onions. Put them and a teaspoon of salt in a pressure cooker and cover with an inch of water. Close valve. Set pressure cooker to high pressure. Set timer for 5 minutes, cook and quick release when it’s done. Drain potatoes. Cool until just warm. (If you don’t have a pressure cooker, boil potatoes in a pot of water on the stove until tender.) Set eggs on a rack in the pressure cooker. Add half-inch of water. Close valve, set to high pressure for 5 minutes. Cook for 5 minutes, quick release, and leave lid closed for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, take lid off. Drain eggs and cover with ice water to stop the cooking process. Let sit in ice water bath for about 5 minutes, then peel eggs. (If you don’t have a pressure cooker, hard-boil eggs according to your favorite recipe.) Add Greek yogurt, sour cream, mustard, vinegar, salt, pepper, celery seed and dill weed to a large mixing bowl. Stir until smooth. Taste test to see if you need to add ingredients. Add cooled, diced potatoes, pickles and hard-boiled eggs. Gently stir until potatoes are coated with dressing. Adjust seasonings to taste. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Notes: Yukon Gold or red potatoes hold their shape best in potato salad. White distilled vinegar is classic in potato salad, but cider vinegar, white wine vinegar or lemon juice can be used in its place.

Every amateur baker needs a go-to pie recipe in his or her repertoire. While apple may get much of the fanfare in Maine when the fruit ripens in the fall, summer in Maine wouldn’t be complete without a pie made with fresh, wild native blueberries. They pack that perfect punch of sweet but tart flavor that bursts in the mouth with every bite.

A pie made with wild Maine blueberries is the perfect ending to any summer meal.

Ginger & Spice Wild Maine Blueberry Pie

Crust

2½ cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, 1/4-inch cubes

1/2 cup chilled all-vegetable shortening

3½ tablespoons ice water

1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 egg white, whisked to foamy

Filling

4½ cups fresh blueberries (room temperature)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar, depending on desired sweetness

1/4 cup instant or quick-cooking tapioca, ground

2 tablespoons finely minced crystallized ginger

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 scant teaspoon ground allspice

2 tablespoons melted butter

3 tablespoons orange marmalade

1/2 tablespoon raw turbinado cane sugar

Crust

combine lemon juice and ice water and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk flour and salt. Cut in butter and shortening with a pastry blender until coarse meal forms. Sprinkle half the water / lemon mix over flour mixture; toss with a fork. Add remaining half, tossing until dough begins to form a ball. Divide dough in half, flatten it into 1/2-inch-thick discs. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap. Chill 30 minutes.

Filling

In a large bowl, toss blueberries with lemon juice. In a separate medium-sized bowl, stir sugar, tapioca, ginger, cinnamon and allspice together until combined. Gently fold into blueberries until well coated. Melt butter, stir in marmalade, then fold into blueberry mixture. Let set.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll one chilled dough disc into a 13-inch circle. Fit dough in a 9-inch pie plate. Trim overhang to 3/4-inch of edge. Brush egg white over bottom and sides of dough. Reserve remaining egg white. Set the lined plate in the freezer.

Roll second chilled disc on a lightly floured surface into a 13-inch circle, then cut into 1-inch-wide strips with a pastry wheel. Retrieve pie plate and pour in filling, mounding slightly toward center. Weave strips of dough over filling to form a lattice top. Seal, trim and crimp edge. Brush reserved egg white over dough. Sprinkle evenly with sugar.

Set pie on lined sheet. Bake 18 minutes at 425 F. Reduce heat to 375 F. Bake 50 minutes or until pie is bubbling. Cool on a wire rack. Top with vanilla ice cream. Serves 8

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