Hot Summer Yummies


Check out Dana Slatkin's recipes for this season's tastiest treats!

Raspberry Coconut Bars
A fruity twist on the ubiquitous lemon bar, this recipe is a breezy way to finish a picnic or light sunny day meal. Because the topping is quite sweet, use a tangy, low-sugar jam for the filling. Apricot and blueberry jams also work beautifully with the bars' golden coconut crust.
Makes 16 bars

Crust and Filling
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon milk
1 cup raspberry jam, preferably a low-sugar version (see Source Guide)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg, beaten

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Prepare the crust in a medium bowl: Mix together the flour, baking powder, butter or margarine, egg and milk using your fingers or a wooden spoon. Press into the bottom of an 8 x 8-inch or 11 x 7-inch baking pan or glass baking dish, allowing the dough to climb up the sides a bit. Spread the dough evenly with jam.
3. Make the Topping in the same bowl: combine the sugar, vanilla, coconut, butter, and egg and blend with your fingers (don't worry if it is sticky). Drop the topping evenly over the jam filling.
4. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the topping is lightly golden. Cool completely before cutting into squares. The bars will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Shutters Chopped Salad
Everyone loves a chopped salad for its bite-sized mélange of goodies. What's more, it's easy to customize according to your own preferences. Toss in leftovers from this morning's breakfast or last night's dinner, such as bacon, hard-boiled eggs, chicken, grilled shrimp, or grilled tuna.
The key is that everything is chopped into even bits.
Serves 8

3 hearts of Romaine lettuce, chopped into small pieces
1 (14-ounce) can hearts of palm, drained and chopped
3 firm tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 box white mushrooms, cleaned (see page 000), chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 small bunch chives, chopped
2 avocados
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Louie Dressing (page 000)

1. In a large salad bowl, toss together the lettuce, hearts of palm, tomatoes, mushrooms, celery and chives. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve, or for up to 2 hours.
2. Just before serving, halve and pit the avocadoes. Scoop out the flesh with a large spoon and dice the same size as the other ingredients. Sprinkle them with the lemon juice and add to the salad bowl.
3. Season the salad with salt and pepper and toss lightly with the dressing. Divide among chilled serving bowls or plates and serve.

Ciabatta Bread with Fresh Pesto and Ricotta Cheese
This addictive hors d'oeuvre is a sure way to make a basket of crusty ciabatta bread disappear. The creamy ricotta cheese tempers the garlicky bite of the pesto, though you could easily substitute a mild goat cheese. To add another interesting dimension, try different variations for the basil, such as mint or spinach, and the nuts, such as walnuts, pistachios, or almonds. The pesto is also delicious with raw or roasted vegetables, breadsticks, roasted potatoes or, of course, tossed with pasta.
Serves 4

2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted and cooled
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces fresh whole or part skim ricotta cheese
1 loaf ciabatta or other crusty bread, thinly sliced

1. Combine the basil leaves, Parmesan cheese, nuts and garlic in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse until the leaves are minced finely. Add the olive oil and pulse to blend, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Transfer the pesto to an airtight container and cover it with a thin layer of olive oil to keep it from browning. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to one week, or freeze in resealable plastic bags for up to 2 months.
2. Warm the ciabatta bread in a toaster oven or oven and place in a breadbasket. Fill a shallow dish with the pesto and drop spoonfuls of ricotta cheese on top.