Ultimate Mediterranean Summer Menu

Ultimate Summer Menu

What are you cooking this Labor Day weekend? Use my ultimate summer menu to spice up your table. From an appetizer to a dessert, I got it covered. 

Start off your party with my refreshing Cucumber Thyme Fizz and Olive Hummus to get the party started!

Get the grill craking and charr up the corns to make this Charred Corn & Halloumi Salad.

Get your sheet tray for the branzino! Papilote Branzino is the easiest way to cook fish without drying out. 

Mediterranean Orzo Salad complements Mediterranean branzino.

Finish your Mediterranean feast with my Rosewater Grilled Peaches

Photos by Lauren Zaser

Rosewater Grilled Peaches

Rosewater Grilled Peaches

I am not much of a dessert person, so I decided to combine salty and sweet flavors. After grilling peaches, they get caramelized, and the sweetness from the caramelization goes so well with salty rosewater-infused ricotta. 

This recipe takes no time to assemble, and it's a healthy alternative dessert!

Photos by Lauren Zaser
 

Serves: 6 - 8 people

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 peaches, riped

  • 12 -16 oz fresh ricotta

  • 3 tbsp rosewater

  • 1 tsp kosher salt

  • Honey

  • Dried rose petals (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat your grill on high.

  2. Cut the peaches in half. Carefully remove the pits.

  3. Spray your grill with nonstick spray.

  4. Grill the peaches, face-side down first for 4 -5 minutes. Then, flip and grill for 2 additional minutes.

  5. In a small bowl, whisk ricotta, rosewater, and salt until well combined.

  6. Let peaches cool. Scoop ricotta into the grilled peaches.

  7. Drizzle honey and garnish with dried rose petals.

Papillote Branzino

Papillote Branzino

Branzino is the Mediterranean sea bass. I grew up eating lots of charcoal-grilled Branzino in Lebanon, but now that I live in Brooklyn without a grill, I found a way to cook this salty fish. 

When I was in college, I learned this "papillote" method, cooking in parchment envelops. It's an easy way to cook fish without drying it out. Keeping the moisture within the papillote locks in all the Mediterranean flavors of Branzino. You can cook any fish using this foolproof method.

Make this impressive dish with minimal effort for your next dinner party!

Photos by Lauren Zaser

Serves: 4 - 6 people

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 fennel head

  • 6 fillets branzino

  • 3 tbsp capers

  • 1/4 cup olives, sliced

  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced

  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme

  • 1 lemon, sliced

  • 1/4 cup white wine

  • salt & pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat your oven to 400F.

  2. Slice fennel on a mandoline. If you don't have a mandoline, thinly slice the fennel.

  3. Cut out a parchment paper that is 6 inches larger than your sheet tray.

  4. Line the sheet tray with the parchment, and drizzle with olive oil.

  5. Scatter sliced fennel and salt.

  6. Place the filleted branzino on top of the fennel and season it with salt and pepper, followed by capers, olives, garlic, and thyme leaves.

  7. Season the fish with salt and pepper.

  8. Layer the lemon across the fish.

  9. Pour the white wine around the fish.

  10. Cover the fish with a parchment paper, and fold the ends of parchment papers tightly to make an envelope.

  11. Place the sheet tray in the preheated oven, and cook it for 14 - 16 minutes.

  12. Remove the sheet tray from the oven, and let it sit for 1 minute before removing the top parchment paper.

  13. ENJOYY!!

Mediterranean Orzo

Mediterranean Orzo

My clients rave about this orzo salad! It's the perfect appetizer or a side dish. The saltiness of the capers and olives is the secret to this dish. This salad will bring colors and flavors to your table. Have fun with this salad! You can add herbs, cheese, or different seasonings like paprika, black peppers, and even red pepper flakes. It goes perfectly with grilled chicken or any flaky fish. 

Photos by Lauren Zaser

Serves: 4 - 6 people  

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb orzo
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced
  • 3 tbsp capers
  • 1 pint cherry tomato
  • 3 lemons, juiced
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pistachio, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. 
  2. Clean and chop asparagus into thirds. 
  3. Drop the orzo and cook for 7 minutes, then add chopped asparagus and cook for additional 2 minutes.
  4. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water.
  5. Drain the orzo and asparagus. Let them cool for a few minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. 
  6. Combine cooled orzo, asparagus, olives, capers, and cherry tomatoes. 
  7. Toss with lemon juice, reserved pasta water, and olive oil until well combined.
  8. Garnish with chopped pistachio.
  9. ENJOYYY!

Charred Corn & Halloumi Salad

Charred Corn & Halloumi Salad

This is as seasonal as it gets! Tomatoes are at their pick right now. And, so are sweet and juicy corns. What a better time to throw all these seasonal vegetables together to make a delicious salad! I added a little Middle Eastern flair to the salad by adding grilled halloumi. Halloumi is the only cheese you can grill, and once you grill it, it changes its texture and flavors completely, which goes so well with the rest of the salad. Make this super simple, but a super flavorful salad for your next party!

Photos by Lauren Zaser

Serves: 3 - 4 people

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pints Campari tomato, clean and sliced in quarters
  • 8 oz halloumi cheese
  • 4 corn on the cobs
  • 1/4 cup mint
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Husk and grill the corn for 3 minutes on each side, a total of 8-9 minutes or until charred.
  2. When corn is cool, cut kernels from cobs into a bowl. Reserve.
  3. Slice the halloumi into 1-inch slices.
  4. In a large saute pan on high heat, sear the halloumi for 3 minutes on each side, or until golden.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the quartered tomatoes, grilled kernels, and seared halloumi. Toss with lemon juice, olive oil, and salt.
  6. Garnish with mint leaves. 
  7. ENJOYY!!

Cucumber Thyme Fizz

Cucumber Thyme Fizz

Cucumber juice has just started being on my radar. Not only is it refreshing, but it's bright in flavors when you add some lime juice in; the cucumber flavors really come through! This is a perfect drink for summer, or fall, in fact, any season!! Have some fun with it and use vodka or gin. Enjoy!

Photos by Lauren Zaser

Serves: 6-8 people

INGREDIENTS

Thyme Simple Syrup:

  • 1/4 bunch thyme, fresh
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 2 cup water

Cucumber Thyme Fizz:

  • 4 cucumbers, peeled
  • 1 cups thyme simple syrup
  • 1/2 cup lime juice, fresh squeezed
  • 1 cup vodka or gin
  • 1 bottle (25.3 oz.) sparkling water

INSTRUCTIONS

Thyme Simple Syrup:

  1. In a small pot combine sugar, water, and thyme.
  2. Cook until all the sugar has dissolved about 10 minutes.
  3. Let cool.

Cucumber Thyme Fizz:

  1. Slice cucumbers and blend for 2 minutes. 
  2. Strain the cucumber juice.
  3. In a large pitcher or a serving bowl, combine strained cucumber juice, thyme simple syrup, fresh squeezed lime juice, alcohol, and sparkling water. 
  4. Stir all the ingredients until well combined. 
  5. Serve in a large glass over ice, and garnish with sliced cucumber or cucumber peels. 
  6. Cheers!

Watermelon Splash

Watermelon Splash

Watermelon is my favorite fruit period. So why not blend it and add vodka to it and slurp it all summer long!! This is your refreshing way into summer happiness. Serve it in the watermelon bowl, or in pitcher this is what you need to be making for your next party! 

Happy Summer :)

Now go make a splash!

Total Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 1 Pitcher

Watermelon Splash:

  • 3 Cups Fresh Watermelon juice
  • 1 Cup Basil simple syrup
  • 1/2 Cup Lime Juice
  • 1 cup Vodka or Gin

Basil Simple Syrup:

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of fresh basil

INSTRUCTIONS

Basil Simple Syrup:

  1. In a small pot, combine sugar, water, and basil.
  2. Cook until all the sugar has dissolved about 10 minutes.
  3. Place the syrup in a blender, and blend until green and smooth.
  4. Let cool. 

Fresh Watermelon Juice:

  1. Slice a seedless watermelon in half.  
  2. Scoop out flesh into a food processor, for 2-3 minutes.
    • you can discard the rind, or use it as a serving bowl.
  3. Strain juice, 

Watermelon Splash:

  1. In a pitcher, add the watermelon juice, simple syrup, vodka, and lime juice, stir until well combined. 
  2. Pour into watermelon bowl, or a glass - on ice.
  3. Garnish with edible flowers, or watermelon wedge.

Cheers!

Greek Goddess Sauce

Greek Goddess Sauce

My new favorite sauce/dressing. I put that sh*t on everything! You may know this dressing as Ina Garten's specialty the 'Green Goddess Dressing'. Well I decided to make it a bit healthier and full of flavor to give your next protein entree or salad that extra kick of flavor! 

Photos by Edouard Massih

Total Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 1 quart

Ingredients:

  • 32 oz Greek yogurt, fat free
  • 1 bunch basil
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 bunch scallion, cleaned
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp salt

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Add all the ingredients to a food processor. 
2. Pulse on high for 2-3 minutes until well combined.
3. Taste for seasoning.
4. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to 9 days.