In My Summer Kitchen

By Amanda Paa – Updated July 6, 2020

No matter what state you call home, this time of year is captured best with beautiful, fresh food.

More often than not, my summer meals come together without a recipe. I’m moved by the flavors of the season and the abundance of produce I can get my hands on. One day that might be dew-kissed cabbage fresh from the market, and the next it’s juicy berries with a fragrance so powerful I can’t help but eat half the pint on the way home. Or long and slender summer squash, crunchy radishes, and fragrant green onions from my CSA. And sometimes unlikely combinations meet the grill, like the beets and peaches in the picture above, kissed with plain yogurt, honey and sliced almonds.

I thought I’d share a little glimpse into my summer kitchen and the creations inspired by the flavors of the season, rarely a hard & fast recipe. All these photos are taken with my iPhone, essentially my everyday meals that just sort of come about. Often I’m inspired by instagram, like a seasonal cookbook that’s always influx around the world, or one of my many talented friends who blog too.

Ghee Toasted Oatmeal with BlueberriesWarm oatmeal isn’t just for the chillier months in my book. I love it both savory and sweet, each bowl somehow reminding me that a slow breakfast leads to a fresh mind. Last weekend I decided to try a new method, inspired by Megan Gordon’s book, Whole Grain Mornings. Her advice was to toast the oats, add them to boiling water and a bit of milk, then remove from heat, cover and let “steep” for 8 minutes. What resulted were the perfect oats, toothsome with a slight chew in texture, with nutty, brown butter like flavor from the ghee. Topped with a blueberry bourbon sage jam, hemp seeds and a splash of almond milk, it was pure bliss.

7 Layer Fruit Salad {via heartbeet kitchen blog}

On a hot and steamy day, this 7 Layer Fruit Salad was just the refreshment I needed. Drizzled between each layer is a bit of honey and fresh mint. Use whatever fruit you’ve got on hand, but melons, watermelon, and pineapple work great for stacking. You’ll literally feel like you’re eating the rainbow.

Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing {via heartbeet kitchen}I eat a salad everyday, whether that’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I don’t always make homemade dressing (this organic, preservative free Curry & Fig little number is always in my refrigerator), but when I do, I’m reminded that there’s no comparison.

I love having the ability to adapt as I need, like leaving the parmesan out of this Caesar Salad Dressing, and adding lots of garlic. It was also the first time I had used anchovies. Wow, now I know exactly why it tastes so good in a “from scratch” restaurant.

Quick Pickled Radishes {via heartbeet kitchen}When life gives you too many radishes, or any vegetable for that matter, quick pickles to the rescue. This jar is a combination of radishes and garlic, with a simple brine of 1 cup water, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Bring that to a boil, then pour over the vegetables you’ve packed in a mason jar. Let cool uncovered, then refrigerate. Tomorrow you’ll have tangy, salty, pickles to boot.

Lamb, Radish & Beet Salad with Curry Fig Dressing {paleo}Often my plates end up looking like this, with colorful leftovers. Roasted beets and ground lamb had been part of a dinner earlier in the week, baby radishes and red onion from the market, and greens begging to be used before their end. I used the curry-fig dressing which I mentioned above, and within moments I was enjoying my clear-the-fridge salad on the patio.

Seared Salmon with Spiralized Cucumber Noodles {paleo}Like vegetables, salmon has peak seasons too. Between wild-caught Copper River or Coho, I can’t get enough of it right now. It takes little time to cook, just a quick sear on both sides with olive oil and fresh herbs. I made a spiralized version of Cucumber Salad, which was cool and crisp, the perfect companion.

Just like with life, sometimes the best meals, bites, and drinks come from what I would call “un-planning”. I’d love to know what some of your favorites or most memorable have been this summer, or where you’re finding inspiration. And if you want to come hang out on Instagram, I’d love to be friends! 

Did you make this?

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July 28, 2015


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  1. Jenn @ A Toast to the Good Life

    Beautiful photos! Everything looks delicious!

    • Amanda Paa

      thanks Jenn, happy summer!

  2. Grace

    Isn’t summer produce just the best?! Looks like your taking full advantage of all the freshness this season has to offer! Everything looks amazing!

  3. Beth Salzl

    what Csa do you use?

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi Beth! I was given the gift of a CSA this year, Big River Farms, which is part of the Minnesota Food Association. All the produce is organic, and so beautiful. I’m really impressed. Here is their information:

  4. kristie {birch and wild}

    You make beautiful food! I love this post. I am going to try your quick pickled radishes because I have not tried that yet. I bet they are good on everything!

  5. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles

    Such a fun read and I couldn’t agree more… often the simplest things are also the best things. And in the summertime, it’s easy for those of us living in the northern hemisphere to make those fresh choices that allow the ingredients to shine. I too love a seared salmon (nothing easier) and I also find it just the right type of protein when the heat is heavy. Even chicken (an otherwise favorite) can feel too heavy for my digestion in the summer.

    Meanwhile, I think I should start using my ‘cell’ phone more often for photos (my kids laugh at my antiquated references…) heeheeh, I do finally have an iphone – but I think yours might be a different version… do you use a filter or do your photos just come out picture perfect? :D xx

    • Amanda Paa

      I was always intimidated by salmon, but funny how it turns out to be the easiest protein to cook. And it’s so fun to compare your produce over on the West coast right now to ours, and see all the things that overlap or might be different.
      I love snapping photos with my iPhone as you mentioned, it allows me to look through a different “lenses” if you will. I have the iPhone 6, and I typically use vsco cam for editing. You can download it free, and the filters it has are quite nice. I do some editing after I use those as well, once I’m instagram – like contrast, brightness, etc.

      sending minnesota hugs. xo

  6. Julia | Orchard Street Kitchen

    I love this post, Amanda! It’s so fun to get a glimpse into what another blogger eats on a daily basis. Even with your simplest of meals, I can see your creativity shining through. It’s unseasonably warm here in SF, so that fruit salad is especially calling to me. As for my cooking lately, I’ve been inspired by my farmer’s market: I got a massive bunch of the most wonderfully fragrant Thai basil last week, and have been having so much fun creating various Thai dishes with it since. You can’t beat fresh, local produce!

    • Amanda Paa

      I just realized that you moved to San Francisco, I will be sure to meet up with you when I come out next. It’s my favorite city :)

      Thai basil is so great, I’m checking out the stir-fry you posted with it right now. We have some of that growing in our garden too and I love the different flavor it has versus sweet basil. Lemon thyme is another one of my favorites that is the “child” of the regular version. xo

  7. Abby @ The Frosted Vegan

    I love this kind of cooking, especially in the summer! It feels like there are so many gorgeous fruits and veggies to take advantage of, that it’s a shame to complicate them too much, right? : )