“Summer’s here!” proclaimed my youngest daughter as she climbed into bed last night, full of satisfaction that she was free of the need to set her alarm for another day of school. The time for formal education has come to a close this year. The structure and the rhythm of a school year are released into the dreamier days of summer, opening up the unstructured, but no less important, time of discovery and adventure.   

My memories of summer, on the other hand, are like a jigsaw puzzle of moments of boredom interspersed with swimming, reading and capture the flag, which then circled back around to boredom. It was certainly a circle of discovery, although there were times the adventure may have been lacking.   

The structure of recipes and needing meals to be on time and planned around family schedules also relaxes in summer. The found treasures of the farmers markets turn into impromptu salads, pastas, pizzas, grilled anything or … tartlets.   

While this meal, completed with a salad and some crusty bread and perhaps a peach or strawberry shortcake, is delicious with the fennel and red peppers, the sky is really the limit when it comes to the meat, cheese and vegetables you use.   

Substitute some Genoa salami, an aged cheddar, spinach and spring onions OR bacon, Parmesan, zucchini and tomatoes OR grilled chicken, mozzarella, pea shoots OR strips of salmon, farmer’s cheese, fresh corn and cherry tomatoes.   

Play with what you find from the farmers market or what you have left over in the refrigerator from another meal.   

This is the time of year to be playful and creative with your time and your meals. Enjoy both!    rve hot or room temperature.   

Serves 6 to 8, depending on whether as an appetizer or dinner.   

Anne Mahle of Rockland is the author of “At Home, At Sea.” She can be reached at:    [email protected]