Fruit soups, including watermelon soup, bottom left, cool things down on a sultry summer night. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

Here at the cove, I spend as much time as possible in the hammock, on the deck, or in the water. Wherever there’s a cool breeze to catch, I am there.

Early morning is when I spend time in the kitchen, prepping for the evening meal so I’m not cooking in the heat of the day. Trips to the farmers markets in Brunswick and Bath, as well as to grocery store happen in the a.m. whenever possible, too.

The ingredients I keep on hand for summer meals are fresh, healthy offerings from Mother Earth. Melon, fresh greens and herbs, and berries can be used in so many different ways to create a summer meal for two or for a festive event. As I always say, keep things simple and don’t overthink it.

This watermelon soup can be brought out at the beginning, or at the end, of a sultry evening meal; it’s one of my favorite appetizers to serve guests because they are always surprised by it. If you want to serve it to the “under-21” set, just substitute cranberry or white grape juice for the red wine.

For the main course, pesto pasta can be served on its own or with grilled chicken. Combining fresh spinach with the basil is a great way to get in some added vitamins. I love to make a big batch of this, freeze portions in an ice cube tray and then store the pesto cubes in a freezer bag for later use. Two cubes make one serving to mix with more pasta, spread on toasted bruschetta, or use as a pizza topping.

For dessert, afternoon nibbling, or even breakfast, try raspberry clafoutis. Best served fresh and slightly warm with a drizzle of cream on top, this is also really yummy reheated in the toaster oven and then eaten with a generous pat of butter.

Use whatever seasonal fruit you like for this fancy, but easy to make, French dessert. Raspberries are definitely my personal favorite, but you choose whatever your little heart desires.

Melon Soup

4 cups seedless watermelon, diced into 1/2-inch chunks
Juice of 1 lime
2 large fresh mint leaves, julienned, plus 4 more for garnish
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup cantaloupe, diced into 1/2- inch chunks
1/2 cup honeydew melon, diced into 1/2- inch chunks

In a food processor or blender, place 3 cups of the watermelon chunks, lime juice, julienned mint leaves and honey. Puree until smooth. Pour into a large container. Stir in wine and add remaining diced watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew melon. Cover and chill for several hours. To serve, ladle into small bowls or dessert glasses and garnish with mint leaves. Yield: 4 servings

Spinach Pesto Pasta

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 pound sturdy pasta
1 (5-oz) bag baby spinach
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, plus extra for garnish
4 cloves garlic
1 cup Parmesan, grated, plus extra for garnish
1 cup walnuts, toasted, plus extra for garnish
2/3 cup olive oil
30 large basil leaves
1 tsp. sea salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste

In a saucepan, stir together broth and pasta. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally until it begins to simmer. Stir then cover, continuing to cook until pasta is al dente and most of the broth has been absorbed. Check on it and stir a few times so the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Do not drain.

While pasta is cooking, combine spinach tomatoes, garlic, basil, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor then pulse until smooth.

After the pasta has cooked, stir in about half the pesto. Add more if desired, but you may not use it all. Yield: 4 servings

Raspberry Clafoutis

1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsps. sugar
3 eggs
3 tbsps. butter, melted
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. milk
1 1/2 pints raspberries
Confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch gratin or other shallow baking dish. In a bowl, whisk together flour and sugar. Whisk in eggs, butter, and lemon zest until smooth. Add milk and whisk until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Pour batter into baking dish and top with raspberries.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until set and golden. Let cool slightly. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, cut into wedges and serve. Yield: 6 servings


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