Summer's Bounty

by Kerry Dunnington


It’s my favorite time of year because so many foods are in the height of their growing season. I relish the abundance. Zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and onions are just some of the vegetables available now. This nutritious, colorful bounty gives reason to showcase them in all sorts of different ways. Here are three favorite summer recipes that are representative of the season’s glorious harvest.


Over the years I have prepared many renditions of the popular Spanish cold soup Gazpacho. This recipe, (featured in my forthcoming cookbook, Planet, Kitchen, Table) is my favorite. It differs from the traditional preparation method, half the vegetables are pureed which gives the soup base extra body. On those sweltering summer days when heavy meals don’t appeal, this soup is all you need to satisfy, but if you want to serve with complementing sides, here are a few favorites; deviled eggs, Ciabatta bread, smoked white fish, steamed shrimp, cornbread and/or slices of grilled salmon, chicken or beef. Plan accordingly, the soup is best prepared in advance and should be served very cold.

  • 2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, cored
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeds removed
  • 1 medium onion, peeled & halved
  • 1 green pepper, halved & seeded
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups tomato juice
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • A few dashes Tabasco sauce
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • Several grindings fresh black pepper
  • Croutons for garnish, if desired

In a food processor, combine one tomato, half the cucumber, half the onion, half green pepper and one cup of tomato juice. Puree until well-blended. Transfer to a large container. Chop the remaining tomato, cucumber, onion and green pepper. Add chopped vegetables, garlic, remaining two cups tomato juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to puree mixture, stir until well combined. Chill until ready to serve. Garnish with croutons if desired.                         

Serves 6


Warm Zucchini Salad

The secret to this delicious, unique, crowd-pleasing dish is the warm dressing tossed with the room temperature vegetables. This technique barely wilts them turning out a dish with a welcome and unusual texture.

  • 2 medium zucchini, unpeeled, cut into thin julienne strips
  • 1 small red pepper, cut into thin julienne strips
  • 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. seasoned rice vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, toss zucchini with red pepper and shallots. In a sauté pan over medium heat, heat oil and sauté walnuts for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently being careful not to burn. Remove from heat and stir in vinegar, sugar, season with salt and pepper. Pour warm dressing over zucchini and toss. Serve immediately.

Serves 4


Shrimp with Pasta and Basil

This dish is summer simplicity personified, because for me nothing speaks more volumes than fresh summer basil and Maryland tomatoes. In this colorful main entrée you will find a tasty combination of flavors. Plan accordingly, the pasta and shrimp are best prepared in advance.


  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • ½ lb. bow tie pasta cooked & cooled
  • 1½ lbs. large shrimp steamed, peeled & deveined
  • 2 cups fresh cooked or frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes cut into bite-size chunks

Combine all dressing ingredients in a food processor and process until fully incorporated. In a large bowl, combine pasta, shrimp, peas and tomatoes. Just before serving, toss pasta with dressing.                                              

Serves 6

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