Joni Woolf: Turn off the stove — enjoy these easy summer recipes

Published 11:47 am Wednesday, July 3, 2019

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I wandered around the farmers’ market, considering the peaches, and finally bought a small bag to continue my summer project of peach preserves — something I do every summer, for the most part, to give away. But one must eat to stay alive, and peaches alone will not suffice. So, I also bought tomatoes (the best ones I’ve found are at Rudy’s Happy Patch) and corn (from Chase) and made another delightful corn salad. I could eat it several times a week. As could my granddaughter, Lane Wooten. And though I am drawn back to the peaches, I’ll give readers a rest from my dozens of peach recipes (though they will be coming back soon), and write today about cool — literally — foods that take us out of the kitchen on these dreadfully hot, summer days.

Salads are always in style, and I’ve gone to my favorite sources for recipes that I have adapted (to my taste and to whatever is available at the time). These are easy, and you only have to turn on the stove for one of them.


Heirloom Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese

1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons canola oil

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut into ½-inch wedges

¼ cup chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, parsley and chives

4 to 6 oz. fresh goat cheese, crumbled

¼ cup mixture of basil, arugula, or beet leaves

To make the dressing, whisk the vinegar and mustard together in a large bowl. Add the oils in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly, until the dressing is creamy. Season with salt and pepper. Add the tomato wedges and gently toss to coat. Add the herbs and goat cheese and toss to coat. Divide among chilled serving plates and top with greens. Serve immediately.


Summer Shrimp Salad

4 lbs. cooked, cleaned shrimp

2 cups sliced water chestnuts

½ cup finely chopped green onions

½ cup diced celery

1 cup toasted slivered almonds

Romaine lettuce


1 ½ cups mayonnaise (I use less, a scant cup)

3 teaspoons curry powder

3 tablespoons soy sauce

Mix dressing ingredients thoroughly, using whisk. Cut shrimp in large pieces. Add water chestnuts, onion, and celery, and mix gently. Add dressing and toss gently. Refrigerate overnight, if possible, for flavors to blend. Arrange salad portions on crisp lettuce leaves and garnish with toasted almonds just before serving. A nice bread accompaniment would be blueberry, honey, or bran muffins with sweet butter.


There’s nothing like honey in any of its forms to make a meal complete. The following recipe came to mind because my fig tree not only survived the hurricane winds of last fall; it is bursting with green figs that will soon be ripe — and ready for this recipe.


Honey Figs with Goat Cheese and Pecans

1 cup chopped pecans

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 6-oz. log fresh goat cheese

12 to 18 fresh figs

¾ cups honey, such as tupelo, orange blossom or sweet clover

To prepare the goat cheese, place the chopped pecans in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Roll the goat cheese log in the pecans to coat evenly. Refrigerate until firm, if necessary, then cut into 4 to 6 uniform rounds. To prepare the figs, using a small paring knife and starting at the stem end, quarter the figs, but don’t cut quite all the way through the bottom. Open them slightly to form a flower. To serve, divide the figs evenly among 4 to 6 shallow bowls. Top each fig with a round of pecan-encrusted goat cheese. Drizzle the honey over the figs and cheese. If you prefer, season with salt and pepper before serving.


All of these recipes are within the skill set of most of us who inhabit kitchens. They are not difficult to prepare. They feature healthy ingredients. They can be doubled or tripled if necessary. And they are pretty to look at. What more might we ask of the foods we eat and serve to those we love?


(Note: Both the Heirloom Tomato Salad and the Honey Figs with Goat Cheese recipes were found in Virginia Willis’ wonderful cookbook, Bon Appetit, Y’All. I’ve changed slightly for my own cooking preferences.)


Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at