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5 Easy Healthy Summer Recipes

Use the best foods of the season for a blast of color and flavor

En español | You could serve that old reliable summer meal—barbecue chicken, corn on the cob, potato salad and watermelon—but with a few tweaks, you can do it better, fresher, healthier. Here are five recipes to feed your inspiration.

a plate of smoky barbeque chicken thighs


Smoky Barbecue Chicken Thighs

Serves 6 to 8

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are super flavorful and grill quickly. Heighten flavor with the simple spice rub, and rather than slather on lots of barbecue sauce, just brush on a mix of apple cider vinegar and honey for a light, pleasant sweet-and-sour finish.

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar, light or dark
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

* Mix sugar, paprika, pepper, garlic powder and salt in a small bowl. In another small bowl mix vinegar and honey.

Put the chicken into a shallow pan, drizzle with the oil, and toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the chicken; toss and rub to coat thoroughly.

Prepare a hot charcoal fire, or heat a gas grill with all burners on high for 10 minutes.

Clean the hot grate with a wire brush, and then lubricate it with an oil-soaked paper towel. Put the chicken, skin side down, onto the grate and grill, covered, until one side has dark grill marks (5 to 6 minutes for large thighs; 4 to 5 minutes for medium and small thighs). Turn and continue to grill until well marked on the other sides and cooked through (5 to 6 minutes longer for large thighs; 4 to 5 minutes for medium and small thighs).

Transfer thighs to a serving dish, and brush with vinegar-honey mixture; let rest 4 to 5 minutes. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

bowl full of red, white, and blue potato salad


Red, White and Blue Potato Salad

Serves 6 to 8

Use the sun-dried-tomato oil to dress the salad. It's a good use of the oil, and it makes a flavorful topping.

  • 2 pounds baby red and blue potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar, divided
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup small-diced shallots (2 medium or 1 large)
  • 1/2 cup chopped sundried tomatoes packed in oil, plus 3 tablespoons sun-dried-tomato oil
  • 1/2 cup small-diced red bell pepper (1/2 small)
  • 1/2 cup torn basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon each whole-grain mustard and Dijon mustard

Place potatoes, with water to cover, in a medium pot; cover pot and bring water to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until a thin-bladed paring knife inserted into one of the potatoes can be removed with no resistance, 15 to 20 minutes.

Drain and cool potatoes until warm enough to handle. Using a serrated knife, thinly slice warm potatoes and layer them in a medium bowl, drizzling with 2 tablespoons of the vinegar and lightly seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. Place shallots, tomatoes, peppers and basil over potatoes. Can be covered and set aside at room temperature for a couple of hours.

Mix remaining 1 tablespoon of vinegar with mustards and a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Gradually whisk in sun-dried-tomato oil to form an emulsified dressing.

When ready to serve, drizzle dressing over salad and toss gently to coat. Adjust seasonings and serve.

Grilled Corn Salad with Arugula, Avocado and Radishes


Grilled-Corn Salad With Arugula, Avocado and Radishes

Serves 6

For efficiency, grill the corn when you grill the chicken. Aleppo pepper offers mild, distinct heat. You should be able to find it in a well-stocked grocery store or spice shop, and it's readily available online. If you can't find it, simply sprinkle the salad with ground black pepper to taste and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

  • 4 ears shucked corn
  • 1 cup sliced radishes
  • 3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups arugula or baby kale
  • 1/4 cup torn cilantro leaves
  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, skinned and cut into small dice
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper

Prepare a hot charcoal fire, or heat a gas grill with all burners on high for 10 minutes.

Clean the hot grate with a wire brush, and then lubricate it with an oil-soaked paper towel. Put the corn onto the grate, and grill, covered, until spotty brown all over, turning at the 5- and 10-minute marks, for a total of 15 minutes. Remove from the grill and let stand.

When cool enough to handle, cut corn from cobs and place in a large bowl. Place radishes, scallions, arugula and cilantro over corn. (Can be covered and refrigerated for several hours.) When ready to serve, prepare and add avocado to the bowl. Drizzle in olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper; toss to coat. Drizzle lime juice over salad; toss to coat again. Sprinkle with Aleppo pepper and serve.

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platter of watermelon feta salad with mint


Watermelon Salad With Feta, Mint and Pomegranate Syrup

Serves 6 to 8

Pomegranate syrup's sweet-sourness heightens the watermelon's flavor. The syrup is available at specialty shops and well-stocked grocery stores and online. If you can't locate it, substitute balsamic glaze or reduction, which you can find in the vinegar aisle in most grocery stores. And if you're up for it, you can make balsamic glaze by simmering balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat to a syrup consistency.

  • 6 cups medium-diced watermelon
  • 2 ounces (1/2 cup) small-diced feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate syrup
  • 1/2 cup torn mint leaves

Place watermelon cubes in a large, wide serving dish. (Can be covered and refrigerated for several hours.) When ready to serve, sprinkle feta, drizzle pomegranate syrup, and scatter mint leaves over watermelon. Serve.

Frozen Coconut Milk and Raspberry Sorbet with Blueberry Sauce


Frozen Coconut Milk and Raspberry Sorbet With Blueberry Sauce

Serves 6

If you have an ice cream freezer, you can easily make homemade frozen vanilla coconut milk. It's as simple as mixing 2 cans (13.5 ounces each) of regular coconut milk, 1 cup of sugar and 2 teaspoons of vanilla in a medium bowl. Refrigerate overnight until well chilled. A few hours before serving, churn, and then place in the freezer until ready to serve.

The blueberry sauce melds the store-bought frozen coconut milk and raspberry sorbet and gives this easy dessert a homemade feel. Leftover berry sauce can be used to flavor yogurt.

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, plus extra for serving (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 pint frozen vanilla coconut milk
  • 1 pint raspberry sorbet

Put berries, honey, orange zest and 6 tablespoons water into a small Dutch oven. When mixture starts to simmer, whisk in cornstarch mixture. Continue to simmer until mixture thickens to sauce consistency. Cool sauce to room temperature. (Can be refrigerated in a covered jar for a couple of weeks.)

A couple of hours before serving, remove cardboard packaging from around the sorbet. Working quickly, use a sharp knife to slice the frozen tube into 6 rounds, laying them on a small rimmed baking sheet and immediately returning them to the freezer. Repeat the process with the frozen coconut milk.

When ready to serve, place one of each frozen round onto a dessert plate. Top with blueberry sauce — and a couple of fresh blueberries, if you like — and serve immediately.