Grilled Romaine Halves with Caesar Dressing

During the summer, it’s natural to throw everything on the grill, and salads are no exception. Sure, you can do fantastic grilled veggie salads tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette. Or you can impress your guests with this unexpected grilled Romaine salad.

Just brush the cut halves of Romaine heads with a bit of olive oil (I have a lemon-flavored oil I use for this) and grill for a few minutes on each side while your meat is resting.

The traditional Caesar dressing can be made in the blender or food processor (or by hand if you’re feeling energetic). Don’t skip the anchovies — they add incredible flavor and nobody (but you) will know they’re there.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try this with Iceberg lettuce to make a very different kind of wedge salad.

Risotto with Peas, Ricotta, and Lemon

Once upon a time, I was scared of weeknight risotto. Everyone said it required too much time, too much stirring, too much attention. The latter, alas, is true. As is the stirring part. But you can whip out an excellent risotto in under 45 minutes.

This recipe reminds me of Spring.  The peas — fresh or frozen — add a lovely flavor. And the lemon adds freshness. Plus, if you can think of a better way to use up leftover ricotta, I am eager to hear your secret recipes!

Final note: I love me some bacon (or, prosciutto), but just omit it for a vegetarian option. Or serve the crumbled salty pork on the side. Also, substitute vegetable stock for chicken stock for a truly vegetarian meal.

Butternut Squash Curry

Fall in Southern California is more a concept than a season. While my East Coast and Midwest friends talk about cooler temperatures and extol the virtues of casseroles and other cool-weather dishes, I often grill until January.

Still, I am not immune to cravings…and an overabundance of squash. And while I love a good soup, sometimes something more hearty, yet still light, is necessary. This curry — which can be made with any squash, to be honest — is filling, just spicy enough, and perfect for warm or cool evenings.

As a bonus, this recipe is vegan, making it a perfect dish for dinner parties or potlucks.

Steak Salad with Green Goddess Dressing

While steak on its own is a fine, fine meal, sometimes the salad craving can’t be ignored. This salad was born during a particularly brutal heatwave. The cool mix of vegetables, the light, tangy dressing (which I have also served with a good dash of chipotle), and the well-seasoned steak makes a satisfying meal.

Feel free to add or subtract ingredients based on what is in season. In late summer, I tend to have a lot of zucchini, so grilling it is a natural.