Cooking Cove: Easy summer dinners for easy summer living

Cooking Cove: Easy summer dinners for easy summer living

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By Barbara Beltrami

This is the season for taking advantage of being outdoors, being super casual and feeling no guilt over not slaving over a hot stove. It’s a time when our appetites crave things that sing and taste of summer…things like seafood and fresh veggies, salads and sandwiches that require a minimum of work, much of it before the sun gets too high in the sky, so we can just sit and enjoy ourselves wherever we are. 

I’m going to tell you about a few of my favorite easy summer dishes, and in fact, there are so many I want to share that I may keep doing this for a few weeks. This week I’m going to start with fish. Here are recipes for savory and spicy fish tacos, a refreshing shrimp and avocado salad and a little riff on the ever popular New England lobster roll, this one with scallops. 

I hope there will be something for everyone’s taste buds and lifestyle.

Fish Tacos

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


Nonstick cooking spray

1 1/2 pounds grouper, cod or hake fillets 

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

Kosher salt to taste

Eight 6” tortillas

1 medium tomato, diced

1 jalapeno, finely chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves

1 cup shredded purple cabbage

1/4 cup diced red onion

1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil

Freshly squeezed juice of one lime

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray; place fish fillets on sheet. In a small bowl combine the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne and kosher salt, then rub mixture fish fillets; bake for 13 minutes or until fish is flaky and cooked through; remove from oven; set aside to keep warm. In a large bowl toss together the tomato, jalapeno, cilantro, cabbage, onion, oil, lime juice and salt and pepper. In a large skillet warm tortillas on both sides; place on platter. With a fork or your fingers, break fish into bite-size chunks and divide evenly among tortillas; top with veggie mixture. Serve with sour cream, tomato salsa and ice cold beer. 

Shrimp Salad with Avocado and White Beans

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings


1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined, boiled and chilled

12 to 16 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallion

One 14-ounce can of white beans, drained, rinsed and drained again

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice

1 tablespoon orange or mango juice

2 T chopped fresh flat leaf parsley leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

1 teaspoon mayonnaise

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 ripe avocado

Bibb, Romaine or red leaf lettuce leaves


In a medium bowl combine shrimp, tomatoes, scallion, and beans. In a small bowl, vigorously whisk together the oil, juices, herbs, mayonnaise, and salt and pepper; pour over shrimp mixture and toss to coat thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate one hour. Line a serving plate or bowl with lettuce leaves, scoop shrimp salad onto them. Immediately before serving, peel and slice avocado and arrange on top. Serve with focaccia and a crisp dry chilled white wine. 

Scallop Rolls

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings


1 pound cooked sea scallops, chopped, chilled

3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 cup finely chopped celery

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1/3  to 1/2 cup mayonnaise

4 to 6 split top hot dog rolls

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened


In a medium bowl thoroughly combine the scallops, lemon juice, salt and pepper, celery, dill and mayonnaise. Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. While it is heating, open rolls so they are butterflied, spread the insides with butter and put them face down on the hot surface; cook them about 30 seconds on each side until they are crispy and golden; transfer to plates, fill with scallop mixture and serve with wedges of lemon, potato chips and iced tea.