Summer Vegetable Paella

We’ve been compiling a list of summer cooking projects all year.  Not our ordinary fare, the summer list involves any or all of the following: complex methods that require additional research and secondary sources including calls to grandmas and other expert cooks; Google searches to translate mysterious ingredients into plain English and pinpoint local suppliers (usually unexplored ethnic or specialty markets—a side bonus); kneading; equipment that’s tucked away in the garage (and requires a stepladder to reach) or borrowed; painstaking stirring and long stretches of waiting; pastry flour; squash blossoms; stone fruit and berries; sweet treats.

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Roasted Red Pepper, Artichoke and Tomato Soup

You can follow the shortcut route with this recipe—with bottled peppers and canned tomatoes, even frozen artichoke hearts or bottoms—but if you have the time, use fresh artichokes and roast your own peppers.  You’ll be glad you did.  Turn on the radio, roll up your sleeves and have some fun in the kitchen.

You’ll need two-thirds of a 28-ounce can of tomatoes.  Freeze the remainder in a covered plastic container for later use in soup, pasta sauce—you name it.

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Steamed Artichokes with Lemon Aioli

Artichokes are a special treat—as an appetizer or side dish they’ll elevate an ordinary meal to an occasion worthy of real conversation.  And conversation you’ll get since it takes awhile to eat these enormous, spiky flowers.  Pluck each leaf individually and scrap the tender flesh off with your teeth—but first dip it into a lemony mayo sauce.  Our sauce isn’t true aioli.  If you feel inclined to mix up the classic garlic, egg yolk and olive oil mixture, please do.  But if you’re in a pinch or want something simple, try the sauce my family always enjoys—something a 10 year-old can manage.  And it’s actually pretty tasty.

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