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5 creative summer dinners

NYC's finest culinary talent opts for grilled squid and roasted corn in the husk.

One thing most chefs at the best restaurants have in common is that they rarely make dinner at home, especially during summer, when standing over a hot stove for additional hours isn’t anyone’s idea of a great night.

When they do, however, the meals they whip up in the kitchen are a far cry from the elaborate dishes they serve their guests. They focus on fast and easy (to balance out cooking exhaustion) and fresh and healthy (to balance out restaurant indulgences).

Follow the lead of these five New York City-based chefs, who take advantage of farmer’s market produce in just a few, simple steps.

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  • DAVID STANDRIDGE, CAFE CLOVER

    DAVID STANDRIDGE, CAFE CLOVER

    “I’m super lucky in that I have the Inwood farmers market just down the street from me every Saturday. A pan-seared strip loin with sautéed asparagus, garlic scapes, and a quick lemon vinaigrette is about as close to the perfect meal as I can get right now. Garlic scapes are the green stalk of the garlic plant, and they have this great grassy, mildly garlicky flavor that turns a bit sweet when they cook. I’ll cut them into small pieces and sautée them with the asparagus while the steak is resting. Then, I toss them with lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil and serve alongside the strip loin.” 

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  • MELIA MARDEN, THE SMILE

    MELIA MARDEN, THE SMILE

    “I love oven-roasted corn and tomato salads. I just put the whole ear of corn—husk on—in the oven and roast for about 15 minutes, and it steams in its own husk. Then you can serve as-is, with lime zest, or cut the kernels off and toss with raw zucchini, olive oil, lime juice, and fresh herbs.

    I always have tomatoes in the house all summer, too. I love a classic tomato, mozzarella, and basil salad, but I'll also use roasted beets, tomato, and crumbled feta with fresh parsley.”

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  • CLARE DE BOER, KING

    CLARE DE BOER, KING

    "Summer means less cooking and more vinegar, lemon juice, capers, and olives. Perfectly ripe produce needs little help and is often most delicious raw. One of my go-to summer meals is tomatoes from the greenmarket at Grand Army Plaza, drenched in olive oil with nothing more than some torn olives, capers, marjoram, and red wine vinegar. Add some sea salt and pepper, and maybe a few slices of red onion. I love eating it with toasted bread.”

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  • GALEN ZAMARRA, MAS

    GALEN ZAMARRA, MAS

    "Our summers are spent out on the North Fork of Long Island. One of my favorite meals is grilled squid with a tomato and watermelon salad. Block Island is famous for its squid. Separate the heads from the bodies, clean it all out well, and marinate them for 10 to 20 minutes in a mixture of pickle juice, soy, and Worcestershire sauce. I get a good bed of coals going on the grill. Then, I slice super ripe heirlooms and small watermelons thin. I grill the watermelon over high heat very briefly with just a small amount of olive oil and then grill the squid for two mins per side. I layer the tomatoes and watermelon like you would for a caprese salad and dress it liberally with fresh ground pepper and a finishing salt. I finish by drizzling a little more olive oil and adding some chunks of feta cheese.” 

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  • GABRIELLA MANN, BABA COOL

    GABRIELLA MANN, BABA COOL

    “In the summer, I eat lots of tropical fruit like mango, watermelon, and pineapple. I also eat refreshing salads with crunchy, water-based vegetables like cucumbers and use more fresh herbs. We just added a sea scallop dish with roasted peaches, fresh basil, microgreens, and wild rice to the menu that is a go-to for me. People are often scared of making scallops at home because they think of it as something only restaurants can make. We cook the scallops in ghee on each side for two to three minutes in a pan. Then we roast the peaches with a little brown sugar and olive oil in the oven for five minutes, and that's a wrap. You've got a beautiful, easy, and delicious summer meal.”

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