Keeping it Cool on Canada Day

 

Watermelon "cookies" and ice cream

Watermelon “cookies” and ice cream

 

Our nation’s one hundred and fifty-first birthday, Canada Day, is Sunday. And unless you’ve been living in a cave- a lovely, cool cave- you may have heard that it’s expected to be a scorcher. If you haven’t planned a menu for the special day, here’s a look at a few of out favourite menu ideas that will help make you the coolest kid on the block.

With humidex values forecast to push the mercury up into the forties this weekend, you will want to stay out of the kitchen as much as possible. Grilling and barbecuing are your best bet, especially if your grill is set up in the shade. Burgers, hot dogs and steaks are go-to favourites, and for the more ambitious, shish-kebabs and spiducci  are always a hit. Beer can chicken maybe slightly mythologized, but you can still give it a go, but spatchcock chicken on the grill is quicker and even more delicious. If you’re at the cottage and have spent the day fishing, grilling is the only way to go. Here’s a reminder of the best, hassle –free ways to grill your catch.

 

spatchcock chicken

spatchcock chicken

For those that want to avoid meat, the options are limitless. Summer means salads, like the classic nicoise salad, a perfect partner to chilled vegetable soups like this super refreshing cucumber and watercress soup  or iceberg soup made with iceberg lettuce and peas; the name alone will cause a lineup. One of my favourite summer salads is the spinach and strawberry salad I first had at the legendary Vancouver restaurant, Delilah’s. Baby spinach, local strawberries, walnuts, goats-milk feta and thinly sliced red onion drizzled with a little evoo and balsamic, this super-simple salad comes together in minutes, and as Ontario strawberries are still in season it makes total sense to eat as much as is humanly possible.

 

IMG_6497

Spinach, strawberry and walnut salad with goat’s milk feta

 

Pasta salads are always welcome at any picnic, and picnic eggs  and potato salad made with new Ontario potatoes are de rigeur when it comes to hot weather dining and perfect for your Canada Day feast. Cooking the pasta, potatoes and eggs is a job you will want to do the evening before, when the sun has gone down; indeed, the more prep you can do the night before the better. Another cool idea for Canada Day is a big platter of sandwiches, open-faced on fresh bread or toasted on the grill, or the delectable and slightly precious tramezzini sandwich from Italy.Dips like hummus and babaganoush are great for hot weather snacking, especially if served with some fresh made pita that you can cook in minutes right on the ol’ grill.

 

watermelon lemonade

watermelon lemonade

Keeping hydrated for the big day is important, so have lots of ice-water on hand, and several jugs of the best lemonade you’ve ever had. Finally, for dessert, keeping it cool and simple is best. Ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbets and lots of fresh fruit are hard to beat. To keep the little ones busy and entertained, watermelon is super easy to cut into fun shapes with a cookie cutter, and making a platter of “watermelon cookies” with ice cream will make the Day’s celebration fun and memorable for them too.

Happy Canada Day.

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