I’ve never spent a weekend at the lake, but I sure know a lot of people in Kentucky who do. We had some viewer requests for recipes that would be lake-friendly, so I put together a tasty menu of quick recipes that are easy to prepare in advance, can be stacked into a cooler, and are easy to share with a crowd. With food like this, maybe one of you lovely folks will invite me to come along on one of your fancy lake weekends. You supply the boat, I’ll supply the eats.
Ever notice how food is always tastier when you’re close to water? Doesn’t matter if it’s the ocean, a lake, or even a swimming pool…heck, even a snack after a bath tastes better than one before.
We got our hands on some gorgeous zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, and tomatoes, which are the perfect lake accompaniments. When you’re out on a boat in the heat, in a bathing suit, vegetables are your new best friend.
Family-Style Italian Pesto Sandwiches
Here are the pesto fixin’s…
Assorted meats: salami, ham, and prosciutto…but anything goes!
- 2 handfuls basil, plus large leaves for sandwich
- ¼ cup walnuts
- ½ cup parmesan
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 loaf Italian bread
- ½ lb provolone cheese slices (about 6 slices)
- 1 lb assorted deli meat, such as salami, ham, prosciutto or country ham
- ½ cup sliced pickled banana peppers
- Lettuce and tomato, optional
To make the pesto, pulse the basil, walnuts, parmesan, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and with the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Using a serrated knife, split the loaf of bread laterally to make one giant sandwich. If desired (and if the loaf is quite thick or doughy), scoop some of the inside of the loaf out and reserve for another use. Spread the pesto on both sides of the bread, then layer the cheese, salami, ham, prosciutto, basil leaves, and banana peppers on top. Add the top of the bread and wrap the entire sandwich up for travel. If desired, cut the sandwich into portions and wrap. Or, if you’re like me, bring a bread knife and cut into portions at the lake. If you like, bring along lettuce and tomato for impromptu add-ins.
Orzo Chicken Salad
- 1 lb orzo, cooked to al dente and drained
- 2 tsp olive oil, plus additional for dressing
- 1 lb chicken tenders
- 1 cup red onion
- 1 small eggplant, diced
- 1 zucchini, diced
- ½ cup cilantro, chopped
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- Zest and juice of 1 lime
- Salt and pepper
In a sauté pan, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then add to the pan and cook until nicely browned. Cool slightly and dice into squares.
In another pan, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil and lightly sauté the red onion, eggplant, and zucchini. In a large bowl, combine the orzo, chicken, and vegetables. Add the cilantro and season with cumin, chili powder, lime zest and juice, salt and pepper, and plenty of olive oil. Pack into one large container for family-style sharing or into individual deli containers for a tidy side dish or entree.
Cold S’mores for Hot Days
I had these puppies for the first time in Savannah at Paula Deen’s house and fell in love instantly. Swap the toasted marshmallows out for marshmallow fluff, straight from the jar, if you want a s’more that is extra ooey-gooey.
- 20 whole graham crackers, broken or cut with a serrated knife into 40 squares
- 20 large marshmallows
- 1 chocolate bar, chopped into pieces
Arrange 20 of the graham crackers squares on a baking sheet and top each one with a large marshmallow. Bake at 350 until the marshmallows are puffy and begin to brown, about 7-9 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with the remaining graham squares, pressing down to spread the marshmallow and make a sandwich. Allow to cool.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave and dip the corner of each sandwich into the chocolate. Or you can drizzle the chocolate with a spoon directly on top of each sandwich, with no rhyme or reason. Chill in the refrigerator until chocolate sets and serve cold. Individually wrapped in parchment, waxed paper, foil, or little baggies, and tucked into the cooler, these make easy sweet treats that everyone can help themselves to.
And what to wear to the lake? This versatile Jade top from Monkee’s of Lexington, which retails for $85. Throw it on with white shorts, navy shorts, or transition it to cooler weather with white skinny jeans. And even though I rarely change my jewelry (I’m lazy…and a creature of habit), these earrings provide the perfect pop of orange. Want this outfit for yourself? Pop in to the store or give those lovely ladies at Monkee’s a ring.