June – Time to Celebrate & Greek Salad with Grilled Shrimp

And so it begins, June – a month filled with rites of passage, transitions and promise. Pomp and circumstance will fill the air when graduates march from the high school one last time. Bevies of nervous brides will walk down the aisle to meet their just-as-nervous grooms and tie the knot. Families and all their earthly possessions will take to the road for a new life in a new home. Temperatures (and humidity) will inch up and up, proving once again that there really is summer in New Hampshire.

Along with those momentous occasions and wonderful warm weather comes the promise of parties, picnics, freshly squeezed lemonade and local strawberries. But what if there are no smiling graduates or beaming brides in your family this summer? What do you have to celebrate? Hhhmmmm.

Well, today is National Rocky Road Day. This well-loved ice cream got its name soon after the stock market crash of 1929. With the country in depression, the inventor hoped his new flavor would raise a smile on the difficult road to recovery. I suppose an ice cream social would not be amiss; perhaps even obligatory.

National Yo-Yo Day is coming up on Saturday. You could always organize a neighborhood tournament. Unless, you decide to forgo yo-yos in favor of the track, Saturday is also the running of the Belmont Stakes. With American Pharoah two-for-two on his quest for the Triple Crown, it’s a good time to whip up a batch of Belmont Breeze and invite friends over to see if history will again be made. Of course you could combine the two. The race only takes a few minutes, leaving you plenty of time to Walk the Dog and Shoot the Moon.

Sunday is National Donut Day. Although she couldn’t boil water, my father swears that his grandmother was the world’s best donut maker. Although she left a few clues, Nana Slack did not leave her recipe behind. Perhaps I should celebrate the day by trying to recreate her amazing donuts.

Later in the month, we have National Ballpoint Day on June 10th. I suppose we could all go to the bank and make off with a stash of pens. I think I’ll give that one a pass. National Picnic Day on June 18th sounds like a lot more fun. School lets out about that time. Why not celebrate the last day of school with a trip to the coast or lake and a picnic?

On the 21st you can take your pick and celebrate the Summer Solstice or Father’s Day or both. Enjoy the longest day with another picnic. This time, your feast should include Scandinavian delights like gravlax and lingon berries. Fresh lingon berries are more or less impossible to find outside of Scandinavia but you can probably find some jam at IKEA or on line.

If you have little ones at home or visiting, you can’t go wrong with National Fairy Day on June 24th. Spend the afternoon building fanciful Fairy Houses. Start with a walk in the woods to collect twigs, bits of bark and moss, acorns and stones for your whimsical constructions. Find a quiet and cozy spot to build your house (or neighborhood of houses) and put it all together. Finish off the afternoon with a scrumptious tea party with strawberry shortcakes.

Here’s hoping that your June is full of delights and surprises. Bon appétit!

Greek Salad with Grilled Shrimp
Whether your picnic is in the backyard or miles from home, everyone will love this classic summer salad. Enjoy!
Serves 8

1 small red onion, cut in half horizontally and then into thin wedges
2 cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
About 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
About 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pints cherry tomatoes (in a mix of different shapes and colors if you can find them), halved
1 European cucumber, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
8 ounces feta, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
16-20 Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
2-4 pita breads, quartered

Put the onion and garlic in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with vinegar and toss to combine. Drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil and toss again. Stirring occasionally, let the onions marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Put the tomatoes and cucumbers in a bowl, sprinkle with the herbs and toss to combine. Add the onions and olives to the tomatoes and cucumbers and toss to combine. Add the feta and gently toss to combine.

To serve: transfer the salad to a large, deep serving platter or individual plates and top with shrimp and a wedge or two of pita.

Grilled Shrimp
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
About 2 1/2 pounds extra-large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes (optional)

Put the olive oil in a bowl, add the garlic, lemon zest and juice and whisk to combine. Add the shrimp, sprinkle with herbs, salt and pepper and toss to combine. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes and up to about 30 minutes.

Heat the grill to medium-high. Place the shrimp directly on the grill or thread them onto the soaked skewers. Grill the shrimp, turning once, until just opaque, about 2-4 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. The shrimp can be grilled in advance, covered and stored in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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One Year Ago – Asparagus & Radish Salad
Two Years Ago – Salsa Verde
Three Years Ago – Asian Noodle Salad
Four Years Ago – Asparagus Goat Cheese Tart
Five Years Ago – Not Your Ordinary Burger
Six Years Ago – Strawberry Rhubarb Soup
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What will you celebrate this month? Feel free to share. Let’s start a conversation.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2015

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