(Family Features) As rays of sunshine light up backyards and patios, many families take their meals outdoors to enjoy the warm weather while sharing special moments together. More time spent eating meals on the deck or patio calls for recipes that fit your al fresco theme from plant-forward takes on traditional summer fare to platters and spreads that offer everyone something to smile about.
For a unique twist on the classic backyard burger, prepare fresh Falafel Burgers with Cucumber Sauce that provide a plant-based way to emphasize nutrition at the center of your plate. As a trendy way to rethink summer cooking, this family-friendly recipe keeps flavor top of mind while adding plants to the menu.
If lunchtime or snacking in the sunshine calls for an even lighter dish, this Mediterranean Platter offers an opportunity for stylish expression that can be prepared ahead of time. As a simple snack that encourages people to gather and socialize, it’s a perfect summer spread that combines veggies, hummus, cheese and pita bread.
Visit Aramark’s Feed Your Potential website, fyp365.com, to find more ways to celebrate the season.
Recipe courtesy of Aramark
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon sugar
3 3/4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup diced tomato
1 cup diced English cucumber
1 tablespoon diced dill pickle
2 tablespoons sliced green onion
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
3 cups hummus
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 1/4 cups pitted mixed olives
6 pita breads, warmed and quartered
In bowl, mix lemon, 1/4 teaspoon salt and sugar. Cover and chill 2-6 hours. Dice lemon. Mix diced lemon and 1/4 teaspoon olive oil. Cover and chill.
Mix diced lemon, tomato, cucumber, pickle, green onion, parsley, vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cover and chill.
Lightly oil grill rack and heat grill to medium. Mix pepper, asparagus, remaining oil and remaining salt.
Grill asparagus 2 minutes, or until tender-crisp. Let cool. Cover and chill.
Set large serving platter on work surface. Place hummus and tomato salad in small bowls.
To assemble, place larger items on platter then arrange smaller items around them. Group pita in several small stacks next to bowls. Arrange feta and olives in remaining space.
Falafel Burgers with Cucumber Sauce
Recipe courtesy of Aramark
2 medium cucumbers, peeled and coarsely grated
2 cups plain full-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried dill
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2-3 tablespoons water
2 cans (15 ounces each) chickpeas, rinsed, drained and patted dry
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
1 red onion, halved and sliced
1 cup loosely packed cilantro
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 jalapeno, sliced
3/4 cup chickpea flour
4 teaspoons ground coriander
4 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 tablespoons grapeseed or vegetable oil
To make cucumber sauce: Place grated cucumber in clean dish towel. Roll dish towel around cucumber and squeeze to remove excess liquid.
In bowl, mix cucumber, yogurt, lemon juice, oil, garlic, dill and salt. Stir in 2 tablespoons water, adding more as needed until mixture is smooth and creamy. Cover and chill.
To make falafel patties: In food processor, cover and process chickpeas and sesame seeds until mixture is finely chopped. Transfer to bowl.
In food processor, cover and process carrot, onion, cilantro, garlic and jalapeno until finely chopped. Add vegetable mixture to chickpea mixture. Add flour, coriander, cumin, salt and black pepper; mix well.
Heat oven to 375 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Shape chickpea mixture into four patties. In skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Cook patties 3 minutes, or until golden brown on bottoms. Turn over and cook 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Transfer patties to baking sheet.
Bake 20 minutes. Let patties cool 15 minutes. Place patties on buns and top with lettuce and tomato, if desired. Drizzle with cucumber sauce.