If you enjoy a good date night at home, but hate having to heat up the kitchen, these cool summer recipes will satisfy your hunger while beating the heat. As a bonus, they all are ripe with aphrodisiacs -- perfect for when you are trying to heat things up the other way.
Aphrodisiacs are foods and other substances believed to increase a person's sex drive or desire (think Love Potion No. 9). So, serving up aphrodisiac foods is a subtle come-hither. While these might not have the same impact as a magical love potion in a movie, they are certainly tasty and definitely welcome on a hot evening.
1/8 cup good-quality balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 ripe tomatoes
1/2 cucumber, peeled
1/2 medium red onion
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 green bell pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 to 3 shakes Louisiana hot sauce
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer the gazpacho to a tightly sealing container and chill for at least 12 hours before serving.
Yields about 1 cup
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt, to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until combined.
Note: This pesto is fantastic when tossed with pasta, spread on bread or made into a toasty appetizer, as in the next recipe.
4 (1-inch) slices Italian bread
2 tablespoons classic basil pesto (see above for recipe)
1 large tomato, cut into 4 slices
4 (1/2-inch) slices fresh mozzarella
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place the slices of Italian bread on a baking sheet and spread with pesto. Toast in the oven until golden, about 5 minutes.
2. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Top each piece of bread with a slice of tomato and a slice of mozzarella. Serve immediately.
Note: To keep kitchen heat to a minimum, toast the bread in a toaster oven.
1 very ripe banana, cut into 1-inch chunks
4 ounces dark chocolate
Special items: Double boiler pan, waxed paper, toothpicks
1. Place the banana chunks on waxed paper and stick a toothpick down the center of each. Freeze for at least 2 hours.
2. Fill the bottom of a double boiler pan with about 1 inch of water, place the top pan on and break the dark chocolate into it. Heat the water, stirring the chocolate until it's fully melted.
3. Tilt the pan and pull all the chocolate to one side. Then, roll each frozen banana chunk in the chocolate (use a spoon to coat, if necessary).
4. Place back on the waxed paper and return the banana chunks to the freezer until ready to eat.
4 ounces peach nectar, chilled
8 ounces champagne, chilled
2 slices fresh peach, chilled
Divide the peach nectar into two champagne flutes. Top with champagne. Gently stir (just one swish). Garnish with a slice of fresh peach and serve.
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