There are some foods that always make us reminiscent of the endless days of summer sunshine and adventure. Although these recipes are a bit more elevated than your usual childhood snacks, they are bound to rekindle a bit of nostalgia.

written by Victoria Sgro 
styled by Daniel Barceló

As the sweltering heat of another Florida summer beats down on us, I find myself daydreaming about the only thing that gives me true relief: water.

I cherish the memories of my dad taking my siblings and me out on the boat to go fishing when we were kids. Despite having to slather myself in sunscreen and hold onto my hat, being on the boat was incredibly relaxing. The sunshine was intense, but the breeze and the spray of the water cut through the heat and made for a perfect day. The moment we would drift away from the concrete ramp and into the water, we had escaped to paradise.

Of course, no paradise is complete without a haul of snacks. With five kids in our family, a day on the water meant shoving bags of treats anywhere we could fit them on the boat. Meals on the water were always accompanied by a couple sleeves of store-bought chocolate chip cookies. Even now, there’s something about pulling a cold sandwich and fresh fruit out of a cooler that takes me back to those days. We weren’t fancy, but man, were we happy.

These recipes take my favorite eats from those childhood adventures and turn them into something that adult-me can get excited about. While each one may feel elevated in comparison to a PB&J, they are all quick, simple, and made using ingredients you’re probably already munching on this summer. Which means you can skip the fast-food subs and dig into something lighter while you’re on the lake. Lighter — but still deeply satisfying.

I may not have gone on to be an expert fisherman from those days on the boat, but I will say that I have since significantly stepped up my snack game. These recipes are filled with love, fresh produce, and bursts of flavor that carry me through these blistering hot days. No more sleeves of Chips Ahoy in the cooler this summer.

Italian Veggie Sandwiches

(serves 4-6)

Gather for the whipped ricotta:

15 ounces ricotta

1 clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons minced chives

Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon dry thyme

For the sandwich:

1 large baguette

12-ounce jar artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

1 medium cucumber, sliced

12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and sliced

4 ounces arugula

Optional:

Giardiniera (spicy pickled veggies)

Sliced grilled chicken (for a non-veggie version)

Slice the baguette in half lengthwise, being careful not to slice all the way through. Toast under the broiler in the oven for a few minutes, until the bread is lightly toasted and golden brown inside. This will help keep the sandwich from getting soggy. 

Using a hand mixer or a whisk, beat together the ricotta, minced garlic, chives, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper, and thyme. Allow the bread to cool before spreading the whipped ricotta on both cut sides of the bread. Layer the sandwiches with the sliced veggies. If using, add the giardiniera and sliced chicken. Layer on a heap of arugula to complete the sandwich. Using a knife to hold the ingredients inside, close up the top piece of bread and cut into small sandwiches. Wrap each sandwich in aluminum foil or plastic wrap, and store in a zip-top bag in the cooler. 

 

 

Thick & Creamy Gazpacho

(serves 6)

2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes

2 mini cucumbers

2 cloves garlic

1 green bell pepper

1/2 cup diced red onion

1/2 cup raw almonds, chopped

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon cumin

2 teaspoons sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Wash and dry the tomatoes, bell pepper, and cucumber. Remove the stem, seeds, and ribs from the bell pepper. Peel the cucumber, and cut all the veggies into large chunks. 

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. The gazpacho will be creamy and thick, with the crunchy bite of the almonds. Pour the soup into mason jars to throw on ice. When ready to eat, break open a jar and enjoy that amazing texture and bursts of flavor!

Watermelon Salad

(serves 4-6)

4 cups cubed watermelon (about 1/4 of a medium seedless melon)

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup blueberries

2 ounces goat cheese

10 leaves fresh mint, thinly sliced

For the dressing:

Juice of 1 lime

2 tablespoons honey

1 clove garlic

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 jalapeño, sliced

Keep the watermelon in the fridge before preparing so it’s cold and crisp. Gently toss the cubed watermelon with the sea salt and place in a colander to drain while preparing the dressing. Place the lime juice, honey, garlic, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and jalapeño in a blender. Blend until well combined and smooth. 

Wash and dry the blueberries, and toss together with the drained watermelon. Crumble the goat cheese over the top and sprinkle with the sliced mint. Store in a sealed container on ice in the cooler until ready to break it out by the lake! Drizzle with 1/4 cup of dressing before serving (or more to taste).

Raspberry Crumble Bars

(makes 9 bars)

Gather for the crust and topping:

2-1/2 cups rolled oats, divided

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup butter, melted

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

For the filling:

12 ounces frozen raspberries, completely thawed

1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons cane sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Tools:

Cheesecloth or fine-mesh strainer

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper. Put 1 cup of the rolled oats into a food processor. Blend until you have fine oat flour. 

Combine the oat flour, remaining 1-1/2 cups of rolled oats, salt, baking powder, brown sugar, and melted butter in a bowl. Mix until evenly combined. Set aside 1 cup of the crumble mixture for the topping. Press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the parchment lined pan. Bake for 15 minutes while preparing the filling. 

For the filling, wrap the thawed raspberries in a large square of cheesecloth and squeeze out any excess juices. (This will keep your bars from getting soggy!) If you don’t have cheesecloth, you can use a spoon to gently press the raspberries in a fine-mesh strainer. Mix together the raspberries, coconut shreds, lemon juice, sugar, and cornstarch. Spread the filling evenly over the crust and sprinkle with the crumble topping. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow the bars to cool completely before cutting into squares. Keep them chilled until you’re ready to dig in!