Easy Raw and Vegan Recipes to Freshen Your Summer Table

BlogHer Original Post

Of all the many joys of summer months—longer afternoons, weekends spent with one’s toes in the sand, farmers’ markets bursting with ripe produce—outdoor entertaining is one of the sweetest. What’s better than the chance to celebrate balmy weather and one’s loved ones at once? Summer is the season in which friends most love to share fresh food.

You may associate al fresco dining with grilling—and all those burgers and steaks—but summertime is also a season when fresh, local produce shines. From juicy berries to tender, delicate greens, there’s no time like the present to explore dishes that are made entirely from vegetables, fruits, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds.

When I tell people I love to prepare raw food dishes, the typical response is bewilderment and, “I could never do that!” While taking a full-time leap into vegan and raw food may not be for you right now, I promise you can, in fact, make delicious and inspiring raw and vegan food—without stress or hassle, and without investing in a ton of appliances. Raw food may sound exotic, but the truth is plenty of the dishes we already know and love—especially in the summer—are raw already! Gazpacho. Guacamole. Salads. Fresh fruits and smoothies. These foods are completely raw, yet we never think to give them a special classification.

With that in mind, let me share five of my favorite recipes for summer entertaining. These will not only delight your guests' palates, but they’ll leave you, your friends, and your family feeling healthy and refreshed! Best of all, you’ll find that they’re as easy as chopping, blending, and mixing—perfect for steamy nights when you don’t want to turn on the oven!

Raw, Vegan Mock Tuna Salad in Butter Lettuce Cups

When I first became vegan, I worried that I’d miss good, old-fashioned tuna salad sandwiches. Little did I know there’s a quick, easy, and absolutely delicious raw, vegan version that’s every bit as satisfying. Enjoy this in lettuce cups or on cucumber rounds!

Vegan Mock Tuna Salad

Serves 12

1 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, soaked at least 2 hours in water and drained
2 pickles, chopped
2 large stalks celery, chopped finely
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1 tbsp pickle juice
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsps dulse flakes/granules (available in any health food store, but totally optional if you can’t find them)
1/2 tsp sea salt
12 butter lettuce cups

  1. Place sunflower seeds in a food processor fitted with the S blade and pulse till they’re well combined but not totally smooth.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and pulse again, till everything is broken down and uniform.
  3. Divide “tuna salad” evenly into the 12 butter lettuce cups. Serve!

Raw, Vegan Yellow Tomato and Pepper Gazpacho Shooters with Avocado Garnish

Gazpacho may be the quintessential summer appetizer. In this recipe, yellow tomatoes and a delicate avocado garnish add creativity and flair. When soup is this simple, what’s not to love?

Serves 15-20 in shooter size

2 Large (or 3 medium) yellow tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, roughly chopped
1 medium celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 small cucumber, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 tbsp lime juice + extra
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
Black pepper to taste
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 large avocado, cubed

  1. Blend the tomato, pepper, celery, cucumber, garlic, lime, olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper in a high speed blender till smooth.
  2. Mix the onion, cilantro, avocado, and cover them with a squeeze of lime juice. Pour soup into shooter glasses and garnish each with 2 tbsp of the avocado/onion mixture.

Fruity Guacamole with Summer Basil

I’ll admit it: I’m crazy about this recipe. For ages, I associated guacamole only with red onion and lime. Little did I know that avocado (which is technically a fruit) pairs beautifully with other fruits! You’ll be delighted with this creative spin on an old favorite, and your guests will, too.

Fruity Guacamole

Serves 6

3 large, ripe Haas avocados
2-3 tbsp lime juice
1/4 cup basil, chopped
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup pineapple, chopped
1/2 cup strawberries, chopped
1/3 cup blueberries

  1. Open avocados and remove pits. Scoop into a large mixing bowl, and add lime juice, basil, and sea salt. Mash with a fork till mixture is mushy but still has texture.
  2. Add fruit and mix again. Serve with fresh fruit or crudites!

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