Food & DrinkFood Features

Eat to Beat the Heat: Athens Chefs Share Their Favorite Summer Recipes

Summer is awesome for a lot of things, but not so much for cooking. Even in our age of central A/C, the oven can heat up the house quickly, and the last thing you want to do when you get home at the end of the day, sweaty and sticky, is slave over a complicated dish with a lot of stove time. Sure, you could give in to your lazier impulses and just have ice cream and cold beer for dinner, but we asked a few Athens chefs for their hot-weather recipes, just in case.

Chuck Ramsey, Pulaski Heights BBQ
Vinegar-Lime Slaw Farmer’s Sandwiches

Farmer’s sandwiches, icebox sandwiches—whatever you want to call them—are the perfect summer meal. Some good, crusty bread, whatever you have in your fridge/pantry (cheese, tomatoes, leftover BBQ, deli meat, thinly sliced fruit) and a tart, garlicky cabbage slaw for some fresh crunch.

For the slaw:

1 small head green cabbage, quartered, cored and sliced or shredded
1 medium carrot, shredded
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced

For the lime vinaigrette:

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced

Combine the slaw ingredients. Combine the vinaigrette and dress the slaw to taste. Season with salt and pepper.

Hugh Acheson, Five & Ten
Crisp Flounder with Field Pea Ragout and Herb Salad


Flounder is a bountiful spring and summer fish in the South. The crisp fillets work so well here with the herbs and the fresh field peas.

Serves 4

Sea salt
1 pound fresh field peas
4 skinless flounder fillets (5 ounces each)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 shallots, sliced into rings
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 tablespoon cut fresh chives (1-inch pieces)
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh pea shoots
1 teaspoon olive oil

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a soup pot over high heat. Season the water well with fine sea salt and add the field peas. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer the field peas for 30 minutes or until they are tender. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface during cooking. When the peas are done, remove the pot from the stove and allow the peas, still in the cooking liquid, to cool to room temperature.

Season the flounder fillets with fine sea salt to taste. Heat the canola oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Dredge each flounder fillet in the flour and shake off any excess. Once the oil reaches a slight smoke, add the fillets, one at a time, and sauté for 4 minutes on one side. The fillets should develop an even, golden-brown color on the bottom. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter to the pan, turn the fish over, and just finish the cooking, about 1 minute. Remove the fillets from the pan and place them on a plate lined with paper towels. (Do this in batches if the fillets don’t all fit at once.)

Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the same pan, and cook the shallots over medium heat for 2 minutes or until they become slightly translucent. While the shallots are cooking, drain the peas. Add the drained peas and the chicken stock to the shallots. Season with sea salt to taste. Stir to fully incorporate, finish with the lemon zest and juice, and heat through.

Divide the peas among 4 plates and top each with a flounder fillet. Toss the parsley, chives, tarragon, and pea shoots in a small mixing bowl, and season with sea salt and the olive oil. Arrange the herb salad on top of the flounder.

[Reprinted from Hugh Acheson’s The Broad Fork: Recipes for the Wide World of Vegetables and Fruits. Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2015. An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.]

Rebecca Lang, food writer
Heirloom Tomato Salad

Heirloom tomatoes are grown from seeds that have been saved from year to year. Their flavor is worlds away from the sort typically found in the produce department. The colors and shapes can vary greatly from one variety to another. So can the flavor. Choose several different kinds to create the prettiest summer salad. Taste and adjust the vinegar, salt, and pepper amounts to best highlight your unique tomatoes.

1 1⁄2 pounds assorted heirloom tomatoes
1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil, plus a few leaves for garnish
1 1⁄2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3⁄4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1⁄4 teaspoon flaked sea salt
1⁄8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Cut tomatoes into 1⁄3-inch-thick slices. Arrange on a large serving plate. Whisk together olive oil and next 5 ingredients in a 2-cup measuring cup. Pour olive oil mixture over tomato slices. Garnish, if desired.

Hands-on Time: 10 min. Total Time: 10 min.

[Reprinted from Rebecca Lang’s Around the Southern Table. Oxmoor House, 2012.]

Swen Froemke, Speakeasy
Coke Ice Cream

[Editor’s Note: Swen’s recipe requires some hot stove work for the cook but not for the lucky eater.]

1 gallon half-and-half
3 C sugar
64 egg yolks
2 C Coke syrup

Bring half-and-half and sugar to a boil in a large stainless pot. In the meantime, crack the eggs into a medium mixing bowl. Carefully separate yolks into a medium cambro container. Temper egg yolks. Ladle all hot milk and sugar into yolks while whisking vigorously. Transfer mixture back to pot and heat over medium low heat (setting 6 on the induction burner), stirring continuously until the mixture is nappe. Pour through a fine mesh chinois into the same container you used for the egg yolks. You will need to push the mixture through with a small ladle. Transfer the mixture to a 1/3 pan and whisk in the Coke syrup. Chill overnight, uncovered. Divide among quart containers and spin in the ice cream maker for 30 minutes.