Celebrate Litha With Summer Solstice Recipes

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Litha Recipe Ideas

Smiling neighbors around potluck table in sunny park
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Litha is the celebration of the summer solstice - and what's a Sabbat without food? Take advantage of the summer crops of fruit and vegetables, and prepare a simple and delicious feast for your Midsummer gatherings.

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Brew a Batch of Midsummer Mead

Mead
Brew your own midsummer mead. Image by Andrea Altemuller/Stock4B/Getty

Litha is a great time to take advantage of nature’s abundance – there’s stuff blooming everywhere – and brewing batch of homemade mead is an excellent way to do this! Mead is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey, so what better way to celebrate the summer?

First, let’s look at a brief history of mead, which is believed to have originated in Africa, somewhere around 20,000 years ago. Nomadic people figured out that when bees nested in trees, and their honey combined with water and osmotolerant yeast spores, the end result was a tasty drinkable beverage. As these nomadic groups moved north, towards the Mediterranean, they took this knowledge (and their yeast) along with them, and mead stayed pretty popular in Europe for thousands of years.

As people moved into more urban communities, and out of rural areas, interest in honey and mead waned. Once sugar cane was discovered, which was a lot less expensive than honey; pretty much the only people making mead were monks. This was because they used beeswax to make candles for monasteries, so they had plenty of honey on hand from the hives.

Lately, however, there’s been a resurgence in the popularity of mead. You can make your own batch fairly easily – it’s not hard, just time consuming. There are a number of great mead recipes online, and many of them include some fairly fancy ingredients, but the three included here are the easiest to do for a beginning meadmaker.

You’ll probably notice that all three of these recipes emphasize sterilizing your mead brewing equipment. Really, that can’t be stressed enough – no one wants to have moldy mead, and you sure don’t want to be known as The Friend Who Gave Everyone Botulism. Follow the instructions to the letter, and you’ll end up with an amazing batch of delicious drink to share with your friends and family during your summer celebrations!

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Fiery Grilled Salmon

Salmon.jpg
Celebrate wisdom with a fiery grilled salmon. Image by Lillli Day/Photodisc/Getty Images

In Celtic lore, the salmon is associated with knowledge. In fact, the first person to taste this delicious fish was granted all kinds of wisdom! At the summer solstice, certainly a time of fire, why not toss a salmon into the flame so you can partake of its vast knowledge? This simple dish can be prepared out on your grill to keep the kitchen cool, and tastes just as good cold the next day on top of a salad.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs salmon fillets, skin on
  • 1/4 C. soy sauce
  • 1/4 C. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 C. olive oil

Preparation:

Combine the olive oil, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, garlic and cayenne pepper in a bowl and whisk together. Using a barbeque brush, brush half of the soy sauce mix onto the salmon fillets. Place them sauce-side down (skin-side up) on the grill for about six to seven minutes. Brush the remainder of the sauce onto the skin side, and use a large spatula to flip the fillets over. Grill for another five minutes or so and remove from heat. Allow the fillets to sit for about ten minutes before serving.

Note: A well cooked fish is one that isn't too dry. When you remove the salmon from the grill, it may seem undercooked in the center. However, once it sits for ten minutes, the heat in the juices will make it finish cooking. Don't cook salmon until it "looks cooked" in the middle, because by then it will dry out and lose its flavor.

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Fresh Fruit & Fennel Salad

Fennel.jpg
Image by Brian Yarvin/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Fennel has a rich, licorice-like flavor, and lends itself well to a cool summer salad. Add a bit of fruit to offset the savoriness of the fennel, top with a light mustard vinaigrette, and you've got the perfect salad to serve as a side or main course.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large fennel bulb
  • 2 fresh oranges
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 3 green onions
  • 1/4 C. water
  • 3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. honey mustard
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Preparation:

Shave the fennel into thin pieces (use a mandoline if you have one), and toss it into a bowl. Peel and divide the oranges, and chunk up the Granny Smith apples, dice the green onions, and add all these to the fennel.

Combine the water, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey mustard, rosemary and garlic in a bowl and whisk until blended. Drizzle over the fennel and fruit salad.

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Savory Snack Wraps

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Image by Brian MacDonald/Digital Vision/Getty Images

 

These snack wraps are easy to make, and can be prepped ahead of time and chilled in the fridge. They work nicely as an appetizer for any summer menu, or you can put together a variety of them as a main course for a light dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 10 flour tortillas
  • 1 package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 Tbs. fresh dill
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 C. shredded lettuce
  • 1 C. shredded carrots
  • 1 C. diced tomato
  • 1 lb. chicken breast, cooked and diced
  • 2 C. your favorite cheese, shredded

Preparation:

Mix the dill and garlic into the cream cheese, and stir until blended. Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly onto the tortillas. In layers, add the lettuce, carrots, tomato and chicken breast. Top with cheese.

To roll the tortillas up, fold the bottom of the tortilla up, and then fold in from one side. Use a toothpick to keep it from unrolling, and chill for an hour or so before serving.

Veggie-lover's option: Instead of the chicken, used diced and cooked tofu, seasoned with a bit of teriyaki or soy sauce. You can also use chopped cucumbers or peppers. For a gluten-free alternative, use brown rice tortillas instead of flour.

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Candied Ginger

Crystalised Ginger
Mark Gillow / Getty Images

Ginger is a root vegetable found in a lot of Asian cuisine, but it can be grown all over the world. To make this recipe, you'll need about a pound of ginger root, which you can either grow yourself or pick up at your local grocery store. Candy it with sugar and corn syrup, then store it for a fiery and sweet snack combination!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ginger root
  • 3 Cups white sugar, divided
  • 2 Cups water
  • 1/2 Cup white corn syrup

Preparation:

Peel the skin from the ginger root completely, and chop into small pieces.

Combine 2 cups of sugar, the water and the corn syrup in a crock pot and bring to high heat, stirring occasionally. Once the sugar has melted, add the ginger to the liquid. Cover, reduce heat, and allow to simmer overnight, or for about 12 hours.

Once the ginger has simmered overnight, drain off liquid. Place ginger in a bowl with the remaining 1 cup of sugar, and toss so that it's completely coated. Pour our on a sheet of wax paper to cool (it helps to put them on a baking tray in the fridge). Store in an airtight container, and snack on whenever you need a fiery pick-me-up!

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Grilled Veggies

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Image by Lew Robertson/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Few things symbolize the midsummer season like early vegetables -- peppers, onions, and even asparagus are delicious on the grill. During Litha, when we celebrate the power and energy of the sun, grilled vegetables are the perfect representation of that solar energy. After all, what's better than cooking with fire, like our ancestors did? Toss some veggies on the grill and dig in for your Litha sabbat celebration!

Ingredients:

  • 4 bell peppers (your choice of colors)
  • 2 onions
  • 2 yellow squash
  • 4 Portobello mushrooms
  • 2 zucchini
  • A bunch of green onions
  • 1/2 pound asparagus spears, trimmed
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Balsamic vinegar to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Oregano

Preparation:

Preheat a grilling pan over medium heat.

Wash and trim all vegetables. Cut the larger ones, like zucchini and eggplant, into slices. Place the veggies in a bowl, and drizzle olive oil on them. Shake the bowl so that all the vegetables are lightly coated with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Add vegetables to the grilling pan, and and grill them until they are tender. They should be lightly charred, which will take anywhere from 8 - 12 minutes. It's best to do this in small batches, unless you have a really big grilling pan.

While the vegetables are grilling, combine about 1/4 Cup olive oil with the balsamic vinegar, garlic, rosemary and oregano. Remove the veggies from the grill, place them in a bowl, and then add the herb and oil mix. Toss to coat them. Serve veggies warm with your Litha feast.

Note: Some vegetables tend to grill poorly, so be careful which ones you choose. Peppers, eggplant, asparagus, summer squash and onions all work well. Avoid veggies that are high in water content, like cucumbers, celery, or leafy greens.

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Lemon Balm Tea

melissa officinalis (lemon balm), may. close up of light green foliage of plant.
Anne Green-Armytage / Getty Images

Lemon balm is in full bloom by Litha, so it's a perfect opportunity to make a pitcher of cool lemon balm tea! Brew this up in your kitchen, and serve it over ice.

Ingredients:

Preparation:

Bring 2 quarts water to a boil, and add the leaves. Reduce heat and allow to steep for about 15 minutes. Strain leaves out, and then add honey or other sweetener to taste. If the tea is too strong, add a bit of water to thin it out. Pour into an ice-filled pitcher and serve. You may want to add a sprig of mint for garnish.