In the height of summer it's easy to liven up dinner: just look to all the fabulous summer produce, like eggplant, tomatoes and basil. But instead of hitting the "repeat" button on the same recipes, keep dinner feeling fresh by mastering a basic recipe and then riffing on it. Try starting with simple grilled eggplant with fresh tomatoes and salty cheese served over creamy polenta—or serve it over pasta for an even faster dish. Or swap out the eggplant for zucchini if that's what's popping in your garden. Or make your meal even more substantial by adding some grilled sausage.
Whichever choose-your-own-recipe-adventure path you take, you'll have a healthy summer dinner on the (picnic) table in under an hour. Check out these four fresh takes on one delicious dinner, below.
Sweet tomatoes play so nicely with silky grilled eggplant. Add some fresh herbs and a little salty cheese (we like ricotta salata or feta) for a pasta topper that comes together quickly.
If you have a bit more time, serve the same eggplant and tomato mixture over creamy polenta (which takes slightly longer to cook than pasta) for a weeknight dinner that feels special-occasion worthy.
Related: More healthy eggplant recipes
Not a fan of eggplant or already had your fill for the week? Swap it out for grilled zucchini.
Related: More healthy zucchini recipes
Want something a bit more robust? Throw a few links of Italian sausage on the grill along with the eggplant or zucchini. You can use pork, chicken or veggie sausage.
Now that you have the basic recipe template, mix and match for more dinner ideas—try adding yellow squash or some mushrooms to the mix, for example. Or add some additional herbs, such as parsley. You really can't go wrong with fresh summer produce.