Mushy summer foods?
June 21, 2013 9:13 AM   Subscribe

We have my 90 year old father in law over for dinner once a week. He suffers from Parkinson's, which has progressed to the point where he is having trouble swallowing; but we soldier on. We've had good luck with risotto, tuna noodle casserole and chicken & dumplings - but those seem like fall-winter type foods. Do you have any good summer soft textured/casserole-y recipes?
posted by sarajane to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Risotto can transition pretty easily to a summer dish. Use the same basic techniques but use seasonal produce like squash with lemon zest added. Delicious. I'm also thinking something like pappa al pomodoro (basically bread and tomato soup-google for about a million different recipe variations) would be really nice. You can use fresh tomatoes, add some basil, serve at room temperature rather than warm.
posted by goggie at 9:21 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

We love our risotto here. A typical easy version at our house might be finely diced ham or bacon, onion, zucchini, and +/- chopped mushroom, usually made with a chicken broth base and with white wine added for part of the liquid. There aren't ever any solid bites of vegetable once it's all cooked, and it's also incredibly delicious, elegant and also warming/friendly. We have it with a green salad (slice and dice as small as possible in your situation!) and good bread.
posted by taz at 9:22 AM on June 21, 2013

sauteed summer squash/zucchini
corn off the cob
roasted/baked stuff tomatoes
chicken salad
cold orzo or quinoa salad
corn showder

posted by itsallfunandgames at 9:27 AM on June 21, 2013

Gazpacho, pasta salads (with, for instance, pesto, perhaps without pine nuts in your case), egg salad, deviled eggs
posted by Jahaza at 9:28 AM on June 21, 2013

Mashed potato salad has been at a couple family bbqs lately, with potato chunks smaller than the pictures in most of the web recipes that come up in a search. At least the way my sister makes it, it was soft and smooth (for my taste, too much so).

If he's not a chickpea-, eggplant-, or garlic-hater -- hummus or babaganouj, eaten with a utensil rather than pita?
posted by aught at 9:34 AM on June 21, 2013

Some kind of cold quinoa salad? Maybe with avocado, black beans, and salsa?
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:37 AM on June 21, 2013

What about a breakfast casserole? Or a quiche or omelet loaded with summer vegetables? Perhaps bread pudding -- there are both sweet and savory recipes for that out there.
posted by Ostara at 9:37 AM on June 21, 2013

corn pudding is best made with fresh summer corn.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:44 AM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Red beans and rice: Sautee celery, green pepper and onion for a few minutes. Add a can of kidney beans, a cup of water and a chicken bullion cube. Season with Tabasco, Worcestershire and thyme and simmer for 10+ minutes. Serve over rice.

You also might get some ideas from this, e.g. gazpacho, Chinese tomato and eggs, broiled eggplant, etc.
posted by seemoreglass at 9:56 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

5 Summer Soups
9 Summer Soups
Good lord, 38 Summer Soups

I find pureed soups pretty filling (carrot, cauliflower, etc). For some of the thinner ones you could try adding a soft-boiled egg or two.

And speaking of eggs...Summer Vegetable Frittata? Would something like that work?
posted by Mender at 9:58 AM on June 21, 2013

Quiche with summer vegetables.
posted by vignettist at 9:59 AM on June 21, 2013

I am literally right now eating a salad made of cooked lentils and rice, chopped apples, chopped grapes, and celery, with some vinaigrette dressing. Tabbouleh is another option (that's cooked bulgur wheat, some chopped cucumber and maybe some chopped tomato, and a crapton of chopped herbs).

And if you go with tabbouleh, you could also add hummus and baba ganoush, maybe eaten with a spoon? That may be a good way for a whole-family-together meal of Middle Eastern dishes, where the rest of you all could also take part (using the hummus and baba ganoush as dips for pita chips or whatever, while your dad uses a spoon in his case).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:02 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

My MIL and her beau, who neither of them enjoy wearing their teeth (I KNOW) usually order hamburger steaks when we're out.

You can do big burgers on the grill, with mashed potato salad and a watermelon/tomato salad with feta cheese. Just cut the melon and tomatoes small and perhaps leave the almonds out.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:05 AM on June 21, 2013

Pureed vegetables are great in summertime - so many different vegetables! It's one of my favorite ways to eat kohlrabi, also delicious for parsnips, red peppers, etc. It can be dips, or pasta sauce, or sauce on rice, or a ravioli filling, or just as a side like low-starch mashed potatoes.
posted by aimedwander at 10:09 AM on June 21, 2013

Orzo (cooked and cooled), crumbly feta or goat cheese, a can of 3-bean salad (nasty at most places, but good at Trader Joe's), and tiny tomatoes.
posted by wintersweet at 10:17 AM on June 21, 2013

Cookbooks from the 1960s are filled with casseroles that would fill your need. They aren't hard to find, there might be one in your house.

They have the advantage of being more familiar to him than a lot of the things being recommended here would be. They might seem kind of strange to you, though. Could be fun.
posted by Quonab at 10:40 AM on June 21, 2013

Well, assuming you are in the U.S. I don't know about other places.
posted by Quonab at 10:42 AM on June 21, 2013


Summery soups, like pea and mint or roast tomatoes or asparagus.

Crustless quiche with soft vegetables.

Baked goat cheese? Would have to be with a soft cooked vegetable though - salad is deceptively hard to chew.

I find people with Parkinson's struggle more than you would expect with rice and couscous unless they have a thick sauce well mixed in, otherwise it's very bitty and hard to control.

Cottage cheese with additions?

Fresh tomatoes fried until very soft (check whether your dad can cope with tomato skins) with garlic. Put them over crust-less toast and let the juices make the toast fall apart - delicious and very summery.


There are loads of recipes with vegetables cooked well in a tomato sauce that you can serve with something like broccoli - make the most of the summer produce.

Fish is usually quite soft if you steam it. You might need to put a thick sauce over it, or butter might be easier if he can cope with it. Prawns in a pasta dish?

Creamy polenta with (Soft) roasted vegetables.

Desserts are much easier!
posted by kadia_a at 11:28 AM on June 21, 2013

Squash casserole is casserole-y and makes use of fresh summer squash. Or you can just cook sliced yellow squash or zucchini until it's nice and soft.
posted by bbq_ribs at 11:37 AM on June 21, 2013

One nice thing about risotto is that you can increase the liquid, and you can vary the recipe so it doesn't get boring. I like mushroom risotto made with sauteed mushrooms, chicken broth and white wine. Polenta's a great idea for the same reason. I often buy olive or artichoke spread from Trader Joe's and stir it into polenta. Corn pudding, bread pudding, and strata are different versions of the same basic idea. Meatloaf & mashed potatoes. Creamed chipped beef on toast. Potato salad, with the potatoes well cooked and lots of mayo. Coleslaw. Cooked veg., like broccoli, with vinaigrette. Here's a similar question I asked.
posted by theora55 at 12:42 PM on June 21, 2013

Thanks everyone! This has helped me out of my rut. We'll start by grilling some veggies til soft and smoky and go from there...
posted by sarajane at 2:40 PM on June 21, 2013

Deviled eggs are very summery and quite soft, but also hold together enough that they're not hard to eat.

Grilled vegetables (peel before grilling), chopped up and tossed with either cubes of bread or pasta, topped with cheese.

Guacamole + black beans + tomato + cheese and wrapped in a tortilla is a solid main course. Flour tortillas are easier to chew than corn. Or, really, no tortilla at all, and serve it as a salad.

Seconding polenta, which I love and will eat with almost anything. Actually, the grilled veg and cheese, above, would be amazing over polenta.

Egg salad and tuna salad are both summery, endlessly adaptable, and easily consumed by people with minimal chewing/swallowing ability.
posted by MeghanC at 2:41 PM on June 21, 2013

This isn't a recipe, but isn't this also the niche fit by Cracker Barrel?
posted by oceanjesse at 5:24 PM on June 21, 2013

How about idlis, if he is open to trying other cuisines? Goes well with lentil soups or chutneys.
posted by greta_01 at 5:49 PM on June 21, 2013

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