Summer…in a bowl!

Spoiler Alert: Summer is ending.

Yeah…it’s happening.  I can’t stop it.  You can’t stop it.  We’re helpless people!  It’s time to let go.

Let’s just make a salad.  Like this one.  I know you doubt me.  You say it’s just a salad.  You say a salad is not comfort food.  You don’t think salad will calm you down.  It’s ok, because I’m right (duh).

When you feel like you can’t follow directions, make a salad.  You can put whatever you want in your salad.  Should I start with lettuce, you ask?  Only if you feel like it.  You pick.  You’re in charge.

Tomatoes, naturally.

Corn…just because.  Because  we don’t even need to cook this corn.  That’s right.  We’re fast, easy, and fresh.

If you can, strip your corn right into the bowl you’ll use to serve.  That way you save all the juiciness.

Enter: fat.  Avocado.  Olive oil.  Parmesan cheese.  Feta cheese.  Any cheese.  A fried egg.  Get wild and go nuts…literally.

If you feel fancy, lobster or crab meat or shrimp would be a gorgeous addition.

Let’s drizzle some lemon juice.  And add some chives.  What’s that, you don’t have any chives?  And you don’t want to shell out the $2.69 needed to buy a pack from Whole Foods?  Skip it.  Who needs chives anyway when there’s basil, or cilantro, or arugula, or scallions, or shallots, or red onion…

I’ll show you my recipe, but it’s really just a list of what caught my eye and was cheap enough to make it into the grocery basket.  Or what was still safe to eat in my refrigerator.  That always helps.

I named mine “summer in a bowl.”  What are you going to name yours?

Whatever you do, remember that your salad is beautiful.  And special.  It’s your baby!  Or your work of art.  Slightly less weird.

recipe

[serves a few.]

3 ears of corn

2 [good] tomatoes

3 or so handfuls of arugula

parmesan cheese, grated

a bit less than a whole avocado

cooked crab meat

olive oil, lemon juice, and freshly ground black pepper to serve

Using a knife, strip corn kernels off cob into bowl or on large plate.  Dig deep!  Add chopped/diced/sliced tomatoes, arugula, diced avocado, grated parmesan cheese, crab meat, and toss.  Drizzle generously with lemon juice and olive oil.  Sprinkle with ground pepper, if desired.  Serve immediately and enjoy 🙂

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Tangy Roasted Sweet Potatoes

I just watched Julie & Julia.  It made me remember the wonder of butter.

Oh butter.  No one else can caramelize onions quite like you do.  And chocolate chip cookies…we all know they’d be nothing without you, butter.

But we’ve broken up.  It was for good.  I’ve found a new love: the sweet potato.  Sweet potatoes aren’t pasty.  They’re tan (ok, orange, fine).  And though they’re creamy richness reminds me of you, butter, sweet potatoes are, well, sweet!

Sweet potatoes are strong; they don’t cave into a melt-down when it’s hot outside.

They can handle the heat.

Dressed with a sticky lime syrup, I pop these babies like they’re candy.

We get to undress a lime.  How scandalous!

Butter?  Butter who?

recipe

(adapted from Gourmet)

serves 4-6, depending on portions, and takes a bit longer than 30 minutes.

3 or 4 medium to large sweet potatoes

2 or 3 T extra virgin olive oil

salt & pepper, to taste…a sprinkling of cayenne pepper might also be nice…

1/8 cup water

1 T sugar

1 T lime juice

1/2 t lime zest

freshly chopped chives

Preheat oven to 375˚F.  Wash and lightly scrub sweet potatoes.  Dry with a towel.  Slice sweet potatoes into 1” disks, then cube each disk into roughly 9 pieces.

In a bowl, combine cubed sweet potatoes, evoo, and salt & pepper(s).  Toss and make sure all the cubes are coated (add more oil if necessary).  Spread out the sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet that is lightly oiled.

Roast sweet potatoes in the oven for about 30 minutes, stirring/flipping the cubes frequently to make sure they do not burn on one side.

While sweet potatoes are in the oven, combine water, sugar, and lime juice.  Here’s where I cheated: Gourmet says to bring this mixture to a boil and then simmer until it is reduced.  That’s too much work for me.  Instead, I microwaved the mixture for 1 minute on HIGH and then stirred until it cooled a little.  Take your pick.

When sweet potatoes are done cooking, toss them in a bowl with the 2-3 tablespoons of the syrup.  Sprinkle generously with lime zest and chives and serve.  Enjoy 🙂

Fruitful Black Rice

Making this recipe was only the second time that I’ve consumed black rice, but I’ve been hooked.  If you’ve never had black rice before, the very act of cooking it will be an excitement to you–the rice turns its water a deep purple and magenta hue.

I created this recipe after leafing through Heidi Swanson’s Supernatural Everyday cookbook, which  has a similar recipe using sweet cherries.  Raspberries were all I had on hand, so that’s what I used instead.  The raspberries give the rice salad a bit more of a tart flavor which I balanced with a generous crumbling of goat cheese and walnuts.

The colors of this salad are so beautiful–the deep black rice, bright red berries, green basil, white cheese–that it looks like a delicacy.  However, it is surprisingly easy to make.

Enjoy this dish as a show-stealing side.

Recipe inspired by Supernatural Everyday

Serves 4

1 cup black rice (or other dark grain)

1 cup raspberries

1/4 cup olive oil

1/8 cup white wine vinegar

1/8 t salt

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

2 handfuls  baby spinach

goat cheese

Bring 1 cup rice and 1 3/4 cup water to a boil in a pot; cover and let simmer for 35-40 minutes.

While rice is cooking, whisk olive oil, white wine vinegar, and salt together.  Add 1/3 cup raspberries and whisk until berries have blended into dressing.  Using a fine mesh strainer, separate the liquid dressing from raspberry seeds.  Save the liquid for later.

Once rice is done cooking, stir in baby spinach in a large bowl.  Once spinach is slightly wilted, add nearly all of the dressing and toss to combine.  Add in a little over half of the walnuts and most of the remaining raspberries.  Crumble in as much goat cheese as desired.

Serve topped with extra walnuts, goat cheese, raspberries, and a generous portion of basil.

Sweet Sunflower Seed Butter

I found this recipe on Heidi’s blog (101cookbooks.com).

And now here it is on my blog.

To say I love cinnamon would be an understatement.  I add it to my food whenever possible.

Heidi uses vanilla bean paste, but I made this with good old vanilla extract.

The only downside to this treat is the loud sound of your food processor 🙂

Recipe Adapted from 101 Cookbooks:

Ingredients:

1 cup raw sunflower seeds

2-3 T canola oil (sunflower oil might be better)

3 t vanilla extract

2 t ground cinnamon

1-2 T cane sugar

Toast sunflower seeds on a rimmed baking sheet in an oven at 325˚F until “golden and fragrant,” about 7 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes.

In food processor, pulse seeds with 1 T oil.  Continue to pulse, drizzling in remaining oil.  Add in vanilla, cinnamon, and sugar.  Pulse until desired consistency, scraping down sides of blender as needed.

Delicious as a spread on a crisp apple 🙂

Israeli Couscous with Chard Pesto

Hello again!

It’s been over a week since my last post.  I’m finally home after a lot of traveling!

One of my favorite parts of summer is all the fresh produce.  Tomatoes are at the top of my list.  I know it’s a little early, but I couldn’t resist snagging some at the supermarket.

This salad is studded with orange, yellow, and red tomatoes of various sizes.

Green grains seem to be on my mind a lot lately.  This recipe is inspired by a similar one from Food & Wine magazine.  I was in the mood for rainbow chard so I swapped that for the arugula that F & W uses.  This version is also a bit quicker in that the pesto is made from raw chard rather than blanched arugula with toasted pine nuts.  Why not minimize our time in the kitchen this summer?

Enjoy this dish as a side or main course.

Happy eating 🙂

Recipe:

{Inspired by Food & Wine Magazine}

For couscous:

2 cups Israeli couscous

1 to 2 cups tomatoes of various sizes

Olive oil, for drizzling

Bring 2 1/2 cups water to boil in a sauce pan; add 2 cups Israeli couscous.  Cover and let simmer for 8 minutes.  Once cooked, toss couscous with a drizzle of olive oil.  Spread out couscous on a baking sheet to prevent clumping and allow it to cool.

While couscous is cooking, slice tomatoes into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces.

For pesto:

2 cups Swiss or rainbow chard

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup olive oil

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

2-2 1/2 cloves garlic

Salt and pepper, to taste

Wash  rainbow or Swiss chard.  In a food processor, pulse chopped walnuts and garlic with chard.  Add  olive oil and grated parmesan cheese.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

In a large bowl, combine couscous, tomatoes, and desired amount of pesto.  Toss to incorporate pesto, and serve extra pesto on side (for those who want more!).  Serve cold or at room temperature.

 

Green Quinoa

It is HOT outside!

I came home from a scorching Chicago (my first time!) only to find that the weather was no cooler in Boston.  I’ll take this over rain, though!

Hot weather = cool lunch.

To create this grain salad, I rustled up some herbs from my fridge.  Scallions, chives, and lime come together to create a tangy and refreshing side dish or salad topper.

This dish is best served at room temperature or slightly chilled.

I combined mine with cooked lentils and tomatoes for a lunch rich in healthy carbohydrates, fiber, and protein.

Stay cool!

To cook quinoa:

Boil two cups of water per cup of quinoa (I usually add more water to make my quinoa moist).  Once water is boiling, add quinoa and cover.  Simmer for 15 minutes or until all water is absorbed (I do at least 18 minutes).  Leave cooked quinoa uncovered or transfer it to another bowl to cool faster.

Meanwhile, chop 2-3 scallions and a small handful of chives into small disks.  Add chopped herbs to quinoa.  Add juice of 1/2 or 1 whole lime (depending on how tangy you would like your salad).  Mix thoroughly.  Refrigerate until served.