Zucchini Noodles with Summer Sauce and Avocado Cream

Pasta la vista wheat noodles. There’s a new, much lighter, more summery, awesome-sauce pasta in town. And it goes by the name of Zucchini Noodles.

Today, I’m sending a hello to the early August garden. With it is coming a hello to noodles in my bowl that allow me to go in for seconds, maybe even thirds, without feeling weighed or wheated down.

The zucchini noodle is one that’s taken the Internet world by a rage, and I’m coming with it –and for good reason, too.

Zucchini Noodles with Summer Sauce and Avocado Cream

Similar to my coconut flake mission I described for this recipe, my mission for finding a julienne peeler to make these noodles was not a short one. Many steps were taken, and many stores were visited for the making of this recipe. Fortunately, no humans were harmed, even after a slight hangryness set in.

Apparently in Philadelphia, kitchen stores like to take off the very same days that this girl likes to create a big, food-filled mess in the kitchen. So on Sunday, off I went by foot to three different places across the city until I finally came across the right peeler to craft this recipe. Well worth it, I assure you.

I also assure you it shouldn’t be that hard to find the tool you need for zucchini noodles, nor will it be expensive. Most kitchen stores have julienne peelers, which do the trick, and mine cost me just $8. You can also use a tool called a Spiralizer, but don’t ask me about the specifics. I chose to go for the cheaper and smaller option, i.e., the peeler.

Zucchini Noodles

You should find the julienne peeler rather easy to use. Simply place your zucchini on a flat surface, and slide its blade from one end to the other. Repeat until you get down to the end.

I placed my leftover zucchini scraps that didn’t make it through the peeler right into the blender to make my avocado cream. Just give them a quick chop, and they should easily meld into the cream.

With a bowl full of the whole summer garden – sweet corn, juicy tomatoes, fresh herbs – this is a good place to start the zucchini noodle marathon that’s bound to follow. Here, you get a whole bunch of fresh ingredients to keep things light, but also a richness from the avocado that pulls it all together. For presentation purposes, keep it all separate like pictured below. But you’ll definitely want to give everything a good mixing with your fork before diving in. Let me know what you think!

CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE…

Summer Herb Wheat Berry Salad

What’s a wheat berry?

Remember that time back in 5th grade, when you entered that gum-chewing marathon, and you tried to fit a whole roll of Bubble Tape in your mouth? And remember how your jaw felt afterwards? Essentially, a wheat berry is a grain that’ll bring that same sensation, likely after one large bowl or 20 minutes of chewing.

It’s a jaw workout-and-a-half.  But one that’s oh so worth it, with the right flavors piled in, and in the summertime, that’s easy.

Summer Herb Wheat Berry Salad

In reality, a wheat berry is a whole wheat kernel, dressed to the nines in its bran, germ, and endosperm. I.e., whole wheat flour, before it is milled.

All these extra layers give the wheat a style best defined as “chewy”, which is one that compliments a good salad quite well. It’ll bring your lettuce leaves quite the stylish, texture-filled flair, and a bunch of protein and fiber, too. Oh, and a whole host of energizing B vitamins as well. I’ll happily chew on that.

Summer Herb Wheat Berry Salad

Rather than throw a handful on top of some not fully in season lettuce leaves, I decided to create a wheat berry centered salad that celebrate some of my favorite flavors of summer — tomatoes, cukes, and herbs. There is no easier way to add robust flavor than with fresh herbs, and this recipe really packs that in.

Summer Herb Wheat Berry Salad

Oregano, basil, and parsley? Move over cheese – you’re not needed in this salad. (Although, if your heart desires, I’d suggest a goat or Greek feta. Both would compliment what’s already a plentifully flavored salad.)

Feel free to play around with the combination of herbs you use, just make sure you don’t hold back on how much you throw into the bowl. Wheat berries are hardy, and can use all the loving they can get from the light flavors with which you surround them. Plus, all of the taste you add is what will make their inherent chewiness an asset. Who wouldn’t want to chew on something tasty for a few extra minutes? CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE…

Herb and Black Soybean Hummus

Slowly. Day by day. I’m getting one step closer to turning into a cucumber. A cucumber who’s getting married to a bottle of vinegar. Sometimes the onions walk in, and the tears of joy cry down on this union. I’m just waiting for the tomato to make it official.

Unfortunately, tomato season rarely coincides with cucumber season, except for a few dangling days at the latter one’s end. But that’s okay. I don’t want to be officially wedded to vinegar. And I don’t I very much like the sound of calling myself a cucumber either. Nor do I really like where this paragraph is going. So let’s cut it at that.

However, I have been eating a ton and ton of cucumbers. Averaging 1-2 per day. And still waiting on the perfect tomato to join them in my bowl of vinegar.

Basil

Though I’m longing for tomatoes to come join my cukes, it’s hard to say eating gets much better than now, in the late months of summer. Fortunately I live in a city submerged with farmers’ markets, and can also retreat to my mom’s house, currently flooded with cucumbers.

With all of the summer produce coming in, this calls on the need for protein-packed dishes to pair with it.

Nearly as easy as slicing a cuke, hummus forever remains one of my go-to’s.

Summer basil

This particular hummus differs from your classic chickpea version by using black soybeans, a high protein legume that tastes kind of like black beans. For that reason, this to me naturally went very well with guacamole and salsa, too. Feel free to swap the basil for cilantro to stick to a full-blown Mexican theme.

Herb and Black Soybean Hummus I went with basil because that’s what was in the garden, and I was initially envisioning this spread on a sandwich with thinly sliced cucumbers. Also snapped a few photos of my lovely friend Laura while picking it. You choose what to put it on. Just don’t forget the scallions on top.

CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE…

Sesame Soba Noodles with Cucumbers and Roasted Eggplant

I’ve never been good at desk jobs.

My brain says yes. But my body says no. And then my brain gets confused. And then I get confused. And my mind says, “What am I supposed to do with my life?!”

Sesame Soba Noodles with Cucumbers and Roasted Eggplant

We’ll see if that question ever gets answered. In the meantime, I’m juggling office life with photoshoot life, and keeping my workdays and work weekends busy. It’s been exciting on both fronts, and I am happy to say I’ve finally come across a company on the front end of that which is working to make my uncertainty at least a little easier. The very nice people at this company, at least mildly, know desk life gives me trouble.

And so they’ve granted me permission to spend one day per month cooking the office lunch. Um, can you say dream job perk?

Sesame Soba Noodles with Cucumbers and Roasted Eggplant

After spending the 9 o’clock hour perusing the aisles of Whole Foods to gather the first lunch’s ingredients, I almost thought, “Could this be my dream job?” Shopping at Whole Foods, maybe. Cooking day-in-and-day-out in a hot, windowless kitchen, probably not.

The company lunch creation was super fun though, and definitely a success. On tap: a herb-laced spring garden salad with sungold tomatoes (my favorite cherry) and red onions, along with a simple homemade balsamic vinaigrette. This Sesame Soba Noodles with Cucumbers, Roasted Eggplant, and Crispy Tofu recipe. And a finale of fresh ginger juice shots to finish out the meal with some pep.

Sesame Soba Noodles with Cucumbers and Roasted Eggplant

I decided to create this recipe based off of three primary factors. 1) Who doesn’t love noodles? 2) Though pasta is a pleaser, there’s no way I was showing up with a boring/non-creative recipe. 3) I’ve been entirely inspired by cucumbers lately. Don’t ask me why, but they’re the one summer veg. I’ve been consistently buying as of late.

So this was born, and it’s definitely going on the repeat list. SO MUCH FLAVOR. The sesame sauce adds that first depth, and then the cilantro and scallions make sure not one bite goes flavorless. You’ve also got the velvety, roasted eggplant adding to the creaminess of the sauce, with crunch cukes lightening the whole dish up, and crispy tofu adding in some protein. Oh, and ginger, too. Okay, I’ll stop listing off the ingredient list now. But you get the idea of how it all comes together.

Sesame Soba Noodles with Cucumbers and Roasted Eggplant

If you can’t get this on your workplace’s table, get it on your dinner plate. And enjoy ideally at room temp., but really whatever temp. your set on at the moment.

CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE…

 

Watermelon, Basil and Feta Salad

I woke up on Saturday morning realizing August was just 2 weeks away. Woah, woah, woah, hold the phone! But by all means, don’t hold the melon.

It wasn’t until I then realized I had went this far into the summer without buying my first full watermelon that the panic set in. That’s like living in the city without a bike — practically a crime, at least in my world.

I love watermelon, and how I let this much of summer slip by without eating a full half to myself is beyond me. Summers are made for meals of watermelon, right?

So of course, Saturday morning, straight to the market I went. And breakfast become none other than a huge slice of sweet, juicy summer. My favorite.

Watermelon, Basil and Feta Salad

It’s a miracle that the other half of the melon ended up in this salad. Like a just-picked heirloom tomato, or a perfectly ripe avocado, there are some things in life that I often feel, “Why bother doing anything more than adding a fork.” Although it goes without saying, a little bit of salt can entirely enhance those first two items, and it appears a little bit of feta and basil can do the same for watermelon. Sliced watermelon is great, but so is this melon salad.

On Sunday, I also happened to be heading to a friend’s b-day brunch, so the opportunity to make something special couldn’t be passed up. If you’re a food blogger, sliced watermelon isn’t all that great when fun, food-related occasions arise. Although, the few slices you’re munching on while cooking — those speak of excellence.

Needless to say, this was a hit and a totally worthy use of an impressively ripe and ready melon. Salty feta plays off the sweetness of the melon, while a minty basil takes its natural refreshingness to a whole other level. If you want your watermelon to feel fancy, in an effortless sort of way, this is it. I’m already ready for brunch, round 2, and of course, watermelon round 2, too.

CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE…