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August

Breakfast Bagels with Baba Ganoush

Breakfast Bagels with Baba Ganoush

I really do love bagels. Often, I have my mom’s voice ringing in the back of my head saying, “Oatmeal is a better choice”. But then I just push it away, because bagels are worth it. Especially on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Breakfast Bagels with Baba Ganoush

Besides, when you use bagels as a canvas for garden veggies, they can be considered an excellent choice, right? Maybe even better than oatmeal.  Don’t worry mom, that’s a whole wheat everything bagel plated below.

And it’s loaded with creamy baba ganoush.

Breakfast Bagels with Baba Ganoush

Recently, I’ve been using bagels as a platform for vine ripened tomatoes, spilling out over a nice smear of cream cheese and layered with sweet onions. It’s what I consider a perfect breakfast. Throw a farm fried egg on the side, and breakfast feels flawless. Cue Beyonce: I woke up to this.

Breakfast Bagels with Baba Ganoush

The days of huge tomato harvests are beginning to slow down though, just as eggplants are quickly populating the nearby plants. Those purple guys were the inspiration for ditching the cream cheese in favor of a new kind of spread.

Buttery baba ganoush on a chewy toasted bagel – it’s a match made in heaven, no cream cheese needed. Feel free to keep it vegan, or throw some salty feta on top. I recommend some chopped tomatoes, too, if you have them.

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Eggplant Caprese Sandwich

Eggplant Caprese Sandwich

I recently returned from a mini road trip exploring the beautiful west coast –> Colorado –> Arizona –> Nevada. The adventure was refreshing, filled with mountainous hikes, breathtaking views, wildflowers, and good times with good company. There’s not much more you can ask for from a trip, right?

The journey was also filled with lots of peanut butter & banana sandwiches, whether from the backseat of the car, the peak of a mountain, or on a flat rock sitting at the base while soaking in that crisp, high altitude air. I consumed my weight in bananas and peanut butter, and while I was sad to leave vacation behind, I welcomed with open arms the garden full of tomatoes that welcomed me back home. (Ironically, just two days after landing I found myself eating another PB&B while picnicking at a music festival…I will now be swearing them off for awhile. Tomato sammies from here on out, please.)

With those garden reds, I’ve been whipping up all the summer classics, like tomato and basil salads, fresh salsas, garden omelettes, and caprese sandwiches like the one above. Can you believe that photo was snapped with none other than an iPhone? Just goes to show, tomatoes are so beautiful on their own that they don’t need any fancy equipment or styling to shine. Or to make your stomach rumble. Fresh ingredients make for easy summer culinary dreams, so fortunately the recipe to craft this sandwich is equally as simple as the photo portraying it.

I’ll leave it at that with the recipe to follow, along with a few film and digital snapshots from the trip. Cheers!

Eggplant Caprese Sandwich

Yield: Serves 3

Ingredients

  • 1 med.-lg. eggplant, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, quartered
  • 2 lg. ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • Fresh basil, handful
  • Fresh oregano, handful (optional, but recommended)
  • 5 oz. fresh mozzarella
  • Fresh Parmesan, to grate on top
  • 6 slices of crusty whole grain bread, toasted
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, to season
  • Chili oil, to drizzle (Sample recipe)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Layer eggplant slices on top, and toss with olive oil to lightly coat. Scatter garlic pieces across the eggplant, pressing them into the flesh. Sprinkle salt around the pan to season.
  2. Bake 12 minutes, then flip. When you return the eggplant to the oven, line another baking sheet, and place tomatoes on top. Put in the oven with the eggplant, and cook another 5-8 minutes, or until eggplant are tender. Remove both sheets from the oven.
  3. Drizzle toasted bread with chili oil. While still hot, layer eggplant and tomato on top of 3 of the slices, and add mozzarella to melt. Scatter fresh basil and oregano, and freshly grated parmesan. Place remaining 3 pieces of bread on top to complete the sandwich. Enjoy.
http://foodfitnessfreshair.com/2015/07/26/eggplant-caprese-sandwich/

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Smoky Black Bean Burgers With Herb Yogurt Sauce

Smoky Black Bean Burgers With Herb Yogurt Sauce

I’ve been writing a recipe column for Today’s Dietitian, and September’s edition features a somewhat controversial veggie from my childhood days  the beet.

Grated beets

As I wrote in my column, the discord stems primarily from parents with rather differing opinions about the beautiful, but dangerous, late summer vegetable. You see,

“Beets were my mom’s worst nightmare. The juice stained her cutting boards, tie-dyed her kids’ white T-shirts, and left her scrubbing the kitchen counters until her hands turned pink. On the other hand, beets were my dad’s favorite vegetable. They were one of his continuously best-growing crops in the family garden. He loved nothing more than staining his hands as he pulled the beets out of the ground each year, and he had an affinity for their taste that my mom couldn’t match. And unfortunately, my mom had cleaning skills that my dad couldn’t match, so every summer there was a comical bone of contention that surrounded beets.”

This had always left me unsettled about my own opinions for beets. I’ve always enjoyed, but not longed, for their flavor, and I’ve always sort of shied away from the mess they tend to create.

However, in recent years, I’ve developed a newfound love.

Smoky Black Bean Burgers With Herb Yogurt Sauce

After one small one went into this recipe for tabbouleh, I was sold. That color! It’s flavor in the dish was not super memorable, but the hue it lent to the entire bowl certainly was. From then on, I would find ways to employ the beet’s beautiful color, and do so in a way that wouldn’t destroy my counters. And white t-shirts, because unfortunately, mom isn’t buying those anymore.

This recipe for Smoky Black Bean Burgers utilizes the food processor to keep the mess at a bay, while enabling beets to add color to a veggie burger that’s hard to forget. Here, the veggie adds adds a hint of sweetness that goes perfectly with the smoky paprika, as well as the parsley herb sauce that tops it all off. (Note, feel free to use any summer herb that sounds good to you. I vote for basil as an alt.)

Head on over to the digital edition of the mag for the recipe! 

Zucchini Noodles with Summer Sauce and Avocado Cream

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!

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Watermelon, Basil and Feta Salad

 

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.

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