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basil

Quinoa with Sauteed Corn, Avocado and Basil

Quinoa with Sauteed Corn, Avocado and Basil

It’s been a bit of surprise to see corn so largely displayed and promoted in the grocery store as of recently. It’s definitely a bit early for the local season, but I caught the summer bug and have succumbed to buying it on more than one occasion.

There’s something about these early 90-degree days in June that has been keeping summer on my mind, along with a menu of eats that match.

Quinoa with Sauteed Corn, Avocado and Basil

This dish was also inspired by a recent purchase of basil that I’ve planted in my backyard Philly garden. It looks as though I’ll never reap a large enough harvest for pesto, but my potted plants are, for now, yielding enough herbs for dishes like this. Score.

Quinoa with Sauteed Corn, Avocado and Basil

This is a light and refreshing meal, perfect for a midday lunch on a warm day. It’s nourishing and certainly not the kind of dish that’ll weigh you down as those hot temps takeover.

Quinoa with Sauteed Corn, Avocado and Basil

Don’t skimp out on the quality of olive oil that you use and be sure to reach for fresh (vs. dried) basil here, as both add a lot to the delicate complexity of flavors here.

However, if you want to get playful, feel free to switch up the nuts, and work with pine nuts or pistachios or something else that might sound fun to you.

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Warm Caprese Grain Salad

Warm Caprese Grain Salad

After recently moving to a new neighborhood, my two housemates and I threw a little housewarming BBQ and celebration. Yay!

Tasked with the challenge of making something for a crowd that would be vegetarian, nutritious AND able to rival burgers circulating aromatics from the grill, I settled upon this rendition of caprese.

I taste-tested in advance and gave it two thumbs up. But it was still much to my surprise that the healthy caprese rice ran out before the burgers. Who would’ve guessed?

Warm Caprese Grain Salad

As with a traditional caprese salad, the flavors here are simple but fresh. Good extra virgin olive oil, zesty basil and sweet caramelization from the oven that’s bestowed upon a variety of veggies all make this dish shine. It’s delicate, yet addicting. And makes you feel good even after going in for seconds.

Warm Caprese Grain Salad

I opted to keep this dish vegan, but feel free to add mozzarella or goat cheese. You could also play with the grain combination. Here, I chose to add in some barley with the rice, which lent?a nice and subtle crunchy element.

I also love the texture and flavor contrast created when using both roasted and raw tomatoes. If able, go with two different varieties for each, like sungolds and classic grape tomatoes, for a nice color scheme and added complexity of flavor.

Warm Caprese Grain Salad

I’m looking forward to more veggie and herb-centric meals in the months to come. Also a shout-out to Mastro Co. for the awesome ceramic bowl that held this veggie-filled goodness!
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Pesto Rice with Slow Roasted Tomatoes and Walnuts

Pesto Rice with Slow Roasted Tomatoes and Walnuts

When you’re having a tomato party on your kitchen counters, turn up the heat and bring the celebration to your oven.

Slow. Roasted. Tomatoes.

Three words that equal magnificence. And a guaranteed party for your plated pasta, toast, or pesto.

Pesto Rice with Slow Roasted Tomatoes and Walnuts

Giving tomatoes a good roast enriches their sweetness and draws out an intensity of flavor that makes them almost feel rich. I love them with a drizzle of olive oil on a piece of crusty bread. I also love them with pesto, again for that sweetness I mentioned, which they’ll bring to the dish.

Roasted Tomatoes

August is a beautiful time, given that you can reap bounties of both tomatoes and basil. Feel free to throw some sauteed zucchini on top of this dish too, or any other harvest you might find from your garden or in your farmer’s market basket. Really though, this dish doesn’t need much else, except maybe a cool glass of white wine and a table al fresco. Enjoy!

Pesto Rice with Slow Roasted Tomatoes and Walnuts

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Eggs Simmered in Fresh Summer Sauce

Eggs Simmered in Fresh Summer Sauce

One of my favorite dishes this time of year is a fresh sauce filled with all of the garden’s golden ingredients. Summer sauce always tastes a little sweeter, with herbs that cut through the acidity with a touch more confidence, and veggies that add texture you just can’t find in supermarket sauces. It’s comfort meets clean eating at its best.

Eggs Simmered in Fresh Summer Sauce

Summer sauce needn’t be a recipe reserved solely for pasta, and in fact, I find sometimes I prefer it elsewhere. Like on sautéed and buttered zucchini noodles or a crusty slice of sourdough scattered with feta and basil.

Yet, used to simmer fresh-from-the-farm eggs undoubtedly ranks at the top of my preferential usage list. This is a breakfast – and sometimes lunch and dinner – I will reach for whenever the ingredients present themselves.

Luckily, it’s August, so that means this is showing up in my skillet quite often.

Eggs Simmered in Fresh Summer Sauce

This particular version is similar to a shakshouka, but with the inclusion of some extra garden power from grated zucchini. That being said, it’s not quite as delicate and sweet as traditional shakshouka, but it’s certainly as fresh and possibly slightly more flavorful. Feel free to vary it given the veggies you might have on hand. I’ve also kept this version on the chunky side, but you could certainly give it a pulse in the blender or food processor to go saucier. If you have super fresh/local ingredients though, I might advise against this.

Eggs Simmered in Fresh Summer Sauce

Be sure to keep an eye on the eggs once you crack them in. They can go from an over-easy yolk to a solid state in a flash as they near that final finishing point.

When they do get to that resting state you love, remove your eggs and sauce from the heat and plate it on up. I like to add blue corn tortilla chips for a nice texture and color contrast, sometimes crunching the chips straight on top of my eggs. You could also pair this with your favorite bread to sop up all the juices.

Cheers to doing summer breakfast right.

Eggs Simmered in Fresh Summer Sauce

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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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