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Sweet and Smoky Beet Burgers

Sweet and Smoky Beet Burgers

What do you do with an abundance of beets? Pickle them. Turn your tabbouleh pink. Or your hummus.

Or perhaps your end-of-summer burgers, as Food52 would suggest.

Sweet and Smoky Beet Burgers

I spotted this recipe over on Food52, and of course with all things beet-related, was captivated by its color. You could nearly mistake that burger in the picture above for a beef patty. That doesn’t sound all that appetizing to me, but I do find this depiction beautiful, nonetheless. Especially with a creamy cucumber sauce lathered on top. I assure you, this meat-free burger is an abundance of appetizing deliciousness.

It’s one of the most firm, well-held-together veggie burgers I’ve ever made as well.

Sweet and Smoky Beet Burgers

Rice acts as the glue that keeps these lentil beet burgers together, and it does a rather efficient job at doing so. You won’t need a million spatulas and utensils and tablespoons of oil to flip them in the pan, which is often the case with homemade veggie burgers.

As the name depicts, slightly sweet (from the beets and raisins), slightly smoky (from the paprika), these burgers are a unique treat. Place them between pita or a bun, or simply atop a bed of greens, and serve with a side of tomatoes and cool cucumber-yogurt sauce.

P.S. These freeze well, too!

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Toasted Wheat Berry and Summer Herb Salad

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? Continue Reading…

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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Spring Socca with Pesto, Kale, and Asparagus

Spring Socca with Pesto, Kale, and Asparagus

Guys, serious news here. I think I’ve found my new food obsession. And it goes by the name of Socca.

Socca with Pesto, Asparagus, and Kale

On Saturday, I made my first socca – a thin, pancake like crepe derived from chickpea flour. It was an instant hit (on my Instagram, too).

So on Sunday, I made my second one. I brought it to a cookout, and again, I went home with a clean plate.

Now that it’s Monday, I’ll eat my third meal of it, by the way of lunch. And by tomorrow, Tuesday, you can consider me socca-swooned.

I’m declaring right now — June is going to be a month of Socca. Get ready.

Socca with Pesto, Asparagus, and Kale

Socca has a flatbread feel to it, with slight falafel-like undertones of flavor, hence the chickpea flour it comes from. However, like a pizza pie, it can take on whatever genre you desire. You choose the ingredient spread, and it will choose the feel of your socca.

For my first one, pictured here, I chose a hearty dose of pesto, paired with a whole bunch more greenery. Feed me this every day of June, and I would be a happy girl.

Spring Socca with Pesto, Kale, and Asparagus

Aside from its versatility and tender texture, what blows my mind is how incredibly easy it is to make socca. Forget yeast. Forget dough-rising. And, let’s all praise chickpeas for this, forget kneading. All you need for socca is a 30-minute wait time and a handy spatula. Oh, and ideally, a cast iron pan. (Given how beautiful cast iron can make anything look, I suggest you keep one of those on hand regardless.)

In this variation, you’ll find inspiration from light and fresh spring veggies, richened up with a layer of summer pesto. It’s a pizza-like app/meal that feels so classy and restaurant-worthy, yet entirely attainable in your own home. I recommend you put it on your to-make list. ASAP.

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Pesto with Shaved Asparagus and Roasted Tomatoes

Field

If the thought of pesto, tossed with shaved asparagus and roasted tomatoes, seems far off from camping, I’m with you. But if that thought, along with the image of mint mojitos by the fire, sounds amazing, I’m undoubtedly with you, too. 

This year I learned you need to book a campsite well in advance if you want to tent it out over Memorial Day weekend. Because apparently everyone else wants to do that, too.

So much for spontaneity these days. Oh, and having the planning part covered by mom. Big kid problems.

Pesto with Shaved Asparagus and Roasted Tomatoes

I was determined to go camping this Memorial Day, and a bunch of booked campsites wasn’t going to get me down.

Plan B – Camp out at my madre’s house, a haven 2 hours outside the city that might as well be taken from the pages of Henry Thoreau. See field photo above. Not a bad alternative. (Just don’t compare my writing to Thoreau. I prefer a caveman-like brevity to never-ending sentences.)

Pesto with Shaved Asparagus and Roasted Tomatoes

Plan B turned into a bunch of Philly and hometown friends joining me for mojitos by the fire made from just picked mint via mom’s herb garden. It turned into watching hot air balloons sail, and then the sun fall, from the comfort of our front deck. It turned into setting up tents in a free backyard. And it turned into a conclusion of sleeping soundly inside.

Ah, yes. A mint-mojito-shaved-asparagus campout was never destined for sleeping outside, was it? To be fair, I will blame my friends for coercing me indoors. And also to be fair, we had one lone camper who roughed it out in his tent.

Asparagus

Now onto the food. While pesto might not seem like standard camping fare, for my vegetarian family, it was always a go-to. It keeps well in a cooler, and tastes fine both hot or cold. Plus, we always make it in large batches during the summer, when the garden basil’s at its peak, so it becomes an easy meal to pop out from the freezer.

It’s still too early to see basil thriving. But both my mom and I still have several pesto batches holding out from last season in our freezer.

Pesto with Shaved Asparagus and Roasted Tomatoes

When you’ve got the pesto part already made, sprucing it up to make it a little richer and fancier becomes easy and fathomable. Although, the pesto itself is not hard to make — so even if you don’t get a chance to make it ahead of time, I still recommend taking the time to include the tomatoes and asparagus seen here, too.

Pesto with Shaved Asparagus and Roasted Tomatoes

Asparagus has always been a springtime favorite, but it’s only been recently that I’ve discovered its utility in raw form. Slightly grassy and crisp, here it adds a refreshing and light crunch to what can feel like a full-bodied pasta dish. It pairs well with the tomatoes, whose flavor is drawn out and intensified via a little time in the oven. I love roasted tomatoes, so when I’m making this recipe, I’m roasting extra for me, and me only.

Grape Tomatoes

Maybe this isn’t your ideal grab-and-go camping dish, but it’s definitely an all-star bowl to include at your picnic or BBQ outing. It’s best hot, but still tastes great at room temp., and since it’s vegan, it’ll survive outside, too. Plate it up alongside a hotdog, and I challenge you to determine the winner. My bet’s on the pesto.

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