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bell peppers

Old Bay Summer Tempeh Wraps

Old Bay Summer Tempeh Wraps

Ever feel like if you eat another spoonful of tahini or drizzle of toasted sesame oil, you’ll turn into the seed its made from? Or that you eat so much coconut curry there’s no way you shouldn’t already be sitting on the next plane to Thailand? Maybe for you it’s cumin and chili powder. Rice and beans. Turmeric and chickpeas.

Perhaps it’s none of things – but all I know is that as a vegetarian, it’s rare I’m cooking something other than ethnic cuisine. Usually it’s Asian-inspired. Usually there’s tahini involved. Usually I’m a happy camper.

Sometimes, however, I just crave something more, I don’t know, American? After maple-tahini on my oatmeal, and soy sauce/tahini/sesame oil on my lunchtime beans and grains, I have to tell myself to step away from the tahini jar. I’m telling you – lately it’s been going on everything, and dare I say, might just be outcompeting peanut butter in my diet.

Old Bay Summer Tempeh Wraps

I can’t tell you how American tempeh is, but I’m fairly certain Old Bay is the country’s seasoning of the summer. So forget pizza, forget pasta. My non-Asian oriented meal is going to have tempeh, and I’m going to label it American. You can call it otherwise, I really don’t care. (In this case, perhaps an American flag would’ve made a better table setting than the Mexican blanket I used…)

Old Bay Summer Tempeh Wraps

Come summertime, throw some corn cobs on the grill, this tempeh on the stove, a beer in your hand, and a fresh tomato salad onto the side section of your plate, and then you can give me your answer. I’m already dreaming of this day as I type. Count me in for summer seasonings and garden-fresh sides all season long. (We’ll see if this can kick my tahini habit to a once-per-day max.)

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Roasted Garlic Basil Pepper Poppers

Mini Sweet Peppers

Every Saturday, I get to talk food.  I get to share recipes, discuss veggies and sell people healthy food. It’s great. I’m totally in my element, which makes waking up on Saturdays to work feel almost like a treat. (The Honeycrisps snatched for breakfast helps those mornings out too. As does the coffee from the nearby train station cafe. — Shout out to Elcy’s for being adorable.)

As I’ve said in recent posts, I’ve been helping a family with their weekend farmer’s market. If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, this is the same family I used to spend summers with as a full-time “farmer” throughout school. The same family that taught me how toss watermelons around like basketballs, ventilate a high tunnel, and run an entire CSA operation. Reflecting on it now, I had no idea at the time what a life experience that was. It’s not everyday a girl learns how to drive a tractor. After moving to the city — where farming is  romanticized — I realized that was a pretty bad ass time in my life.

Since the move to the city streets and pavement, since becoming a recipe developer / journalist / food writer, among other things, I’ve come full circle. Once again, I’m working with both vegetables and a family that loves having me there. It’s a return I wouldn’t have foresaw, but a circle I’m happy to complete. It’s also such a nice feeling lending a hand to people who really value you being there. Life has taught me that.

And I have to say, I’m pretty sure I’m their best salesman. That’s not too vain, right?

I know how to talk Red Russian kale vs. Lacinato kale, white eggplant vs. regular, pie apples vs. eating apples, etc. etc. better than any of them when it comes to cooking. Which is why when a customer comes up to the stand and inquires about anything to do with taste/flavor, they get directed straight to me. We toss around recipe ideas, eating and storage suggestions. And then I send the customers home after they’ve bought a few extra pounds of produce. And vitamins and yumminess. Boom.

Farmer's market produce

People will often swing by and tell me what they’re cooking, which I absolutely love for inspiration. One Saturday, these mini sweet peppers were the topic of discussion. A man was telling me how he liked to stuff them with cheese and pop them in the oven. Brilliant.

The little peppers are gorgeous in themselves, so I love the idea of serving them whole. I started thinking how I could do a vegan variation of my customer’s idea, and so home I went to try experimenting on my own. Naturally, I turned to garlic, a favorite ingredient of mine. The first time around, I added cilantro too, which was a success, and then the next time, basil, which would land a spot on my blog. Both herbs work well. If you’re a cilantro fan, I’d say go with that, along with a few dashes of chili powder to season the peppers. Basil is also nice though, and would lend itself well if you decide to bring cheese back to the equation. A simple appetizer at its best.

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