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Memorial Day

Pesto with Shaved Asparagus and Roasted Tomatoes


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.


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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Avocado Radish Toasts

Avocado Radish Toasts

You know spring has arrived when there are 7 different street festivals swarming the streets of your one city, all within one Saturday. When your local park is carpeted in pink pedals of the cherry trees after several days of showers. When you look down and notice you’ve gotten a bit of a sunburn after just 2 hours of tennis. When the first farmer’s markets kick off. And when, there, you stumble upon beautiful bunches of radishes.

Spring radishes

The weather is here. The flowers are here. And my favorite – the first smell of fresh-cut grass, a perfume I walked by literally an hour ago, has arrived and bestowed me with this evening’s biggest smile.

Radishes sliced

There are few vegetables I find more stunning than radishes. And they feel rather novel too. Rarely do I eat a radish outside of springtime.

When they are in season though, and just picked from the ground – still young, small, not fully matured – little else can beat how refreshing that crispness of theirs brings to the table. A spring rain rooted radish, yes please.

Sliced radishes

Along with all those seasonal festivals I mentioned earlier comes the arrival of countless picnic-themed holidays, on their way shortly. Next up is Mother’s Day, soon after followed by Memorial Day, and so on, and so on, and so on.

How to prepare for those occasions? Have a radish-inspired recipe you can count on. One that literally takes barely any effort at all to pull together.

Toasted Baguette

When you have quality ingredients, you only need a few ingredients to make a dish that’s memorable.

Fresh radishes. Ripe avocados. Crusty bread. Good olive oil. Coarse salt.

All favorited ingredients of my repertoire.

Avocado Radish Toasts

Pull them all together, and you create this, a recipe perfect for any picnic, potluck, or simple outdoor, light-lunch occasion. (Don’t get me wrong, you can certainly enjoy this indoors as well. But in my dreams, I’m eating outside for all 3 meals of the day.)

Avocado and lime

Sorry (but not sorry) for the photo overload. Like short and sweet recipes that can be easily fantastic when quality ingredients are involved, beautiful photos always come easier with ingredients that inherently shine.

Avocado Radish Toasts

Fun fact – most of the spice (and flavor) of a radish lays in its skin. Early season ones should be pretty tame, but later on, if you can’t handle the heat, you can always give them a zebra-striped peel.

Avocado Radish Toast

A little bit of that heat though, and the corresponding crispness, goes great with creamy avocados, so make sure to hang on to some of it. Enjoy guys!

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