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tomatoes

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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Ratatouille with Herb Corn Topping

Ratatouille with Herb Corn Topping

After last post’s summer-in-a-bowl, I was immediately ready for round two.

When the growing seasons’s at its prime, produce combinations fare to rarely ever bore me. As [insert singer of your choice here] says, “Gotta get it while the gettin’s good.”

In the August, the garden is good, and my fork is gettin’ it.

Ratatouille with Herb Corn Topping

Ratatouille remains a yearly favorite. It’s easy. It’s flexible. It’s quick, healthy, beautiful, and a million other adjectives.

To it, you can add chickpeas. You could add eggplant. You could add fresh thyme, pair it with bread, or top it with cheese. None of this I did. But you could, if you so please.

That’s the beauty of ratatouille.

Ratatouille with Herb Corn Topping

For my ratatouille, I generally do a combination of summer squash, tomatoes, onions and eggplant. I didn’t have eggplant available this time around, but I did have corn, so I whipped up this fancy-but-not-actually-fancy topping.

The corn adds an extra sweetness and crunch, which pairs well with the creamy grains placed beneath it. It’s also adds just one extra summery touch to a bowl full of already natural August goodness.

Ratatouille with Herb Corn Topping

Again, when veggies are fresh and local, you really needn’t do much to them but put them together and let their flavors swim free. Ready in 45 minutes or less (depending on your grain choice), this recipe lends itself well to a weeknight meal that’ll leave you feeling great. Pair with a side of protein, or sprinkle some toasted walnuts on top and call it a meal. Then most importantly, let your fork get in on that good.

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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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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…

Cauliflower, Kale, and Lentil Ragout

Cauliflower, Kale, and Lentil Ragout

I’m convinced I live in the best neighborhood in Philadelphia.

My apartment is just blocks away from the Mecca for persimmons by the bucket, 2-for-$1 avocados, and unlimited other cheap produce deals. AKA, the Italian Market. It also happens to be a prime destination for people-watching, which my camera and I enjoy quite often.

Cauliflower

Within this special place is Fante’s, a kitchen storefront with every type of gadget, pot, pan, canning material, etc. that you could ever need. You want an “asparagus steamer”? They’ve got it — along with special asparagus tongs, several kinds of asparagus peelers, and a platter to serve it all on. I  try not to frequent Fante’s because I also try not to let my bank account go underwater.  There’s a Whole Foods up the street that I save for that job.

Yes, just a few blocks in the other direction from my apartment lay two grocery stores. Whole Foods is one of them, and here I’m caught far too often fulfilling all my bulk food needs and trying to keep myself away from the hot bar. Sometimes I’ll nerd out with the Whole Foods employees about black rice and kombucha.

Cauliflower, Kale, and Lentil Ragout

In my ‘hood, Bella Vista, (in Italian, meaning “beautiful sight”), there are two wonderful yoga studios within walking distance, several coffee shops — one of which I’m convinced is in the running for the best iced coffee in the city — and an awesome spot to play late night pool.

On top of it all, it’s within biking distance of nearly every other main neighborhood I frequent in the city.

For me, it’s the place to be in the city, and for some reason I feel the need to write about this as the rain keeps me tucked inside my small apartment on its streets.

If I just had all of my friends here, a garden, a mountain, and a lake out my back door, I’d be set for life. Ha. While Bella Vista is awesome, I think “beautiful sight” by my standards might be a bit of an overstretch.

Kale and lentils

What is undoubtedly a beautiful site, however, is this mighty head of cauliflower I snagged yesterday at the market. And also this piece of fabric I picked up in fabric row, just another couple blocks away. A $2 piece of fabric and a $1.50 cauliflower + a priceless meal = beauty.

I whipped up a huge batch of this so I could freeze some of it for later meals. Feel free to cut the recipe in half if that’s not a project you want to do, or you don’t plan to feed a crowd.

The ragout itself is light, yet hearty, which I love. All of the spices make it feel rich, while its staples — cauliflower, kale, and lentils — keep it light. Top it with Parm or nutritional yeast, and it becomes a meal you could eat all week. What you place underneath is up to you, so you choose the grain/pasta that strikes your mood.

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