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Slow-cook Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce

If you have tomatoes still ripening away in your garden (or magical access to a bucket full of fresh ones nearby) you should make this. Make THIS. MAKE THIS.

I can’t reiterate it enough, but truly, when winter comes around, you won’t be sorry you took away one summer Sunday afternoon of your life to cook sauce. If you’re into the whole canning process—which sadly, even after writing about it in last year’s marinara post, I have yet to learn—now’s the time to put those wonderful skills to use. Otherwise, make some room in the freezer. Which is what I did, after cutting up a solar system full of tomatoes and doubling my original recipe.

I froze sauce last year, and every time I pulled a batch out, my life became instantly and magically brighter. Even in the darkness of early winter evenings. Seriously. Warm summer sauce on a fork full of linguine when there’s snow outside your window—well, I’ll let you describe that experience for yourself once you pop your own taste of September out of the freezer…in January.

Below, you’ll find the same recipe I posted last summer. However, I doubles the amounts simply to make it more convenient for those with the intentions of freezing/canning. If you’re interested in just making a dinner portion for six, refer to my original post.

Click here for recipe…

Herbed Salmon

I love being able to have fresh herbs in the garden.  I miss them dearly when it’s winter, and I miss them when they’re without of my reach in Philly.  Herbs turn into a lush ingredient when a store is required for obtainment, and much of the time they’re half dead anyways.  Unless I make it out to a trusty farmer’s market where I can pick my own, I go much of the year without fresh herbs.  Needless to say, I rejoice when I’m home amidst my mom’s luxurious herb quarters in the garden.

While dried herbs often work fine, there’s just something special about using fresh.  Here, they add a subtle, but enriching flavor to my favorite pescetarian item—salmon.  Tarragon adds hints of an anise-like flavor, but cooks into the salmon so as not to add an overpowering licorice flavor.  Dill and lemon also elements of freshness, without drawing too much from the actual flavor of the salmon.  Use a grill or broiler to get a nice crispy exterior, while keeping the center moist.

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Free-Form Herbed Pea and Quinoa Pilaf

If you’ve ever had a taste of fresh peas, you know they’re well-worth all the monotonous shelling effort they require.  I’ve done hours of this kind of pea drudgery for my parents, yet I still look forward to when they come in season every year.  The little balls are bursting with a super sweetness that can’t be matched, needing just a little butter/olive oil and S&P to create a satisfying snack.

At the last farmer’s market I helped work, I noticed many of the customers passing over the regular peas for snow peas.  Often, they’d tell me, I want the ones that don’t require any of that prep.  I would’ve convinced them otherwise, but that meant more for me, so I passed on the pea persuasion.

Really, if you sit down and watch a little TV before dinner, and shell some peas while you’re at it, the whole pea prep. isn’t that bad.  I ended up taking advantage of some slow time I had at the farmer’s markets to start freeing a few peas from their pod for myself.  By the end of the day, I had a whole bag at my disposal.

I added them to this free-formed quinoa salad, along with some fresh herbs from the garden.  I love light, summery salads like these, especially when creamy avocado is thrown in the mix too.  And as light as this salad is, it’s packed with protein.  Peas have 5 grams per cup, and quinoa has 8 grams per cup, making this a great meat-free, protein-filled dish. Use whatever amount of each ingredient you desire.  You really can’t go wrong when you are utilizing fresh ingredients.

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Bulghur Lentil Pilaf with Tahini-Herb Sauce

This was a recipe I actually got from the Food Network Kitchen.  I was quite impressed with the results.  The moderately mild flavors of the lentils and bulghur pair perfectly with the creamy, herbiness of the tahini sauce.  The pilaf requires a few steps and a handful of ingredients, but it’s really rather easy to make and is worth your time.

Bulghur Lentil Pilaf with Tahini-Herb Sauce

-4 cups water
-1 cup lentils
-2 large onions, diced
-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil  (I reduced this to about 3 Tbsp.)
-1 cup bulghur, medium grind
-1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
-Freshly ground black pepper

-2 cups grape tomatoes, halved  (I felt that one cup sufficed)
-1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, mint, or dill, or combo.

Tahini-Herb Sauce
-1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley
-1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
-1/4 cup water
-1/4 cup tahini
-2 tsp. honey
-1 garlic clove, smashed
-1 tsp. kosher salt
-Freshly ground black pepper

For the pilaf:  In a medium saucepan, bring the water and lentils to a boil.  Adjust heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, fry the onions in olive oil over medium heat until well browned, about 12 minutes.  (If onions begin to stick, add a few Tbsp. of water).  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  To the pan with the lentils, add the onions, bulghur, and 1 1/2 tsp. salt.  Bring to a full simmer, cover, and cook 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand for an additional 15 minutes.

While the mixture is standing, make the tahini-herb sauce by pureeing all ingredients in a blender of food processor.  (I found that a  food processor worked best).

Transfer pilaf to a serving dish and top with tomatoes and herbs.  Serve with drizzled tahini-herb sauce over top.