elevating the status of the salad

Cherry Tomato Panzanella

This comes together in a snap with just a few ingredients, and it disappears even faster. It’s a great way to use day old bread. 

Enjoy! 
Ingredients:

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 small garlic clove, minced

1/2 small shallot, minced 

Approximately 15 basil leaves

2.5 cups Italian bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

2 T red wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil, divided

Salt and pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Put the cubes of bread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle bread with 1-2 T olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and stir. Put bread in the oven for 10-12 minutes until croutons are toasted. Allow to cool for a few minutes.

Combine tomatoes, garlic, shallot, vinegar, remaining oil, and salt and pepper to taste. 

When the croutons are cooled, combine basil leaves and bread with tomato mixture. 

Pickled Jalapeño Rings 

Here’s a quick way to preserve jalapeño peppers. Great for topping nachos, salads, in sandwiches, etc. 

Ingredients:

3/4 cup distilled white vinegar

3/4 cup water 

1 garlic clove, crushed

3 T white sugar

1 T kosher salt

10 jalapeños, sliced into rings – use gloves to chop or you’ll regret it later when you take out your contact lenses. 

Directions: 

Pour all ingredients except peppers into a small pot. Once mixture boils, stir in jalapeños and remove from heat. Let sit for ten minutes and watch the color turn before your very eyes. 
Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer jalapeños  to a pint size mason jar and cover with vinegar mixture. Bottle it up, and enjoy topping your food with a kick for the next month or so. 

Super-fast Thai Cucumber Salad


Here’s a great way to get creative with your bumper crop of cucumbers, and it takes only 10 minutes from garden to plate. I used a mandolin for maximum beauty and because I like to live on the edge. Thanks to Karen Solomon and her book Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It for this and so many other fun kitchen ideas. 

Ingredients:

1 large cucumber – sliced thin 

1 small red onion-sliced thin

2 teaspoons brown rice syrup (or sugar or your sweetener of preference)

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar 

Mix all ingredients together and let sit for 30 minutes. It can be refrigerated for 2 days. 

Easiest Ever Blueberry Jam! Bonus Festive July 4th Crostini

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It was a cool day at the lake today, so we headed to The Berry Patch in Etna Green, Indiana for blueberry picking. This jam became the perfect highlight of this colorfully festive blueberry and ricotta crostini which can be made in less than 30 minutes from beginning to end. Add a strawberry or raspberry for an additional color and you have a perfect snacketizer for the 4th of July.

Ingredients: (this makes about 3/4 cups jam when cooked)

2 cups blueberries

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 T lemon juice

Heat all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently until thickened. You know its ready when is starts to stick to the spoon and your toddler is screaming that he wants some NOW!

For the crostini, simply broil some slices of french bread in the oven. Then get creative with decorating with ricotta cheese, blueberry jam, and your red berry of choice.

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A salad grows in Brooklyn

Local CSAs are starting this week and so some friends inspired me to start up again. Thanks, MK and JG!

This year the theme of the garden is food that doesn’t need to be cooked. Basically, we’re growing a salad. Take a look!
Bell and jalapeños


Cherry tomatoes

Lettuce and spinach 

Basil

Look! Our first sugar snap pea arrived. Isn’t she/he adorable?

10-minute Cherry Tomato Sauce

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The garden is exploding with cherry tomatoes, and this recipe is a quick way to turn them into a warm meal. The sauce is spectacular over pasta (I used orzo with the kiddo and he liked that texture more than other pastas), and it can also be used as a spread on crackers.

Ingredients (all measurements are approximate–adjust any ingredient to taste):

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup cherry tomatoes

1 tablespoon minced onion or shallot

1 clove minced garlic

pinch of salt-optional

pinch of sugar-optional

8-10 torn basil leaves

1 tablespoon parmesan cheese-optional (Really isn’t everything optional? These are all merely suggestions!)

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat
  2. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring a few times.
  3. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (30 seconds to a minute), stirring constantly.
  4. Add the cherry tomatoes (you can add them whole) and use a fork or spatula to squish them. If you want to have less fun, you can always cut them in half or quarters prior to putting them in the skillet, but squishing them while I go is my preferred method–just remember to wear an apron or some other sauce-friendly shirt)
  5. Once all tomatoes are squished, lower the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer and stir until it thickens a bit. If it is sticking a lot, add a few spoonfuls of water.
  6. Add salt and sugar to taste, if using.
  7. Once it seems like a sauce-consistency, throw in the basil, stir it up, and turn off the heat
  8. Pour the sauce on your favorite pasta and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Quinoa Pasta with Vegan Cashew Pesto

Fellow cheese lovers, don’t despair. You will not miss the parmesan in this pesto. The trick here is to soak the cashews for at least four hours so they become velvety smooth when pureed. You can freeze the extra pesto in small batches such as ice cube trays.

I used Ancient Harvest quinoa pasta, and I highly recommend it.

For the record: My child, who refuses chicken nuggets and even mac-n-cheese from a box, could not get enough of this pasta today. Maybe it was the fact that I let him hold a fork, but I like to think that he just sometimes chooses to go vegan and gluten-free.

Thanks to Farm to Harlem for the cooking inspiration!

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Ingredients:

Quinoa pasta (I used Ancient Harvest veggie curls)

1-2 cups of basil

1/2 cup cashews (soaked in warm water for at least 4 hours or overnight)

1 small clove of garlic (or 1/2 clove-your preference)

olive oil

salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Get the water boiling for the pasta and follow the directions on the box.  (sometimes I forget to start the water for pasta so here’s a friendly reminder!) NOTE: reserve a bit of the cooking water from the pasta.

1. In a blender, puree the cashews until smooth. Add water so that it becomes the consistency of smooth peanut butter.

2. Add the basil and garlic to the blender and pulse a few times.

3. With the lid of the blender closed and the blender running, slowly add the oil through the hole in the top. Stop as needed to scrape down the sides of the blender. If you feel like you added a lot of oil already, switch to a few spoonfuls of water.

4. Add a few pinches of salt and pepper and pulse a few more times to combine.

5. Top a small amount of this sauce on hot pasta. A little bit goes a LONG way so start with one teaspoon at a time. Add some of the pasta’s cooking water so that it will mix more easily.


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