elevating the status of the salad

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I had some cauliflower in the fridge and homegrown tomatoes that would not last through the weekend, so this happened!

Toss some tomatoes and cauliflower with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast until tomatoes turn saucy, stirring once or twice. Sprinkle with basil. Put it over some grains and/or put an egg on top. Maybe add hot sauce. Don’t measure or time anything because you’re trying to pack at the same time before the baby wakes up. Call it brunch.

I was on the quest to make the perfect jalapeño margarita – heavy on the spice and light on the sweet. Maybe you are, too? Great news! You can stop your search down the Internet rabbit hole and make these tonight. They were the perfect start to a summer night that included guacamole, jalapeño corn muffins, Mexican street corn “salad”, veggie fajitas with jalapeño cashew cream, fantastic friends, and Los Lobos.

While there were several components to this meal, the two highlights were the jalapeño margaritas and the vegan jalapeño cashew cream to top the fajitas. Pretty much everything was assembled in advance, which made for a quick turnaround from my kids’ bedtime to our first margarita. Vegan Jalapeño Cashew Cream post to follow. But first, margaritas…

Jalapeño Margaritas:


*Note – you can make the simple syrup and squeeze the limes in advance)

Put the following ingredients in a pint-sized mason jar or shaker and shake vigorously:

  • Handful of ice
  • 2 oz tequila
  • 1/2 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tsp Jalapeño Simple Syrup (one cup sugar, one cup water in a small saucepan and stir until sugar dissolves. Add 2 jalapeños cut inhalf and dump in the saucepan- bring to a boil and then lower the heat let simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Strain into a jar for storage and discard the jalapeños – or keep them in for a real kick?! I did it for about an hour while it cooled on the counter and then I took them out before putting the syrup in the fridge overnight)
  • 1 tsp diced jalapeño

Then, prepare another glass – this one can be smaller: Use a lime wedge to coat the rim of the glass, and then gently dip in a shallow bowl of coarse salt. Fill that glass halfway with ice.

Use a small strainer to pour the liquid from the large container to the small container.

Garnish with a lime wedge and a jalapeño ring. Umbrella optional but recommended.


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. 


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


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. 

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 


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


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!)


  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.

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!



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


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.

IMG_1106 IMG_1121To celebrate the historic SCOTUS ruling, let’s enjoy these rainbow fruit and vegetable pops. I love berry season, but fresh berries have such a short shelf life. This technique preserves the fleeting berrylicious flavors of early summer. As an added bonus, these are made with raw kale and carrots too. You can use any combination of fruits and vegetables that you happen to have around. Let me know if you have any favorite combinations! Here’s what you do: Put the following in a high-powered blender: -handful of blueberries -handful of strawberries -handful of frozen chopped kale -handful of carrots -1 cup of water Blend on high until smooth, adding water as needed until it liquifies. The consistency should be quite thin. Pour into ice-pop molds and freeze overnight (the ones pictured are made by munchkin and make the perfect size for little ones. However, we still cut the pop into little pieces for our little munchkin–its just less messy that way). Enjoy!