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.
It was one of those perfect-weather weekends in Brooklyn. Even though yesterday included a devastating playoff loss for the Nets, nothing was going to bring me down. We were so inspired by the weather that we grilled for the first time. You can roast this asparagus in the oven if a grill is not nearby. This recipe makes more than enough dressing for 1 bunch of asparagus, and I figure it would taste great on any green salad throughout the week.
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 T soy sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 T honey or brown sugar
- 2 T peeled and minced ginger (I’m a big fan of the ready-to-go minced ginger in glass jars)
- 1 t sesame oil
- sesame seeds, for garnish (optional) (Really, everything is optional…let’s be honest here)
- 1 bunch asparagus, woody stems removed
- Heat a grill to high heat.
- Place the first 7 ingredients (through the sesame oil) in a food processor (a mini one works) and blend until smooth. Add water to thin out if necessary. Set aside.
- Lightly coat asparagus with cooking spray or a touch of olive oil, and put in a grill basket. Heat on a grill for 2-4 minutes, shaking the basket once or twice, until spears are slightly tender and starting to brown. Remove from grill.
- Place asparagus in a large bowl, and coat with a few tablespoons of the dressing. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using, and serve.
I love roasted butternut squash soup. This one stands out because of the other flavors involved: apples, hint of chili, rosemary, coriander, and of course cream. It’s also fairly easy because pretty much everything just roasts together for the same amount of time.
I altered this recipe from NPR, (which originally was a Jamie Oliver recipe) just a little bit. They suggested putting the pumpkin seeds in the oven alongside the vegetables for 10-15 minutes, but that resulted in black, smelly pumpkin seeds. Instead, I just toasted them on a skillet for a few minutes, stirring a few times to make sure they got evenly browned.
- 1 butternut squash, about 2 pounds, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 3 firm, sweet apples, such as Braeburn, Pink Lady or Jazz, peeled, cored and quartered–I used Honeycrisp from the Grand Army Plaza farmer’s market
- 1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 fresh hot red chili, seeded and finely chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled and crushed
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/4 cup olive oil plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, separated
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (the shelled kernels, sometimes called pepitas)
- 3 1/4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 2/3 cup light cream–I used a combination of half and half and heavy cream, and you can probably get away with less cream if you want to keep it light.
- Pumpkin seed oil, for garnish(I did not use this)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Spread the squash, apples, onion, chili and garlic on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, coriander and rosemary. Drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil and toss until well coated. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until all the vegetables are cooked through and golden.
- Heat a skillet to medium-low, and toast pumpkin seeds, tossing occasionally, until evenly browned–about 5-10 minutes.
- Remove the vegetables from the oven. When they are cool enough to handle, squeeze the garlic from the peel. If you have an immersion blender, scrape the vegetables into a large pot. Deglaze the baking sheet with 1/4 cup boiling water, scraping at the burned-on bits to capture them. Add the water to the pot. Add the stock to the pot and puree, using the immersion blender.
- If you are using a countertop blender, deglaze the pan as above and pour into the blender. Add roughly 1/3 of the vegetables from the baking sheet and puree. Transfer puree to a large pot. Continue this process with the rest of the vegetables, using the stock.
- Once the vegetables are pureed in the pot, add the cream and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer until the soup is warmed through and reaches your preferred consistency.
- To serve, divide into bowls. Drizzle with pumpkin seed oil (or not). Top with toasted pumpkin seeds.
This recipe came from Cooking Light magazine. It’s a perfect addition to a fall meal. It brightens up the plate and has a great flavor.
All of the herbs came from my garden. However, the cilantro was special. A few months ago in the heat of summer, I was frustrated that my cilantro kept bolting. I decided to let it flower and turn to seed so I could make my very own coriander seed. Once the plants got to the right point (for us, the right point was when we were sick of the constant swarm of bees who adored our cilantro flowers), I cut and then dried the plants in a paper bag. Then, I hung the bag inside for a few weeks. After a few weeks, I gave the bag a few shakes. Amazingly, there were some coriander seeds at the bottom of my bag. However, the yield was less than I hoped for: just a few tablespoons. I think I should have waited a bit longer to chop down the flowering cilantro before letting it dry.
Rather than save the coriander, I continued on with my experiment. I planted the coriander a few inches deep in the empty pot that used to house the cilantro. A few week later….little baby cilantro plants started popping up. I watered them gently at first. A few weeks later than that…carrot salad with a hit of heat features my very own “circle of life” cilantro. I know this is basic stuff to some people, but I was amazed that this process actually works.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste)
- 4 cups coarsely grated carrot (about 1 pound)
- 3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh mint
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives (optional)
- Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add carrot and salt; toss to coat. Let stand 30 minutes. Just before serving, add cilantro, mint, and chives, if desired; toss to combine.
- 6 medium beets (1 1/2 pounds), trimmed (I used 4 very large beets)
- 2 small garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small red chile, seeded and minced (I used dried chile flakes instead)
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon za’atar
- 1/4 cup roasted skinned hazelnuts, chopped
- 2 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- Warm bread, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Put the beets in a small roasting pan and add 1/4 cup of water. Cover with foil and bake for about 1 hour, until tender. Let cool slightly.
- Peel the beets, cut into wedges and transfer to a food processor. Add the garlic, chile and yogurt and pulse until blended. Add the olive oil, maple syrup and za’atar and puree. Season with salt. Scrape into a wide, shallow bowl. Scatter the hazelnuts, goat cheese and scallions on top and serve with bread.
This is a basic tabbouleh recipe that does not require a lot of ingredients. If you are looking for more of a meal, check out my tabbouleh with chicken and tahini recipe here. This week, we got a lot of parsley from the CSA, and tabbouleh is my favorite way to use it all up. Thanks to Simply Recipes for the original recipe. I revised the amounts when I made it myself. Feel free to increase the herbs and decrease the bulgur or the other way around, depending on the ratio you prefer. (I like more herbs when eating it with pita, more bulgur when eating it as a stand-alone salad). Do you have another favorite recipe that highlights parsley? Send it along!
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup bulgur wheat
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Juice from 2 lemons
- 5-6 Roma or plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped (I used about a cup of mixed tomatoes, including cherry tomatoes–but I left the seeds in the little guys)
- 2 scallions, chopped, including the greens
- 1 1/2-2 cups parsley, chopped
- 3/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
- Place the bulgur in a medium sized bowl. Bring water and the teaspoon of salt to a boil, pour it over the bulgur. Let sit for 30 minutes.
- In a large bowl, add the olive oil, lemon juice, bulgur and mix well. Add in all the other ingredients and mix to combine.
- Taste the tabbouleh, and add more salt, olive oil or more lemon juice to taste. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Will keep chilled for several days.
These are like little salads you can eat with your hands. You can really improvise and use whatever vegetables you have on hand. Also, you can add shrimp, chicken, or tofu to these for some more protein. However, I liked them nice and light for these hot summer days. You may have to go to a larger store or an Asian market to get the rice paper wrap. The 3rd store was a charm for me–I picked some at at Pacific Green on Court Street in Cobble Hill. As a bonus, I also picked up some of their wonderfully fresh-cut watermelon for dessert.
These fresh summer rolls (as opposed to deep-fried spring rolls) are great to bring to a picnic or anywhere else. Just put a layer of damp paper towels on the bottom, seal them tightly with saran wrap, and they should be good to go a day in advance. If you want to store them in layers, put a layer of paper towels between the layers of rolls to keep them from sticking to each other.
The quantity of the ingredients list is flexible. It depends on your preference: you can make each roll with as much of each ingredient as you choose. One cucumber and one carrot will be good for about 8 rolls, which are each cut in half.
For the rolls:
- 1 package very thin rice noodles, cooked according to package directions
- 1 cucumber, cut in half cross wise and then into thin strips
- 1 carrot, shaved with a vegetable peeler
- 4 radishes, cut into matchsticks (First cut the radish into thin slices. Then, cut each round slice into strips.)
- 20 or so whole basil leaves (fewer if your leaves are bigger)
- 20 or so whole cilantro leaves
- 20 or so whole mint leaves (fewer if your leaves are bigger)
- 1 package rice paper wrappers: they look like this
For the dipping sauce:
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- water as needed to thin out the sauce
- optional: one clove or garlic, minced
- If you did not cook the noodles ahead of time already, get those going according to package directions.
- Prepare the dipping sauce: mix all ingredients together. Thin out with a few tablespoons or water at at time until you get your desired consistency. I added a bit more vinegar as well,so just taste and keep adjusting the amounts until you like the flavor.
- Fill a large sauté pan with warm water. Hopefully it is large enough for you to quickly dip the wrappers in without crushing them. The wrappers I got this time were HUGE (larger diameter than any of my pans) so I just dipped one half at a time. Here’s how it works: The wrapper needs to sit in warm water for a just a few seconds to become pliable so you can actually wrap with it. Then, you need to work fairly quickly but carefully so that you don’t tear the wrapper. Just do one at a time.
- After softening the wrapper, place it carefully on a work surface. Fill the middle with the goods: a small handful of noodles, a few cucumber sticks, a few radishes, a few carrots, a few of each: cilantro, basil, mint, whatever else you feel like.
- Then, get rolling. Fold the top and bottom up to close off the edges of your roll. Then, start wrapping from one side until you get the shape you want. You’ll need to be a little forceful with your vegetables to get them into roll-shape. Its ok, they can handle it.
- Cut each roll in half, and serve with dipping sauce on the side.
Here’s another version of the classic Caprese salad. This one takes a little bit more prep work than the original post, and it’s a welcome variation because you can eat this one without a knife. Sometimes, the fewer utensils the better, especially when having to carry everything up and down a spiral staircase. This is a delicious side dish for a summer BBQ. To make it a hearty main dish, you can add couscous or quinoa and some toasted pine nuts.
The cherry tomatoes and basil came from my garden in the sky. I was pretty excited that I grew enough tomatoes to make a salad that fed 5 people!
Thanks to The Curvy Carrot for this fantastic recipe.
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 medium shallot, minced (about three tablespoons)
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 and 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves, torn
- 8 ounces of fresh mozzarella cheese, chopped into bite-size pieces
- Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
1. Toss the tomatoes, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and the sugar in a medium bowl. Set it aside and let stand on its own for 30 minutes.
2. Transfer the tomatoes to a salad spinner and spin them for a few seconds to remove the seeds and extra juice. Make sure you conserve the juice.
3. Put the spun tomato juice/seeds through a fine strainer to reserve the juice and discard the seeds.
4. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-low heat on the stove.
5. Add 1/2 cup of the tomato liquid, the shallot, and vinegar to a simmer. Let simmer until the mixture is reduced to about 3 tablespoons. (I didn;t have that much tomato liquid so I just let it simmer for a while and then decided it was done when I felt like it)
6. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and cool to room temperature.
7. Whisk in the oil and salt and pepper to taste.
8. Add the basil and the mozzarella to the tomatoes. Toss gently to combine.
Here is a fresh salsa recipe starring ingredients from my rooftop garden! I used Better Bush tomatoes (Bonnie) which are good for containers. The jalapeños that we’ve been growing are varying in their heat factor. My husband has the job of tasting the spiciest part of the jalapeño: I cut off a small slice closest to the stem and keep the seeds in it. That’s the part he tastes. Then, he rates them on a scale of 1-10; 10 being a very spicy jalapeño, 1 being no spice. This happens before I add the pepper to recipes so I can decide how much to add. This one was a 4. I still have not figured out why some are hotter than others, but I’m glad to have a spice tester nearby.
Right now, there are a bunch of green tomatoes and baby jalapeños on the plants, so there is definitely going to be more experiments with salsa in a few weeks! Do you have a favorite salsa recipe? Maybe you like to add peaches, corn, or black beans to yours? Please send it along!
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 jalapeño pepper (remove seeds if you want less heat), minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1-2 tablespoons onion, minced (red or white)
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
- juice of 1/2 lime
Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.
The warm weather is really here, hopefully to stay. One of the joys of warm weather is eating alfresco, particularly a meal cooked on the grill. Since I have spent my whole adult life (until recently) as a vegetarian, I know how the typical BBQ options go.
I’m in the midst of administering state tests to my students, so I will present the multiple choices to you…
a. Pile up your plate with cole slaw , stick a pickle between a hamburger bun, and get a slice of pizza on your way home.
b. Gnaw on a hockey-puck style store-bought veggie burger dished up by some well intentioned but carnivorous grill master.
c. Fill up on beverages.
The following two sandwiches are sure to make a vegetarian feel more welcomed at your next BBQ. Both of these can also be made in the oven. I have no pictures because they got eaten too quickly. Hopefully next time I’ll snap a photo in time.
BBQ Portobello Burger with Bell Pepper, Mozzarella, and Caramelized Onions
You can make the caramelized onions the day or two before, and keep them in an airtight container in the fridge. The recipe below makes 4 burgers.
- 2 medium onions
- 4 portobello mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed, gills scraped off with a spoon
- your favorite BBQ sauce–enough to cover the mushrooms.
- mozzarella cheese: enough to have one slice per mushroom.
- 2 yellow bell peppers
- olive oil
- cooking spray
- salt and pepper
- Caramelize onions.
- Heat grill to medium-high.
- Place mushrooms in a large shallow dish. Brush both sides with BBQ sauce.
- Cut the peppers in half, seed and derib. Brush the peppers with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Put the mushrooms cap side up on foil sprayed with cooking spray. Grill mushrooms and peppers (peppers direct only grill) over heat for approximately 4 minutes per side. In the last minute of cooking, top mushrooms with cheese. (They should now be cap side down so the cheese will not slide off. Allow peppers to cool before slicing into 2-3 slices.
- Assemble burgers: Layer peppers and onions on top of mushrooms on your favorite rolls.
BBQ-Worthy Bean Burgers
These are delicious plain, or with a slice a cheddar cheese and pickled jalapeños on top. The recipe below makes 4 burgers.
- 1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces
- 1/2 onion, cut into wedges
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon Thai chili sauce or hot sauce (I used Sambal Oelek, so my burgers were quite spicy)
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- If grilling, preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. If baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees F, and lightly oil a baking sheet.
- In a medium bowl, mash black beans with a fork until thick and pasty.
- In a food processor, finely chop bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Then stir into mashed beans.
- In a small bowl, stir together egg, chili powder, cumin, and chili sauce.
- Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into four patties.
- If grilling, place patties on foil, and grill about 8 minutes on each side. If baking, place patties on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side.