August – Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

August – Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

For me summer is the season of non-cooking, at least as far as actual kitchen time is concerned. It’s the season of grilling and salads. An occasional foggy or cool day may call for a simple braise, but those are rare. I’d much rather spend my time out in the garden or taking a walk along the coast. But, eventually one grows weary of the repeated diet of grilled meat and grilled vegetables plus a green salad of sorts.

Enter tomato season, a little delayed and behind most of the U.S. here in Northern California. Our tomatoes aren’t really ripe until late August or early September. But I intend to take full advantage of our short season. I did manage to grow some in my garden this year but it isn’t enough to keep us in daily tomato salads.

Enter my local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) from Nye Ranch, which is just down the road. They raise their tomatoes under big plastic hoops and this week, for the first time, they offered them in flats to their members. I immediately snapped one up.

Aren’t they beautiful?

Nye Ranch heirloom beefsteak tomatoes

Nye Ranch heirloom beefsteak tomatoes

The think the first tomatoes are best appreciated simply, maybe on a slice of toasted rustic bread…they only need a sprinkling of flaky salt and a drizzle of olive oil to reach perfection. Heaven! Or tomato sandwiches, try this simple one that you will need to eat at the kitchen sink, the juices will drip down your chin Tomato Sandwich and the Kitchen Sink.

Later in the season is the time to be more inventive.

Have you tried adding fruit to tomato salads? The fruit will add an extra layer of sweetness against the tart acidity of the tomato. A little flaky salt underlines the sweetness of the fruit. My father always added a sprinkle of salt to watermelon to emphasize that sweetness. As a child I though that was weird, now I think it was a wonderful idea. This salad uses stone fruit but I have seen tomato and watermelon salads on the www. It seems like watermelon would be a good combination although I haven’t tried it, have any of you? This salad uses peaches but it would be equally good with nectarines, or plums later in the season. You could stop there, it would be delicious. But, read on…

A last minute drizzle of toasted spice and seeds added a crunch to this salad. I intend to use this same seed mixture on other vegetables, maybe on simply grilled zucchini (a vegetable on which I am beginning to tire). In fact it could be my new go-to enhancement for any simple roasted, grilled or steamed vegetable.

Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

In addition to the seeds this drizzle includes turmeric and black pepper. What are the seeds? My favorite cumin, plus sesame seeds. Both are toasted first to enhance their flavor and crunch.

The recipe is flexible, increase or decrease the amount of tomatoes and fruit depending on what is available in your kitchen right now and the size of them.

Ingredients:

  • 3 – 4 tomatoes
  • 2 -3 ripe peaches
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher or flaky salt
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

Method:

  1. Cut the tomatoes and peaches into wedges and position them on a large platter where you can spread them out. Sprinkle with the flaky salt and let them rest while you prepare the drizzle.
  2. Toast the cumin and sesame seeds in a dry skillet until beginning to brown and smell toasty, remove them to a small plate to cool.
  3. Warm the olive oil in the same skillet. Add the turmeric, pepper and toasted seeds to warm them and flavor the oil.
  4. Drizzle the warm oil over the tomatoes and peaches.

This salad can be made ahead and will be good for several days. It’s best warmed to room temperature before serving.

Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

This recipe was developed by Ali Slagle for the Washington Post.

And if you can’t find perfectly ripe tomatoes or live in the Southern Hemisphere, try this different one with cherry tomatoes. They are usually available year round.

Tomato Salad with Roasted Lemons 

Roasted Lemon and Tomato Salad

Be well and safe everyone, have a wonderful Labor Day weekend.

I am going to take this to the party over at Angie’s. Fiesta Friday is a virtual blogging party, this week it’s Fiesta Friday #344 cohosted by Laurena @ Life Diet Health

Come on over to sample all the wonderful recipes, decorating and craft ideas.

And please consider adding your own link at FiestaFriday.net. To be featured you will need to add links to Fiesta Friday and the cohost.

 

 

August – Greek Green Bean Salad

This easy salad would also be excellent with other cooked vegetables, zucchini comes to mind. I came back from a week away with a plethora of both green beans and snap peas harvested by my assistant gardener husband, I used a mixture of both.

Greek Green Bean Salad

Greek Bean Salad

Add cooked white beans or garbanzos or even canned tuna for a complete meal. Since I have a family member that doesn’t enjoy feta, I added a slice when serving rather than mixing it into the salad. This salad is certainly vegetarian but could be vegan if you leave out the feta and anchovy.

Ingredients:

Green Bean Salad

  • 1 ½ pounds fresh green beans, or mix of green beans and snap peas
  • ½ of a medium red onion, minced
  • ½ cup feta cheese (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced mint leaves (or oregano)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes sliced in half
  • ½ cup pitted kalamata olives, well drained
  • Additional mint leaves for garnish

Vinaigrette

  1. ¼ cup olive oil
  2. 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  3. 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  4. 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  5. 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  6. 1 garlic clove finely minced
  7. 1 finely minced anchovy (optional)
  8. Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Bring a pot of well salted water to boiling. Add the trimmed green beans and cook until crisp tender. The time will depend on the size and freshness of your beans, mine were cooked for 6 minutes.
  2. Drain in a colander and run cold water over them to stop the cooking. Spread on a layer of kitchen towels or paper towels until completely cool.
  3. Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a small jar and shake until well mixed.
  4. Place the cooled green beans, cherry tomatoes, chopped red onion, chopped fresh mint or oregano leaves, and olives in a large bowl. Toss with the dressing and place the feta, either crumbled or sliced, on top.
  5. Garnish with additional fresh mint or oregano.

This salad can be made hours or even a day ahead. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Greek Bean Salad

Greek Bean Salad

It makes wonderful leftovers…if you have any left.

Greek Bean Salad

Greek Bean Salad

This would be a wonderful side for any kind of BBQ. We served it with a simple grilled chicken marinated in olive oil and lemon juice.

I am taking this to Fiesta Friday #342 hosted by Angie. Please add your own post to the link party and don’t forget to link your post to FiestaFriday.net and the cohost, so you can be featured. Your cohost this week is Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

July – Zucchini, Tomato and Rice Gratin

July – Zucchini, Tomato and Rice Gratin

This is the perfect side dish to serve when you are trying to decide what to do with yet another harvest of zucchini and summer tomatoes.

zucchini, tomato and rice gratin

zucchini, tomato and rice gratin

It is also a vegetarian main dish (that’s how we had it) with a big green salad. But you could also serve it as a side dish at a summer BBQ or as a seasonal breakfast dish with a poached or fried egg on top.

If you have the zucchini and tomatoes available, the rest of ingredients are standard pantry staples. I used brown rice but white rice would work perfectly as well. If you have some leftover rice from dinner earlier the week, this comes together quite easily.

I want to make a note about salt. Not all salts are the same. I use almost exclusively Diamond kosher salt in cooking. It doesn’t have any additives or anti caking agents. The grains are slightly larger so I would use more of it in a recipe calling for fine sea salt or regular table salt or even another brand of kosher salt. The amounts in the recipe are designed for Diamond kosher salt (yes, as one commenter reminded me, there is a difference in the grain sizes of kosher salts. Morton brand kosher salt grains are smaller). If you are using another type, please use less and taste, taste, taste. You can always add more later but an over-salted dish is difficult to reclaim.

Zucchini, tomato and rice gratin   

serves 4-6 as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup of uncooked rice, cooked and cooled
  • 5 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs zucchini, 3-4 medium, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 4-5 medium tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup of grated parmesan, divided in half

Method:

  1. Heat your oven to 450 degrees F. Cook your rice by you favorite method.
  2. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly coat them with olive oil. Spread the zucchini slices on one sheet and the tomato slices on the other, trying to not overlap the slices. Sprinkle each with salt and a few grinds of pepper.
  3. Roast the tomatoes and zucchini for 10 minutes and remove the tomatoes from the oven. Flip the zucchini slices and return the pan to the oven for another 10 minutes. Leave the oven on.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the pan. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the onions are limp and tender, 15-20 minutes.
  5. Grease a shallow medium casserole dish (about 2 quart size) with a tablespoon of olive oil.
  6. In a bowl combine the onion mixture, rice, eggs, spices, 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil, and half the parmesan.
  7. Spread half the rice mixture in the bottom of the casserole, cover with half the zucchini, spread the remaining rice on top, then the rest of the zucchini, finish with the tomato slices. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan. I was a little generous with the parmesan on top.
  8. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. I found the best browning is on the shelf near the top of my oven.
zucchini, tomato and rice

zucchini, tomato and rice

This recipe was inspired from one in the the blog Smitten Kitchen, I have made my own modifications. It was originally published by SK in 2012; she adapted it from a recipe published in Gourmet in 2008. But it really feels like came from a small provincial kitchen in Italy or France. Don’t make it too fancy, it should be rustic.

April – Aduki Beans with Bacon, Bourbon and Rice

April – Aduki Beans with Bacon, Bourbon and Rice

Shelf at my grocery store

Adzuki Beans

Does your grocery store look like this? There was not a single can of beans on the shelves except these aduki beans. It was a sight I never expected to see, I guess beans are a good pantry staple. But why wasn’t anyone hoarding aduki beans? They are delicious. I guess most folks are not familiar with them.

According to Dr. Andrew Weil:

“Adzuki beans are small, red beans that originated in China. These legumes (also called aduki or azuki beans) are most often enjoyed boiled with sugar and mashed into a sweet red bean paste that is used as a filling in many popular Asian desserts, including ice cream. The nutty flavor of adzukis is equally delicious in savory applications: Festival Rice from Japan combines adzuki with rice, which receives a pleasant pink tint from the beans.”

“Like many other beans, adzukis are a good source of magnesiumpotassium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese and B vitamins. Also of note is the adzuki’s status as the “weight loss bean,” since they are so low in calories and fat, yet high in nutrition. Additionally, they are relatively easy to digest, so they should not give you gas as other beans do.”

This is a pantry dinner but still delicious. It could be either the entire meal or a side dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of aduki beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 strips thick, uncured, apple wood smoked bacon
  • 1 cup brown rice, rinsed (or white if that’s all you have)
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups of water (depending on the type of rice)
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey (start with 1 tablespoon and add more to taste)
  • pinch of salt, to taste

A note on substitutions…

    • No thick sliced, uncured bacon? Use regular bacon with a few extra slices.
    • no bacon or are you vegetarian? Use any smoky vegetarian substitute.
    • no bourbon? Use brandy or a smoky scotch or sake or leave it out completely.
    • no honey? Use maple syrup or agave or a tablespoon of brown sugar.
    • and if you are missing all of those…use two or three tablespoons of BBQ sauce.

You are looking for a flavor profile, something sweet and smoky and a little sharp.

Method:

  1. Slice bacon in half, lengthwise, and then chop into small pieces. Add bacon to cold saucepan or Dutch oven and turn heat to medium. Cook bacon until fat is rendered and pieces are crisp and golden. Transfer cooked bacon to a small bowl and set aside. Drain off all but one tablespoon of grease.
  2. Add beans to pan, stir, and then add rice. Stir to coat in bacon drippings. Add bourbon, stir and cook, about a minute, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add water, bring mixture to a simmer, and cover pan, lowering heat. Cook until liquid is absorbed and beans and rice are tender, about 30-35 minutes.
  3. Fluff mixture with a fork.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon of honey, reserved bacon pieces, and mix into beans and rice. Add additional honey if necessary.
  5. Add salt to taste. Serve hot or warm and enjoy!
aduki beans and rice

aduki beans and rice

 

 

  1. Aduki beans with bacon and bourbon

    Aduki beans with bacon and bourbon; with roast cauliflower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November – Roast Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Carrots and Citrus Dressing

November – Roast Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Carrots and Citrus Dressing

Roasted Brussels sprouts, sliced pickled carrots, walnuts, cilantro and a citrus vinaigrette. Is it a salad? Or a side? In fact, it is both as it can be served warm or at room temperature but not cold. If you make it ahead, pull it out of the fridge at least 20 minutes before serving. It might qualify as the perfect side for your holiday dinner, make it a few hours ahead to free up your oven. Add roasted cooked farro or another grain for a vegetarian main meal. It’s pretty as well with the fall colors of orange carrots and bright green sprouts, roasted to dark caramelized perfection.

This recipe came from Six Seasons, A New Way with Vegetables by Joshua McFadden. I love the inventiveness of his recipes and am slowly cooking my way through the book. The premise is that there are actually six seasons, not just four…spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer, fall and winter. I think farmer’s markets and our own gardens would support that idea.

Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Carrots, Walnuts, Cilantro and Citrus Vinaigrette

Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Carrots, Walnuts, Cilantro and Citrus Vinaigrette

Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Carrots, Walnuts, Cilantro and Citrus Vinaigrette

(serves 2-3 but can be easily doubled)

Ingredients:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled
  • 3/4 pound of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • About 1/3 cup roughly chopped or sliced pickled carrots, either store-bought or home made
  • 1/2 cup of chopped toasted nuts, walnuts or pecans or hazelnuts
  • 1 bunch of scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced (white and light green parts)
  • 1/4 cup of citrus vinaigrette
  • 1/2 cup of lightly packed and chopped cilantro leaves (I was able to find baby leaves)
  • 1/2 cup of lightly packed and chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat Add 1/4 cup of olive oil and the garlic, cook until the garlic is soft and golden brown, watch carefully and reduce the heat if it is browning too quickly. Garlic turns bitter if allowed to burn.
  2. Scoop out the garlic and set it aside.
  3. Increase the heat and add the Brussels sprouts, cut side down. Season well with salt and pepper and cook until the sprouts are cooked all the way through, browned but not mushy. This will take about 8-10 minutes.
  4. Return the garlic to the pan, crushing it to break it up and mix with the sprouts.
  5. When the sprouts are cooked to your liking, remove the pan from the heat and add the pickled carrots, half the nuts, and all the scallions. Toss to mix and warm the new ingredients.
  6. Spoon the vinaigrette over the sprouts and toss again. Add half the cilantro and parsley.
  7. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  8. Right before serving, add more vinaigrette if needed, along with the rest of the nuts, parsley and cilantro.

Citrus Vinaigrette:

  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon Champagne or white wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  1. Zest all the citrus with a microplane or small rasp style grater into a bowl.
  2. Halve the fruit and squeeze all the juice into the same bowl, removing any seeds.
  3. Whisk in the honey, vinegar, 1 teaspoon of salt and several turns of your pepper mill.
  4. Taste and adjust, if needed.
  5. Whisk in the olive oil, a few drops at a time. For a more emulsified and creamy vinaigrette do this in a blender, drizzling in the olive oil as the machine is running.
  6. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Carrots, Walnuts, Cilantro and Citrus Vinaigrette

Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Carrots, Walnuts, Cilantro and Citrus Vinaigrette

I am taking this one to Fiesta Friday #305 over at Angie’s place. Please come join the party with lots of ideas about crafts, food, and travel. This week is is co-hosted by myself.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, hard to believe the Christmas holiday is only a few weeks away. Whew!