Friday, July 27, 2012

Lemon Cucumber Tofu Salad

One thing I really love about having a garden is that I can grow all sorts of cool heirloom plants that I can't find at the grocery store or many farmers markets.  One of my favorite veggies in my garden is lemon cucumbers.  They are these precious little cucumbers that have the coloring of a lemon and are shaped kind of like a small apple.  They taste a bit different than regular cucumbers, but aren't lemony at all as you would imagine. 

Look how cute they are!
I didn't have to look much further than one of my favorite cooking blogs, 101 Cookbooks, to find a great recipe for my lemon cucumbers.  This recipe caught my eye, and has been a hit in my house all summer (I have had a ton of lemon cucumbers!).  You could easily substitute regular cucumbers if you would like.  Definitely give a lemon cucumber a taste if you can find them!

  • 2 (or more) lemon cucumbers, quartered then sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
  • 1 handful of fresh dill (about 2/3 cup loosely packed)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 big pinches of salt
  • 8 ounces extra firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds
  • 1/2 of a large, ripe avocado

1.  Toss the cucumbers, dill, olive oil, lemon juice and salt together in a medium bowl. Let sit for at least 20 minutes tossing gently once or twice along the way.

2.  In the meantime, cook the tofu. Cook the tofu and a pinch of salt in well-seasoned skillet until the tofu is firm, golden, and bouncy. Set aside.

3.  Just before serving cut the avocado into cubes.

4.  Spoon the cucumbers out of the lemon-olive oil mixture into a large salad bowl. Add half of the remaining dressing, the tofu, and half of the nuts. Gently toss. Taste. Add more dressing or salt if you like. Sprinkle the avocado across the top of the salad and gently toss once or twice to distribute it throughout the salad. Serve topped with the remaining pine nuts.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Vegetable Tian

I'm sure some of you have seen this recipe on Pinterest.  I do a lot of pinning, but I don't usually get around to making/doing anything I pin.  But for once, I actually did make something so I was really excited when it turned out so well!  It looked like it might be somewhat complicated because of how pretty it looked, but it was actually relatively simple to make and put together.

The original recipe called for parmesean cheese, but my husband was the one that went to the grocery store and he came home with mozzarella and pecorino romano because he says he likes that better.  Of course, you can substitute the type of cheese, but the pecorino romano gave it a very interesting taste.  The original recipe also calls for dried thyme, but I love the way the fresh rosemary and thyme tasted in this dish.  I think I may give basil a try when I make it next time (husband really enjoyed it, will be making it again for sure!).
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil (divided)
  • 1 large sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-2 potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 3 large Roma tomatoes (or one regular tomato creatively sliced)
  • Salt, freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • Fresh thyme & rosemary, to taste
  • 1/2 cup of grated mozzarella & pecorino romano cheese

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2.  Heat 1 tbsp of grapeseed oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the onions and saute until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 60 seconds. Spread the onion mixture on the bottom of the baking dish.

3.  Slice the potatoes, zucchini, squash and tomatoes in 1/4 inch thick slices. Layer them alternately in the dish on top of the onions and garlic, fitting them tightly into a spiral, making only one layer. Season with sea salt, black pepper, thyme and rosemary. Drizzle the last tablespoon of oil over the top.
4. Cover the dish with tin foil and bake for 35 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Uncover and sprinkle the cheese on top and bake for another 25-30 minutes or until browned. Enjoy. 

It looked so pretty!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Eggplant Parmesan

Here's a healthier take on eggplant parmesan.....well I should say eggplant mozzarella because that's all I had in the fridge.  I'm sure almost any cheese would be good with this dish though.  A combination of mozzarella and parmesan would be worth a try for sure! 

The measurements below are really just suggestions....I used as much eggplant, tomato and basil as I could until I filled the baking dish up.  I actually made it even easier than the original recipe, so there are plenty of things you can do to make this recipe good!
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 small eggplants, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 3 tablespoon minced fresh basil
  • 2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella cheese

Ready to be baked!
1.  Combine oil and garlic; brush over both sides of eggplant slices. Place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes; turn. Bake 5 minutes longer or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
Fresh eggplants, tomato and basil...yum

2. Place half of the eggplant in a greased 1-qt. baking dish. Arrange tomato slices over top.  Sprinkle with half of the basil and half of the cheese.  Continue layering eggplant, tomato and basil and then top with cheese.

3. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Uncover; bake 5 minutes longer or until the cheese is melted. 

Ready to go in the oven
The finished product

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tomato, Basil and Sweet Corn Soup

This soup tastes like summer and made me really happy because I love summer and all the fruits and vegetables that come along with it!  Plain and simple....summer is the best time of the year.  It makes me sad that soon tomatoes and corn will be out of season because I think I could make this soup every week.  It was that good.  

At first I was skeptical at how it would turn out, because I decided not to use vegetable consomme like the original recipe calls for.  Sticking with my not eating food from a package rule, I just added plenty of salt and pepper to my broth and it was fine.  This is a super easy and healthy soup that is sure to please just about anyone!
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 4 gloves garlic, diced
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 2 ears corn, husked and shucked
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil (or more)
  • 3 cups water
  • plenty of salt and pepper to taste
1  Heat oil in a large pot over medium flame. Add onions and cook 6-8 minutes or until translucent.
2.  Meanwhile, bring a second pot full of water to boil. Drop tomatoes in and cook for 90 seconds or until the skins begin to peel off the tomatoes. Immediately plunge into a bowl of ice water. The skins should peel right off. Discard skins. Chop tomatoes.
3. Add garlic to onions and stir for 1 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, corn, and basil. Add water and bring to a boil.  Add plenty of salt and pepper, reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 30 minutes.

4.  Using an immersion blender, puree soup leaving small bits of corn whole for texture.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Shaved Fennel Salad

Another solid salad from 101cookbooks!  I've been wanting to make this recipe for a while, but due to my fear of the mandolin slicer, I have been putting it off.  Because even the sight of the mandolin makes me cringe, my sweet husband sliced the fennel and zucchini for me.  I was also on a cooking rampage the night I made this, therefore I forgot to take a lot of pictures (sorry!).  I also have to confess that I made this a while back...but June was a crazy month and I got behind on blogging.  The fennel in my garden are ready to be harvested, so I figured now was a good time to post this recipe since I have fennel and a ton of dill that I've been using for pickles.

  • 2 medium-large zucchini, sliced into paper thin coins
  • 2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed and shaved paper-thin
  • 2/3 cup loosely chopped fresh dill
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, plus more if needed
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
  • sea salt
  • 4 or 5 generous handfuls arugula
  • Honey, if needed
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts or almonds, toasted
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1.  Combine the zucchini, fennel and dill in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice, olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside and marinate for 20 minutes, or up to an hour.

2.  When you are ready to serve the salad, put the arugula in a large bowl. Scoop all of the zucchini and fennel onto the arugula, and pour most of the lemon juice dressing on top of that. Toss gently but thoroughly. Taste and adjust with more of the dressing, olive oil, lemon juice, or salt if needed. If the lemons were particularly tart, you may need to counter the pucker-factor by adding a tiny drizzle of honey into the salad at this point. Let your taste buds guide you. Serve topped with almonds and feta.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Charred Corn Salad with Basil & Tomatoes

I just want to start by saying how much I love summer and the wonderful veggies that are available during this time of the year.  I wish it could be summer all of the time!  I've spent the better part of the past week canning/freezing so that I have some of this wonderful produce to enjoy in the winter months when I'm longing for summer.  I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit magazine and thought it looked super tasty and incorporated lots of veggies that are in their prime season.  Boy was it tasty! 

The first onions that I have ever harvested from my garden! 
The thing I loved the most about making this dish is that everything in it came from less than five miles from my home (except I realized later that the lime wasn't local, boo).  The corn and basil from the CSA, and the onion, tomato and thyme came from my garden.  Something about being local makes it taste even better to me (and not to mention feel good about what I'm eating!).

I halved this recipe and it still made quite a lot.  This is the original recipe, but any variation of this would still be fine. 

  • 12 ears of corn, husked
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup (loosely packed) fresh basil leaves, large leaves torn
  • 1/3 cup (or more) fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Corn from the CSA on the grill

1.  Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to high. Rub corn with 1 Tbsp. oil. Grill, turning frequently, until corn is charred and heated through, 10-12 minutes. Remove from grill; when cool enough to handle, cut kernels from cobs and transfer to a large bowl. 


All of the ingredients except for the corn

2.  Place onion in a strainer and rinse with cold water to mellow its flavor. Drain well. 


3.  Mix onion, remaining 5 Tbsp. oil, tomatoes, basil, 1/3 cup lime juice, and thyme into corn. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more lime juice, if desired.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

White Bean Salad with Zucchini and Parmesean


This is a good, simple recipe to prepare and enjoy during these hot days. I modified this recipe and think it turned out great.  The original recipe calls for the veggies to be raw, but I decided I would rather cook them.  So this can be a super simple recipe, I just chose to make it more complicated.

I also chose to make this recipe more difficult by cooking my own beans.  I do not eat beans that come out of a can, and while it's more work to make them yourself, it's definitely worth it.  Canned beans are soaked in not only a lot of sodium, but also highly toxic BPA.  In addition to being a hormone disruptor and causing a slew of other health problems, BPA is now being linked to brain cancer.  I strongly urge you to avoid canned goods whenever possible.  Don't forget to soak your beans the night before, and then they only take an hour or less to cook, so it's not that much of an inconvenience.  The recipe calls for cannellini beans, but my sweet husband accidentally bought cranberry beans instead.  They turned out pretty well, so if you can find them, I definitely recommend them!

And while I'm on my anti-can goods soap box, remember to never buy pre-shredded cheese (it's full of chemicals and other crud like wood pulp!).  Freshly grated cheese is awesome :)

  • 1 1/2 pounds cannellini beans (or cranberry beans)
  • 3/4 pound zucchini (about 2-3 small), trimmed, quartered lengthwise, and thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 4 ounces green beans, trimmed and thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
  • Grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil for cooking (or olive oil if you prefer)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper


  1. Soak beans overnight.
  2. When you are ready to start cooking, drain beans and add them to a pot of water with a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil.  Depending on the type of bean you use, cook for 30 minutes to an hour.
Cranberry beans ready to be cooked
3.  Fill a medium size pot with water and bring to a boil (for blanching green beans).
4.  Chop zucchini and green beans.

Beans from the CSA
5.  Add grapeseed oil to a skillet.  Saute zucchini with salt and pepper for a few minutes.  At the same time, add green beans to the pot of boiling water.  Allow them to boil for a few minutes (depending on how crisp you want them, this can be anywhere from a minute to five or more). 

Zucchini from the CSA also
6.  Drain cannellini beans and green beans.  Run cold water over the beans to stop them from cooking further.

7.  In a medium bowl, place cannellini beans, zucchini, green beans, Parmesan, basil, lemon zest and juice, and oil; season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine.

The finished product

Friday, July 6, 2012

Blueberry & Peach Gazpacho

I thought I'd mix it up and throw a dessert recipe out there for you guys.  I love dessert, but try not to make it often.  But my husband loves sweets, so I thought this would be a nice treat.  I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit magazine and wanted to give it a try.  I have a plethora of blueberries right now, and also picked up some fresh peaches that I thought would go well with the berries.  The original recipe doesn't call for peaches, but I thought they were fantastic.  The original recipe also calls for olive oil to drizzle and pepper, which I omitted and still found it super tasty!  And as per usual for me, I didn't exactly follow the measurements (I used half a lemon, half a lime and half an orange and added more sugar until it was sweet enough for me.  You really can't mess this recipe up, so use whatever amounts you like.).
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 2 cups peaches
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 sprig basil, torn into pieces, plus small leaves for garnish
  • Vanilla ice cream


1.  Combine first 7 ingredients and basil sprig in a medium heatproof bowl; toss to coat.  Place over a large saucepan of simmering water; cook for 10 minutes. 

2.  Let cool for 15 minutes. Chill until cold, about 4 hours. (Note: Berry gazpacho can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.)

3.  Divide fruit and juices among bowls; garnish with basil leaves and top with a scoop of ice cream.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Roasted Veggie, Quinoa, Millet & Arugula Salad

This recipe is adapted from a recipe I found on Good Things Grow, another great blog I've discovered!  I substituted many of the vegetables the recipe suggests for whatever I had in the fridge from the CSA.  I replaced the sweet potato with a regular potato (which I thought would be bland, but my husband said the potatoes were his favorite part of the whole dish).  I used beets to add some sweetness, and then awesome purple and orange carrots I had gotten from the CSA a few weeks ago.  They were so pretty :)

I realize millet may be hard to find for a lot of you, so this would be fine if you use all quinoa.  For those of you close to a Whole Foods, they have millet in the bulk section (quinoa too).

for the salad
  • 1 bunch carrots, sliced
  • 2 potatoes, washed and sliced
  • 3 beets, roasted and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup millet
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 bunch arugula, washed and trimmed

for the dressing
  • juice of a lime
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1.  Heat oven to 425F.

2.  Wash beets (and cut tops off if necessary).  Wrap the beets in foil, sprinkle with grapeseed oil and roast until fork tender (45-60 minutes).
3.  Chop the carrots and potatoes and place on a large rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with the 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, season with salt and pepper. Toss with your hands until everything is well coated, then place in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until just tender, stirring half way through.

Awesome carrots before they were chopped
I'm obsessed with these purple and orange Clemson carrots I got from the CSA (ok, they aren't really called Clemson carrots, but I have decided that is the best name for them).
Ready for baking!
4.  In the meantime, rinse and drain the millet and quinoa. Place in a small sauce pan and add the water. Bring everything to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes. Use a fork to fluff up and check for doneness. Set aside to cool slightly.

5.  In a small bowl whisk together the lime juice, balsamic vinegar, and garlic. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking as you go. Stir in the salt and pepper.

6.  When the beets are finished roasting, remove the skins and chop.

7.  Place all the veggies and the millet/quinoa mix into a large serving bowl and toss together. Pour in the dressing and toss so everything gets well coated. Serve over arugula with extra lime wedges if you wish.

Health Benefits

Millet - Many of you may not have heard of millet before, but it is an awesome gluten-free grain!  It protects your heart, lowers diabetes risk and helps to prevent gallstones.  Read more here.

Quinoa - This is also another gluten free grain that is very healthy for you!  It is full of nutrients and is a complete protein source (unlike most grains).  It also has more calcium than most grains.  More on quinoa here.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Spicy Zucchini Frittata

Note:  Don't forget to put oil your skillet or it will burn and stick like mine did.
I really enjoy Whole Living magazine.  It's a great resources for all sorts of interesting and useful information, including great recipes.  I saw this recipe in the latest issue and thought I would give it a try.  I've been using a lot more animal products than I would like recently, but it's sort of a compromise since no one else I cook for is interested in trying to be vegan.  So while I won't budge on meat, I do cook with cheese and eggs every once and a while (ok, I always cook with cheese...I love cheese!).  

In addition to the zucchini the recipe calls for, I also threw in some pattypan squash from my garden. I also put a little dusting of parmesean cheese on the top, but this is totally optional as well.
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
  • 1 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels
  • Coarse salt
  • 8 large eggs
  1. Heat broiler. In a medium ovenproof (preferably cast-iron) skillet, heat oil over medium heat and cook onion and jalapeno, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add zucchini and corn and cook until tender, about 7 minutes more. Season with salt.

    Baby zucchini from my garden (well they would have been more baby in size if I had harvested them early enough).  They are a really tasty heirloom variety that I plan to grow next year as well.
    I used a jalapeno from my garden too :) 
  2. In a bowl, whisk eggs with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pour into skillet with vegetables. Cook until sides are just beginning to set, 2 to 3 minutes.

  3. Transfer skillet to oven and broil until just set in the middle and lightly golden and puffed on top, 2 to 3 minutes.

    I promise, I'll start working on better photography!  I realize my pictures make my food look less than appetizing.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Summer Veggie Torte

This is a fabulous recipe that I have made many times in the past.  In the fall, I make it with butternut squash as the original recipe calls for and it is so yummy!  In fact, I was making this dish when I had my horrific mandolin slicer incident.  So needless to say, I don't neatly slice everything with a mandolin as I should when I make it now.  Even if it isn't as pretty and doesn't cook as evenly, it is still tasty.  Do try to cut everything as thinly as you can, but be sure to use the guard if you use a mandolin slicer!!

I enjoyed this dish so much the first time I made it last week, that I made it a second time last night.  Except I used baby zucchini from my garden instead of  yellow squash.  It was equally as tasty.  I also used cherry tomatoes the first time, but used a regular sized tomato the second time.  Pretty much anything works with this recipe.  Don't be scared to add some extra layers in there if you have room in the springform pan.  I used extra squash and potatoes because I have so much!  I find it's helpful to squish it down with your hands so you can fit more in.  If you don't have a springform pan, I think a regular baking dish would work fine, the presentation just won't be as good.  Here is what you need:

  • 1 tablespoon grapefruit oil (or olive oil but since it's being heated up I recommend grapeseed)
  • 1 or 2 large summer squashes, thinly sliced
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 leaves of kale, stems discarded and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 medium potato, thinly sliced
  • 6 ounces thinly sliced provolone cheese
  • 1 tomato, thinly sliced
  • Salt & pepper 
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesean cheese
1.  Heat oven to 425.  Oil a 9 inch springform pan.  Arrange half the squash in the bottom of the pan, in concentric circles.  Top with half the onions, separating the rings.  

2.  Top with half the kale, drizzle with oil and season with 1/4 tsp. salt.  Top with the potatoes and half the provolone cheese.

I used curly kale because that's what I had from the CSA, but definitely recommend lacinato if you can find it!
3. Top with remaining kale, drizzle with the remaining oil and season with 1/4 tsp. of salt and pepper.  Top with the remaining onion, tomatoes and provolone.  Arrange the remaining squash on top and sprinkle with Parmesean.

3.  Cover with foil, place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake until the vegetables are tender and the top is beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes more.
Yummy layers of goodness