Posts tagged basil
tomato + avocado + corn + basil + quinoa salad

Dont' worry .... I do not not need a tomato and corn intervention ..... yet.

I do realize that this is about my fourth recipe this summer that involves tomatoes and/or corn. I don't plan on changing the name of this blog to tomato lovers anonymous, and I promise I have noticed that there are plenty of other wonderful summer fruits and vegetables that are begging for my attention too. 

As you can tell, I have been completely smitten with tomatoes and corn and a bit obsessed with getting in as many of their indulgences that I can. I promise (with fingers crossed behind my back) that this is the last post involving corn and tomatoes (together). Everywhere I go, including my backyard, all I see are these gorgeous tomatoes and bushels of corn begging to be enjoyed. I just can't help myself. 

 

I posted a picture of this salad on facebook and instagram a few days ago when I was working on the recipe, and never before did I have so many demands for the recipes. Demands! I had planed on posting this recipe sometime next week, but with so many requests I knew it could not wait.

I had thought you were over my tomato and corn pictures and posts, but I was mistaken. Apparently you and I are the same, and you want to savor every second of these tomato and corn filled months as much as I do. Apparently you and I are heirloom tomato and sweet summer corn soulmates


Last week one of my oldest and closest friends came to visit from Denver with her boyfriend. As with any long weekend with good friends, it was filled with lots and lots of laughs, plenty of great meals, some seriously delicious key lime pie, fancy homemade lattes, and big bottles of roséThe first night they arrived, we swung by our friend's parent's house to say hello, and while we were there one of her friends was preparing this awesome looking summer salad with corn, tomatoes, basil and avocado. YUM. It took everything in my power not to jump right in and devour their salad. 

The next night I insisted that we make that same salad, and we did. It was then that I decided that this was THE perfect summer salad. Since then I have made this salad another three times. It has only been a week. And you know what? I can (and probably will) eat this every other day until summer vegetables start to dwindle. 

Don't you worry, I have plenty of fun, creative recipes involving some of the other wonderful summer veggies coming your way ... but for now, let's enjoy these gorgeous plum, ripe tomatoes, and super sweet corn while we can. The way they were meant to be. With just a touch of really god olive oil, salt + pepper, and a few other goodies. 

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pickled strawberry + beet salad with an herbed vinaigrette

Sometimes life gets busy. You know, real life. And, I'm okay with that. 

There are birthday parties, baby showers, visitors, weddings, places to go people to see ... and sometimes you might even throw a dinner party in there because things are not just busy enough.

As you can tell from my lack of posts over the past week, life has taken over recently. It's been all good and all fun things though. On top of all of the fun life events taking place right now, we moved ..... again. It was a good move though, and I think we are going to stay put for quite some time. 

But now the boxes are unpacked and life is slowing down a bit. I am finally getting a chance to spend more time in my {new} kitchen.

So when I got back into the kitchen, there was one thing I was dying to make. 

Pickled. Strawberries.        Yes. 

A few weeks ago Michael and I took a pickling and preserving class at the Stone Barns. I signed us up for this class for two reasons.

First, I have always wanted to delve into canning, but despite having read my fair share about it, I have always been incredibly intimidated and paranoid about all of the boiling and sterilizing involved. 

Second, I thought it would be really funny to see Michael take a class with all women, mostly over the age of 55, because let's face it, canning is far more attractive to women of older generations than mine. 

And, I just love any reason to go visit the Stone Barns. Well, I guess that makes three reasons.

 

The greatest takeaway from the class was that you do not have to go through the whole canning process to pickle or preserve your garden gems. You will need to keep whatever it is that you canned or preserved in an airtight jar in the refrigerator, but you do not need to worry about the sterilization process unless you want to store your preserves somewhere other than the fridge. 

Super valuable information. I can make pickles and not worry about all that boiling and canning? Yay! Although now I think I might even give it a go after seeing how easy it was.

 

So, what does this mean to you, or someone who wants to pickle something? It means it can be done, easily, and in about 10-15 minutes you can have yourself a pickle that can be enjoyed right away, or a preserve that can last about a year in the fridge. 

So strawberries might not be the first thing you would think to run off and pickle, but I've got to tell you, my first pickled strawberry made me really happy and excited.

It's sour, it's sweet, it's crazy good. Because of it's crazy sour sweetness, it goes so well with so many things. I'm always one to say that I don't like fruit in my salad, but a pickled fruit is certainly an exception. However, it's more than an exception in this case, this is going to be a new staple in my recipe book. 

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falafel + herbed tzatziki

There are a lot of food trucks where I live. Not the really fancy cool ones, but the ones that serve your standard NYC hot dog, pretzel, or more recently, cupcakes. They're probably not technically food trucks, more like food carts. Yes, let's refer to them as food carts.

Food truck food, however, is the greatest. Food that came from a truck used to be a bit iffy, but not anymore. Food truck food is cool and delicious. Don't most food lovers dream of having a food truck one day? I do.

You know what my food truck would have? Lots of awesome tasting farm fresh vegetables. Edgy vegetable dishes like veggie empanadas and maybe even some crispy grilled veggies on a stick with an awesome sauce. And falafel. My food truck would definitely have some really delicious falafel. 

So now that I have my menu down ... I just need to name my food truck. I'm taking suggestions. 

 

Back to the food carts. A lot of the food carts by me serve falafel. I've never tried one of theirs, but if I had to guess it probably tastes pretty darn good. My problem is, who knows who made that falafel, where it has been sitting all day, and what kind of oil it was fried in. Thanks but no thanks. I'll make my own. 

Falafel is one of those things that can be so wonderful when it's done right, and so awful when it's not done right. The good kind of falafel is one that is not too fried, not to dry, crisp on the outside, made with fresh organic ingredients and loaded with lots of good spices.

That's the type of falafel I want to create in my kitchen. 

See, when I make falafel at home, I know what I am putting in and I know what it will turn out like. I know that I am making a healthier version because I know my ingredients are good, clean, and organic. How often do you see homemade, organic falafel advertised on the side of a food cart? Pretty much never. You know my food truck would .... in pink neon flashing lights. 

 

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winter potato salad with quinoa + an arugula pesto

I might as well get this out of the way and tell you that I am not a huge fan of winter. I don't particularly like cold weather. I would much rather be spending my time on a beach rather than on the ski mountain. 

I like winter in the beginning. I get excited for the brisk air, warm fireplaces, hot chocolate, and big, comfy sweaters. The first snow is magical, and I get to bring out my favorite pear of knee-high boots and dust off a new wardrobe for a few months. 

But it is right about this time of winter that the allure had faded. I have had enough of putting on a coat to go outside and walk the dog, and I had just about worn out my favorite pairs of boots. I'd like to go for a walk and not have to wear a hat. 

I'm ready to put on a sundress and some open-toed shoes and walk the streets of NYC aimlessly.  NYC is such a happy place when it's warm and sunny. Is it spring yet?

Enough about the weather ... let's talk about potato salad. 

Potato salad reminds me of summer. It's a staple dish at our beach bbqs. Since I am itching for warm weather, this winter version of my potato salad is the compromise. 

I made this to remind me that spring is around the corner, and summer will be here before we know it. 

 

Potato salad is a hearty side dish that goes with just about anything. The winter greens add a pop of color, and the quinoa adds a little extra hearty touch. You don't nescessarily have to eat this with something, you can also eat this alone. I had a big bowl for lunch. I added some extra greens + pesto and it was so good. I also may have closed my eyes and pictured it was summer. Okay, I did. And I was happy.  

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red beet gnocchi with a meyers lemon pesto // gf + vegan

Michael got me a food processor for Christmas. I asked for one. It was probably the last key piece of equipment I was missing from my kitchen.

It is kind of an embarrassing admission. A food processor should be one of the first additions, not the last, but I always seemed to get by without it. After using it once, I can totally see why they're so popular. This machine might change my life. 

As I was using my shiny new food processor for the first time I couldn't help but think about when I first started cooking a lot in college. I had nothing. No food processor, no vitamix, no mandolin ... I barley even had a sharp knife. I had one pot and no pans, which meant sauteing was done in a pot. YEP. Sometimes I'd even roast things in that darn pot. I always got it done. 

You know what .... it did not matter, because I loved to cook so much. 

 

This recipe is for my old college roommate, Kara, who willingly ate my home cooked meals back then ... the good ... the bad ... and the way too garlicky. Kara will never forget my love for pesto and she recently requested that I do a beet / pesto recipe for the blog. Thankfully I have a much better grip on the garlic proportions now (note: less is always more). 

Since I know she probably will not make this for herself, this is my way of coaxing her to visit me in NYC. 

Gnocchi is easier to make than you might think. The ingredient list is short, and it is pretty hard to mess it up. The most challenging part is to get that dreamy, pillow-like texture. I give some tips in the recipe to tackle that. For this particular recipe, I used a gluten-free flour blend and I did not taste the difference from when I made gnocchi with whole wheat flour. If you would like to use all-purpose or whole wheat flour, just switch out the brown rice flour (same/similar proportions). You can also use an egg or not use an egg. I find that the eggs helps bind so that you use a little less flour, but if you do not want to use the egg, the recipe will work fine without it. 

I just love the gorgeous color that the beets add to this dish. It would make for a great valentine's dinner for two, or this would also make a great meal for a friend who comes to town to visit (wink wink Kara). 

 

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raw zucchini "pasta" with an avocado & pea pesto // raw, vegan

I probably wouldn’t describe myself as someone with a green thumb.  It’s not that I am not one with nature, or have no instincts when it comes to plants, it’s probably more because I approach growing things the same way I approach cooking. I prefer to go in blindly with little direction and see what works and what does not.

I planted my first garden this summer and it was very apparent that this approach probably does not work as well in the garden as it does in the kitchen.  Or maybe it does, depends on how you look at it. I did make a lot of mistakes, and I learned some key lessons from those mistakes, so maybe that will make my garden next year that much better? I sure do hope so.

Last summer I volunteered one day a week at The Stone Barns Center for Agriculture in their dooryard garden hoping to learn a little from the experts: the passionate farmers and gardeners who work there. I did learn to make a killer trellis from found objects, and I learned about all kinds of plants and vegetables that I had never heard of, but most of all I learned that I had a lot to learn. 

It was kind of overwhelming, especially for someone with very little knowledge of gardening.  So when it came time to build and plant my garden this summer, I decided that I was not going to try and learn everything. I was just going to plant some seeds, give it some love, and see what happened.

The result? An out of control amount of zucchini, cucumbers that are popping up in and around my grape tomatoes, and enough pumpkins to charge for hay rides and pumpkin picking in my backyard this October. As well as a bunch of lettuce that never surfaced, and carrots and scallions that I’m certain were eaten by some sneaky little creatures.

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italy (part 2) ravello & a recipe for the best ever tomato sauce

On the second leg of our trip, we spent a few days in a little mountain town called Ravello which is perched high above the Almalfi coast. Ravello is home to some of the most breathtaking views in the whole world, and one very special cooking school.

If you want to learn real, authentic, no-fuss Italian cooking, what better way to do it than in the home of an Italian woman who has been cooking professionally for decades for some incredibly famous people like Frank Sinatra and Jackie O. 

Mama Agata is the beloved woman at the heart of the cooking school. Her daughter Chiara, the soul of the school, is the one who runs the day to day, assists and translates for her mother who speaks very little english. They teach out of their home, perched high on a mountainside overlooking the Mediterranean, which has been in their family for over 200 years. 

Mama's recipes are simple, clean, and all about the ingredients. Her technique has been perfected in both her kitchen as well as her garden.  On their property their garden stretches down the mountainside where they grow everything from capers, to lemons, and of course plenty of tomatoes. In August, the family closes down the cooking school so that they can harvest and preserve their tomatoes so they have plenty to last through the year.  

After a day of learning, helping mama cook, and wandering through her gardens, it was time to sit down an enjoy our lunch.  It was a meal I will never ever forget.  The eggplant parmesan was the best I have ever had, and the pasta dishes were so fresh tasting and absolutely incredible.  

The most important lesson from the day ...... that good food comes from the heart. Love is the secret ingredient in every great meal.  This was evident from seed to plate at mama's home, and will be something I strive for in every meal served in our home. 

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