Hey guys, guess what? I want to be the one to tell you this, so here it goes. Summer isn't over yet. Just because Labor Day has come and gone, I am not turning in my flip flops for knee-high boots just yet. I am going to soak up every last second. As long as I have a slight hint of tan on my legs and vegetables in the garden it's summer in my mind.
This summer was a productive one for me. I had some pretty serious goals I was trying to accomplish, but within the serious goals I had some not so serious ones I was aiming for too.
Try to wiggle in a couple of beach days in-between working on the cookbook (check).
Have fun (check).
Sleep in during the last week of August (check).
Work on my garden and improve my green thumb skills (check).
Last summer I planted my first garden on my own, and I had very few successes and way too many zucchinis and mini-pumpkins. This summer I had a different strategy. I may have cheated a little, but I think it was necessary in my learning process.
I planted my garden with plants I bought that had already sprouted. Some may call this cutting corners, others may call this smart, but since I am not a person who can dedicate all of my attention to my garden, it turned out to be the best decision I could have made. My entire garden was a success (except for some little creature who was loving my kale) but besides that we now have a beautiful and balanced garden that is full of gorgeous summer vegetables.
I have been eating mostly from the garden for the past few weeks, and as far as home cooked meals go, there is not much that beats that.
I planted a few swiss chard plants in my garden and by mid-August they had grown to have some of the biggest leaves I have ever seen. I'm talking seriously big. I had to do something fun with them.
You know I am not one to take the safe route and just throw them into a pan and satuée them. I wanted to come up with something totally different. After several attempts, these enchiladas came to be.
Michael and I had a little bit of a debate on what to call these. Actually, the debate was sparked because I was accidentally calling them "empanadas" and he vehemently protested. Empanadas are one of Michael's great food loves, so I wouldn't want to mess with them. Woops! Enchiladas ... not empanadas! Once we sorted out the confusion, he agreed that "enchiladas" made more sense.
Traditional enchiladas are made with a corn or flour tortilla that has some kind of filling, topped off with a tomato based sauce and typically lots of cheese and then baked. Over here, I have a slightly different take on enchiladas for you. Subbing out the processed, carb-heavy tortilla for swiss chard is bold move in the health direction. And, by sticking with the green theme, adding in a green tahini instead of a tomato based sauce and cheese still satisfies the creamy texture but in a much more "still kind-of bathing suit season" sort of way. This is a perfect light, but indulgent, meal to ease into late late summer.
This past weekend, Michael and I celebrated out 1 year anniversary. Our anniversary is on Cinco de Mayo, and I kind of love that we share our anniversary with a silly, happy, tequila drinking, mexican food eating holiday. I cannot believe it has been one year already, this has undoubtedly been the fastest year of my life. Well ... know what they say .......
We didn't make a big deal over our anniversary. We spent the day attending a culinary class that Michael had gotten me for Christmas. For dinner, we had sushi at a no-frills, hole-in-the-wall sushi place down the street from us. It was peaceful, perfect, exactly how I wanted it to be.
In celebration, I thought about posting a fun cupcake recipe for you here, or maybe even a mexican-themed dish, but I just wasn't feeling it. I have been really into spring vegetables and salads recently, so instead I thought I would go with one of my newest and prettiest salads.
Simple, perfect, not over the top, just how our anniversary was spent.
We are in the height of asparagus season right now, and the asparagus that I've been finding at the markets have been so good that they are just as deliciuos raw as they are cooked. If you can find them, the white asparagus are a real treat. They have a slightly brighter taste than the green, and they go so well together in this salad, visually and taste-ually (is that a word? I don't think so).
The carrots add another layer of taste and color to the dish. I looked for colorful carrots, and could not find any, but if you are lucky enough to find some I am sure they would make for a stunning presentation.
Thinly slicing and marinating vegetables has a way of making raw vegetables taste "cooked". You can eat this totally raw, or if you want a little more umph to it you can add in rice, quinoa, millet, or any grain or you like. I loved the look of the red rice. I'm big into color coordination here if you haven't been able to tell.
About once a week, we order take-out from a little Japanese place around the corner. I always order the same few things, my favorite thing being the spicy, crunchy avocado roll. Spicy ... crunchy ... yes.
I am a huge fan of recreating things that I would normally be tempted to order in or eat out, like dumplings, and sushi. I just feel better knowing what types of ingredients I am using and that there is nothing fake or artificial hiding that I might not know about. And, this way I can add some extra yummy things like crunchy shallots (god only knows what those "crunchy" bits my take-out sushi are made from).
This version of a nori roll does not require any fancy sushi rolling, in case you're intimidated to roll your own sushi. Although, if you do feel comfortable and you want to roll this bad boy up, by all means go for it. If you're like me and you want to take the less ambitious route for this one, you can just pick this up and eat it like a taco. A yummy Japanese taco.
Nori is incredibly good for you and is such a great thing to incorporate into your diet on a regular basis. It contains a long list of vitamins, but most notably a high amount of B12, which is great for those who eat a mostly plant based diet. Another great benefit for plant based people (or anyone, really) is that nori contains a high amount of protein and amino acids. And when you make your own nori wraps, you know you are getting a good quality nori. It is easy to find in the grocery store since it is the most widely used seaweed, it's usually in the Asian food or Japanese section.
Once you make this and see how easy it is, I am sure that you are going to keep a pack of nori around for when want to have this for lunch or for a snack. You can mix up combinations based on what you have in the fridge, any raw vegetable combination would work and would probably take less time than waiting for one to be delivered.