Up until a couple years ago, I hated brussels sprouts with a passion. When I was a kid, my mom tricked me into trying them by telling me they were “little cabbages”, which as the daughter of an Irish dad, I obviously loved. A couple bites, though, were all I needed to realize brussels sprouts don’t taste anything like “little cabbages”, and I avoided them for years after that.
SUMMER NECTARINES, FETA & BASIL WITH ARUGULA (serves 2)
– 3 nectarines
– 6-7 basil leaves, chiffonaded
– 1/4 C. crumbled feta
– juice of 1/2 a lemon
– couple glugs of EVOO
– kosher salt and pepper to taste
– 2 cups baby arugula
1. Cut up the nectarines into little cubes.
2. In a bowl, combine nectarines, EVOO, salt & pepper. Stir to combine.
3. Add the feta to the bowl with the nectarines.
4. Chiffonade the basil, then add to the bowl. Combine all gently.
5. Put the arugula in a bowl and season it a little bit with Herbamare or salt/pepper. Squeeze half a lemon over it, stir to mix.
6. Divide the arugula between two bowls, then top with the nectarine/feta/basil mix. Make sure you get any juices that have collected – this adds a nice little sweetness to the dressing.
7. Serve and enjoy.
Hands up if you need a little detox after the 4th of July weekend. Oh, you too? We’re officially into July, you guys, so what better excuse to dig up some of my favorite summer salad recipes. With the exception of the tortellini (which is still a healthy, super tasty salad), these salads are all clean-eating recipes that you can make almost exclusively with produce found at your local Farmer’s Market. Best of all, they’re perfect for those mid-summer picnics…no mayo, nothing heavy, just bright flavors that take advantage of all the summer has to offer. So grab a produce bag and head down to the Farmer’s Market to pick up ingredients for some of the best summer salads on my list.
SUMMER SALADS: (Clockwise, from the top left)
1. Fresh Sweet Corn, Avocado, English Cucumber, Feta, Red Onion and Cherry Tomato Salad with a Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette
2. My award winning Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Lemon, Basil, Toasted Almonds and Shaved Parmesan (thanks, Scranton Times-Tribune!)
3. Farmer’s Market Veggie and Quinoa Salad with Basil and Feta in a Honey-Lemon Dressing
4. Chopped Chicken Salad with Summer Nectarines, Avocado and Feta in a Basil Vinaigrette
5. Tortellini Salad in a Lemon-Artichoke Tapenade with Red Bell Peppers, Parsley and Parm
6. Tuna-Chickpea Salad with Lemon, English Cucumber, and Red Onion (no mayo!)
I don’t know about you all, but my first thought this morning was that I’m only t-minus three weeks until vacation. Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend!
I don’t know about you guys, but for me, summer doesn’t really begin until I’ve had at least one watermelon (“I carried a watermelon?“). They feel like such a summer indulgence, and they’re one of my favorite bases for salads. This combo of watermelon, cucumber & avocado is perfectly sweet, crunchy and creamy, and the lemon-lime dressing pulls it all together. Throw in some chopped fresh basil, mint and chives and dig in. Nobody puts Baby in the corner.
SUMMER SALAD: WATERMELON, AVOCADO AND CUCUMBER WITH HERBS (serves 4)
– 1 English cucumber, peeled and diced
– 2.5 C. seedless watermelon, cubed
– 1.5 avocado, cubed
– 5-6 basil leaves
– 4-5 mint leaves
– small handful of chives
– Juice of 1/2 lime
– Juice of 1/2 lemon
– 5 tbsp. EVOO
– 1 tsp. Herbamare, or 1/2 tsp. kosher salt & pepper mix
1. Dice the peeled cucumber (if you can’t find an English cucumber, seed a regular one and use that), and put the pieces in some paper towels to drain it a little bit.
2. Dice the watermelon into about the same size pieces as the English cucumber, wrap that in towels too, so that drains.
3. Make the dressing – juice the lemon and the lime, then add the Herbamare or kosher salt/pepper blend. Mix so the seasonings react with the acids of the lemon/lime mixture. Add the EVOO, stir (or shake) well to combine.
4. Roughly chop up all the basil, mint and chives.
5. Add about half the cucumber and half the watermelon to a pretty big bowl. Dice the avocado into similar-size cubes and add half of that to the bowl. Add the remaining cucumber, watermelon and avocado.
6. Add the dressing evenly over the top of the salad. Then add herbs.
7. Mix, serve and enjoy. This doesn’t keep well, but chances are it’ll be gone before you have to worry about that.
Sometimes I read about those super fit celebrities sharing their “diet tips” about how they just watch what they eat and avoid carbs, and I think, (as someone whose last meal – okay, every meal – would be pasta) ‘how in the world is that possible??’ Salads like this. That’s how it’s possible. This recipe gave me a clue about how you can eat healthily, feel completely full, get a packed serving of veggies instead of carbs, and also have it be so simple, complex and delicious that you might not even want anything else for dinner. Also, roasted chickpeas??? Yes. This is a Smitten Kitchen recipe that was adapted from another recipe, and I followed it almost to the letter since it seemed like a completely bizarre combo that I couldn’t wait to try. Enjoy.
SHREDDED CARROT SALAD WITH ROASTED CHICKPEAS AND PARSLEY IN A LEMON-TAHINI DRESSING (makes 4 servings)
– 1 15oz. can chickpeas, rinsed, drained and dried pretty well
– 1 tbsp. EVOO
– 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
– 1/4 tsp. cumin
– 1 lb. carrots, washed, peeled & grated
– 1/4 C. chopped parsley
– 1/4 C. lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
– 1 garlic clove, shredded
– 3 tbsp. tahini
– 2 tbsp. water
– 2 tbsp. EVOO
1. Heat oven to 425.
2. Toss rinsed, drained & dried chickpeas in a bowl with a glug of EVOO, the salt and cumin. Spread on a baking sheet and roast approx. 15-20 minutes until they’re crisp, shaking the pan occasionally.
3. In a large bowl, combine the shredded carrots & parsley.
4. Combine the lemon, salt, & garlic. Then mix in the tahini, water & EVOO. Whisk until well combined & smooth.
5. Mix the dressing into the salad (don’t use all of it at first…kind of add and stir as you go). Top with roasted chickpeas and get ready to have one of the tastiest salads you’ll ever have. Pasta who?
I could write a novel about my love for chickpeas. They’re great in salads, soups, smashes and as a base for hummus, they’re packed with protein, they’re little and cute, and apparently I could have been eating these all along as a snack, which would have changed my life. Get your oven up to 425, stat. One of the best snacks ever is just 20 minutes away.
ROASTED CHICKPEAS (makes one dish – enough for 2 people)
– 1 15oz. can of chickpeas, rinsed, drained and dried
– Approx. 1 tbsp. EVOO
– 1/2 tsp. of Kosher Salt
– 1 tsp. cumin
1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Rinse, drain and pat dry the chickpeas.
3. In a bowl, combine them with the EVOO, kosher salt & cumin. Toss to mix well until the chickpeas are coated.
4. Arrange in one layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes, shaking the pan every five minutes or so, until they’re crisp.
5. Take out of the oven and let cool, then enjoy.
The lovely Jonelle hosted us for dinner last week, and it everything was so delicious. From the pretty apps to the unbelievable gin & earl grey tea cocktail she made, to the london broil & grilled romaine…we had so much fun we decided to make it a monthly thing with all of us rotating as hostess. Anyway, I’d never even heard of grilled romaine, but this was incredible. If I had even the slightest clue how to work a grill myself, I’d be making this all the time.
|The hostess at work!|
Last summer my friends and kids spent almost every weekend at Regina’s pool. Everyone would bring something, we’d have a couple cases of juice boxes (for the kids) and coronas (for the adults) and would just swim and eat and hang out. It was one of the best summers I’ve had in a long time…the little things, I know. My friend Adrienne would make this dip almost every weekend, and we’d devour it. It’s hummus, lemon-flavored greek yogurt, feta and then a blend of english cucumbers, red bell peppers, olives, tomatoes and scallions. You eat it with Carr’s water crackers and IT IS THE BOMB. Ohhhh I’m so excited for pool season to start!!
FOUR-LAYER MEDITERRANEAN DIP (very slightly adapted from House Tweaking)
– 8 oz. plain hummus
– 1 tbsp. dill
– 2 tbsp. lemon juice, divided
– 1 regular size container plain Greek yogurt
– 1/2 tsp. pepper
– 1/3 english cucumber, chopped
– 1/2 small tomato, chopped
– 1/4 red bell pepper, chopped
– 1 scallion stalk, sliced thin (both whites and greens)
– 1/4 c. kalamata olives, chopped
– 1/2 c. crumbled feta
1. Add 1 tbsp. lemon juice and the dill to the hummus, mix well. Spread in 1 layer in a pie pan (clear is best since you can see the layers when it’s finished, but if you don’t have one, no worries).
2. Add the other tbsp. lemon juice and the pepper to the greek yogurt, mix well. Spread that in a thin layer on top of the hummus.
3. Crumble the feta in an even layer over the lemon greek yogurt mixture.
4. Add the english cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, scallions and kalamata olives (make sure these are all chopped in pretty much the same smallish size) over the top of the feta.
5. Serve with Carr’s Water Crackers and feel like Houdini as you watch this disappear.
— On another note, if Memorial Day Weekend was any indication of how this summer’s going to go, it’s going to be awesome.
|Modest Mouse at Ommegang – it poured but we had a blast|
|“I’m always red.”|
|Brendan’s first Phillies game!! (He’s from Colorado)|
|Otesaga Hotel – so so gorgeous|