Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Lemon, Toasted Almonds, Basil and Shaved Parm


I honestly couldn’t believe how delicious this was. It’s so light and pretty, the toasted almonds give it that added little crunch and substance, the julienned basil is lovely, and a simple lemon and EVOO dressing brings the whole thing together. Brendan took one bite and said, “I don’t even like raw zucchini, but this is amazing”. Ummm…agreed. I have a feeling I’m going to be making this a lot this summer. 

– 4 medium-large zucchini, shaved into ribbons with a peeler (approx. 1 zucchini per person) 
– 5-6 large leaves basil, julienned 
– ¼ C. toasted almond slices (I like slices instead of slivers, I think the crunch is just enough) 
– Shaved curls of fresh parmesan cheese 
– Juice of ¾ a lemon 
– 1.5 Tbsp. EVOO 
– Kosher Salt & Pepper 

1. Wash the zucchini, then peel into ribbons with a vegetable peeler. I tossed the very first peels that were all green, but kept the rest of them with some green on the sides for a little color. I also stopped when I got down to the seeded middle part, so that the ribbons looked nicer. Add zucchini ribbons to a large bowl. 

2. Squeeze a lemon over the zucchini so that it really soaks in. Add the kosher salt and pepper, then use tongs to gently mix it all together. Let it sit and absorb while you make the rest of the salad. 

3. Bring a small sauté pan to medium heat, then add almond slices. Shake the pan a couple of times and keep a close eye on these so they don’t burn. They should be toasted in 2-3 minutes, tops. Add almonds to the bowl with the zucchini. 

4. Julienne some basil. You can chop it, but the ribbons of basil look so pretty with the ribbons of zucchini. All ribbons, all the time! To julienne, stack the leaves on top of each other, roll them into a little cigar-like shape, then slice from the top down. Throw the basil in with the zucchini and almonds. 

5. Drizzle EVOO over everything, use the tongs to mix together. 

6. Top with some curls of parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Crunchy Chopped Salad with Feta, Mint and a Lime Vinaigrette


Oh, did you overdo it with all the food on Superbowl Sunday? Me too. I needed a serious detox meal the next day, and this salad was pretty perfect. It’s super easy, healthy, completely delicious and fun to eat. You can use whatever veggies you want, but try to get a couple different colored ones to make it look pretty. I also strongly recommend using sugar snap peas, because man, are they ever satisfying to eat. Crunch crunch crunch.

– 1 cup each of 4-5 different kinds of veggies, chopped into pretty uniform pieces. I used an english cucumber, sugar snap peas, radishes and red onion.
– 2 scallions, chopped, white and green parts
– 1/3 C. crumbled feta
– approx. 6 large mint leaves, chiffonaded

– juice of 1 lime (approx. 1 tbsp)
– 2 tbsp. EVOO
– 1 tsp. cumin
– kosher salt and pepper to taste

This is a really tough recipe. Ready?

1. Get all your veggies cleaned. Chop into similar size pieces and throw them into a bowl.

Sugar Snap Peas win the world
2. Add the feta, mint and the scallions, mix everything together. 

3. In a different container, combine the lime juice with the cumin, salt & pepper. Stir to combine. Add the olive oil and mix it all together. Just before serving, pour dressing over the salad and stir everything together gently but thoroughly.

4. Serve.  We had this with salmon burgers with avocado slices and a dill sauce on sourdough-rosemary bread, and oh, my god. This dinner almost cancelled out the over-indulgence of Super Bowl Sunday – I probably felt almost as bad as the Broncos did by the end of the night. You’ll get them next time, Colorado!

Shaved Asparagus Salad with Toasted Almonds, Pine Nuts & Shaved Parm

Asparagus is everywhere during the summer, and there are so many ways to cook with it. This is a really simple, clean & bright salad to use as a side for just about anything. Some lemon juice, toasted almonds & pine nuts, & shaved parm adds a little depth to it – this is delicious. 

SHAVED ASPARAGUS SALAD WITH TOASTED ALMONDS, PINE NUTS & SHAVED PARM (serves 4) – slightly adapted from the incomparable Smitten Kitchen
– 2 bundles asparagus (choose ones with ends that are tightly closed)
– Juice of 1 lemon
– 1 tbsp. of EVOO
– Kosher salt & fresh black pepper
– “curls” of fresh parm
– 1/4 C. mixture of thinly sliced almonds & pine nuts, toasted

1. Wash the asparagus, then peel them into thin ribbons with a sharp vegetable peeler.

Collyn, helping out in the kitchen

2. Throw away the tough ends, but save the middle parts to add to scrambled eggs tomorrow morning, etc. Add all the ribbons to a bowl with a paper towel to soak up any excess water.

3. Juice a lemon using a Rosle Citrus Reamer – which is one of the things I use most in cooking, then add a pinch of kosher salt & pepper. Add the EVOO.

4. Remove the paper towel from the bowl with the asparagus, then drizzle the lemon/EVOO mixture over everything.

5. Toast the almonds & pine nuts – bring a pan that isn’t non-stick to medium heat, add the almond slices, and cook for approx. 4 minutes, shaking the pan almost constantly, until they’re a golden brown. Remove from heat immediately to let cool a little bit.

6. Add the pine nut/almond mixture to the asparagus, shave thin little curls of fresh parmesan over the salad, and serve immediately.

Roasted Asparagus with Lemon

Is there any vegetable that roasting won’t make delicious?? Asparagus is great, but roasting it and adding a bit of lemon takes it to a whole other level. This is one of the quickest, tastiest side dishes you can make.  I would eat this for a snack.

– 1 lb. asparagus, ends trimmed – get thicker spears, if you can – these will hold up better during roasting
– zest of 1 lemon
– 1 tsp. kosher salt, or more to taste (kosher is best here, or any other larger-grain salt)
– couple of grinds fresh black pepper
– 2 tbsp. EVOO
– squeeze of lemon juice, for topping

1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. Trim the asparagus – you can kind of just bend them towards the bottom, and the “woodsy” part should snap off naturally.

3. In a large ziplock bag, combine the EVOO, lemon zest, and half of the salt & pepper.

4. Add asparagus spears to the bag, zip it, and roll the spears around inside the bag so they get covered with everything.

5. Add asparagus to a roasting pan in a single layer.  Top with the remaining kosher salt & pepper.

6. Roast for approx. 10 minutes, shaking the pan about halfway through to get them to roll around a bit and get all sides cooking.
7. Remove from the oven, squeeze a little lemon over them, and serve.

— Also, check out what some of my girlfriends and I did last night!  Indigo dyeing!!!  This was so much fun, and we got pretty creative, and I felt like I was back in summer camp, which was awesome.  There are some seriously talented people out there who do this “Shibori dyeing” (to clarify, we are not those people) – check out this blog for a little tutorial:  http://honestlywtf.com/diy/shibori-diy/  
After you dip these, even though the end color is indigo, the pieces come out kind of an acid green. So weird.
Some of our masterpieces!!  This was such a fun, and funny, craft project. Definitely worth the blue-stained fingernails today!

Zucchini Parmesan

Zucchini season is winding down, so in one of my last zucchini-based recipes of the season, I tried this delicious looking zucchini parm. I don’t know if this necessarily falls under the category of “healthy”, considering the cheese and the sauce, but the coating on the zucchini is nice and light, and this could really be served as a meal instead of a side. We loved it.

ZUCCHINI PARMESAN (serves 4-6 as a side)

– 3 large zucchini, washed and cut into 1/4 inch rounds (leave skin on), or cut into strips. Strips might actually be really nice to make this more of a “lasagna”.
– Sauce, approx. 2 cups
– Mozzarella, approx. 1 & 1/2 cups
– Freshly grated Parmesan, approx. 1/4 cup
– Olive Oil
– Breadcrumbs, 2 cups
– Freshly grated Parmesan – 1/4 cup (added to breadcrumb mixture)
– Kosher Salt
– Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Cut zucchini into rounds or strips, and place on a cooling rack over a paper towel. Sprinkle liberally with kosher salt. This draws out the water from the zucchini, so that it bakes a little more crispy, a little less soggy.

3. Look at all the water that’s coming out of these!! Would you ever think?  After about 20 minutes, flip the zucchini rounds/strips, salt the other side, and let sit for another 20 minutes to fully extract as much water as possible. Then, rinse them in a colander and lay them in one layer to dry.

4. When dry, toss zucchini in a bowl with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil. 

5. In a different bowl, combine breadcrumbs and parmesan. Lightly spray a baking sheet with olive oil (Pam makes a decent organic olive oil spray that I use for things like this).

6. Gently press the zucchini rounds/strips into the breadcrumb/parmesan mixture. Arrange on the baking sheet. Bake at 375 for approx. 30 minutes, flipping once halfway, until golden brown-ish.
7. Break out your lasagna pan, or just a deeper baking dish. Put a thin coating of sauce over the bottom of the dish, and then place your first layer of zucchini rounds/strips on top of that, overlapping as needed. Top with shredded mozzarella and parmesan.

8. Repeat this sequence – sauce, zucchini, mozz/parm, until you’re out of zucchini. Top with a bit of sauce and the last of your shredded cheese, then bake at 375 for approx. 30 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted.

9. Remove from oven, let cool a bit, then use a spatula to cut into portions. This actually – surprisingly – reheated remarkably well the next day. The crispier the zucchini, the better!

My Mom’s Minestrone Soup

I love soup. It’s hearty, healthy, and comforting. With the Farmers’ Markets packed with produce, this is a great way to use up some veggies and kind of ease your way into fall. My mom’s minestrone is at the top of my list of favorite things. It’s delicious the day of, for days afterwards, and even pureed. We’ve always added some thinly sliced provolone cheese to the soup to give it a little more richness, but that’s up to you.  This minestrone just makes me feel better every time I have it.

MINESTRONE SOUP (makes an enormous pot of soup which you can freeze – if there’s any left after a couple of days)
– 1 cabbage, sliced into long strips. I usually take out the “ribs” of the cabbage and just use the majority of the leaves.
– 4 stalks celery, cut
– 1 large vidalia onion, sliced into long strips
– 2 32 oz. containers of chicken stock (or vegetable, if you want to make this completely vegetarian)
– 2 cans chick peas, rinsed and drained
– 1 large can plum tomatoes, roughly cut (don’t get diced tomatoes – the plum ones work so much better)
– 1 16. oz can chopped spinach leaves
– 3 tablespoons butter

1. In a large stockpot, melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium high heat. 
2. Get your veggies ready, and then add them to the pot with the melted butter. Cook down until wilted.

3. When the veggies are soft, add the chicken or veggie stock, and stir.  
4. Add tomatoes and juice from the can, spinach, and chick peas.  Stir, cover, and turn heat down to low. Simmer for 1 hour or up to 4. Add kosher salt/pepper to taste, but be careful not to overseason – the flavors will continue to come together overnight.

5. When soup has simmered enough (I usually can’t wait the 4 hours), pour yourself a bowl, shred some provolone cheese into it, and dig in. This is good today, but it will be great tomorrow. 

Mom’s minestrone soup = love