Summer cuisine is all about celebrating the season’s bounty of fresh produce. It’s also laid-back: whirring up some pesto to spread on everything throughout the week, nibbling on cherries and berries, throwing stuff on the grill (outdoors or otherwise), feasting on sandwiches riverside, standing at the counter eating cold left-overs straight from the fridge. This colorful salad was created with that spirit in mind. Cooled, savory quinoa is combined with plump, juicy blueberries, crunchy pecans and radishes, fresh herbs, and an orange vinaigrette. We ate it for dinner recently with some baked tofu, and reveled in summer’s glory while the AC blasted.
*I used roasted hazelnut oil because I happened to have some, and while it’s very tasty here, you could certainly substitute another oil.
*If using unsalted bouillon, be sure to add some salt to the quinoa.
1 cup quinoa
little olive oil
1½ cups water + ½ a vegetable bouillon square (or 1½ c veg broth)
½ tsp mild curry powder
1 cup blueberries
2-3 radishes, cut in thin half moons
heaped ¼ cup roughly chopped pecans
1 scallion, thinly sliced (white and pale green part only)
1 tsp orange zest
4 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tbsp roasted hazelnut oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
handful of fresh basil, chopped
handful of fresh mint, chopped
salt and black pepper
- In a fine mesh sieve, rinse quinoa until water runs clear. Drain. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil in a small saucepan and add quinoa. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until quinoa smells toasty and water has evaporated. Pour in water and bouillon (or broth) and stir in curry powder, turn up heat to high. Bring to a boil, cover, turn heat to low, and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off heat but keep lid on for another 15 minutes, then remove lid, fluff with a fork, and let cool.
- Add blueberries, pecans, scallion, and orange zest to cooled quinoa, and stir gently to combine, taking care not to smush the berries.
- Whisk together the orange juice, hazelnut oil, white vinegar, and some salt and black pepper, and drizzle over the quinoa mixture. Stir gently, then garnish with fresh basil and mint. Taste for seasonings.
Yield: About 4-6 servings
Brooklyn is cold. Really, really cold. And so this winter finds me using the oven probably more than I ever have in the six years in which I have lived in this apartment. I find myself in the rhythm of turning it on, roasting potatoes and things, baking muffins (these) and cookies. Indeed, what once seemed a laborious task–removing all the pans from their storage inside the oven, taking the time to wait for both the preheat and the actual cooking time– is now closer to habit. And the bonus of course is, at least for a bit, a warmer kitchen.
*After cutting the sweet potatoes, blot them well with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. This helps prevent them from getting too soft.
Sweet Potato Fries:
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into fries around ½- ¾” thick
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp garlic powder
scant 1/8 tsp cayenne
1½ tbsp olive oil
- Preheat oven to 475F. Line a large, heavy bottomed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, mix salt, cumin, garlic powder, and cayenne.
- Place sweet potato fries on sheet. Drizzle on olive oil and sprinkle on spices. Toss to coat evenly, then spread out in a single layer.
- Bake in oven for about 25 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Then raise the oven temperature to broil, and let cook for about 5 more minutes, keeping a close watch, to let fries crisp up a bit more.
Cilantro Lime Cashew Dip:
½ cup raw cashews, soaked overnight or for at least 4 hours
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
4 tbsp warm water
1 tbsp olive oil
½ garlic clove
salt and black pepper, to taste
¼ cup cilantro (leaves only)
Place everything except the cilantro in a food processor, and blend until smooth, scraping the sides of the machine as necessary. Taste for seasonings, then pulse in cilantro, until just combined.
Romanesco is one of those crazy alien vegetables that graces autumn farmers’ markets every now and then, casually placed amongst unassuming (albeit often colorful) cauliflower and broccoli. With intricate fractals for buds and a practically neon hue, it’s strikingly beautiful… and a bit scary looking. Nonetheless, it cooks up easily and deliciously in the oven. In fact I had to practice some pretty serious self-control in order to keep myself from devouring everything straight off the baking sheet.
1 head of romanesco, trimmed of outer stems and stalk, cut into chunks
3 garlic cloves, lightly smashed with the side of a chef’s knife handle
couple glugs of olive oil
salt and black pepper
juice and zest from ½ large lemon
1 tbsp capers
1/8 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- Preheat oven to 400˚F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Toss romanesco with olive oil, smashed garlic, salt, and pepper, and spread out on prepared baking sheet. Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring every ten minutes or so, until nicely browned.
- Remove from oven and while still hot, toss with lemon juice, zest, and capers. Served topped with toasted sliced almonds.
I love this lightly fried tofu on pasta with marinara sauce and spinach for an easy, satisfying weeknight meal. The nutritional yeast is optional and while it does add a nice richness, the tofu is still delicious without it.
1 package of firm tofu, drained and lightly pressed with paper towels, cut into 1” dice
bit of olive oil
1 tsp Italian dried herb mix (oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme, rosemary)
¼ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp nutritional yeast, optional
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
Heat a bit of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add tofu cubes and sprinkle with seasonings, gently stir to coat tofu evenly. Then don’t touch tofu and let brown for about 5 minutes, then flip over and cook (without touching) for about 5 minutes more, until golden and a little crispy.
Can you tell I’m holding onto summer for dear life? Get these beauties while you still can, and enjoy in this simple yet delicious dish. It’s good both warm and cooled down. Add chickpeas and quinoa to make it a full meal.
bunch of fairytale eggplants, halved
1 small red onion, roughly chopped
salt and black pepper, to taste
squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice
a few mint leaves, cut in a chiffonade
Preheat oven to 400°F. Sprinkle eggplant slices with salt and let sit for a few minutes (not necessary if eggplant is super fresh). In a baking dish, toss eggplant with onion, a bit of olive oil, and some salt and pepper. Roast in oven for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice, until eggplant is very tender. Remove from oven and season with fresh lemon juice. Just before serving, garnish with fresh mint.