foray into the world of turned vegetables

foray into the world

My foray into the world of vegetables turned into noodles has been slow. There’s the whole textural thing happening that has given me pause. They may be shaped like a noodle, but clearly are not pasta, just like riced cauliflower and broccoli are not rice. Don’t get me wrong, I love them both, and I do adore vegetables. I guess I’m being contrary in the naming process.

Setting my little rant aside, there’s beauty and gloriousness in spinning a contraption which turns heaps of garden delights into strips and curlicues that resemble noodles, or purchasing them already spiralized at the market for a few bucks in the produce section.

Recipes are everywhere for zoodles and ziddles topped with cheese and marinara; sautéed with garlic or layered in a casserole dish with stuff. Mostly, they look like something I’d much rather have with real pasta.

foray into the world

One day, though, along came a summer salad-ish dish with roasted summer corn and tons of cilantro, all tossed together with sweet potato noodles and a chipotle dressing which was heavy with lime. Let me tell you, my taste buds perked up. What an enthralling dish, but how to pass off the sweet potato on my guy who definitely has a negative attitude toward sweet potatoes. You know, some story about eating way too many of the things while living in Africa as a kid.

Oh well, I could fix it for a potluck we were going to; he’d have plenty of other items to eat, including his beloved fresh oysters on the grill.foray into the world

Pinch of Yumyou were my muse into this foray; one of which I’m now continuing to explore with food-centric anticipation! In fact, last week we had a beet noodle salad with avocados, oranges and toasted pumpkin seeds. The sad part is I didn’t take any photos. The glad part is it was delicious.

Sweet Potato Noodle Salad

Recipe is courtesy of Pinch of Yum, slightly adapted.

ingredients

For the sweet potato salad

  • olive oil
  • 2 sweet potatoes, spiralized (or purchased noodles)
  • 4 ears sweet corn (kernels cut off the cob)
  • 1 generous cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ cup pepitas

For the dressing

  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 individual chipotle peppers, canned in adobo sauce
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 teaspoons agave or honey
  • juice of one orange
  • juice of one lemon or lime (I used lime juice in place of orange and lemon, approximately 1/3 cup)
  • generous pinch of salt
method
  • Heat a little bit of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the sweet potato noodles and toss for a minute or two until softened. (I cooked mine about 5 minutes.)
  • Wipe the skillet out so it’s dry. Add the corn kernels and turn the heat to medium high. Toss around in the pan every few minutes until roasted.
  • Toss the noodles, corn, cilantro, and pepitas together. Save a little of each ingredient for garnishing the salad.
  • Pulse the dressing ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Taste and adjust to your liking.
  • Toss with the salad ingredients.

As for my guy, he ate it and loved it! Score one for the sweet potato.

Happy eating, my friends –

Missy

 

 

 

tonight: asparagus-strawberry chicken salad

asparagus, strawberry chicken salad
beautiful piles of fruit, meat and vegetables

There’s no AC in our house, which is ok. I’ve come up with a pretty ingenious system of opening the house up in the early evening when it starts to cool down, and turning on the overhead fan for some added air movement.

Where I live the temps usually drop at night, so this works. What doesn’t work is coming home after work and cranking up the stove to cook. When I’m trying really hard to keep it pleasant inside, I certainly don’t want any added heat forms happening.

On our lovely hot summer days, I’m a girl who is very grateful for a patio with a grill, some asparagus spears, a pint of strawberries, leftover rotisserie chicken and salad greens. Oh, and an avocado, just because.

I like composed salads. They feel more like a whole meal, while tossed salads appeal more to the side category. Composed salads have beautiful piles of meat, cheese, fruit or vegetables all artfully positioned. Don’t you like the idea of a beautiful pile, but done with purpose? Thought so and tonight’s dinner ended up being exactly that.

Asparagus-Strawberry Chicken Salad

Serves 4

ingredients

  • 8 cups mixed greens
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 2 lb asparagus
  • 2 avocados cut into ½” chunks
  • 2 cups rough shredded chicken
  • Olive oil for asparagus and salad
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

method

  • Heat outdoor grill to high.
  • Wash and trim woody ends of asparagus; season with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on a grill pan and then grill for 5 to 7 minutes or until crisp-tender. Toss shredded chicken on top to hit it with smoke and heat, about another 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Assemble salads: place 2 cups greens on each of 4 plates. Arrange ½ cup berries, 4-5 asparagus spears, ½ of an avocado and ½ cup chicken on top of the greens. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Taste for salt and pepper.

Enjoy! And, Happy Eating –

Missy

 

spittin’ watermelon seeds

spittin' watermelon seeds
watermelon, feta and mint salad
I grew up spitting seeds. It was what you did while sitting on the porch with a thick, pie wedge of watermelon; a rosy stain on your face and running in streams down your arms.

My Papa grew the big oval melons with green zig-zag stripes and a creamy yellow underbelly. We’d go out to the garden – which to a little kid seemed to be the size of forever – where he’d thump, roll over and plug to uncover a perfectly ripe melon. It all seemed like some sort of alchemy to a small girl, not that I would have even known the word “alchemy” back then.

Picking an utterly impeccable watermelon is part experimentation and part observation.

Ok, I still thump my melons for that deep, solid yet hollow sound, and usually do pretty well.

Science says that’s not your most reliable way. Plugging – where you take a core sample – probably won’t happen in most markets. And, while you could do that in your private patch, it can lead to an introduction of unwanted bacteria and bugs.

The most reliable way to tell if a watermelon is going to be everything a kid dreams is a simple practice.

The melon should be heavy for its size. After all, you want it full of juicy goodness. Next, check the stem. If it’s started to wither you’re getting there. Finally, look at the underside of the watermelon. It should have a creamy yellow spot which indicates it’s been left in the field to ripen. I certainly haven’t achieved the status of a watermelon alchemist, but these steps are pretty good indicators.

Other than out-of-hand, one of my favorite ways to serve watermelon is with feta cheese and mint with a good amount of cracked pepper.  You really don’t need a recipe for this one. Cut watermelon into two inch-ish chunks and toss onto a platter, scatter feta and torn mint leaves over  the melon, then crack pepper on top to finish.

Happy eating, my friends –

Missy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tonight: tomato pie with fresh herbs

tonight: tomato pie
browned and crisped, the tomatoes melt into the ricotta and herbs

Several years ago, my darling man who doesn’t do a lot of cooking, but is really swell in the clean-up department, took up the habit of fixing brunch on Mother’s Day. This is a total treat – great food, no hurry at an overly busy restaurant, and did I mention great food?

Much research and effort goes into every detail, including a theme and typed up menu! He and his cooking cohorts always dine on breakfast beers and lil’ smokies, while the girls sip on the likes of a cherry spritzer (made even better with a splash of vodka) and nibble on zucchini pancakes slathered with crème fraiche.

Call me sentimental, I’ve saved all of the recipes. Some have been made several times over and others merely get a glance and a fond remembrance.

One menu item that’s been a repeat was Good Housekeeping’s Crustless Tomato-Ricotta Pie. It’s somewhere between a pizza, a quiche and a heavenly lasagna. I love the original recipe, as well as some changes that I’ve made throughout the years.

Tomato Pie with Fresh Herbs

ingredients

  • 1  15 oz. container part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup Romano, Parmesan or Gruyere cheese
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon each salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • ½ cup each fresh cilantro and mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 lb ripe Roma tomatoes, sliced

method

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large bowl, whisk ricotta, eggs, cheese, salt and pepper until blended.
  • In measuring cup, stir milk and cornstarch until smooth; whisk into cheese mixture. Stir in garlic, basil, cilantro and mint.
  • Pour mixture into an oiled 10-inch skillet with oven-safe handle. Arrange tomatoes on top, overlapping slices. Bake pie 35 to 40 minutes or until lightly browned, the center is puffed and the edges are set. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

This pie begs to be mixed up; different cheese or combinations of herbs. Use all fresh herbs when available, or call upon what’s in the pantry in a pinch. Enjoy!

Happy eating, my friends –

Missy

 

 

 

 

national ketchup day

national ketchup dayNational Ketchup (catsup) day was on June 5th, and I missed it! “Arg,” said the girl who loves ketchup and especially Portland Ketchup.

I first had this captivating tomato based elixir a few years ago. We (my man and I) had gone to Kennedy School McMenamins for brunch on Mother’s Day – sans our kids – where were they anyway? It was a grand afternoon sitting on their umbrella and plant inhabited courtyard. Continue reading

tonight: spicy eggplant parmesan

tonight: spicy eggplant
spicy eggplant parmesan with caramelized onions and mushrooms

After being on vacay for a week, and having some really good food (especially the lamb shanks at Milo’s), I look forward to eating at home. The first night back, I pulled leftover spaghetti out of the freezer. Yes, it was carby comfort food, and I enjoyed every bite. Now, it’s back to a normal routine which meant fish topped with corn salsa and herb-infused yogurt. However, the weather is chilly, so more hearty comfort is what I’m craving. Enter Eggplant Parm. Continue reading