Asparagus with Lemon, Chile + Mint

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~ Recipe Below ~

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Asparagus is here. Flooding local markets everywhere. It looks so fresh, bright, green and crisp that you can hardly look away! So when thinking of how to prepare mine I thought this recipe would be perfect. Half way through cooking I realized a grill pan was needed, If only I could read the recipe through before diving in. Being grill pan-less I roasted mine in the oven instead. It was still delicious and I may even dare say a bit too lemony. If you are in possession of a grill pan you should definitely give it a go. Grilling always ads a nice flavor to vegetables and I have a feeling mellows out the tartness of the lemon a bit.

Once you have finished eating a lunch solely consisting of spicy, lemony asparagus keep the leftovers in the fridge. I chopped up the rest later on for a fabulous pasta dinner. Mix the chopped asparagus with a cooked pasta of choice and add in a splash of olive oil and grated parmesan. Grill, or roast, and enjoy! ~

Asparagus with Lemon, Chile + Mint ~ Adapted from the What Katie Ate cookbook

Fine salt

10 oz Asparagus spears, ends trimmed

Small bunch fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

zest and juice of 1 lemon, recommended in thin strips (I did a few then used a grater on the rest)

A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil

Grated parmesan and lemon wedges to serve

Half fill a pot with cold water and add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Add in the asparagus and cook for two minutes. Remove and drain, then place the asparagus to a bowl of ice cold water for five minutes. Drain again and pat dry. In a small bowl mix the mint, lemon zest and juice, red pepper flakes and a little salt and freshly grated black pepper. Remember that the parmesan is salty so you will only need a very small pinch of salt.

For the grill pan-less:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place the asparagus in an oven safe dish and pour the mint mixture over. Toss to coat. Then roast in the oven for 12 to 18 minutes. Maybe less time depending on your oven. Until the asparagus is warm. I’m sure placing them on a lined baking sheet would also work well.

For the grill pan-ers:

Heat your grill pan over high heat until smoking. Spray with a little oil then add the asparagus. Turn the heat down to medium and add half of the mint mixture. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the asparagus is lightly charred, then turn over the asparagus and add the remaining mint mixture. Once the other side is cooked transfer the asparagus to a serving dish and add any mint mixture left on the grill pan.

Green Curry Vegetable Macaroni & Cheese

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Macaroni & cheese is one of my all-time favs when it comes to comfort food. Is there anything better on a bad day then a nice big bowl of macaroni and cheese? When food supplies are low I tend to whip this up quite frequently as an easy weeknight dinner. Mixing in different spices and vegetables every time to keep it fun! Here The classic dish gets dressed up with spicy green curry paste, fresh lemon and parmesan cheese.

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Green Curry Vegetable Macaroni & Cheese

1 3/4 cup dried pasta

3 large cloves of garlic, minced

olive oil

3 medium carrots, sliced

about a tbsp of soft cheese, I used a laughing cow wedge

1 tsp green curry paste

1-2 tbsp plain yogurt or milk

frozen spinach + corn

grated parmesan cheese

squeeze of lemon

sriracha

salt

Boil pasta according to box directions, I used quinoa shell pasta. drain pasta and set aside. Add minced garlic and about a tbsp of olive oil to the same pot. cook for one minute then add the spinach, corn and carrots. Cook until the vegetables are warm. Then add pasta back to pot with the yogurt or milk, green curry paste and soft cheese. I used laughing cow, you can use any type of cheese you like. Stir till combined and add more yogurt/milk if necessary to get the right consistency. If you want your macaroni to have a little more zing then go ahead and throw in a bit more green curry paste! Once everything is well combined and hot season to taste with salt, fresh lemon juice, and sriracha (if you like it a bit spicy). Serve with a lemon wedge and grated parmesan cheese on top.

Tri-Color Carrot Salad with Asian Vinaigrette

Hot hot hot. And brutally hot. Not to mention humid. August in Manhattan…..Don’t ever come to Manhattan in August, unless you find enjoyment in slowly melting into a puddle. As I live here I can’t escape, my window unit can though. It picked the hottest day last week to say adios, the battery went bonkers and I am writing this to you with an ice-pack on my shoulders and a little black fan at my feet. Apart from the fact that every night I mentally tick another day off the ‘almost fall countdown’ this salad should bring some summer fun to your table. Light, crisp and bursting with flavor it will accompany any simple dinner with grace and be all the rage at a picnic. And did I mention no oven is needed?

Tri-Color Carrot Salad with Asian Vinaigrette

Large bunch of carrots (any color will work, I used purple, orange, yellow and white)
chopped spring (green) onion
2 tbsp sesame oil
4 tsp white wine vinegar
ground ginger, salt, & pepper to taste
juice of 1/2 a lemon
splash of ginger juice (optional) 
1 tsp dijon mustard

Using a vegetable peeler, peel off outer carrot skins (purple carrots are orange once peeled). Peel or ribbon enough carrots to fill a medium sized bowl. Do this by holding the thick end of the carrot and carefully make long strips with your vegetable peeler. Add chopped green onions to the bowl and set aside. Whisk all other ingredients together for the asian vinaigrette. Adjust seasonings if needed, I added a bit more vinegar to mine some may like a bit more mustard so customize as you like. You will have extra dressing left over. Toss the ribboned carrots with the vinaigrette right before serving.

Would be wonderful topped with sprinkles of toasted sesame seeds if you can muster the courage to turn on your toaster oven.

A cool and lovely summer side dish.

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Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Summer. Summer and Squash Blossoms. They go hand and hand, you can’t look at these bright flowers and not think of warmth and sunshine. I am trying to make the farmers market a Saturday morning ritual…but you have to get there before 10 am or it isn’t worth going (I don’t like having to hurt someone for that last bunch of radishes). With the 4th and traveling I haven’t been since May, crazy, and upon seeing another blogger posting photographs from the union square market I declared my farmers market-free days over. The seasons produce is in full swing. I came home with fresh arugula, basil, sunflower greens, summer onions, blueberries, yellow beets, rattlesnake beans, red currants, carrots, peppers, and on and on and on. AND squash blossoms.

I wanted to keep this simple. I have never cooked with flowers before and first timer ingredients are always a bit scary.

I only purchased 4 large blossoms and had a decent amount of filling leftover. Make a large batch of  filling and either make more stuffed blossoms or save it and spread on bread, sandwiches, or top off salads.

Stuffed Squash Blossoms with Summer Greens

For the blossoms:
4-10 squash blossoms
1 large clove of garlic, minced
*a few large spoonfuls of soft goat cheese (3-6 tbsp)
6-12 green onions, chopped
pinch of chili flakes
fresh lemon juice
coconut oil, for sautéing 
 
*I used goat cheese with pieces of kalamata olives mixed in. I loved the taste and flavor this particular cheese added. If you cannot find olive goat cheese or do not like olives just use plain goat cheese. Your blossoms will still turn out spectacular and tasty. 
 
Summer Greens Salad
Large handfuls of fresh:
spinach
arugala
sunflower greens
and a little basil if you have it.
 
A Light vinaigrette:
amount will change depending on how many people you are serving. 
roasted walnut oil
white wine vinegar
salt & pepper
 
In a medium sized bowl, mix together goat cheese, green onions and garlic. Season with salt, pepper, a dash of lemon juice, and a pinch of chili flakes. Taste and add more if needed. To prepare the squash blossoms, removed the stem, or baby squash from the end. Carefully remove the stamen or any seeds from the inside of the blossom. Try not to tear the petals though I found it to be inevitable at times. Rinse the blossoms delicatley in cool water and pat dry with a paper towl. with a knife or your fingers, stuff about a tsp of the goat cheese mixture into the bottom of the blossom and twist the top. Once all the blossoms are stuffed heat about 2-tsp to a tbsp of coconut oil in a pan (adjust your oil to the amount of blossoms you are cooking, you just want the bottom of the pan to be evenly coated). When the oil is hot lay the blossoms in the pan and cook for about 1-2 minutes per side. The tips of the blossoms will begin to brown when they are ready to come out. Pat dry with a paper towel if you wish. 
 
Wash and toss salad greens in large bowl. Whisk equal parts roasted walnut oil (any light oil or olive oil will also work) and white wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Lightly toss the greens in the vinaigrette and top with cooked squash blossoms. 

This made a magnificent summer meal. As lunch or a light dinner.

I paired mine with smoked salmon and despite all of this New York City heat I was fully enjoying the fact that it’s Summer.

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Sweet Citrus Acorn Squash with Ginger & Honeyed Goat Cheese

Have you had enough squash yet? I admit I’m about ready to give it a rest for a while..BUT this, this is something differnt. A fresh look on squash with a citrus zing. Butternut squash is the new soup staple, from spicy purees to stuffed ravioli it’s everywhere. However there are many other varieties out there just waiting for your love and care! Welcome acorn squash.

I went for a sweet take with hints of citrus and ginger topped with a soft honeyed goat cheese. Now don’t be scared, but you can eat the skin. When cooked long enough it becomes soft and gives the dish an earthy flare.

Sweet Citrus Acorn Squash with Ginger & Honeyed Goat Cheese

One acorn squash, sliced

1 tbsp olive oil + extra for drizzle

1/2 tsp ground ginger

zest of one lemon

juice of half a lemon

ground sea salt

1 tsp dark muscavado sugar

sesame seeds

8 ounces of honeyed goat cheese (regular is fine)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds, then slice and set aside. In a bowl whisk together all ingredients except sesame seeds, salt, and goat cheese. Lay the squash out in a pan or baking dish (grease if necessary) Pour sauce over the squash, grind a little sea salt on top and bake for around 30 mins or longer. When the squash is cooked through and the edges are beginning to brown they should be done. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with the honeyed goat cheese.

I was able to find honeyed goat cheese at my local grocer, to make it yourself simply stir honey to taste into a soft goat cheese.

I ate this simply with a salad but it would make a wonderful side dish.

Red Cabbage Summer Salad with Roasted Walnut Oil

As rain dances were invented in the hopes of bringing rain, this salad was concocted in the spirit of Spring. May it bring to you warm weather and soon.

I feel sorry for red cabbage. It does not get the glory and honor it deserves. As a child, in my lovely school cafeteria, I would always pick this usually stringy vegetable out of my salad. Why would anyone want this squiggly purple stuff messing up a perfectly good meal of iceberg lettuce and ranch dressing, right?! Even when working as a waitress in college we were instructed to leave it out when preparing salads (bags of it would be included with the lettuce). Where does all the red cabbage of the world go?? Thanks to a new found interest in vegetables of all kinds, and a little lemon zest, I am proud to say red cabbage has found a new place in my heart.

 While walking through my neighborhood market I spotted a box full of these crazy purple orbs. I continued walking by. Stopped. Turned around… and walked back. Don’t you love those moments. They were eye catching, a real beauty. A color so deep, so rich, there is no way they can’t be tasty. Throwing my doubts of cabbage and anything slaw related out the window I put one in the shopping basket. Summer slaw for dinner.

Spring came to New York. It teased us for a few days. A few days. Everyone was outside, flooding the streets and parks, in sun-dresses and sunglasses. Then right as I was settling into the idea of beaches, fruit sorbet, and drinks with cute garnishes the weather plunged back into the 40’s. I refuse to accept this. In rebellion I made this salad. It brings the feeling of summer to your tongue at least! I also am continuing to wear open-toe shoes and no stockings. I am cold and stubborn and hope that, combined with this salad, rays of sunshine grace us once more. I recommend if you still live somewhere with winters chill just trying the salad.

Red Cabbage Summer Salad

zest and juice of one lemon

1 tbsp + 2 tsp roasted walnut oil

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste – I use pink Himalayan salt

1/2 head chopped red cabbage, thinly sliced

2 green onions chopped, diced

2 large carrots ribboned

sesame seeds

thinly sliced radishes (use as many or few as you like)

In a small bowl add lemon juice, zest and walnut oil. Whisk with a fork and set aside. In a large bowl toss cabbage, carrot ribbons, radish slices and chives. Add dressing and sprinkle in sesame seeds, at least 1 tbsp. Toss. Garnish with lemon slices and sesame seeds and serve immediately! If you are making this ahead of time save the dressing for last. Whisk together the ingredients and toss right before eating, the fresh lemon flavor dulls overnight in the fridge.