Sunday, July 26, 2009

Summer on a plate- Watermelon, Heirloom Tomato and Arugula Salad with Corn Chowder and Nectarine Cobbler

Nectarine Cobbler
Corn Chowder
Watermelon, Heirloom Tomato and Arugula Salad
with Avocado and fresh Mint
To be completely honest, summer in San Francisco is not at all replicable of what summer is supposed to be. It is not hot, as a matter of fact it is not even warm. It is usually pretty chilly actually (today's high: 67 degrees) and overcast most of the morning and late afternoon. We usually get our "summer" in late September and October. But, where I grew up summer was hot and very traditional, so no matter what it looks like outside my window, in my head it is July, and there are just certain foods that I want to eat in July. The cold weather has left me deeply craving for summer lately, so I ended up having all my summer favorites all in one dinner to satisfy my longing... 

Watermelon, Heirloom Tomato and Arugula Salad:
I think watermelon and tomato go beautifully together, and when you pair these two with some spicy arugula, and tangy balsalmic dressing, you have the most balanced and tasty salad you can possibly imagine. Just to bump it up to the next level, I added in some mint chiffonade, and topped the salad with a nice creamy avocado. There is a woman who has been at the Alemany Farmer's market lately, and she comes up from Southern California, and she brings the most delicious avocados I have ever had. They are perfectly ripe, and so full of flavor, suddenly I have been wanting avocado on everything... I don't know what I am going to do if she ever stops coming to the market.

Corn Chowder
This is one of the simplest soups I have ever made, but if you use ripe, full flavored corn, it is simply delicious. I started by removing the corn kernels from 4 large cobs of fresh sweet corn. I then took the corn cobs, and simmered them in 4 cups of water for 20 minutes to make a corn stock, to enhance the corn flavor of my soup. In a separate large soup pot, I sauteed a whole yellow onion, and added one clove of minced garlic.  I then added the corn in with onion, along with a teaspoon and a half of ground cumin, salt and pepper, and one medium potato diced. (Leave the skin on- this is where the majority of the nutrients are in the potato, and once you blend the soup you will hardly notice the skin). At  this point, I added my corn stock to the pot, covered it, and let it go at a medium simmer for another 15 minutes or so, until the potatoes were tender. I finished off the soup by pureeing it in batches and then re-seasoning until the flavors are just right. I topped it with a cilantro sour cream (mix chopped fresh cilantro with some tofutti sour cream) and more of that awesome avocado. 

Nectarine Cobbler
My hubby does not like the fuzzy skin of peaches, so I decided to make the cobbler with some beautiful organic nectarines I scored. Again, I like to leave the skins on because there are so many wonderful nutrients and fiber contained in the skins. The nectarines were this beautiful red orange color, and so sweet I hardly had to add in any sweetener. This dessert was so simple, I just finely chopped up a few nectarines, and tossed them with a maple/agave blend from trader joe's (seriously, I don't think I even used a whole tablespoon) and some ginger powder (a little less than a teaspoon) I then used the biscuit recipe from one of my favorite blogs: veganyumyum (which you can also get as an iphone app- so awesome!!) I added some cinnamon to the biscuit recipe, and topped my nectarines with the biscuit dough, and baked it for about 25 minutes until it was bubbly and browned. I served it with some sweet cinnamon spiced cashew creme I had made for another recipe a few days earlier.  

So this meal brought the sunshine into our home, I felt fulfilled, enjoying the bounty of fresh summer foods. After all, it is summer pretty much everywhere else, even though when I look out my window it is still grey and misty. 

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Humm, Humm Hummus... Today's variation - Summer Squash and Kale Hummus

I'm not gonna deny it, I loooovve hummus. Every kind of hummus, red pepper, cilantro, white bean, sun dried tomato, eggplant hummus, I could literally go on and on. Although, my utmost favorite is the classic, creamy traditional hummus. I am always experimenting with new variations based on what I have in my fridge at the time, or what I might see in season at the farmer's market. You will  probably see me post multiple times about different hummus variations that I make.. The primary components of hummus are chickpeas, tahini (sesame seed paste) garlic, lemon juice, spices (usually cumin and paprika and sometimes parsley for me, but sometimes I change things up with other spices). Therefore, it is one of the healthiest snacks you can make. You are getting protein,  fiber, folate and iron from the chickpeas, calcium from the sesame seeds, and all of the benefits of raw garlic. If you make it without oil, as I do, you can keep your hummus pretty low on fat as well.  
Not only is hummus a great dip for snacks, it can be used as a spread on sandwiches and wraps in place of higher fat spreads as well.
Today, I had some kale left over from a kale salad, and a fresh yellow summer squash I wanted to put to use in a new way. So, I added those into my vita-mix as I was blending my hummus for my wrap for lunch today. Voila! This is one of my favorite hummus variations yet, and has an even more stellar nutrient profile from the added kale and squash!! And so pretty too. It's a keeper. 

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Summertime Barbeque Salads

I don't know many people who can't identify with the great pleasure of sitting outside either in someone's backyard, or in the park, or near the beach in the company of good friends and family, sipping delicious drinks, and enjoying barbeque, and the delicious classic accompaniments. Now that it is July, it was time to hit the barbeque with my husband. So, last Thursday night, I put together a nice cool Corn, Avocado & Tomato Salad, and my favorite- A classic style Potato Salad. I put these along side some skewers of BBQ seitan, squash, & crimini mushrooms. It was my first time making seitan from scratch which was very good and quite easy, but we'll save that for another day's blog. Anyways, pair this with a nice cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and what a great way to start off a summertime weekend!

I had scored a nice bag of mixed potatoes at the farmer's market that made for a colorful adaptation to my potato salad. The bag had a combination of fingerling, purple, and red potatoes, and all were miniature, and easy to quickly cut up. I roast my potatoes first, instead of boiling them, because I prefer the texture to be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. I have always felt that the potatoes get a little mushy if you boil them, but if you prefer a softer texture, by all means you could definitely boil them briefly instead of roasting them! I also used Garlic Aioli (Wildwood) because it is my favorite vegan mayonnaise replacement, but you could use Vegenaise, Nayonaise, or anyother eggless mayonnaise that you prefer. And always use fresh (not dried) herbs! It makes a huge difference. Actually, I hardly use dried herbs in the summertime specifically, as fresh always just seems more appealing this time of year. Anyways, if you can, let the salad sit in the fridge for at least an hour or two before serving, to let all of your flavors come together. Enjoy!

  • 1 pound Small red potatoes, or fingerlings, purple potatoes, or combination of- chopped to 1/2-3/4 inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ cup Wildwood Garlic Aioli, or other vegan mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup scallions , chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
  • ½ cup carrot or celery (or combination of both), finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon old bay seasoning, or combination of garlic powder, paprika, and cumin

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combined chopped potatoes, olive oil, sea salt, and a grind of fresh black pepper. Toss well, and spread out evenly on a large baking sheet. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes until starting to barely brown, and are easily pierced with a fork. Let cool completely. Transfer to large bowl.

Add in fresh herbs, carrots/celery, lemon juice, and aioli (or mayonnaise) to the potatoes. Thoroughly combine, and taste. Add additional salt or pepper if necessary.

Transfer to the refrigerator to cool at least one hour before serving.

Serves 4