Chopped Summer Salad with Feta, Mint, and Lime

IMG_5658.jpg

Obviously not the salad of which we speak; just keep scrolling… (But doesn’t that look goooood?)

Well, if lack of posting on here means that my professional life is busy and flourishing, I guess that’s a pretty good sign. I’m embarrassed that my last post was over two months ago… but it has been a two months full of performing, directing, project investigating, grant writing, travel booking, curriculum planning, and creative endeavors. So, perhaps a gap here but my heart is full and my brain is active and my calendar is full of scribbles (and my bank account is … feeling its new role as belonging to a creative freelancer).

But I didn’t go hungry! This was the summer of chopped salads, usually involving corn and radishes and whatever else the CSA bequeathed to us. See end of post for a loose recipe for my go-t0 salad of the season, repeated in many variations during the summer. Also if anyone else has a better way to use up CSA corn, please enlighten me. Who eats this much corn on the cob?!

In the spirit of summer wrap-ups and my absence, here are 10 more-memorable food moments from the past months. Complete with profesh iPhone photography (ha) — fitting for a busy summer, weeks of an over-stuffed backpack, and late-night dinnertimes.

1. Oh, strawberry shortcake. Cloud-like, slightly sweet, and convince-yourself healthy-ish. (If you didn’t make the pound cake and beat together all that butter, that is.) Potentially the most summery of summery foods. Definitely made this past July 4th more legit.img_5945

2. Labor Day weekend was spent motoring around the Northern coast of Long Island, where we found sailboats, mansions, and a pretty darn good brewery complete with varied flights. Also I taught Daniel mancala. And we ate oyyyysters.img_6232

3. Heddy and I celebrated our opening show of “Amelia and her Paper Tigers” with airplane cupcakes! I’m so proud of our little show and the responses we received from audiences at the Fringe Festival. (Thanks, Darrill!)cupcakes

4. These little mushrooms could be my favorite thing I ate this summer, though they were covered in butter and garlic and lemon juice, so its sorta unfair to their competition. But more importantly, they made Daniel change his mind about mushrooms! Victory!img_6227

5. Got TWO amazing off-menu dinners from chef-babe Nichole at Runner & Stone. Spoiled me good, missy. Also, loooook at all that foooood…. (this was just one course of three!!!)
runner-and-stone

6. Lots of Texas- (okay, Mexico- but don’t tell Daniel) — inspired breakfasts, like these huevos rancheros that I ate for a week straight. Also I now make pretty perfect soft scrambled eggs, if I do say so myself. (The secret? Uh, it’s butter. Surprise.)img_6051

7. A New Hampshire pilgrimage with friends, dogs, hiking, grilling, and this fun game — catch the cheez ball in your mouth. Hilarity ensued. Top quality eatz of the summer.cheez-ball

8. First time making tater tots! If you’re going to big, GO BIG and stuff those babies with cheddar cheese before frying. Uh, yum. img_6123

9. I love our tradition of making each other birthday cakes 🙂 This year Daniel followed my chocolate-peppermint wishes to a T. And it was perfect.img_6158

10. And behold, it’s not much to look at it, but tada! …don’t be too overwhelmed. Here’s the base of the Chopped Summer Salad with Mint, Feta, and Lime! Make, eat, repeat = Summer. (Also, maybe just click on the link to see Deb’s beautiful photos. Since she, you know, planned to blog this salad someday and I super didn’t.)img_6169

one year ago: roasted green pepper and smoked gouda pasta
two years ago: caramelized fennel with dill and goat cheese

Chopped Summer Salad with Mint, Feta, and Lime

Not really adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Dressing
Juice of 2 limes
¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon chile powder
s&p

Other Stuff
1 cup or so quinoa, Israeli couscous, or other grain, cooked and cooled
⅓ cup toasted sunflower seeds
Big handful fresh mint, chopped
At least ½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
About 1 cup lettuce ribbons
2 scallions, chopped or 1/4 of a red onion, sliced thin
3 cups crunchy veggies: corn, radishes, cucumber, peppers, snap peas, tomatoes all good options
1 cup chickpeas, if desired (though unnecessary!)

Stir all dressing ingredients together with a fork in a small bowl. Put all other ingredients in a big old bowl, pour in the dressing, toss it around a couple times, and try to save some for tomorrow.

img_5967

…dessert?!

Advertisements

Herby Sunchoke Gorgonzola Salad

sunchoke salad-7sunchoke salad-4

Sunchokes (also known as Jerusalem artichokes), when roasted in a pool of olive oil and liberally decorated with salt, make my heart do strange things. I just can’t get enough of the their nutty artichokey potato-ness, so satisfying and downright earthy. I pitter patter at their smooth savory finish, and will fight you for the caramelized edges. Ugh, I could just stand by the oven and eat a whole tray of those scintillating little stunners. (Wait, I have. But I don’t recommend it — those dudes have some pretty tough-to-break-down skins if ya get what I mean.) So, as a lesson in moderation, mix them with a bunch of other stuff and make it last longer than one stove-side binge session. Hence, salad. I’m SO good at moderation.

sunchoke salad-1sunchoke salad-2

Also I don’t think I used actual gorgonzola in this salad. It was just a generic (read: cheap) bleu (blue? blew?) cheese. So, substitute away as necessary. And let’s take a moment for a General Announcement about substitutions. This is a Salad. As such, you can’t f up “the recipe” too badly. (We used to joke in college that as long as you had a big assortment of stuff in a bowl, it counted as salad. Which led the way to cereal salad, spaghetti salad, cookie salad, etc. We had the right idea.) Because it’s not a real recipe, like for cake, which won’t taste like cake if you leave something out. It’s a suggestion. It’s Salad. It will literally and definitively still be salad no matter what you add or don’t add. So use whatever stinking cheese you want. (Or don’t use it at all, you rebel, you.) End of General Announcement.

sunchoke salad-3sunchoke salad-6

But do let me suggest this specific mix of ingredients cause dang they’re good together.

sunchoke salad-5

one year ago: roasted eggplant and pepper soup with orzo and homemade baked bean and pineapple tacos 

Herby Sunchoke Gorgonzola Salad

a swanky original

¾ lb sunchokes, scrubbed and unpeeled, cut into irregular-sized small chunks (about 2 cups)
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
1 cup wild rice, cooked (or sub brown rice)
½ cup loosely packed parsley leaves, roughly chopped
½ cup loosely packed mint leaves,  roughly chopped
1 cup shoots mix, or use arugula
½ cup red grapes, sliced
2-3 tablespoons gorgonzola, crumbled
s&p

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine sunchokes and olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet; add a generous amount of salt and pepper. Roast for about half an hour, turning occasionally, until browned, softened, and tantalizing. 

Let sunchokes cool down while you mix all remaining ingredients in a big bowl. Add sunchokes. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and serve. 

 

Maple Blueberry Beets with Balsamic and Mint

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nothing says summer like a packed, 97 degree, 100% humidity subway platform as an announcement says the next L train will arrive in 18 minutes. A collective groan ensues, complete with sticky thighs and cursing yourself for not getting the large iced mint tea.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s hard to imagine there was once another way to experience summer. A decade or two that had no automated voices announcing delayed trains but instead the sweet suburban sounds of lawnmowers, cicadas, and a chorus of complaints of “the car is too hot!” after an afternoon at the local pool. In those decades, a breath of summer air included that freshly cut grass, chlorinated hair, and melted lime popsicle juice on my fingers (and thighs, the car seat, my hair, etc).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We complained about having to help shuck corn but looked forward to family dinners on the porch. Corn with grilled chicken and zucchini for days. We ate tomatoes grown in the garden and ice cream sandwiches by the pool (when Mom was in a good mood).

thanks, Laura!

Although my summers nowadays tend to smell a bit more like pee on the sidewalk, trash left out during a heat wave, and overworked ACs, summer meals, thankfully, retain their allure.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This means fresh herbs and late outdoor dinners. It means seafood during my yearly weekend-long Cape Cod sojourn (and, really, only seafood) and CSA vegetables and sidewalk seating at other times. This beet creation came from a frantic trying-to-clean-out-the-fridge-before-vacation night. It makes your house smell lovely, and is a surprising way to combine these summer staples.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is more like a suggestion than a recipe — you can make as much or as little as you’d like. But, as I think you’re going to like it, err on the “as much of it” side. Also, once you make the blueberry syrup, it can stay in the fridge for the foreseeable future.. we’re two or three weeks in and it still looks great to me…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
one year ago:
beet reuben sandwiches (beets! must be mid-to-late summer!), mustardy potato&kale&green bean salad, and mmm BBQ sweet potato nachos

Maple Blueberry Beets with Balsamic and Mint

a swanky original (syrup from Dad with a Pan)

Whole beets, scrubbed (I used 2)
olive oil
s&p
1 cup blueberries
⅓ cup maple syrup
balsamic vinegar
fresh mint

To make beets:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Two options for beet roasting. a) Drizzle beets with olive oil and sprinkle with s&p. Wrap beets individually in tin foil. Stick in oven until fork tender, about an hour, depending on size. When cool, peel skin off easily by hand or paper towel, and cut into bite-sized chunks. b) Peel beets and cut into quarters or larger chunks. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with s&p. Bake for about 35 minutes or until fork tender. This option is a bit faster but beets aren’t quite as juicy. I think it works just fine for this recipe.

Meanwhile, make the blueberry syrup. Combine blueberries and maple syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer mixture for three minutes. Then, smash blueberries with the back of a fork and simmer for an additional three minutes or so. Pour into a jar to cool. This recipe makes way more than you need! Use over pancakes, with yogurt, over ice cream, etc.

Combine beets and a big drizzle each of balsamic vinegar and the blueberry maple syrup. Mix to combine. Sprinkle with torn fresh mint and enjoy! Maybe add feta or toasted sunflower seeds to give it more bulk but as is it made a prettttty good dinner with some bread and olive oil and leftover roasted chickpeas.

 

Kabocha and Caramelized Onion Toasts with Ricotta and Mint

IMG_0051

…or how I managed to totally slut up an innocent and slightly aging squash.

…or How To Make You Kitchen Smell, like, the BEST it ever has (note to self: caramelized onions + apple cider vinegar + maple syrup = oniony jam kitchentime nirvana).

….or the post where we use up all the CSA veggies accumulating in the fridge. Side note: I didn’t even try to take pictures of the, shall we say, creative and somewhat gelatinous side of golden beet-tiny potato-peas-pickle-parsley salad. Trust me on this one, tastes about a zillion times better than it looks, and it looks like something you may feed someone named, say, Fido.

…or the “Daniel went salsa dancing and I have no camera so I took a million sucky iphone pictures” post. Feel free to skip the blurry awkward food pictures and RUN to the grocery store. I don’t blame you. Food heaven.

IMG_0050

Kabocha and Caramelized Onion Toasts with Ricotta and Mint

greedily and happily borrowed from Chez Catey Lou 

1 1/2 (or 2 if you don’t happen to have a half lying around) sweet yellow onions, sliced thin
½ c olive oil, divided
3 t salt, divided
¼ c REAL maple syrup
⅔ c apple cider vinegar
1 medium kabocha squash, peeled and cut into ½-inch slices (easier said than done–just use those arm muscles, friends)
pinch red pepper flakes
½ c ricotta cheese
4 T fresh mint, chopped
4 slices hearty bread (I used thick slices of Bakeri multigrain)

Preheat oven to 450F.

In a medium pan, heat ¼ cup olive oil on medium-high heat. Add onions and 1 t salt and saute over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes or until tender, browned, and amazing-smelling. Then, add maple syrup and apple cider vinegar. Continue cooking, stirring intermitently, until thickened and jammy, about another 25 minutes. Turn off heat.

Meanwhile, mix squash, ¼ c olive oil, 2 t salt, and red pepper flakes on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip squash and cook for another 10 minutes or so. Squash is done with it’s soft, lightly browned, and sweet.

Add squash to onion pan and mash with a wooden spoon. Leave some larger chunks; you don’t want a puree but more a coarse mash.

Toast bread slices. Slather with ricotta and top with squash/onion mixture. Drizzle olive oil, sprinkle with coarse sea salt, and finally add chopped mint. Rejoice and praise the onion jam gods.

IMG_0038

The cutey on the right is the kabocha

(For a delicious and unphotogenic side dish, mix chopped boiled potatoes, chopped roasted golden beets, chopped dill pickles, minced red onion, 1 small can green peas, and parsley with red wine vinegar, olive oil, and a dollop of mayo. Or don’t, and eat another toast!)