Harvest

farm board

If you don’t like kale, or are afraid to try it (still), then substitute something else. I start with that so you won’t think “I hate kale; I’m never eating a kale salad” and miss the entire idea here: it’s summer harvest time, so you should enjoy the bounty available at the market. If your idea of a perfect summer salad does not include kale, or blueberries, or any of the other suggestions here, then use something else: basil and peaches, or celery and cherries, or whatever makes you happy.

Blueberry & Kale Salad

Love to Cook: Get your gourmet on with this Massaged Kale Salad with Creamy Blueberry Vinaigrette and Rosemary Candied Walnuts.

Weeknight Reality: This Best of Summer Kale Salad from Iowa Girl Eats is easy to prepare, if you’ve not intimidated by making your own salad dressing. The blueberry-balsamic dressing is good on just about any salad, in fact, so make a double batch. And her recommendation to massage the kale with salt only, not oil, works well. A vegan alternative is this version from the Blueberry Council.

Need a Miracle: Bagged kale, blueberries, seasoned nuts and prepared dressing. And cheese, or fish, if you like.

What’s up the rest of the week?

Pan-fried Turkey Cutlets with Spinach & Blue Cheese Salad | Macarons
Flank Steak | Israeli Couscous | Broccoli Rabe

Purple

Eggplant

Spicy Eggplant  | Salad with Mint, Arugula & Parsley

So, it’s Tuesday but feels like Monday, at least around here (#internetsnafu). The good news is that even the “Love to Cook” suggestion for today’s prompt is quick and easy (other than calling for pomegranate molasses). Also delicious. Whether you use regular deep purple eggplant or another variety, large or small, eggplant is in top form this time of year. Like mushrooms, eggplant will pick up flavor quickly and improve with time to develop. If you’ve never cooked with eggplant, here’s a quick primer from The Kitchn on getting the bitterness out.

Love to Cook: This recipe, from David Tanis, for Smoky Eggplant Salad calls for charring the eggplant on the grill, but you can do it in the oven, under the broiler if grilling isn’t an option. A green herb salad tossed in lemon and olive oil and some warm pita bread round out the plate.

Weeknight Reality: Here’s an alternative Tanis recipe, one that doesn’t require any special ingredients beyond what you can likely find at the local grocery.

Need a Miracle: Look in the international section of your grocery for eggplant relish; serve with warm pita, some olives and crumbled feta, and a green salad (an herb blend, if you can find it).

What’s up the rest of the week?
Grilled Chicken Tacos with Mango Salsa
Blueberry & Kale Salad
Pan-fried Turkey Cutlets with Spinach & Blue Cheese Salad | Macarons
Flank Steak | Israeli Couscous | Broccoli Rabe

Double-header

BB walnut boards

Grilled Chicken & Apple Sausage | Tomato-Basil Salad | Chocolate Cupcakes

Fruit & Cheese Platter | Ancient Grains Bread

So, a tiny technical snafu zapped yesterday’s post into oblivion. And since yesterday’s post included the weekly dessert (chocolate cupcakes) and since yesterday’s dinner idea was (is) actually a perfect match for today’s idea, how about a summer double-header – maybe served buffet style with friends, since there’s something to please for just about everyone.

Love to Cook: Two recipes that are worth the time, if you have it, both to hunt down the ingredients and to prepare/bake: The Cupcake Project’s Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake and Josey Baker’s Adventure Bread (via David Lebovitz) – a flourless, gluten-free, hearty loaf that is just delicious. Serve with a classic heirloom tomato-basil salad, an assortment of cheese and sausages, and some fresh blueberries.

Weeknight Reality: A multi-grain loaf from the grocery bakery, sliced, spread with goat cheese and topped with cherry tomatoes and basil, served with a platter of sliced, grilled sausages and a green salad with seasonal herbs and fruit (blueberries, mint, peaches, perhaps) will leave plenty of time to make these easy chocolate cupcakes, topped with fresh whipped cream instead of frosting.

Need a Miracle: Aidell’s sausages are our go-to brand; all varieties are tasty, and they’re free of nitrates. For the tomato salad, toss some cherry tomatoes, halved, in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and basil (or prepared pesto). Add pre-cut fruit, a box or two of Raincoast Crisps, a log of goat cheese and some cupcakes from the bakery, and you’re set.

What’s up next week?

Spicy Eggplant  | Salad with Mint, Arugula & Parsley
Grilled Chicken Tacos with Mango Salsa
Blueberry & Kale Salad
Pan-fried Turkey Cutlets with Spinach & Blue Cheese Salad | Macarons
Flank Steak | Israeli Couscous | Broccoli Rabe

Jerk

baby ginger

Rum-spiked Jerk Chicken | Basmati Rice | Avocado & Citrus Salad

Before walking away from the idea that eating spicy food in hot weather actually helps keep you cool, at least give it a try. A traditional Jerk-style marinade works on everything from turkey to tofu. In our house we like boneless, skinless chicken thighs (used in most of the recipe links below), but substitute whatever suits you and your people. Most preparations call for at least two hours’ worth of marinating time. The longer the better, for sure, but on a busy weeknight sometimes 30 minutes just has to work.

Love to Cook: These Jerk Chicken Bites and these Caribbean Chicken & Pineapple Kebabs are variations on the same theme; although the list of ingredients for the marinade is long in both recipes, the actual preparation is pretty simple. For a cool companion dish, try a salad with this no-oil/no-cream avocado-citrus dressing.

Weeknight Reality: Ok, so the marinade’s the thing. This version, prepared in a blender, can be used to marinate and coat whatever protein you pick. Again, the longer the marinating time, the richer the flavor. For the salad, toss chopped avocado and fresh greens in a lime-cilantro dressing like this one.

Need a Miracle: Your go-to miracle dinner, the rotisserie chicken, to the rescue: toss shredded chicken in some bottled sauce and served atop a green salad with fresh avocado slices.

What’s up tomorrow and Friday?

Grilled Chicken & Apple Sausage | Tomato-Basil Salad | Chocolate Cupcakes
Fruit & Cheese Platter | Ancient Grains Bread

Creole

fleur de lis on the merry go round

Shrimp Skewers | Creole Caesar Salad

It’s summer and it’s hot, so might as well add some spice.

Love to Cook: If you have the time, talent and inclination, Brennan’s Creole Martini Caesar Salad ought to delight you – for the fried crabmeat olives if nothing else. The recipe serves six as a first course or 2-4 as dinner (on plates, not martini glasses), topped with grilled shrimp, marinated or brushed with some spicy Cajun seasoning.

Weeknight Reality: This salad recipe is a bit easier, provided you have the ingredients on hand. Or you could make a standard Caesar salad and top with Grilled Garlic Cajun Shrimp.

Need a Miracle: How about this: chilled cocktail shrimp, tossed in Creole dressing, served on any green you choose with a side of toasted bread.

What’s up the rest of the week?

Rum-spiked Jerk Chicken | Basmati Rice | Avocado & Citrus Salad
Grilled Chicken & Apple Sausage | Tomato-Basil Salad | Chocolate Cupcakes
Fruit & Cheese Platter | Ancient Grains Bread

Repeat.

cucumbers

Cold Cucumber-Buttermilk Soup | Onion Pie

Yep, still hot. Still perfect for cucumber soup, which one day you’ll actually try. And then you’ll thank me, believe it or not. The soup recipe links are repeats from a couple of weeks ago; the first one, from Eating Well, is the winner, if you have time to make it.

Love to Cook: This rich, creamy recipe from Eating Well does require a bit of cooking, but not much. And you can serve it warm or room temperature if you don’t have time to let it cook fully. With the inclusion of avocado, it’s more satisfying than soups that are just cucumber, yogurt and cream. Paired with a sweet onion pie, it’s actually a decadent dinner.

Weeknight Reality: This version of cucumber soup is quick to make but best when it has time to hang out in the refrigerator for several hours before serving – not for temperature, really, but for the flavors to develop. If you have time to make it in the morning or at lunch time, great. If not, then skip to the recipe below, which you can serve immediately. You’re not making onion pie, and we both know it. Instead, sauté some onions in butter and spoon them on top of toasted brioche, or other egg bread.

Need a Miracle: This cucumber soup is the last of the three cold soup options provided on this great post. Each soup is ready in just a few minutes, really. If you don’t have an hour for the soup to chill (develop), then just increase the amount of seasonings. Garlic bread, with a bit of freshly grated Parmesan, is your quick-fix alternative to onion pie.

Weekly Line-Up

Cold Cucumber-Buttermilk Soup | Onion Pie
Shrimp Skewers | Creole Caesar Salad
Rum-spiked Jerk Chicken | Basmati Rice | Avocado & Citrus Salad
Grilled Chicken & Apple Sausage | Tomato-Basil Salad Salad | Chocolate Cupcakes
Fruit & Cheese Platter | Ancient Grains Bread

Mediterranean

olives

So, you didn’t plan dinner and you don’t feel like cooking and it’s hot outside? Yeah, here too. How about a platter of fresh vegetables and Mediterranean treats, scooped up from the olive bar at your local market?

Mediterranean Platter (Greek salad, stuffed grape leaves, olives, hummus, grilled lemon chicken, etc.)

Love to Cook: This Composed Greek Salad makes a pretty presentation, and a hearty vegetarian meal. For a different twist, try this hummus made with white beans and anchovies.

Weeknight Reality: Here’s a Greek salad that’s ready in 15 minutes, even with homemade dressing. Provided you have a food processor, this simple hummus is also super quick. Serve with some store-bought stuffed grape leaves and a tray of olives.

Need a Miracle: Yep, you’re buying it all pre-made from the market, or take-out from Taziki’s.

Chilled

Tubby Creek July 2014

Gazpacho | Wedge Salad

Whether you prepare your tomatoes and vegetables by whipping them in a blender (or food processor) or painstakingly dicing by hand, gazpacho makes the most of what’s in season mid-summer. There are myriad recipes available online; below are just three that seemed good today. Pair with a hunk of cold iceberg lettuce, topped with blue cheese, bacon and diced tomato, and summer dinner is served.

Love to Cook: This classic gazpacho is easy and quick, aside from the chilling time (which, frankly, I always cut short). Try it with this wedge salad.

Weeknight Reality: Ina Garten’s version takes 20 minutes to make. Really. Add Tabasco if you want it spicy. Here’s an easy wedge salad, easier if you substitute cooked bacon.

Need a Miracle: This quick recipe takes 10 minutes (and passata is crushed, strained tomatoes, which are available in most groceries). See above for salad recipe, or just make a plain salad.

What’s up for tomorrow and Friday?

Fig-Glazed Pork Tenderloin | Green Salad with Mint & Blackberries | Meyer Lemon Gelato
Mediterranean Platter (stuffed grape leaves, olives, hummus, Greek salad, grilled lemon chicken)

Holiday.

July 4 CSA

Tomato Pie | Corn on the Cob | Basil Salad | Blueberries & Cream

The major and minor passions.
Sunlight. Hair.

The basic pleasures. Tomatoes, Keats,
meeting a smart man for a drink.

From “The Uses of the Body,” by Deborah Landau

Love to Cook: Few dishes scream SUMMER, at least in the South, like a good tomato pie. This version, from Southern Living, has decadent additions like bacon and sour cream. If you’re feeling fancy, pair it with this Basil Caesar Salad. Boil or grill the corn; wash the blueberries and top with sweetened whipped cream. No need to make those last two things any harder than they are.

Weeknight Reality: If you use prepared crust (no, not as good, but definitely fast), then you can have this Old-Fashioned Tomato Pie ready in a little more than 30 minutes, almost all of which is baking time. Cut any leftover fresh basil into ribbons and toss into your regular green salad. Boil the corn, wash the blueberries and whip the cream while the pie bakes, and the whole thing is ready in about 45 minutes.

Need a Miracle: A quick dip in some boiling water will cook the corn, and everything else can just be served the way nature made it, if you either don’t have time or just don’t want to cook. Warm a multi-grain boule, sourdough loaf or slices of buttered brioche. Slice and salt some fresh tomatoes, top them with ribbons of basil and maybe a dash of balsamic vinegar; toss a salad; wash the berries and just pour sweetened cream (or ice cream) over the top. The end.

Happy July 4th weekend.

Picnic.

Watermelon

BLTs | Potato Chips | Watermelon Slices | Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches

Whether or not you’re in vacation mode this week, a picnic for dinner makes life feel more vacation-y. You can go fancy, adding avocado, arugula and artisan bread to your BLT and making your own potato chips, or you can go super easy, buying cooked bacon, kettle chips, and pre-sliced watermelon. You can make the ice cream sandwiches with or without making the ice cream and cookies from scratch; just soften a tub of your favorite flavor, drop a big scoop between two big Pepperidge Farm cookies, and you’re set.

Love to Cook: How about Candied Bacon with a Garlic-Basil Aioli for your gourmet BLT? And even if you’re not a Ree Drummond fan, her recipe for homemade potato chips is simple and reliable. Here’s another plug for the two-ingredient, no-churn ice cream, if you have time to make it in advance. You can flavor with vanilla (or lavender, or whatever).

Weeknight Reality: How about a BLT salad instead of traditional sandwich? The total time is almost an hour, but most of that is bacon cooking time. You could easily trim the time by buying cooked bacon (even candied bacon, for an extra zing). For the ice cream sandwiches, buy ice cream and big cookies and let people assemble their own.

Need a Miracle: If you want to make it look like you did more work than you had time to do, upgrade the ingredients for your BLTs and serve them like a salad bar for people to assemble their own (avocado, candied bacon, micro greens, flavored mayo, etc.). Ditto for the chips, ice cream and cookies, although you could also just buy old-fashioned ice cream sandwiches and probably please just about everyone you’re serving.