Shrimp and Strawberry? Do you think I sound crazy right now? Trust, young padawans, and learn the ways of combining sweet and savory. Rice noodles, pickled veg (and mango!), basil, mint, scallions, shrimp, and strawberries are combined in a rice wrapper for the ultimate summer freshness. Served with a delicious peanut sauce for dipping - get in my face!
I had seen a blog photo ages ago that I loved on this site, but I was scared to try it because I had never made summer rolls before and it seemed finicky. Then I was over at a friend's house for dinner and that is what we made! It was a bit tricky, but not as scary as I had imagined. She was a pro, so I asked her to help me make my shrimp and strawberry rolls. Then I looked at the recipe for the photo I loved, and wasn't a big fan of the ingredients. I wanted noodles instead of cabbage, and mango instead of bell pepper. So I switched some things around.
Then we got to work! She was skeptical of my flavor combo, but ended up loving it. You can see the progression here from back to front where I put the ingredients on in the wrong order so the pretty parts didn't show, then exploded one, then finally got some decent rolls. The good news is - it doesn't matter if you don't get the best looking rolls, they still taste amazing!
When I was assigned Melissa's blog last month for SRC, I was reminded of all the recipes of hers that I had been wanting to make. And I couldn't get my mind off of this warm potato salad with roasted broccoli and an egg vinaigrette. That vinaigrette is called "sauce gribiche", which I had never heard of before. Melissa says, "It’s an eggy French vinaigrette, apparently friends with mayonnaise, that is made from hardboiled eggs, oil, vinegar, capers, and fresh herbs." Sign me up!
First step - roast the potatoes and the broccoli. Why do I only have a photo of the potatoes? I don't know. Melissa used purple potatoes, which looked gorgeous. I couldn't find any, though, so I used red.
Meanwhile, boil the eggs. Hello, lovelies!
For this month's Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned Oh! You Cook! (Which is such a cute name.) In addition to writing the blog, Dena has also authored The Everything Kosher Slow Cooker Cookbook - how cool is that?! As you can imagine, her recipes are kosher, but that doesn't mean that you have to be in order to enjoy them!
I was, of course, very interested in the Challah Bread Pudding, and a couple of other desserts including Blueberry Pudding Pie, Raspberry Custard Pie, and Almond Rice Pudding. But I really wanted to make something savory. I loved that she had several recipes that used pomegranate molasses, and ingredient that I love and am always looking for uses for. And the Picadillo Meat Loaf and Honey Mustard Chicken looked very weeknight friendly.
But in the end, I chose the Orecchiette with Veal, Capers, and White Wine. It looked so good (and easy) that I couldn't pass it up.
Start by sauteing onion and garlic, browning the veal, then adding the white wine and allowing it to cook out.
I have made this salad multiple times in the past two years, but never managed to photograph it or blog about it - until now! Which is a shame, because it is so delicious and satisfying, and you could have been making it, too. I'm so sorry! But I'm sharing it with you now, and I hope that you know how serious I am about loving this salad, because I rarely ever make things more than once. I even bought pomegranate molasses for my parents so that I could make this for them!
Special thanks to Melissa at Smells Like Brownies, for making it with me again two years after our first time making it together so that we could photograph it.
First thing is first, you must cook some lentils! I use French lentils for pretty much everything because they retain their shape and texture. Plus, they are a pretty green.
Meanwhile - prep your other ingredients. Chop your vegetables: onion, garlic, bell peppers. I love how colorful the bell peppers are, and how pretty they make the salad. So buy one of those 3 packs that has red, yellow, and orange. It will make you so happy. We also had a little bit of a green pepper left over, so we threw that in.
Also use this time to rehydrate some sun-dried tomatoes in boiling water. The water will become infused with tomato flavor, and will later become part of the dressing - neat! Not pictured - toast some walnuts. It releases the oils and makes them so much more flavorful.
If you've been wondering where I've been for the past 2 weeks, the answer is - vacation! I will be writing about that for sure, but before I get to it I want to talk about this pasta that I made before we left. My friend Melissa (you know her by now) was also going out of town, a little before we were, and gifted me several of her home-grown bell peppers and tomatoes. I wanted to use them to do a take on sausage and peppers in pasta form because I'm, well, me.
So I browned some sliced sausage, and then threw in an onion, the peppers, and the tomatoes to saute. Then I tossed in cooked whole wheat penne along with pasta water, a splash of cream, and some Parmesan to make a sauce. And finally, I topped it with some fresh basil and parsley. Fast, easy, and hearty. Thanks Melissa!
You guys, I am in love... with a recipe. A recipe for cauliflower that is pretending to be cous cous and filled with herbs, spices, buttery cashews, and plump golden raisins. It's so good it's stupid. And easy, did I mention easy? And low-carb and healthy and gluten-free and vegan and all the things.
I am desperately trying to move away from grains and starches, but it is so hard when my brain had been programmed to think that dinner is meat, starch, vegetable (in that order in terms of importance). So anything like this that I can find that satisfies my need to have a starch, without really being one, is awesome. Oh yeah, and my husband LOVED it.
I served it as a side to some store-bought kebabs because of the distinctly Middle Eastern flavors. But I'm wondering if I can use the same technique and change up the flavorings (a la this post) to do some different things. Speaking of flavorings, this recipe uses a spice blend called za'atar that is super yummy. You should be able to find some in the spice section of your store, but if not here are two recipes to make your own.
Who would stuff a mushroom with more mushrooms? Melissa from Smells Like Brownies and I, that's who, for our weekly vegetarian lunch get together. Melissa had a ton of farro given to her by a neighbor that she needed to start using, and she was craving mushrooms. So she found a recipe for balsamic roasted mushrooms with goat cheese to mix with the farro, yum. You know how much we love goat cheese. But then she thought, what if we put that inside of a portabella and grilled it? And I said, why the heck not! Mushrooms inside of mushrooms, people - it's inception with fungi.
Mix up some baby bellas and tomatoes with olive oil, balsamic, thyme, garlic, and red pepper. Careful there - we thought we just added a pinch, but it turned out spiiiiiiiiicy. Thank goodness for goat cheese, amirite? Then roast those babies up.
Once they are roasted, mix them together with cooked farro, spinach,and goat cheese and spoon the mixture into portobello caps. The baby bellas are going inside the mamma bella! No? No one else finds that funny? Just me? Fine.
Pot roast is a pretty standard American meal. Many folks have their own recipes that they love. But just in case you don't, here's mine! An herb crusted beef roast goes into a pot with potatoes, veggies, red wine, and beef stock until it is super tender - yum.
First step - rub that beef. Combine kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning to make a rub. Sprinkle over and press into the meat.
The you are going to brown those veggies and sear that beef. Heat olive oil in a heavy dutch oven until very hot. Then add an onion and carrots and cook until really browned. Remove the veggies temporarily, add more oil, and sear the beef on all sides. Then take that out, too, because you need to deglaze.
I've been doing this thing lately where I pretend that making a pasta sauce out of vegetables makes up for the fact that I am eating pasta. Leave me to my delusions, I'm not ready to face the truth. I have three such recipes for you today, and the first is this gorgeous roasted beet sauce that will make your pasta intensely fuschia. Simply roast some beets, allow to cool slightly, peel, and puree with some starchy pasta water. Toss with cooked pasta, season, and serve. I topped mine with ricotta and fresh oregano.
Next up is a broccoli sauce - what could be more healthy than broccoli? I am not really used to broccoli because my father is allergic and we never really had it growing up. My poor husband loves broccoli (shocking since he is NOT a veggie eater), so I am trying to familiarize myself.
Did you know that you should peel broccoli? I didn't. Apparently the outside part is tough and bitter. Anyway, peel and chop the broccoli, steam, and then saute with butter, onion, and garlic. Add some cream, puree, and toss with pasta and a bit of that magical pasta water. Top with a gratuitous amount of Parmesan. And before you start yelling at me - know that many vegetables need to be eaten with fat in order to allow the body to fully absorb the nutrients - FACT.
Lastly we have a roasted red pepper alfredo. I think this one might be my favorite - super creamy and cheesy with a ton of roasted pepper flavor. I topped it with grilled chicken that I marinated in olive oil, lemon juice and zest, garlic, rosemary, and oregano.
They sell roasted peppers in jars at the grocery store, but it turns out that it is super easy (and cheaper) to do at home - just pop them in a 500 degree oven for 30 minutes, allow to cool, then remove the stem, seeds, and core. Toss the roasted peppers into a mixture of onion, garlic, half and half, herbed goat cheese, and Parmesan; puree and enjoy.
I find it hard to come up with dinner ideas in the summer, I don't know if anyone else has this problem. All I want to do is snack on fruit, salads, or fresh tomatoes with cheese. And I definitely don't want to hang out in the kitchen for too long. But this? I would seriously make this every week if my husband would let me. This is the BEST summer dish ever. Gnocchi, summer squash, and fresh sweet corn sauteed in butter and topped with goat cheese, basil, chives, and a splash of lemon juice - perfection. Plus (other than boiling the water), it takes less than 10 minutes to put together!
Just look at it, you know you want it. Warm and filling, but not heavy, with bright pops of veg and fresh herbs, it's the goat cheese that sends it over the edge into awesome territory. If you crumble the cheese on top and don't stir it in, then you get a little bit of melted creaminess but also bits of cold that really compliment the gnocchi. Also, I used goat butter - cuz I'm FANCY... and it's delicious.
I served it as a side dish with salmon, but it would go well with chicken and it's perfect on it's own, as well. Swing by your local farmer's market, snag some fresh produce, and let's get cooking!