Leek, corn, and arugula salad

Summer is in full swing here in Santa Cruz, and that means summer salads packed with things from our garden and weekend trips to the Farmer’s Market.

This salad contains three of my favorite things: corn, leeks, and goat cheese. It is deceivingly hearty on the stomach, yet light on the pallet, and incredibly easy to make.

THE SHMECIPE:

Ingredients: Arugula and mixed greens, plain goat cheese, one large-ish leek, one fresh ear of corn, good olive oil, sunflower seeds, and salt and pepper

Once you have gathered your ingredients, begin by slicing your leek longways and then chopping into thirds, creating six leek parts of about 2-3 inches long. Separate the leek layers a bit and place in a fry pan with a bit of olive oil on medium-low heat. Sprinkle with salt and a pinch of pepper and allow to cook.

While the leeks are going, cut your corn off the cob and combine with the leeks, stirring to coat the olive oil evenly on both the leeks and the corn.

During this time you combine your arugula with your mixed greens. You may do one or the other, but I suggest both. The bite of the arugula is what makes this salad so successful (I think). So, combine arugula with mixed greens 3:1 and toss lightly with your tasty olive oil and just a hint of salt.

At this time your leeks and corn should be nicely caramelized. Turn the heat off and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.

Plate salad mixture, top with leeks and corn, finish with crumbled goat cheese and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds.

Not only is this salad simple, but it really is delicious. The bite of the arugula plays with the mellow notes of the leeks and the sweetness of the corn, with the finish of the goat cheese cooling the salad making it a perfect addition to a summer evening.

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Sage, basil, and sunflower seed pesto

My wonderful husband Paul and I just got back from vacation.

While we were gone we asked friends to tend to the garden. Well, they watered for us, but allowed the herb garden to run wild. So, in an effort to thin the jungle that was now my herb garden, I decided to make a pesto. A quick and easy way to use a ton of the purple sage and basil that was now growing in an overwhelming amount.

I picked an ample amount of purple sage and about half of the amount of lettuce leaf basil.

In a small food processor I combined the sage, basil, roasted salted sunflower seeds, salt, pepper, and olive oil.

Pulse until you get your desired texture. I was after a rough texture, in order to add crunch and texture later when I use it.

I had some chicken thighs ready for dinner and rubbed and covered them in this sage pesto and let them sit for 3 hours before I cooked them.

For dinner I pan-cooked the chicken thighs and served them with pan-fried polenta, lightly caramelized onions, and a blend of four different cheeses.

The pesto would be great with pasta, on crostinis, or even with something like steak.

Enjoy!

Broccoli Salad.

FIRST AND FOREMOST: OBVIOUSLY this would be good with bacon added in right at the end and incorporated per serving.

OK. I just NEEDED you to know… I’m thinking of you, BACON.

Now.

With THAT out of the way. Let’s talk about how delicious this is; and healthy, and easy, and just darn-right great.

talk talk talk.

CHILLED BROCCOLI SALAD WITH CORN, SUNFLOWER SEEDS, CARAMELIZED RED ONION AND GOAT CHEESE

Ingredients: Broccoli, salted roasted sunflower seeds, plain goat cheese, one red onion, fresh white corn, salt, olive oil or coconut oil

Gather your ingredients.

Chop your broccoli into bite-size pieces or smaller.

Steam your broc, keeping it slightly crunchy. Yum.

Broccoli Forest.

Thinly slice half of a red onion. If you’re a big fan, obviously adding more is up to you. But I used half of a relatively small one.

Caramelize with coconut oil or olive oil. Again, your choice. I did coconut oil… I thought that the richness of it would add something nice to the dish, which, it does. But if you don’t like it or are allergic, olive oil is fine.

The onions soften pretty fast because they are sliced so thin, so keep the heat low and keep your eye on them.

Make yourself a Gin and Ginger.

Or pour yourself a glass of wine. Whatever toots your horn.

Retrieve your steamed corn and cut it off the cob.

At this moment in this process you should have your broccoli set aside, your eyes on your almost-done onions, your corn steamed and cut off the cob, and a drink in your hand.

Your handy-dandy sunflower seeds should be just that… handy.

In a large mixing bowl, combine ingredients and crumble in your goat cheese.

Salt to taste and chill, until, well, chilled.

Taste-test to make sure it’s not deadly to the people you’re serving it to.

Eat and Enjoy .

A Delightful Summer Pasta

It’s Summer!

Summer to me equates to fresh vegetables. Which I love.

The husband loves them too. Just not as much as he loves pasta.

So. Let’s make everyone happy. Load up some delicious pasta with some delicious fresh summer veggies.

FRESH VEGGIE PASTA

Ingredients: Fresh pasta of your choice (I used Linguini), olive oil, salt, Parmesan cheese, lots of veggies! I used orange bell peppers, purple asparagus,  mushrooms, yellow onions, corn, peas, and fresh basil

Gather your ingredients and chop accordingly. Rough chops are fine 🙂

In a rather large pan, begin sauteing your onions with a pinch of salt.

A rough julienne chop on your basil is fine 🙂 For me, more basil is better… yummy.

The same goes for your bell pepper… although I was a little more precise. I find it cooks better and looks nicer if it’s even and pretty.

Having things prepped and ready to go helps later down the line. When all of a sudden your water is boiling, you need to add the pasta, stir your veggies, and chop something, all at the same time… you’ll discover it’s helpful to have things that you can prepare ahead of time done and ready when you need them.

Finding purple asparagus was fun. It looks so pretty when it’s added to dishes… especially when mixed with something bright.

Add your veggies to your onions and incorporate. Begin boiling your water for your pasta with a pinch of salt.

For this dish, it’s alright to add all your vegetables at the same time because the amount of time they will spend in the pan is minimal, and will result in them coming out just fine. I promise. Just keep your heat on medium-low and stir occasionally.

Add your pasta to the water and cook normally. Strain then add to vegetable mixture, incorporate gently and add basil and a pinch of salt to your liking.

With everything in the pan, add your cheese and stir. At this point you can turn the heat off and get some bowls 🙂

Eat and enjoy.

Caramelized Shallot & Pinenut Mac N Cheese Cupcakes

Yup. You heard that right.

I haven’t put anything up lately. Been busy. So, to make up for it, I give you this, the most delicious, easy, satisfying snack in the… kitchen?

CARAMELIZED SHALLOT & PINENUT MAC N CHEESE CUPCAKES

Ingredients: The noodles you want to use! I used Vegetable Radiatore (Organic Pasta) from Trader Joe’s. I like the added color and flavor. Pinenuts (Pignolias), 1 Shallot (largeish), butter (not too much), heavy cream, ricotta, the cheese you want to use! I used the Quattro Fromage from Trader Joe’s. It may not be the fanciest, but it worked for me and I thoroughly enjoyed the results! Plus, as an added bonus, it comes shredded.

Be careful with these guys… they’re dangerous. Before you know it you’ve had, well, the entire cupcake tray… or close to that.

As always, begin by gathering ingredients and preheat your oven at 375 degrees.

Once you have said ingredients, get your water going and salt. This way while your shallots and pinenuts are cooking, your water and noodles can also be goin’.

Next, melt your butter (only enough to caramelized your shallots and coat your pinenuts). Once the butter is melted and your pan is on low heat, add your pinenuts.

Next, finely chop your shallot. Make sure that you get a nice, small, dice on it. Nobody likes a mouthful of shallot… do they?

Add your shallots to your pinenuts and stir relatively frequently. Burnt shallots are nasty. Let’s not let this happen.

At this time your water is probably boiling so, gather your chosen noodles (I like to use ones that have little crevices in them so cheese can get inside them) and dump ’em in.

Cheese sauce! In your handy-dandy sauce pan, create your sauce. This is done by slowly heating heavy cream and adding your cheese. Keep stirring! You want to keep your heat low and the cream moving. Once your cheese is completely melted turn the heat off and keep stirring. After the heat has gone down a bit, you can leave it there.

Pre-melting.

After melting. Your sauce should be creamy and silky.

Your noodle are done. Strain them and admire their pretty colors, like I did.

Retrieve a mixing bowl (something you can combine everything in) and your sprayed cupcake tin.

In this mixing bowl add your pasta and your pinenut/shallot mixture.

Then add your cheese sauce and a dollop of ricotta. This helps bind everything together and, well, it’s delicious.

Add more of the quattro fromage that you made your cheese sauce with and a bit of salt and pepper.

Mix it up!

Dish up into your cupcake tray.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes (until the tops are golden brown).

Let these suckers sit! They need to sit for ideally 10 minutes. This help solidify them and ensure that they keep their shape when you take them out of the trays.

Whelp. There ya go folks! Happy Weekend!