summer grain bowl

 

 

 


 

summer grain bowl

I often wonder why comfort food is reserved only for winter. This dish combines all of the comforts of summer — hearty grains, flavorful vegetables, and fresh herbs — in one unassuming, yet delicious bowl. The recipe makes enough for 2 and can be enjoyed as a healthful and energizing breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Any leftover vegetables are also delicious the next day. 

 

serves 2

for the walnut pesto:

¼ cup whole walnuts, toasted in a dry pan

2 tablespoons torn fresh mint leaves

½ small clove garlic

pinch of salt

2 tablespoons roasted walnut oil (or olive oil)

juice of ¼ lemon

1 tablespoon olive oil 

 

for the bowls:

6 ounces green beans, ends trimmed

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more if needed

1 medium zucchini, ends trimmed and cut lengthwise into 8 spears

8 cherry tomatoes

2 eggs

1 ½ cups cooked quinoa

fresh mint for garnish

flaky sea salt + freshly ground black pepper

 

 

In a mortar and pestle, grind together the walnuts, mint, garlic, and a generous pinch of salt until coarsely ground and fragrant. Add the walnut oil and lemon juice and stir to combine. Set aside. 

Fill a stockpot with water and bring to a boil. Add the green beans and blanch for 2 minutes. Immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Once cool, remove the beans from the ice water and set aside.

In a cast iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over high heat. Once hot, add the zucchini spears in one layer and cook, undisturbed, until browned on one side, about 2 – 3 minutes. Flip and cook the spears for another 2 – 3 minutes, until tender. Remove from the skillet and transfer to a mixing bowl. Pour half of the walnut pesto over the warm zucchini and toss to coat. Set aside. 

Add the blanched green beans to the hot skillet, adding more olive oil if necessary, and sauté until just starting char in spots, about 3 – 4 minutes. Remove from the skillet, transfer to a bowl, and pour the remaining walnut pesto over and toss to combine. Set aside. 

Add the tomatoes to the hot skillet and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until just blistered and warmed through, about 3 – 4 minutes.  Remove from the skillet and set aside. Remove the skillet from the heat. 

To poach the eggs, fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and heat until bubbles start to form at the bottom of the pan, but don’t break the surface. Carefully crack 1 egg into the water and swirl the water gently with a spoon to ensure the egg does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Crack the second egg into the water, gently swirling again. Cook the eggs in the warm water, adjusting the heat as necessary to keep the water just below a simmer, for about 4 – 5 minutes, or until the yolks are cooked to your liking. Use a slotted spoon to remove the eggs, tapping them on a paper towel to remove any excess water before setting them aside. 

To assemble the bowls, divide the quinoa between 2 serving dishes. Arrange the zucchini, green beans, and tomatoes alongside. Top each with a poached egg. Garnish each bowl with a sprig of fresh mint and sprinkle with flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to finish.

  


fresh pea + mint soup

Summer has arrived in whirlwind, as it always does. Our weekends have been filled with travel, loved ones’ weddings, and countless activities. But, even with the added activity, our pace is still slower and more relaxed. Every to-do is on hold because there is just too much to enjoy in the present moment. Things are busy, but life just seems simple and uncomplicated.

In the spirit of simplicity, I wanted to share this fresh pea soup that I made this past weekend. Unadorned and unfussy — just a bowl full of peas in all of their summertime glory. Shelling the peas takes a bit of time, but it’s one of those classic summertime dinner activities — much like shucking corn on the cob — that you can’t help but enjoy. And, once the peas are shelled, the soup takes less than 15 minutes to put together: just a quick sauté of some chopped onion, a swift boil of the peas in some vegetable broth until just tender, and then a spin in the blender with a handful of mint, and a few dollops of creme fraiche. If that isn’t a simple summertime meal, I’m not sure what is. I hope you give it a try.


fresh pea + mint soup

This soup is as simple as it is versatile and is delicious served both hot and chilled. Its flavor depends on the quality of its ingredients, so make sure to use fresh peas for the best possible flavor (they are everywhere this time of year).

This recipe makes a small batch (makes 1 very large bowl, or 2 smaller bowls) but can be easily doubled or tripled as you see fit.

 

a few notes: This recipe is a bit loose and depends on your personal taste. Add more vegetable broth if you prefer it thinner, less if you’d like it thicker. If you serve the soup cold, it tends to thicken a bit as it chills.

If possible, buy the peas unshelled and shell them yourself just before cooking. It requires a bit of work, but the flavor is worth it! Pre-shelled peas (even when they are fresh) tend to loose some of their flavor and sweetness over time.

 

ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds unshelled sugar snap peas

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 of a medium yellow onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth, plus more if needed

1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish

1/4 cup creme fraiche

1 tablespoon heavy cream + 1 tablespoon creme fraiche, combined for garnish

extra virgin olive oil, for garnish

salt to taste

First, shell the peas: snap the end of each pod and pull the string down the center seam of the pod. Use your fingers to pry open the seam and release the peas from their shell. Add peas to a bowl and set aside. *The discarded shells are delicious eaten raw as a snack while you’re cooking!

Place a small stock pot over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, chopped onion, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add vegetable broth to the onions and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add peas and boil until just tender, about 4-5 minutes. *Don’t cook the peas for too long as they’ll lose their sweetness and vibrant green color!

Transfer soup to a blender, and add mint and creme fraiche. Blend until completely smooth. *Be careful when blending the hot liquid — make sure not to overfill your blender (if your blender is small, blend the soup in batches), and cover the top with a kitchen towel rather than a lid so that steam can escape while blending. If you find your soup to be too thick at this point, add vegetable broth, a little bit at a time, until you reach your desired consistency.

Transfer soup to a bowl and serve garnished with chopped mint, a drizzle of olive oil, and a drizzle of the creme fraiche and cream mixture. Serve hot or chilled.

serves: 2 as an appetizer, 1 as an entree


asparagus, pesto + radish pizza

My first memory of pizza is of a pepperoni pie from a local tavern in the town I grew up in. The smell and taste of that pie is forever etched in my mind — the chewy, herb-flecked crust, stringy cheese, and the little pepperonis, browned and spicy, cupped into little bowls of goodness. I think it was one of the first meals where I ever cleaned my plate — a task so daunting for me as a kid. 

Since that first pie, I have always loved pizza. Even through my vegetarian days, pizza was always a welcome comfort, a satisfying and delicious meal. It wasn’t until I moved to New York, though, that I realized its full potential. Innovation and creativity shattered my perception of what “defined” a pie. The components that constituted a good pizza — the crust and the sauce — still rang true, but there was also a complexity that I had never known pizza to have. Drizzles of honey, truffle pates, housemade cured meats, crushed nuts, clouds of homemade ricotta, hot chiles — each and every ingredient elevated the pizza to something more than what I had always known it to be. 

This Saturday, I stopped at the farmers market without much of a plan, but with pizza on my mind. I headed home with a bag full of asparagus, radishes, and loads of herbs. An unlikely assortment, but one that ended up working more beautifully than I could have ever anticipated. Here’s to breaking convention and, in turn, making something great. Here’s to my take on “pizza”.


asparagus, pesto + radish pizza

Bright and herbacious, this pizza has quickly become one of my favorite Springtime meals. Pair it with a crisp, cold Pinot Grigio, and a lightly dressed salad for a delicious lunch or dinner. And, please, do yourself a favor and make your pizza dough. It is SO simple and it makes all the difference.

ingredients:

pizza dough, recipe below

1 pound asparagus stalks

1/4 cup creme fraiche, plus more for garnish [optional]

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

coarse salt

basil almond pesto, recipe below

roughly chopped fresh mint, for garnish

1 radish, sliced very thinly, for garnish

 

First, prepare the pizza dough and pesto [recipes below]. On a lightly floured surface, roll [or stretch] 2 balls of the prepared pizza dough until paper thin, forming 2 rectangles [for reference, my rectangles were about 6-7-inches by 11-12 inches]. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Wash the asparagus stalks and remove the tough ends [I find if you bend each stalk, one at a time, it will snap where it is meant to]. Chop the stalks into 1-2 inch long pieces. Toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and coarse salt and arrange in one layer on a baking sheet. Roast until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. 

Place a large baking sheet in the oven and increase temperature to 500 degrees F. [Since this recipe calls for very thin crust, I find that if you preheat your baking sheet, the crust still gets very crisp without a pizza stone, but you can definitely use a pizza stone if you have one].

While oven preheats, in a small bowl, mix together the creme fraiche, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, and 1 tablespoon of the extra virgin olive oil. Set aside. 

Once oven is preheated, carefully remove preheated baking sheet and drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over the sheet. Swirl to spread evenly. 

Roll each rectangle of dough onto a rolling pin and unroll onto the preheated, oiled baking sheet [don’t try to transfer the dough without a rolling pin; it will rip]. Working quickly, spread each pizza with the creme fraiche and Parmesan mixture [spreading all the way to the edges]. Drizzle both pizzas with a few tablespoons [each] of the pesto and sprinkle the roasted asparagus pieces evenly over top. Sprinkle both pizzas with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. 

Place in the preheated oven and bake until edges of dough are golden brown and pizza is bubbling, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven, and sprinkle pizzas with chopped fresh mint. Arrange radish slices over top and sprinkle with coarse salt and drizzle with more pesto. 

Slice pizzas into triangles and serve with dollops of creme fraiche [optional] over top. 

Makes 2 small pizzas; 2 – 4 servings

for the pizza dough 

:

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water

1 envelope active dry yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/2 teaspoon salt

extra virgin olive oil

In a large bowl, mix the water with the yeast and sugar. Let stand until mixture starts to foam, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and salt and stir until a raggy dough forms. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. 

Lightly oil the bowl and return the dough it, turning the dough to coat it in oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours. 

After 1 1/2 hours, punch down dough and divide into four equal balls. [You’ll need two of these balls for this recipe, and can reserve the other two for another use. Remaining dough can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated overnight or frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw dough to room temperature before rolling out].

 

for the basil almond pesto:

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 clove garlic

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup packed fresh basil

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 

Heat a small, dry saute pan over medium heat. Add almonds and toast, shaking pan frequently, until almonds are golden brown and fragrant, about 5-7 minutes. 

In a food processor or blender, add toasted almonds, Parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt. Pulse or blend until combined. [If using a blender, you may need to add some of the oil to get everything going]. Add basil and with the motor running, drizzle the oil into the machine, and process until everything is finely ground and combined. 

This recipe makes more pesto than you will need for the pizza. Store remaining pesto in the refrigerator with plastic wrap directly touching the top [to discourage browning].