Today I headed over to the local produce stand to pick up some fresh vegetables for the week. I just spent six days in North Carolina enjoying southern food at its finest and after indulging in North Carolina BBQ, fried chicken and waffles, biscuits (with every meal) and grandma’s lemon chess pie, I decided I should probably load up on fresh veggies this week. As I was driving towards Mike’s Truck Garden produce stand I noticed they were advertising fresh corn for sale so I decided to pick up a bag. Taking into account that today is Meatless Monday, I decided to make one of my favorite summer salads: grilled corn & black bean salad with radishes, cilantro, lime juice and queso fresco.
4 ears of fresh corn, shucked
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 bunch radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
Queso fresco, crumbled
1 avocado, thinly sliced
Preheat your grill. Cook the corn on the grill until slightly charred, about 10 minutes. Let cool before cutting off the corn kernels.
In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, chili powder and salt. Once the corn has cooled, cut the corn kernels from the cob and transfer to the bowl. Add the rinsed black beans, radishes, scallions and cilantro. Mix together. Top salad with queso fresco and avocado.
Another one of my “go-to” meals are stuffed meatballs – spicy Italian sausage meatballs, sweet Italian sausage meatballs or chicken meatballs topped with an easy pesto-tomato sauce. Several years ago, I was introduced to this easy-to-make sauce while watching a cooking show on the Food Network and it’s still a staple in many of my dishes today. Last night I didn’t have sausage in the refrigerator however I had ground turkey, fresh herbs, cheese and bread crumbs – voilà!
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons fresh basil, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
Extra parsley for garnish
1 tub bite size fresh Mozzarella balls
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all ingredients, except the oil and Mozzarella balls, in a bowl. To form each ball, take a handful of the mixture and wrap it around a piece of mozzarella. Drizzle olive oil over the meatballs and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through and are evenly browned. Top meatballs with homemade pesto-tomato sauce and garnish with extra parsley.
1 tub good quality fresh pesto (or homemade pesto)
1 can quartered or halves tomatoes
Salt & pepper, to taste
Add the tomatoes to a saucepan over medium heat and mash with a potato masher. Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer for about 8 – 10 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in a 1/2 cup of pesto. Serve over meatballs with your favorite red wine. Some excellent wine choices would be a Super Tuscan, Sangiovese, Rioja or even a Merlot.
We finally received some much needed rain here in Northern California a few weeks back. For a minute there, I forgot it was winter with all of the beautiful, warm days we’ve experienced in December and January.
It was a Friday night and I had planned for my dear friend Morgan to come over and make dinner together. That morning over text we both had same idea for dinner: SOUP! What a perfect choice to pair with this rainy evening. She had a few ideas that we kicked around and then we both settled on making a comforting squash soup with granny smith apples paired with a pear & pomegranate salad.
1 large butternut squash
1 yellow onion, quartered
2 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
3 granny smith apples, peeled & cored
3 garlic cloves, grated
1/2 cup half & half
1 tablespoon fresh Thyme
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 granny smith apple, for garnish
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Quarter the butternut squash, coat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 45 minutes – 1 hour. Remove the skin and let cool. (If your local store doesn’t have whole butternut squash available, check to see if they have cubed butternut squash.)
Add the apples and 2 cups of broth into a blender or food processor (I used my Ninja and it worked great!) Puree until smooth and transfer it to a bowl. Set aside. In a heavy stockpot, add olive oil, onions and garlic and saute over medium heat until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Remove the onions from pot and place in a bowl. Transfer the apple / broth mixture to the stock pot and simmer. Add the cooled squash to the blender along with 1/2 cup of broth and puree until smooth. Add the squash puree to the apple / broth mixture. Add the half & half and stir continuously until completely mixed together. Add the fresh thyme and ginger. Season with salt & pepper, to taste.
Garnish soup with thin slices of apples & fresh thyme sprig. Enjoy with your favorite salad or crusty bread.
Serves 4 -6
Pear, Pomegranate & Gorgonzola Salad
1 – 2 ripe pears, sliced
Pomegranate seeds (click here to learn an easy way to deseed a pomegranate)
Citrus vinaigrette (recipe below)
Combine pears, cheese, pomegranates and toasted walnuts over a bed of arugula salad. To make this simple vinaigrette, combine juice from 1 orange, 1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil (slowly added), salt & pepper.