Sunday, July 28, 2013

Chopped salad with hummus vinaigrette

Chopped salad with hummus vinaigrette

Now that local fresh vegetables are at their peak, it's easy to throw together a light, refreshing meal without too much work.  This salad can be made with whatever vegetables you like or have on hand.  A generous dollop of your favorite hummus added to a basic vinaigrette pulls this all together.

Chopped salad with hummus vinaigrette

serves 4

Hummus vinaigrette

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons hummus (any variety or leftover homemade)
1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar (apple cider, white balsamic or wine)
1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey (optional or to taste)
sea salt to taste

In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients except the salt until a thoroughly combined and smooth.  Thin the dressing with a little water if you find it too thick.  Season with salt to taste.  This will keep in the refrigerator for a week.

Chopped salad

6 cups of your favorite vegetables cut into bite-sized pieces*
1 1/2 cups chickpeas (drained and rinsed if canned)
1/4 cup finely minced fresh herbs or 1 tablespoon dried (basil, thyme, tarragon, oregano, marjoram, sage, parsley and mint are all good choices, mix and match to taste)
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
4 slices of whole grain bread or 2 whole wheat pitas toasted and cut or torn into bite sized pieces (optional)
1 -2 sliced or cubed avocados (optional)

In a large bowl, add the cut up vegetables, chickpeas and herbs.  Pour as much hummus vinaigrette as desired over the vegetables and toss gently to coat.  Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, put 1/4 of the bread cubes on the serving bowl or plate.  Spoon the dressed chopped vegetable salad over the bread cubes and top with sliced or cubed avocado if using.  Top with some freshly ground pepper.

* in the bowl above are:  cucumber, sweet pepper, red onion, cherry tomatoes, lightly steamed green beans; others to consider:  zucchini or other summer squash, corn kernels, shelled peas or edamame, lightly steamed asparagus or any other sturdy vegetable you like) 

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Some of this harvest became the chopped salad above

Other salad inspiration:

Friday, July 19, 2013

Garden tour - part 1 - edibles

The garden had become a jungle thanks to weeks of rain (corn, beans and melon)

I'm recovering from a computer hard drive failure.   While my computer was away being repaired, I entertained myself taking photos of my garden and of some of my neighbors during my walks with the dog.  I have so many photos to share, it's going to be a two-part series.  This episode features snapshots of the edibles.

 Red cabbage (as you can see some bugs have been enjoying some of the outer leaves, but luckily there is plenty to share)

Sweet peppers on their way to becoming orange 

 Red (one day soon) bell peppers

 Heirloom moon and stars watermelon (I never seem to have much luck with them, but I keep trying)

Squash blossoms amid the rosemary

 Sage leaves

 A tripod covered in Asian long beans grown from seeds from my gardening friend from China

 Cucumbers overgrowing the red onions - instant salad!

French muskmelon (there must be 20 scattered throughout the garden as they are loving all the rain we've had.  It's going to take a bit of creative exploration to find enough recipes for smoothies, jams, pickles and salads to make use of all of these.)

 Italian globe and Asian eggplants (eggplant veggie burgers in the making!)

 German heirloom large cherry tomatoes

 Pink heirloom tomatoes 

 Zucchini squash (zucchini noodle bowls and Asian salads galore!)

I hope you enjoyed the tour of my vegetable garden gone jungle.  The next installment will feature some of the beautiful flowers that have been blooming.

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Melons, long beans, corn plus raspberries and tarragon to the right

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Summer vegetable tart

Summer vegetable tart

I wanted to make something special for a neighborhood friend's going away potluck. I was faced with an abundance of herbs, garlic scapes, greens and onions from the garden, but didn't have the time it takes to bake the deep dish Vegetable Pie that is a favorite.

I made a lighter version into 2 tarts, one for the potluck and the other so we could have some easy lunches during the week.  Ir's similar to a light quiche with a flaky pastry crust flecked with herbs covered with sauteed vegetables nestled in an herbed, cheesy egg custard.

Summer Vegetable Tart 

serves 4

1/2 recipe, savory shortcrust pastry (recipe below)
olive oil
1 cup onions, sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
12 ounces (about 4 cups fresh) spinach, chard, kale or mixture, rough chopped
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced (1 used one large portabello cap per tart)*
2 leaves fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
a few sprigs of fresh oregano, thyme or marjoram, leaves picked and finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese or non-dairy cheese shreds
1/4 cup grated cheese (smoke gouda or sharp cheddar are especially good)
4 large organic eggs
1/2 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy of choice)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Bake the prepared, chilled crust for approximately 6-8 minutes until just lightly golden.  Remove the crust from the oven.  This will help keep the crust from getting soggy while the filling bakes.  Set the crust aside until you are ready to fill it.

In a skillet, heat about a tablespoon or so of the olive oil and saute the onions, garlic and mushrooms until softened.   Put in the greens and let wilt for a few minutes.  Remove from the heat and season well with sea salt and pepper to taste.  Spread the mixture over the bottom of the crust.  Place slices of the tomato over the spinach and mushroom mixture.

In a bowl, beat the eggs, milk, paprika and herbs together. Pour over the spinach mixture and tomatoes.  Sprinkle the grated cheese over the filling and smooth over with the back of a spoon if necessary.

Bake for 15-20 minutes in the preheated oven until the filling is set and the top is golden.  Cool slightly before cutting into squares or wedges to serve.

* Use any vegetables you would like instead such as sweet peppers, squash, cooked potato, etc.

Savory shortcrust pastry
enough for 2

3 1/2 cups flour (I used 2 cups white whole wheat and 1 1/2 cups whole wheat)
7 ozs non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening, butter or olive oil
1/4 cup nutritional yeast or 2 oz grated cheddar cheese (dairy or non-dairy)
sea salt
a sprig of fresh rosemary leaves picked
a few sprigs of fresh time, leaves picked
a sprig of fresh oregano, leaves picked
2 sage leaves
2 large organic eggs, beaten
a splash of milk
flour for dusting

Put the flour, fat, nutritional yeast or cheese, fresh herbs and a pinch of sea salt into a food processor and pulse until fine and crumbly.

Pour in the eggs and pulse just until the mixture comes together.  Add a splash of milk if the mixture is too dry.  Scoop out the mixture onto a floured board or counter and pat it together into a flattened ball.  Do not knead. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

Cut the chilled dough in half, and roll out to fit desired pan.  Fit dough into the oiled pan and roll over the excess on the edges and crimp to make a sturdy edge to hold the filling.  Pick the pastry all over with a fork and chill in the freezer for 30 minutes.

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Dahlias in full bloom


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Garden at the end of June

Several of the raised beds in the front

Despite a rather rocky start to the growing season this year, the garden is thriving.  We have had lots of rain and steamy temperatures that have the garden looking like a tropical paradise.  Here are some photos of the progress for this year.


Cabbage leaves after the rain, rhubarb, baby fig tree and peppers

A raised bed filled with cabbage, green beans, red onions, cucumbers and zucchini

Blueberries, raspberries and strawberries

Bok choy, Asian long beans, lima beans, squash, corn and Thai basil  in the bed with raspberries and tarragon along the fence

 Rosehips, dahlia, roses, sunflowers and squash blossoms

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Bouquet of hydrangeas on the mantel