WATERMELON, TOMATO AND BURRATA CHEESE

When I think of summer, watermelon and tomatoes immediately come to mind. They are two of my favorite seasonal foods and they compliment each other nicely in this appetizer with creamy and decadent burrata cheese. The outer layer of this cheese is fresh mozzarella, and when you slice it in half you will discover a luscious, creamy center made of mozzarella soaked in cream. It is the perfect cheese to pair with this summertime appetizer. This is a great last-minute dish for entertaining guests or taking to a potluck. Cheers to fresh and easy dishes and enjoying the final days of summer!

Ingredients:
burrata cheese
½ seedless watermelon, sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon balsamic glaze

Directions:

  1. Place burrata on a large serving platter, layering slices of watermelon and tomatoes around the cheese.
  2. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with balsamic glaze. Serve immediately.

Curried Tofu Salad

Curry is one of my favorite ingredients to add to creamy salads like this one, and the first curried tofu salad I tasted was at the Good Foods Co-Op in Lexington, KY. After daydreaming about it so much, I had to create my take on the dish, accompanied with plump golden raisins, crunchy almonds and Greek yogurt. Enjoy my Curried Tofu Salad as a wrap with fresh lettuce or as a sandwich on whole wheat bread. Offering both bread and lettuce options and a few types of sandwich spreads is an easy way to entertain and delight your guests with a build-your-own lunch option. For the meat eaters in your life, chicken is a great substitution for the tofu in this dish.

Ingredients:
1 (16 ounce) block firm tofu
⅓ cup golden raisins
1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons curry powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup shredded carrots
¼ cup sliced almonds

Directions:

  1. Place the block of tofu between a few layers of paper towels and place a heavy plate on top. Set aside for 10 to 20 minutes to press and absorb the water from the tofu.
  2. Meanwhile, place raisins in a small bowl. Add enough hot water to cover and set aside.
  3. Crumble tofu in a medium bowl.
  4. In a large bowl, stir together yogurt, curry powder, salt and pepper.
  5. Drain water from raisins. Fold raisons, carrots, almonds and tofu into the yogurt mixture, stirring to evenly coat. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Servings: 4

Garlic Scape Pesto

If you love garlic, you’ll love this take on a traditional pesto using garlic If you love garlic, you’ll love my take on a traditional pesto using garlic scapes instead of basil. For a quick dinner, add a couple of tablespoons pesto to cooked pasta and top with grilled or sautéed shrimp. Whip up a simple and delicious appetizer by spreading this pesto over baguettes slices and topping with sautéed mushrooms. Serve it up for breakfast in an omelet with black beans and spinach. The possibilities are endless and this pesto freezes well to use in future meals.

Ingredients:

10 garlic scapes
½ cup walnuts, toasted
⅓ cup cotija cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
freshly ground salt and pepper
⅓ cup olive oil

Directions:

  1. Trim garlic scapes at the base of the bulb, discarding the tops. Roughly chop the long stems. Place garlic scapes in a food processor fitted with the metal blade.
  2. Add walnuts, cotija cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Slowly add the olive oil while processing until the ingredients are well blended.
  3. Serve or freeze. To freeze, fill mini-muffin tin cups ¾ full and place in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour. Remove and store pesto in a freezer-safe container until ready to use.

Spring Salad with Strawberry Champagne Vinaigrette

What a glorious treat to receive fresh strawberries in my spring CSA share. Not only because they are beautiful and delicious, but because I know how much hard work and love the farmers put into growing them and protecting them during an up and down weather season. Thank you Sustainable Harvest Farm for all you do to provide produce for my family and many others.

This salad is one of my favorite ways to enjoy fresh strawberries. Serve it as a side salad or add grilled salmon or chicken for a main meal.

Ingredients:
1 head lettuce
2 tablespoons strawberry jam
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
pinch of salt and pepper
1 pint strawberries
¼ cup chopped pecans, toasted
blue cheese crumbles for serving

Directions:

  1. Wash and tear lettuce leaves and place in a large bowl.
  2. In a small jar with a lid, combine strawberry jam, champagne vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Shake until well combined.
  3. Drizzle lettuce with strawberry champagne vinaigrette and top salad with an equal amount of strawberries, pecans and blue cheese.

SORGHUM ROASTED ACORN SQUASH

Roasted acorn squash, drizzled with sorghum enhances the flavor of this sweet vegetable. Top it off with a quick sorghum yogurt that turns tangy plain yogurt into a candy-like cream. This versatile dish goes well as a side, desert, snack or breakfast.

While sorghum is widely available in the southern United States, other readers may not have access. Honey or molasses are good substitutes, but sorghum has a luscious sweetness that is crave worthy. When enjoying this dish, go ahead and eat the skin of the squash. Roasting the squash will leave you with a tender green exterior that is edible and nutritious.

Roasted Acorn Squash Ingredients:
2 small acorn squash, quartered and seeded
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons sorghum

Sorghum Yogurt Ingredients:
1 (17.6 ounce) container plain, low-fat Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons sorghum

Toppings:
Toasted Pecans
Cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place squash wedges, skin side down on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Sprinkle with salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  2. Cut butter into 8 small pieces and place one in the center of each squash wedge. Drizzle equally with sorghum. Roast until tender when pierced with a fork, about 40 to 45 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine yogurt and sorghum in a medium bowl and stir until well combined. Chill until ready to serve.
  4. Remove squash from oven and serve with a dollop of sorghum yogurt, toasted pecans and a dash of cinnamon.

Servings: 8

Sweet Piquante Pepper Cheese Spread

This spread is a unique take on pimento and cheese made with piquante peppers, which give it a sweet heat kick. These cherry tomato shaped peppers are often labeled under the brand name Peppadew® and are commonly found in the olive bar section of grocery stores. A friend introduced me to the combination of cheese and sweet piquante peppers a few years ago, and I have been in love with this pairing since my first bite. Whole sweet piquante peppers make a lovely addition to cheese boards and compliment a wide variety of cheeses.

If you’re watching the big game this weekend, this is a great appetizer to serve along with your favorite beer.

Ingredients:
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1½ cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
¾ cup mild whole sweet piquante peppers, chopped
¼ cup mayonnaise with olive oil
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Celery sticks or crackers for serving

Directions:

  1. Place the yogurt in a food processor. Add cheese, peppers, mayonnaise and garlic powder, and pulse until the cheese spread is well combined.
  2. Chill for at least an hour or overnight. Serve with celery sticks or crackers.

Beet Bites with Goat Cheese and Pecans

Beets, with their ruby-red-jewel tone, make a colorful plate presentation during the grey winter season. You can cut back on the recipe time by roasting the beets the night before and assembling right before you are ready to enjoy. Leftovers are delicious served for lunch over leafy greens with balsamic vinaigrette.

Ingredients:
1 bunch beets, trimmed and scrubbed
1 cup water
4 to 5 ounces goat cheese
½ cup pecan halves, toasted
2 tablespoons balsamic glaze
2 tablespoons honey

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Wrap each beet in aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet and roast for about 60 minutes. Remove from oven and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  2. Unwrap and remove the skin from the beets with a small knife. You may want to wear gloves for this step as the beets will stain your hands pink. If not, the beet juice will wash off with soap and water. Slice the beets and arrange on a serving platter.
  3. Heat 1 cup of water in the microwave or run hot tap water. With a clean knife, thinly slice goat cheese. Dip knife in water as needed between slicing to create smooth cuts. Place cheese on beet slices and top with pecans.
  4. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and honey. Serve immediately.

CABBAGE BOWL WITH THAI PEANUT SAUCE

Tender cabbage coated in mildly spiced peanut sauce replaces noodles in this delicious Thai bowl. Carrots and bean sprouts add color and crunch to this veggie packed dish paired with your favorite protein. It is really quick to make and you can even turn this into a 10-minute meal if you grill your protein and make your sauce in advance. Leftovers are delicious the next day if you are lucky enough to have leftovers.

Ingredients:
½ cup light coconut milk
1 tablespoon red curry paste
¼ cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce or coconut aminos
½ lime, juiced
3 to 4 dashes of Sriracha hot chili sauce
2 large or 3 medium carrots
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium head of cabbage, cored and finely shredded
2 green onions, thinly sliced
4 ounces bean sprouts
Grilled chicken, shrimp or tofu
Optional: chopped peanuts

Directions:

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine coconut milk, curry paste, peanut butter, soy sauce, juice from lime and Sriracha hot chili sauce. Process until smooth and creamy.
  2. Trim and peel carrots. Cut carrots into noodles using a spiralizer and set aside.
  3. In a wok or large skillet, heat sesame and canola oil over medium-high heat. Add cabbage and cook stirring frequently for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender and lightly browned.
  4. Pour ⅓ cup sauce over cabbage and cook for an additional minute. Serve cabbage in bowls topped with carrots, green onions, bean sprouts and grilled chicken, shrimp or tofu. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and drizzle a little extra peanut sauce if desired.

Servings: 4

Mushroom and Goat Cheese Toast

If you know a local mushroom farmer or grow your own mushrooms, you are so lucky and I am a little jealous. I created this recipe when I had access to weekly fresh mushrooms at a Farmers’ Market when we lived in Wisconsin. Most Saturdays I would make this recipe as soon as I got home from the market and serve it with a fried egg for breakfast or side salad for lunch. I couldn’t wait to eat these mushrooms and this simple and quick dish made it possible to get them on my plate in about 15 minutes. The recipe quantities below make this a great appetizer for a small group, but just trim the amount back if you want to enjoy this as a meal for one or two.

Ingredients:
14 inch baguette
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
4 ounces goat cheese

Directions:

  1. Turn oven broil setting to low heat. Slice bread into about 16 pieces and place on a baking sheet. Set aside while preparing mushrooms.
  2. Remove stems from the mushrooms and gently wash the tops before thinly slicing. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté for about four minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of water and continue cooking for another 4 to 6 minutes, until tender and golden brown. Add thyme, salt and pepper to the mushrooms and stir to evenly coat.
  3. Broil baguette slides on each side for 1 to 2 minutes. Top with equal amounts of mushrooms and goat cheese and continue broiling for another 2 minutes until cheese is warm. Serve immediately.

Servings: 8 (2 slices as appetizer)

 

Curried Tofu Salad

Curry is one of my favorite ingredients to add to creamy salads like this one, and the first curried tofu salad I tasted was at the Good Foods Co-Op in Lexington, KY. After daydreaming about it so much, I had to create my take on the dish, accompanied by plump golden raisins, crunchy almonds and Greek yogurt. Enjoy my Curried Tofu Salad as a wrap with spring lettuce or as a sandwich with whole wheat bread. Offering both bread and lettuce options and a few types of sandwich spreads is an easy way to entertain and delight your guests with a build-your-own option. For the meat eaters in your life, you could substitute chicken for the tofu in this recipe.

Ingredients:
1 (16 ounce) block firm tofu
⅓ cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons curry powder, divided
1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¾ cup shredded carrots
¼ cup sliced almonds

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the block of tofu between a few layers of paper towels and place a heavy plate on top. Set aside for 10 minutes to press and absorb the water from the tofu.
  2. Meanwhile, place raisins in a small bowl. Add enough hot water to cover and set aside.
  3. Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and place in a medium bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon curry powder, toss to coat and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping with a spatula halfway through the cooking time. Remove tofu from the oven and set aside to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, stir together yogurt, remaining curry powder, salt and pepper. Drain water from raisins and add to the yogurt mixture along with the carrots, almonds and tofu. Stir to evenly coat and serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Servings: 4