Entrée, Gluten Free, Salad, Side, Summer

SUMMERY KALE CHOP

Are you summering well? I see you people who make summer bucket lists and I imagine that helps one to optimize their time this season. I have an unacceptable amount of sand in my car, I am eating lots of tomatoes and fruit crisps and we cleaned up the front porch so we can sit out there at dusk with a glass of wine and watch the kids run around in the grass so I do feel in it. We didn't plan a big trip, I need more long afternoons at the beach and I haven't had friends over for dinner as often as I'd like but I believe summer lasts through September so there is still time. Sounds like perhaps I need a list. 

I am going to Vietnam on Friday, so there's that. It is sort of last minute and part of a campaign I am working on with Celestial Seasonings. We're going to a cinnamon farm to see the process of harvesting, drying, grinding the cinnamon that is then used for teas or cooking and such and I can't wait. In the depths of my momm-ing I have felt so eager to learn and see something new; break the routine. It will feel good to recharge in that way. I am scared to leave my people, but thrilled that I get to see a new place. This job, it's pretty wild and I like it. I will be on a plane/in transit almost just as long as I will be in the country so please pass on any book recommendations. I am picky about self help/spiritual stuff and can't do super sad, but tell me what you're loving. I'll share some photos on Instagram and chat with you lovelies in a few weeks! 

SUMMERY KALE CHOP // Serve 4

I like the crunch and structure of kale in salads but I know it can be a bit much. You could swap in tender greens or romaine in its place, or even half and half, and not change anything aside from the massaging the dressing into the greens step.The nuts and dressing can be made in advance.

spicy pepitas
1 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp. maple syrup
3/4 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne, to taste
1/8 tsp. garlic powder

cilantro dressing
handful of cilantro
1 garlic clove
1 anchovy, optional
1 tsp. dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. cashew butter*
1/2 tsp. sea salt
pinch of fresh ground pepper
3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

* I usually add a dollop of mayonnaise to make my dressings a little thicker, but wanted to try a plant based route. They sell cashew butter at Trader Joes or Whole Foods or surely your local health food store. Otherwise, about 1/3 cup of cashews soaked in water will do the same thing if blended long enough. 

1 bundle of Lacinato/Tuscan Kale, stemmed and well chopped
1/4 of a red onion, shaved thin
1/2 cup cooked lentils
1/2 cup crumbled sheeps' milk feta, plus more for garnish
1 avocado, pitted and cubed
1 peach, pitted and cubed

To make the spicy pepitas, warm the butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the maple, pepitas, salt, cayenne and garlic powder and stir to coat. Continue to stir until the nuts are toasted, about 3 minutes. Remove to a piece of parchment to cool completely. 

For the dressing, in a blender, combine the cilantro, garlic, anchovy, dijon, cashew butter, salt, pepper, cider vinegar and lemon juice. Blitz a few times to chop. Add the olive oil and whiz until everything is well combined. 

In a large salad bowl, add the chopped kale. Add a drizzle of the dressing and work it into the kale with your hands, breaking down some of the structure so the kale is nicer to eat. Add the onion, lentils, feta cheese, avocados, peaches, handful of the pepitas and toss to coat. Serve the salad with a few spicy pepitas and feta cheese on top. 

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Entrée, Summer

ROASTED ZUCCHINI PASTA BAKE

My bounty of summer zucchini has regrettably not been very exciting lately. I have been grilling it or grating it into the kids morning muffins, neither of which has been particularly tasty. I do like zucchini noodles and I've been picking up those pre-zoodled ones from Target to saute with the pesto I always have on hands along with tomatoes and white beans and dinner in done in 10 minutes. So how else can we jazz it up? Amidst pasta and cheese of course! If you have other zucchini recipes you love, please point me towards them in the comments. I told you I would try to get more easy weeknight dinner options going on here and this one is not to be overlooked. 

ROASTED ZUCCHINI PASTA BAKE // Serves 4

If you are making this in advance, follow the directions all the way through the last baking step. It can probably sit overnight at the most, and then be baked the following day. To reheat, warm it, covered, at 350' for about 20 minutes. 
If you do eat meat and want to add sausage of some sort, crumble and cook it, and add it in when you are mixing everything together before baking. My guess is about 3 links would be plenty and would not change other amounts drastically. You can use gluten free pasta shells if you'd like but I have nothing to offer those of you who will ask if this can be dairy free ;)

2 lbs. zucchini (about 4 medium)
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt, plus more for pasta water
1 tsp. dried Italian herbs
pinch of red pepper flakes
zest of one small lemon
1/2 lb. large pasta shells
8 ounces/ 1 cup creme fraiche
1/2 lb. grated goat cheddar, divided
fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
1/8 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400'. 
Cut the squash into 1/4" coins. If there is a thicker end or seedy part of the squash, scoop the seeds out with a spoon, halve and slice those parts. Pile the zucchini on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, sea salt, dried herbs, red pepper flakes and lemon zest. Toss to coat and spread evenly on the baking sheet. Roast in the upper third of the oven for 25 minutes, tossing once halfway through, until you get a few browned edges. Remove to cool completely.
While the squash bakes, cook the pasta in well salted water until al dente, or following package instructions. Drain and return to the pot. Let it cool to the touch, and then add the creme fraiche, half of the grated cheddar, a handful of chopped parsley, season with salt and pepper and the fresh grated nutmeg. Stir everything to mix well. Add the zucchini and give it one more stir. 
Butter a baking dish and transfer the pasta mixture into it. Sprinkle the remaining goat cheddar, parmesan and another few generous pinches of parsley over the top. Pop the dish in the oven for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes to set before serving. 



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Chocolate, Dessert, Summer

ICE CREAM COOKIE SANDWICHES

There was a recent article in Bon Appetite with some recipes for making perfect cookies for ice cream sams. They were thin and crisp, one of which read a bit overly fussy to me, but I can appreciate the extra effort to get something just right. That is not my life right now, I'm more about ease and speed, but I appreciate it. They looked pretty and would undoubtedly be delicious, but I'm quite happy with our current "house cookie" acting as book ends to a creamy scoop of ice cream... or as a skillet cookie, I'll put those notes below. The recipe started at Tara O'Brady's chocolate chip cookies but they're looking pretty far from her original at this point, so I'll leave you her words here. I replace some of the flour with oats and reduce the leaveners for this reason (and also because I don't want a poofy cookie for an ice cream sam). I skip browning the butter out of sheer laziness, though I assume you could handle that step if you wish. I also let the dough sit overnight a la Jacques Torres which he swears makes all the difference and is habit for me now. All sorts of cookie science here on Serious Eats. 

I made these for a dinner with friends, which is great because a sit in the freezer is necessary, making them a great make-ahead dessert. When you eat them straight off assembly, the cookie and ice cream are both too soft and they make a big mess. When you assemble them, and then freeze them again together, they become the same temperature/consistency, so they are just easier to eat. Because thin and crispy is also delicious and homemade is not always possible, in a pinch, the Tate's cookies (or gluten free chocolate chip ones from Trader Joes which are private labeled from Tate's) are perfect. Just have dinner with friends, that's the important part. xo

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ICE CREAM COOKIE SANDWICHES // Makes 14ish
To make this a skillet cookie, simply press half the dough into an 10" skillet and cook it at 325' for about 20 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. The center will still look tender but that's ok, it will set more as it cools. Let it rest for 10 minutes before topping it with ice cream and serving.  
You can halve this cookie recipe and end up with about 16 cookies/8 sandwiches. Specifics will depend on how big you make your dough balls. 

2 sticks/ 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar or muscavado sugar
3/4 cup natural cane sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup old fashioned oats
2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped or chips
flaky salt, for finishing
1 quart vanilla bean, coffee, or chocolate chip ice cream

In a stand mixer, cream the butter and both sugars for a good two minutes. Add the eggs, salt and vanilla and mix again, scraping down the sides so it is all incorporated. Add the oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder and mix again until just combined, do not overmix. Add the chocolate, one more quick mix, scrape down the sides, and store it in the fridge for at least 6 hours, up to overnight. 
Preheat the oven to 350'. Make golfball size rounds and arrange them on cookie sheets or baking pans. Press down the center gently and sprinkle them with flaky salt. Bake on the middle rack for 8-10 minutes until the edges are browned and the center still looks slightly tender. You want them slightly underdone. Remove the tray, smack it on the counter, and let them cool a few minutes. Remove from the tray and let them cool completely on a wire rack. 
Assemble each sandwich with a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the center and then gently smush them together to press down the ice cream ball. Freeze them for at least a few hours, preferably overnight. 
*I put a long skinny tupperware in the freezer and just stash them in there as I assemble. They should last for about a week, or longer if you keep them individually wrapped in plastic wrap. 

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