Cooking Club: Week 47


Hey friends! It is supposed to be a record temperature weekend so we’re keeping the oven off as much as possible…aside from brownies, because we must have brownies for those amazing ice cream sams down at the bottom. A bit of grilling, and a whiz of fresh pesto and we have a week of pretty easy dinners. I put it in the recipe headnote too, but get yourself to a farmers market or farm stand some time this summer. The quality of stone fruits, corn and tomatoes are soooo much better than what is at the conventional market.

Stay cool and have a wonderful weekend!

1-hr. Prep


1. Make balsamic glaze for the salad in Recipe 1.
2. While the glaze is reducing, blend up Pea Pesto in a food processor per instructions in Recipe 2.
3. Whisk up BBQ marinade for chicken for Recipe 3, store in an airtight container, and refrigerate overnight for dinner tomorrow.
4. Mix and bake brownies for brownie sams in Recipe 4.
5. While your brownies are baking, assemble the rest of the salad for Recipe 1 and have that for dinner. 


Your balsamic glaze #1.
Finished pea pesto #2.
Marinated chicken for #3.
Fresh baked brownies for #4
Tomato, Nectarine & Mozzarella Salad for dinner from #1.


- We cleaned up a little bug in the Archives Page. For those of you who happened to join Cooking Club on a Friday morning, you'll now find 1 more week accessible in your archives. Yay!

- Comments, questions or suggestions? Submit your feedback here.


I am assuming you have sea salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil and a higher heat oil, such as avocado oil or coconut oil. Check your stock on these before you head to the market, and check off any other items you may already have. As you continue to use these recipes, you will see repetition of my favorite ingredients. For example, while real maple and pine nuts are pricey pantry staples, they won’t sit in the pantry, you’ll use them in upcoming weeks. Use bulk bins at your local health food store to buy in smaller quantities if you prefer.

Your List i

tomato, nectarine & mozzarella salads shells with pea pesto bbq chicken blat’s joy’s brownie ice cream sams



Meat & Dairy

recipe 01: Tomato, nectarine & mozzarella salads

serves 4

I am including how to reduce balsamic vinegar down yourself, but most stores carry a pre-made balsamic glaze to save time.  Add the grilled flank steak from week 43, or whatever you’re in the mood for. A girlfriend asked me for a salad that would go well on a picnic with some fried chicken and I sent her this simple idea. 


Tips of The Week

Make Ahead: Make the balsamic glaze up to a week in advance.

Use it twice: If you wanted a more portable salad, use baby tomatoes, dice the nectarines and use small mozzarella balls, cut in half. Stir all this with the greens, olive oil and balsamic glaze and you have more of a caprese salad than larger pieces like the photo.

Kid Friendly: Chop the tomatoes and nectarines into smaller pieces, easy on the vinegar. I served them some crostini on the side to use as a “spoon”. Also, a cheese and nectarine grilled cheese with a little slice of ham and balsamic on the side? Easy sell.

Carnivore Addition: You could serve this alongside the marinated flank steak from Week 43 or make extra BBQ chicken.



1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. maple syrup or light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. sea salt

2 nectarines
4 heirloom tomatoes
1 cup fresh basil, torn up
5 oz. / 4 cups arugula
3-4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt or flaky salt
4 oz. ball of fresh mozzarella, torn into pieces
1/3 cup pinenuts, toasted


Put the balsamic and maple in a pot and bring it up to a simmer. Simmer the mixture on low, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, until reduced by half. It will smell strongly, open a window. Let it cool. Finish it with a sprinkle of salt. Transfer to a jar and store it in the fridge. Bring it to room temperature before drizzling. 

Cut the nectarines and tomatoes into similar sized wedges and collect them in a large bowl. Add the basil and some arugula. Drizzle on the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, torn up mozzarella and toss everything to coat. Drizzle some of the balsamic glaze on top and sprinkle the pine nuts on top. 

Serve room temperature or chilled. 

Nutrition Information

per serving

  • calories
  • fat i
    25 g
  • carbs i
    33 g
  • protein
    11 g

recipe 02: shells w/ pea pesto

serves 4

This one is for my wee people! We’ve had a few more adult-friendly dinners lately, so it was time for the littles to have some creamy shells. And by creamy, I mean mostly from blended peas, not actual cream. 

If the addition of peas sounds off to you, use the same measurements for a classic pesto, just skip the peas. Promise it doesn’t taste overly vegetable-y.


Tips of The Week

Make Ahead: The pea pesto can be made 3-5 days in advance.

Use it Twice: I’ll use this pea pesto as a sandwich spread with turkey slices for the kids. Use a hearty, grainy bread so it doesn’t soak through.

Kid Friendly: I made this with them in mind! If they just need a new narrative, tell them it’s green mac n’ cheese.

Dairy Free: You could try it with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast, but I have not tried this personally. If your people don’t mind capers or anchovies, that would help add a bit of funk that will be lacking without the parm.

Carnivore Addition: Brown a few chicken sausages, slice them thin, and stir them in with the warm pasta and pesto.


for the PEA PESTO

2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup barely toasted pine nuts
2 packed cups (about 3 oz.) fresh basil
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. sea salt, to taste
1 cup peas (if from frozen, microwaved or steamed for a minute)
1/3- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
splash of water
1/4 cup grated parmesan

3/4 lb. pasta shells (gluten free or regular)
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. butter, or vegan sub
Grated parm, for garnish 


For the pesto, into a food processor, add the garlic cloves and pulse a few times to chop. Add the pine nuts, basil, lemon juice, salt and pulse a few more times to chop. Add the peas, and now with the motor going, drizzle in the olive oil. Pulse in the parm. Set aside. The pea pesto will keep for about 5 days. 

Bring a pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cook your shells to al dente, according to package instructions. Drain, reserve a little pasta water, and pour shells into a large bowl with the lemon juice and knob of butter. Toss to coat. Add a generous amount of the pea pesto and stir to coat. If it needs a little loosening, add a bit of pasta water. Sprinkle with more parm, a few grinds of pepper, and serve. 

Nutrition Information

per serving

  • calories
  • fat i
    30 g
  • carbs i
    72 g
  • protein
    17 g

recipe 03: bbq chicken blat’s

serves 4

Basically a BLAT (bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado…how unattractive is that sandwich name?) plus BBQ chicken. Trying to keep the cooking as simple as possible for y’all this summer and heat sources to a minimum.

I dilute the BBQ sauce for a marinade on the chicken because there is generally a lot of sugar in BBQ sauce, and it will burn on the grill. To get the flavor, we’re marinating in a bit of sauce and then using more as a spread on the buns. 

A good tomato smells like, well, a good tomato. You’ll know the difference when you get your nose in there. If you can swing by a farmer’s market or a farm-stand this time of year, the tomatoes are immeasurably different than what is at a larger, conventional market. Corn, stone fruits, tomatoes, end of season berries…this is the time of year to make the trip!

This whole situation, albeit messy, is excellent in a lettuce wrap if you want to skip the buns.


Tips of The Week

Make Ahead: Marinate the chicken at least 6 hours, up to 24-hrs in advance. The bacon can be cooked, and re-crisped before assembly.

Use it Twice: All of these bits can be chopped up and used in a BBQ chicken salad. Make a creamy dressing with half ranch, half BBQ, and a squeeze of fresh citrus.

Kid Friendly: My sweet Curran said this is the best sandwich I’ve made, Cleo thinks lettuce AND tomato in her sandwich is a personal assault, but I think this is pretty kid-friendly.

Vegetarian Swap: Use portobello mushrooms or thin slices of tofu marinated in the above. These can be tricky on the grill, as they seem more prone to sticking, so I will bake them on parchment at 425’ and flip halfway, for less hassle. God bless the toaster oven.


1 lb. chicken thighs, boneless skinless, about 5 small (pounded thin-ish if they’re thick)
1/2 cup barbecue sauce, divided
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 Tbsp. avocado or olive oil
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Fresh ground pepper

4 pieces of thick-cut bacon, cooked to crispy
2 avocados
1-2 delicious summer tomatoes, sandwich size
4 leaves of red leaf or butter lettuce
4 buns brioche, whole grain, your choice
Barbecue sauce, for serving


In a mixing bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the BBQ sauce with the smoked paprika, oil, vinegar, salt and few grinds of pepper. Stir to mix. Add the chicken thighs and toss everything around to coat. Cover and let it marinate in the fridge for 6 to 24-hrs. 

If you need to cook your bacon, start that now. I do about 15 minutes on a rimmed baking sheet in a 375’ oven, then remove and transfer to a paper towel lined plate to soak up any extra grease. 

Preheat the grill to medium heat. Grease the grates a bit. Grill the chicken for about 6 minutes per side until cooked through. In the meantime, slice your tomatoes.

While the chicken rests, toast your buns. Smash avocado onto one side, swipe more BBQ sauce on the other side. Layer chicken, bacon, tomatoes and lettuce in between and close ‘er up. 

Serve alongside some slaw or simple green salad.

Nutrition Information

per serving

  • calories
  • fat i
    51 g
  • carbs i
    47 g
  • protein
    29 g

recipe 04: brownie ice cream sams

Yields 8 Sams

I have not stopped thinking of these since Joy The Baker posted a recipe few weeks ago. These are a bit different, as I am using the brownie recipe I love from the blog. The swaps here are so simple to make them gluten and dairy-free or not.

You can use coconut oil or Miyokos “butter” with success. Joy did two rounds of brownies in an 8x8 pan. I scaled down to one batch in a 9” pan, cooled, cut it in half, and then made the sandwich and sliced from there. Because if there is one thing I do not need staring me in the face? It is 16 brownie ice cream sams. The parchment paper is important for being able to remove the brownies without them crumbling, so don’t skip that. 

We’re including the recipe for the brownies here and suggesting store-bought ice cream. If you’re fancy, make your ice cream too!


Tips of The Week

Make Ahead: We have to get the ice cream soft-ish to be spreadable, so it all needs to set again in the freezer after assembly. Plan to make these at least 3-hrs. before you’d like them to be ready.


1/2 cup butter or coconut oil
7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup cane sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose or gluten free flour (blitzed oats into oat flour works)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
Handful of chopped semi-sweet chocolate or chocolate chips

1 qt. of your favorite ice cream


Preheat the oven to 350’. 

Put a large glass bowl over a pot of simmering water, not letting the bottom of the pot touch the water. Add the butter/coconut oil and pour chopped up chocolate on top. Stir occasionally until smooth and combined. Remove from the heat. Whisk in the sugar to combine. Whisk in both eggs until smooth. Gently fold in the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, salt and chocolate chips.

Line a 9” square pan with a parchment sling, pour in the batter. Bake on the middle rack for 20ish minutes. Remove to cool completely. 

Lift the parchment out of the pan and cut the brownie in half, leaving one half in the pan. Spoon some ice cream over the top and let it soften a bit, so you can spread it around into an even layer. Press the other half of the brownies on top and pop the whole thing in the freezer. Let it sit in there 3-4 hours, ideally overnight. 

Use a sharp knife to cut the brownie sams into squares. Serve immediately, or put them in a Tupperware to keep in the freezer. 

Try to enjoy them within a week or two max, as they’ll begin to get icy. 

Nutrition Information

per serving

  • calories
  • fat i
    28 g
  • carbs i
    60 g
  • protein
    6 g