Last night was a late Saturday night of enjoying some outdoor live music, followed by an early morning of my dance class. By 9:15am on a Sunday, I am awesomely sweaty and feel reasonably incredible. I come home, my kids are groggily mulling about the house, enjoying a last lazy Sunday and there is the creeping hint of Fall in the air. I love the whole scene. I know it is blasphemy to want summer to end but, I am more of a spiritual being anyhow. So with the summer's imminent end, perhaps there is your desire to eat fewer cheeseburgers, truncate the hours of day-drinking and narrow the number of ice cream cones from daily to once a week.
My big back to Fall schedule trick? I know, the anticipation is mounting...Wait for it: Keep roasted vegetables in the fridge to throw onto or into anything. Sorry, not as exciting as you might have thought?
The process is equally not exciting (but so good). Open the refrigerator, pull out every vegetable you have and sauté it. Then put it in a glass tupperware and store it for days. This way when you open the fridge, you see this gorgeous, I-promise -delicious vat of goodness. Throw this sauté on top of raw lettuce, mix it in with some brown rice, layer on a fresh baguette with some cheese. Or do what I do and just sprinkle salt and pepper and eat plain. Anything goes. As long as it once grew from the land.
Any vegetable that you like. Here: zucchini, wild and white mushroom, baby spinach, kale, potatoes, scallion
Coarse chop all of the vegetables. Heat the sauté pan, sprinkle olive oil and put the vegetable in first that needs the most time. Here, potatoes. Yell at your kids to stop doing that. Whatever "that" is. Return to watch your vegetables cook. Once potatoes have browned, you can add the vegetables that are more watery like the zucchini or spinach because they won't steam the potatoes at this point. Give an ultimatum to your oldest kid that "he should know better". Throw in remaining vegetables, stir and brown to your liking, salt and pepper artistically and drop the mic. You're done. Or pick up the mic one more time if you want to sprinkle some fresh green on top, like scallion or parsley. And then drop the mic. Then give your kids a hug and make them try mushrooms.
So much better than the leftover chicken fingers that were your other choice when you opened the fridge. Happy end of summer.
We have just returned from Disney. A mere sixteen of us went. Correct, 16. It was great. And work. And fun! And the "happiest place on earth" for all of the remaining time that you are not yelling at your own kids. But the food? Holy Mickey Mouse! Definitely did not make it the happiest place on earth for me. Sorry, Disney but I don't think we were about to co-brand anyway, but you gotta work on the terrible food. So, because I cannot cleanse (I obsess too much about food when I cleanse. Seems to have the reverse effect for me), vegetable and fruits up the wazoo to undo Disney is my plan. And my strategy is Suzie's Salad.
Here: Suzie's Salad. Suzie is my mom. This is her signature salad that has fed legions, literally, legions of friends and family over the years. She has been known to make it and put it in a trough, like a massive ice bucket made for frat parties, and it disappears in minutes. She is called upon to make this for every Thanksgiving, holiday & event and there were leftovers maybe twice in 30 years. If you know how to cut a vegetable, you too can be the champion of your community with this one. I have taken on this legacy and make it for my friends and community and the power of The Suzie Salad is real. This is staying in my fridge, undressed for this week, as a Disney vacation antidote.
Below is for a large salad. This is large group kinda salad.
4 Heads of Romaine Lettuce
3 Large Gorgeous Tomatoes or 10 ish Plum Tomatoes
2 Orange Peppers
1 Yellow Pepper
1 Can of Garbanzos
1 Large Cucumber
1 Package of Mushrooms (any kind will do and we historically use simple organic button)
Black and Green Olives (We use canned or jarred of each but going fancy is fine)
1 Bag or Fresh Shredded Carrots
1.5 Cups Crasisins
Italian Good Seasons Packet Dressing
1 Tablespoon Grey Poupon Mustard
2 Tablespoons Honey
For Salad: Grab a cutting board and small chop away. The key is to chop everything small and bite size. The secret is the dressing. Here, I divided up the vegetables to keep them from getting soggy but I do not usually do that. I usually just throw everything into a bowl, dress and serve. But since it is going to last a few days, I will not dress it and go the extra step and keep separate.
For Dressing: Simply follow the directions on the back of the dressing packet. Additionally, add 1 tablespoon of Grey Poupon mustard and honey. Shake well. This dressing last months in the fridge. Is this the cleanest dressing? Nope. But not blasphemously bad. The secret of the secret of the secret of the dressing is you must put dressing on and then mix well and cover all ingredients. This is not a little drizzle over the top kind of salad! I actually put the salad and dressing in a tupperware and shake up to make sure I have ideal coverage. I guess you can add chicken or shrimp or something. I do not. I am a purist. Let the Suzie Salad Legend Live On!
A friend just returned from Korea armed with photos of his amazing meals. Made me think of how much my fam of five love Korean BBQ where we cook on the table and use the lettuce as shells... Which then inspired me to make a very loose version of what I am going to call Lettuce Shelled BBQ Tacos. A simpleton version of marrying the ol' American summer backyard BBQ with some K-Town. But I wasn't about to leave the house for groceries because I was too lazy. So:
Here, I grilled some organic grass-fed steak and some farm-fresh zucchini, kale and onions I had in the fridge. Using the lettuce for the taco shell, it goes: long leaf romaine lettuce "shell", then one piece of steak, layer on tons of roasted kale, zucchini and onion. Flank the plate with a petit glass of Pinot Grigio one one side, some fresh flowers on the other and you transform it from just throwing food down your throat to a meal experience.
Take a/my yoga class before this meal and a/my dance class after--perhaps tomorrow morning at 8am!-- Share the plate communally and life is better.
Large bunch of kale (fresh or already cut in bag works. In bag easier but less fresh obviously)
1 Large Zucchini
Fresh Leaves of Romaine
Flank Steak (or other protein or not)
Turn grill on so it is hot when food is ready to go on.
Put kale in aluminum pan that can go on grill. Drizzle kale with olive and kosher salt.
Slice zucchini long, put in dish with oil and some salt/pepper and let marinate for 10 minutes ish. Slice onion keeping rings intact and throw in pan with kale or wrap in tin foil and put on grill.
Put steak on grill. Grill to your preference. If you have a top rack, put kale pan on top so that the vegetables do not burn. Zucchini can go directly on grill. Pieces should be long and fat enough that they don't fall through the slats of grill- place diagonally across the grill grates. Pull food off when it is done to your preference.
Serve with long fresh romaine leaves, using the leaves as your taco shell, where all of the vegetable and protein get layered in. Or use leaf as your scooper utensil. Kids think this is pretty cool, until they figure out you duped them into eating lettuce.
And if you are grill-less, you can create same basic meal using your oven. No one will call you out on calling it BBQ. Maybe. Take out your mild or super spicy sauce, sprinkle on taco and then book a field trip to your local Koreatown and realize how not Korean this really is. (I'm getting closer).
Corn season in the Northeast! Paaartaay. Raise the roof. Oh yeah! Uh huh! Exclamation marks!
Or maybe just make a salad. I love fresh corn and a few years ago, I realized, no need to even cook it. We had some friends out from the city yesterday and this was amongst the various dishes I made. And now I am eating it for breakfast post dance class this morn. What? Should I be eating pancakes? And actually just decided right here and now --that's right, you were here for it--to make it again to bring to a pool shindig we are headed to this afternoon.
Anyway, enough about my play by play day. This Kinda Perfect Summer Bowl: You can make any changes, add or subtract what you like and it is bound to be a dish that is clean, filling and a pretty perfect compliment to anything else you eat/ serve/ bring. Equally important, it makes you look healthy even though you might have had a massive double scoop of chocolate peanut butter ice cream with rainbow sprinkles last night at the beach.
2 Ears of Fresh Corn (Wait for corn season- don't make this with canned corn. For the love of...)
1 Fresh Gorgeous Tomato (Any kind. I used vine ripe Jersey)
1 Handful Kale (or any green like spinach, arugula, collards)
1 Zucchini (I had a behemoth zucchini the size of my 6 yr old's arm so I used half of mine)
1 Can Garbanzos ( Chic Peas). Organic tend to be a bit harder in my experience so I use regular
1 Can Artichokes Hearts in Water
1 Large Scallion Stalk
1 Fresh Cooked Beet (or what I used: Trader Joes Beets in Vinaigrette, which is my new fav thing)
Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese (optional)
Cut up zucchini into thin slices and then in quarters. Put in bowl with a bit of drizzled olive oil and kosher salt to soften up the zucchini a bit. Not too much, but a bit. Bring everything else to cutting board and chop away. Cut the corn kernels from the rind and throw in a bowl. Drain and rinse (rinse!) the garbanzos and artichoke hearts. Cut the artichokes hearts into quarters and dump chic peas and hearts into bowl with corn. Add the zucchini. Do not add the beets until the end because they will stain it's vegetable friends. I roughly layer: fresh corn, garbanzos, artichoke hearts, kale, zucchini, tomato and then lay beets on top and sprinkle with thinly chopped scallion. Drizzle all with olive oil, salt (Pink Himalayan, Kosher, Fleur de Sel-- some good salt not blah, diner, lame table salt) and fresh ground pepper. Perhaps a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Perhaps some fresh grated cheese on the side for those who like. This bowl of goodness can sit for awhile because all of the vegetables in here are pretty sturdy. I'm eating it a day later as I type and it's perfect. A different kind of perfect than that ice cream last night.
We love to entertain and host. And I come from the tutelage of too much food is better than too little food when hosting. This combo= an embarrassment of leftovers. And although my low maintenance husband can eat leftovers for weeks and literally cause me to wince in repulsion, I give leftovers the one day and you're out rule. But I do love using last nights leftovers as an inspiration for something else today.
Here, our overly abundant raw vegetable crudite from our party last night makes for a fresh roasted vegetable tapenade with assorted cheese on thick baguettes with fresh garden herbs. I served it aside sliced chicken & steak that we threw on the grill so that the meat could either be layered over the bread with veggies or eaten a la carte. And now we have room in our fridge. I think we get each other here but, this need not be made from leftovers. We get that, right? OK, good.
Raw Vegetables of Your Choice. Here: Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Pearl Tomatoes, Broccoli, Asparagus
Sliced Fresh Baguette- larger better so vegetables don't fall off
Cheese of your Choice. Here: Mozzarella, Goat & Parmesan
Fresh Herbs. Here: Chive, Parsley, Basil (from my garden, baby!)
Wash the vegetables, cut into long slices, layer in roasting dish, drizzle with olive oil and salt/pepper. I roast the asparagus separately because it has a different roasting time than the other vegetables.
Roast at 420 degrees (asparagus for about 15 min-- other vegetables for approx 20 min).
Let cool for 5 minutes and then small chop the vegetables and put in bowls like a prep station.
Lay thick baguette slices on a roasting sheet, spoon the chopped vegetables onto each piece of bread and light layer with cheese. I did combos. Some pieces with mixed veggies got the parm, some got the mozzarella, some got the goat cheese. Same for the baguette with the asparagus.
Throw pan of bread, veggies and cheese back in oven for 5 ish min. Keep an eye on it.
Take pan out of oven and sprinkle all with variety of fresh herbs. Maybe drizzle some extra olive oil for those of you who do that kinda thing.
Serve alone or pair with some very thinly sliced chicken or steak.
Serve on your balcony, deck, porch so veggie spills can be kicked away and enjoyed by some insect colony. Invite friends over to enjoy with you to ensure you don't have leftovers from leftovers. Cuz' no one wants that other than my husband.
Whether you're heading to a beach BBQ or a winter pot luck, bring this. It's a winner. Change up the vegetables depending on what's local and in season. Here, I was undiscriminating and grabbed every vegetable I could get my hands on in the farmer's market and it was fabulous for my impromptu family dinner party for 17. And then I ate it for breakfast the next day post yoga class. Truth.
Choose any grain. Choose any vegetable. Add any cheese, though a grated parmesan is universally perfect. 'Slike a choose your own adventure book.
Vegetables of your choice. Here: Zucchini, Mushrooms, Tiny (pearl) tomatoes, Onions, Baby spinach
3 Cloves garlic
4 ish Scallion Stalks
1 Bag of Bulgar (I used the Trader Joes tiny bag of Bulgar here but use orzo /couscous/any grain of your choice)
Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese
Coarse chop small all of the veggies except for the spinach. Throw in roasting pan, generous drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for approx 30 min at 425 degrees or until getting brown and carmelized.
Garlic: For each dish I make, I decide whether to use roasted/cooked garlic or minced raw. Keeping it raw gives a little heat and is particularly good for you. This time around I roasted it with the rest of the vegetables which makes the whole dish a bit sweeter rather than hot. Next time perhaps I'll switch it up and use raw, 'cuz I'm crazy like that.
Make bulgar (or Israeli couscous or quinoa or any other grain of choice) according to package directions. Don't overcook. Then it's mush.
When roasted veggies done, toss the grain in with the vegetables in the still warm roasting pan so that the grain absorbs all of the roasting juices from the pan. Then add the fresh baby spinach to wilt. Pour whole mixture into serving dish.
Add more olive oil, salt, pepper to taste. Or not. Sprinkle fresh sliced scallion and grated parmesan. Serve immediately or hours later. When served at room temp, the flavors have had the time to romance each other a bit more. Serve with Pat Benatar's Greatest Hits whispering in the background or Florence + The Machine blaring. Follow with s'mores & a fire pit.
Years ago, I was not the kind of woman who made her own granola. Frankly I don't know when this happened. My college roommate, Heather? Now there is a potential granola-maker. Her professor Dad hunted his own venison and kept it in his basement freezer (while my accountant Dad kept a liter of Diet Coke on his nightstand, matching the HERS liter of the same on my mom's side. Classy). So seems like Heather would have the genes for the self-granola-ing, not I. Whelp, we both do now, comparing recipes like the super cool moms we envisioned ourselves to be one day. No venison parts in the freezer yet, but check back with me in a few years.
Like anything I make, this is absurdly easy, stays fresh for awhile and makes me look like a better version of myself when my in-laws visit. And when I add chocolate and cashew bits, my kids devour this. But I can't do that too often because then I will be the size of a house, so I often stick to the version below. Granola with craisins and shredded coconut served with coconut milk and fresh strawberries.
4 Cups Rolled Oats (make sure you buy rolled NOT instant)
4 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 Cup Honey (Local is great for allergies)
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
To Add as You Wish: 1/2 Cup Craisins/Raisins/Dried Fruit/Shredded Coconut/Nuts/Seeds/Herbs
Throw oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine. Put aside. Mix honey, oil, and vanilla in a small bowl and then pour this over the oat mixture. Mix until the oats are coated with the liquid. Spread the mixture out on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes. Stir a bit, rotate pan and then continue baking for about 5 to 10 minutes more or until it looks light brown like perfect store bought granola. Take pan out and while it is cooling but still warm, add the dried fruit/nuts/seeds so that the heat of the granola seeps into the add-ons. Let all cool. Store in tupperware or glass mason jars. Serve with yogurt, local honey and fruit or pour into your palm as you run out the door on the way to my class.
**You can kinda do whatever the heck you want with granola. So if you are undecided, split your granola recipe in half and add some things to one batch and other things to the other. Eg: a sweet batch and a savory/spicy batch.**
Don't talk to me about your gazpacho. I will stick my fingers in my ears, 4 yr old style and repeat "I can't hear you" 23 times. Just a few years back (cough, cough) I lived in Sevilla, Spain. It changed my life forever. My homestay Madre was a woman in her 70's named, Maruja. And this is her recipe. I am sure I have tweaked it unwittingly, but it is the authentic Andalusian Gazpacho of southern Spain. This is a mainstay in most Spanish homes all summer long and as anyone who walks into my home between Memorial Day and Labor Day knows-- there is always gazpacho in the fridge. Siempre! It will never taste as good here in the US-- our best tomatoes, ripest peppers, freshest bread simply don't have the same flavor, but how I love tasting as close as I can to those memories.
8 Large Beautiful Tomatoes
2 Frying Peppers (the long but not hot ones)
1 Large Cucumber
1 or 2 Cloves of Garlic
1/2 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1 Portuguese roll- day old or slightly hard is good
Course chop the vegetables and tear bread into a few chunks and throw them in blender or vitamix in batches with some of the water and vinegar. Once each batch is liquified, dump into large soup pot or large bowl. Do this for each batch until complete. Use immersion blender to further liquify (which also takes out some tiny pieces of tomato peel if you want). Add olive oil, salt and pepper to taste as you do final round of immersion blender, which emulsifies the gazpacho. Done.
Chill in fridge. Stays fresh for a long time. The Spanish serve with guarnicion or garnish consisting of diced tomato, cucumber, onions, croutons and/or hard boiled egg. When I'm feeling fancy and have the time, I do. Otherwise, with perhaps a chunk of fresh bread in one palm and a cup or bowl of gazpacho in the other, we sip or spoon this all day, virtually every day in the summer sun. Viva Espana y Salud a mi Maruja!
**Caveat: The measurements, as per all my "recipes" are approximate. Modify as you go along. Some people like very little garlic. Some like more vinegar. Each batch that I make tastes a little different as I move along the summer, as the vegetables change flavor. I happen to like strong apple cider vinegar, salty and garlic. But I am sure those who I sweat next to in my classes might say otherwise. My dad loved my gazpacho but thought mine too garlicky so I made his blandito (rough translation: wussy gazpacho with less garlic). I have also brought it to the beach with friends and they add some vodka. So feel free to improvise. But DO NOT use canned tomatoes or tomato juice and call it gazpacho. [insert very strong expletives en espanol aqui] because it is not.**
When I first began making kale, my brother-in-law rightfully noted with furrowed brow, "Isn't this the stuff I used to decorate the salad bars with when I was working in the food halls in college?" Yes, Mike, it was. But like any good underdog story, Kale gets the last laugh. Once a salad bar adornment, now the star attraction for hipsters and high end farm-to-table patrons alike. Kale and I hang out a lot. And not just because she's the popular kid now. It's versatile and delicious, it lasts a long time because it is so sturdy, it can be added to any dish & will hang out in the fridge all marinated until you're ready to add it. And as per all my "recipes" it's easy and makes me look good. Like that popular girl.
Kale torn/chopped into pieces. There are many types of kale. All work.
Grated Parmesan Cheese
Optional: olives, nuts, fruit, avocado
Drizzle kale with olive oil, salt & lemon juice. Massage the kale with your hands (so that olive, salt and juice break down the kale a bit and make it less tough). Divide the kale 2/3 and 1/3 and put 2/3rd in a serving bowl. Meanwhile put the last 1/3 kale on a pan in toaster/oven for 5 minutes to brown it slightly. Throw roasted kale over the raw kale and sprinkle all with fresh parmesan cheese. Add any nuts, avocado, fruit to this. I keep it simple and then add it to any grain dish I make or tuck under a protein. No guilt. All good. And 3 kids under this roof will eat it. Cha Ching.
A staple. We make this hummus & keep it in the fridge forever. Serve as a dip, spread it on fresh focaccia bread with olives or tomatoes layered on top. Or spoon it straight into la boca. I made this post dance class this morn because the sun was out and I needed to press CTR/ALT/DELETE on my body post-weekend indulgence.
*No tahini/sesame here so great to bring to the host's house and not worry about allergies.
Can of garbanzos (chic peas). Organic tend to be harder so I do not use. If you use fresh from bag, soak as per instructions.
1 Large garlic clove
Juice & zest of one lemon (organic preferred because you use peel)
Approx 1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
Rinse & drain garbanzos. Throw garbanzos & garlic into food processor to blend and garlic and beans. Stop blending. Add olive oil, juice and zest of lemon and salt. Continue blending until consistency looks familiar like hummus. Add more olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper to your taste. Stays great for several days.