Little Bit of This; Summer Meal Salad


Something wonderful about summer and forgetting about dinner.
An abundance of fresh food everywhere, leftovers from the weekend BBQ and a handful of herbs can create a quick, satisfying and remarkable dinner.

After grilling corn and attempting a sweet chili lime glaze recipe to serve up, I had one cob left over and a recipe that still needs a bit of tweaking for my tastes. I trimmed the cob of the kernels and, since it was already a little seasoned, I had a salad in mind. Dinner also left over a roasted red pepper, which was easy enough to dice, toss in a little handful of the bolting cilantro and I had a flavour direction for something.

For our next days lunch, I still needed a bit of protein and a bit of everything in between, so I grabbed for the quinoa. It’s quick cooking, so it gave me just the right amount of time I needed to toss together a dressing. Tossed together with a couple of handfuls of my favourite baby spinach and this salad was ultra quick, summery and so tasty.

SUMMER CORN & QUINOA SALAD

1 Cob of Corn, preferably grilled, shucked
1 Sweet Red Bell Pepper, roasted with the skin removed
2 Tablespoons Cilantro, packed, finely chopped
1 Cup Quinoa
2 Handfuls Baby Spinach Leaves, about 2 cups

DRESSING

Juice of One Lime
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Ground Coriander Seeds
1/8 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Whisper of Cayenne Pepper (less than a pinch)

Rinse the quinoa well and leave it to soak in a mesh colander for about 3 minutes.
Combine the drained quinoa with 2 cups of boiling water in a medium saucepan.
Cover and reduce to a simmer for about 7 minutes.
Lift the lid and check in on the quinoa. The water should be mostly absorbed and appear fluffy. If not, cover again and continue to cook for a couple of minutes more.
Once the water has been absorbed, fluff with a fork and leave it to cool while you prepare the remainder of the salad.
Skin, seed and dice the red pepper, added it to the shucked corn, in a large bowl.
Rinse, dry and finely chop the cilantro, adding it to the corn and peppers.
In a small bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the lime juice, and oil. Add the cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and cayenne. Mix well.
Measure out 2 cups of the cooked quinoa and add it along with the baby spinach to the corn mixture, stirring to combine.
Pour over the dressing. Toss to coat, but be gentle not to overly bruise the spinach leaves.
Taste and adjust salt and pepper, if necessary.*
Turn out to a platter to serve.

*If going vegetarian, about 1/3 cup of crumbled feta will make the salad sing.

The Last Stalk Standing



This, as they would say, is it.
This past weekends’ offering of sweet corn will probably be our last. You can begin to taste the age in the fading yellow kernels as you bite into them a little less anxiously than in the beginning of August.
Still juicy, sweet and delicious, but just not the same.

Thankfully we’ve all enjoyed corn at it’s peak. You know when it is, mid-summer when dinner consists of well, corn and a good slathering of butter. Those are the moments when most good eaters are wiping their chins and thinking about floss, and me, I eat one and high tail my way back to the market for more.

There’s something about perfect corn. The season is so short, you really can’t get sick of it.
When the time is right I buy what I can fit in my biggest stockpot to blanch and freeze for pure necessity and moments of longing. Soup is almost a must when preparing to freeze the best of the summer. Watching as the milky juice drips from the cob as I cut the kernels off with my sharpest knife, I want to keep it all. Scraping up what I can and maneuvering every drop into an awaiting pot makes the extra effort of preserving so worth it.

With the corn season coming to a brisk end and the cool nights beginning, I can help but to hang on to every last corn silk I can.
Continue reading The Last Stalk Standing

Hearty Autumn Hello


As the weather begins to get a chill on, thoughts of rustic, comfort food are the first to come to mind. To mine at least. I also couldn’t think of a better way to warm up and still enjoy what remains of the farmer’s markets in our area.

Pasta and beans are a classic Italian peasant dish and for good reason. Thick and satisfying, this vegetable based pasta and bean stew uses up what you have on hand and is substantial enough to feed a crowd. Served up with a freshly baked, herbed focaccia, will make welcoming Autumn a little bit easier.
Continue reading Hearty Autumn Hello

Earth Food – What Are You Doing To Spare The Planet?


Recently, Meeta over at What’s for Lunch, Honey posed that very question.

I thought about it and figured this should be easy. I’m sorry… but I recycle – a lot, I compost my food waste, we’ve even changed over our light bulbs. But I’m no savior. I would assume that for every good thing that I do, I’m probably doing something energy sucking in return, like drive a car and run the dishwasher – often. Seriously, the stress from saving the planet could almost be too much to handle.

Then it hit me. While feeling guilty driving around, dragging my kids to from farmer’s market to farmer’s market, I realized that I am a local food junkie. Nothing tastes better than a fresh, seasonal, real tomato and when you buy a bushel of them to dry or jar for later, you can enjoy real flavour all year long – without the transport exhaust.

With all the buzz, I decided to do a bit of research, to back up some of my claims, I came across one of the most interesting statistics. Rated #31 on the Climate Crisis Solution lists being vegetarian, better yet, vegan as more beneficial for the planet than downsizing your vehicle(s).

According to a study done by the University of Chicago, the amount of pollution created by animal related methane gas and transport pollution would be greatly reduced by how “… close you can be to a vegan diet and further from the mean American diet, the better you are for the planet. It doesn’t have to be all the way to the extreme end of vegan. If you simply cut down from two burgers a week to one, you’ve already made a substantial difference.” (I’m assuming “mean” = average American diet :)

Think about what you eat and where it comes from. Your food will taste better and you’ll save the planet at the same time. Easy and delicious.

On that note, it’s August and the Farmer’s market is bursting with tomatoes and CORN!
I could post an exhausting instruction about how to roast corn, but it’s not hard. If it’s fresh like now, usually picked a few hours before getting to you from the market, the silks will still be moist, soft and light. If it’s older you can usually tell the same way. If the silks are browned and drier you don’t have super fresh corn may have to peel the only dry loose husks from the corn and soak it for a minute or two – but when it’s fresh bring it home and put it right on the grill – the sooner the better since the sugar in corn begins to turn to starch just about as soon as it’s picked. The natural moisture should be enough to steam the corn over a steady medium heat. Turn the corn regularly so the outside husks char evenly. Once it’s grilled on all sides, about 5 – 7 minutes, remove it from the grill. Once it’s cool enough to handle, peel the husks and the typical stray silks will glide right off.
I served mine with a dollop of Lemon Thyme Spread made from 1/4 Cup of vegan margarine with about 1 Tablespoon of Fresh Thyme and the zest of 1 lemon.

GRILLED POLENTA WITH FRESH TOMATO SALSA CRUDA

POLENTA

3 Cups Vegetable Stock
1 Cup Fine Cornmeal or Polenta
pinch of salt & a crack of fresh pepper
Cooking Spray or olive oil

In a large saucepan, bring the stock to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer.
Using a whisk to combine, pour the polenta into the heated stock in a steady stream.
Reducing the heat to low, continue to stir frequently with a wooden spoon.
Polenta should come away from the edge of the pot and the spoon should be able to stand up in the center, or your arm will feel like it’s had a full workout, once it’s thickened.
Spray a 9″x13″ pan with oil and pour in the polenta. Flatten the polenta to the edges with a rubber spatula, dipping it in water, if necessary, to keep it from sticking, and cover with plastic wrap.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until very firm.
Heat grill to medium flame.
Cut the polenta into portion size servings and remove from the pan.
Brush with olive oil and grill for a few minutes each side or until crisp and golden.


FRESH TOMATO SALSA CRUDA

2 Large Field Tomatoes
1/2 Yellow Bell Pepper
1 Clove Garlic, minced
2 Scallions, chopped
3-4 Fresh Basil Leaves, chopped
2 Tablespoons Cilantro, chopped
1 Chipolte pepper, minced, optional
salt and pepper to taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Core and roughly chop the tomatoes.
Remove the seeds from the pepper and roughly chop.
Add the garlic, scallions, chopped herbs and chipolte pepper, if using.
Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Top grilled polenta, drizzle over olive oil and serve immediately.

Photo courtesy of WeirdFood.com.