Thursday, August 29, 2013

End of Summer Vegetable, Goat Cheese and Walnut Linguine

It's that time of year when the first signs of Fall make us turn our heads frantically, wondering when the seemingly never-ending entity of summer did, in fact, so abruptly commence. That first cool breeze, the turn of a single green leaf to yellow, actually wearing your summer cashmere. We wanted this to happen so badly—but now it's happening too fast. Did I even I eat Mr. Softie? Have I had sufficient lobster roll intake? Am I losing my summer vegetables!?

Sadly, yes—but not yet. So let's give one last salute to the bountiful season with this End of Summer Vegetable, Goat Cheese and Walnut Linguine, utilizing some of our summatime favs— tomatoes, corn, and zucchini—before diving head first into anything and everything pumpkin.

Hailing from Real Simple, this recipe is quick, easy, and foolproof. It's superiority lies in it's ability to exhibit that garden-fresh gusto thanks to the seasonal local vegetables; an unparalleled quality in another wise standard pasta.

The corn, oozing sweetness, pairs wonderfully with the crumbly cheese (think Mexican grilled corn and cojita), and the nutty walnuts give the pasta a lovely, roasted crunch. Zucchini slivers offer thin glimpses of this summer squash standout, and gently smashed tomatoes add a touch of acidity. Not enough for the entire dish, though: I substituted white wine for the pasta water, and then added a generous squeeze of lemon juice to finish.

They key to this pasta is to serve it immediately; while steam still clouds the bowl, and the goat cheese crumbles melt ever so softly into the silky linguine strands. With each forkful of a summer vegetable, warmly reminisce over a summer spent well-fed; before we begin the cycle once again in anticipation of the season that is to come.

End of Summer Vegetable, Goat Cheese and Walnut Linguine (derived from Real Simple)
Serves 4

3/4 pound whole-wheat linguine
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups fresh corn (from 2 ears)
2 cloves garlic, sliced
kosher salt and black pepper
2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 small zucchini (about 1 pound), cut into thin ribbons with a vegetable peeler
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
3/4 cup white wine
juice of 1lemon
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (or feta and Parmesan)
Parsley, for garnish (optional)


1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, to al dente. 
2. Meanwhile, heat oven to 350° F. Place corn (inside it's husk) and walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast, turning once, until walnuts are fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the corn (husked and kernels shaved off the cob), garlic, oregano, hot pepper flakes, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, tossing occasionally, until the corn is tender, 2 to 4 minutes.
4. Add the tomatoes, zucchini, and white wine to the skillet. Cook over medium heat, gently tossing, until the liquid is slightly thickened and coats the pasta, 2 to 3 minutes (add more wine as needed to loosen the sauce). Add the al dente pasta into the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 more minutes. Juice the lemon over the pasta.
5. Serve immediately, sprinkled with the walnuts, and goat cheese, and parsley (if desired.)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Blueberry Quinoa Amaretto Crisp

For this Blueberry Quinoa Amaretto Crisp, it was love at first sight.  How did the recipe so quickly win over my affection? The answer is threefold: First, alluring me with one of my favorite seasonal summer fruits; second, seducing me with a triple hit of almond: slivered nuts, almond flour, and amaretto almond liquor; and third, courting me with my favorite grain-that’s-not-actually-a-grain, quinoa.  The result: a bubbling, toasted pan of perfection, boasting not one but two superfoods. Oh, my heart (and tummy) are so full.

The crisp's quinoa topping is not as sweet as you’d presume in this type of dish. While unexpected, I found myself liking it: I treated the dish almost more as a breakfast consideration, rather than dessert. The quinoa mixed with slivered almonds makes for a topping with quite a crunch, which gently coats the real star of the dish: the blueberries.
The blueberry-amaretto combination, eaten while still warm, is truly heavenly. It’s like a rich, thick, almondy syrup. I kind of felt like I was eating all the best elements of a blueberry pancake.  Then, the quinoa topping caves, falling into blueberry puddle, and that syrup gets sopped up by each quinoa grain.  Yum.
I’ve never used quinoa in a sweet dish before, and really enjoyed its nutty, grainy contribution. However, I did feel like some of the other elements of the topping—like butter, brown sugar and almond flour—got lost within it.  Next time, I will double up on these ingredients. But there is no denying the satisfaction of that quinoa crunch.

Blueberry Quinoa Amaretto Crisp (from Closet Cooking)
Serves 4

  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 6 cups blueberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons amaretto 
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (~1/2 lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup almond flour (or flour or rice flour etc)
  • 1/4 cup almond slices

  1. Bring the water and quinoa to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the quinoa is tender and has absorbed the water, about 15 minutes, remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes, covered.
  2. Mix the blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, amaretto, lemon juice and vanilla and place in an 8x8 inch baking dish (or a number of smaller dishes).
  3. Mix the quinoa, brown sugar, butter, flour and almond slices and crumble on top of the blueberries.
  4. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until it is bubbling and the top is golden brown, about 30-45 minutes.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Edamame Sriracha Succotash

To say that Sriracha sauce has a cult-like following is almost an understatement. The obsessive love and fierce loyalty people harbor for the fiery garlic-chili sauce is hardly fit for a condiment, let alone a gallinaceous bird.  Yet there is something about this rooster sauce, outfitted in its signature red bottle and green cap, that people just can’t get enough of. I include myself in this following.

I love spicy things. When I have a stuffy nose, I eat raw jalapenos and their seeds. If a food—any food—is lacking flavor, I reach for hot sauce before reaching for salt. And when I’m out to dinner and a friend asks for the guacamole to be mild or medium, I cry a little inside. So when I discovered that this Edamame Sriracha Succotash recipe came from an entire cookbook devoted to Sriracha and vegetables, you can only imagine the sheer magnitude of my joy.
Grilled corn, shelled edamame, heirloom tomatoes….this recipe is teaming with fresh, seasonal ingredients abundant at any farmers market right now. And speaking of! National Farmers Market Week is August 4th to 10th. Aim to shop local for this recipe’s ingredients if you can.
Corn and shell beans are signature to any succotash. These base ingredients may be whole and healthy, but be wary before ordering off a menu: the dish can lose its nutritious value if cooked in heavy butter and topped with bacon bits; a common prep in a restaurant kitchen. Staying true to its vegetarian nature, this recipe swaps butter for heart-healthy sesame oil, and is brimming with light, tangy Asian flavors: lime juice, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, cilantro. The Sriracha, of course, is the final flavor kick to the salad; adding a bite that is anything but shy. You’ll be sweating after one bite!

Even though I have already declared my love for all things spicy, I have to admit I was disappointed by how much the Sriracha overtook the dish. The recipe called for ¼ cup, which sounded suspiciously steep to me, but I followed the directions as called for. I didn’t mind the heat, but rather longed to taste more of the other flavors in the sauce, like the sesame oil or apple cider vinegar. As a result, I am amending my recipe to half the Sriracha—the amount can be augmented from there, according to taste.

Next: Watermelon Sriracha Sangria, anyone!?

Edamame Sriracha Succotash (from The Veggie-Lover’s Sriracha Cookbook)
Serves 4-6


Tbsp. toasted sesame oil (or extra-virgin olive oil)
red onion, diced
red bell pepper, diced
garlic cloves, minced
cups fresh or frozen shelled edamame
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
cups fresh (or freshly thawed) corn kernels
Roma or heirloom tomatoes, diced
cup Sriracha
cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more sprigs for garnish
Tbsp. apple-cider vinegar or freshly squeezed lime juice (or 1 of each)
Tbsp. Low-sodium soy sauce
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and sauté until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Let cool to room temperature.
2. In a medium saucepan, bring ½ inch of water to a simmer over medium heat. Add the edamame and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until just tender and heated through, about 4 minutes.
3. Drain well and let cool to room temperature. (If using frozen edamame, cook on the stove top according to the package directions; don’t microwave.) Transfer to a bowl.
4. Add the onion mixture, corn, tomatoes, Sriracha, cilantro, vinegar and/or lime juice, soy sauce, and remaining tablespoon of oil; mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
5. Taste just before serving and add more vinegar, lime juice, or Sriracha if desired. Serve garnished with cilantro sprigs.