After several months of traveling often for work, I was at home for an entire week and planned nightly menus using new-to-me recipes that sounded like they’d be good for warm evenings. All in all it was a week of pretty darn good dinners on the deck, and I thought I’d share some of the reviews!
I’m happy to post any of the recipes described- just ask!
Lemon Spaghetti (Giada DeLaurentis)
This is really, really good stuff. Very lemon-y, very summer-y. DH loved it too. There was a lot of oil left in the bowl- I might try reducing it a bit and reduce the lemon juice too, to keep the flavors in proportion. We ate it as a main dish, but I think it would also be a great side for grilled chicken or fish.
Broiled Tomatoes with Feta Cheese (The Savory Way by Deborah Madison)
Literally just ripe tomatoes, sliced, drizzled with oil, sprinkled with feta and herbs, and broiled. I put the tomatoes in a gratin dish and broiled them in the toaster oven to keep from heating up the whole house. Fast and easy- a nice side for the lemon spaghetti.
Cold Tomato Soup with Avocado and Lime (The Savory Way)
A quick soup using tomato juice as a base, and mixing in garlic, lime, herbs, scallion, and jalapeno. I used a low-salt juice and then seasoned it to taste. I also left out the diced avocado, as we were having the sandwich below as an accompaniment to the soup. I really enjoyed this- thought the flavor was refreshing. DH thought it was still a little too much like tomato juice- I think he was expecting something more like a chunky gazpacho. I’d make it again anyway.
Avocados on Sourdough Bread (The Savory Way)
No recipe needed, really, but what a simple, great combination. Thick slices of fresh sourdough bread, very lightly buttered, topped with sliced avocado, sprinkled with lime juice, salt, pepper, and cilantro. I could eat one of these every single day (and I ate one for lunch three days this week!).
Chopped Salad with Mustard-Herb Vinaigrette (California Pizza Kitchen cookbook)
Somehow this salad didn’t live up to my memory of it from the restaurant- I used to always order a half-portion of the chopped salad and a BBQ chicken pizza (in my meat-eating days). It’s chopped romaine and iceberg lettuces, tomato, chickpeas, scallions, fresh basil, shredded mozzarella, diced salami and diced turkey. We skipped the salami, and only DH had turkey; I had extra garbanzo beans. I felt that the dressing was more oily than flavorful. I think I must have liked this way back when because of the salami. Not a repeater for us.
Cold Emerald Peanut Sesame Noodles (A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop)
I was really intrigued by this recipe. It’s a typical sesame noodle recipe, except it has spinach pureed into the sauce. The outcome was some really good, green sesame noodles; surprisingly, the spinach is not really detectable as a flavor. The fried scallion topping was nice but not essential. I’d be interested to try adding spinach to other sesame noodle sauces- I like the idea of the nutrition boost.
Glazed Pineapple Tofu with Spicy Cucumber Salad (A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen)
This was fine but not great. The pineapple-lime flavor was really subtle (subtle enough that DH didn’t know it was flavored), and there wasn’t much of a glaze, really. I’d like a little more sauce for the tofu, though, and I’m not sure how I’d accomplish that- just adding more pineapple juice wouldn’t do it, because it just cooked down til it evaporated- it never got thick or syrupy. The flavor in this dish was all in the cucumber salad, which was nicely seasoned with jalapeno, rice vinegar, herbs, and red onion.
Grilled Mozzarella Sandwiches with Tomato-Olive Salad (A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen)
Another good but not great. Slices of baguette are alternated with slices of fresh mozzarella on skewers, brushed with olive oil, and grilled until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted. The sandwiches are served over a salad of chopped tomatoes and olives (he calls for green, which I don’t care for; I used kalamata) seasoned with oregano. The chopped tomato salad was very yummy, but the sandwiches themselves were odd. A lot of cheese melted into the grill, causing flare-ups, and once the sandwiches were off the grill they looked neat, but figuring out how to eat them was a challenge. I used a knife and fork; DH used his hands but the sandwich layers fell apart. The flavors were fine, of course- how can you go wrong with good bread, good cheese, and olive oil?- but the presentation seemed impractical. I’d repeat the salad but maybe just top it with single slices of grilled bread topped with mozzarella- easier to manage that way!
Zucchini with Lemon-Caper Butter (The Savory Way)
I grilled the zucchini for this dish. The lemon-caper butter is really flavorful- in addition to the namesake ingredients it has fresh parsley, basil, and shallot. Easy to make and tasty- I just put the zucchini slabs on the grill, then tossed in a bowl with the butter.