Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

Have you ever noticed how much your taste changes as you get older?  I used to loathe cilantro, parsley, and carrots when I was younger.  Loathe is a pretty strong, and that’s exactly how I felt about those *things*.  The taste of cilantro used to make me gag.  The thought of carrots would send me running into the other room.  My Mom used to relate to me by telling me stories of how much she hated cilantro, too, when she was younger.  But she’d follow the story with telling me how my taste would change as I matured, but I didn’t believe a word that came out of her mouth!

I ate my words.  My Mom was completely right… “Mothers know best,” right?  I love cilantro now.  My affinity for it changed when I had my first tasting of Tom Kha Gai at my first Thai dining experience.  It was love at first bite.  However, it hasn’t been that easy for acquiring the tastes of parsley or carrots.  I don’t recall when exactly I started to come around enjoying carrots, but it definitely has been in the recent years.  I hate raw carrots, but I don’t mind stewed or roasted carrots.

Enjoying flat-leaf parsley has been a tougher challenge for me.  Flat-leaf parsley has such an overwhelming flavor to begin with.  I initially needed other stronger flavors to mask the taste of parsley, like basil pesto.  This has since changed as we’ve been eating and cooking more  Mediterranean foods that call for flat-leaf parsley.  We recently dined at one of our favorite local Mediterranean restaurants and sampled their vegetarian Meze plate, which included tabbouleh.  OMG, how could I have been missing this all these years?!  I’ve become addicted.  So much so that I made a LARGE batch a few days ago.  We’ve had quinoa tabbouleh several days in a row for lunch AND dinner :)

Quinoa Tabouleh Salad

2 1/2 large bunches flat leaf parsley, stems removed, finely chopped
3 roma tomatoes, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch dices
3″ inches small English cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch dices
1/2 small white onion, finely diced
1/4 cup quinoa, cooked
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt, to taste

In a large bowl, combine everything except for the lemon juice, oil, and salt.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt, to taste.

Toss the salad with the lemon vinaigrette.

Serve with falafels, hummus, pocket bread, and anything else you’d like.

Makes 4 servings.

Spaghetti with Italian Turkey Sausage, White Wine, and Fresh Tomatoes

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What not a better way to celebrate the summer then by incorporating the fruits of our labor (no pun intended) into yummy summer-y recipes?  Our vegetables plants have been providing us with steady bountiful “crops” of tomatoes, as well as basil.  I didn’t want to repeat last year’s terrible bout of laziness, in which ALL of the vegetables were not harvested.  Not one tomato.  It all went to waste, especially after all the time, effort, and money that I invested to set up drip lines. This year is going to be different.

And for the past several years, I’ve been telling myself to just buy one tomato plant because we end up with way too much tomatoes (and it usually goes to waste).  I even told my partner to stop me from buying two plants.  But sure enough, I left the nursery with TWO tomato plants again.  After I harvested a very large bowl of tomatoes, I told my partner to remind me to buy only one tomato plant next year.  Her response, “I told you this year, but you were too stubborn to listen.”  Ugh.  She’s right.  I was too stubborn to listen.  And now we have way too many tomatoes.  You know what’s funny?  I’ll probably be too stubborn to listen next year and many years after.  I don’t think I’ll ever learn my lesson.

My partner did say that she LOVES pasta when we first started dating.  So guess what we’ll be having for dinner for the next many weeks to come?

You guessed it!…

Spaghetti with Italian Turkey Sausage, White Wine, and Fresh Tomatoes

4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1.5 links sweet Italian turkey sausage, remove from casing
1.5 links hot and spicy Italian turkey sausage, remove from casing
1 (15 ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 cup fresh tomatoes, diced
3/4 cup Sauvignon Blanc
1/2 teaspoon dried red hot chili flakes (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 heaping cupful grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnishing
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Fresh basil leaves, chiffonaded
Whole wheat spaghetti pasta

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the sweet and hot turkey sausages until well combined. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the whole wheat pasta to the boiling water and cook according to the package directions for al dente.  Drain the pasta in a colander and return to the pot; cover with a lid to keep warm.

In a separate skillet, heat extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the garlic and onions and saute until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.  If the garlic is browning too quickly, turn down the heat to medium.  Add a dash of kosher salt to the onions to help it sweat a little bit.  Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat extra virgin olive oil.  Add the ground turkey sausage to the pan and saute until browned and no longer pink over high heat, about 6 to 8 minutes.  Be sure to crumble/break up the sausages while it is cooking in the pan.

Once the sausages have browned, add the white wine to deglaze the pan and dissolve/scrape the browned bits that have crusted to the skillet.  Cook for about two minutes over high heat.  Add the cooked garlic and onions, crushed tomatoes, red chili flakes, and bring sauce to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer for 5 minutes.  Adjust seasoning with salt and fresh cracked black pepper.  [Do not over salt the sauce as you will be adding grated parmesan to the dish.]

Add the drained pasta to the skillet and toss until well-coated.  Add the grated parmesan cheese and toss again until it has been thoroughly incorporated.

Serve on a big platter family style or on individual serving plates.  Garnish with fresh basil leaves, cherry tomatoes, and extra grated parmesan.

Makes 4 servings.

Rustic Pluot Galette

We scored on some deliciously sweet pluots at the local farmer’s market yesterday.  What not a better way to use the pluots, than to make a pluot galette.  I was so excited to bake this.  I heart baking.  It’s so therapeutic.  Okay, okay.  It’s a lie.  I wish I could take credit for this, but I’m not a baker whatsoever.  Not even close.  It was my partner who baked this.  She’s an incredible baker.  I just took the picture.

Butter Pie Crust (Pâte Brisée; from Simply Recipes)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar (increase to 1 1/2 teaspoons if for a sweet recipe)
4 to 6 Tbsp ice water, very cold

In a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar, pulse to mix. Add butter and pulse 6 to 8 times, until mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea size pieces of butter. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing until mixture just begins to clump together. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it’s ready, if not, add a little more water and pulse again.

Remove dough from machine and place on a clean surface. Carefully shape into a disc. Do not over-knead the dough! You should still be able to see little bits of butter in the dough. These bits of butter are what will allow the result crust to be flaky. Sprinkle the dough with a little flour on all sides. Wrap the disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle some flour on top of the disk. Roll out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface to a 12 inch circle; about 1/8 of an inch thick. As you roll out the dough, use a metal spatula to check if the dough is sticking to the surface below. Add a few sprinkles of flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Gently fold in half. Place on to a 9-inch pie plate, lining up the fold with the center of the pan. Gently unfold and press down to line the pie dish with the dough.

Pluot Galette

1 pate brisee
6 firm pluots, sliced
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
pinch salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Toss the pluots in a bowl with the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Stir thouroughly and set aside.

Pile the pluots on top of the chilled dough leaving a 2 inch border for the crust. Fold the sides up, creating the crust and pinch folds together to secure. Brush egg on top and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake pie in the oven for 1 hour until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling. Let cool on the counter and serve.

Grilled Corn Summer Salad

I love that warm weather means an abundance of summer fruits and vegetables.  I get really excited when I start to see corn being sold at the grocery store and farmers market.  It’s my favorite vegetable during the summer months.  I love corn, especially after it’s been slightly charred on the grill.  Yum.  My favorite way to eat corn, albeit it’s not the most efficient process, is to pick off each individual kernel while I watch TV.  It’s better than a bowl of popcorn or plate of nachos.  I know it sounds tedious, and it probably is, but it’s that brainless (and slightly obsessive) process of removing each individual kernel that I enjoy.  I didn’t have time to enjoy the corn kernel by kernel, so instead I made a grilled corn summer salad.  It’s a light and refreshing salad, especially with flecks of basil and the tanginess of the vinaigrette.

What’s your favorite way of enjoying corn?

Grilled Corn Summer Salad

3 ears of white corn, shucked, husked, and cleaned
3 yellow squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
2 roma tomatoes, seeded, and chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup basil, chopped
3 tablespoons pomegranate vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling vegetables
1/2 teaspoon honey (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat outdoor grill to high heat and lightly coat grill grates with oil. Conversely, if you don’t have an outdoor barbecue setup, an indoor grill pan works great, too! Just heat grill pan over high heat.

Drizzle extra virgin olive on corn and squash. Place corn and squash (cut side down) on the grill. Cook until the kernels are tender and slightly charred, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cook squash until slightly tender and also slightly charred, about 5 to 10 minutes, turning 30 to 45 degrees to get perfect grill marks half way during the grilling process.

While the vegetables are cooling, whisk together the pomegranate vinegar, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

When the corn is cool, cut the kernels off the cob, cutting close to the cob with a sharp knife. Cut the squash into half inch dices. Place basil, corn, and squash into a large bowl. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss to combine. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Makes 4 servings.

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