If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I love my garden. Even this year, when it hasn’t been that productive (I blame the early heat waves and the incredibly dry summer), I love going out to check on my plants every morning. It’s hard to put into words the way my garden makes me feel, but I figure other people feel the same way. Although it happens over and over again, I am simply dumbfounded that I can put a tiny fleck of seed into the ground and get a big, productive plant that will feed me delicious fruit or vegetables. Isn’t that just amazing?
Anyway, I thought my dad was the big gardener in my family (he was an agriculture major in college, is very active in his local p-patch, and can answer my “what is this plant?” text messages about 80% of the time), but it turns out my mom is pretty great at it too. She just put in a bunch of garden beds at her house and she has nearly 20 tomato plants. She has been sending me lots of pictures of all her produce, so I feel like I’ve been watching things grow alongside her. But I am in Seattle staying with her this week and when I see how excited she gets to show me her big prize tomato or her amazing cucumbers the size of my arm, I see where I get my wide-eyed awe from.
To celebrate tomato season (and you really should, at this point, be eating as many tomatoes as you can) and the fact that you can now turn on your oven without wanting to immediately die, make this pasta. Savory, rich, and bright, it captures some of my favorite flavors of the season.
I was going to post a pasta dish this week – it’s really good and summery but still creamy and light – but I just couldn’t bring myself to suggest that you turn on both your oven and your stove. I don’t know about you, but we are in the middle of a heat wave. It’s another heat wave, or maybe it’s the heat wave we’ve kind of been having all summer despite a couple days last week. We have established a system of closing our windows around noon when it starts to get really hot outside, turning on the air conditioning when the inside temperature gets unbearable, and then opening the windows in the evening once the outside temperature is lower than inside or maybe if there’s a slight cool breeze blowing by.
On days like this, I can’t imagine eating anything hot. In fact, I would prefer that everything I ate was cold and crunchy, preferably also maybe juicy or with a little tang or spice to it. These toasts almost fit that bill – no juiciness really (unless you include the cucumbers that I GREW IN MY OWN GARDEN – sorry, I’m excited), but lots of crunch from the sliced vegetables and tang from the miso cream cheese. You do have to turn on your toaster, but it’s worth it, I promise.
There is that time of year when all you want to feed yourself is fresh, crunchy, cold (or maybe room temperature) food. The time when you are drinking more cold beverages than you thought possible. And when you are going to backyard gatherings or picnics in the park. That time of the year is now and all I want are things that are stuffed with fresh herbs from the garden, salty, tangy, and maybe a little spicy. Luckily, this simple salad satisfies all of those cravings.
How simple? First, throw a bunch of herbs, garlic, olive oil, and vinegar into a food processor. Toast your couscous until it is golden, then cook it with broth to give it some extra love. Sauté the asparagus and peas for just a few minutes, until they have just a touch of color but are mostly a vibrant green. Top all of this with crumbled feta for a touch of salty briny tang, and enjoy. Don’t worry, you’ll have sauce leftover to drizzle over any thing hot off the grill.
You know you like a place a lot when, every time you go out to eat, you immediately put it at the top of your list of options. Or when someone asks for recommendations and it is your first suggestion. Dame has quickly become this for me. There are sensible reasons: it is a pleasant 25-minute walk or 5-minute drive from my house, they cook highly seasonal food, and have a great wine list. But then there are those reasons you can’t really put into words, it’s more of a feeling.
It has been a while since I wrote a weekend finds post! I already have a handful of go-to recipes and ingredients for this summer that I wanted to share with you. Do you have any favorite summer recipes or restaurants you’re digging? Send them my way!
I hadn’t been to this amazing pizza place in North Portland in a long time, but we snagged a table outside after a day of strawberry picking on Sauvie Island. It’s a little on the pricey side for pizza, but holy moly it is so amazing. Hyper-seasonal toppings, the best crust in the city, all accompanied by beautiful salads and vegetables and a lovely staff and and and. I could go on. If you haven’t been, get your butt into a seat at this place.
It’s Tomato Roasting Season
If you haven’t roasted tomatoes before please do it. The time is now. Here is a recipe to get you started, but basically put your oven at about 250°, slice your tomatoes in half, nestle them in a baking dish, pour over a healthy amount of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for about 3 hours. You can nestle in sprigs of fresh herbs (I like oregano and thyme) and unpeeled, crushed cloves of garlic for some aromatics, but really there’s not much you can do to mess these up.
I bought Jonah a bottle of this stuff because he really likes the chile lime cashews from Trader Joe’s. But then it sat in our spice drawer untouched until I brought home a perfectly ripe melon from the store months later. Now I want to sprinkle it on all the fruit! Cut up your melon, toss in some lemon juice, and sprinkle this on for a mouth-watering, refreshing summer snack. It’s perfect for those hot days where you don’t want to move.
I’ve already used this recipe from last summer’s Bon Appetit grilling issue three times this spring/summer. It’s so easy and you can skip the citrus sprinkle sesame if you don’t have time for it (but if you do have an extra minute, I’d highly recommend including the topping – it comes together in no time). Bonus: the marinade is so good with tofu for any vegetarians that might be attending your bbq! (Photos above are the tofu, plus my husband and friends out by the grill skewering chicken after a soccer game.)