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.
I love tacos. I really do. They’re easy to throw together. You can eat one for a snack or three for dinner (or four or five). You can put whatever you want in them, which I think is pretty great. You can make almost a variation from almost any cuisine. When my friend Elaine, who does marketing here in Portland, asked me to do some recipe development for her client Mariam Foods, my first idea was: summer vegetable tacos.
Mariam Foods makes these delicious lentil dips. I know what you’re thinking, because I thought it too. At first mention, lentil dip sounds anything but delicious. I am an adventurous eater, by no means picky, but I do not like lentils. Or didn’t, I suppose. I tend to not really like their texture, and while I know they’re great for protein and budget cooking, I can’t get myself to use them. But Elaine invited me over to taste Mariam’s lentil dips, and I was pleasantly surprised. They are similar to the consistency of refried beans, with maybe the occasional whole lentil. And the flavors she was asking me to use, black lentil with jalapeño and black lentil and curry, were really nicely flavored. I started to get excited about the ways I could play with these flavors. While the dips are Ethiopian inspired, I knew I could sneak these dips into other cuisines.
I decided to start with tacos using the most scrumptious of summer produce: zucchini, tomatoes, and corn. Toss them with some Mexican inspired spices and roast them. While they were in the oven, I decided to whip up a cilantro-sour cream with lime. Then, to assemble the tacos, I started with a spoonful of the lentil dip smeared down the center of my tortilla, topped with warm vegetables, topped with the cilantro-sour cream, and another squeeze of lime for good measure. These tacos were so delicious, and really easy to make, and they made truly awesome leftovers. I ate them at least twice more throughout the week.
A little bird also told me that Mariam Foods has two new flavors coming out early this fall: brown lentil and sesame (with garlic and ginger) and brown lentil and sriracha. I know Jonah will love the sriracha, but I’m really excited about the sesame flavor! Mariam lentil dips were created by the Andemariam family, inspired by Afiza, a lentil salad that their Ethiopian and Eritrean grandmothers used to make. They source their ingredients as locally as possible, which I like. The dips can be found at various New Seasons, Whole Foods, and other markets and co-ops in the greater Portland area.
Summer Vegetable Tacos
2 ears corn, kernels sliced from the cob
2 small zucchini, diced into ½ inch pieces
1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
½ medium-sized red onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoons salt
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup sour cream
¼ – 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
juice of ½ lime
Mariam Black Lentil and Jalapeño Dip
Small tortillas (corn or flour)
Optional: grated cheddar cheese, queso fresco, salsa, additional cilantro, lime wedges
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the corn, zucchini, grape tomatoes, red onion, bell pepper, olive oil, salt, cumin, and garlic. Toss until all of the vegetables are evenly coated with the spices and oil. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Spread vegetables on the baking sheet, and roast for 20 minutes. Toss, and roast for another 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and starting to brown.
While the vegetables are in the oven, make the cilantro cream. Combine sour cream, cilantro, and lime juice in a bowl, stir well. Feel free to add more cilantro, lime juice, salt, or pepper to your taste.
To assemble the tacos, spread a spoonful of Mariam’s Black Lentil and Jalapeño Dip down the center of a tortilla. Top with roasted vegetables, and a dollop of cilantro cream. Enjoy!
This is a sponsored post. All of the opinions below are my own.
My summer craziness has begun! How about yours? Hopefully these weekend finds can help us slow down a bit and remember to enjoy the summer season.
1. Romesco Sauce
I’ve had romesco sauce plenty of times, but it was really last summer when my dad put it over some roasted cauliflower that it won my heart. I think grilling season is a perfect time of year to keep a batch of the stuff in your fridge, as it makes a really flavor packed topping for those lightly charred vegetables.
2. PedalPalooza 2014
So Portland, being the bike-centric city we are, has this month-long event called Pedalpalooza, with all these themed bike rides around the city. Jonah’s co-worker even led a Beyoncé themed ride last week! But there are a few rides for foodies: today there’s a homebrews and community gardens ride, tomorrow there’s a food cart ride, on Wednesday there’s a bees vs. Monsanto ride (yes, you dress up as bees and farmers and stop at the offices of food influencers in the city), and on Friday there’s both a coffee and carousing ride as well as breakfast on bridges (a stand set up with coffee and donuts where you can stop on your way to work). And of course, Friday night, there’s a champagne ride. So what else do you need? Get riding!
3. Warm-weather Whiskey Drinks
I’ll be honest, when I think of whiskey, I often think of being in a cozy bar on a cold night. But that shouldn’t really be the case. You can drink whiskey year round, and Saveur is going to give you a little help. Check out these refreshing whiskey cocktails, perfect for a hot day.
4. Time Magazine says “Eat Butter.”
Have you seen the new Time Magazine cover? I’m glad my roommate subscribes, because I’ll admit I’m looking forward to reading this article about how fat isn’t really the bad guy everyone thinks it is.
I gotta say, if you’ve never had jamaica, you’re missing out. It’s a refreshing, tart, fruity drink, a la lemonade, and is perfect for summer time. I love hibiscus tea, and this is really just a cold version of that. I found bulk hibiscus at my grocery store, but you can usually find bags of the petals in the latin foods section. In case you needed another reason to make this beverage, it’s also a great mixer for cocktails.