No-Cook Recipes: Heirloom Tomato and Zucchini Ribbon Salad

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This salad came about partly because I like making zucchini ribbons, and partly because I bought a bunch of local produce at the farmers’ market last weekend.

I knew that I was going to be eating out a lot this week for my birthday so when I went to the market on Saturday, I tried not to buy too much. But then the heirloom tomatoes looked so beautiful, the zucchini was extra green, and there was an adorable child selling microgreens. I ended up blowing my budget.

That’s okay, though, because I used everything that I bought to make this salad on Saturday night. I used a vegetable peeler to slice the zucchini into thin ribbons. Then I sliced heirloom tomatoes and sprinkled flaky sea salt and pepper on top. I topped the salad with the microgreens, a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, and a few scoops of ricotta cheese. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it’s one of the best salads I’ve ever eaten.

When you have fresh ingredients, you don’t need much else. I’m glad that I let the taste, texture, and flavor of the produce speak for itself instead of burying them under other ingredients.

The zucchini was crispy and crunchy, the tomatoes were juicy and sweet, and the microgreens added more texture and brightness. The ricotta paired well with the tomatoes, zucchini, and olive oil. It was sort of like deconstructed lasagna, just lighter and waaay better for a hot summer day.

Anyway. Make this salad as soon as possible. It doesn’t require any cooking, which is the hallmark of a great summer recipe. It’s perfect for nights when it’s almost 100 degrees outside and you spent the day toasting under the sun.

Here’s a song that I’ve been jamming out to lately. It doesn’t have much to do with this salad, but it’s still wonderful.

Heirloom Tomato and Zucchini Ribbon Salad (from me, to you)

Ingredients

2 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced
2 medium zucchini, sliced into ribbons
1 cup of microgreens
juice of half a lemon
olive oil
ricotta cheese, Maldon sea salt, and pepper for topping

Directions

Slice the zucchini with a vegetable peeler and place it in a small bowl. Toss it with some sea salt and set aside.

Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes. Place the zucchini ribbons at the bottom of a bowl and top with the tomato slices and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Place the microgreens on top, squeeze on the juice of half a lemon, and drizzle with olive oil.

Use a small ice cream scoop to put dollops of ricotta cheese around the outside of the salad. Sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper. Enjoy!

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Birthday Musings, and a Pain au Chocolat

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It’s important to do exactly as one wants on one’s birthday. This morning, I left my house early and stopped at Comet Coffee and Croissanterie on the way to work to get a pain au chocolat and a cappuccino.

I snagged my favorite table by the window and leisurely sipped my cappuccino and ate my croissant. Then, I got out my journal and wrote for a while.

I don’t usually get sentimental on my birthday but for some reason, I have a lot of reflections this year. Maybe it’s because it’s the first birthday that I’ve celebrated at home in a while. Maybe it’s because a pain au chocolat reminds me of France, and I miss it there everyday. For whatever reason, I had a lot of emotional reflections. WARNING: This post is about to get gushy.

If you would have asked me a year ago if I’d be eating a pain au chocolat and drinking a cappuccino at a bakery in my hometown on my birthday, I would have laughed in your face. Life is unpredictable, especially when we think that we have everything figured out.

I also would have said a year ago that I wouldn’t be happy to be back in St. Louis full-time, but now that’s untrue. I feel lucky to be surrounded by family again and I’ve enjoyed rediscovering my hometown.

St. Louis is stealthily amazing. It’s modest about its food, coffee, gardens, and beauty. To the untrained eye, it might not have that much to offer. But strolling around the city the last few months, eating at restaurants, chilling in coffee shops, and visiting local shops has shown me its value and potential.

A lot of times, I get caught up in the future. I worry about what I should be doing or where I should be. Today as I was writing, I remembered how important it is to savor the present. Happiness starts with the beauty we cultivate in our everyday lives. I’m going to focus on this during the year to come.

Here are a couple songs that I’m jamming out to today. One is an old favorite and one is new.

 

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Dutch Baby

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A year ago, I had a piece of flourless chocolate cake for dessert at Zuni CafΓ© in San Francisco. When I took my first bite, I temporarily blacked out. I started silently weeping. The waiter came to my table to see how I liked the cake and I stared at him, unable to speak.

“How is it?” he asked.

“I’m crying,” I replied.

He started laughing. “This is the kind of cake that you eat alone in a dark room, weeping,” he said.

That’s sort of how I feel about this dutch baby, except I ate it alone in a sun-filled room on a Sunday morning.

I’ve wanted to make a dutch baby for as long as I can remember but I waited until I had a good cast-iron skillet. Yesterday, I decided to use my new skillet to make one for breakfast.

I melted some butter in a cast iron skillet and poured in batter. Then, I heated the skillet in a very hot oven until the pancake puffed up and turned golden brown. I reduced the heat to let the pancake set and then took it out of the oven and topped it with powdered sugar, peaches, and blueberries, and maple syrup. You could also serve it with jam or Nutella.

My favorite thing about dutch babies is the texture. The pancake is light and fluffy and has buttery layers, kind of like a biscuit. It’s amazing because I didn’t do anything to make the layers and I’m still rewarded with them.

The edges are also crispy so it gives the pancake more texture. The perfect bite involves some crispy crust, buttery, flaky center, a big patch of powdered sugar, and maple syrup. O.m.g.

The only thing I’d caution about this recipe is that it serves one. Maybe it serves two if you’re nice and like to share, or if you don’t have an appetite. I made the pancake in a 12 inch cast iron skillet and I ate the whole thing. I felt a little weird doing it, because in my head I was eating an entire cake/pastry/pie by myself. But I guess stranger things have happened.

ANYWAY. Make this dutch baby as soon as possible. It’s an easy recipe that’s good for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, a snack, or pretty much whenever you need it, which, at least in my case, is all the time.

Here’s a song that I’ve been jamming out to recently. It also describes my feelings for this dutch baby.

Dutch Baby (from me, to you)

Ingredients

1/2 cup flour
3 eggs
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 Tbsp sugar
4 Tbsp butter
peaches and blueberries, powdered sugar, and maple syrup for serving

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Whisk together the flour, eggs, almond milk, and sugar in a bowl until the batter is uniform and smooth.

Place the butter on a 12-inch cast-iron skillet and put the skillet into the oven. Let the butter melt completely, keeping an eye on the skillet to make sure that the butter doesn’t burn.

Once the butter melts, remove the skillet from the oven and pour in the batter. Return the skillet to the oven and bake about 20 minutes, or until the pancake is golden brown and puffed.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F and bake the pancake for a few more minutes, or until the center is set. Remove the skillet from the oven and place on a cooling rack.

Sprinkle the pancake with powdered sugar. Cut the pancake out of the skillet in slices and serve with peaches and blueberries and maple syrup. Enjoy!

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Kimmswick

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Last weekend I decided to take road trip to Kimmswick, Missouri. I saw a sign for the town a couple months ago when I was driving down to Taum Sauk Mountain but I brushed it off as a tourist trap. Then someone told me about a restaurant there that specializes in giant homemade pies. Sold, I thought.

Pulling up to Kimmswick kind of feels like showing up waaay early to a party. I got to town at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday and some of the shops were still closed. The streets were empty and the only people I saw were two old women sitting at a snow cone stand by the side of the road.

I was still charmed because the exteriors of the buildings were historic and bright. There’s also a peaceful, laid-back vibe that invites you to stroll around at your own pace.

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I went into one store that was open to buy some local honey. Then the shop owner started pointing out everything else in the shop, describing where it came from and who made it. I ended up buying some strawberry rhubarb preserves from a local Amish farm. On my way out, the owner told me to come back soon. Even though I’m (mostly) used to this kind of friendliness again after moving back from the East Coast, sometimes it still surprises me.

Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 8.52.32 AMAfter I browsed around town for a while, I went to the Blue Owl for lunch. The Blue Owl is known for its “levee high apple pie,” a pie with apples stacked inside so it forms a dome, and a layer of caramel on the outside to keep everything in place.

Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 8.53.14 AMI ordered a turkey club for lunch and a slice of their strawberry rhubarb pie for dessert. The club sandwich was delicious but the real standout was the pie. The crust was buttery and flaky, the turbinado sugar on top was crunchy and sweet, and the strawberry rhubarb filling was tart and flavorful. Next time I visit Kimmswick, I’m going to get a whole pie to go because one slice isn’t enough.

Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 8.53.27 AMMy favorite thing to do in small towns like Kimmswick is go off the grid. That might freak some people out but to me, it’s the only way to get a sense of the town. The main street is usually filled with more touristy attractions.

I wandered over old Windsor Harbor Road Bridge and saw a woman pointing out the Mississippi River to her grandkids. “There it is,” she said, pointing to a triangle of brown water far off in the distance. I figured if I walked under the bridge and took a small road leading in that direction, eventually I’d find it.

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Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 8.53.47 AMAfter I passed some stables and a horse farm, I got to the river. I walked through the sand to get down to Hoppies Marina, a small dock that’s technically in Imperial, Missouri, but I’ll call it Kimmswick for the purposes of this blog post.

Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 8.54.00 AMWhen I got to the dock, a couple was about to take their yacht out. They looked at me suspiciously but I pretended like I was waiting for someone on a picnic bench. After they left, I stretched out on the dock and read for a while. It was one of those situations where I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to be there, but I stayed anyway.

I watched birds flying over the water. They looked so free, gliding down, touching the water with their wings, and swooping up again. I could feel their joy and watching them made me happy.

Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 8.54.17 AMIf you’re in St. Louis or visiting and you’re looking for a quick day trip, I’d highly recommend Kimmswick. It oozes charm and basically has everything one needs, including pie, friendly locals, quirky shops, and law enforcement that lets people like me trespass on their docks and spend the day reading and sunbathing.

 

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(Almost) Perfect Scrambled Eggs

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I thought I’d use last night’s dinner as an opportunity to tell you my secret to making (almost) perfect scrambled eggs.

A scientist at my work likes to go fishing on the weekend. Yesterday, he stopped by my office with some trout that he smoked himself at home. “It was a process,” he said.

When I got home, I unwrapped the fish and tried a piece on its own. I was reeling. The fish was tender and soft, slightly smoky, and fresh. It was better than anything I could buy at the grocery store because I could tell that it was handmade. I probably could have eaten the rest of the fish on its own, but I decided to make scrambled eggs. The scientist told me that was one of his favorite ways to eat the trout.

When I was little, I hated eating scrambled eggs because of the texture. My mom would make them on the dry side and sometimes the edges would be crispy. I would avoid them when we had them for breakfast.

Now, I love them because I make them my way. I heat a little oil or butter in a pan on medium high heat. Once the pan is hot, I add the eggs and let them set for a second. Then I start mixing them up. Once they’re barely set and still runny, I take the pan off the heat. Then, I scoop the eggs out of the pan as fast as I can. I like fluffy, soft, borderline runny eggs.

After I made the eggs last night, I mixed in pieces of the smoked trout. Then I toasted two pieces of millet bread, spread goat cheese on top, and layered on the egg/trout mixture. I topped each slice of toast with a local tomato and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt and pepper. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it’s one of the best dinners I’ve had in a while.

Here’s a song that I jammed out to in the car on the way to work this morning. Phoenix just dropped a new album and I’m obsessed. This song is one of my favorites.

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Peach Mango Smoothie Bowl with Blackberries

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I read a few weeks ago that a big portion of the Southern peach crop was destroyed this year due to an unseasonably warm winter and a spring freeze. I felt bad for the Southerners and for myself. Peaches are my favorite summer fruit.

Then I saw some Georgia peaches at a local farmers’ market on Sunday and I breathed a sigh of relief. I think I rationally knew that peaches would appear, but a part of me went to the worst case scenario and pictured them being completely gone. Or, they’d show up at the market ugly and deformed.

Luckily, neither case ended up happening. The peaches that I bought are tender and juicy, perfect for salads, toast, and smoothie bowls.

This morning I made a bowl with fresh peaches and frozen mangos. I like combining fresh and frozen fruit in smoothies because it gives it a thicker texture. If you want a *highly* drinkable smoothie, consider using only whole fruit. It makes the mixture thinner and easier to sip through a straw.

I topped the bowl with blackberries, strawberries, chia seeds, almonds, and a sprinkle of cherry pomegranate granola that I’m obsessed with. If you haven’t checked out Made Fare Co‘s products, you really should. I’ve only tried cherry pomegranate and lemon blueberry but I want to try all their flavors.

ANYWAY. If you happen to find peaches at the grocery store, make this smoothie bowl. Also, stay tuned because I’m about to post a gazillion peach-themed recipes over the next few weeks.

Here’s a song that reminds me of this bowl. It’s also good for days when all you want to do is lay outside on a large quilt reading the fourth Elena Ferrante novel and eating farmers’ market strawberries.

Peach Mango Smoothie Bowl with Blackberries (from me, to you)

Ingredients

1 cup frozen mango
1 peach, sliced into thin pieces
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
strawberry slices, peach slices, sliced almonds, blackberries, chia seeds, and granola for topping

Directions

Blend the frozen mango, half of the peach slices, almond milk, and Greek yogurt in a blender on high until smooth. Pour into a bowl and top with the strawberry slices, peach slices, sliced almonds, blackberries, chia seeds, and granola. Enjoy!

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Papparadelle with Goat Cheese Sauce and Roasted Corn and Tomatoes

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One of my favorite things to do is to walk into a farmers’ market and create a recipe on the spot. On Saturday, I knew that I wanted to eat pasta for dinner but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to put in it. I stopped by the Kirkwood Farmers’ market, surveyed what looked good, and came up with a plan.

I know it’s summer when I start craving roasted tomatoes and corn. Growing up, I lived down the street from a farmer who sold vegetables by the side of the road. I’d ride my bike down the street to buy fresh vegetables from him. Sometimes, he’d let me go into the field and pick my own.

One day he asked me what I planned to do with the vegetables that I bought. “Put them on a sandwich,” I said. “The best thing you can do with those is sprinkle on a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and put them in the oven,” he said. “That’s all they need.”

His words have stayed with me. Whenever I think about what to do with summer vegetables I go for a minimalist approach. If you have quality produce, the flavors speak for themselves. You don’t need to bury them in sauce or other ingredients.

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This pasta is one of the easiest things to make and the most delicious. All you have to do is toss some fresh corn and cocktail tomatoes with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper, and roast them in the oven for a little until they start to turn golden brown.

In the meantime, make the pasta. The papparadelle cooks quickly so you can do that at the last minute, after you’ve sliced some basil. Reserve a little of the pasta cooking water to use for the sauce. Stir in goat cheese, add the basil and roasted vegetables, and sprinkle on some more salt and pepper.

I shared this pasta with my mom but I could have eaten the whole pot by myself. If you have a big appetite or you’re not good at sharing, I would recommend doubling this recipe. There’s something about the fragrant basil, sweet tomatoes, roasted corn, and tart goat cheese sauce that makes this pasta addictive.

Here’s a song that reminds me of these noodles. I’ve been listening to a lot of Joan Baez lately.

Papparadelle with Goat Cheese Sauce and Roasted Corn and Tomatoes (from me, to you)

Ingredients

1 cup cocktail tomatoes, halved
2 ears of bicolor corn, shucked and kernels removed
salt and pepper
olive oil
1 cup basil leaves, roughly sliced or torn
1 package papparadelle noodles
3 oz goat cheese
1/4-1/2 cup pasta cooking water
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

On one sheet, place the cocktail tomatoes cut side up and drizzle on a little olive oil and sprinkle on salt and pepper. On the other sheet, spread out the corn kernels and drizzle on some olive oil and sprinkle on salt and pepper, tossing until the kernels are evenly coated. Make sure the corn kernels are evenly distributed on the sheet.

Place the baking sheets in the oven and roast the tomatoes and corn for about 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes start to break down and the corn starts to turn golden brown.

In the meantime, make the pasta. Cook papparadelle according to package instructions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta cooking water. Return the noodles to the pot and add the goat cheese and the cooking water, stirring in the water slowly to make a sauce. Add more water if the sauce is too chunky, but be careful not to add too much. Stir in the basil leaves, reserving some for garnish.

Once the tomatoes and corn are done roasting, stir them into the pasta, saving a few roasted tomatoes for topping. Sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste. Serve with more cut basil and roasted tomatoes. Enjoy!

 

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