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the main event

I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to summer, and neither should you. Make this dish as a side, or, better yet, an entree to celebrate this last day of summer.

1 pound green beans, trimmed
4 peaches, cut into wedges
Canola oil
1 pint sungold tomatoes, halved
Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup goat’s milk Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp sumac

1. Blanch green beans in salted boiling water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Shock in an ice water bath.
2. Lightly coat peaches in canola or other neutral oil and grill to desired char.
3. Place green beans on plate or platter and top with peaches and tomatoes; sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
4. Stir together yogurt and sumac, along with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Top salad with a dollop of yogurt.

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In order for a salad to achieve entree status, it must be exciting, varied in texture, and include higher calorie ingredients to keep me sated (think meat, cheese, nuts, avocado…). This salad is colorful, crunchy, and doesn’t skimp on flavor.

2 hearts of romaine, torn into bite-size pieces
1 head radicchio, thin slice
1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 roasted red peppers, thin slice
4 oz salami, medium dice
10 oz croutons (homemade from stale bread will make this dish extra-special, but store-bought is just fine in a pinch. I used whole wheat focaccia to make homemade croutons)
2 oz pecorino, shaved
Vinaigrette of your choice (lemon or red wine vinaigrette is particularly well suited for this salad)

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat.

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I originally made this soup for 300 people and with loads of butter. The curry flavor was subtle yet present enough to make people wonder why this soup was different from the previous version. Wanting to adapt this recipe to make it vegan and guiltless–yet still rich and satisfying–I swapped the butter for extra-virgin olive oil. By emulsifying it in at the end of the cooking process, the soup thickened and became creamy–much like a vinaigrette behaves once the oil has been added.

1/4 cup plus 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, medium dice
4 stalks celery, medium dice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp curry powder
1 Tbsp ground coriander
2 28-oz cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand

1. Heat 3 Tbsp olive oil in a pot over medium heat.
2. Add onion and celery, season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
3. Add the garlic, curry powder, and coriander and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
4. Add tomatoes, pour in 3 1/2 cups water, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes.
5. Puree soup until smooth, while gradually pouring in the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil.
6. Adjust seasoning to taste.

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Notes: Could use a bit more coriander, and perhaps some cumin for some smokiness.

1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp plus 1 Tbsp olive oil
4 slices bacon, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, small dice
4 medium carrots, small dice
5 medium stalks celery, small dice
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups green lentils
3 1/2 cups chicken stock (vegetable stock or water would also work)
Soft goat cheese, at room temperature, for serving (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss cauliflower florets with 1 Tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread out on a baking sheet.
2. Roast cauliflower for 15 minutes until dark brown in spots, stirring halfway. Decrease oven temperature to 350 degrees F and roast for another 15 minutes to finish cooking through. Set aside.
3. In a medium pot over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 2 tsp olive oil. Add bacon and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes.
4. Add onion, carrots, and celery to the pot. Season with salt and pepper and cook until vegetables are tender, about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
6. Add lentils and stock to the pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 30 minutes, or until lentils are cooked through. Adjust seasoning as necessary.
7. Spoon lentils into bowls and top with roasted cauliflower. Top with goat’s cheese, if desired.

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Man-o-Meter*: 8/10
Man Comment: “There’s bacon in it.”

*A new tool in which my S.S. rates each dish based on its appeal to the general male audience. He is a Midwestern, salt-of-the-earth type, and is easy to please while, at the same time, provides polite feedback. Though not a chef or cook, but an eater of most everything (less mushrooms, calamari, raw onions, and offal), his opinions matter because, well, they do to me (awWwWwWw).

Another dish that’s “just an idea” and follows no particular recipe. I should really work on that. But I promise: just throw this stuff together in any ratio you prefer and it will come out just as lovely as you are.

Tuscan kale, rough chop
Lemon juice
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pomegranate seeds
Almonds, toasted, chopped
Cauliflower, pickled

Massage the kale with lemon juice, oil, salt, and black pepper. Garnish with pomegranate, almonds, and cauliflower (I made my own, but feel free to purchase, or pick through jarred giardiniera). Great as a starter or side dish, but also enjoyed in copious amounts to qualify as an entree.

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I know, I know–I need to be focusing on recording ingredient quantities, but this one really doesn’t need much more than a list of ingredients. Crunchy raw vegetables are highlighted by a tart lemon vinaigrette, and the whole thing is soothed by creamy, gooey burrata. I love summer.

snap or snow peas, julienne
celery, thinly sliced on a bias
lemon vinaigrette (lemon juice, minced garlic or shallots, evoo, kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper)
burrata
freshly ground black pepper

Toss the snap or snow peas and celery with the vinaigrette and plate. Tear burrata and arrange on top of the vegetables. Drizzle with more vinaigrette and garnish with black pepper. Consume ferociously and with fervor, either as a starter, a side, or main dish.

snap peas and celery with burrata

The restaurant I used to work for created a Tunisian-inspired savory oatmeal. I completely fell in love, and have been making my own version ever since (first blogged here). This one is a perfect springtime recipe that takes advantage of asparagus and sweet green peas, and pairs them with a spicy harissa oil.

1 1/2 c steel-cut oats (use certified gluten-free oats if gluten is an issue)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 c fresh or frozen green peas
2 Tbsp harissa paste
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
6 stalks medium asparagus, trimmed and thinly sliced on a bias
5 scallions, thinly sliced on a bias
4 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
Lemon juice, for garnish
Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, for garnish (optional–omit for a vegan and dairy-free recipe)

1. Prepare oats according to package directions; season with salt and pepper.
2. If using fresh peas, blanch for 2 minutes and place under cold running water to cool. If using frozen, thaw.
3. Combine harissa and oil and set aside.
4. Spoon oatmeal into bowls and top each with asparagus, peas, scallions, pine nuts, lemon juice, harissa oil, and cheese (optional).

Serves 4.

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