Main Dishes, Pasta, Recipes

Garlicky Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil

Just so I don’t alienate any non-pumpkin lovers… here’s a gem of a dinner that is super fast, super tasty, and super healthy. Can it get any better than this?

I know I’ve been saying this all. summer. long. but being in a CSA is so awesome. I get so excited heading to the park each week to pick up my basket of fresh produce. The drive home is the perfect time to dream up things to make with the week’s haul.

Today’s dish is the result of one of those drives. I had just picked up a basket chock-full of juicy, ripe tomatoes, luscious heads of garlic, and the most incredible basil you ever did smell. This is late summer/early fall at it’s finest. I got home, did some googling and set my sights on a dinner of Garlicky Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil [try saying THAT three times fast. Whew! Takes me back to second grade tongue twisters!]. What definitely makes this dish is the freshness of the ingredients–they have so much personality and standing on their own that no meat is required to, excuse me, beef up this dish. Ha! Winter tomatoes and herbs? Blah central. Call in the chicken. But serve up this vegetarian pasta dish with a big ‘ole salad and some crunchy bread and you’ve got yourself a meal to impress even the toughest meat-loving critic. This pasta dish might not seem like much, but simplicity sometimes can’t be beat, huh?

Reader Question ~ How do you do simple in the kitchen?

Garlicky Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil [adapted slightly from Cooking Light via My Recipes]
printable version

Ingredients:

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups chopped tomatoes [I used a pint of cherry tomatoes + a couple roma tomatoes]
  • large handful chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 ounce angel hair pasta

Directions:

Begin by setting a large pot of water to boil. While water is boiling, prepare your ingredients–mince the garlic, chop the tomatoes and basil, grate the cheese, etc. When water is ready, add pasta and set timer.

Then, pour a little olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. With about three minutes left in the pasta’s cooking life, add the garlic to the pan and saute for about 30 seconds. This should allow the garlic to begin cooking and smell fragrant, but not burn. Next add tomatoes, stirring gently to mix with garlic. Cook for about two minutes or until heated through. Stir mixture occasionally.

By now the pasta should be done. Drain and return to pot, then pour in tomato mixture and toss together. Fold in the basil and cheese, then season with pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Yield: 3 medium servings or 2 generous servings.

Time: 20 minutes.

Breakfast, Recipes, Scones

Honey Fig Scones

Fresh figs are my new favorite late-summer treat. As tempting as it was to not eat every last one of those sweet, soft bites of fruit that have recently arrived in my CSA basket while standing over the kitchen sink, I chose to take the higher ground and share with Ben. What a lucky guy! And what better way to share than with these delicious scones?

These Honey Fig-Apricot Scones are slightly sweet thanks to the honey, chewy from the oats, and full of pouches of fresh figs and dried apricots. Plus, since scones are so easy to make, they’re a cinch to whip up and the perfect treat for a lazy weekend brunch or afternoon tea. This is definitely a great way to enjoy figs… I only wish there were more to enjoy!

Reader Question ~ Have you ever had fresh figs? What’s your favorite way to enjoy them?

Honey Fig-Apricot Scones [from Brown Eyed Baker]
printable version

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons fat free half and half
  • 1 cup diced figs and apricots [fresh or dried; I used about 2/3 cup fresh figs and 1/3 cup dried apricots]

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a large baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, oats, baking powder, and cinnamon. Then, in a smaller bowl, whisk together egg and oil. Then add honey and mix well. Fold the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Then gently mix in half and half. In a small bowl, cover figs and apricots with sugar and then fold into dough.

Scoop dough onto prepared baking sheet in generous 1/4 cup increments. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Serve warm, preferably the same day the scones are baked. Otherwise store in an airtight behavior or freeze until ready to eat.

Yield: 8 scones.

Time: 40 minutes [15 minutes active].

Main Dishes, Recipes, Sandwiches and Wraps

Lunch Date

I have one week of summer left. I’m taking the week off work to relax, have fun, and get some things done at home before the busyness of the semester kicks in. Busyness of the semester? Boo.

But I don’t need to dwell on that today.

Not when I had a pretty awesome at-home lunch date with Ben, who left work for a bit to hang out with me!

lunch

No siree. Lunch was pretty great, and so was all that Law & Order: SVU on Netflix this morning. Mhmmm. I’m addicted.

  • The Best Panini Ever = 2 thin slices brown sugar deli ham + 1 thin slice roasted deli turkey + 1 slice provolone + thin layer raspberry jam + a dab of spicy brown mustard + generous sprinkle freshly ground black pepper + Trader Joe’s Pretzel Bread
  • Steamed Garlic Broccoli
  • Oven Fries with CSA red potatoes
  • Apple Slices

Yum.

panini

Oh how I love you, oooey gooey cheese and doughy pretzel bread! <– melted cheese=best part of eating lunch at home. ūüôā

Happy Monday!

What did you have for lunch today?

Musings

CSA Day

Since today is Wednesday, also known as CSA Day around here, I thought I’d share with you a snapshot of CSA goodness. For full disclosure, this was a few weeks ago so things have changed with the weather, but the lack of rain and intensity of heat has kept things like tomatoes and squash out of our baskets for now. Hopefully soon though! We’re supposed to get peppers today!

First up… the goodies. BTW this is the tarragon that made the salmon yesterday. Fantastic. And purple potatoes and kale are yet to come… be ready for it!!

In case you were wondering, we don’t eat the catnip. That’s for the kitty.

And then… a close up of garlic! Comparison with the iPhone for size, of course.

But a close up does no justice whatsoever to the sheer size of the entire stalk of garlic! Wowza! Can you believe the size of that thing?

It’s a good thing I like garlic…

…and as Ben says, quite obvious that I’m not a vampire. Good to know, honey, good to know.

So that’s a week in CSA-land. What do you think? Have you ever participated in CSA? If not, would you ever consider it?

Main Dishes, Recipes, Seafood and Fish

Salmon with Lemon, Tarragon, and Garlic Sauce

I was inspired to try my hand at salmon after a long absence of fish at our house [try September. Seriously! Why??] when two important menu forces collided. First, fresh salmon was on sale for $3.99/pound at my local grocery store, which seems like a great deal to me. Secondly, when picking herbs at a CSA pickup, I tried a bite of fresh French Tarragon and loved it. It had a tiny kick that emerged despite the bittersweet, fresh taste that had hints of mint and licorice. It was like nothing I’ve ever had before–or actually, nothing I’ve ever prepared before, because as I’ve learned from Google, it’s a staple in many French foods I ate on study abroad in Cameroon and while traveling in Europe. But back to the collision.

Salmon with Lemon, Tarragon, and Garlic Sauce via thepajamachef.com

I couldn’t let such coincidences escape from my grasp, particularly during this mid-summer freedom. So I promptly did some internet research after doing my shopping and CSA-gathering, put on my apron, and gave it a whirl… and emerged victorious, queen of the salmon. Wait, that’s Sheba, the kitty who may or may not have weaseled her way into a delectable bite of freshly flaked salmon. But you didn’t hear it from me…

The results were¬† so easy, so flavorful, so fresh, and so filling that now I’m just craving it all. the. time. The salmon was crispy on the outside and flaky on the inside, the¬† perfect vehicle for the tangy sauce. Composed of the familiar–tart lemon and complex garlic; and the new–gourmet, hearty Dijon mustard and spicy fresh tarragon, a sauce that initially sounds complicated is really quite simple and refreshing. A little goes a long way, though, and it’s a good thing too, because that means more for next time!

What types of food do you always intend to make but rarely do?

Salmon with Lemon, Tarragon, and Garlic Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

[technique by Peanut Butter Fingers, recipe from Allrecipes.com]

Ingredients:

  • 4, 4-ounce, salmon fillets
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil + more for salmon
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • juice of half a lemon
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • freshly ground lemon pepper
  • cooking spray

Directions:

Set oven to broil. Cover a large baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with cooking spray. Place salmon on foil and lightly brush with olive oil. Season with freshly ground lemon pepper. Broil for about 10 minutes, or until salmon flakes with a fork.

Meanwhile, whisk together mayonnaise, mustard, 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and zest, tarragon, and a hearty amount of freshly ground lemon pepper. Set aside.

When fish is ready, top each piece with prepared sauce and enjoy!