tomato & cucumber salad {with lemon-caper dressing}

This salad screams summertime!  Though it’s only April, we’re getting summertime vibes over here and I am (somewhat) ready.  I’m ready to walk away from the stove and fire up the grill.  I’m ready to simply toss some veggies together to accompany our meal and call it day.  I’m envisioning sitting with my husband on our back patio at dusk under the twinkling pergola lights, listening to our wind chime dance in the breeze.  While sipping on an ice-cold, crisp glass of Pinot Grigio, I am wholeheartedly enjoying this salad on a perfect summer evening.

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Salt & Vinegar Roasted Potatoes with Chimichurri

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In elementary school, Tuesdays and Thursdays were THE best lunch days because I was able to indulge in fast food (just a little bit), Doritos and chocolate chip cookies instead of my usual boring PB&J with pretzels.  Food that I really didn’t eat too often at home.

We would line up by class to pick up our one Taco Bell taco or McDonald’s hamburger and had the option to purchase a bag of chips for $0.25 or a cookies for five cent a piece.  With only a quarter in my pocket, the big dilemma was choosing the bag of chips or five (whole) cookies.  Life decisions for a third-grader.  If I chose the chips, I had to do it quickly because the good ones like the Doritos, Lay’s or white cheddar popcorn were always sold out first, leaving only the Salt & Vinegar flavor.  Ew. No thank you.  It was the vinegar smell that completely turned me off and lingered in my nostrils if anyone even opened a bag.

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Soused Tomatoes

Soused Tomatoes 2

Here is another gem from Seven Spoons, Tara O’Brady’s yummy, vibrant cookbook.  We know that roasted tomatoes are pretty amazing, but this is a very unique and in her words, “beautiful” way to treat them. Their delicate flavor is intensified from the slow-roasting and she recommends using them as an antipasti, in a salad with peppery arugula and lots of Parm or squished onto bread or flatbread- all of which sound amazing.  However, I have used them to top my pasta dishes and grain bowls in lieu of sauce, which is also highly recommended.

Beware, these soused tomatoes take about 3-4 hours in the oven, so plan accordingly!

The leftover oil once the tomatoes are gone is definitely something to keep and use as a finishing oil or vinaigrette, mayonnaise or marinade base.

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A Summer-y, Hearty Grain Salad with Shishito-Cilantro Dressing

I’m new to this shishito pepper bandwagon, but now that I’m on it I don’t plan on getting off any time soon!  Shishitos are a Japanese variety of pepper that are mellow and slightly sweet, except for the occasional spicy one hiding in the bunch.  Their preparation is simple and quick. In a hot cast iron pan with a bit of olive oil, the peppers are sautéd until the skin is blistered. Sprinkled liberally with sea salt and served with a cool dip, such as this one from The Kitchn, they make the perfect snack or appetizer.  I could eat these every. single. day.

  
That being said, I had been dreaming of another way to use them and I kept going back to some sort of a dressing, sauce or dip.  So here we are.  Use to dip vegetables, dress your salads or eat right off the spoon like I did.

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