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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Barley Risotto with Marinated Feta

Let’s just start by saying I absolutely adored this dish.  It’s hearty and filling and feels like a warm hug for your stomach.  Is that weird?  Didn’t think so.


Arborio rice is found in traditional risottos, but this isn’t your traditional risotto.  There’s no need to warm vegetable broth in a separate pot, ladle broth into the rice, stir and repeat.  Instead, pearled barley is used and this dish doesn’t require the the meticulous preparation and exact measurements as its Italian counterpart.  We just sauté the aromatics, add all the broth at once, toss in the barley, kale, tomatoes and seasonings and let the heat do it’s thing. Just a few stirs here and there. Done.  Easy peasy one pot dinner.

But! We can’t forget about the marinated feta.  Caraway seeds may not be something you have readily available in your pantry but I love them in here, so use them if you can!

I adapted this recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem using what ingredients I had on hand.  The flavor profile remains in tact, though I added some kale for a pop of green, used leeks instead of celery and probably more tomatoes than originally called for.  Still tastes delicious.

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barley risotto with marinated feta

RECIPE

(serves 4-6)

  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 tbs ghee/unsalted butter
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • ¾ cup diced leeks
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 cup chopped kale
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 strips lemon peel
  • ¼ tsp chili flakes
  • ½-1 tsp fine-grain sea salt
  • scant 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (I used Miur Glen’s fire roasted tomatoes- as always)
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2-3 oz crumbly feta cheese

Rinse the pearl barley well under cold water and leave to drain.

Melt the butter and tablespoon on olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the leeks, shallot and garlic over gentle heat until soft, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the barley, kale, thyme, paprika, bay leaf, lemon peel, chili flakes, salt, vegetable broth and tomatoes.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a very gentle simmer and cook for about 45 minutes, stirring frequently to make sure the risotto doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.  It is ready when the barley is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.

Meanwhile, toast the caraway seeds in a dry pan for a couple of minutes.  Lightly crush them so that some whole seeds remain.  In a small bowl, combine the feta, crushed caraway seeds and 2 tablespoons of olive oil and gently mix to combine.

Once the risotto is ready, check the seasoning and add more salt if needed.  Divide into bowls and top each with the marinated feta, olive oil included.  To bulk up the protein, add some sliced chicken on top!  It’s delicious either way.

(adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem)

 

 

 

 

 

Soba Noodle Salad {with Kale, Brussels Sprouts & Tofu}

 

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Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

These days, as most days since Noah arrived, getting things done takes much longer than usual.  Whether it be cleaning the kitchen (which is a NEVER-ending task), getting all the “fun” tasks around the house done or making dinner.  Or lunch.  And quite honestly I’ve just about given up on breakfast.  I thought the daily routine might get get a little easier as he got older, however a crawling, almost-walking, insanely curious toddler is a force to be reckoned with.  Yes, the day-to-day has gotten easier but simultaneously more difficult at the same time, if that even makes sense.

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Baked Tilapia with Green Beans and Broccolini

So, I have been having a love affair with Tara O’Brady’s cookbook, Seven Spoons.  I’ve been endlessly perusing her book, marking recipes that I’m dying to try and have actually made about three or four of them in the past two weeks.  In my world, that’s a lot.  With a farmers’ market bounty from this weekend that actually included green beans and broccolini, I put this recipe on my list to make this week.

While the tilapia is baking, you’re able to whip this up as a side and within 30 minutes, you have a healthy and completely yummy meal!

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Roasted Summer Veggie Pizza

My husband and I moved to California from Chicago a little over three years ago and if you know anything about Chicago pizza, they’re deep dish is to. die. for. This is probably why pizza is a regular occurrence in our house. I would say we eat pizza at least once a week, if not more, and it’s something I love making for others.  However, we have yet to find a place out here that really compares but that’s probably much better for our waistlines.  It’s also given me the chance to create my own because, as I’ve discovered, pizza is a fabulous vehicle to experiment with toppings.  This one was inspired by the beautiful, buttery farmers’ market yellow squash I had sitting on my counter and the fresh basil pesto I had just made.  Roasting is always my first instinct when it comes to veggies and here it does not disappoint.  I threw the squash, tomatoes, corn and peppers in the oven until there were crispy, charred bits around the edges.  The caramelized onions add a touch of sweetness while the creamy ricotta adds a bit of decadence.  So, so good.

Normally I would feel like I was cheating if I didn’t make my own dough as well, however with this pizza, both the pesto and ricotta are homemade so a store-bought crust didn’t seem so bad.  I’m also sure the twang of goat cheese would work nicely here but oddly enough, I didn’t have any in my refrigerator.  Use whatever summer vegetables you have on hand and don’t be shy about piling on the toppings!

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