The change of seasons prompts changes in our wardrobe and routine. But does it do the same for our food choices? It should! In today's video, I share some of my favorite summer pantry essentials, explain why they work so well for this time of year, and ideas for incorporating them into summer meals.Read More
Fresh figs are one of my top three favorite fruits, so I had to laugh when I realized there are no fig recipes on the blog. I grew up eating them off of the tree in my grandmother's backyard, checking on the tree every so often for weeks in advance anticipating their ripening and hoping we'd get to them before the birds did. These plump deeply purple-brown jewels, when perfectly sun-ripened have a unique earthy, berry-citrus flavor and I love to eat them fresh, just as they are.
But I'm branching out today and decided the next best way to eat them is blended with carob in a late-summer smoothie. Surprisingly enough however, this has now moved up to my favorite way to eat figs because I feel like I can celebrate them in a special way while still enjoying them raw so as not to compromise their unique flavor.
Carob also flourishes in hot, dry climates so this is another example of following nature's cues by pairing foods that naturally grow up together. Carob is the newest member of my pantry community. It's great in raw desserts and smoothies when I want a hit of something rich and dark. Carob grows in pods on a tree and is ground into a powder resembling cocoa powder. It is often used in place of cocoa powder or cacao in baking, but it does not taste the same. It has a sweeter, more delicate flavor, and it does not contain the stimulating properties of chocolate, which I sometimes prefer. Here in particular the delicate, sweet flavor, together with a squeeze of orange compliments the fig nicely.
There is so much hype over superfoods like chia seeds, hemp seeds, goji berries, etc. that we overlook the powerful superfoods found in all of our markets: fruits and vegetables and accessible products like raw cacao and carob powder. Although I often enjoy chia and hemp seeds for the fantastic nutritional boost they provide, I choose not to talk about them much on the blog because I consider them to be a helpful supplement rather than essential for a healthy and whole diet. Carob and figs are just as much a superfood, and they are paired with chia and hemp seeds in this smoothie to give a super anti-inflammatory boost.
No matter what "diet" we subscribe to we should all be adding more anti-inflammatory foods to our daily meals, and the carob, fig, hemp, and chia seeds all play a role in fighting inflammation. In a few days I will be back with a post on anti-inflammatory foods and why they are so important. Until then, I hope you treat yourself to some fresh figs and enjoy them in this late-summer smoothie!
Carob Fig Superfood Smoothie
Serves 1 generously
- 1 cup (250 ml) water
- 2 Tbsp. hulled hemp seeds
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- Pinch salt
- 1 small, frozen banana (separate peeled banana into 2-3 pieces and freeze in plastic ziploc bag overnight)
- 2 fresh figs (+ 1 extra to top smoothie)
- 2 tsp. carob powder
- Spoonful nut butter (I used hazelnut butter)
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. chia seeds
- Squeeze of orange (~1/4 of a small orange)
- Add water, hemp seeds, cinnamon and salt to a blender and blend for about one minute, or until you have a smooth hemp milk.*
- Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour into a bowl, top with sliced fig, and enjoy!
*This is my secrete shortcut to replacing nut milk in a smoothie when I don't have any on hand. No straining nut pulp required! And if I know the smoothie will not be as sweet I'll also blend a date or two into the hemp milk. If you don't have hemp seeds on hand, replace water and hemp seeds with 1 cup of almond milk or another plant-based milk.
Peaches and sweet corn grow up to full, sweet and ripe maturity together, so I think they're destined to get along on a dinner plate too. Nature's cues really aren't something to overlook. She gives us advice on what to eat and when to eat it. If we tune into her quiet but reliable voice rather than that of the aggressive, cerebral-centric media, then the question of nutrition and what to feed our bodies becomes a lot more intuitive, and therefore simpler.
I loved this duo together in last week's platter salad so I decided to stick with the theme this week and make a quinoa salad with it. This recipe came about when I needed something to take to our friends for dinner. I wanted it to be transportable, but also freshly prepared (with minimal prep work) just before serving. They were grilling eggplant, tomato, and mozzarella stacks so I knew I had some handy grillers at the ready. I made the quinoa and mixed the dressing in a small glass jar at home, and the corn and peaches were grilled at their house. The only thing left last minute was to cut the corn off the cob, dice the peaches and toss it all together. Our friends made this again for their boss who was coming for dinner a few nights later, so they have nicknamed it "Boss Salad".
Take my advice. Don't wait to enjoy the salad because you are going to fall in love with this duo and will want to make it again before the sweet corn and peaches disappear.
Grilled Corn and Peach Quinoa Salad (a.k.a. Boss Salad)
- 1 1/2 cups (276 g) quinoa, cooked
- 2 1/2 cups (625 ml) water
- Lemon dressing (recipe below)
- 2 peaches (ripe but firm)
- 2 pieces corn on the cob
- Big handful cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 tsp. salt + freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh sieve. Add to a medium sauce pan with water and a big pinch of salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer (about medium heat) and cook for 15 minutes, shaking pan a few times in the last 2 minutes to make sure it's not sticking. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork and while still warm add to the serving bowl with the lemon dressing and stir to combine.
- While quinoa cooks, cut peaches in half and grill cut side down with corn until peaches are charred but not too soft and corn is charred on all sides.
- Slice corn off cob and cut peaches in bite-size pieces. Add to quinoa along with cilantro, salt, and pepper. Gently toss everything together and serve warm!
- 5 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- Juice from 1 juicy lemon
- 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp. whole grain mustard
- 2 tsp. runny honey (or maple syrup)
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. turmeric (optional - for golden color)
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- Use a fork to mix all ingredients together in the bottom of a large serving bowl.
Summer weather has passed but summer eats are still alive and well here. The air is cool, the foggy days have started trickling into the valley, yet tomatoes, peaches, corn, and the like are still showing up at the markets and I'm taking full advantage.
This is a quick salad I put together for lunch last weekend but I could have just as well served it at a dinner party. When a dish can be made for a group just as easily as it can for a Saturday lunch for two, it's a winner in my book. Platter dishes are one of my favorite ways to entertain because the platters are set in the middle of the table, and everyone helps themselves which encourages an interactive, casual environment where everyone feel at home and conversation flows freely.
Tomatoes and peaches when at their peak like they are right now are so sweet and juicy that they provide the perfect balance to the bright and tangy tarragon pesto and smoky bites of corn. If you're a miso fan, you'll love the tip I picked up from Amy for adding miso to the pesto. It gives that salty, umami flavor, similar to what toasted pine nuts and/or parmesan would give. But of course salt, pine nuts and/or parmesan can be substituted if you don't have miso.
Tomato, Peach, and Tarragon Salad with Smoky Corn Gremolata
Notes: You will have leftover tarragon pesto. It keeps well in the fridge for several days and is delicious stirred into soups, folded into quinoa or rice, or drizzled over roasted veggies.
- 2 large tomatoes
- 2 large peaches
- Smoky Corn Gremolata
- Tarragon Pesto
- Slice tomatoes and peaches and arrange on a platter.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Top with corn gremolata and tarragon pesto.
Smoky Corn Gremolata
- 1 ear of corn
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. cumin
- Salt + pepper, to taste
- Heat medium skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
- While skillet is preheating, cut corn off the cob. Add oil to skillet and immediately add corn, cumin, and salt/pepper to taste. Stir to combine and cook for 1 minute, just until the corn turns bright yellow and the cumin is fragrant. Remove from heat before pan starts to smoke.
- 1 bunch (1 cup/22 g) tarragon leaves
- 1/2 bunch (1/2 cup/11 g) parsley
- 1 Tbsp. (3 tsp.) white miso*
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- Add everything to a food processor and process until smooth. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
* If you don't have white miso replace with salt, to taste, or salt + a handful of toasted pine nuts or parmesan.