These bright, fresh lettuce wraps are full of yummy seasonal produce. Perfect for a small appetizer or a light snack.
Seasonal salads are the best kind: they require little effort on the chef’s behalf to make them taste good, the fresh-picked produce does the work for you. I made two seasonal salads (be ready for a lot more coming this summer, God willing) paired with simple dressings that honestly taste good on anything.
an all green Buddha bowl laced with herbs and roots and fruits
a bright kale salad with a creamy low fat vegan poppy seed dressing
with creamy cranberry tahini dressing
All summer long, I have been obsessing over the stunning eggplants at the farmers markets. Beautiful shades of light and speckled purple, striped and red and blank white. I never picked up a single one because I was totally uninspired as to what to do with them. Then I saw Sarah’s beautiful Heirloom Tomato Eggplant Caprese Stacks. They looked bright and summery and craveable and reminded me of a strained yogurt and spicy tomato eggplant thing I used to make. I don’t know what it was called, or even where I got the recipe, but I do recall that it was of Middle Eastern origin. And I had recently acquired a generous amount of sumac, my favorite all-time Middle Eastern spice. I think I like sumac even better than I like thyme. So sumac + eggplant + farmer’s market whatever = fattoush something.
I used these pretty Dancer eggplants, shining in a lovely amethyst hue. After roasting, they were so creamy, almost melting on my tongue. I never want another supermarket eggplant again. But I’ll probably change my tune once the farmer’s market closes for the season and I’m huffing around the Kroger produce section, kicking at the wheels of my cart. I actually like Kroger produce, but nothing can ever compare to fresh-from-the-dirt. There is a nice tomato-headed kid who always helps me out, showing me cotton candy grapes and such. Digging up the plumpest Brussels sprouts when he catches me poking at the bruised brown-leaf ones. So I guess going back won’t be so bad. Maybe.
Since I love sumac so much, I made a pseudo-hummus out of lemons and chickpeas and sumac. A little garlic and salt. It really brings makes the Middle Easter flavor spark, like a hot hum of the last days of summer.
I used beautiful Dancer eggplants, a gradient white-lilac variety known for their low bitterness. If you use darker eggplants such as Nadia, Galine, or Traviata, you may want to increase the salt-and-sit time to 20-25 minutes.
- about 2 lbs worth of eggplant (This was 5 medium eggplants for me)
- 8 oz cherry tomatos, sliced
- 1 large cucumber, or 1.5 smaller cucumbers
- 5 radishes, thinly sliced
- 1 cup parsley, minced
- 6 green onions, top parts only, thinly sliced
- 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 3/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 scant tsp microplane grated garlic
- 1 1/4 tbsp sumac powder, plus more for sprinkling
- salt to taste
- olive oil
- Cut the eggplant into 1/4 inch slices. Sprinkle both sides with salt and allow to sit for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 450.
- Lightly grease a baking sheet with olive oil. Lightly drizzle the slices with olive oil as well. (very lightly)
- Bake for 10 minutes, flip, and bake for 10 more minutes
- While the eggplant is baking, blend the chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, and sumac, into a smooth paste. Add salt to taste.
- Place a single layer of slightly overlapping eggplant slices in a square (about 8x8) This will be about half of the eggplant slices
- Spoon on a layer of the chickpea-sumac paste and delicately spread.
- Add layers as follows: cucumber, radish, sprinkle of parsley, sprinkle of green onion, tomato, sumac paste, cucumber, radish, parsley, green onion, tomato, sumac paste, and then top it all off with the remaining eggplant.
- Sprinkle with sumac and garnish lightly with additional radish, parsley, onion, and cucumber.
- Serve with pita or soft corn tortillas.
Silky raw “fried” avocados, the best summer produce, and a creamy low fat vegan dressing come together to make this yummy salad.
Earlier this week, I went to TJ Maxx in search of some work dresses and running gear. Save for an eight dollar pair of shorts, I found neither work clothes nor sweat-in clothes. That’s how it usually is at TJ Maxx-y type places, you either find armfuls of cute outfits or nothing at all. This was a nothing-at-all day.
I didn’t leave totally empty handed, because I wandered over to their random foodstuffs section and kinda hit the jackpot. Saigon cinnamon, Himalayan salt, peanut butter powder. And best of all — hemp hearts! I usually don’t buy hemp hearts because they are rather pricey, but these were so discounted that I just had to have them. Funnily enough, a few days later, I came across this article in Bon Appetit, all about how our TJ Maxx food purchases are mostly fueled by FOMO.
Guilty. But not too guilty because those are ingredients that I really want anyways, and can definitely put to good use. Big Lots also has an excellent food section, the Bob’s Red Mill stuff is cheaper than it is anywhere else.
I was very pleased with my hemp-heart purchase. Paired with avocado, they create a lovely crust — a little crunchy, a little soft, very reminiscent of fried avocado. Only better, because I dislike hot avocado.
Another purchase I was happy with this week was a bag of ground cherries from our Saturday farmer’s market. Ground cherries are relatively new to me, but I’m already crushing hard. They look delicate beneath their gossamer shell, but they are actually firm and juicy. The papery husk peels back to reveal a small golden fruit that tastes like pineapple and honey. I just cannot get enough of all this wonderful summer produce. Also, when you’re peeling them, they look like little Golden Snitches.
I did have a little problem while I was shooting the cherries, though. They are toxic to cats, and Clover likes to poke her little nose whatever I’m doing. I kept having to shoo her away, and finally I gave up let her play outside so she would leave me alone. Then she climbed a tree, and looked cute doing that, so I stopped taking pictures of food and started taking cat videos. Which defeated the whole purpose of letting her out to play. In the end, I just gave her her lunch a little bit early. As a new cat mama, I’m learning that the feline-human relationship is hierarchical — and we’re on the bottom.
For best results, make the dressing a few hours (or even 1 day) prior to serving. This allows the flavors to mellow and mingle. If your strawberries are extra sweet, you might may want to omit the maple syrup. This dressing lasts about a week in the fridge, and makes way more than is necessary for this salad -- so you'll be able to enjoy it on other summer goodies as well.
This recipe can be eaten as a main meal for one, or as a side salad to share between two.
- 1 avocado
- 1 peach, sliced
- 1/3 cup ground cherries, husks removed prior to measuring
- 3 tbsp hemp hearts
- pinch of salt
- 1 ear of corn, shucked
- 3-4 handfuls of greens of choice
- 1 lb strawberries, hulled
- 1 medium carrot, peeled
- 2/3 cup canned northern white beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tbsp sriracha
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 3/4 tsp microplane-grated fresh garlic
- salt to taste
- Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Makes just over 2 1/2 cups
- Turn on the broiler. Once hot, place the corn directly under the heat. Cook for for 12 minutes, turning the corn every 3-4 minutes. Allow to cool and strip off the kernels.
- Combine the hemp hearts and the salt.
- Slice the avocado into 8 pieces. Gently roll in the hemp hearts to coat.
- Combine the greens, the peaches, the avocado, the corn, and the ground cherries in a bowl. Drizzle with dressing.