Autumn has definitely fallen over Ireland and colder weather is blowing in. When I’m out wandering about town, I pull my collar up to keep the chill from slipping down my neck. Even though the sunshine has managed to pop it’s head through the clouds, I can’t seem to get warm.
This salad is a gorgeous starter for a comforting bowl of soup. Sometimes combining just a couple seasonal elements in a simple way, allows each ingredient to shine without a lot of fuss. It’s easy, uncomplicated and just the kind of food I like to eat every day.
Squash blossoms are a seldom seen treat in most super markets due to their incredibly short shelf life – several hours once plucked in worst cases and only several days in best cases if handled very carefully. Typically, you have to come by these bright and fragile delicacies at your local farmer’s market or even better yet, in your own home garden. Once these bright blossoms make their way into your kitchen, it won’t be long before your little finger foodie and family realize what a treat they’re in for – not only will you get quite a kick out of eating flowers, you will also reap a few health benefits. Squash blossoms are high in calcium and iron and especially high in vitamins A and C.
The easiest and arguably the best way to use squash blossoms is raw, eat them with a drizzle of great quality oil and salt or toss them into any salad. The squash blossom is simple, ethereal and easily over powered so try to go easy on the dressings and accouterments.
Squash Blossom Salad
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 5 Tbsp. olive oil
- pinch of sea salt
- pinch of black pepper
- assorted greens
- 1 radish, sliced
- 2 cups small squash blossoms, stems removed
- 3 Tbsp. sunflower seeds
- 1 avocado, peeled and sliced
- Whisk together lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
- Divide greens, assorted vegetables and squash blossoms on two plates. Drizzle with dressing and top with sunflower seeds. Devour.
(Photo Credit: my sister, Jenny Norris – jjnorris.com)
As much as I embrace an easygoing approach to all things food related and try to promote creativity and substitutions whenever possible, I have to admit this tendency does not carry over to all aspects of my lifestyle. In fact, there are certain things about which I can be kind of obsessive.
For one, I’m a sucker for lists. Going through an orderly list and checking off items as they are completed gives me an incomparable sense of accomplishment. I have lists for everything; grocery lists, errands, Christmas presents, books to read or topics to research … even the margins of my day planner are not safe from my scribbles.
As of late, I’ve been thinking about one list in particular. This list chronicles my food fantasies – dishes I want to try. Some are dishes I consider classics, while others are those that have grabbed my interest. The recipe I’m sharing with you today is Roasted Root Vegetables. I’ve been working on perfecting roasted root vegetables for a while. Getting them to come out of the oven crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside is no small feat (but when you get them right, they are oh-so delicious!).
Roasted Root Vegetables
Vegan & Gluten-free
- 1 parsnip, peeled and diced
- 1 medium beet, peeled and diced
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced (I left the skin on)
- 3 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp. rosemary, fresh or dried
- 3 Tbsp. oil of choice (I used olive oil)
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C).
- Prepare all of the vegetables, making sure they are cut about the same size.
- Mix the oil, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper together in a small cup or bowl. Using your hands, mix the vegetables with the oil mixture until well coated. The vegetables should be in a single layer on the sheet for proper roasting.
- Place coated vegetables on a pan covered in parchment paper.
- Place in the oven and roast for about 25-30 minutes or until the root vegetables are soft and a bit browned. Serve right away and enjoy.
Even though it’s perfectly legit to enjoy a melon with nothing but a fork, it only takes a few extra steps for something even a little more special. You can serve this as an afternoon snack, or alongside a more elaborate meal.
You may be surprised at the sight of basil, show curious interest in the addition of olive oil but it will surely prompt an addiction to each salty, sweet, cool and crunchy bite. It’s as simple as a few ingredients and magically transcends the sum of its parts, as they say. With Autumn well upon us, this may be our last chance to enjoy a few last bites of summer.
Vegan, Raw & Gluten-free
- seedless watermelon, cubed
- cantaloupe, seeds removed and cubed
- cucumbers, cut into large chunks
- Several branches of fresh basil
- 1 Jalapeno–thinly sliced or diced small
- 2 limes, juiced
- olive oil
- pinch of sea salt and pepper
- Prep the ingredients, being careful to put each in its own container. Remove basil leaves from the stem, tear.
- For the chili vinaigrette, remove seeds from the pepper and rinse before slicing, dice the pepper and add to the lime juice. Let macerate for several minutes. Add a healthy splash of olive oil to the citrus and pepper mix. Add salt and pepper for taste.
- When ready to serve, build each salad individually with an equal portion of colorful melon and cucumber. Toss with two tablespoons of chili vinaigrette and a big pinch of fresh basil. Top each portion with a nice drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.
Vegetarian delight, pasta alla checca is a simple, quick and delectable dish from Italy. It is served in the summer months when tomatoes and basil are at their peak. It is ideally savored during the sultry months when one doesn’t want to spend too much time over a hot stove. It consists of uncooked tomatoes and simple Italian herbs, basil and the outcome is delizioso (translated means “delicious”).
Earlier this summer my boyfriend and I spent a weekend in Rome for my birthday. We had such a wonderful time and I wanted to recreate one of our favorite meals from our travels, but with a little twist – make it completely raw. If you are an avid tomato grower or prefer purchasing them from your local farmers, this is just the recipe for you. Take maximum advantage of the freshest tomatoes that are so bountiful during the summer season. Actually, the secret to making this dish an utter success lies in the use of the freshest, ripest and most flavorful tomatoes. Heirloom or heritage tomatoes are great for this dish as they taste good when eaten fresh.
For the “pasta” in this dish, you can use yellow squash or zucchini, or a combination of both. It’s nice to leave the peel on for extra vitamins and color. A spiral slicer makes lovely noodles in just minutes, but you can always cut them by hand with a vegetable peeler, by just peeling the squash or zucchini lengthwise into long strips. Of course, shredded with a mandoline would be just fine too.
Tomatoes, which we know are a fruit and not a vegetable, are loaded with all kinds of health benefits for the body. Free radicals in the body can be flushed out with high levels of Lycopene, and the tomato is so amply loaded with this vital antioxidant that it actually derives it’s rich redness from the nutrient. Intake of tomatoes has long been linked to heart health as well.
As a part of the summer squash family, zucchini not only offers delightful taste and texture to many dishes, but also carries with it many health beneﬁts. One cup of zucchini has 36 calories and 10% of the RDA of dietary ﬁber, which aids in digestion, maintains low blood sugar and curbs overeating.
Pasta alla Checca
Vegan, Raw, Gluten-free
- 2 large zucchinis
- 2 large tomatoes, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1–2 teaspoons herbs (thyme, rosemary or Italian herbs of choice)
- 12 fresh basil leaves
- 2 dates
- ½ cup olive oil, or to taste
- Sea salt to taste
- Freshly milled black pepper to taste
- Soak dates in filtered water to soften.
- Add the tomatoes, garlic, herbs, basil, dates, salt and pepper to a blender and blend until smooth. Slowly pour in the olive oil and continue blending until fully emulsified.
- Trim the ends of the zucchini. Using a spiral slicer or hand vegetable peeler, slice the zucchini into noodles.
- Transfer zucchini noodles onto serving plates and add sauce generously over noodles. Season to taste with pepper and additional salt, as desired. Use basil as garnish.