Summertime

It might not technically be summer for a few more weeks, but lately it has felt like summer in Richmond. The festivities of Memorial Day weekend combined with the sweltering temperatures has made everything feel just a little more relaxed. Time seems to move more slowly as the mercury rises, and I plan my days around simultaneously soaking up the sun and keeping cool.

Yes, this sure does feel like summer.

I have been making nearly perfect pasta salads lately thanks to this fantastic article: Five Steps to Perfect Pasta Salad. I highly recommend that you read this before your next cookout or potluck meal.

Mediterranean Pasta and Veggie Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb pasta (I used Bombolini Pasta’s dill shells)
  • 1/2 lb broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes (I used miniature heirloom tomatoes)
  • 1 cup garbanzo beans
  • 1/2 large or 1 small cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 4 Tbsp chopped black olives
  • 2 oz. crumbled feta
  • 2 tsp fresh basil, chopped
  • dressing of choice, to taste (I used TJ’s Greek feta dressing)

Preparation:

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain, and pour out onto a cookie sheet to cool.
  2. Steam the broccoli florets, drain, rinse with cold water, drain again and let sit to cool.
  3. Combine tomatoes, garbanzo beans, cucumber, onions, and olive in a large mixing bowl.
  4. When they are cooled, add the pasta and broccoli to the bowl and stir to combine.
  5. Add the olives, basil and feta only when the other ingredients are completely cooled, and stir to combine.
  6. Slowly add the dressing to the bowl, while tossing to coat the other ingredients. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate for a few hours and serve cold.

I served this with TJ’s falafel (so easy) and locally made tzatziki sauce. It was perfect for a warm evening on the porch.

Fresh Pasta Two Ways

Remember how I couldn’t resist the fresh pasta from Bombolini at last weekend’s SOTJ Market?

I did a little search on the internet and discovered that fresh pasta should be used within 3 days so I knew I had to get cooking. This was not the healthiest adventure I’ve had, but it was oh so delicious.

The temperature dropped about 15-20 degrees between Thursday and Saturday. I don’t handle drastic temperature changes very well so I found myself fighting a headache all weekend. When I got cooking on Sunday, I was craving comfort food.

When I used to get migraines as a kid, my Dad always made me cheddar mashed potatoes when I woke up from my headache-induced naps in my cool dark bedroom. A big bowl of starchy cheesy potatoes was all it took to get me feeling like myself again. So it’s no mystery why I crave pasta or potatoes (with a generous dose of cheese) when I am feeling a little under the weather.

With that in mind, I got to work on the stockpile of noodles in my refrigerator. With the pound of dill shells, I cooked a cheesy pasta by making a b├ęchamel sauce with a dash of cayenne and then melting in a combination of colby, cheddar, and monterey jack cheeses. I cooked the pasta in boiling water for two minutes and then added it to the cheese sauce. After seasoning with salt and pepper, I served it alongside swiss chard sauteed with white beans, onion, and fresh heirloom tomatoes, and dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

I wanted to make a nice pasta salad to take for lunches at work this week, so with the twist of spinach fettucine, I made cold pasta salad with the following mix-ins:

  • diced green bell pepper
  • white beans
  • diced heirloom tomato
  • diced cucumber
  • garlic
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper

It turned out very good, despite it being an unconventional pasta shape for salad. I was even able to share some of the fettucine with some friends to get a second and third opinion. There were second helpings all around so I called it a success. I was happy that my comfort food was able to create a bright spot in someone else’s day.

And now that we are back to highs in the mid-nineties, I am feeling much more like myself. Whether it was the return to normal temperatures or it was the shells and cheese, I will never know. But it’s good to be back!

Farmers’ Market 08.14

I had some things still left over from last week’s trip so I went to the market on Saturday with the intention of going easy on the vegetable buying. How do you think I did?

You know what? I’m okay with this. I figure there are worse possible manifestations of my self-control issues. And come on, how could I resist this fresh pasta from Bombolini?

And these plums from Agriberry

In the market loot this weekend:

  • Bell peppers
  • Tomatoes (including some heirlooms)
  • Eggplant
  • Golden zucchini
  • Green beans
  • Spinach fettucine
  • Dill pasta shells
  • Plums

The weather has been a little cooler this weekend and I am loving it. There may be a homemade soup in my future. For now, I am off to enjoy this overcast Sunday by putting in a few hours in the office (boooo…) and then a few more in the kitchen (yayyy!).

While I get cooking, I suggest you hop over to Brandi’s blog to check out my guest post on barbecue seitan tacos. It was a delicious experiment that I hope you enjoy!

Farmers’ Market 07.31.10

What a beautiful day! This week I visited the South of the James farmers’ market with Kyle and my parents, who had made a special trip to Richmond just for my birthday. I think Mom and Dad were impressed with the size of our market and the variety of things offered there. We saw plenty of fresh fruits and veggies but I tried to hold back from buying too much because I still had some leftovers from last week.

Leftover produce:

  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 zucchini and 1.5 yellow squash
  • 3 or 4 potatoes
  • 1 handful of raspberries

Leftover prepared:

  • 1.5 loaves of zucchini bread
  • 4 cups of kale-potato-parmesan soup

I gifted my parents with one loaf of zucchini bread and threw the squash and zucchini in with some fresh pasta and tomatoes from today’s market.

Here is what I picked up at the market today:

Tomatoes, peaches, tomatillos, poblano peppers, and fresh black pepper linguine

Kyle is officially moving in this weekend so I think the size of my market purchases is about to increase. I am no longer alone in tackling the pile of fresh local produce every week! I have a feeling Kyle will do his part very well.