Categories
Salads Vegetarian

Watermelon and Cucumber Salad with Feta

Ahhhh, summer: the season for fresh, crunchy, water-filled fruits and vegetables that make your body feel so hydrated and your mouth as happy as a pup at the dog park. Watermelon and cucumber happen to be two of my favorite refreshing summer treats, and they go together like peanut butter and jelly. Maybe better.

This vibrant salad combines the sweetness of watermelon, cucumber, and mint with the salty tanginess of lemon and feta cheese (and just a tiny bit of salt). And it’s just plain delicious. Enough said. 

Ingredients:

4 c. watermelon, cubed

2 c. cucumber, quartered

Juice from ½ lemon

2 Tbsp. mint leaves, chopped

⅓ c. feta cheese, crumbled

Salt to taste

Add the watermelon and cucumber to a large serving bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice in and mix. Add the mint leaves and feta cheese. Season with a pinch of salt and mix together. Serve chilled.

Categories
Sandwiches Vegetarian

Spiced Chickpea Gyros

I love gyros of all kinds: lamb, chicken, cod, and yes . . . I love vegetarian versions too. If you follow my blog, you know that I am a huge fan of chickpeas. They are so wonderfully salty, meaty, and satisfying, which makes them the perfect addition to a veggie-packed gyro sandwich. 

To start, these chickpeas are truly delicious on their own. But when you add them to warm pita bread, cover them with tzatziki sauce, feta cheese, and cucumber salad, these are bomb. There’s no other way to describe them. Make these for meatless Monday for a quick weeknight meal, or just about any other time you’re craving gyros. 

Ingredients:

1 15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. garlic powder

½ tsp. cayenne 

Salt and pepper to taste

Serve with:

Warm pita bread

Tzatziki Sauce

Armenian Cucumber Salad

Feta cheese

Kalamata olives, tomatoes, hummus, or any favorite gyro topping

Drain and rinse the chickpeas and make sure they are fairly dry before cooking them. 

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the chickpeas and cook for 5-6 minutes or until they begin to brown a little. Add all of the other ingredients and cook for 1-2 more minutes, or until the spices are fragrant. Season with salt and pepper. 

Serve on pita bread with your favorite gyro toppings!

Categories
Salads Vegetarian

Armenian Cucumber Salad with Feta Cheese

If you have never had the pleasure of eating an Armenian cucumber, you need to add them to your veggie garden seed shopping list for next year. I was lucky enough to be given a seedling for an Armenian cucumber plant this year, and I will never go without these beauties in my garden again. 

This simple salad showcases the unique sweetness of Armenian cucumbers without overpowering the flavor with unnecessary and forceful ingredients. It’s perfect as a side dish or as a topping for a pita sandwich. If you can’t find Armenian cucumbers, you can substitute English cucumbers. Or perhaps this will persuade you to plant some Armenian cukes next year, which is what I’m hoping you do! 

Ingredients:

1 large Armenian cucumber, chopped (you can also substitute 2 English cucumbers)

¼ c. shallot, finely chopped

¼ c. feta cheese

2 tsp. olive oil

2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

Pinch of fresh dill, finely chopped

Salt and pepper

Combine the cucumber feta cheese, olive oil, and vinegar in a serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper, toss, and serve cold!

Categories
Sides Vegetarian

Calabacitas (Mexican Zucchini and Corn)

Calabacitas, a classic Mexican vegetable dish made from cooked zucchini, corn, onions, and other flavorful add-ins, is the epitome of comforting summer food. Calabacitas is one of those foods that is beloved by so many people in this part of the world for a good reason. It’s bursting with color, health benefits, and palate pleasing flavors. If you grew up eating calabacitas, you probably have some very happy memories of summer dinners with family or perhaps eating these at your grandma’s house. 

Calabacitas is commonly served as a side dish alongside meat, chicken, or fish, but it is also a terrific vegetarian main dish or filling for tacos. It’s also delicious topped with a fried egg and is a very nutritious way to start your day. However you serve this dish, smiles will definitely be on the menu. 

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 poblano pepper, diced and seeded

1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, diced and seeded (optional: if you like heat)

1 15 oz. can of corn, drained

2 roma tomatoes, diced

2 large zucchini, diced (can also use yellow squash)

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tsp. New Mexican chile powder

¼ c. fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tsp. cumin

2 tsp. oregano 

½ c. water

½ c. sour cream

¼ c. cotija cheese or shredded cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish with cilantro, green onions, or any other favorite toppings

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion, poblanos, and serrano/jalapeno peppers. Cook for 2 minutes until soft. Add the corn, tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, cilantro, chile powder, cumin, oregano and cook for 5 minutes. Add water and cook until water is reduced and vegetables are soft, about 5 more minutes.

Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the sour cream and cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Enjoy hot!

Categories
Pasta Vegetarian

Pasta alla Greca (Greek-Style Pasta)

Greek AND Italian flavors melded into one pasta dish? Yes, please! This pasta alla Greca is definitely not for the faint of heart. If you don’t like loads of robust and super amazing flavors, you should definitely move on. But if you like olive oily, garlicky, briny foods, this is the ultimate pasta dish. Eating this makes you feel like you’re dining seaside in the Greek islands, when in reality most of the ingredients are probably already in your pantry. 

Not only is this pasta lip-smacking good, it’s also ready to eat in less than 30 minutes. An extra bonus is that this pasta alla Greca is vegetarian and full of healthy ingredients, so I ask: what’s stopping you from making this tonight?

Ingredients:  

1 16 oz. package of pasta

1 6.5 oz jar of artichoke hearts, quartered

1 7 oz. jar of sundried tomatoes, chopped

¼ c. kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

1 Tbsp. capers

3 cloves of garlic, minced

Juice from 1 lemon

¼ c. fresh parsley, chopped

Handful of baby arugula (optional)

2 Tbsp. olive oil 

1 c. feta cheese

Red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. 

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the garlic for 1-2 minutes, or  until fragrant and lightly browned. Be careful not to burn it. 

Add the garlic and the oil to the pasta. Add the artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, olives, capers, and lemon juice and stir to combine. Add the arugula, parsley, and feta and mix together quickly. Season with salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy!

Categories
Salads Vegan Vegetarian

Moroccan Cucumber Salad with Olives

When you’re feeling like it’s just too hot outside to cook, this fresh and cool Moroccan cucumber salad is what you need. Not only does it only take a few minutes to throw together, it is also so crisp and invigorating served alongside just about any main dish. 

This refreshing salad is simple, but demonstrates a complexity of sweet, briny, and herby flavors. I like to serve this salad with Moroccan-spiced chicken or fish because the cucumbers really balance the heat. So tonight make this salad, sit outside, fire up the grill, pour a glass of wine, and have a lovely  evening. Ahhh, I love summer. 

Ingredients: 

2 cucumbers, sliced and quartered

¼ c. kalamata olives

2 tsp. white vinegar

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. agave

1 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. thyme

Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients except for the olives in a large serving bowl and stir to combine. Chill for at least 30 minutes. Add the olives before serving. Enjoy!

Categories
Salads Vegan Vegetarian

Lemony Hearts of Palm Salad

I remember the first time I had a hearts of palm salad. I was at a family friend’s house in the south of France and this uniquely gorgeous Meditternean salad was plunked down in front of me. It was full of so many lovely ingredients, but I was most impressed with the zesty little rings of hearts of palm that adorned the salad. It was there that I fell in love with this awe-inspiring vegetable. 

Hearts of palm, a vegetable harvested from the inner core of certain types of palm trees, taste like a cross between white asparagus and artichoke hearts. In other words, they are absolutely wonderful. For that reason, hearts of palm are a terrific addition to pizza, sandwiches, salads, and pasta.

In the summer, I like to serve hearts of palm in a vibrant, fun salad. In this version, the hearts of palm shine alongside fresh cucumber, tasty tomatoes, fresh avocados, tender green onions, and freshly-harvested parsley from the garden. A light lemony dressing is all you need to make this a truly memorable summer salad. 

Ingredients:

Salad:

1 cucumber, quartered

1 large tomato, diced

1 14 oz. jar of hearts of palm

1 avocado, cubed

¼ c. fresh parsley, chopped

2 green onions, sliced

Dressing:

¼  c. olive oil

Juice from one large lemon

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 tsp. garlic powder

Salt and pepper

Whisk together all ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. 

Combine all salad ingredients in a large serving bowl. Drizzle the dressing onto the salad, mix, and taste until it’s coated to your liking. Serve immediately.

Categories
Sandwiches Vegetarian

Pesto Toast with Garlicky Mushrooms and Greens

I can’t seem to get enough of all types of pesto right now. All of the components are so fresh, beautiful, and readily-available, so pesto just keeps happening. And it makes me happy because I equate pesto abundance with the warmth and happiness of summer. 

This wonderful pesto toast with garlicky mushrooms and greens is one of my favorite things to make for lunch. It’s quick, simple, healthy, and so delicious. The meatiness of the mushrooms combined with the fresh greens and tangy pesto is beautifully accessorized by the crusty bread and creamy cheese. In other words, it’s perfectly balanced. 

Ingredients:

2 pieces of rustic bread or sliced baguette

1 8 oz. package of baby bella mushrooms

1 ½  c. power greens or spinach

1 Tbsp. olive oil

½ Tbsp. soy sauce

Dash of Worcestershire sauce

1 clove of garlic, minced

¼ c. pesto

2 slices of swiss cheese

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and greens and cook for 1-2 more minutes, or until the greens are wilted. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.

Place the bread on a lined baking sheet. Spread the pesto generously over the bread. Top with a good amount of the mushroom mixture. Cover with cheese slices. Bake in the oven for 5-6 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Enjoy!

Categories
Breakfast Vegetarian

Çilbir (Fried Turkish Eggs) with Spiced Yogurt and Pesto Rosso

Eggs plus carbs plus TWO flavor bomb sauces? Yes, please. This is the breakfast of champions, my friends. Read on. 

This version of çilbir is not traditional and definitely has a couple of curveballs thrown into it, which is precisely why I love it. The traditional version is typically served with poached eggs, spiced butter, and yogurt sauce (which is also amazing, BTW), but after I made my delicious pesto rosso the other day I couldn’t resist swapping out the spiced butter for the pesto. Lemme tell you, it works. It REALLY works. It’s a Turkish-Italian food love story come true. Maybe I should’ve saved this recipe for Valentine’s Day.

Ingredients:

Yogurt Sauce:

1 c. plain Greek yogurt

1 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped

1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

1 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped

2 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes

1 clove of garlic, minced

Juice from one lemon

Salt and pepper

Çilbir:

4 eggs

2 Tbsp. butter

⅓ c. pesto rosso

4 pieces of pita or naan

2 c. baby spinach

¼ c. fresh parsley

¼ c. fresh cilantro

2 green onions, sliced

¼ c. feta cheese

Combine the ingredients for the yogurt sauce in a bowl and stir. Season with salt and pepper.

Warm the naan or pita and spread the pesto rosso evenly onto the four pieces of bread. Top generously with the yogurt sauce and baby spinach. 

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium high heat and fry the eggs to your preferred doneness. Top each piece of naan or pita with a fried egg (and don’t be afraid to let a little extra butter drip onto them – yum!). 

Top each naan or pita with parsley, cilantro, green onions, and feta. Serve immediately! 

Categories
Sauces/Dressings/Broth Vegetarian

Pesto Rosso (Sundried Tomato Pesto)

Do you ever find yourself torn between choosing a tomato-based pasta sauce and a pesto sauce? I certainly do, and the thing is . . . they are both so uniquely delicious that sometimes it’s really difficult to make a choice between them. I can be really indecisive when it comes to food because I just love all of it so much. 

What if I told you that you didn’t have to choose between tomato sauce or pesto? Pesto rosso, or sundried tomato pesto, contains all of the wonderful ingredients in pesto PLUS sundried tomatoes. Let me tell you, this stuff is amazing and can really open your eyes to a whole new pesto world. As soon as you try this, you’ll probably start concocting all sorts of different pestos in your mind. At least that’s what I did. New pesto recipes are definitely on the way! 

By the way, you can serve pesto rosso on anything from pasta and gnocchi to bread to sandwiches to grilled meat – and everything in between! 

Ingredients:

1 8 oz. jar of sundried tomatoes, undrained – use the oil!

½ c. fresh basil leaves

⅓ c. grated Parmesan cheese

¼ c. pine nuts or almonds

½ c. olive oil

2 cloves of garlic

½ tsp. red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until it reaches your desired smoothness (some people like chunkier pesto, some like smooth). Season with salt and pepper.