Strawberry & Rhubarb Almond Crumble

Strawberry Rhubarb Almond Crumble
I’ve been very focused on all things green at the farmers market for the past month. Whenever I empty the contents of my bag onto the kitchen counter, there is a pile of leaves and stalks from ramps to asparagus to scallions. The growing season is very short in Chicago, so we have yet to see a lot of color other than rhubarb.

I finally bought a pound of those hot pink stalks, and I baked a strawberry & rhubarb almond crumble. I had a gluten-free guest, so I reworked my usual topping recipe eliminating flour and using ground almonds instead. Served warm with vanilla ice cream, everyone loved this nutty, sweet and tart dessert.
Strawberry Rhubarb Almond Crumble
Strawberry & Rhubarb Almond Crumble 

Serves 6
For crumble
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled & cubed, plus more for greasing baking dish

For filling
12 ounces strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 pound rhubarb, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground almonds
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vanilla ice cream for serving

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish with butter.

For the crumble, in a medium bowl, combine the oats, ground almonds, sugar and salt. Rub the butter into the mixture creating small clumps.

For the filling, in a large bowl, combine the strawberries and rhubarb. Toss the fruit with the sugar, ground almonds, salt and vanilla extract. Spread the filling into the prepared baking dish and top with the crumble.

Bake for 45 minutes until the crumble is golden brown and bubbling. Cool for 15 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Udon Noodle Stir-Fry

Udon Noodle Stir-Fry
The kitchen of my dreams doesn’t have any upper cabinets. I need every inch of shelf space, so even those unreachable top shelves are filled with items that I actually use. I may be taller than average and have long arms, but I still end up standing on one of our dining chairs to get my hands on something high. I forget about what I can’t see, and I buy ingredients that I already have.

Over the weekend, I found a pack of dried udon noodles that had been hiding on an upper shelf. Needing a break from Memorial Day weekend fare, I made an udon noodle stir-fry complete with garlic, ginger, shiitake mushrooms and spring veggies including scallions, asparagus and peas. After a few glugs of soy sauce, I finished off this fast and simple vegan main with sesame seeds.
Udon Noodle Stir-Fry
Udon Noodle Stir-Fry

Serves 4

16 ounces dried wide udon noodles
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
4 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
4 ounces shitake mushrooms, sliced
1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 cup peas, fresh or frozen
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Cook the udon noodles according to package instructions. Transfer the noodles to a colander and rinse with cold water.

Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat and add the canola oil swirling to coat. When the oil is shimmering, add the garlic, ginger and the white parts of the scallions. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the mushrooms, asparagus and peas and sauté for 3-4 minutes until the asparagus turns bright green. Add the soy sauce and let the mixture bubble for a minute before tossing in the udon noodles and the green parts of the scallions. Sauté for a few minutes until the noodles are heated through. Garnish with sesame seeds before serving.

Cherry Almond Popsicles

Cherry Almond Popsicles
Last summer our house was a baby food factory. No produce was too exotic to be pureed and paired in an unlikely combination. While W. gobbled up all that mash, I patted myself on the back for giving him such variety, but things became a challenge when stone fruit was no longer in season. I turned to the freezer and now I am hooked on frozen fruit. Cherries are my favorite.

Our freezer is always stocked with bags of fruits and veggies. I used frozen, but fresh cherries would also work for these vegan cherry almond popsicles. In a blender I whizzed together sweet dark cherries, almond milk, sugar, lemon juice, almond extract and sea salt. I wanted smaller than standard popsicles, so I divided the magenta hued mixture into tiny 3-ounce cups.
Cherry Almond Popsicles
Cherry Almond Popsicles
Adapted from Real Simple August 2014

Makes 10 small popsicles

2 cups pitted cherries (fresh or frozen)
2-1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Pinch of fine sea salt

Combine the cherries, almond milk, sugar, lemon juice, almond extract and salt in a blender. Puree until smooth. Transfer the mixture to 10 3-ounce cups and chill in the freezer for 45 minutes before inserting popsicle sticks. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

Grilled Asparagus Salad

Grilled Asparagus Salad
Monday to Friday my lunch consists of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and carrot sticks. Things are so hectic that I only have the capacity to whip up one creative meal a day, but weekend lunches are a different story. Since we have a toddler with a 7:00 p.m. bedtime, sometimes we do post-nap late lunches that we also think of as very early dinners.

The past few Saturday mornings we’ve been at the farmers market first thing buying veggies that we use in a big midafternoon meal. Last weekend I tossed a bunch of asparagus in olive oil, salt and pepper and then cooked the stalks in minutes on the grill pan. Lemon vinaigrette and chopped hard-boiled egg finished off this grilled asparagus salad.
Grilled Asparagus Salad
Grilled Asparagus Salad

Serves 4

1 pound asparagus, trimmed
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced shallots
2 hard-boiled eggs, whites and yolks separated and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
Shaved Parmesan for serving

For the asparagus, preheat a grill pan over medium high heat. Toss the asparagus with 1 teaspoon olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill the asparagus, turning occasionally, until it is cooked through and has grill marks, about 5-7 minutes.

For the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, mustard and shallots. Whisk in the remaining olive oil until fully combined.

Drizzle the asparagus with the vinaigrette and top with egg, almonds and Parmesan.

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