Roasted Tomato Zucchini Squash Pasta Salad

Roasted Tomato Zucchini Squash Pasta Salad
Over the weekend my brother spent 12 hours smoking a brisket. It was quite a big accomplishment considering it was only a week ago that he tried smoking something on his grill for the first time—a whole chicken that I tasted right after it finished cooking and then used the leftovers in salads for lunch the entire week. I don’t know what he’s going to tackle next, but I can’t wait!

With all that brisket, we decided to partner up on dinner. Since my brother took care of the main dish, I was in charge of the side. I made a roasted tomato, zucchini & squash pasta salad that was more about the veggies than the penne. I tossed in a couple generous handfuls of arugula, green beans and red onions. To finish it off, I added a little white balsamic vinegar, chives and Parmesan.
Roasted Tomato Zucchini Squash Pasta SaladRoasted Tomato Zucchini Squash Pasta Salad

Serves 6

2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
3 tablespoons olive oil
2-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 medium zucchini, cubed
1 medium yellow squash, cubed
8 ounces penne pasta
4 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 generous handfuls of arugula
1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced chives
1 ounce grated Parmesan
2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Arrange the cherry tomatoes on one sheet pan cut side up, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. On the other sheet pan, toss the zucchini and squash with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes until the tomatoes are slightly wrinkled, and the zucchini & squash are lightly browned at the edges.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Cook the penne according to package instructions. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pasta to a colander and rinse with cold water.

Cook the green beans in the same pot of boiling water until bright green and still crisp, about 3 minutes. Transfer the green beans to the colander and rinse with cold water.

Combine the tomatoes, zucchini, squash, pasta, green beans, arugula, red onions, chives and Parmesan in a large bowl. Toss in the white balsamic vinegar and the remaining olive oil. Season with the remaining salt and pepper.

Salt & Vinegar Potato Salad

Salt & Vinegar Potato Salad
Week 2 of farmers market season and the pickings were just as slim as week 1. Please forgive my complaining. I know I am being impatient. I did see a stand that had Sun Gold tomatoes, so it won’t be long before all the leafy greens and asparagus transform into everyone’s favorite rainbow of fruits and veggies.

I left the market with a few things including a paper bag filled with fingerling potatoes. Instead of roasting them, I boiled the potatoes and threw them on the grill. I tossed those charred spuds with pickled red onions, champagne vinegar, olive oil, parsley and potato chips to make this salt & vinegar potato salad.
Salt & Vinegar Potato Salad
Salt & Vinegar Potato Salad

Adapted from Food & Wine June 2017

Serves 8

3 pounds fingerling potatoes (I used Red Thumb potatoes.)
Kosher salt & black pepper
1 small red onion, sliced thinly
1/2 cup champagne vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup lightly packed parsley leaves, roughly chopped
2 cups kettle-cooked salt & vinegar potato chips, crushed

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan filled with salted water. Bring the water to a boil and cook the potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the potatoes to a plate to cool. Halve the potatoes lengthwise.

While the potatoes are cooking, combine the onions and vinegar in a small bowl. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Heat a gas or charcoal grill on medium high heat. Place the potatoes on the grates cut side down and grill until they are slightly charred and grill-marked, about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, onions, vinegar, olive oil, parsley and chips. Season with salt and pepper.

Tahini Banana Bread

Tahini Banana Bread
My husband and son are regulars at the coffee shop. It’s part of their weekend routine to stop by for a cappuccino and a banana nut muffin. Our little one will pick the walnuts out of the muffin and devour the rest himself. Even sharing a bite can be a challenge, but I can’t blame him for being so possessive. They are really good muffins, and it’s hard not to like banana baked goods.

Since the habit began, I’ve tried to bake banana bread at home, but my three-year-old hasn’t been interested. I still haven’t figured out why, but I finally had success when I baked a loaf of tahini banana bread. Maybe it was the bittersweet chocolate flecks dotting each slice that did it for him. With white whole-wheat flour and yogurt, this was a somewhat lightened version of the usual banana loaf.
Tahini Banana Bread
Tahini Banana Bread

Adapted from Cooking Light May 2017

Makes 1 loaf

Non-stick cooking spray
6 ounces white whole-wheat flour (about 1-1/2 cups)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1-1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
1/3 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/2 cup tahini, well stirred
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat together the bananas, yogurt, tahini, butter, vanilla extract and eggs. Beat in both sugars until combined. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and transfer to the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle the top with sesame seeds.

Bake for 50-55 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Asparagus, Cannellini Bean & Sourdough Salad

Asparagus Cannellini Bean Sourdough Salad1
Last Friday I had trouble sleeping. It wasn’t because my mind was racing with anxiety or nerves. Nope. It was actually just pure excitement. Saturday morning was the official start of outdoor farmers market season in Chicago. It was a day I had been waiting for since the last market of 2016. Yes, stands appear indoors in the slog from November to April, but it isn’t the same feeling.

I joined the early crowd—before 8am. The almost glove-worthy weather was windy and cool, but I didn’t mind. The selection was dominated by greens with a few pops of color here and there. I bought a couple bunches of slender asparagus. They were so fresh they didn’t require much fuss. When I got home I made an asparagus, cannellini bean & sourdough salad with Parmesan & scallions.
Asparagus Cannellini Bean Sourdough SaladAsparagus, Cannellini Bean & Sourdough Salad

Serves 2-4

6 ounces sourdough bread, torn into rough pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for serving
1 teaspoon black pepper pus more for serving
1/2 lb. asparagus, bottom ends trimmed
3/4 cup cooked cannellini beans (I used canned beans.)
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh chives
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Juice of half a lemon

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Place the bread on a sheet pan and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bake the bread until it toasted and deep golden brown, about 15 minutes, stirring halfway through baking.

For the asparagus, preheat a grill pan over medium high heat. Toss the asparagus with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Lightly grill the asparagus, until it is warm, but is still a bit crisp, about 2-3 minutes. Slice the asparagus into 1-inch pieces

In a large bowl, combine the toasted bread, asparagus, cannellini beans, scallions, chives and Parmesan. Stir in the remaining olive oil and lemon juice. Taste and season with additional salt & pepper before serving.

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