Vegan Blueberry Crumble Ice Cream

Vegan Blueberry Crumble Ice Cream
My ice cream consumption skyrockets in the summer. Hands down, it’s my dessert of choice. There’s an ice cream shop in our neighborhood that’s had a steady line outside the door for the last month or so. I like to alternate the indulgent, classic frozen treat with one that’s homemade and healthier like this vegan blueberry crumble ice cream. With berries at their peak, I ditched my usual chocolate dessert to do something different.

I started by making a simple blueberry compote followed by a cinnamon-spiked toasty oat crumble sweetened with a little coconut sugar. Next I pureed frozen banana chunks with almond milk in the food processor until the mixture was smooth and creamy. Instead of just stirring everything together, I layered the banana base, compote and crumble in layers and dragged a knife through a few times to create a subtle swirl.
Vegan Blueberry Crumble Ice Cream
Vegan Blueberry Crumble Ice Cream
Makes about 1 pint

4 large bananas
1 cup blueberries
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup almond meal
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup almond milk

Cut the bananas into chunks and freeze until firm.

Combine the blueberries, water and maple syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the berries release their juices and the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Cool completely.

Preheat the oven 350 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment. In a medium bowl, stir together the oats, almond meal, coconut sugar, salt and coconut oil. Pat the mixture into a thin layer on the prepared sheet pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden and fragrant. Cool before crumbling.

Place the bananas and almond milk in a food processor and puree until smooth and creamy. Layer the banana base, blueberry compote and about half the crumble in a freezer-proof container. Gently drag a knife through the layers to swirl. Freeze until firm. Serve topped with the remaining crumble.

Zucchini Squash Pea Orzo

Zucchini Squash Pea Orzo
Things at the farmers market got serious on Saturday. I was at one of my favorite stands when I spotted containers of shelled fresh peas. The farmer gave very explicit instructions to consume the peas in 2 days or freeze them. I hadn’t planned on leaving with peas, but I was up for the challenge and bought a box.

Summer pasta had been on my mind when I found some orzo hiding in the back of a cupboard. Before cooking the pasta with the peas, I roasted zucchini and squash. I spooned in pesto for a flavor boost and then finished off this zucchini squash pea orzo with chives and salty crumbled ricotta salata.
Zucchini Squash Pea Orzo
Zucchini Squash Pea Orzo

Serves 4

1 medium zucchini, diced
1 medium summer squash, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for serving
1/4 teaspoon black pepper plus more for serving
1/2 cup orzo
3/4 cup fresh peas
2 tablespoons basil pesto
2 tablespoons minced chives
1/4 cup crumbled ricotta salata

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the zucchini and squash on a parchment-line sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes until lightly browned at the edges.

Cook the orzo in boiling salted water according to package instructions. Add the peas in the last minute of cooking. Drain and transfer the orzo and peas to a large bowl. Stir in the pesto followed by the zucchini, squash, chives and ricotta salata. Season with salt and pepper.

Cocoa Mascarpone Bars

Cocoa Mascarpone Bars
Bars might be my favorite kind of cookie to make. Whipping up the batter takes no time at all, and then there is no fuss rolling out dough or using cookie cutters. Plus, the more lumpy and bumpy they look, the better. Once baked up nice and thick, they couldn’t be any easier to cut into squares and share. If I am trying to feed a crowd, I slice them even smaller, so they go farther.

There isn’t a brownie I’ve met that I don’t love. I have to control myself not to bake them every time I have the need for chocolate! These cocoa mascarpone bars were a departure since they were a cross between a blondie and an almost cake-like brownie. A combination of vanilla and almond extract made them fragrant and nutty. I loved their light, almost weightless crumb.
Cocoa Mascarpone Bars
Cocoa Mascarpone Bars
Adapted from Food52

Makes 16 bars

Non-stick cooking spray
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons hot water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces mascarpone cheese at room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan with non-stick cooking spray and line with parchment.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, hot water and vegetable oil. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the melted butter and brown sugar followed by the egg, vanilla extract and mascarpone until fully combined. Fold in the flour, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Spread 3/4 of the batter into the prepared pan. Stir the cocoa mixture into the remaining batter and spread into the pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bars comes out clean. Cool before cutting into 16 squares.

Quinoa Taco Salad

Quinoa Taco Salad
When I buy tortilla chips, they never last long, so I’ve stopped putting them on my shopping list. Between my husband and I, a single bag easily can be polished off in a day. Now they’re a treat and not a routine part of our weekly eating. Of course I miss those addictively salty, crunchy chips, but now when I have them, they taste even better.

There were a handful of precious chip crumbs at the bottom of a bag I splurged on. Instead of wolfing them down, I used them in a quinoa taco salad. Unlike the classic Tex-Mex version served in a giant tortilla bowl, I went heavy of greens, beans, corn and peppers. The quinoa made this salad filling. I tossed everything in cilantro lime vinaigrette.
Quinoa Taco Salad
Quinoa Taco Salad

Serves 4

For quinoa

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For pico de gallo

1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 jalapeno, deseded and minced
Juice of 1 lime
1-2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch black pepper

For vinaigrette
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 garlic clove minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

For salad
2 hearts of romaine, trimmed and roughly chopped
1-15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup cooked corn kernels (I used grilled corn.)
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips

In a small saucepan over medium high heat, bring the quinoa and water to a boil. Add the cumin, paprika, salt & pepper. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes until the quinoa is tender and the water has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork and let the quinoa cool.

For the pico de gallo, combine the tomatoes, onions, jalapeno, lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.

For the vinaigrette, whisk together the lime juice, cilantro, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil in a small bowl.

For the salad, toss together the romaine, black beans, corn, bell peppers, quinoa and pico de gallo. Add the vinaigrette and sprinkle with tortilla chips before serving.

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