Sesame Soba Noodles

Sesame Soba Noodles
Yesterday was all about improvising because I started Sunday stumped on what to cook, and I’m normally a total planner. At the farmers market in the morning, it was obvious that the corn and tomatoes were dwindling, so I needed to change my routine of focusing on shiny red and yellow things. I went green instead, but not just lettuce—that doesn’t count.

I found myself in unfamiliar territory reaching into bins with green beans and sugar snap peas. When I got home, I decided to make a simple noodle salad since we are in the middle of another round of hot summer weather. I sautéed my veggies and tossed them in a big bowl of sesame soba noodles dressed in a mixture of sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and soy sauce.
Sesame Soba Noodles
Sesame Soba Noodles

Serves 4

4 ounces, soba noodles
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
2 garlic cloves minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 red finger pepper, thinly sliced
6 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed
6 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 cup shredded red cabbage
1 handful cilantro, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds

Cook the soba noodles following package instructions. Rinse with cold water, strain and transfer to a large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon canola oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss with the noodles.

Heat the remaining canola oil in a large skillet over high heat. Sauté the white scallions, garlic, ginger and peppers until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the sugar snap peas and green beans and sauté until bright green and cooked through but still crisp, about 5 minutes. Stir the vegetables into the noodles followed by the cabbage, cilantro, green scallions and sesame seeds. Serve cold or at room temerpature.

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Peanut and Jelly Blondies

Peanut Butter and Jelly Blondies
Our three-year-old just started preschool, and with the move from daycare to real school, comes a packed lunch. When I was a kid my mom packed a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, carrots (I only ate a few), and 2 Chips Ahoy cookies. These days such a lunch sounds scandalous from the peanuts to dessert! Of course I think I turned out just fine, and I always love a PBJ.

My son’s lunch has been a smorgasbord of snacks including hummus & pita chips, pineapple, watermelon, cucumbers and even homemade focaccia. It’s a little of this and that. Inspired by back-to-school, I baked peanut butter and jelly blondies that were salty & sweet with honey-roasted peanuts and strawberry jam. Don’t worry, I didn’t pack them in my son’s lunchbox!
Peanut Butter and Jelly Blondies
Peanut Butter & Jelly Blondies
Adapted from Bon Appetit February 2014

Makes 16 bars

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter melted, plus more for pan
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups light brown sugar
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons strawberry jam
1 tablespoon chopped honey-roasted peanuts
Flaky sea salt (I used Maldon.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper and grease with butter.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, eggs, brown sugar, peanut butter and vanilla extract. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and spread the batter into the prepared baking pan. Dollop the jam on top followed by the peanuts.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the bars comes out clean. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Let the bars cool before slicing them into 16 squares. Store in an airtight container.

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Tomato Chickpea Salad

Tomato Chickpea Salad
When I went to the farmers market over the weekend, I thought it would have been pumpkins and gourds all over, but I was thrilled to see tomatoes taking up most of the stands. Summer isn’t over yet, and I will be consuming every last bit of it before I welcome those warming autumn flavors like cinnamon and apples that I swear I love so much—I’m just not ready for them to take over.

I dug deep in the pantry for the last can of garbanzo beans for this tomato chickpea salad. Instead of just mixing everything together as is, I roasted both the tomatoes and chickpeas. While they were in the oven, I made a little quinoa to bulk up the salad. I didn’t even bother with any vinaigrette. The tomatoes broke up a little bit giving those grains and greens a lot of flavor.
Tomato Chickpea Salad

Tomato Chickpea Salad

Serves 2

1-15 ounce can chickpeas
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for serving
1/4 teaspoon black pepper plus more for serving
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 ounces baby arugula

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Pat them dry with paper towels. Remove any loose outer skins. In a small bowl, toss the chickpeas with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Spread in a single layer on one of the prepared sheet pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes until crisp and browned, gently shaking the pan about halfway through cooking.

Place the cherry tomatoes in a single layer on the other prepared sheet pan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt & 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Roast for 20-25 until they are slightly wrinkled.

In a small saucepan over medium high heat, bring the quinoa and water to a boil. Add the salt & pepper. Cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes until the quinoa is tender and the water has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork and let the quinoa cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, carefully stir together the chickpeas, tomatoes, quinoa, scallions and arugula. The tomatoes will fall apart a little bit. Season with additional salt & pepper as desired.

Grilled Veggie Burrito Bowls

Grilled Veggie Burrito Bowls
When I made these grilled veggie burrito bowls, I thought they would be actual burritos. I had big tortillas and was ready to go. Then I chickened out. It was the rolling that intimidated me, and I didn’t think I was missing much by skipping the wrap. Instead I focused on the fillings because it’s what’s inside that counts, right?

For the vegetables, I made a version of a spice rub that I typically use for poultry. It’s a blend of chili, garlic & onion powder, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper that had a little bit of a kick. To fill the rest of the bowls, I included cilantro lime rice, pinto beans and cherry tomato pico de gallo and served them with chips and salsa.
Grilled Veggie Burrito Bowls
Grilled Veggie Burrito Bowls

Serves 4

For rice
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
1 cup water
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 handful cilantro, roughly chopped

For pico de gallo
1-1/2 cups quartered cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped red onions
1 jalapeno, minced
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For beans
1-15 ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup roughly chopped red onions
1 handful cilantro, roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For vegetables
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 zucchini, trimmed and sliced lengthwise, 1/4-inch thick
1 summer squash, trimmed and sliced lengthwise, 1/4-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, quartered lengthwise
1 orange bell pepper, quartered lengthwise
2 ears corn, shucked
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Tortilla chips and salsa for serving

For the rice, heat the oil over medium high heat in a small saucepan. Toast the rice for 1 minute before adding the water, lime juice, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 15-20 minutes on low until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. Stir in the cilantro.

For the pico de gallo, combine the tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, lime juice, salt and pepper.

For the beans, in a medium bowl, combine the pinto beans, red onions, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper.

For the vegetables, preheat a gas of charcoal grill on medium high heat. In a small bowl, combine the cumin, paprika, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Drizzle the vegetables with oil and rub with the spice mixture. Grill the zucchini, squash and peppers until grilled marked, about 3-4 minutes. Grill the corn, turning occasionally, until lightly charred, about 5-7 minutes. Let the vegetables cool slightly before dicing the zucchini, squash and peppers and slicing the kernels off the corn cobs.

Divide the rice, beans and vegetables between 4 bowls. Top with pico de gallo. Serve with salsa and tortilla chips.

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