just a drop of simple sunshine


Leave a comment

Late Summer Salads

Over the summer, I’ve really tried to take advantage of the local in-season produce, which around here is just fantastic. There’s really nothing like a perfectly ripe tomato eaten within 30 minutes of it being on the vine! I’ve eaten quite a lot of pickle cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, green peppers, basil, cilantro, candy onions, tomatoes, nectarines… the list goes on, & it’s been fabulous. I even had some adventures with truly fresh garlic & cute little patty pan squash! I’d post recipes, but to be honest, I haven’t really been cooking all that much – just throwing yummy things together with a dash of olive oil & enjoying.

Here in northeast Ohio, we’re headed into the last few weeks of really good produce, & my last trip to the farm market was pretty epic. I don’t have enough space in my kitchen to undertake preserving the harvest, so I’m going to savor every last bit that I can. Early in the summer I enjoyed my salads with lettuce, but lately I’ve been eating it sans greens, simply throwing sliced & diced veggies into a bowl & tossing with olive oil & balsamic & a bit of salt & pepper. Summer will be over before we know it – savor it while you can!

Late Summer Salad

local, seasonal

  • tomato
  • pickle cucumber
  • carrot
  • onion
  • green pepper
  • black olives
  • fresh basil & cilantro
  • dash of sea salt & freshly ground pepper
  • olive oil & balsamic

 

Mix everything together, adding seasonings to taste. Add crumbled goat cheese & roasted chicken breast, as desired. Enjoy!


1 Comment

Apple, Bacon, & Gouda Salad

I did a bad, bad thing: I bought apples in May.

“But Sarah,” you say, “What’s wrong with that?”

Apples in May are… well, they’re as bad as tomatoes in February. Especially when compared to mid-October Ohio apples, which are unbelievable. I’ll never understand what the big deal is about Washington apples. Same with California strawberries – our Ohio produce is amazing.

Which is why my craving for apples was a bit bizarre, but I went with it. I picked up four apples at the farm market, & although the flavor wasn’t fabulous, I enjoyed every bite. Thing is, right I’m just waiting. Soon there will be lots of delicious in-season local produce, but right now… ugh, it’s killing me. So I don’t really feel so bad, especially since I stumbled into this fun little salad.

One of my favorite meals is the classic hunk of cheese, hunk of meat, bit of fruit, & hunk of bread (sounds glamorous, doesn’t it?). Personally, I blame this on the epic quest fantasies I read as a kid (Mariel of Redwall, anyone? I swear the backpacks where they’d keep the vittles must’ve been bottomless!), but in any case, I love it. I often do this for breakfast, & did so this week. I threw some pre-cooked (by me, of course), crumbled bacon, a cut up apple, & some chunks of gouda into a container with some banana bread, & ran out the door. When I got to work, I proceeded to eat my breakfast, & realized that the combination of these three ingredients (gouda, bacon, & apple) was just perfection. I’ve eaten it three times this week, & loved it each morning. So I thought I’d share!

Apple, Bacon, & Gouda Salad

What you need:
Approximately equal amounts of:

  • chopped apple
  • crumbled bacon
  • diced gouda
  • squirt of lemon juice

 

How to do it:

  1. Throw a squirt of lemon juice on your apples to keep them from browning.
  2. Toss ingredients together. Best eaten when at room temperature!

 

Most people would probably tell you to ruin it by tossing this with some sort of dressing or sauce, but don’t let them fool you. The crisp sweetness of apple paired with the buttery taste of gouda & saltiness of bacon is perfection all on its own. Methinks I’ll be eating this quite a bit come fall.

Enjoy!


1 Comment

Tomatoes & basil & onions, oh my!

I know I’ve posted this recipe before, but with summer just around the corner, I thought I’d bring it up again! Tomatoes & basil is pretty much the yummiest combination ever, if I do say so myself, & the addition of sweet onion creates a party in your mouth. For a real treat, throw in some true fresh mozzarella, & you’re basically set for life.

I hadn’t actually planned to make this, it being April & all (aka, the tomatoes are generally still lifeless), but my local farm market had three things last weekend: these sweet candy onions (pictured below), absolutely gorgeous fresh basil, & the reddest little tomatoes I’ve seen since October. I kid you not, I did a little celebration dance right there in the market. YAY! I knew exactly what I was making on Sunday!

Normally I try to eat things mostly in season, but I made an exception for these. I dare not think where they came from, or how they came to be so red & juicy in April, but I’ll tell you what – I savored every morsel. Oh, it’s so, so good. & so versatile! But I’m getting ahead of myself. The recipe for this salad is basic, but I’ll write it out anyways for those who need the exact directions…

Classic Tomato & Basil Salad

What you need:

  • Good, ripe tomatoes (I used small-ish ones; feel free to use any variety)
  • Onions (if you can’t find the delectable candy sweet ones, go for red)
  • Fresh basil
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt & pepper

 

How to do it:

  1. Cut tomatoes into chunks. Because I used small ones, I simply quartered them, but when I use tiny grape tomatoes, I simply halve them. Toss some salt on them to bring out the flavor. Dice up your onions, & chop up the basil. Throw these three ingredients into a bowl (if you’re also adding mozzarella, go ahead & toss it in too).
  2. Drizzle on olive oil & balsamic; even to evenly coat everything. If you feel so inclined, add some Italian dressing.
  3. Add some fresh ground pepper, mix altogether, & voila! A super simple salad you can enjoy all summer long.

 

I mentioned the versatility of this mixture, & here are some ways I’ve used it

  • On its own as a side salad
  • Thrown on top of salad greens & chicken for an entree salad
  • Blended into a quick fresh sauce for pizza
  • If using big slices of tomato, as toppings for pizza – just throw on some fresh blobs of mozzarella, & you’re good to go!
  • Mixed with pasta or spaghetti squash for an easy dish
  • Spooned over chicken breast before baking
  • Mixed into a Big Bowl of Awesome a few moments before removing from heat
  • Served atop toast (gluten-free or otherwise) for quick crostini

 

Anyone have other ideas? Let me know how you’ll enjoy this in the coming months!