Gazpacho and Spring Cleaning

That title is probably totally weird to you, but yesterday I did probably like my 10th spring cleaning of the year so far, and it always feels so great. Once I’m done, anyway. I tackled about 6 loads of laundry, deep cleaned both bathrooms, organized our closet and coat closet among other tasks {we are still going to clean the kids bedrooms out this weekend – they come home in 11 days!}.

All the spring cleaning, plus the 80+ degree weather {finally!} and our extremely well-behaved puppy at the park all made me think of those simple things that remind me of summer; lazing around on a hot summer day at the pool or a park, all the windows wide open letting in fresh air…

But one thing that’s not really my all-time favorite summer activity is cooking. If you recall, last summer I made a handful of different soups, which sounds crazy in hot weather. My logic is that you just throw everything in one pot, cover it and let it sit. No slaving over a hot stove or multiple burners heating up your house.

Something that {I honestly have no idea why or where I got it from} I have been wanting to make for the past week or two is Gazpacho. I did some reading up on this cold soup, and it’s just my kind of dish. I like foods that don’t always have an exact recipe, rather a backbone that you build off of to fit your palette/fridge/budget.

It was so refreshing and surprisingly FILLING. I couldn’t eat my entire bowl {I think maybe because the water content is so high} but I wish I could have. This recipe makes a huge pot and could probably serve 6 comfortably as a side dish. Possibly the best part is that there’s no heat required.

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| Gazpacho

Serves approx. 6

5 Roma tomatoes

1 red/purple onion

1 large cucumber

1 red bell pepper

4 celery stalks

3 cloves garlic

1/2 jalapeno

a handful of cilantro

3 TBS tomato juice

3 TBS olive oil

3 TBS white wine vinegar

1/2 TSP salt

avocado to garnish {optional}

1/2 TBS agave

Finely dice the first eight ingredients. Put half of all the vegetables in a blender plus the last 4 ingredients. Blend until smooth. Pour out the blended mix into a large bowl and set aside. Add the other half of the vegetables to the blender/food processor and pulse until they become minced, but not pureed. Add in the minced vegetables into the blended vegetables and stir well.

It is best if this soup sits in the fridge for 8+ hours.

Garnish with slices of avocado and a couple sprigs of cilantro, if desired.

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Enjoy on a hot day!

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Pasta Puttanesca

I’ve heard some very interesting stories about this Italian dish. The name literally translates to, “Whore Style Spaghetti”. One story is that the ingredients were so cheap, it was a staple for Italian night walkers. Another is that prostitutes would make this pungently aromatic, spicy dish and place it on their window sill to draw in men. Whatever story is true, the dish is truly alluring.

I’ve wanted to try my hand at Pasta Puttanesca since I first saw A Series of Unfortunate Events. It’s extremely inexpensive, and utterly fool proof. There is a basic recipe here, but the point is that you put in what you have or what you feel like. My ingredients vary a tad from the basic recipe, but it’s mighty fine.

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| Pasta Puttanesca

Serves 2

1 TBS olive oil

1/2 TBS minced garlic

1 TSP red pepper flakes

1 – 16 oz can of diced tomatoes in juice

2-3 TBS chopped sun-dried tomatoes

2 TBS capers

1/4 C kalamata olives, roughly chopped

a dash of salt

2 servings spaghetti, cooked

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Saute garlic, crushed red chili flakes and capers in olive oil on medium heat for about 3 minutes. Pour in the can of tomatoes and add the rest of the ingredients plus a couple tablespoons of water. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the sauce reduces a little, add in cooked spaghetti and stir well to incorporate.

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Serve and enjoy!

Roasted Fennel and Carrots

I have a love/hate relationship with meat. I love the way it tastes {like, love. Mmmm…. bacon} but every once in awhile, my tender heart gets rocked when I think about what I’m eating and how it got on my plate.

That being said, this is not a political post whatsoever, just a little announcement that I’m not eating meat at the moment. Or longer, I’m hoping. But don’t freak! Husband is still a caveman, so I will post what I make him, and you will have to go by his word whether or not it’s delicious {and lucky for you, he’s particular}.

So here’s a little veggie dish that is just delightful. Yep, I said it. Delightful. It causes you to be full of delight. Plus, it really is light. I’ve talked about fennel before, but it is such a uniquely flavored plant that goes extremely well with the sweetness of carrots. Add in a burst of extra flavor from the fennel seeds, and you have yourself a masterpiece of a meal.

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| Roasted Fennel and Carrots

12 large carrots

3 fennel bulbs

2 TSP olive oil

1 TSP lemon juice

1/2 TSP fennel seeds

1/8 TSP salt

a dash of cayenne pepper

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Peel the outer layer of the carrots, and cut them in half. Cut off the greens from the fennel bulbs and wash. Slice the fennel bulb in 1/2 inch slices, then in half again going the opposite directions. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, fennel seeds, salt and cayenne. Drizzle the mixture over the carrots and fennel in a large baking dish and toss to coat.

Pop the dish in the oven for 35 minutes or so, stirring about every 10 to 15. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

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Enjoy!