Impromptu summer lunch salad

Hungry mid-day and don’t want to fuss much? Take what you have that is farm fresh and toss together a casual salad.  Here’s what went into today’s salad chez moi: chopped kale, chickpeas, artichoke hearts, raw summer squash, diced peppers.  If I had a red onion, I would have added that to the mix. But this is a no-stress lunch, so not to worry, I told myself.

I wasn’t in the mood for a sharp vinaigrette, so here’s what I did: I started with leftover extra mayonnaise/sour cream from potato salad. To that I added buttermilk and a bit of olive oil and salt.  Voila!

Canned items:  chickpeas, drained and rinsed, artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed, and soaked in olive oil (the oil I later added to creamy dressing, above)

Farmers market/CSA items:

yellow summer squash, sliced thin on mandoline

assorted sweet peppers, cut into large dice

Several leaves of lacinato kale, soaked, dried and chopped fine



Summer lentil salad extravaganza

When you find yourself with lovely local lettuce in early summer, and perhaps some leftover grilled chicken, cook up some Puy lentils and assemble a main course salad, great for a crowd. Pomegranate molasses adds a new flavor element to sherry vinaigrette brightened with lemon zest and juice.

Stewed puy lentils, chilled
Chicken or vegetable stock for cooking lentils
Sherry shallot vinaigrette with shallots macerated in apple cider vinegar, lemon zest & juice, walnut & olive oil, sugar and pomegranate molasses
Leftover chicken, sliced thick or hard boiled eggs or boiled chilled shrimp (omit cheese)
Canned artichoke hearts and bottled roasted peppers, drained and rinsed.
Toasted walnuts (1 c), broken up when cool.
Little turnips, carrots sliced on mandoline
fresh herbs, minced — parsley and chives, at a minimum


Cook lentils: Sauté diced carrots, celery, shallot in large saucepan. Add 1 t cumin, crumbled, ground pepper, and less than 1 t dried thyme, crumbled. When done, stir in chopped garlic and cook for one minute.
Stir in 1-1/2 c puy lentils, picked over and rinsed. Turn up heat and add stock to more than cover. Bring to a simmer and cook at least partially covered 20-30 minutes until barely tender — don’t let get mushy. Drain and chill.
Toast 1 c. walnuts in 350 degree oven for 7-8 minutes until fragrant. Let cool, then break up a bit.
Heat olive oil in small sauce pan, add couple garlic cloves cut in half and cook for a couple minutes until slightly browned and aromatic. Remove from heat and let sit.
Drain and rinse artichoke hearts; put on towel and blot dry. Put in bowl and pour garlic oil over them, adding more oil as needed.
Make vinaigrette: minced shallot and apple cider vinegar to macerate 15+ minutes. Lemon zest, lemon juice, sherry vinegar, walnut oil, olive oil, dash sugar (or honey) and 1-2 t pomegranate molasses, S&P. Taste and adjust acid, salt and sweetness as needed. Using a lettuce leaf is a good method of tasting.
When lentils are cool (or brought to room temp if cooked in advance), toss liberally with vinaigrette. Salt as needed.
Mince fresh herbs such as parsley and chives. Mix into lentils with walnuts.
Wash and spin dry lettuce leaves.
Clean turnips and cut thinly on mandoline with carrots and parmesan, if using. Cover and refrigerate to wait for salad assembly.

Lay lettuce leaves around outside of platter. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Dump dressed lentils in center. Top with chicken, artichokes and peppers. Sprinkle on coarsely broken up turnips, etc.

Summer vegetable soup

When you tire of summer salads, try soup! Now that seems like an odd notion in mid-summer. But…. High-summer season vegetables are coming in now: zucchini, green beans, sweet, sweet carrots. So toss them all in a soup pot and after you make some vegetable stock, make some vegetable soup. Nutritious, delicious and naturally low-calorie/carb.


1 onion (or 2 spring onions, with greens cut up and added later)

2 large carrots, diced medium

4 garlic cloves, minced medium

thyme – fresh or dried

1 zucchini – soaked, then cut into quarters and sliced

1 bay leaf

¼ to ½ # green beans, tipped and tailed, cut into 1-1/2 to 2” pieces OR bunch of swiss chard, stems removed, leaves torn and washed

1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed

optional: corn cut from 2-3 ears; leftover rice; parmesan cheese rind; scallions if no fresh onion greens


  1. Put zucchini in sink or bowl to soak whole. (Removes any soil that settled into skin.) Dice onion, then carrots.
  2. Heat soup pot and add 2-3 T oil over medium-high heat. Cook onions with salt until soft. Add carrots, zucchini, thyme, S&P (hearty pinch of salt!), and cook until softened. Stir in garlic and bay leaf and cook for a minute until fragrant.
  3. Pour in vegetable stock – about 4-5 cups total (can include some water), and bring to rapid simmer. Throw in green beans and cook about 10+ minutes until just tender. Add rinsed beans, and corn and/or rice, if using.


If you have leftovers, refrigerate for up to one week.

Inspiration source

Weeknight black bean tacos

Watching calories and carbs but wanting to max out flavor and spice, I devised this quick and easy taco recipe.  From thought to dinner plate in under 25 minutes!

Black beans — a delicious foundation of this dish — get their flavor amped up by sauteing with onion, hot peppers and garlic.  I like Eden brand no salt added.  (I add my own sea salt for flavor.  Ordinary canned beans are loaded with hidden sodium.)

For corn tortillas, I recommend Food For Life brand, sprouted corn tortillas, which I pick up at my local food co-op.  Some day I will actually buy extra to keep on hand in the freezer!


1 can (15 oz) black beans (Eden is good brand; w/o added salt)

½ onion, chopped

½ t ground cumin

red pepper flakes; hot sauce

3 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 serrano peppers, chopped finely


corn tortillas (2/person)


grated cheese, such as Cabot pepper jack (Monterey jack); queso blanco or fresco

salsa (I like Green Mountain Gringo)

lettuce, chopped (optional)

sour cream, watered down if desired (optional)

avocados or guacamole (optional)



Chop onions, garlic and hot pepper. Heat small-ish sauté pan, add 1 T grapeseed or other neutral oil. Saute onions, then cumin, garlic and pepper and pepper flakes in neutral oil for about 5 mins.

Stir in beans. Add a bit of water, stir, cover and cook about 10 mins. Add hot sauce as desired.
Meanwhile: grate cheese, ready salsa, lettuce, etc.

When beans are almost done, heat small sauté pan; brush tortillas with neutral oil, and heat, stacking in pan and turning on all sides, together if desired, until heated through, a few minutes.

Layer on each tortilla: beans, cheese, salsa, avocados, sour cream and lettuce. Fold over tortillas. Yum!

Yield: 4 tacos

Nutrition per taco: 31 g carbs (without avocado); 360 cals; 20 g fat

(avocado adds 4 g carbs for ¼ fruit; 72 calories)

Greens and beans, variation

Greens and garlic are a very happy way to eat veggies, garlic being a major food group in my book.  Last night a variation on my more standard greens and beans:  escarole, andouille, onions and beans in chicken stock. It’s like eating chicken soup, but so much zestier. (If you have leftovers, add more stock the next day and heat up as soup.)

I cut up some Aidell’s andouille sausage (pre-cooked), sauteed an onion, celery with leaves (my new thing for sauté — as is the accent!), garlic, threw in the sausage and then escarole, S&P, and chicken stock.  Covered and stewed a bit, threw in White Northern beans (canned, drained and rinsed) to warm a bit.  Topped with grated cheese.  Voila!  Deliciouse!

For those who need a recipe:


chicken stock — small container, defrosted and heated

1-1/2 links andouille sausage (I like Aidell’s), cut up

one head escarole.  Cut off stem, rinse and drain leaves (wet is fine), rough chop

1 medium onion

1 stalk celery and some inner leaves, cut up

garlic, couple cloves, minced (with germ removed)

grated Parmesan or comté


  1. Thaw and heat a small container of chicken stock.
  2. Dice 1 medium onion.  Rinse and cut up 1 small stalk of celery with some leaves.  Chop a couple garlic cloves.  Cut up sausage. Cut bottom core off head of escarole, wash, drain and cut, leaving in strainer.
  3. Heat large covered sauté pan, add a few T olive oil.  Add onion, and then celery and sauté for 5 mins, adding garlic in at end, and then sausage.
  4. Add in escarole, S&P. image
  5. Toss and add chicken stock to wet everything, though less than soup-ish.  Cover and cook for about 10 mins, adding in beans about 5 mins in.image
  6. Scoop out into bowls, grating cheese on top.  Mmmm!

Quick black beans and call it dinner

Dear reader(s), I have not been able to cook something new the past couple days because, ahem, a little critter decided to DIE in the kitchen after being mauled by my otherwise darling cat.  Now if the cat had actually done in that damn rodent — or the dog had gotten there sooner to do the deed — I would not have a problem.  My cat had the damn thing in his mouth and then decided to play cat-and-mouse and dropped the mouse.  Grrr. That’s where my problem started.  It scurried into the tiniest of holes under the kitchen counter and disappeared.  If rodents are vengeful critters — which I don’t presume — this one got his/her? revenge.  Died and is stinking up my kitchen.  I immediately bought an electric air purifier with a charcoal filter and am running it constantly, researched getting rid of the smell and how long it lasts, tried to order a product from the UK which did not reinforce the idea that we are a small world since it would take ONE MONTH to get to me.  Instead I ordered Fresh Wave — about 60 bucks worth in gels, spray and candle form.  All this to say, in the past couple days, I have reheated my split pea soup, and re-made the Asian shrimp, and gotten out of the kitchen pronto.  I am thinking of ripping up my cabinets and flooring to get to the corpse.  It’s a reminder when you think you’re having a bad day, remember it could be worse — there could be a mouse corpse in your kitchen.

What I’m trying to do with this blog is create and post whole dinners.  My theory is that while people like to try something new for dinner, the idea of finding three things to cook is daunting.  I know it is for me even with the best of intentions.  So for example I like the idea of trying David Lebovitz’ chicken with mustard, I’d have to think up sides.  Moving on . . . .

Here is a quick and easy black bean dish.  If you have some rice, you have a complete meal.  If not, it’s better than popcorn, probably.  I’m not a nutritionist, but just sayin’

Quick black beans, Cuban style


garlic — couple cloves, minced

onion — 1 medium, diced

2 serrano chiles, or dried red pepper flakes

1 medium green or red pepper (green is more authentic, I don’t like green)

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

oregano — fresh or dried

wine vinegar


  1. Saute garlic for one minute, and then onions in olive oil.
  2. Add beans, cook a while and stir occasionally.
  3. Add oregano and red or green pepper
  4. Heat through.
  5. A couple minutes before serving, stir in 1 T wine vinegar and heat through.

Mexican variation:

Add cumin, queso fresca at end with chopped red onion; serve over brown rice