August for dinner

calabacitas con elote y chorizo

I’m finding my eating habits to be more and more in tune with the seasons as I grow older. Except for chocolate, which will always be in season to me.

Growing up in a rural area and seeing everything around me blossom, fruit and die in cycles with the seasons has certainly made me aware, as has working on an organic farm, having local food so easily available, and tasting the difference between sweet corn grown 2 miles away versus sweet corn from the opposite coast in the dead of winter. Although it’s been hard to learn that I can’t have it all whenever I want it, anticipating the summer months and watching my edible garden grow makes in-season produce that much more special. It’s like my mom used to say when I asked why she couldn’t make her amazing Christmas cookies all year long — “because then they wouldn’t be so good!”

Now it allll makes sense.

The good things are certainly worth waiting for, especially when it comes to juicy sweet corn, heirloom tomatoes and zucchini in the summer. I enjoy this dish as soon as the first sweet corn arrives at the market and for as long as the season lasts. It was one of my blog’s early recipes: Calabacitas con elote, or Mexican Zucchini with Corn. The past few summers we had enjoyed it as a side dish, but this year I’ve decided to take advantage of its versatility. The sautéed squash, corn and tomatoes are such a simple combination, but something about them simmering together in their ripe juices with a little fresh oregano gives the dish a rich flavor I can only describe as purely summer.

calabacitas con elote y chorizo

Lately we tried adding local pork chorizo from our neighbors at the farmer’s market, which was a delicious way to make a one-pot meal — and quite the rich & hearty one. For a lighter option you could add pulled chicken, taco-seasoned ground turkey or tofu, or black beans to the mix for a filling and nutritious entree. Another thing I want to try is using the veggie dish as a taco or enchilada filling or adding a little broth to make a summery soup. So many possibilities for this simple dish! Continue reading

lemon + zucchini corncakes

Limón y calabacín, or lemon and zucchini as you may know them, were the flavors of my summer. Working at a Montessori school’s garden all season, we had an overflowing crop of zucchini and lots of time to mess around with new recipes and get creative.

…zucchini ice cream, anyone? ;)

I’ve never been a huge fan of lemon flavor in desserts, but this summer my taste buds must have changed on me. ‘Cause now it’s all I crave. With the help of the Montessori kids who came to work in the garden, we started experimenting with some lemon-rosemary zucchini bread, then progressed to Martha’s lemon-zucchini cornmeal cookies *veganized* (Mom’s faaavorite), and from there I decided to add the tasty combo to my favorite cornmeal pancakes that I posted here last summer.

Fluffy and buttery cornmeal cakes with shreds of bright green zucchini and tangy lemon zest, spread with maple syrup-greek yogurt….. it’s summer bundled up into a little pancake.

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the bowl.

I think at least 80% of the meals I make for myself end up piled into a bowl. I like it that way – the different flavors and textures blend together in each bite, and the combinations of veggies, grains, proteins, herbs, sauces and spices are endless…

I’m also often cooking for one, so it’s a convenient way to control my portions and season it just the way I like it. Then I take a big spoon, collapse on my comfy couch, and savor every bite :)

My creations typically involve some kind of grain (quinoa, polenta, or brown rice), steamed or sautéed greens, sautéed or roasted seasonal veggies, and either beans, eggs, lentils, tofu, veggie sausage or chicken. Then comes the endless flavor combinations concocted of herbs, cheeses, spices, and sauces, which I change up every time. The bowl concept is great because I always end up with a well-balanced meal, and it makes for easy eating whether at home, on the go, or leftover for tomorrow’s lunch!

I wanted to share a few of my favorite quinoa bowls as of late: Continue reading

simple savory Moroccan soup

This is one of my favorite soup recipes – it’s light but filling, vegetarian, and made with a unique combination of spices that fill the air with warmth. Cinnamon and cayenne give it a spicy heat, and my favorite part—the raisins—turn into plump little grapes bursting with an unexpected sweetness.

Oh yeah, it’s SO simple to make and healthy too!

Moroccan soup with quinoa + chickpeas, adapted from Women’s Health

Serves 4 or 5

  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) no salt- added diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 cup zucchini, sliced into half circles
  • 1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 4 artichoke hearts, cut in half (frozen or packed in water and drained) *I left these out
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced (including green tops)
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t cayenne
  • 1/2 t basil
  • 1/2 t oregano

Bring stock plus 1 cup water to a rolling boil. Reduce heat, add remaining ingredients, and simmer uncovered about 10-15 minutes, or until quinoa is just tender (don’t overcook as it will expand as the soup sits). Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

As with many soups, it will thicken up over time, and I find it to be especially flavorful after sitting overnight.

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Summer Squash

It’s the time of year for the garden to be overflowing with squash, which we must pick or else they will grow to the size of our yellow lab, Benny, and no one wants that.

So what to do with zucchini upon zucchini upon zucchini? Well, get creative of course! Zucchini is loved in our family and my mom often makes her ‘zucchini marinara’ year round, which is simply sautéed squash topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella. As simple and tasty as this is, you can guess it gets old after a while. So here are some of our latest summer squash recipes…. and if you have a favorite I’d love to know about it!

Zucchini Cakes with Goat Cheese, found here

Calabacitas con Elote – Me and mom’s absolute favorite. We really could eat this every day of the summer! It’s such a simple recipe but something about the zucchini and sweet corn simmering together creates a rich, “summery” flavor, if I may call it that :]. I’d like to try adding some vegetable broth and eating it as a soup!

3 large ears sweet white corn or 3 cups thawed frozen whole kernel corn

6 medium zucchini (1 ½ lbs)

2 poblano or California Chiles, roasted & peeled OR 2 canned whole green chiles (mom uses a 4.5oz can of chopped green chiles, because they’re milder)

3 tomatoes, chopped OR 1 15oz can chopped/diced tomatoes

¼ medium onion (use more if desired)

1 ½ T olive oil

¼ t dried leaf oregano, crushed (or use ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro)

¾ t salt


If using fresh corn, slice kernels off cobs, then scrape cobs with sharp spoon to get juices. Discard cobs. Cut zucchini into ½ – ¼ inch cubes. Cut chiles into short thin strips. Chop tomatoes and onion. Heat oil in saucepan or Dutch oven. Add corn and zucchini cubes. Cook over med-low heat until zucchini is crisp-tender, about 3 min. Add chile strips (or can of chopped chiles), tomatoes (and juice if canned), onions, oregano (if using cilantro, add once zucchini is tender approx 5 min before serving), salt + pepper to taste. Stir. Cover and cook over medium heat 5-10 min until zucchini is tender. Makes 6-8 servings.

Pesto Zucchini Noodles – a healthy substitution for spaghetti noodles with way less cooking involved!

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