Fattoush Salad with Yogurt Tahini Sauce

{fattoush salad at Ciachhetti}

{fattoush salad at cicchetti, way back in june}

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Hello, friends! It’s been awhile! I’ve pretty much taken the entire summer off from blogging, and now all of the sudden it’s the last day of August and I haven’t made any of the yummy recipes I had planned to post.  Summer pasta bakes, homemade goat cheese, corn cakes, ice cream, as many berry and peach desserts as possible, basically everything Deb has posted over the past few months (and she’s done it with a newborn!) – I’m pretty mad at myself. I have so many excuses: camera phone issues (thrice-shattered screen(s) made it hard to take pictures), actual camera issues (memory card full), computer issues (storage full so I can’t upload photos currently on camera, thus the full memory card), desire to spend free time at the beach and/or with my adorable niece and nephew rather than in the kitchen or trying to fix phone/camera/computer issues.

But I finally went to the Apple store last week (fourth trip in five weeks) and an adorable young guy at the genius bar fixed my computer for me. For free! It was so amazing. I completely expected him to tell me I needed to buy a new laptop, or that it would cost $800 to open mine up to tell me what was wrong, but instead he just helped me empty my trash and my little MacBook is good as new (I realize that doesn’t speak very highly of my technology skills!). My mom told me once that when I was born she wanted to name me after her anesthesiologist – that’s how I felt about this guy at the genius bar, except I’m not expecting a baby and I never even learned his name. But if I was, and I had, that’s how I would have felt, because that’s how excited I was/am to have my computer back. Whoop!

But I digress. Back in June, pre-technology meltdown, I went to dinner at Cicchetti for a girlfriend’s birthday and fell in love with their fattoush salad. So much so that I went back to Cichhetti the following weekend with the sole purpose of ordering the salad again, so that I could better analyze it for a future blog post. Two weeks after that, I actually made it. It was delicious. I even managed to take pictures somehow. And then I went to the beach for the Fourth of July with the two cutest babies on the planet, took approximately 10,000 photos of them playing in the ocean, and crashed my computer. A couple days later I dropped my phone on a cement floor and shattered the screen, which brings me to my above list of excuses.

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But better late than never, right? As much as I would love to close out August with a peach dessert (ideally this one), I can’t think about another blog post until I’ve shared this salad. It really is the perfect summer salad (perfect summer meal, even): full of crisp and juicy vegetables, fresh herbs, crunchy and salty pita chips, and tons of delicious middle-eastern flavors. In my attempt to recreate the Cicchetti version, I started with the ingredients they list on their menu: cucumber, red onion, crispy flatbread (aka deep fried pita strips), bell pepper, fresh herbs, and tahini yogurt. A google search provided that traditional fattoush also includes romaine lettuce (which the restaurant version used) and diced tomatoes (which the restaurant version didn’t use but I wanted to). So figuring out the vegetables was easy; the trickier parts were the tahini sauce and the crispy flatbread. I played around with both until I found a version I was happy with, and I encourage everyone to do the same.

There are a ton of recipes for yogurt tahini sauce online, I started with one (it was so long ago that I can’t even remember which one) and then added more tahini, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. For the flatbread, I chopped my pitas into little strips and then fried them until crispy in olive oil, and salted them right when they came out of the hot oil. Delicious, but not necessarily the healthiest addition to a salad. I’ve made this a few times since, and I just toast the pitas in the toaster and then brush them with olive oil and sea salt and run them under the broiler until they’re extra crispy. So long as you aren’t doing a side by side taste test, that way is just as good.  And if you want to save yourself the time and energy, you could just crumble a handful of store-bought pita chips over your salad and call it a day.  But if you’re in the mood, cutting the pita into matchsticks and frying them is pretty fun, and makes for a really gorgeous salad.

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I’m not a huge fan of raw onions, so if I were just making this for myself I might leave them out. But I understand that a lot of people like them, and they do add a good crunch. One of my favorite tricks (that I may have talked about before) is to soak a red onion in ice water after you slice or dice it. It needs probably at least 20 minutes of soaking time, but longer won’t hurt (I find the longer the better, personally), so I try to remember to chop my onion first and then get it in an ice water bath and stick it in the fridge, and then once I’m done with everything else the onion is usually ready to drain. It just makes the onion flavor a little milder, and also helps the onion stay cold and crisp.

When I had this salad at Cicchetti, it was served with the sauce spread on the plate and sprinkled with sumac, and then the salad and pita on top. So for purposes of my blog photo shoot that’s what I did; since then, I just toss all my veggies together, mix the sumac in with my yogurt tahini sauce and dollop it on top, and then serve it with a crunchy pita alongside (or a handful of pita chips crumbled on top).  Whatever will make it easier for you to make this salad, I will encourage you to do, because it really was one of the best things I ate all summer.

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For the Salad:
5-6 Persian cucumbers (or 1-2 regular cucumbers), chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 red onion, finely diced (soaked and drained if desired, see above)
1 heart of romaine, finely sliced into thin strips
1 package cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)
Fresh mint leaves, chopped, to taste
Small handful flat leaf parsley, chopped

For the Yogurt Tahini Sauce:
2 cups Greek yogurt
1/4 cup tahini
Juice of one lemon
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper, to taste
Ground sumac, to taste

For the Crispy Flatbread:
3-4 pieces flatbread or pita, cut into matchsticks
Olive oil
Sea salt

Make Salad: Toss chopped cucumbers, peppers, onion, tomatoes, lettuce, mint, and parsley together; set aside.

Make Sauce: Blend yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic in food processor until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread onto serving plates and then sprinkle sumac on top (or alternatively, plate salad first and then dollop the dressing on top).

Make Flatbread: Heat about 1/2″ of olive oil in a large frying pan. Add flatbread pieces and fry until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and spread on a paper towel-lined plate to dry; sprinkle generously with sea salt and let cool. [It took me about three batches to get all of mine done.] To bake instead of fry: toast pitas, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and broil until golden and toasty, about 2 minutes (watch carefully so that they don’t burn).

Assemble: Spread yogurt tahini sauce on plates and sprinkle with sumac. Top with a large handful of tossed veggies and sprinkle with crispy flatbread (and additional sumac, if desired). Enjoy, ideally on a sunny deck with a glass of wine.

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Crunchy Cabbage Salad with Peanut Ginger Dressing

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As much as I love September, it’s a hard month for blog recipes because it’s not exactly clear what season we’re in. Technically, it’s still summer. It’s generally still pretty hot outside (at least most days). I’m still living in tank tops and flip flops. Yet the word “September” connotes back to school clothes, leaves changing, colder mornings, and basically all things fall. Peaches and tomatoes are on their way out, but I can’t bring myself to post (or even make) apple or pumpkin recipes until after the autumn equinox, which is a whole six days away.  So in the meantime, I just haven’t posted anything.  But then I had my friend Julie’s “cole slaw” the other night, and I was newly inspired.  If this salad had to pick a season, it’s definitely fresh enough to pick summer – but it’s not trying too hard to be seasonal. It’s perfect for a mid-September barbecue, but truthfully you could make it anytime.

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Julie is one of those people who, anytime she makes something you know it’s going to be good. You know this because she is good at everything she does. My mom always says Julie would have been the perfect pioneer woman (as opposed to herself, or either of her daughters, who wouldn’t have lasted a week on the Oregon Trail – we can barely go camping). Julie has five kids (and three adorable grandsons!), and still goes to Barre five days a week and makes dinner for her husband every night. How many people do you know that make an actual meal every night? I can count them on one hand. For those of us who need a little inspiration to make dinner even a few nights a week, however, this is the perfect salad – serve it alongside grilled chicken or fish (double the dressing recipe and use it as a marinade or glaze) and tell yourself you could have been a pioneer woman after all.

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Although the veggies take a little time to chop, this salad could not be easier. I say “salad” rather than “cole slaw” (which might be it’s technical name) because I detest cole slaw – or at least what I think of when I think of cole slaw, which is limp, soggy cabbage with disgusting, mayonnaise-y dressing, usually out of a bag or from a BBQ place (some other things I hate: mayonnaise, salad from a bag, BBQ). This salad could not be further from that, though – all the veggies are crisp and fresh and the dressing is made up of delicious things like peanut butter and soy sauce (using tamari makes it gluten free) and fresh ginger – and not a drop of mayonnaise. So, I’m calling it a salad, and like I said, it’s super easy. Whisk together all dressing ingredients, chop and toss the veggies, and that’s it.

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One year ago: oatmeal coconut chocolate chip cookies

Salad, previously: couscouskale, soba noodle, arugula, cucumber melon, green bean

Cabbage Salad with Peanut Ginger Dressing, from my friend Julie

For the dressing:
6 tablespoons rice vinegar
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic

For the salad:
5 cups thinly sliced green cabbage (one large head will yield at least 5 cups)
2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
2 cups shredded napa cabbage (I had to search for this at the grocery store – it looks more like a head of lettuce)
2-3 bell peppers (I used one red, one orange and one yellow but you could use any color(s) you like), cut into matchstick-sized strips
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into matchstick-sized strips
8 large green onions, cut into matchstick-sized strips
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

To make:
Combine all dressing ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until smooth and creamy. Let sit at room temperature for thirty minutes (or while you chop your veggies, which will take about that long). Add all sliced and chopped veggies into a large bowl and toss to combine. You’ll need to use the biggest bowl you have, as this makes a ton (you might want to cut the recipe in half if you aren’t feeding a crowd or don’t want leftovers).  Toss salad with dressing just before serving (only dress what you plan to use immediately; veggies and dressing will keep well in the fridge for a few days if you store them separately).

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Ombré Tomato Bruschetta

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Happy September, everyone! Can you believe Labor Day has come and gone? It felt so early to me this year. I hope everyone had lovely and relaxing long weekends. And now we’re back in the grind, ugh. But on the bright side, in the words of the funniest person I follow on Instagram, “I was sad that summer was over. But I was happy that it was over for my enemies, too.” That made me laugh when I read that “chapter” in his book, and I laughed even harder when I saw it in my Instagram feed this morning (in between the seemingly endless “first day of preschool” pictures – not that we don’t all love the first day of preschool pictures!!).

Luckily, summer isn’t actually over quite yet, and we still have a few weeks of tomato season left.  This “recipe” (if you can even call it that) was on the cover of my Martha Stewart Living last July, and has literally been on my “to make” list since then. I’m not sure how or why it took me fourteen months to make it, as bruschetta is one of my summer staples, but for whatever reason (probably because I never had all of the right color tomatoes) it did.  I finally made it for a Labor Day BBQ last night and it was sooooooo delicious that I had to post it, even though it’s less of a “recipe” and more of exactly what it sounds like – tomatoes on grilled bread.  But with fresh ciabatta, ripe heirlooms, and good olive oil and salt, this is literally better than birthday cake.  

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There’s not much else I can tell you about this, except that I really hope you make it. My only notes would be: (1) I really do think quality of ingredients makes a difference here – fresh bread, ripe tomatoes, good olive oil and sea salt; and (2) don’t be scared of the raw garlic – I’m usually not a fan, but I’ve read so many recipes telling me to rub toast with garlic cloves that I just went for it and I feel like it added a necessary kick.  Aside from that, it’s all pretty self-explanitory.  This whole thing literally took me ten minutes, including toasting and slicing (and photographing!). It would be delicious with fresh mozzarella, although it doesn’t need it at all.  I thought the basil made it look pretty, but it would be fine without it – and that is saying something, as I think everything is better with basil. You don’t even need to do the ombré part if you don’t have the right colored tomatoes (except then it would just be plain bruschetta, which isn’t quite as fun). Basically what I’m saying is, we only have a few short weeks of summer left, let’s take advantage of them with ombré bruschetta, whatever way you want to do it. Just don’t wait fourteen months like me.

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Tomato Ombré on Grilled Bread, from Martha Stewart Living

1 loaf good rustic bread, such as Ciabatta
2 cloves garlic, split in half crosswise (I only needed one)
2-3 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes, in a variety of colors
Good olive oil
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh basil, for garnish (optional)

Slice loaf of bread in half lengthwise, and either grill on the barbecue (like Martha) or place under the broiler until toasty (like me). Rub the toasted (cut) side of the bread all over with the garlic cloves. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Slice tomatoes as thin as possible. Drizzle any accumulated juices over the bread, and then arrange the tomatoes on top of the bread according to color.  Drizzle with a bit more olive oil and then sprinkle with salt and pepper (Martha gives you amounts of oil and salt and pepper to use, I just kind of eyeballed it).  Garnish with basil, if desired. Cut into wedges and serve.

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Lentils with Mint and Feta

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Last summer I posted the recipe for what used to be my favorite Pasta and Co. summer salad.  It was probably the most popular recipe I’ve blogged, at least based on the number of people who told me they actually made it afterwards. And it’s still my sister’s favorite, which reminds me, I need to make it for her as a new baby dinner.  But a couple weeks ago, I was in charge of another new baby dinner and, having completely run out of time to make the salad myself, popped into Pasta and Co. to pick some of theirs up. Unfortunately for me, the couscous was sold out, so I picked up some turkey meatballs, green beans, and a couple different salads that caught my eye, including the lentil salad above. It doesn’t look pretty, but please believe me when I tell you it was the most delicious salad I’ve ever had. So good, in fact, that I had to make it myself the first chance I got – and I haven’t made the couscous salad since. 

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Unfortunately, unlike the couscous salad, the lentil recipe isn’t published in any of the Pasta and Co. cookbooks, so I kind of had to make it up.  Going off of the list of ingredients (so glad I had the foresight to take a picture!), I figured all I had to do was cook some lentils, add red pepper and onion, and then of course feta and mint.  Although I make lentil soup about once a week from October-April, I’ve never actually cooked just plain lentils. And while it’s not hard, I did learn the hard way that they can get really mushy if overcooked.  This salad isn’t the prettiest to look at to begin with, but cooking my lentils an extra half hour or so probably didn’t help.  Trader Joe’s sells lentils already cooked, so you could go that route and save yourself a step.  The mushy lentils were still delicious though – I could have eaten them like soup.

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Aside from figuring out how to cook lentils, this salad is a breeze to throw together. You probably don’t need to “pickle” the onion, but I did as I’m not a fan of raw onions, and I just happened to remember doing so from this recipe (which I should probably make for B&B one of these days!). If you do want to pickle your onion, do so as soon as you get the lentils simmering, and then it will be ready by the time the lentils are finished. Aside from that, it just takes a little chopping and tossing and you’re good to go.  I attempted to write an actual “recipe” but you can pretty much add more or less of anything, to taste.  A lot of people will tell you you need three parts oil to one part vinegar for a true vinaigrette, but I like to start with half and half and then adjust to taste. 

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I told you it wasn’t pretty…but it tastes so good! 

Lentils, previouslysoup (also from Pasta and Co.)

One year ago: cream of fresh tomato soup

Lentil Salad with Feta and Mint, adapted from Pasta and Co. 

Ingredients:
2 cups green lentils (brown would work fine too)
Chicken stock and white wine, for cooking lentils (optional – see your lentil packaging instructions for amounts.  I cooked 2 cups lentils in 2 1/2 cups broth and 1/2 cup of white wine, for a ration of 2.5 cups liquid to 1 cup lentils)
2 red bell peppers, finely diced
1 small or 1/2 large red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup feta, crumbled (or more to taste)
Large handful mint, chopped or torn into pieces (the more mint, the better)
Olive oil
Red wine vinegar
1-2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon granulated sugar (for onion marinade, optional)

For the lentils:
Cook according to package instructions. The Trader Joe’s brand I used had me simmer mine with chicken broth, white wine, salt, and pepper for 35-40 minutes “or until liquid is absorbed.” The liquid was nowhere near absorbed after 40 minutes, so I ended up cooking the lentils for over an hour and they turned to mush – other recipes I’ve seen tell you to drain the liquid after the stated cooking time, which I’ll do next time in an effort to keep my lentils intact.

For the pickled red onion:
In a small bowl (or tupperware with a lid), whisk together two tablespoons vinegar, two tablespoons water, one teaspoon salt, and one teaspoon sugar, until sugar is dissolved. Add diced onion and toss to coat. The liquid won’t cover the onions entirely but that’s ok. If you have a tuperware with a lid, you can shake it occasionally if you want, but it’s not necessary. Let the onions marinate in the fridge for half an hour (less time is fine but 30 minutes or longer is ideal).

For the vinaigrette: 
Whisk together equal parts olive oil and red wine vinegar (I used 2-3 tablespoons each) with 1-2 cloves minced garlic (depending on how much garlic you like).  Add salt and pepper to taste.

For the salad:
Add red onion (with brine), red pepper, mint, and feta to lentils and stir to combine.  Toss with vinaigrette and add more oil, vinegar, salt and/or pepper to taste. Let chill and serve cold or at room temperature. Garnish with more mint, if desired.

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Curry Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

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I’m not entirely sure this is a blog-worthy recipe, as no one really needs me to tell them how to make chicken skewers, and pictures of raw chicken really aren’t all that appetizing. I’m posting it anyways, though, because at this point in the summer I’m getting a little sick of the same old grilled chicken/fish/burgers and am in need of inspiration.  So I thought perhaps you are too.  

My friend Alison introduced me to this recipe when we were in law school and for some reason decided to throw an Asian-fusion-themed cocktail party in my tiny apartment (any excuse to avoid studying). I made a Chinese chicken salad that I served in mini Chinese takeout cartons, with chopsticks. This was pre-Pinterest so I’m not sure how I came up with that idea (I think it may have been In Style magazine), but I was pretty proud of myself. Alison made curry chicken satay and it wasn’t until then, at age 25 or so, that I realized you could get such a thing outside of a Thai restaurant.

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The only thing remotely challenging about this recipe is giving yourself enough planning time to marinate the chicken.  The marinade itself takes about five minutes (less if your knife skills are better than mine).  Just make sure to soak your skewers while the chicken marinates.

Tyler has you cook the skewers in a grill pan on the stovetop, but I like to do mine on the barbecue (one less dish to clean).  Tyler also gives you a recipe for peanut sauce, which I’m sure is delicious, but mine is easier: just pick up a small to-go carton from your favorite Thai restaurant.  I’ve never had good luck with store-bought peanut sauce, but if you have you could use that too.  If you wanted to make your own, it’s something you could do ahead of time. This makes a great summer meal or app for entertaining as you can even grill the chicken in advance and serve it cold.  It’s going to be BBQ weather all week so if you’re in a grilling rut like me, I hope this helps! 

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One year ago: Baked Halibut with Tomatillo Salsa

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce, from Tyler Florence

For marinade:

1 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon curry powder

For skewers:

1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
20 wooden skewers, soaked in water for about 30 minutes
Vegetable oil or spray, for grilling

Combine the yogurt, ginger, garlic, and curry powder and stir to combine. Pour the marinade over the chicken strips and gently toss until well coated. Cover and let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.

Once the chicken has marinated, thread the chicken strips onto the soaked skewers. Heat barbecue and grease grill. Cook skewers for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, until cooked through.  Serve with peanut sauce.

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Summer Squash and Zucchini Tart

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Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. And now we’re back to the grind (blah). In an effort to make our Monday morning a little less painful, let’s talk about tarts.  And by “tarts” I don’t mean the fruit kind – which feel like dessert – I mean the cheese and veggie kind, which feel like something you can eat for/before dinner rather than having to wait until after.

I made this tart for the first time a few years ago, pre-blog.  Pre-Instagram, even, which is tragic, because it makes for really pretty pictures (and we all know I love me some Instagram food pics). It’s the perfect thing to make if you have a pile of squash and/or zucchini laying around from an overly ambitious farmers market splurge, or puff pastry icing over in the back of your freezer.  I had both, which is what inspired me to throw this together the other night.

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Your zucchini/squash slices will look prettier if you slice them with a mandoline, but if you don’t have one just slice them as thin as possible by hand. I suspect you could also use a food processor with the slicing blade here, but your squash would have to be skinny enough to feed through the top so I’m not sure how it would work out (if you don’t have a mandoline and want to try it this way, let me know how it goes). You could always cut your squash in half lengthwise and it would still look gorgeous. Sometimes I go to a lot of effort (i.e. getting out my food processor, clearing off a space on the counter, cleaning it afterwards) to get out of even a little bit of work (slicing a zucchini). The advantage here, though, is that the squash will cook better the thinner it’s sliced.

The ricotta filling is simple and delicious, and can be tweaked any way you like. You could use more parmesan, or omit it all together. You could add the feta in here in addition to the topping, or in lieu of. Same with the parsley and lemon – leave it in or leave it out. I might have added the basil here too if I had thought of it (yum).  I love the parsley and lemon, though, as they really brighten up the filling and work well the the zucchini and squash.

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If you haven’t used puff pastry a lot before, this part might look a little daunting, but I promise you it’s really not. The best tip I can give you for working with puff pastry is to allow yourself enough time for it to defrost (either overnight in the fridge or for at least an hour on the counter – the package will give you more detailed instructions). The few times I’ve had issues with it, it’s been due to either pastry that’s still frozen, or pastry I let sit out too long that’s gotten gummy.

Once it’s (properly, and not overly) defrosted, simply unfold the square of pastry onto parchment and roll it into whatever shape you’d like (rectangle or bigger square). I find it’s easiest to roll it directly onto the parchment, but you can always roll it out on the counter and then slide it onto your cookie sheet if you think you can manage. Mine looks deformed regardless, but I’d like to think that had I not been rushing I could have rolled it into a perfect rectangle and it would have stayed that way.

Once you have your pastry rolled out into the shape you want, fold over the edges to form a crust and then “score” the pastry.  You technically don’t have to fold over the edges, but I like to as it gives the tart more of a crust (since mine never turn out quite as pretty as they do in the video!). Poke holes over the inside crust with a fork, line with more parchment, and fill with pie weights to keep it from rising.

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After twenty minutes in the oven, take the pastry out, remove the parchment and pie weights, and press down the inside crust if necessary (it will still rise a bit). Cover with the ricotta mixture and arrange your squash and zucchini slices on top. I like to alternate between the zucchini and summer squash, but you can do it any way you like. Twenty more minutes in the oven (longer if your squash slices are thicker or don’t look a little shriveled), then remove the tart and brush with butter (or olive oil), sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook for five minutes more, until toasty. Garnish with feta, parmesan, basil, and/or whatever else you like. I like to serve this as an appetizer, but it’s perfect with a salad as a light lunch or dinner too.  It’s great warm or room temperature, but I love it cold. 

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Zucchini/summer squash, previously: Summer Squash and White Bean SautéZucchini and Ricotta GaletteCarrot Zucchini Muffins 

Tarts, previously: Leek and Swiss Chard

One year ago: Black Bean and Couscous Salad

Summer Squash Tart

Serves 6 a side, 8-10 as an appetizer 

1 sheet frozen puff pastry
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 small zucchini
2 small yellow squash
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (plus more for garnish)
1 egg, lightly beaten
Small handful chopped parsley
Zest of one small lemon
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Small handful basil, torn or julienned

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Cut a piece of parchment paper into a rectangle that will fit on your cookie sheet and sprinkle it with flour (you could use a silpat sheet here if you had one). Roll your pastry out on the floured parchment into a rectangle just smaller than the parchment. Fold the edges of the pastry over to form a thicker crust, and then with a small paring knife score a one-inch border within the crust (being careful to not cut through the pastry). Carefully transfer your pastry crust, on the parchment, onto the baking sheet.  Use a fork to prick small holes all over the bottom of the pastry, line with another sheet of parchment paper, and cover with pie weights.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges are puffed and golden brown.  Remove the pastry from the oven and let cool.  Remove pie weights and top parchment.

Thinly slice the zucchini and squash (ideally with a mandoline, but by hand is fine if you don’t have one).

In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, 1/4 cup parmesan, egg, parsley, and lemon zest.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Spread mixture over the pastry shell and arrange the zucchini and squash slices over the top. Return to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.  Remove and brush the tart with the melted butter.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes, until the crust and veggies are golden brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle with the feta cheese and additional parmesan.

Let tart cool at least 10-15 minutes.  It can be served immediately after cooling, or later at room temperature or cold.  Garnish with basil before serving.

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Summer Green Bean Salad with Cherry Tomatoes

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If I had to pick two favorite summer vegetables, they might be green beans and cherry tomatoes – so of course this salad is one of my very favorites. Not surprising, then, that when I saw the stalls at the farmers market overflowing with green beans this past weekend I had to stock up.  I’ve made this with green beans from the grocery store in the past and it’s still excellent, but there’s something about fresh produce from the market that really makes things taste like summer. photo 1

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Some of these beans look like they’ve seen better days, but I guess that’s just what beans look like when they come straight from the farm? Because they were delicious – both raw, as a snack while I spent hours trimming them (it was really only minutes, but for some reason that task is always a little daunting to me), and once they were cooked. Aside from the time it takes to trim the beans, this salad takes next to no time to prepare. You do have to turn your stove on, which is a bummer when it’s 90 degrees out, but I think it’s worth it.  The good news is you don’t have to keep the stove on for long.  Deb says to parboil the beans for 4-5 minutes, but that resulted in a bean that was a little too cooked for my taste.  They weren’t overdone, but I prefer them crunchier so would suggest blanching for only 2-3 minutes, then cooling in an ice water bath (or just running them under cold water and throwing some ice cubes into the strainer with the beans, if you don’t want to dirty another bow).  If you prefer a less-crunchy green bean, however, cook them for a few minutes longer. 

Slice your tomatoes in half and toss with the vinaigrette.  Add the beans just before serving. Fresh and healthy, simple and delicious, the perfect side for any summer picnic or barbecue – my favorite kind of summer salad!  

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One year ago: Zucchini and Ricotta Galette 

Summer Green Bean Salad, from Smitten Kitchen (yellow bean version here)

1 lb. green beans (or mix of green and yellow)
1 lb. cherry tomatoes
1 large shallot
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or more to taste, I used more)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (or less to taste, I used less)
Salt and pepper to taste
Basil and/or other herbs, optional

For the veggies:

Rinse the beans, trim them (Deb calls this “top and tail,” I just think of it as cutting off the stringy parts), and chop them into large pieces. Parboil or blanch the beans in boiling salted water until just tender (4-5 minutes for parboil, 2-3 minutes for blanch, which I prefer as they stay a little crunchier). Drain immediately and cool, in ice water bath or otherwise.  Rinse the cherry tomatoes and cut them into halves.

For the vinaigrette: 

Peel and mince the shallot and toss with vinegar and salt and pepper. Whisk in the oil and adjust seasoning as needed.  Add tomatoes.  This can sit for awhile, but wait to add the beans until just before serving as the vinegar will discolor the beans a bit. Toss beans with tomatoes and vinaigrette.  Garnish with basil, parsley, or any herb of your choosing, if desired.

Enjoy outside in the sunshine! Happy summer!

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