CRAVE: Eating in season adds nutrition, fun to dinner table
It’s summer again, and whether you’re blessed with weekly deliveries direct from the farm or you source fresh food from farmers markets – or your own backyard — there should be no shortage of wonderful ingredients for super nutritious, home-cooked meals.
Plus, the time is ripe for picking many kinds of mushrooms and plenty of other wonderful goodies. And thank goodness for the weather, because absolutely everything tastes better eaten outside.
Quinoa-Zucchini Cakes With Summer Herbs
Quinoa is a nutrient-dense whole grain with a rich, nutty-sweet flavor. The quinoa itself can be enjoyed as a side dish, and the prepared cakes are great on a salad or in a pita or sandwich. Serves 6 to 8.
To make the quinoa:
1 cup quinoa, soaked in water for 5 minutes
2 cups stock
Handful of mushrooms, chopped
1 small tomato or pepper, chopped
1 cup zucchini, shredded
1⁄4 cup sunflower seeds or slivered almonds
Handful of fresh, savory herbs (basil, parsley, cilantro, etc.), chopped
Sprinkles of sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Drain and rinse the quinoa to remove the bitter flavors from the outer coating.
Add all the ingredients to a pot and bring to a boil. Cover tightly, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes.
To make the cakes:
1⁄4 cup bread crumbs
Stir the eggs and bread crumbs into the quinoa. Form little cakes about 2 inches across and 1⁄4 inch thick, and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
In a low, wide saucepan, heat a thin layer of oil over medium-high heat. Pan-fry the cakes a couple minutes per side, until the outside is crispy and light golden-brown.
Green Tea and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Fresh mint, juicy blackberries, toasted nuts, and dark chocolate all complement the light, grassy, and toasty flavor of green tea – or add whatever you can dream up! I tried a suggestion from Chef Jamie Oliver to serve ice cream with a drizzle of fruity olive oil and a sprinkle of coarse sea salt. Makes about 1 quart.
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream, divided
1⁄2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (or 1 tablespoons pure vanilla extract)
2 tablespoons matcha (richly flavored green tea powder)
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
6 large egg yolks
2⁄3 cup fine raw sugar
Place your ice cream cylinder in the freezer. Mix together the milk and 1 cup of the cream, drop in the vanilla bean, cover, and refrigerate for half an hour.
Whisk the matcha into a couple of tablespoons of hot water until dissolved. Set aside.
In a saucepan, set over medium-low heat, bring the liquid mixture and salt just to a boil. Meanwhile, beat together the yolks, sugar and tea until thick.
When the milk mixture comes to a low boil, remove from heat. Pour a third of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture and incorporate it with a whisk. Whisk in another third of the liquid, then pour the mixture back into the saucepan, and heat over low heat. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon until it thickens slightly and coats the back of the spoon (about 170 Fahrenheit). This will take a few minutes, but do not let it boil or the yolks will begin to cook.
Remove from heat, remove the vanilla bean, and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight.
Whip the remaining cream until fluffy, and fold it into the custard. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Remove to an airtight container, and store in the freezer for at least an hour before serving.
Add any of the following at the same time that you add the vanilla bean.
1 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1 cup nuts, finely chopped and toasted
1 cup fresh berries, whole or puréed
1 cup dark chocolate, chopped or shaved
Notes: If you enjoy making foods by hand – and getting a bit of a workout before stuffing your face with the best ice cream you’ve ever had – you’ll want to find a high-quality, hand-crank ice cream maker. One great source is Lehman’s (www.Lehmans.com). Or try the Ice Cream Balls (www.UCOGear.com/highfives), a wacky, fun-for-kids way to get the job done. But if you’re in the market for a snazzy, electric version, opt for the ice cream bowl and paddle attachments for your KitchenAid stand mixed (www.kitchenaid.com), or the compact and supereasy model from Cuisinart (www.cuisinart.com).
Look for the Fair Trade label on chocolate, vanilla, and tea products to ensure they were produced responsibly.
Extend the life of those gosh-darn-expensive vanilla beans. After removing the bean from the custard, let it air-dry, then toss it into your sugar pot for heavenly aromatic vanilla sugar.
If you can find farm-fresh eggs and milk from grass-fed animals, your ice cream will be the hit of the summer. Guaranteed.