Lemony Zucchini Carpaccio

by Caroline

When Tony and I were first dating, we used to eat at a wonderfully low-key Italian place, Jackson Fillmore, with the most delicious zucchini carpaccio, light and fresh with parmesan, toasted almonds and parsley. We’ve tried to replicate it a number of times but never quite gotten it right. So when this recipe appeared in my inbox this morning from Food 52, I thought it was time to try again. I thought the crunch of the raw zucchini and almonds would appeal to my son Eli, who doesn’t like cooked vegetables, and knew the zesty hit of lemon in this recipe would appeal to my lemon-loving son, Ben.

Personal preference and our pantry dictated a number of changes to the recipe; we all like almonds, so I used those, slightly toasted, in lieu of pistachios, and we didn’t have any thyme. My sea salt isn’t fine, and my grinder is full of coffee beans, so I just did a rough chop of lemon zest with coarse sea salt, which worked out fine (and the extra has now become my sons’ favorite topping for vegetables and pasta). I don’t have a mandoline, but a vegetable peeler achieves the same effect: lovely fresh ribbons of zucchini.

Click here for the original recipe; here’s how I did it:

First make the lemon zest salt by combining
• 1 tablespoon lemon zest
• 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
Mince or grind in a spice grinder and set aside. (Store the extra, sealed in a small jar, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. After that the lemon flavor will begin to fade.)

Next prepare the salad:
• 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest salt
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 4 small, fresh zucchini (about 4 ounces each), rinsed and trimmed at both ends
• 1 large ripe avocado
• 1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

1. In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest salt. Add the oil and whisk to blend.
2. With a mandoline, vegetable peeler, or very sharp chef’s knife slice the zucchini lengthwise as thin as possible. Arrange the slices on a platter and pour the dressing over them. Tilt the platter back and forth to coat the slices evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, so the zucchini absorbs the dressing and does not dry out.
3. Halve, pit, and peel the avocado, and cut it lengthwise into very thin slices. Arrange the slices of marinated zucchini on individual salad plates, alternating with the avocado slices, slightly overlapping them. Sprinkle with the almonds. Garnish with another sprinkle of lemon zest salt, and serve.

Fresh Corn Pancakes

by Caroline

When my husband and I decided to get married, I told him I could imagine making a life in his native San Francisco as long as we spent one week every summer somewhere I wouldn’t need to wear a scarf.

That means, happily, an August week in Northwest Connecticut, visiting my parents, and that also, very happily, means corn. Usually, we’re eating my Dad’s corn, but this year the crop failed so we’re getting it from local farm stands. My Dad likes the one the First Selectman sets up at the end of his driveway (presumably because he can get caught up on local political talk); my Mom (and I) like the bigger one that also offers fresh, homemade mozzarella. Either way, with this much corn around, you are bound to have leftovers, and this recipe is my new favorite way to use them. Don’t be put off (as I nearly was) by the somewhat fussy step of blending and straining some of the corn with milk: it makes a difference.

You can eat these the way my kids do, drenched in maple syrup (and when the syrup’s homemade, I won’t stop them), but you can also eat them savory, as I’ve pictured, with guacamole and fresh tomatoes. It’s summer on a plate.

Mini-Bites, or more Salads-on-a-Stick

by Lisa

The salad on a stick was such a hit with everyone, and so easy and portable, I’ve been brainstorming variations.   And what better place to test the concept and recipes than a Memorial Day get together with Caroline and her family, and our friend Nicki Richesin & her family. Nicki has just edited the terrific anthology Crush: 26 Real Life Tales of First Love, which you should put on the top of your summer reading list.

I made bite size versions of the salad-on-a-stick with toothpicks instead of skewers, and it turned out to be perfect party food.  They were a big hit with the grown-ups, and some of the kids. But the kids were mostly busy with the zip line, which Tony re-created for the afternoon and kept all of them busy for, oh, 4 hours. So can you blame them for not eating very much while there were things to build and fly and crash?

We set the platters out on the deck for snackingwhile building, but we adults ate most of them. For two of the choices, I put a small slice of bread on the bottom to soak up the dipping sauce. It worked beautifully.

The choices:

Roasted Pepper + Manchego + Brown bread

Cherry tomato + basil leaf + mini-baguette slice, with olive oil + balsamic vinegar for dipping

Romaine leaf + bacon + feta dressing & ranch dressing, for dipping

Sushi Salad

by Caroline

A pretty common weekend dinner for us is homemade sushi and lately I’ve purposefully prepped enough of the ingredients that I can make a sushi salad for lunch the next day.

Our garden is producing a lot of arugula and mustard greens right now, so I picked a plateful, topped it with a scoop of sushi rice, then added chopped roasted sweet potato, fried tofu, and pickled vegetables. A sprinkle of peanuts (garbage salad-style) or sesame seeds adds some extra protein and crunch, then I dressed it with a sesame-soy vinaigrette. Delicious!

Sesame-Soy Vinaigrette
1/4 cup tamari soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 cup light sesame oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Green Beans with Eggs & Herbs

By Lisa

I came across this recipe in Food and Wine this month, and since we eat a lot of eggs over here, and green beans are generally a hit, I thought what could be bad? It’s basically a tumbled togther mix of eggs, green beans, and herbs.  Then I realized the very premise of the dish–all the foods touching each other could pose a problem. Finn tends not to like things mixed together. At least on the first appearance.  But taken alone, the ingredients were a no brainer, and the dish had the added benefit of keeping at room temperature, and I figured I could make a version with the eggs separate for the kids, before mixing the ingredients together for us to eat later, which is exactly what I did. In the end, Ella requested an omelet, so I agreed to that variation too.

Version 1.0 & 1. 5

Version 2.0

In the end, both kids tasted Version 2.0 and agreed it was good, so the slow ramp up to the big dish was worth it. The consensus was that the original dish was excellent, if a bit too onion-y. You can see the original version here, but when I make it again I will modify it thusly:

  • 1 pound green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro, plus small sprigs for garnish (or try another leafy herb–like basil)
  • 1 chopped green onion, green part included (optional)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  1. Cook green beans in boiling salted water until tender. About 6 minutes.
  2. Melt butter in nonstick pan. Lightly scramble eggs.  Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the green beans, cilantro, green onion, and garlic.
  4. Serve immediately or at room temperature, garnished with cilantro.

It’s a great summer dish–warm or at room temperature. An easy appetizer, or casual outdoor meal, or just when you need something quick and healthy and full of flavor.