Summer Fun + Cold Cucumber Soup

sunflower

It’s been almost a month since I last wrote a blog post: I don’t think I’ve ever taken this long of a break! Why the silence? No particular reason except that I’m having a fun summer ;)

I haven’t taken any big trips or done anything super exciting: I’ve just been tending to (and eating/cooking from) my garden,

evening garden | healthy green kitchen

borage

cukes, tomatillos, pattypan

harvest

flowers

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Fresh Salsa with Heirloom Tomatoes

Fresh Salsa | Healthy Green Kitchen

I grow many types of organic heirloom tomatoes each summer. Though I have made and water-bath canned several different kinds of cooked salsas in years past, I decided not to bother this year. I far and away prefer to make and eat fresh salsa (aka Salsa Fresca or Pico de Gallo) with my tomatoes right after I pluck them off the vine.

Fresh Salsa | Healthy Green Kitchen

I take a pretty loose approach to salsa making. I don’t really follow a recipe- I simply chop up a slew of tomatoes, then add a little of this and a little of that. Red onion is a must. So is lime juice, cilantro, and some jalapeño chile. Sometimes I may add cucumbers…avocado is another option. In the pictures here, you’ll notice I added fresh (raw) corn sliced right off the cob.

Fresh Salsa | Healthy Green Kitchen

Below is a basic fresh salsa recipe with which you may play around. Chop the tomatoes as big or as small as you like, and use different colored heirloom tomatoes, if possible (though if you want your salsa to contain as little liquid as possible, it’s best to use plum tomatoes). Make a little to snack on with crackers or chips, or to eat with veggies, or throw together a big batch to enjoy with tacos or any Mexican-inspired meal. I’ve been known to eat a big bowl in lieu of a salad! Have fun and enjoy.

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Seared Scallops with Gremolata

Thank you all so very much for your kind words after my dog died. We miss Jezebel tons but we are keeping busy (and showering her brother Jake with lots of extra attention)…we’re doing okay :)

For the past week and a half, my husband and I have been home while our kids are away at camp. It’s been a really wonderful “staycation”…the type of experience I recommend for all parents, if possible! My husband usually travels quite a bit for work and is only home on the weekends, which means we don’t get to spend that much time together. Having almost 2 straight weeks for just the two of us to hang out has been really, really amazing.

Earlier in the summer, we came to the realization that our house was in major need of deep cleaning, some painting, and a bunch of small fixes here and there. We also hatched a plan to redecorate our kids rooms. With the kiddos gone, we’ve been working steadily to accomplish these tasks (except for the painting…we hired someone to do that) and it feels really good. We rented a 10 yard dumpster and got rid of SO many things that were cluttering up our home; we’ve also donated lots of items and even sold some at a yard sale.

In addition to all the working (and multiple trips to Ikea), we’ve played a lot, too. We’ve gone on lots of walks and hikes, and watched a bunch of movies…Crazy, Stupid Love was my favorite! We’ve also been cooking a lot. Because our kids don’t really like fish or seafood, and we don’t eat it much when they are around, we’ve had it for a lot of our meals. We thought this Seared Scallops recipe was really terrific.

Scallops with Gremolata | Healthy Green Kitchen

I adore scallops. They are a great source of protein and they are SO quick to make…seriously, this recipe only takes about 10 minutes. I adapted it slightly from my friend Lynda and it’s a keeper, for sure.

I love the idea of the Pea Purée on which Lynda served her scallops, but peas aren’t in season now so we enjoyed ours over chopped broccoli and yellow squash (from our garden) sautéed with garlic and olive oil instead. I think these scallops would also be great over rice (or any grain, really); pasta would work, too (but seriously…when does pasta NOT work?).

I LOVE the Alaskan Weathervane scallops from Vital Choice(<--affiliate link). They are pricey but delicious, and wild/sustainably harvested. I think they are worth the occasional indulgence, but otherwise just use the best quality scallops you can find. As for the gremolata, you can play with it, if you like: parsley and mint are more "traditional" gremolata ingredients, I believe. I like using preserved lemon rind because it's so flavorful (instead of "regular" lemon zest); if you do this omit the salt in the gremolata, since preserved lemons are already quite salty.

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Grilled Eggplant and Cilantro Dip

*Disclosure: This post is part of my ongoing relationship with the folks from California Endive Farms. I receive complementary boxes of endive and I am being compensated to develop recipes to share with you; all opinions expressed here are 100% mine.

Grilled Eggplant Dip | Healthy Green Kitchen

Since partnering up with California Endive Farms last year, I have enjoyed more than my fair share of endive. I love having a constant supply in the refrigerator, especially in the winter and early spring when my own garden is sleeping. I have showcased a few different cooked endive recipes here on the blog (such as this one and this one), but I also really love endive raw. It is great in salads (like this and this), and the leaves are the perfect receptacle for filling with all sorts of delicious and healthy dips.

This Grilled Eggplant and Cilantro dip was inspired by the recipe for Charred Eggplant with Chile Sauce and Tahini that I found in the May 2013 issue of Saveur magazine. It’s incredibly easy to make and it’s tasty as part of an appetizer spread (shown here with endive leaves, pita chips, and some walnuts). It’s also great in place of more typical condiments in a sandwich.

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