Barbecue chicken salad with tomatoes, peaches, and goat cheese ranch dressing.

Barbecue Chicken Salad with Tomato, Peaches, and Goat Cheese Ranch Dressing - Vegetal Matters Christmas creep is by far the worst example, but I think the problem has gone way beyond just one holiday. It is more like seasonal creep now. It happens with businesses, beers, and food bloggers. The infamous hot pumpkin coffee beverage starts making its appearance at the end of August.  I went to a grocery store and a craft store labor day weekend and was bombarded with pumpkin beer and Halloween decor. And this doesn’t just happen this time of year. Sam Summer goes out on shelves in March. Recipes for asparagus and strawberries pop up everywhere in March and April, even though their seasons aren’t really in full swing until June. Tomato dishes are everywhere in July, but their peak season is August and September (and it even goes into October).

There is a push for always preparing for what is ahead, instead of enjoying what is here. A need to experience all the quintessential things that are supposed to happen in a season, instead of the reality. It is about to be October. I live in Massachusetts, and on Monday I went to the farm where I buy my produce and selected from summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, radishes, winter squashes, potatoes, kale, chard, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, leeks, onions and herbs. It is that wonderful time of seasonal transition, when both summer and winter crops are coming in. I still love my share of fall crops (though pumpkin does not get me nearly as twitterpated as everyone else), but my true favorites come from summer. The beauty in many fall and winter crops is they last a long time if stored properly. So I have many months to get in my butternut squash soup and beet salads, but in the meantime I’m going to ingest all the nightshades and stone fruit I can manage.

Last week I made barbecue chicken, but wanted a lighter meal for the leftovers. A few peaches from peach week were still in the fridge, and since I’ve already put peaches and tomatoes together, and peaches and chicken together, putting peaches, tomatoes, and chicken in one dish wasn’t much of a stretch.

Barbecue Chicken Salad with Tomatoes, Peaches, and Goat Cheese Ranch Dressing

Serves 4.

This is easily scale-able. If you don’t eat chicken, chickpeas or cauliflower (a la buffalo cauliflower salad) would make an excellent substitution.

Salad

  • 2 chicken breasts with barbecue sauce (see note for substitutions), chopped
  • 12ish cups lettuce (I used a mix of lettuce and cabbage), enough to fill 4 dinner plates, from about 1/2 a head of cabbage and a small head of lettuce
  • 2 medium tomatoes (or a few handfuls cherry tomatoes)
  • 2 peaches

Dressing

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots or red onion
  • ¼ cup goat cheese
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ fresh ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons minced parsley

If you have a food processor, set it up with the S blade (or use a blender). Turn it on and drop the garlic in from the top, processing until you don’t hear any more bits bouncing around. Add in the shallot, and process for 30 seconds. Add the goat cheese, buttermilk, salt, and pepper in and process until smooth. Without a food processor, whisk the garlic, shallot, goat cheese, buttermilk, salt, and pepper together. Then whisk in the parsley (don’t add the parsley into the food processor unless you want a very green dressing). Allow the dressing to sit in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, or longer if you can.

Chop peaches and tomato into ½ inch pieces. Divide lettuce onto plates, then top each plate with a quarter of the tomatoes, peaches, and barbecue chicken (I like to warm it slightly). Serve with goat cheese ranch.

 

 

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Last Week I Cooked…

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal MattersDan dan noodles (from Every Grain of Rice). A trip to an awesome Sichuanese restaurant renewed my desire for all things Sichuan (which started after I read Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper). The dish was not entirely authentic as I haven’t been able to get my hands on the pickled vegetables called for, and I used tahini instead of Chinese sesame paste…but it still made for some awesome noodles. There are two recipes in the book for dan dan noodles, one with beef and one with pork. I mostly followed the beef recipe but used pork. Weirdly neither of the recipes in Every Grain of Rice call for greens, but the photo has greens in the bowl and I’ve been served dan dan noodles with greens, so I stir fried some tat soi and added it in with the noodles and sauce.

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Burnt eggplant and Israeli couscous soup. Tomato eggplant soup is perfect for the changing of the seasons when summer produce is still coming in but the air is nippy. I loved the couscous and bits of eggplant in this soup, but it was a process with lots of parts. A great alternative is this Smitten Kitchen Roasted Eggplant Soup, which is really as easy as putting all the ingredients on a baking sheet, roasting, then blending with stock. I don’t think the goat cheese topping is necessary (and I just about never turn down goat cheese), but I like the consistent soup texture. It is really ugly soup, but very lovable.

Roasted broccoli with romanesco. The broccoli from the farm up the hill from me is more broccolini-like, so I couldn’t make steaks like these but desperately wanted to make this sauce. I cheated and used a pre-roasted red pepper and a chili instead of the Asian long red chili and it still made for a spicy, savory sauce that I slathered all over the broccoli and enjoyed with gusto.

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Roasted chicken thighs with green peaches and summer herbs. I would have never guessed peaches, chicken, herbs and ginger would pair together so magically. I don’t make enough things that are as easy as tossing everything together and sticking the pan in the oven. Couscous seemed like a fittingly easy side to serve under the chicken. I used a little bit more than a pound of chicken thighs, but still used 2 peaches (and would have liked even more if there was room).

Summer squash pasta with green goddess dressing. I was so excited to squeeze this dish in with what could very well be my last fresh zucchini of the season. I was also excited to actually have some anchovies in the fridge to add to the dressing, which I  haven’t had the past times I’ve made it (and opening a can for one anchovy seems silly). I halved the recipe though, and didn’t think it would really matter that much to put a whole anchovy in….whoops. It was a little fishy. Next time I’ll just use the capers.

BBQ bean burritos with peach salsa. Can you tell I bought a big box of peaches this week? I like the spicy sweet balance of these burritos which are a little more fun than my usual beans and vegetables. This time I upped the chipotle and left out the sugar and molasses to make for spicy smokey beans without the sweetness.

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Peach cornmeal upside-down cake. As mentioned, this cake came out of the pan like a dream. Next time I will really squish the peaches in so every cake bite gets some. I added in a little dried lavender since I had it, but I couldn’t taste it and don’t think it’s necessary. This is really best within the first couple days, so plan to share.

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal MattersBarbecued chicken. I had a craving for traditional, sticky, barbecue chicken. I used a whole chicken that I broke down for grilling. The sauce was nicely sticky but not overly sweet and the chicken was nice and tender. Everything I wanted.

Cabbage salad with apples and ginger dressing. I made a bare bones version of this with just the cabbage and apples, but I do like adding in dried cranberries when I have them. Some version of this will be making many more appearances through apple season.

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Spicy polenta breakfast bowl. Why do I always forget about polenta? I go months without eating it and then become obsessed for a little bit before letting it get pushed into the back of the cabinet again. I didn’t make the sweet potatoes and used salsa I made and thought about how I should make polenta for breakfast more often.

Brattleboro, Vermont

Brattleboro, Vermont - Vegetal MattersSince I moved back from Seattle I’ve been more deeply exploring my native New England. One town that has incurred many repeat visits is delightful Brattleboro, Vermont. It’s in the southeast corner of the state touching New Hampshire (just a short walk across the Connecticut River away) and has everything I’m looking for in a town: breweries (3), bookstores (5), the greatest grocery store of all time, great restaurants, hiking, a river and mountains, and plenty of Vermont charm. I think everyone should visit Brattleboro and so does Will, so we elaborated on all the reasons you should visit (in case you’re not already convinced).

Bookstores

At last check, Brattleboro has five bookstores (though only four of them are downtown). We’ve been to Everyone’s Books, Mystery on Main Street, Basket’s Books, and Brattleboro Books. Everyone’s Books is a new bookstore with a large variety. Their focus is on social justice and the environment, but there are large fiction, history, cooking, etc. sections to please everyone. Mystery on Main Street focuses on the genre you would guess and is also new books. I rarely read mysteries so I can’t be the authority on their selection, but admire their specialty as they seem do it well. Basket’s Books is all used paperbacks. They seem to specialize in books with the most faded covers. The selection may not be new, but the books are really cheap and if you’re looking for something specific, this may be the place to find it. The owners are super nice and helpful, so ask. Brattleboro Books is my favorite. It’s the kind of used store that you just want to lose yourself in, and then come round with 10 lbs of books in your arms. There is a good mix of older and contemporary books and large sections (lots of cookbooks!). For the true bibliophile, Brattleboro also has an annual literary festival in October. -VB

Brattleboro, Vermont - Vegetal Matters

Brattleboro Food Co-Op

This is the best grocery store I have ever been to. I can say this with some authority, because I love grocery stores, and often stop in them when I visit new places regardless of my grocery needs. Getting the basics out of the way: it is large, clean, has friendly staff, lots of specialty sections (cheese! beer! wine! coffee! deli! cafe!), a nice patio, and cooking classes. The real kicker, is the absolutely massive bulk section.

Brattleboro, Vermont - Vegetal Matters

A small diversion on why bulk foods are the greatest: they are cheaper, and don’t come with packaging (part of why they are cheaper), and you can buy however much you want. Grocery stores can buy huge portions of goods that people don’t normally have access to (some people do buy them from coops, which really is the cheapest option, but then you have to commit to the quantity and storage). Then once they have that 50 lb bag of flour or pasta, they can sell you a portion of that for a small markup, which is low because it is a commodity good and all they did was put it in a bin with a scoop. Then you can bring your own containers (which you should, because less packaging and a $.05 discount per container) and buy exactly what you need. Only need ½ a cup of nuts for a specific recipe, and likely won’t use them again for months? Well then only buy that ½ a cup, and when that next nut need comes around many moons later, buy some fresh new nuts. Never had that kind of grain or bean before? Well just try a little bit to see if you like it. Or need a ton of something? Buy it for a likely cheaper unit weight.

So anyways, the bulk section. This bulk has the most variety I have ever seen. Spices, coffee, grains, beans, flour, baking needs, liquid sweeteners like honey and maple syrup, tofu, soap and shampoo, kombucha. Way more items than I can name, so you can drool over the full list here. They do have bags and plastic containers you can use if you don’t bring your own, but they charge for the containers, and you get a small discount if you bring your own. It is best to weigh them all beforehand and mark the tare weight on the container (which you can do because you have a scale, right?), and black out the barcode on any containers you might be reusing from other products (tape or a permanent market work well).  -VB

Grafton Village Cheese

This spot is a little outside the town center, but still worth a visit. I don’t think much needs to be said besides great cheese, lots of other Vermont food, and ALL the samples. -VB

Brattleboro, Vermont - Vegetal Matters

Mt Watastiquet

This is on the east bank of the river so technically this is in New Hampshire.  It takes about an hour to get to the top and the ascent itself isn’t that interesting, but the view from the top is spectacular.  You can see the whole town laid out before you, the beginning of the Pioneer Valley, and the southern Green Mountains. -WF

McNeill’s

Picture a dive bar that brews its own beer.  They have 20 or so varieties on tap at any time.  The IPAs are not very good and the beer is pushing warm, but the atmosphere is……..unique (so you should probably still try it).  Technically, they have food, but the only cooking apparatus we could spot was a microwave so its probably best to skip this part. -WF

Whetstone Station

Where can you sit on a rooftop deck with its own bar overlooking the Connecticut River and listen to live music while drinking delicious beers brewed on site?  Here, here is where you can do that. The food is better than you would expect, and definitely get something that comes with fries. The beers they brew are pretty good, and they always have a bunch of great stuff on tap from other breweries.  -WF+VB

Hermit Thrush Brewery

Brand new brewery specializing in Belgian and sour beers.  I’ll readily admit that sours are not my thing, but the Sour IPA is delicious.  The tap room is a nice place to try some samples (no full pours), lots of wood and exposed brick.  It’s in the first floor of an old warehouse downtown so it has some historic authenticity that you can’t fake. -WF (For other non-Vermonters like myself, the hermit thrush is the Vermont state bird. -VB)

Brattleboro, Vermont - Vegetal Matters

General cuteness

Brattleboro is a small town with old buildings full of charming shops and restaurants, on a river, surrounded by the greenest Vermont and New Hampshire mountains. General cuteness level: 9 (out of 10). -VB

Mocha Joe’s

Good little local coffee roaster.  You can pick up a bag of beans at the co-op or any other grocery store in town.  The coffee shop on main street also has a selection of beans that you can bag yourself.  The baked goods are pretty tasty and you can get cappuccinos in a mug (sign of a decent coffee shop).  I’m not sure the barista’s totally know what they’re doing, but they coffee is good enough that it doesn’t really matter.  Mocha Joe’s has a neat vibe, located in a basement with two rooms, one for ordering and a sitting area that has a rotating art installation.  If you want to get a feel for Brattleboro and can only stop at one place, Mocha Joe’s will do nicely. -WF

Putney Food Co-Op Sandwich

Best. Club sandwich. Ever.  Seriously, there’s no gimmick to this thing.  It’s just turkey, bacon, cheese (maybe?), lettuce, tomato, and mayo.  I know it sounds boring, but the ingredients are of such quality and the sandwich of such a size that the combination is simply staggering.  It’s not actually in Brattleboro, but its a short hop up 91 to Putney (5ish miles) or you can take Route 5 (more scenic). -WF

VT Country Deli

For a not quite as good, but actually in Brattleboro sandwich experience, you should hit up the Vermont Country Deli.  This place is BUSY.  I wouldn’t come here expecting to get in and out in 5 minutes, but the service isn’t slow.  There are a ton of prepared options besides sandwiches and a nice selection of local products.  The sandwiches are huge.  Perfect for refueling after a hike. -WF

Hazel

Pizza, BBQ, and cocktails.  I’ll admit to having some skepticism about this place when I discovered it.  That’s a lot of things for a small restaurant in a small town to take on and do well.  Upon arriving, we discovered they also have a nice craft beer list, nachos, and Cuban sandwiches.  After eating a solid pizza, there was sadly no room to try the BBQ or cocktails.  They also have chalk diagrams on all the walls which I guess is Hazel’s chosen quirk.  Hazel is a good place for a quiet, affordable meal that will have something to please anyone. -WF

Local shops

Outdoor gear, local crafts and art, Vermont things, music, clothing. My disposable income goes to restaurants, beer, and books so I haven’t ventured far into the rest of the shop scene, but it is certainly there if you’re looking for some hand-thrown pottery or a tank top with cats and lasers. -VB

Last Week I Cooked…

Last week I cooked - Vegetal MattersNow Will no longer asks what is for dinner, but instead asks what version of eggplant and tomatoes we are going to eat. The season for my favorite vegetables is almost over, but the list of recipes to try them in is never ending.

Spicy fried chicken sandwich. Last weekend was full of vegetables, and I started the week with a craving for fried chicken. I only brined the chicken for about an hour after work, and it was still plenty flavorful. The lettuce was replaced with cabbage, and I used a lot less oil to fry them. I had no trouble with sticking, but they did take longer to be fully cooked through.

Peach and tomato salad. I wanted this to be a sweet counterpoint to the spicy chicken sandwiches so I left out the chili flakes. Under any other circumstances keep them in though, because the bit of spice in this salad may be my favorite part.

Eggplant parmesan pizza with crispy capers (pictured above). There is no question that this was the best thing I made this week. I did the 9 hour version of the dough and left it on the counter for the day. I returned from work almost two hours later than normal cursing myself for planning pizza, but it came together quickly and was worth every step. Admittedly I didn’t make my own tomato sauce so that sped up the process. Eggplant pizza on its own may not seem that exciting, but the crisp capers add a briney saltiness and the garlic oil at the end takes it over the top.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal MattersSummer tomato lentils. As a huge surprise to everyone I added some eggplant to this dish. I roasted chopped regular sized tomatoes and eggplant with some za’atar and added them to the cooked lentils and dressing. All was served over some kale tossed in the same dressing and left to sit for a bit.

Pasta with eggplant and tomato. Inviting over dinner guests without an actual dinner plan and not going grocery shopping made for an excellent opportunity to try a simple recipe that had been on my list all summer. It’s hard to go wrong with fried eggplant, fresh tomato sauce and basil. I used parmigiano reggiano instead of the salted ricotta and was very happy.

Tuscan kale. I want to make this recipe exactly as written, but this time around just used it as inspiration. I sauteed half an onion, then added a lot of kale to the pan with 3 cloves of minced garlic, and covered the pan. After a few minutes I stirred everything up and replaced the cover, then salted before serving.

Zucchini Carbonara

Zucchini Carbonara - Vegetal MattersJamie at Home has been on my cookbook shelf for close to five years now. It moved to Seattle and back, and has survived multiple collection cullings. I can’t say I like the cover much, but it does have a nice feel to it both in texture and heft. As it should be with any book, the real joy is inside. The photography is incredible, with so many garden and produce beauty shots in addition to the recipe photos. The book is arranged by season, and within each season section are chapters on specific fruit, veg, or meats available during that time (so the spring section is asparagus, eggs, lamb, and rhubarb). At the end of each chapter there are tips for growing the produce or acquiring the meat sustainably. I like that there are whole chapters focusing on humble ingredients like lettuce or onions. So many of the recipes I’ve made from this have become yearly staples, like the sweet cherry tomato and sausage bake and steak, Guinness, and cheese pie, both recipes that create almost unbelievable flavor out of very simple ingredients.

Zucchini Carbonara - Vegetal Matters

The zucchini chapter has three recipes in it, and I’m sure the others are very nice but I have’t gotten around to making them since I just repeat the zucchini carbonara. Yes, bacon, egg, and cheese with pasta is a bit indulgent, but there is also a lot of squash piled in there as well. Oliver’s directions are usually a bit vague (a handful of this, pinch of that), but every time I make it I think this recipe needs a little more guidance. Maybe my personal zucchini scale is off, but if I used the 6 medium he calls for I would have ended up using almost 5 pounds worth. And while 12 slices of pancetta would probably be appropriate, 12 slices of regular American (streaky) bacon was going to be about a full pound for me, which was just too indulgent. What follows is still a lush recipe (it is cabonara after all, and if it’s not rich you’re not doing it right), with just the right balance of herbs and veg in a creamy sauce. I hope there are still zucchini and summer squash around you, they are on their way out in MA but I’ve still seen some around this past week.

Zucchini and Summer Squash Carbonara

Adapted from Jamie Oliver

  • 2 pounds mixed summer squash like zucchini, yellow summer squash, and pattypan
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • ½ pound of bacon
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper

Fill a large pot with water and set to boil. Whisk the cream with the 2 eggs and shredded parmesan, season with salt and pepper, and set aside. Remove the leaves from the thyme sprigs.

Slice the bacon into ¼ pieces and put in a very large pan over medium heat. While the bacon starts to render chop the squash into quarters lengthwise and then into ¼ slices. When the bacon is almost to your crispness liking, remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon (it will keep cooking a bit more). Drain all but a tablespoon of fat from the pan, reserving the rest in a bowl separate from the bacon. Turn the heat up to medium-high, and add enough sliced zucchini to cover the bottom of the pan, but don’t crowd them. Season with salt and pepper and allow the squash to cook for about 7 minutes total, allowing them to start browning. When that batch is done remove the squash from the pan into a bowl, return the pan to the heat, add another tablespoon of bacon fat, squash to fill the pan, salt, and pepper, and cook until they start to brown. Repeat until all the squash is cooked.

When the pasta water boils, salt it liberally and then add the pasta. I start checking for doneness around 7 minutes by tasting for al dente. Reserve a ladle-full of the pasta cooking water and then drain.

When the last batch of squash is finished, turn off the heat and add the rest of the cooked squash back to the pan along with the bacon and thyme leaves.  Add the pasta to the pan as well and stir everything to combine. Add about a ¼ cup of the cooking liquid and your egg-cream-cheese mixture to the pan. Toss everything to coat in the sauce. It is really important to do this off the heat once the squash has cooked for a minute, so you don’t end up with scrambled egg sauce (though it’s really not the end of the world if you do, just not the prettiest sauce). If you like the sauce a little looser, add more of the reserved pasta water. Taste and add more salt and pepper if you like.

 

Last week I cooked…

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersChermoula eggplant with bulgar and yogurt (pictured below). This was the recipe that finally pushed me to buy preserved lemon. There were a lot of other flavors on the eggplant so I can’t say the lemon really stood out to me, but I’m excited to dry them in more dishes. This was classic Ottolenghi, lovely spiced eggplant with an interesting salad on top improved further by cool yogurt.

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersMixed bean salad. I made this along with the eggplant. It was a good pairing, but I was left wanting a little more zing. I think next time I would not rinse the capers or add in some lemon juice as well.

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersEggplant parm (from I’m Just Here for the Food, another version of the recipe is here). This has happened 2 years in a row, so now I guess it is a tradition of sorts. I make eggplant parm on the same night that Will does his fantasy football draft and both events are celebrated with red wine. Eggplant parm is close to  the top of my long list of favorite foods. I don’t make it often, so I usually decide to double the recipe and freeze some. Half way through the process I always curse this decision because it is so much work.  By the time the fried rounds are stacked with cheese and sauce and going into the oven I’ve been cooking for close to three hours and about ready to give up hope of eating. Then the final product goes in the oven, the 20 minutes the cheese takes to melt is spent cleaning up the film of flour, breadcrumbs, and egg goo that covers the counter and floors, and the splattered frying oil coating the stove top. Then a little more wine is added to the glasses. Immense relief takes hold as we sit, and serve out perfectly stacked portions of silky eggplant coated in crunchy breadcrumbs, with tangy tomato sauce and creamy mozzarella. The only thing served alongside is some caprese salad because the idea of an all stacked meal is so fun, and it is the most effort that can be managed for a side dish. A few bites in, and wait a minute, why don’t I make eggplant parm all the time??? Always worth it, and I’m looking forward to the stash in the freezer.

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersSpiced chickpea salad. Yes, more Ottolenghi. The vegetable salad here is great. Fresh, colorful, and summery. The chickpeas left me wanting more. The spice mix is a little off, and next time I will go for a spicy version with cumin and cayenne or chili powder instead.

20150909_182754Skillet greens & beans with anchovy breadcrumbs. Yes, this again. I had a more carb heavy meal planned but Will asked for more vegetables for dinner and who was I to deny him? I used way more kale than called for and could have probably added even more. AND I didn’t burn the breadcrumbs this time. The lemon anchovy garlic dressing just sings with greens.

Zucchini carbonara. Something that is not eggplant and not a salad!! Just a teaser though, because I’ll be posting more about this later in the week.

Chorizo and tomato salad. Cooking this recipe made me incredibly mad with myself. I can’t believed I pinned it so long ago and waited to make it. I love tomatoes, and a love chorizo. This was so easy to put together it almost was wasn’t a dinner. Alongside we had some crusty bread with just the lightest toasting to heat it through, and some goat cheese instead of the feta (which was excellent spread on the bread before dipping in the tomato-chorizo-vinegar juice). The effort to taste return ratio on this recipe was off the charts.

Tomato scallion shortcakes with whipped goat cheese. The real star of this dish is the biscuits (The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook cover recipe) . They are quick to throw together, and an excellent base for all sorts of things. I’ve made the whole dish with the tomato salad and whipped goat cheese, but then the next day I had leftovers with scrambled eggs and was even more pleased. This time I made goat cheese scrambled eggs and roasted tomatoes to serve for brunch.

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersPurple plum torte. I bought the most gorgeous plums from an orchard this week that had exquisite magenta flesh. They were a little bigger and tarter than the prune plums called for here, but made a beautiful cake. If your plums have any bit of tartness I would leave out the lemon juice. And as usual Deb was right that the cake was better the next day.

Whole Wheat Raspberry Yogurt Pancakes

Whole Wheat Raspberry Yogurt Pancakes - Vegetal MattersThis is the basic pancake recipe I play off of all the time. The original recipe called for sour cream instead of yogurt, but that makes for a very thick pancake and I find I have extra yogurt in the fridge to use up far more often than sour cream. I also made the switch to 100% wheat flour, which doesn’t affect the tenderness at all (and makes me feel just slightly better about eating pancakes for breakfast on a weekday). As mentioned in the head note I’ve tried many fruits throughout the seasons, but last week after a spontaneous raspberry picking adventure I dotted the pancakes with them and was so pleased with the result. The raspberries cook very quickly, and become tiny pockets of intense, jammy, fruitiness. I will admit a slight bias as raspberries are one of my favorite fruits, but these pancakes are quick to put together and an adaptable staple for the whole year.

Whole Wheat Raspberry Yogurt Pancakes - Vegetal Matters

Whole Wheat Raspberry Yogurt Pancakes

Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Serves 2.

The recipe this is adapted from uses a very thinly sliced peach, and many other fruits can be used. Blueberries, cut up strawberries, and grated apple have been used with great success. The pancakes can be doubled or tripled. If you do that, set your oven to 200F and pop the finished pancakes on a baking sheet as you cook them to keep warm while you cook the rest.

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup plain full-fat yogurt
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) sugar
  • ¾ cup (93 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Butter for the pan
  • 1 cup of raspberries
  • Maple syrup and additional raspberries for serving

Whisk the egg, yogurt, vanilla and sugar together in a large bowl. In a different bowl whisk the whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined. Heat a skillet to medium heat and melt some butter. Dollop the batter to make 3″-4″ blobs in the skillet (make sure to space them apart because they will expand). Dot the top of each pancake with raspberries (I try to ensure I will get one in every bite). Cook for about 4 minutes, until the edges start to solidify (check with your spatula) and a a few bubbles start to come through the top (this is a thick batter, so there won’t be a ton of bubbles). Flip and finish cooking for another 4 minutes, until the bottom is golden.

Last Week I Cooked…

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal MattersRoasted eggplant and summer squash salad with tangy miso dressing. I think I would eat a rock if it was coated with miso dressing. I would not have thought to put such a dressing on these vegetables, and I liked this for steering me otherwise, but this Smitten Kitchen miso dressing is still my favorite (I think it was the scallions in this one that made for a rough texture I didn’t like as much). I didn’t have any quinoa, so I made this with barley but I think most any grain would work.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Deborah Madison’s ribboned cucumber salad with chile & roasted peanuts. I think next time I would salt the cucumbers to draw some moisture out so the dressing wouldn’t be as watered down (maybe my cucumbers were especially watery), but I love cucumbers thinly sliced with a zingy dressing.

Roasted corn and zucchini enchiladas. A summer favorite, that is less work than you think.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Fuchsia Dunlop’s fish fragrant eggplant from Every Grain of Rice. I love eggplant too much to provide an objective view of this recipe. If you love eggplant too, it is your duty to make this before the end of eggplant season. It does contain some obscure ingredients, but once you have them they become indispensable.

Along with the fish fragrant eggplant we had some tatsoi simply sautéed with ginger and garlic, brown rice, and a cucumber salad dressed with a 1:1 mix of garlic chili sauce and soy sauce.

Crispy peach cobbler. Dessert?! You betcha. I threw about a cup of raspberries in with the peaches (because I stopped at the farm stand to buy corn and they had PYO fall raspberries and I couldn’t resist) and DAMN this was good. I halved the recipe to make a single 9″ x 9″ pan and it was perfect for 4. I also used the reduced sugar Deb suggested, so 150g total. It also was a good reminder that I should always make crisps/cobblers instead of pies, because they take a tiny fraction of the effort and I like the output so much better.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal MattersMediterranean potato salad. Mustardy shallot dressing, potatoes, green beans, cherry tomatoes, olives, and hard-boiled eggs. Comes together quickly, travels well, and an excellent summer version of potato salad. My only change would be to add more hard-boiled eggs next time, or perhaps chop them smaller so they are more evenly distributed.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal MattersSweet cherry tomato and sausage bake. This is how cherry tomatoes were destined to be cooked. It is their highest calling. I’m always amazed by the ease of preparation with this recipe and the incredible output. The tomato/sausage ratio as written is off to me, I used almost the amount of cherry tomatoes called for, and only 4 sausages for 2 people (but I also REALLY LIKE these tomatoes). Serve with the best loaf of crusty bread you can find. If you’re not into sausages leave them out, the tomatoes are the star. If you are into sausages, I’ve use this baking method regularly because it makes for uniformly cooked sausages with no monitoring. Cherry tomato days are numbered, act quickly.

Gazpacho. While the cherry tomatoes and sausages baked I blended up a batch of gazpacho. It comes together in minutes if you have a food processor, but does benefit from a resting period for the flavors to develop.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Breakfasts this week were various combinations of kale, eggs, tomatoes, and toast. Sometimes scrambled with goat cheese.

Roasted Corn, Zucchini, and Black Bean Enchiladas

Corn, Zucchini, and Black Bean Enchiladas - Vegetal Matters

The first time I saw this enchiladas recipe was one of those food revelations where you understand something only previously found processed on a shelf could be easily made (and I haven’t bought enchilada sauce since). It was also a revelation to make them without meat, because with dishes like this I’m really in it for the saucy tortillas and beans, so meat always seemed like an afterthought. They also adapt nicely with seasonal vegetables. I’ve used sweet potatoes, winter squash, and even kale. To feed more this could be served with rice and a salad (but they are plenty a meal on their own). It would add an extra step, but if slight onion crunch bothers you then saute the onions before adding to the mix (or just use the scallions).

Corn, Zucchini, and Black Bean Enchiladas - Vegetal Matters

Enchilada Sauce

Adapted from The Faux Martha

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 jalapeño, stem removed (omit for mild sauce)
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano (or ½ teaspoon dried)
  • ½ teaspoon fresh thyme (or ¼ teaspoon dried)
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro (fine to leave the stems on)
  • 4 cups of tomato sauce (from 5 large tomatoes deseeded and pureed, a 28 oz can of whole tomatoes pureed, or just straight sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • ¼ cup sour cream or plain yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Start running a food processor and then drop in the garlic. Keep it going until you don’t hear any more garlic bouncing around, then drop in the jalapeño and run until the bouncing stops again. Add the onion, chili powder, cumin, oregano, thyme, and cilantro to the food processor bowl. Pulse a few times so all items are mixed and chopped. Add in the tomato sauce, sour cream, salt, and pepper, and process for a minute so all ingredients are fully integrated.

Without a food processor, finely mince the garlic, jalapeño, onion, and herbs, and whisk with the rest of the items.

Move the contents into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let the sauce reduce, uncovered for at least 10 minutes ( I usually let it bubble away while I get everything else ready).

Roasted Corn, Zucchini, and Black Bean Enchiladas

Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen. Serves 4.

  • 2 ears of corn
  • 5 cups of chopped summer squash and zucchini (mine was from 2 small summer squash and a zucchini totaling 24 oz)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion or scallion
  • 2 cups black beans (or 1 15 oz can)
  • 10 10″ flour tortillas
  • 1 recipe for enchilada sauce (above), or about 5 cups
  • 6 ounces (about 1.5 cups) shredded monteray or pepperjack cheese

For serving

  • Chopped cilantro, scallions, jalapeño, sour cream

Preheat the oven to 425F. Toss the summer squashes with oil, salt, and pepper and spread on a baking sheet. Place the ears of corn (still in their husk) on another baking sheet. Put both in the oven for 20 minutes. The squashes should be a bit charred on the edges when done. Let cool for a few minutes. Turn the oven down to 375F.

In the meantime put the onion and black beans (rinsed first if they were canned) in a large bowl. When you can handle the corn remove the husk and silk (which all comes right off with this method!!) and cut the kernels off the cob. I find this is easiest to do with the fewest lost kernels if you lay the cob flat on a cutting board and cut down each side lengthwise. Add the corn and squashes to the bowl with the beans and onion and toss to combine.

To assemble spoon enough enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ pan to coat it. Put another ladle-full of sauce on a plate or pie plate that is bigger than your tortillas and spread to cover. Place a tortilla on the plate in the sauce to coat one side and then flip. If you’re using the sauce above it will be thicker than canned stuff, so I put another spoonful on the top of the tortilla and spread it around. Add a ½ cup of the filling to the middle and roll it up. Place in the 9″ x 13″ dish and repeat with the rest of the tortillas (mine didn’t quite fit so the last 2 went into a loaf pan). Spoon the remainder of the sauce over the enchiladas and evenly coat with a layer of cheese.

Cook in the oven for 20 minutes so that the cheese is nice and melty and the enchiladas are heated through. Serve with chopped cilantro, scallions, jalapeño, and sour cream.