Ever since I made these lemon salts, I have been trying to find new salts to create. Heading back to the East Coast this summer, I was looking to make a few salts to gift to friends and family.
I received a large bunch of Lemon Verbena in our CSA a few weeks ago, a very fragrant herb that I had no clue what to do with. I searched the internet for a few recipes and didn’t come up with much. Lots of cookie, cake, and ice cream recipes but nothing that I really inspired me to go further. However, I loved the smell of lemon verbena and thought it would make for a great finishing salt.
I followed the same directions as my lemon-parsley salt. Dry the zest and lemon verbena leaves until no moisture remains- about 1 hour in a 180 degree oven. Pulse in a food processor until fine. Add sea salt and pulse a few more times to combine.
To balance out the lemon verbena salt, I choose thai chilies to focus on next. The ultimate salt and pepper combination, Thai chilies pack quite a punch. Perfect for rubs, curries, and blackened tofu, this Thai chili salt might be my new favorite.
Follow the same directions as above. Pulse 4 dried chilies in a food processor until fine. Add flaky sea salt and pulse a few times to combine.
Don’t like thai chilies? Use dried chipotle peppers instead.
I was cleaning out my pantry the other day and realized that the bottle of olive oil I recently bought was almost gone.
Guess that’s my cue to cut back. Sure, olive oil is healthier than margarine/butter. There’s lots of research that shows benefit in adding poly and mono unsaturated fats in place of saturated fats. But that doesn’t give free reign over that or any other oil to be used as liberal as I seem to have been using it the past month. Salad dressing here, dipping sauce there, it’s easy to start drizzling olive oil on fresh summer vegetables and get carried away. I know better, this is not exactly a health food.
So, I got to thinking… I need to create more oil free dishes that don’t lack flavor or mouthfeel. I used this roasted garlic trick for my cream of mushroom soup last year and completely forgot about the method. I have no idea why! It’s the perfect sub for cream and oil. It adds a savory complexion to the sauce and is a perfect balance to the 1/4 cup of cashews. It’s also light enough that it doesn’t compete with summer’s best flavors, basil and tomato.
What oil free dishes would you like to see next?
In blog news, I finally broke down and bought a big-girl camera and could not be more excited! I have never been happy with my photographs and hope that a better camera and more photo lessons will help bring my dishes to life.
Onto the food…
Creamy Orecchiette Pasta
1 lb. Orecchiette pasta
4 heads garlic
1/4 cup cashews
1 cup packed basil leaves
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1 cup vegetables broth, divided
1 cup white wine or vegetable broth
2 tsp. dired rosemary, divided
2 tsp. crushed red pepper, divided
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
generous pinch salt/pepper
Slice the top 1/2″ off the garlic heads. Place into a pyrex dish with the garlic heads facing up. Add 1 cup white wine (or vegetable broth if using) and 1 tsp. rosemary, 1 tsp. red pepper. Cover with aluminum foil. Place into a preheated 375 degree oven for 75 minutes.
When the garlic is done, remove from the oven and let cool to the touch. Pop the softened garlic cloves out of it’s shell and place aside.
Place halved cherry tomatoes into an oven safe dish. Cover with 1/2 cup vegetable broth and remaining crushed red pepper and rosemary. During the last 40 minutes of roasting the garlic, place the tomatoes into the oven.
When the garlic and tomatoes are almost finished cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orecchiette and cook until al dente. Drain reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.
Finely chop the basil.
Place the reserved roasted garlic cloves, cashews, salt/pepper and 1/2 cup vegetable broth into a blender or food processor. Puree for 3-5 minutes until silky smooth.
Combine the cooked pasta, baked tomatoes (and reserved juice), garlic-cashew cream, basil, and pinch salt/pepper. Toss to combine. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit of reserved pasta water.
Living in an 100+ year old townhouse has its charms: Quant living space, decorative molding, ornate door fixtures, and I’m pretty sure it’s haunted. Not included in this list is the zero storage space, few electric outlets, and lack of central air. Our tiny window air-conditioner doesn’t get much use from October to June, but once summer rolls around it’s almost impossible not to turn it on. I swear, most nights I feel like I should be renting out our living room to a hot yoga studio or sauna.
I will also freely admit that we go out to eat a lot more often during the warmer months as turning on the oven makes the entire house an inferno well into the wee-hours of the morning. Therefore, you’ll see why I was very excited to see this month’s Recipe Redux theme: No Cook Meals. Please, I’ve been doing just that since June 1st! This is a rotating favorite and I cannot get enough of it. Lighter than most greek salads, you’ll want to add this to your favorite summer no-cook salad recipes.
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Scant 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (use the good stuff)
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. juice from Kalamata olives, below
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can White Northern beans (Cannellini beans), rinsed and drained
1 English cucumber (or other thin-skinned variety), seeded and sliced into chunks
2 bell-peppers (red, yellow, orange, preferably), diced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and rough chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
Tofu-feta or Feta cheese- optional
Place the vegetables and feta (if using) into a large bowl. Combine all of the marinade ingredients except for the olive oil. Slowly whisk the olive oil into the marinade ingredients until thick. Pour over the vegetables and let sit for at least 1 hour.
To make this even more “light,” pour out the marinade that has shifted to the bottom of the bowl.
What are your go-to no-cook meals?
5 recipes/habits/things that are currently inspiring me this week:
(photo credit: http://www.cooking.com)
Fresh squeezed orange juice for special Sunday morning brunches. Also makes a great base for limeade.
My low-oil pesto sauce. Try it on baked eggplant!
DIY cleaning products. Need I say more? Save money, the earth, and your family from nasty chemicals.
(photo credit: http://www.familyfreshcooking.com)
This oatmeal is so, so good. Try it soon with fresh blueberries.
Bike riding. BL and I have been doing a ton of riding lately and I can’t get enough of it! Last weekend we did a 50 mile loop on Sat. and then biked through wine country on Sunday. I never want summer to end.
What inspired you this week?