Five Summer Dinners (mostly salad)

I’m thankful that we have the backyard to retreat to as the pandemic stretches on. We have been taking our dinners there most nights. Sometimes friends drop by. Sometimes we have a fire. Sometimes both.

Birthday Gazpacho

  • Watermelon
  • Rhubarb
  • Jalapeño
  • Shallot
  • Cilantro
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Lime

Combine ingredients and purée together to your taste. Serve w chopped basil and drizzle of olive oil. 

Served it with “chicken” Caesar salad

I didn’t do this, but you could strain it to get a smoother texture. If doing that, purée watermelon and rhubarb then strain and add other ingredients finely chopped or purée again. 

I made this as a treat to myself for my birthday. Of course every time I think of gazpacho, I am reminded of the gazpacho scene in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. It was the first time I learned about gazpacho. Dan loves fruit soup. This is the closest I get.

This took me an hour start to finish because my blender sucks and I ended up using a food processor. So much cleaning! 😬

Cold Noodle Broth Bowl (Panera copycat)

  • Red onion
  • Red cabbage
  • Edamame
  • Okra
  • Sweet corn kernels
  • Daikon radish

Roughly chop veggies then grill them on the George Foreman, yes grill even the beans and corn. Mix together and cool. I added chopped roasted yellow pepper to the mix but did not grill it.

For broth, combine following to taste in warmed water (to dilute the pastes)

Plate cooled ingredients in a bowl in this order:

  • Cooked soba noodles
  • Grilled veggies (pile it high!)
  • Up to a cup of broth, just to moisten and enough to sip but not slurp
  • Top with black sesame seeds and protein of choice
White wine also helps when working through dinner.

Honestly wouldn’t have had to make this if Panera hadn’t taken it off the menu 😜. Dan had to work through dinner but afterwards came down from the office with profuse compliments to the chef. 

This took about an hour start to finish because I was committed to only using one pot, and I had to cool the cooked veggies in the freezer. With pre-prepped ingredients this probably takes a few minutes. I used vegetarian “chicken” cutlets for the protein. 

Summer Pesto Garden and Pantry Salad

  • Farfalle (or similar pasta), cooked
  • Fennel
  • Garlic scapes
  • Daikon radish
  • Freezer pesto (last year’s crop), defrosted

Chop and grill veggies on the George Foreman. Combine and season to taste. Serve alongside a protein of choice and blistered shishito peppers. I had leftover steak, Dan had leftover salmon. 

Take life with a grain of salt, man 🤙🏼

Friends have been dropping off their excess garden bounty, hence the fennel and garlic scapes. I have found the grilling transforms the intensely flavored and crisp textures of the raw veggies to muted and slightly sweet pieces that still retain texture minus the crunch.

This took me about 20 minutes to make. Because I’m slow and I stop to think a lot. Dan put up the pesto last year from his herb garden. We’re still eating through it.

Potato Fennel Salad

  • Russet potatoes, cooked and cut up
  • Fennel fronds, chopped
  • Capers
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper

Combine ingredients. Serve with veggie cutlets and fire-roasted corn and a backyard fire.

This turned out better than I thought it would.

I would normally make this with dill instead of fennel, but no one had dropped any dill off on my porch. Actually, I would not normally make this but Dan came home from the store one day with a five pound sack of potatoes and I felt all Marilla Cuthbert 🙄.

This takes pretty much however long potatoes cook and cool. Dan liked the capers. 

Corn and Black Bean Salad

  • Can of sweet corn (unsalted), drained
  • Can of black beans, drained
  • Chopped jalapeños
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Diced red onions
  • Lime juice
  • Salt and pepper

Combine and let the flavors meld in fridge for 1 hour or more. The jalapeño will become more pronounced over time. Serve with burgers. And more fire 🔥.

Didn’t mean to also serve it with corn and bean burger, so I added kimchi to the burger to make up for it.

This is one of my go-to camping meals and ends up making about two pint jars full, which is great when you don’t want to share. 😬

This takes a quite a bit of taste testing to get right. It takes more salt and lime juice than you might expect to brighten the salad. I suppose I should write down the measurements sometime. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Corn and bean salad out in the wild! It’s great to snack on when trying to remember how your tent works.

Camping Roundup Summer 2014

Dan and I made the most of this summer’s beautiful weekends with 5 camping trips between May and September–the most we’ve done in one season so far. We had two goals this year: to host one group camping trip with our friends, and to go to state parks we hadn’t been to before. In addition to Little River and Silver Lake, these are the other adventures: Continue reading