This fun recipe came to me late this summer. I was looking for something to do with the abundance of eggplant that graced our presence. I love eggplant parmesann, but there’s only so much parmesann that one can eat before you start to go a little crazy. At least that’s what Chuck said, and so the quest for fun new eggplant recipes began.
The fall weather has officially started to make itself known. I regret to admit that the tops of trees are just beginning to turn and mornings are starting to get chilly. As much as I love fall I always still lament the end of summer. The carefree days of hiking and boating are some of my favorite.
Summer is the glorious season of fresh fruit in the northeast. The strawberries have come, with blueberries, cherries, raspberries, and blackberries quick on their heels. Evidence of which you might have seen if you happen to follow SL&G on Instagram.
When fruit is in season, it is at its height of flavor and freshness. There is no other time of year when you will get the voluptuous flavor than when a piece of fruit is newly ripe.
Yeah, you totally loved that description right?
We are talking sweet, tangy, juicy, and delectable. I mean all the flavors here.
But, I digress to the topic at hand; mixing fresh fruit into our daily meals.
I’m a huge proponent of this; mainly because fresh fruit is delicious, but also because it adds a ton of extra vitamins, antioxidants, and all the other stuff that we never seem to get enough of.
A lot of people choose to add fruit to their meals with pie.
This is not my go to. Don’t get me wrong I like pie as much as the next person, but really its summer I don’t want to be inside baking away, trying to roll out a finicky crust when I could be outside. I prefer to use seasonal fruit in jams, sauces for meat dishes, or simply adding it to salads like we have done here.
This salad is hefty enough to be a main dish, but would also go wonderfully with a side of grilled salmon or chicken. The tart cherries combine with the peppery arugula and sweet lemon honey vinaigrette to create a wonderful sensation of flavors. The addition of wild rice, as well as walnuts, adds a lot of texture and some crunch as well as some bulk to an otherwise light feeling dish.
Altogether, this dish is the perfect compromise for a hot summer day. It is light enough to prevent you from feeling sluggish and bogged down, while still being filling and healthy. It goes especially well with a glass of chilled white wine, so really there’s nothing more you could ask for.
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ tablespoon honey
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups baby arugula
- 16 cherries, washed, halved and pitted
- ⅓ cup chopped walnuts
- 1 cup wild rice, cooked according package instructions & cooled
- Stir together the olive oil, lemon juice, honey and salt in a small bowl until well blended. Set aside
- In a large bowl toss together the arugula, walnuts, and rice.
- Drizzle the lemon-honey mixture over the top and serve immediately.
By now I’m sure you guys are dying to see pictures from our trip to Italy, and I promise that they are coming soon. I just have to get around to going through the photos. But alas, I am still sitting on a cloud over here, daydreaming about the amazing trip we just took. So, instead of editing photos, for now, I’ll just tell you about this amazing recipe that I made while we were there because you know, when in Rome.
Carbonara is one of Chuck’s favorite things to eat, and I have tried to make it for him for years. Until now I thought I was doing a pretty good job. How naive was I? After trying it in several places in Italy I realized just how silky and lusciously creamy the sauce, made traditionally, really is. I knew I had to re-perfect my recipe.
While staying in Rome, we chose to go through Airbnb and get an actual apartment. This way we could cut down on some of the food costs, wash some clothes, and have a bit more freedom. It was totally the right idea, we really enjoyed the freedom and the extra space, that it gave us, especially the opportunity to cook. One of my goals for this trip was to cook with fresh Italian ingredients while we were here. I shouldn’t say goal, it was a long time dream. Raw ingredients in Italy for Italian food are so incredibly different from what you find in the U.S.
We found a great little farmers market in Campo Fiori, Rome where I bought everything that I needed to make this carbonara. I loved walking through the stalls and watching the locals haggle with the stall keepers. This is the way shopping is supposed to be. Everyone has their specialty, and everything is fresh! So fresh, you can smell the earth from which it came.
This recipe is based on a dish that we had during our stay in Florence, just days before. The sauce has an utterly silky texture that is full of rich flavor pulled in from the fresh eggs, pancetta, cheeses, and sundried tomatoes. I chose sundried tomatoes because of the extra sweetness. They add a certain depth to the simple dish. This sauce is tossed with a thick pasta cooked aldente, so there’s a bit of firmness to it. You need a thick pasta what will really hold onto the sauce and stand up to the other ingredients. It’s topped with a bit of fresh cracked pepper because, well, that’s how it’s done. The pepper brings a contrast not only in color but flavor to the overly rich dish.
With it, I served a simple Caprese salad over arugula. You need something lighter to balance out all that pasta. Of course, there was also a bottle of Chianti wine. Chianti was kind of the theme wine of our trip, so it made an appearance quite a bit.
- 1 pound dry spaghetti
- 8 ounces pancetta or slab bacon, cubed
- ½ cup sun dried cherry tomatoes (or large tomatoes, chopped)
- 4 Large, fresh eggs
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
- ½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Cheese
- Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions to al dente (cooked, though slightly firm). Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water before draining and set aside.
- In a medium size bowl whisk together the eggs and cheese until well blended and set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the pancetta and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. The pancetta should begin to brown and crisp.
- Add the cherry tomatoes and sauté for another minute.
- Stir in ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water until well combined. Add the pasta to the pan and toss lightly.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the egg mixture, stirring quickly so that the eggs do not have time to scramble. As you stir and toss the pasta the eggs will thicken into a sauce. If the sauce becomes too thick slowly stir in more reserved pasta water.
- Top generously with pepper and serve immediately.
So meal prep; do you do it?
I’ve never been that good at doing too much of it beyond meal planning and grocery shopping. I have friends who actually spend a few hours each week preparing their meals in individual containers, including snacks so they don’t even have to think about it. Personally I don’t think that is a system that works for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a fabulous idea if that’s what works for you.
Even though I don’t do a full on meal prep each week I like to make sure that we have some stuff ready to toss onto a salad for lunches or snack really for convenience sake, and because every now and then we end up without leftovers for lunch.
Whether you call it confetti salad, cowboy caviar or just bean salad this little dish is a great addition to your meal prep plans. I love it because it’s easy to toss together, made with unprocessed food and so good! It’s also one of the most versatile recipes in my arsenal lending itself to so many applications. I try to make this every couple of weeks just to have around the house. It’s so convenient to pull this salad out for a snack, a lunch or an addition to a meal. Knowing that it’s totally healthy is just an added bonus.
To date we have used this mixture in stuffed peppers, as a dip with chips, over French fries with cheese, to top a salad, in enchiladas or wraps or just on its own. It’s pretty easy to see how this one dish can quickly become a meal prep staple.
- 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (11 ounce) can sweet corn, drained
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 1 jalapenos, ribs, seeds removed and chopped fine
- Pinch salt
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Juice of half a lime
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss until well combined. Serve immediately.