sweet pepper panzanella

sweet pepper panzanella / @loveandlemons

Panzanella: it’s your excuse to eat bread and call it salad!

I’ve veggie’d up the classic tomato-basil panzanella with blistered sweet peppers, tangy pickled onions, and just few torn kale leaves.

sweet pepper panzanella / loveandlemons.com

It all starts with that stale bread that’s sitting on your kitchen counter. In our household of just 2 (people, that is – the dogs are paleo), we have stale bread around pretty often. These were the last bits of a rustic miche round from my favorite bread source, Easy Tiger. I just realized I labeled them as “day old,” but these scraps were actually many days old. Perfect panzanella bread.

sweet pepper panzanella / loveandlemons.com

This would be a great recipe to make on the grill… you could cook the peppers and the bread (you could even grill the kale), all at the same time. For the ease of picture taking, and because it’s insanely hot outside, I cooked mine in a pan. To bring out extra flavor, I finished them with a bit of sherry vinegar and a few pinches of smoked paprika.

Toss it all together and let the salad sit and get nice and juicy. Serve with whatever else you’re grillin!

sweet pepper panzanella / loveandlemons.com

mango habanero black bean tacos

mango habanero black bean tacos / @loveandlemons

I love a good mango salsa. (I mean, who doesn’t?) It’s so fun and versatile - some of my favorite additions have been roasted jalapeños, smoked paprika, diced avocado, and even sesame & ginger.

mango habanero black bean tacos / @loveandlemons

Today’s special ingredient: Mango Habanero Jam. I know, I know, it’s not in your pantry already, but I just loved this salsa so much I had to share it anyway. It’s sweet, juicy and spicy with a little nice kick from the jam. (A little bit goes long way).

mango habanero black bean tacos / @loveandlemons

I didn’t realize mango habanero jam was missing from my life until it showed up recently in my Hatchery Box. I’ve been loving my Hatchery subscription – it’s like mini-christmas once a month to get a box full of sample-sized artisan ingredients to try. I find that it often takes just one unique ingredient to elevate simple meals into something special.

mango habanero black bean tacos / @loveandlemons

These really couldn’t be easier - just chop and mix your ingredients – salsa, avocado, black beans, etc, and stuff them into a tortilla. (Add cheese if you want, but these are plenty flavorful without). Next time I might switch things up by adding a grilled piece of halibut or salmon.

If you don’t have mango habanero jam: try jazzing up your mango salsa with chipotle spices (either from a can of chipotles in adobo or ground chipotle powder)… or if you’re really brave try adding roasted habanero peppers (just don’t touch your eyes after you handle them!). You can also make this salsa with diced ripe peaches or pineapple instead of mango.

For now, I’m off to eat these leftovers for lunch…

mango habanero black bean tacos / @loveandlemons

roasted cherry tomato bowls

roasted cherry tomato bowls (vegan) / @loveandlemons

I don’t know if it’s possible to have too many cherry tomatoes. But if you do, roasting them is the perfect way to eat a whole bunch at a time. They shrivel up into the sweetest, tangiest little bites – which are perfect to toss into simple bowls full of greens and grains.

slow roasted tomatoes / @loveandlemons

Around this time last year I posted this slow roasted tomato pasta. This year, I’m cheating the slow roast. Here’s how:

1. Use little tomatoes and it’ll go tons faster.
2. Start roasting them in low heat (like you’re supposed to). Once they begin to dry (and your impatience rises), raise the temp.

wheat berries / @loveandlemons

At the beginning of the week I like make a big batch of some kind of grain – this time it was chewy wheat berries. Store them in the fridge and they’ll be ready to use for meals like this.

roasted cherry tomato bowls (vegan) / @loveandlemons

I added spoonfuls of creamy sun cheese (a creamy sauce made out of sunflower seeds – also another a make-ahead item). Some burrata or fresh ricotta would go nicely in here as well.

stuffed peppers w/ green salsa

stuffed peppers w/ green salsa / @loveandlemons

Back before there were a (seemingly) endless number of food blogs on the internet, there were a few I followed pretty religiously. 101 CookbooksSprouted KitchenSeven Spoons, and one of my all time favorites: Kimberly Hasselbrink’s The Year in Food.

I was new to the idea of blogs, but suddenly I spent all my time at the office procrastinating instead of working. What I was going to make that night for dinner became far more important to me that any client project I had on my plate.

stuffed peppers w/ green salsa / @loveandlemons

I was drawn to these blogs not because I needed to get dinner on the table in 30 minutes –  I was enamored with their images and how they made me want to try new foods. Instead of going to the store with a recipe (which never really worked for me anyway), I began going to the market to see what looked good that day. I learned to pick up a new vegetable because it was pretty and figure out what to make with it later. By experimenting this way, my cooking not only became more beautiful, it also became more delicious. (More vibrant, if you will).

green tomato & avocado salsa / @loveandlemonsgreen tomato & avocado salsa / @loveandlemons

So naturally, I was through the moon to meet Kimberley a couple of months ago at the Saveur Awards. “When am I getting your book!” was I think the first question statement I blurted out. Later, when I got home, there it was – Vibrant Food – on my doorstep.

It’s (of course) beautiful and full of so many creative, inspiring, seasonal ideas. Things I would have never thought of: squash blossom tacos, edamame & radish risotto, grilled hallumi with strawberries and mint.

She writes “My hope is that [the book] is equal parts inspiration and accessibility. Even if you can’t find nettles, fresh chickpeas, kumquats, quince or some of the other less common ingredients I’ve grown so fond of, I hope that curiosity will get the better of you. Perhaps you’ll bring a striking vegetable home and mull over it, and then build a colorful dish around that vegetable. That is how I cook.”

Vibrant Food by Kimberley Hasselbrink

I made these little stuffed peppers because they were too cute not to. She topped her peppers with a tomatillo salsa, but I had just come home with these gorgeous green tomatoes so I made a green tomato salsa instead.

Get the book! 

matcha kale & peach smoothies

matcha kale and peach smoothies / @loveandlemons

Blame it on the heat, but I’ve finally joined the “smoothie for breakfast” club. I’ve always been more of a breakfast taco or avocado-toast-in-the-morning kind of person, but lately I’ve been waking up craving something a little more light and refreshing.

matcha kale and peach smoothies / @loveandlemons

This icy cold matcha kale smoothie really hits the spot. Matcha, (to me) is as good of a pick-me-up as coffee. Plus I was able to sneak some greens in here. The kale taste is almost barely noticeable because, Jack, our resident smoothie-lover is not exactly a green juice guy. At least, not yet.

matcha kale and peach smoothies / @loveandlemons

Creamy bananas and sweet ripe peaches help make this smoothie a little more, well, smooth. In the wintertime, I think I’ll try subbing in ripe pears.

matcha kale and peach smoothies / @loveandlemons

And I almost forgot – ginger. It’s totally optional, but adds a nice (healthy) kick. Grate in a little fresh ginger or splash in some ginger juice.

matcha kale and peach smoothies / @loveandlemons

About matcha: Unlike steeped tea, matcha is made by grinding the entire tea leaf into a fine powder. Because you consume the whole leaf, it has approximately 10x more nutrients than regular green tea. (If you’re interested in more health benefits, click here). 

We, of course, love it because it tastes good! If you’ve never had it, this smoothie is an easy way to give it a try. Or have a look at our other Matcha Recipes.