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

heirloom caprese w/ mint pesto

heirloom caprese with mint pesto / @loveandlemonsheirloom caprese with mint pesto / @loveandlemons

And the season of simple recipes continues…

“What are you going to do with these?” asked the farm-stand man as I was fixating on these 3 gorgeous golden tomatoes. This question always flusters me… I should have an answer, but truthfully, I buy things on a whim and usually decide what to make later. And in this case, these tomatoes were so spectacular that knew I wasn’t going to “do” much.

heirloom caprese with mint pesto / @loveandlemons

“Um… I’m probably just going to slice and eat them…” He looked at me with a huge grin as if I had just given the right answer. I could tell he was pleased that his tomatoes would be heading to a good home. Then he told me they would be perfect tomorrow, but only tomorrow.

This is what I love about summer.

heirloom caprese with mint pesto / @loveandlemons

Here’s the plate of beautiful sliced tomatoes that we enjoyed last Sunday night… elevated (just slightly) with slices of fresh mozzarella and a bright mint pesto.

A little pesto goes a long way – save the extra for simple meals throughout the week. If you make this tag #loveandlemons or @loveandlemons on Instagram!

vanilla peach pops

vanilla peach pops / @loveandlemons

There’s only one thing more summery than juicy, ripe peaches: Juicy, ripe peaches frozen into sweet, melty, almond milk popsicles! It’s summer on a stick, friends.

vanilla peach pops / @loveandlemons

First, you need to get your hands on some really good peaches. If you can’t find good peaches, use whatever juicy peak-season fruit you do have. (Sliced strawberries would be excellent here).

vanilla peach pops / @loveandlemons

For the base, whisk Vanilla Almond Breeze, with a touch of coconut oil and maple syrup. You could also use plain (sweetened) almond milk and add a bit of vanilla bean. (I’d stay away from vanilla extract this time).

These are pretty lightly sweetened, which is my personal preference. Feel free to add more maple syrup if you wish. Or get fancy and simmer your peaches into a peach purée.

Because its summer, and I was lazy, I kept it simple…

vanilla peach pops / @loveandlemons

Fill a popsicle mold with chopped peaches and pour the almond milk mixture over top. Don’t worry, if you don’t have a popsicle mold, you can use little cups instead. Just let them freeze for an hour or so before placing the sticks.

vanilla peach pops / @loveandlemons

Now the hard part: waiting. Let them freeze overnight (or about 10 hours).

vanilla peach pops / @loveandlemons

Try to take the photo quickly before they melt all over your countertop!

If you make these, tag #loveandlemons on Instagram so I can see!

feta & harissa fattoush salad

feta and harissa fattoush salad @loveandlemons

I have a confession to make: I’m obsessed with feta cheese. Growing up, my mom used to make spanakopita, (carefully wrapped phillo dough triangles stuffed with spinach and feta), every year for my birthday – it was my favorite thing and that tangy creamy flavor is still one of my fondest food memories.

Of course, that’s a lot of work to do for every day meals, so nowadays I get my feta fix on salads. That tangy salty bite has a way of turning on-hand ingredients into tasty cohesive meals. Sweet potato and pomegranate, watermelon and avocado, strawberries and quinoa, check check check.

One ingredient we happened to have on-hand recently was stale pita bread. I’ve made plenty of panzanella salads with stale bread, but I just love fattoush and all of its crispy flatbread goodness. Fattoush is a middle eastern bread salad made with toasted day-old pita, tomatoes, cucumbers, feta and sumac. Sumac turned out to be a difficult ingredient to source so I subbed in some spicy & smoky (dried) harissa instead. So here we have: fattoush-ish.

feta and harissa fattoush salad @loveandlemons

In a small bowl drizzle sliced sweet cherry tomatoes with a little bit of sherry vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. (This becomes so flavorful and juicy that making a separate salad dressing isn’t necessary).

Cut up the stale pita into small chips, drizzle it with olive oil, harissa spice and salt, and toss it in the oven until it’s golden brown and toasty. Set them aside and try not to eat them all as you assemble the rest of the salad. (or if you have snack-y family members like I do – toast some extra pita so you’ll have plenty left for the salad).

feta and harissa fattoush salad @loveandlemons

Toss the whole thing with peppery arugula, crispy chopped cucumbers and then – the special part - two types of cheese – Président Feta Crumbles which are tart and salty, and Valbreso Sheeps Milk Feta, which is creamy and rich, yet delicate.

feta and harissa fattoush salad @loveandlemons

Toss it all together so the juices of the tomato soak into the toasty pita. Sprinkle on more harissa, a few mint leaves, and – of course – serve with extra feta.

feta and harissa fattoush salad @loveandlemons

Win $50 worth of Président cheese. Visit ArtOfCheese.com to download a coupon and enter the Pinterest sweepstakes.

raspberry polenta cake

raspberry polenta cake (vegan) / loveandlemons.com

What do you make with leftover polenta and leftover raspberries? Cake, of course! But not just any cake – cake in a skillet. Because skillets = summer.

raspberry polenta cake / loveandlemons.comraspberry polenta cake (vegan) / loveandlemons.com

Aside from the little bit of butter I used to grease the pan, this cake is vegan and made with coconut oil. It’s naturally sweetened with maple syrup and, of course, the sweetness that comes from the raspberries. (note: you can grease your pan with coconut oil).

It’s a (smaller) version of this peach cake I made last summer – in my 10-inch skillet this cake is just 4 servings, but you can double it if you have a larger skillet and more mouths to feed. I prefer it straight out of the oven with melty ice cream on top. Although, the leftover slices were delicious (sans the ice cream), for breakfast the next morning.

raspberry polenta cake (vegan) / loveandlemons.com

Oh, and it goes without saying that you could top this with any fruit you like.