Lemony Grilled Eggplant & Zucchini Orzo

Lemony Grilled Eggplant & Zucchini Orzo

You know those days when you feel like there’s nothing in the fridge, but then suddenly you’re able to rally enough ingredients to pull together a great meal? You feel accomplished, creative and oh-so resourceful. The best feeling! Well this isn’t that recipe. This is the recipe that I came up with the night after.

Normally when the fridge is empty and I haven’t gone shopping, we would go out to eat. But it was late – I didn’t want to go out and I definitely wasn’t up for a trip to the grocery store, so I started poking around in the pantry and found a lot more than I expected. And what came out of it may be my favorite dinner from the whole summer.

Lemony Grilled Eggplant & Zucchini Orzo

There was a half box of orzo, pine nuts, some bread crumbs and my favorite dried herbs of the moment – herbs de Provence. In the lonely vegetable drawer there was a shallot, a lemon, garlic, some feta cheese and waaay back there was a giant eggplant (yay! a vegetable!). My mom’s basil and mint plants were blooming away outside so I added handfuls of each to freshen up this pantry-based meal.

Lemony Grilled Eggplant & Zucchini Orzo

The first night I made this, I flaked some salmon into the pasta (it’s what I had on hand), but for the final dish that’s pictured here (after a trip to the store), I used zucchini instead. Grilled zucchini and eggplant are surprisingly substantial in this vegetarian pasta. They’re so substantial, that there’s only a small amount of pasta in the recipe. The lemon and feta makes this rich and tangy, and the pine nuts and bread crumbs give a nice crunch in contrast to the soft textures in the rest of the dish.

My family really loved it and I hope yours does to!

Lemony Grilled Eggplant & Zucchini Orzo

Cool Summer Recipes for Hot Days

Watermelon Gazpacho

Last week, we spent a few short days in NYC during that hot hot heat wave. We did a bunch of walking, a bunch of sweating, and whenever we’d sit down to a meal I’d find myself ordering anything on the menu that was cold and refreshing. I had a wonderful watermelon gazpacho at ABC Kitchen… some pretty salads, and more salads. I came back craving some cool favorites that I thought I’d share here. Click directly on the photos to go to each recipe!

First up – this Watermelon Gazpacho, blended with tomatoes, cucumbers, basil and a pop of red wine vinegar. This is probably the most refreshing recipe on the blog – be sure to put it on your list before summer is over!

Watermelon Gazpacho Corn, Cucumber, Peach & Avocado Salad

This Corn, Cucumber, Peach, and Avocado Salad is one of my all-time favorites. It has a great crunch from the grilled corn and a nice pop of sweetness from the peaches and the basil. A creamy chile-lime dressing takes it to the next level.

Watermelon Poke Bowls

When I think of foods that are hydrating, watermelon and cucumbers are at the top of the list. This faux Watermelon “Poke” Bowl was inspired by a bowl from Poke Poke, one of our favorite lunch spots in Austin. The watermelon is dressed with a tangy tamari-lime dressing, and topped with a sprinkle of furikake (a mix of nori, sesame seeds and sea salt). I know – this concoction sounds a little weird, but it really works 🙂

Watermelon St. Germain Cocktails

I’m obviously on a watermelon kick and I just love these St. Germain Watermelon Cocktails. They’re made of pureed watermelon (but you can also buy cold pressed watermelon juice), lemon juice, vodka, and St. Germain. A simple combo that’s so refreshing.

Tomato Basil Artichoke Picnic Sandwich

Before the summer is over, go on a picnic and bring these Tomato Basil Artichoke Picnic Sandwiches. They’re slathered with a delicious basil edamame spread and they travel well!

Peach & Plum Caprese Salad

A quick no-cook appetizer – this Peach & Plum Caprese Salad is a sweet spin on a classic.

Chocolate Avocado Almond Pudding Pops

For a sweet afternoon snack – these vegan creamy Chocolate Avocado Almond Pudding Pops are a healthier version than the pudding pops I used to eat as a kid. I promise the avocado taste is undetectable (and Jack agrees!)

Summer Squash Vegetable Pizza

When you have every summer vegetable under the sun – throw it on a pizza!

Cucumber Mango Miso Noodle Bowls

More summer means more cucumbers! These Cucumber Mango Miso Noodle Bowls are great for a light dinner and perfect for lunch the next day.

Raspberry Lemon Chia "Cheesecake"

Last but not least – a no-bake freezer dessert. This Raspberry Lemon Chia “Cheesecake” is a cool dairy-free treat!

Super Fun Summer Smoothies!

Super Fun Summer Smoothies!

Every so often, I get on these mean green daily smoothie kicks that in all honesty, can get a little TOO green over time. The kick starts with delicious well-balanced smoothies but as the days go on, I start cutting corners. I add too much liquid so that the blender will blend fast, leaving me with a watery smoothie. And speaking of water, that’s what I use when I run out of almond milk. I add ice in the name of “thickness” and I start skipping all ingredients that actually add flavor. What I (we) are left with to drink first thing in the morning is basically a Kale Icy. I know that sounds like it might be good and healthy, but it’s really not – we gulp them down these leafy drinks are hungry a few hours later.

But now that it’s summer, I’ve decided to re-up on my smoothie game – these new recipes are SO delicious and they’re inspired by four of my favorite summer treats: blueberry muffins, peaches & cream, PB&J sandwiches, and mint chip ice cream. In other words – smoothies worth waking up for! For this post, I’ve teamed up with Whole Foods Market to try out some new plant-based protein powders. Their supplements are often on sale, click here to check out the sales flyer for your local store!

Blueberry Muffin Smoothie

First up: Blueberry Muffin Smoothie
This is next best thing to cake for breakfast! Its muffin-like flavor and thickness comes from whole rolled oats. It’s naturally sweetened with dates and a pinch of cinnamon. I used Whole Foods Market™ Plant-Based Fit Protein, which makes this a well balanced breakfast full of plant protein (pea protein, cranberry protein and hemp seed protein) as well as a little pick-me-up from the green coffee bean, and green tea extracts that are in the powder. I also snuck a handful of spinach in this smoothie which is pretty undetectable.

Peaches & Cream Pecan Smoothie

Peaches & Cream Pecan Smoothie
I love peaches more than any other fruit on the planet so this is by far my favorite smoothie. When I first made it, I tasted it and said “this is ice cream!” It works with almond milk or coconut milk, and the pecans make it so rich and creamy. The Whole Foods Market™ Plant-Based Fit Protein adds a nice vanilla and cinnamon flavor along with it’s protein boost. I like to make this one really thick and eat it with a spoon. Beyond breakfast, I’ll eat this for dessert any day.

Super Fun Summer Smoothies

Last week while making these, I basically raided the Whole Foods supplement aisle to test out the protein powders that would best compliment my summer smoothies. In the end I chose 2 favorites – both are both fantastic plant-based protein options that have great texture and complimentary and/or neutral flavors. Whole Foods Market™ Plant-Based Fit Protein works especially well with in the Blueberry Muffin and Peaches & Cream Pecan smoothies. 365 Pea Protein is great in these last 2 smoothies – Strawberry PB&J and Mint Chip – because its flavor is so neutral.

Strawberry PB&J Smoothie

Strawberry PB&J
Berries and peanut butter (or almond butter) is a go-to smoothie combo for me but I never get sick of it. It always reminds me of a PB&J sandwich and it always leaves me full until lunch. To thicken this smoothie, I used chia seeds and 365 Everyday Value® Pea Protein. I added a bit of spinach to this one as well – just enough to keep it pink. If you add too much spinach it will turn brown but it’s still delicious.

Mint Chip Smoothie

Mint Chip Smoothies
This one reminds me of summer as a kid because my sister would always order mint chocolate chip ice cream (I was a cookies & cream girl). To make this creamy, I used coconut milk frozen into ice cubes, dates, and 365 Everyday Value® Pea Protein. Its green color comes from a few handfuls of spinach and a good handful of mint. In lieu of chocolate, cacao nibs make this a healthy breakfast treat.

Super Fun Summer Smoothies!

Avocado Strawberry Caprese Salad

Avocado Strawberry Caprese Salad

Years ago, Jack and I went on vacation to the island of Capri where we ate Caprese salads every day. We’d sit at hilltop restaurants overlooking the teal blue Mediterranean Sea. The air was warm, the wine was flowing, and the tomatoes were the sweetest I’d ever tasted. It was a few days after he had proposed and looking back it was the most blissfully happy week of our lives. Or at least that’s the way I remember it. I will spare you the story about strep throat, almost getting seasick on a hydrofoil ride, and trying to find an Italian pharmacy that would sell me an antibiotic. Those memories, while stressful in the moment, seem to fade into the background over time.

Avocado Strawberry Caprese Salad

So while I remember those perfect 3-ingredient Caprese salads from Italy, I’m going to also, uhh, change the details and bring you my “re-remembered” version, with strawberries, avocado, and pecans! This recipe is in our cookbook and is one of my favorites. One of the reasons is that, well, it’s hard to find tomatoes that are quite as sweet as the ones in Capri, so this salad lets you get away with using less-than-perfect tomatoes (although the ones pictured here were pretty good) because the other ingredients pick up the slack, just like those less-than-perfect vacation memories!

It’ll take you all of about 15 minutes to make and it’s yummy with anything you’re grilling.
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Vegetarian Memorial Day Recipes

Mix & Match Crostini Bar

Memorial Day is coming up next weekend! Whether you’re hosting a gathering or simply bringing a side dish (hi, I’m Jeanine – the family salad maker), here are a few veggie-ful party recipe ideas. Click on the links or directly on the photos to go to the recipes:

First up: Instead of meticulously assembling appetizers, you can set out a bunch of ingredients for this Mix & Match Crostini Bar so your guests can assemble their own toppings. Include some gluten free crackers and at least one vegan spread (like the vegan pesto shown above) and you’ll have all of your bases covered.

Spicy Jalapeño Margaritas.

It’s not a summertime party without a margarita – this is my go to recipe for Spicy Jalapeño Margaritas (above). And of course, you can’t have a margarita without chips – let’s go with a super green Kiwi Avocado Salsa Verde. (below)

Kiwi Avocado Salsa Verde

Every party needs a great salad that can sit out at room temperature without wilting, so this Tart Cherry Tabbouleh is a great option:

Tart Cherry Tabbouleh

For the main course, skip the grill but get all of that smoky goodness with these Vegan Tempeh Club Sandwiches. I know tempeh sounds scary to some of you, but wait ’til you try it with this marinade!

Tempeh Vegan Club Sandwiches

Another main course option – Cauliflower Stuffed Poblano Peppers. Smother them with cheese or with cashew cream (see the recipe for more details) – vegetarians and meat eaters alike will love this one.

Cauliflower Stuffed Poblano Peppers

For dessert – Strawberry Pistachio Crumble. This is an easy recipe that’s great for parties because the crumble can be made ahead of time. Assemble and bake in skillets (or a baking dish) as you’re ready to serve.

Strawberry Pistachio Crumble

Or skip the baking and make Boozy Root Beer Floats with homemade ice cream (or without homemade ice cream… I won’t tell).

Boozy Root Beer Floats