Gammy Salad

Serving of Gammy Salad with tomatoes, avocado and burrata cheeseGam’s Tomato “Salad”
My grandmother was a fool for summer tomatoes. She grew them in her giant garden. And, what she didn’t eat fresh she then canned to have them all throughout the year. I could be wrong, but I think she really grew them so that she could have a sliced tomato sandwich. My mother had the same addiction. The two of them would go bananas over sliced ripe tomatoes on white bread.

I will say that they had it right in one respect. When it comes to fresh homegrown tomatoes, the simpler the better. Why would you hide all that fresh tomato flavor (that you have been craving for the past year) under way too much sauce? Nowhere was this more apparent than when my grandmother would make what my sister and I refer to as Gammy Salad.

To call it a salad would be stretching the truth quite a bit. She would slice fresh tomatoes and layer them on one side of a plate. On the other side, she would slice up avocados and arrange them artfully. She would then sprinkle a little bit of Italian dressing over both sides and finish it all off with a big dollop of mayonnaise in the center and some salt and pepper. I know what you are thinking, “You had me up until the mayonnaise.” The truth is, it’s kinda good.

Better yet…one bite of this and I am immediately transported back to summer Sunday night dinners when I was nine.

For the past week or so I have been making various versions of the Gammy salad because it’s August and my tomatoes are all turning ripe at the same time. The mayonnaise version has definitely made an appearance. But, I think my new favorite version replaces the mayo with some fresh burrata. Sometimes I include some sweet cantaloupe if I am feeling sassy.

Gammy Salad
Yields 4 servings (or more depending on how many tomatoes you use) Read more…

Roasted Cauliflower Steaks

Image of a plate of Roasted Cauliflower SteaksSteak Your Veggies
My relationship with cauliflower is difficult. I have only just recently started to eat it because my daughter can’t stand broccoli and cauliflower is a fairly easy substitute. My difficulties started when I was a kid when my mom would make cauliflower with a cheese sauce. And, for a long time, I was okay with it. I’m not sure exactly what went wrong. But, after having it one night I got sick. No one else got sick. Just me. From that day forward, in much the same way that college tequila shots have ruined margaritas for many people, I never wanted to eat cauliflower again.

It has taken 40 years but I have tried cauliflower—just a little bit now and then. Cauliflower has that great attribute of not having a strong flavor and therefore will soak up the flavor of anything it’s in. This is why I can handle cauliflower in Indian food, for example. But, large amounts of cauliflower on its own is a hurdle I haven’t cleared…yet.

I am intrigued by cauliflower steaks. There is something about this concept that appeals to me. The idea makes so much sense. A beautifully roasted or sautéed caramelized steak with a flavor-filled sauce of choice sounds so good in my head. So, I have been researching recipes so that I can take the leap…

While this version by Gordon Ramsay with salsa verde seems like it would be right up my alley, I have begun with something more basic as I dip my toe into these waters.

Roasted Cauliflower Steaks Recipe
Adapted from All Recipes
Yields 4 servings

Try these oven-roasted cauliflower steaks seasoned with a simple lemon-garlic sauce. Serve them with Chimichurri or topped with roasted tomatoes, olives, and feta. Read more…

Zucchini with Chickpeas and Peanuts

Image of a bowl of Zucchini with Chickpeas and PeanutsLotsa Squash
If you have a zucchini plant in your backyard, chances are you are running out of ideas for how to use your bounty. In my house, we are partial to this Zucchini Bread recipe from The New York Times. It’s ridiculously good. The problem is we can’t go around eating nothing but cake—much to the disappointment of our inner ten-year-old.

There are plenty of non-baked good ways of using your zucchini. You could spiral it and use it like pasta, or you could pickle it for a new twist on a summer favorite. Mediterranean cuisine is an excellent place to look for zucchini recipes. Yotam Ottolenghi has some really tasty ideas in his collection of books and/or online.

I found the recipe for Zucchini with Chickpeas and Peanuts on The New York Times website. I can’t quite call it Mediterranean cuisine—though the flavors and ingredients would suggest that it is.

I have modified it to my own tastes in that I like a little bit more cumin and I felt it needed a little garlic. Also, the original called for Sumac. I prefer to use Za’atar which has Sumac in it as well as other warming spices.

Zucchini with Chickpeas and Peanuts Recipe
Yields 4 servings
Adapted from The New York Times Cooking 
Read more…

Grilled Corn Salad

Image of Grilled Corn Salad on a plateCorn on the Side
Summer dinners tend to be a lot easier to produce. There is very little in your fridge that can’t go on the grill. Chicken, fish, beef, and veggies can all take a turn over the flames. The same is true when it comes to your side dishes.

Since you are going through the trouble of heating up the grill, might as well get the most out of it. If you’re like me, you have garden zucchini coming out of your ears. It’s easy to toss some with a little olive oil and salt and pepper and throw it on the grill next to your steaks. Corn is another great vegetable to put on the grill. You can leave it in the husk and grill it as is for on-the-cob greatness. Or, you can grill it husk-free for the Grilled Corn Salad recipe below.

Just prep the ingredients before you start grilling and while your meat is resting, throw it all together for a tasty smokey side. Bonus points if you grill the peaches too…

Grilled Corn Salad Recipe
Adapted from Love and Lemons
Yields 4 servings Read more…