Yoga and Nutrition
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Wednesday
Jul172013

Watermelon, basil, fresh corn, and cupcakes... It must be summer!

Fourth of July barbeques are over, the heat has set in here in NYC, and who cares about menu planning? Clearly, I do! Take advantage of the summer vegetable and fruit bounty with these simple recipes. Use them individually, or all together for a fabulous summer dinner party. Bonus: except for the cupcakes, none of these recipes require you to turn on the oven.

 

THE MENU 

  

Lemon watermelon spritzers

Basil and kale pesto tofu over fusilli with asparagus

Summer lettuce and fava salad

Butter-lime grilled corn

Vanilla vegan cupcakes

 

 

Recipe 1:

Lemon watermelon spritzers

These refreshing cocktails – with alcohol or virgin – are perfect for pre-dinner drinks on the patio, the back deck, or the front stoop.

 

Ingredients:

2 cups cubed watermelon

2 cups seltzer

2 Tbs agave (or adjust to taste)

Juice from 1 lemon

8 oz vodka (optional)

 

Preparation:

1. Puree watermelon in blender until even consistency.

2. Mix watermelon with seltzer, agave, lemon, and vodka, if using. Serve immediately.

 

Serves 4.

 

 

Recipe 2:

Basil and kale pesto tofu over fusilli with asparagus

Let’s face it: pesto chicken is tired. Go to any salad or pasta bar in NYC and you’ll see it sitting sadly next to the metal buckets of canned asparagus, orange shredded “cheese,” and questionable tuna.

This simple pasta dish bangs out the protein and the flavor with pesto-enhanced tofu and a smattering of salty hard (real) cheese. And in case there was any doubt, don’t even think about canned asparagus right now.

 

Ingredients:

6 oz firm or extra-firm tofu (about ½ package)

½ cup pesto (recipe below)

2 cups (dry) fusilli

1 cup fresh raw asparagus, cut into 2-3” pieces

2 tsp olive oil

¼ cup fresh grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Black pepper, to taste

 

Preparation:

1. Slice block of tofu in half and press between paper towels to remove as much excess water.

2. Crumble tofu and mix with pesto until thoroughly combined. Set aside

3. In a large saucepan, bring water to boil. Add pinch of salt and pasta.

4. During last minute of cooking pasta (for total cooking time, see package), add asparagus to saucepan.

5. Drain pasta and asparagus and add 2 tsp oil to keep from sticking.

6. Combine pasta and asparagus with pesto tofu.

7. Top with grated cheese and black pepper.

 

Serves 4.

 

 

Recipe 3:

Basil and kale pesto  

I know, I know, kale is all trendy now. But it’s SO GOOD! It adds a green kick here that separates this pesto from standard recipes. Walnuts and pine nuts together make for a perfect blend.

 

Ingredients:

¼ cup pine nuts

¼ cup walnuts

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves

1 cup coarsely chopped kale

2 cloves garlic (optional)

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup grated Parmesan

¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano

Salt and black pepper to taste

 

Preparation:

1. Place nuts, basil, kale, garlic and olive oil in food processor, pulse until coarsely combined, scraping and pushing down as needed.

2. Add cheeses and process until smoothly incorporated.  If texture feels too dry, you can add some more olive oil, just a little drizzle at a time, as you continue to process.

3. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

Makes about 1 cup.

 

 

Recipe 4:

Butter-lime grilled corn

There’s no mystery to the delight of grilled buttered corn – especially if it’s eaten at dusk at a picnic table (with plenty of Citronella candles nearby). This recipe opens it up to those who avoid dairy; Earth Balance is one of the few butter alternatives that tastes amazing and doesn’t get all watery-runny when it’s melted.

 

Ingredients:

4 ears corn, in husks*

4 Tbs Earth Balance buttery spread

2 Tbs fresh lime juice

Cayenne pepper, to taste

 

Preparation:

1. Soak corn in husks in cold water for 20 minutes. While corn is soaking, heat grill to medium-high.

2. Combine Earth Balance, lime juice, and cayenne.

3. Grill corn in husks until husks begin to darken, about 5 minutes on each side.

4. Remove carefully from grill and peel back husks using oven mitts.

5. Spread butter-lime mixture on corn and serve immediately.

 

*If corn is already shucked, you can wrap the corn cobs in thick aluminum foil to replace the husk.

 

Serves 4

 


Recipe 5:

Summer lettuce and fava salad

Fava beans are my legume heroes.  For details on how to prepare them, see my July 16, 2012 blog post Fava Love or my June 2013 guest blog piece for Food and Nutrition magazine. I’ve been enjoying delicate summer lettuces from Brooklyn-based Gotham Greens (roof-top grown!) and Satur Farms, of Long Island’s North Fork (an area close to my heart). Both are available in Whole Foods.

 

Ingredients:

1 package lettuce* or about 8 cups, torn into pieces

1 cup fresh cooked and shelled fava beans (aka broad beans)

½ cup fresh parsley

2 tsp lemon juice

2 Tbs olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

 

Preparation:

1. Mix lemon, oil, and salt and pepper and set aside.

2. Toss lettuce, favas, and parsley together. Dress with lemon and oil just before serving.

 

Serves 4

 

 

Recipe 6:

Vanilla Almond Vegan Cupcakes

Full disclosure: Before I tried making (and eating) vegan cupcakes, I kind of thought, what’s the point? I advocate a plant-based diet, with exceptions as appropriate, and I thought you HAD to use a (pasture-raised, please) egg to make cake or cupcakes. Wrong! Try these. They are so delicious, light, moist, and satisfying, you won’t even think about what’s not in there.

 

Cupcakes

Ingredients:

¼ cup Earth Balance butter replacement

¾ cup sugar

1 Tbs vanilla

1 cup plain soymilk

1 tsp white vinegar

1 ½ c all-purpose flour

¼ tsp baking soda

¾ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

 

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line standard-size cupcake tin with paper liners.

2. Combine soymilk and vinegar in small bowl; stir then set aside and allow curdle.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine Earth Balance, sugar, and vanilla until creamy.

4. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add to butter-sugar mixture and mix until just incorporated.

5. Add soymilk “buttermilk” and mix until just incorporated.

6. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until cupcakes are firm and a knife inserted to the center comes out clean. These will continue to “bake” for a short while after you remove them from the oven, so err on the side of taking them out early, when they JUST start to brown on top.

7. When cupcakes are cooled enough to handle, remove carefully from baking tin and set on wire rack to completely cool.

Makes 12 generous cupcakes.

 

Frosting

Ingredients:

½ cup Earth Balance butter replacement

1½ cups powdered sugar

1 tsp almond extract

2 Tbs (more if needed for desired consistency) plain soy milk

Preparation:

1. Place all ingredients in mixer (or use large bowl with electric hand-mixer).  Start combining slowly, and increase speed as ingredients meld.

2. Frost cupcakes when they have completely cooled.

Makes enough frosting for 12 cupcakes.

 

*Note – if it’s a particularly warm or humid day, make this frosting right before serving , not too far in advance. It can get quite “melty” in a small NYC apartment during the summer.

*For chocolate frosting, add 1 oz melted chocolate, ¼ cup cocoa powder, and top frosted cupcakes with shaved chocolate (I use a carrot peeler and a big, excellent-quality chocolate bar that has been kept cool) after frosting.

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