June

prickly pear cactussour fig and creeping jenny

Summer school is happening. Three credit hours’ worth of material in six weeks means I studied for nearly seven hours last night to prepare for this morning’s class. This is my new normal. I think it’s safe to say that June will be the month of five minute meals.

Also: Hello, summer! Anything below 85 degrees does not count in my book, so thank you for finally climbing into the 90s. I am happy. My gardens are happy. Please stick around.

prickly pear in bloombeans and greens

Quick pan-fried cannelloni beans with coriander and thyme

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This recipe makes one generous serving, but doubles (and triples) easily. The beans taste great on their own, but I like to heap them onto toast atop a bit of cashew cheese, or over a bed of greens. Salt plays a starring role in this dish, adding both flavor and texture. You’ll want to use a coarse salt, fleur de sel if you have it. Maldon or another kosher salt will also do.

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1 cup cooked cannelloni or other white beans, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme

In a small bowl, mix together the nutritional yeast, salt, coriander, and pepper. Set aside.

Warm up the oil in a skillet, add the beans, and toss to coat. Arrange the beans into an even layer, and coat cover with the seasoning mixture. Turn up the heat – the goal is to quickly brown the beans on one side. After a couple of minutes, toss everything together in the pan, so the beans are evenly coated with the seasoning. Continue stirring over high heat until just starting to brown all over. Remove from heat, add the thyme leaves, and season to taste. Serve immediately.

Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 5 minutes

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squash sauce

With temps nearing 100 today, I’m keeping things in the kitchen simple, focusing all efforts on soaking up the last flush of summer.

This means my blender is seeing a lot of action: the family-sized green smoothie it makes every day, followed by a giant batch of butternut queso.

My garden didn’t yield any butternuts this year, but there were plenty at the farmers’ market. This sauce is easy to make with both fresh and frozen butternut squash, so I snatched several up to prep and freeze later this month.

squash sauce

 

Butternut queso

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This is one of those recipes that was born of not-in-the-mood-for-anything meals + staple ingredients. Items are grabbed from the pantry, tossed into the blender, and the rest of the meal figures itself out. If using a medium/large butternut, the neck portion will yield 2 to 2 1/2 cups cubed squash. The concentrated sweetness of dried tomatoes rounds out the flavor of this sauce and lends it a hint of color. We go easy on the garlic, but mine is a homegrown variety, more pungent than what’s found in most markets. This tastes good with a dash (or three) of smoked paprika; sadly, my family is too wimpy to handle such a thing. Sometimes, I sneak in a few dashes of ground chipotle – just as much flavor, but less discernible heat. You’ll notice I don’t add any oil or butter – this isn’t because I’m avoiding fat; the sauce is rich enough without it (especially after the flavors have melded in the fridge for a few hours). Some similar recipes on the web include Earth Balance, and I’m sure throwing in a knob would taste good to some palates, but we enjoy it without.

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2 cups 1/2-inch cubed butternut squash
1 medium yellow-fleshed potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, or more to taste
4 thumb-sized sundried tomato pieces (preferably not oil packed)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon tamari
1/2 cup raw cashews, either pre-soaked/drained or pulverized in a spice grinder
1 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, more to taste
a few grinds white pepper, more to taste

Combine the squash, potato, garlic and sundried tomatoes in a large, wide pot. Add just enough water to cover and bring to a low boil. Lower to a simmer and cook until the potato and squash are fork tender, about 10 minutes. Taking care not to burn yourself, transfer the contents of the pot to the blender. Add the lemon juice and tamari, and blend until smooth. Add the cashews, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper, and blend again until smooth. Add additional water if necessary to make the sauce thinner, if you prefer. The sauce will thicken slightly when cooled.

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 15 minutes | Yield: about 3 cups