It’s that time of year when everything is ripe. You can practically hear it, that buzz that warbles when you slice through a tomato or eat fresh strawberry jam or bite into that perfectly perfect peach. As such, I wanted to talk about a few great recipes that I’ve run across over the past few months to help celebrate this ripeness in all its glory. So here we go:
Spaghetti squash and pork stir-fry
Spaghetti squash and I had an exceptionally rocky start when my mom told me, at age 8, we were having spaghetti with tomato sauce and the spaghetti ended up being squash. Boy, was I pissed. While I did eventually forgive my mom, I never forgave the squash for not being pasta.
My friends Sean and Hannah, who gave me this recipe, were able to talk me out of my grudge and I’m so thankful for it. Honestly, this is delicious. The squash takes on the flavors of the soy sauce and rice vinegar (I use extra of both, and I double the amount of minced ginger), making it taste tangy, almost pickled. Note that if you’re in a hurry you can just use regular ground pork instead of the chopped up pork tenderloin as they suggest. The best part is this meal is so healthy you can reward yourself with homemade hot fudge and vanilla ice cream afterward, which is exactly what I did last night.
Hot fudge sauce
Do not pass go, do not collect $200, go directly here: www.bonappetit.com and look this up. Ultimate selling feature? I bet you have all of the ingredients in your cupboard right now. And? This takes 6 minutes. Seven minutes if you dilly-dally.
Spiralized vegetable salad with roasted chickpeas
My best girlfriend Julie brought this gem to a potluck a few weeks back and it made me promptly buy a spiralizer. If you’re uninitiated, it’s this clever tool that makes ribbons out of veggies like zucchini and carrots.
I was extremely skeptical at first since these veggie “noodles” have been billed as a replacement for pasta (there was no way I would ever, ever be tricked into thinking zucchini was fettuccine), but when Julie brought this salad over I was instantly converted.
The veggies really do taste convincingly like pad Thai noodles and are then topped with an exceptionally creamy avocado-yogurt dressing. Plus, roasting the chickpeas makes them taste nutty and, thus, extra satisfying. This is the kind of recipe that, like crunchy ramen noodle salad and spinach dip dumped in a bread bowl, is bound to make the rounds among moms everywhere.
Find the recipe at www.jessicagavin.com
Find spiralizers on amazon.com for 13 bucks a pop.
Watermelon salad with rum and mint
You know how some salads actually take effort to eat? So that your thought process is: OK, self, plow through this pile of healthy stuff so then you can reward yourself with the fried chicken and potato salad you really want?
This salad isn’t like that.
First, it’s delicious, but second, it’s exceptionally stunning so you pretty much feel like a rock star when you arrive at your summer gathering with it. Martha Stewart has you spooning out the watermelon with a melon baller, which makes it look like gorgeous mini scoops of ice cream. Then you add brown sugar and rum (just two tiny tablespoons of each to lend a note of burnt caramel). Sprinkle everything with zingy lime zest and a chiffonade (yeah, I said chiffonade) of mint leaves for brightness and you have yourself a winner.
Find the recipe at www.marthastewart.com
Potato burger buns
Over the years, I’ve tried about 60 gazillion burger bun recipes, only to produce tasteless, overly dense failures. And those flops are bitter pills since, a), it usually takes about four hours to realize you have a dud and, b), you don’t usually have a Plan B because why would you buy store-bought buns when you’re supposed to be enjoying homemade.
The secret to a good bun, America’s Test Kitchen finally taught me, is in mashed potato. Somehow it makes all the difference, resulting in the kind of bun you get at the very best greasy spoon. The kind that is golden and shiny and jeweled with sesame seeds. The kind that mashes in when you take a bite, but doesn’t get soggy. The kind that actually contributes to the flavor of your hamburger, rather than just acting as a holder.
Know going into this recipe that these buns, though not difficult to make, are time consuming. But the reward. Oh yes, the reward.