Vegetarian

Baked Caprese Salad-1
Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner?
Baked Caprese Salad Stacks – TheMessyBaker.com When you write about food for a living it's easy to forget that it's not always just about ingredients or recipes. Creating a new twist on the chocolate chip cookie isn't as important as baking a batch with a friend. Bland chicken needs nothing more than a spicy conversation. And if your butternut squash soup doesn't rank on Google's first page, if you slurp it with loved ones, you're still a hit. Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner?: A year of Italian menus with 250 recipes that celebrate family by Lisa Caponigri is a delicious reminder that sharing a meal is more important than the meal itself.  While Caponigri's menus are balanced and reasonably healthy, it's not about nutrition, clean eating or sustainable food choices. Her multi-generational approach encourages all family members -- even children -- to be involved in preparing dinner, but it's not a how-to-cook book. It's not about pushing culinary boundaries. It's about family -- and friends -  coming together over food. "Sunday dinner is a ritual, a tradition, a bonding experience," Caponigri says. And that's something you can't buy at the deli counter.
Tempura Zucchini Sharp-1-2
Tempura Zucchini
The zucchinis just keep coming. So I pulled out the big guns and fried the suckers in hot oil. None of this namby-pamby healthy oven-baked stuff. I went deep fried all the way. And I think I just might have scared them off. To shake things up a bit, I used a tempura batter and a spicy dipping sauce. I got the batter ratio from Michael Ruhlman's Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking (Scribner ©2009). While tempura is far from everyday in my world,  it is an effective way to use up the zucchini that arrives in relentless waves like zombies. It is also messy. Not only did I get batter all over the stove and counter, my shoes and hair somehow got into the act. By the time I'd used up all the batter, I looked like I'd lost a paintball match.
Zucchini fries-1
Zucchini Fries | A Baked Version
These came from my section of The Family Plot. The one on the right is about the size you find in the supermarket on any given day. The one on the left? It dwarfs a butternut squash. At a whopping 5 pounds, 5 ounces it's bigger than some newborns. And I'm not talking premies. Folklore says the cabbage patch is the source for babies, but this bambino came from a singe zucchini mound. My sister planted four. I fear for our sanity. Just as I was figuring out what to do with the six pounds of bland squash, these arrived.
peach sorbet scoop
What to Do with Less-than-Perfect Peaches: Peach Sorbet
Peach Sorbet is dairy-free, gluten-free and delicious - TheMessyBaker.com The other day I posted about fruit leather (aka fruit roll-ups), which is an easy way to use up fruit that's no longer ready for its close-up. Whether you make it in an oven or dehydrator, the method is embarrassingly easy. Just blend, pour, then abandon for hours on end. It's ideal for lazy people like me. And the results are quite possibly addictive. Just ask my sister. The astute reader will notice that I had more peaches on hand than a couple sheets of fruit leather required. And you'd be correct. I had enough on-the-cusp peaches for a batch of  peach sorbet. Clean, refreshing peach sorbet. See, it's already beginning to melt in the heat. 
Peach and Ginger Fruit Leather - The Messy Baker
What to Do with Less-Than-Perfect Peaches – Fruit Leather

[caption id="attachment_8131" align="alignnone" width="500"] You don't need a dehydrator to make fruit roll-ups, but if you're looking for an excuse to buy one, these will seal the deal.[/caption] What do you do when you have less-than-perfect peaches squatting on your counter, threatening to dissolve into a...

Corn with Chili Lime and Cilantro Butter-1-2
Corn with Cilantro-Lime-Chili Butter
Cilantro, Lime, Chili Butter turns plain corn-on-the-cob into something special - TheMessyBaker.com This week's Gastropost challenge was to "recreate or revisit a food experience that will refresh sunny memories of summers past." With strawberries and peaches already covered, my mind went to corn — a food that leaves me conflicted. In season, corn-on-the-cob means both the height of summer and its dreaded end. The following essay was published in the Globe and Mail a few years ago. I think it's time to pull it out, pluck the corn silk from between its paragraphs and see how it goes. The recipe follows. We never had any exotic toppings when I was a kid. It was just plain butter and salt. And plenty of it.
Indian Green Beans
Indian Green Beans
Handful of green beans - TheMessyBaker.com I don't know if there are the Fortex pole beans or the Maxibel French filet beans. I suspect they are a mix. I can't tell because the vines are so thick the leaves obscure the labels. Plus, I was too busy picking beans to bother looking. Regardless of their official name, these are the first crop of beans from my section of  The Family Plot. Back in May, I planted them with one recipe in mind. Today I got to make it. A few months ago, Monica Bhide made me a variation of her Green Beans Subzi, a spicy vegetable dish with lots of flavour and crunch. She strayed from the version in her cookbook Modern Spice, and added coconut chips for extra crunch because she knows I like texture.  Since that meal, I have searched for coconut chips and come up empty handed. Unable to locate this ingredient, I substituted extra large coconut flakes. They aren't exactly the same, but I'm not about to complain.
Peach tomato salad with bocconcini - TheMessyBaker.com
Peach, Tomato Salad with Bocconcini
  Peach tomato salad with bocconcini - TheMessyBaker.com When a spring frost destroyed much of the tender fruit crops in Ontario, I was afraid I wouldn't see a local peach this year, let alone one that delivered a true peachy taste. Fortunately, I was wrong. While the size of the crop may not be large, the peaches are beginning to roll in, and they are sweet, flavourful and juicy. After the intense heat of the past few weeks, I couldn't bring myself to turn on the oven. Too impatient for ice cream (and with a cracked filling that made me temporarily sensitive to hot and cold food), I decided to make something very simple with my first batch of peaches. Something that would also let me experiment with the new basils I have in the garden. Alongside the opal, leaf, and Thai basils, I planted lime basil and -- get this -- lavender basil. While the lime basil had a bright, citrusy taste, the lavender version was surprisingly mild and had a floral scent that screamed out for peaches. So I obliged.
Stuffed zucchini blossoms
Baked Zucchini Flowers with Ricotta
Zucchini Flowers - TheMessyBaker.com This is a zucchini flower from The Family Plot. While we raised plenty of eyebrows planting the garden, we weren't sure we could raise so much as a baby carrot. Much to everyone's surprise, the beans are clawing their way up the poles, the radishes are duking it out for territory, and the tomatoes stagger under the weight of their green fruit. Meanwhile, the zucchini plants bloom quietly in a corner, hoping no one will notice until it's too late. Sorry, Zucchini. We're onto you. I've been itching to try zucchini flowers for years but haven't had access to the main ingredient -- ephemeral zucchini blossoms. Every summer, I feel a bit jealous as a I read the culinary triumph of others with their battered and deep fried blossoms, or their stuffed-and-pan-fried flowers. I nearly choke when food writers get "bored" with this precious ingredient and skip the cooking altogether, opting to sprinkle julienned blossoms into salads and soups as if they were nothing more than a common herb.
Blueberry-cornmeal-scone-side
Berry-Lime Cornmeal Shortcakes
By now, you've likely heard a lot about Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables written by Cheryl Sternman Rule and photographed by Paulette Phlipot.  You've likely seen some of its in-your-face photographs, read excerpts of the light-hearted writing, and possibly tried one of the delicious yet accessible recipes. If not, you've at least heard it's organized by colour, so the fruits and vegetables appear according to the rainbow, not course. But what you might not have heard is the story behind the book itself. Yes, Ripe is an unusual book, but not because of the obvious. Yes, the writing is crisp. Yes the photographs make you see food in a new way. Its sum is greater than the whole because of the unusual collaborative relationship between author and photographer. Look at the book's spine. It says "Rule & Phlipot." When I interviewed Cheryl, she explained how Ripe  came into being. And what happened before the writing and photography even began made all the difference to the outcome.

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