Last night I cooked a belated birthday dinner for my brother in law. As you may remember from past posts, Nat and Jenn are not meat eaters so when I cook for them I have to keep that in mind. I have been trying to come up with recipes that take into consideration the season and local ingredients and ended up playing with a couple of recipes I found online to make them my own.
I started with freshly baked bread from my Breadman of course. Feta and cracked pepper. Really delicious plain, with butter or dipped in soup.
Then I made a grapefruit, fennel, avocado and butter lettuce salad. It was so pretty! For the dressing I squeezed fresh grapefruit juice, added salt, pepper, agave and olive oil until emulsified. Sweet fennel and avocado and tart grapefruit marry together and are truly delicious in your mouth!
For the main course I made a smoky sweet corn and zucchini soup. This came out AWESOME. The original recipe ended with a very pretty yellow soup but I decided to use additional summer vegetables to make it a really pretty pale green. It had a very creamy texture even though there was no cream, milk or dairy at all (would be great for vegans as long as you leave off of the queso fresco!).
Sweet corn and zucchini soup
2 large poblano chiles (I used one Anaheim and one Pasilla because that's what they had at the market)
5 ears corn, uncooked
1 T olive oil
1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
1 serrano chile, finely chopped
1 tsp sea salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 small zucchini seeded and cut into 1/4-in. dice (about 1 c) (I used one dark green zucchini and one "cue ball" light green round zucchini)
1/2 c queso fresco cheese, crumbled
1. Turn on burner on top of stove. Place one poblano directly over flame and turn from time to time. You may hear popping which is totally normal. Turn with tongs until most of the pepper is charred. Repeat with second pepper. Put charred poblanos in a bowl, cover, and let sit 20 minutes to loosen skins; then peel, stem, and seed. Cut poblanos into 1/2-in. dice and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, slice corn kernels from cobs. Heat olive oil in a large, wide pot over medium heat and add onion, serranos, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and corn kernels and cook 3 minutes more.
3. Pour just enough water into pot to cover corn. Bring to a simmer, covered, and simmer 15 minutes.
4. Put diced zucchini in a small saucepan with just enough salted water to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain.
5. Add most of the cooked zucchini and poblanos into corn mixture (saving some for garnish).
6. Using your immersion blender, blend soup until it is the consistency you want it. I blended until almost smooth but left some chunky vegetables for texture. If you want a smooth soup, pour through a sieve or cheesecloth to remove chunks.
7. Divide among 4 bowls. Top each bowl with a few pieces of zucchini, a few pieces of poblano and sprinkle each with 1 T cheese and serve the extra on the side.
I used an immersion blender (if you've never used one, I say finish my blog then RUN out to HomeGoods or your local home store and buy one. I got mine for $20 years ago and it's paid for itself over and over by saving me from scalding burns trying to put a very hot soup into a traditional blender!). Using an immersion blender made the soup frothy and light. We really liked the texture. I used farmer's market ingredients and the tastes were sweet and summery and the best thing is this soup can be served cold. We ate it hot because it was a cool night but next time I'll try it cold.
Of course a dinner isn't complete without something sweet... so, I made home made chocolate chip cookies with the remaining mini chocolate chips I had left over from my banana chocolate chip muffin recipe. Yum!
Do you have a favorite light meal that you like to cook in the summer? Please feel free to share here!
Chow for now! :)