Summer Solstice Appetizer: Walnut Ricotta Bruschetta with Arugula, Asparagus & Crème Fraiche

As promised, here is the second installment from our 2012 Summer Solstice Wine Pairing Dinner menu. After kicking things off with the super tasty, yet somewhat powerful “Bonsinger Silver Lining” (a lavender infused cocktail with St. Germain & grapefruit), the guests were ready to start the feasting.

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Celebrating the Summer Solstice

When you live in a colder climate that has a lengthy and oftentimes extended winter season, summer is one of those things that warrants celebration and elaborate shows of appreciation.  Our “Yippie culture” (I say with a smirk and nod to my nerd-iness) dictates a fun combination of nature and high-brow entertaining.  Thus, our annual Summer Solstice Wine Pairing dinner.  This now fully ingrained ritual in our household means preparing a 7-course dinner, designed around local foods currently in season and available from Idaho’s Bounty (as much as possible), with carefully thought out wine pairings, for 16-20 of our best friends.  Guests help by bringing wines chosen with sometimes vague and sometimes specific requests for the courses.  Some lucky ones get to partake of the excitement in the kitchen by helping chop, flip, slice, and more!

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Caramelized Fennel and Avocado Quinoa Salad

This was a Mother’s Day concoction… Light, fresh and tasty with a satisfying contrast of sweet, tangy, and rich flavors. Just for giggles, I used a mix of regular and red quinoa for a little extra color. Continue reading

Leek Zucchini Fritters (gluten-free)

Ramps (wild leeks), a fun early season local treat

I have to say, these babies are so tasty I’d like to make them every week. In fact, maybe I will. When cooked traditionally, they are fried and delicious (thus “fritters”). But if you’re not feelin’ the oil, you can also cook them like little pancakes on a dry griddle and they’re still completely satisfying. I’d argue that some oil (when properly chosen) is good for us sometimes, but if you’ve been overdoing it recently, perhaps the lighter version is for you.

The inspiration for this recipe started with a friend mentioning leek fritters a few months ago and it getting stuck in the back of my brain, only to pop out when I saw ramps (wild leeks that come out early in the season) being offered on Idaho’s Bounty, our local/sustainable food co-op. After perusing a recipe in Ottolenghi’s beautiful book, Plenty (if you don’t have it, it’s terrific for inspiration!), and Googling about, here’s what I came up for a gluten-free version, with a little extra vegetable-y goodness from our old friend, the zucchini.

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Buckwheat and Veggies (a la Fried Rice)

...or here it is as Veggie Fried Quinoa... Yum!

We’re enjoying this fun choppy mish-mosh of veggies and grains regularly. While on the Body Ecology Diet, we’ve been experimenting with the few grains allowed. This is a relatively quick and easy recipe that we do all kinds of variations on almost every week.

2 stalks of broccoli
1 red bell pepper
1 zucchini
2 carrots
1 bunch kale
1/2 large red onion
3 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups cooked buckwheat
couple tablespoons each olive oil and toasted sesame oil
couple splashes each raw apple cider vinegar, coconut aminos, and fish sauce

Dice all the veggies, mince the garlic and ginger. Heat a wok on medium to medium-high with the olive oil & sesame oil. Sauté onion, garlic and ginger for a few minutes until onion begins to soften. Add broccoli and carrot and sauté for a few minutes, then add the pepper, zucchini and kale. Splash in vinegar, aminos and fish sauce to taste and cook until veggies are almost tender.

Move veggies up the sides of the wok to create a well at the bottom. Pour the eggs in the well and simmer for a bit and scramble until about three-quarters cooked (don’t worry if a few of the veggies get mixed in). Push the rest of the veggies down, add the buckwheat and mix everything together and cook for just a few minutes longer.

Serve with a wedge of lime and enjoy!

Substitutions & adaptations:

-As always, go crazy with your veggies and use what’s in season or in your fridge.

-Quinoa works very well in this recipe as well. I’m sure there are other grains that would be fun as well.