Garlic Scape Soup

Garlic scapes are one of the most unusual, yet beautiful, items you’ll find at the farmers’ market. Fleeting, too, as they’re only around for a few short weeks in early summer. They can be used in a variety of ways—in stir-fries, pesto, scrambled eggs, and even replace a utensil in this Grilled Mushroom Satay with Garlic Scape Skewers I made a couple years ago.

With a lovely bunch of scapes on hand, today I decided on soup. A pretty puréed soup full of healthy ingredients and mild garlic flavor. Potatoes give it body and some fresh spinach helps keep the vibrant green color, although the addition of the milk dilutes it a bit. Garnished with fresh thyme from my herb garden and a sprinkling of pistachios to maintain the green color scheme, we had a light, but delicious lunch.

Originally thinking this would need to go through a fine mesh sieve after puréeing, it didn’t. I discarded the thicker last few inches of each scape and this resulted in no fibrous pieces remaining after pureeing. Was it smooth as silk? No, but darn close. Enjoy!

Garlic Scape Soup

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


Garlic scapes, cut into 2 inch pieces, to measure 2 cups (cut off the end from the flower bulb on up and if the other ends seem fibrous, cut off a few inches there as well)

½ a large yellow onion, chopped

1 medium to large russet potato, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish

A couple handfuls of fresh spinach leaves

4 cups good quality vegetable broth/stock (homemade is ideal)

1 cup milk of choice (whole, low-fat, cream, almond, evaporated, etc.)

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or fresh-squeezed lemon juice

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Chopped pistachios for garnish

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a stockpot or Dutch oven. When oil is hot, add scapes and onion, sprinkling with a little salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until scapes and onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in potato, thyme leaves, and spinach; add another small sprinkle of salt. Cook for an additional minute or two. Add stock/broth, increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Cover pan, with lid slightly askew, and reduce heat to low. Cook for about 15 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Remove from heat.

Using an immersion blender, purée soup until very smooth (alternately, purée in a blender in small batches, venting the lid to let steam escape, and return to pot). Place pot over medium heat and stir in milk, cooking until heated through, but not boiling. Add sherry vinegar or lemon juice and stir. Season with freshly ground black pepper and additional salt, if necessary.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with reserved thyme and pistachios. Makes 4-6 servings.


Penne in Herbed Yogurt Sauce

Penne in Herbed Yogurt Sauce
With us having prime growing weather lately, my patio herbs are going nuts and needed a good trim, so dinner featuring fresh herbs was a no-brainer. Tangy Greek yogurt and whole wheat pasta seemed like good vehicles for an herby dish and what’s not made better by buttery garlic and onions?

This meal comes together quickly so is perfect for a week night. Add a glass of chilled rosé and any stress from your work day will melt away while you recharge with a fresh and light supper, ideally al fresco. Enjoy!
Basil and Mint

Lemon Thyme

Fresh Herbs

Penne in Herbed Yogurt Sauce

Inspired by this recipe

10 oz. penne pasta, preferably whole wheat (I love Trader Joe’s organic)

2 tablespoons butter or non-hydrogenated margarine, divided

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, cut in small dice

¼ teaspoon salt (plus more salt for the pasta water)

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

¾ cup Greek yogurt at room temperature (I used 2%)

½ cup chopped fresh herbs, such as mint, basil and lemon thyme (parsley and regular thyme would work too)

Freshly ground black pepper

Heat a large pot of generously salted water to boiling. Cook pasta in boiling water according to package directions. Drain and return to pot.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon butter or margarine and the olive oil in a cast iron or other heavy skillet over medium heat. When hot, add onion and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions begin to brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 3-4 additional minutes. Remove from heat and add remaining tablespoon of butter or margarine and stir into onion-garlic mixture until it melts.

Toss drained pasta with yogurt. Add onion-garlic mixture and pepper to taste. Mix well. Stir in fresh herbs. Transfer to a serving platter. Makes about 4 servings.


Toasted Quinoa, Sweet Corn & Tomato Salad with Harissa Lime Vinaigrette

Salad on platter
I’m certainly no farmer, but based on the outstanding quality of the farmers market finds this year, and from the amazing bounty our garden has produced, it must be a great growing year. There hasn’t been a so-so ear of sweet corn or a flavorless cantaloupe. Every onion, eggplant, cabbage, berry or broccoli head from our local growers has been fantastic and I don’t remember that happening before. Usually the corn seems to vary in sweetness and flavor from week to week and I’ve certainly experienced totally disappointing melons from time to time, but this year it’s all been great!

This morning's garden harvest

This morning’s garden harvest

With our beginner to novice status as gardeners, I’ve got to think it’s more the conditions and not anything we’ve done that has yielded the most beautiful tomatoes I’ve ever grown and the best tasting cucumbers I can remember. Whatever the reason for all these fabulous veggies and fruits, I’m just basking in the happiness it brings to my kitchen.

With September almost here in Minnesota, I know this local fresh food joy will soon start winding down, but I will eke every delicious moment out of the season.

One recipe I’ve been playing with is a corn and tomato salad. I’ve made a version with small balls of mozzarella, then swapped in black beans as the protein, varied the additional veggies, and tonight, a quinoa version, which ended up being our favorite. All were dressed with a spicy harissa-lime vinaigrette, my new favorite!

I toast the quinoa before cooking to bring out a more nuanced flavor. It only takes a few additional minutes and I think the extra time is definitely worth it. You can substitute some of the veggies with what you have on hand or to your preference, but corn and tomatoes are musts this time of year. One version I made included our yummy crisp cucumbers, and it was wonderful when eaten immediately, but the cukes released a lot of water and the leftovers were a bit soggy, so I’ve opted to leave them out here. Enjoy the flavors of summer!

Toasted Quinoa Salad

Toasted Quinoa Salad

Toasted Quinoa, Sweet Corn and Tomato Salad with Harissa Vinaigrette

Harissa is a spicy Moroccan red pepper sauce. Substitute sriracha or Asian chili paste if you can’t find harissa.

1 cup uncooked quinoa (white or red—either works)

1 ½ cup water

4 scallions, thinly sliced

2 cups cooled cooked sweet corn, about the amount scraped from two ears (if using frozen, thaw first)

1 Anaheim pepper (or small sweet green bell pepper), seeded and thinly sliced into rounds

A couple handfuls cherry tomatoes, preferably more than one color, halved or quartered, depending on size

1/8 cup sliced or torn fresh basil Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Harissa Lime Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Place quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse with cool water. Drain. Transfer to a 2 qt. saucepan and toast quinoa over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until it starts popping and is fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Add the water and bring it to a boil. Turn heat to low, cover pan and cook until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and transfer to a large bowl. Let cool for a few minutes and stir in scallions.

Once quinoa/scallion mixture is cooled to room temperature, stir in corn, Anaheim pepper, tomatoes, and most of the basil (reserve a little for garnish). Toss with about half of the vinaigrette, taste, and season with salt and pepper. Add more vinaigrette, if needed, and toss again. Transfer to a platter and serve at room temperature or chilled. Makes about 6 servings.

Harissa Lime Vinaigrette:
2-3 tablespoons honey (or agave for a vegan version)

2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar or white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon harissa

A pinch of salt

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Mix together first six ingredients in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil until it’s fully incorporated. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt, lime or honey, if needed.

Blueberry Peach Galette

Galette and gelato!
Living somewhere without the four distinct seasons would not be a happy place for me. I love them equally and enjoy the unique experiences, memories, sights, smells, and most of all, foods, that make each distinct.

The freshness that summer brings to our food here in Minnesota makes me practically giddy! This time of year, almost everything in my kitchen comes from the farmers market, picked just the day before. And each week the selection changes a little, with a few things rotating out as the new comes in. Not just vegetables; delightful breads, eggs, maple syrup and honey, too. And fruit! Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, rhubarb (yes, I know, technically not a fruit), and closer to fall, apples and pears.

Fruit makes its way into my cooking, in both sweet and savory dishes, much more often in the summer and fall. In recent years, much to my surprise, I’ve even started to prefer fruit-based desserts over ooey-gooey decadent chocolate ones (scandalizing my chocoholic mother!).

This dessert, utilizing seasonal fruit, is extremely versatile, and about as quick and easy as can be. Include just one fruit, or a combination of several; drizzle with a cinnamon-spiked glaze; serve with whipped cream (whipped coconut cream is my dairy-free fav!); or top with a scoop of good quality ice-cream or gelato. A very pretty dessert, this will elicit oohs and aahs from your dinner guests when they see it and once again when they eat it. I love telling people how simple this is to make! Enjoy!

Inspired by this recipe from Relishing It, one of my favorite food blogs, written by a fellow Minnesotan.

Blueberry Peach Galette

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed

2 ½ cups fruit of choice, leave raspberries and blueberries whole, cut strawberries and rhubarb into bite-sized pieces, and slice apples, pears, or peaches

1/4 – 1/3 cup sugar (less if your fruit is super sweet, more if it’s on the tart side)

1 tablespoon arrowroot powder or cornstarch

¼ teaspoon cinnamon if you’re using a cinnamon-friendly fruit

A pinch of salt

1 egg, mixed with 1 teaspoon water (for egg wash)

A tablespoon of turbinado or demerara sugar, for sprinkling (add a little cinnamon too, if you’d like)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place puff pastry on a flour-dusted piece of parchment paper that will fit onto a large baking sheet. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll pastry into a 12”x14” rectangle.

In a medium bowl, mix fruit, sugar, arrowroot/cornstarch, cinnamon (if using), and salt. Pour fruit mixture into the center of pastry. Carefully fold edges of pastry over fruit mixture, leaving the center exposed and pressing edges together so fruit mixture doesn’t leak out as it bakes. Gently move the parchment paper onto a large baking sheet. Brush pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. Carefully move parchment and galette to a cooling rack and let cool completely. If you are going to glaze it, wait until it’s cool to do so. Cut into wedges and serve with topping of choice. Makes about 6 generous servings.