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I’m Andrea. I like to cook and bake and take photographs and write about life. Welcome to Bella Eats, where I share these passions of mine with you. I’m glad you’re here.

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Monday
Jun222009

my kind of [summer] meal

Summer is upon us, and I have a confession to make.  I don't cook much from June thru September.  I blame the longer days and the evening activities that come with them.  Cocktails after work with friends on the downtown mall, a few hours weeding and picking and training in the garden, fetch with the dogs and wine on the deck.  By the time I start to think about dinner the sun has fallen in the sky and its past 8pm.

goat cheese merge 1

The fresh produce this time of year holds some of the blame as well.  When you're picking sugar snaps straight from the vine outside your kitchen door and have an abundance of fresh lettuce at your feet its hard to imagine doing anything but going straight inside, dumping it all into a bowl and drizzling it with a simple vinaigrette.  Or, when you've just pulled perfect little beets from the ground and realize that you still have some carrots from the farmer's market in your fridge, images of simply roasted root vegetables sprinkled with salt + pepper laid across a bed of lettuce start dancing in your head and eventually wind up on your plate (pictured above).  It can't be helped, really.  And how about brown rice pasta with quickly-sauteed squash from the market?  The quick and simple possibilities are endless.

goat cheese merge 2

And then there is my attempt to follow Mark Bittman's Vegan Before 6 diet, although I hate to call it that. The d-word has such negative connotations and forces thoughts of deprivation into my head, when this new way of eating doesn't make me feel deprived in the least.  I've simply been reducing my intake of processed foods and animal products by following a Vegan diet from the time I wake up until dinner time, when anything goes.  If you've read about me, you'll know that Brian and I are very conscious of what we eat and where it comes from, and strive to eat as sustainably as possible.  I've found that switching to a Vegan diet for two out of three meals a day (and many days for all three!) has been a very easy transition because of the way we've thought about food for some time now.  And its especially easy in the summer when my appetite leans towards light salads rather than stick-to-your ribs casseroles.

med 2

So, that was a lot of excuses to say that, basically, I like to eat simply in the summertime.  I love salads that I can make on Sunday and eat for lunch the rest of the week, and simple breads that become the star of the meal with very little effort put forth.  The plate above was assembled on an evening when we had a few of those salads in the fridge, fresh lettuce from the garden on the counter and 30 minutes to spend making flatbread.  The roasted red pepper, chickpea and quinoa salad is simple, delicious and filling...just my kind of meal.  And trust me, even on a low-effort dinner night the extra 30 minutes is worth it, because this flatbread is incredible.

med 3

I haven't shared the curried tomato salad because I screwed it up the first time we made it and wasn't completely happy with the results.  The concept is a good one though and I assure you that as soon as local tomatoes grace the booths at the market I'll be trying it again.

The lentil + brown rice salad can be found here.

Whole Grain Flatbread

slightly modified from Mark Bittman

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (I also tried this with 1/2 cornmeal and 1/2 white whole wheat and didn't like it nearly as much)

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1-1/2 cups water

  • 4 tbsp olive oil

  • 1/2 large onion, thinly sliced

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced


Method:

  1. Sift the flour and salt together in a bowl.  Slowly add the water and whisk to eliminate lumps, the batter will resemble thing pancake batter.  Cover with a towel and let sit while your oven preheats, or up to 12 hours.

  2. When ready to bake, heat your oven to 450 degrees.  Put the oil in a 12" skillet (if you use a smaller skillet use less oil and give the bread more time to cook), along with the onion and garlic.  Put the skillet in the heated oven and let the oil get hot, but not smoking.  It should just take a few minutes - you'll know when the oil starts to get fragrant.

  3. Carefully remove the skillet from the oven, give the onions and garlic a stir and then pour the batter and return the pan to the oven.

  4. Bake 30-40 minutes (I took mine out at 30 and will probably give it just a few more minutes next time) until the flatbread is well browned, firm and crisp around the edges.  Let it rest for about 5 minutes and then slide it from the pan onto a cutting board to cut into wedges.


Roasted Red Pepper, Chickpea and Quinoa Salad

modified from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

  • 6 oz drained jarred roasted red peppers, diced (about 1 cup) - I didn't have any so just roasted a fresh red bell pepper

  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

  • 3 tbsp lemon juice

  • 1 tsp honey

  • 1 tsp ground cumin

  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

  • salt

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


Method:

  1. First, if you don't have jarred roasted red peppers, roast your own.  I sliced 1 bell pepper thinly, placed it in a small baking dish, drizzled it with olive oil, sprinkled it with salt and pepper and roasted it for about 30 minutes.

  2. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil.  Add quinoa and bring back to a boil.  Lower heat to a simmer, cover pan and let cook for about 15 minutes, until quinoa is tender but not mushy.  Remove from heat, drain any excess liquid and place quinoa in a medium-sized heat-tolerant bowl.

  3. Whisk together the lemon juice, honey, cumin, cayenne and 1/2 tsp salt together in a small bowl.  Whisk in the oil until the dressing is smooth.

  4. Add the chickpeas, roasted red peppers and parsley to the bowl with the quinoa and stir to combine.  Drizzle the dressing over the mixture and toss to combine.

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Reader Comments (25)

I have a very good friend that has been vegan for years and I can respect it but I don't think I could totally do it. I enjoy milk (organic of course) in my coffee and cheese on my pasta, and eggs (from the market w/ vibrant orange yolks) but I find myself eating less and less meat and I like it. Vegan before dinnertime is a great idea, if to just try out new recipes and think outside the box.

Can I say again how jealous I am of your garden? I get so much pleasure out of my two containers of herbs on my balcony, I just can't IMAGINE actual vegetables! Its what I get for settling in a city in a 40 story high-rise :P

Can't wait to see how your pickling turned out!

06.22.2009 | Unregistered Commenterwhitneyinchicago

That quinoa salad sounds amazing, I love roasted red peppers. Must give it a try soon!

06.23.2009 | Unregistered CommenterDanielle C.

Oh my gosh, Andrea, what a gorgeous meal. Not to slam our blogging sisters, but this is what a food blog should be: beautiful and inspirational!

Thank you for sharing!!!

06.23.2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Whitney: I agree, I couldn't ever give up dairy completely, but two meals a day has been a fairly easy compromise. And, I should have mentioned that I cheat on weekends...I just have to have french toast, pancakes, cinnamon rolls etc. one day a week! :)

Danielle C: It is really amazing...I hope you try it! The roasted red peppers really make it.

Sarah: Aw, you always make me blush!!! :)

My gosh, those meals look delish! I'm struggling to learn the new veggies here in Doha ;) Hopefully I'll be able to get back to cooking soon.

06.23.2009 | Unregistered CommenterCallinae

The quinoa dish is my favorite. I'm going to make it soon! Yum!

06.23.2009 | Unregistered CommenterShelby

beautiful salads! I love light and easy meals like this in the summer.

the flatbread sounds great, too.

06.23.2009 | Unregistered Commenterbrandi

Everything looks gorgeous!!

06.23.2009 | Unregistered CommenterTanya

Mmmm, that flatbread looks delicious. Any idea how well it would work as a flatbread pizza crust?

You should share the roasted vegetables and beets recipe-- that picture looks delicious!

06.23.2009 | Unregistered CommenterSquill

Have you been visiting the farmers market regularly this season? How is it??

06.23.2009 | Unregistered CommenterJess

i'm going to make your flatbread tonight and your lentil salad later this week. i can't wait! they both look/sound delish!

06.23.2009 | Unregistered Commenterjennifer

Yummy! flatbread Delicious ! Grand Idea for summer meal!

Thanks for sharing your recipe~

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06.23.2009 | Unregistered Commenterfoodcreate

The vegan before 6 idea is a really neat one... I find my summer eating habits more closely resembling a vegan-type diet anyway, because of the great produce available, but I like indulging in a hamburger every now and again as well. Thanks for the great post!

06.23.2009 | Unregistered CommenterIndigo

Squill: Mark actually recommends using it as a flatbread pizza crust, and I think it would be great! In fact, maybe I'll try that tonight... :)

Jess: You haven't been to the farmer's market yet this season?!?!? Go!!! :) Its really great, things are really ramping up right now. My favorite booth is Double H Farms - great pork products, eggs and veggies.

I wish I had room to have a garden of my own. I live in a little apartment and have no room whatsoever.

06.24.2009 | Unregistered CommenterKaolee

bella andrea! i attempted to make the flat bread last night (3 times) and was an utter failure. I didn't have the exact type of pan needed and felt as though I could not get the oil ratio right. If i didn' thave enough oil, the flatbread stuck to the pan, otherwise, it was too much oil which made the ends cook up greasy. Any tips? Also, how crispy is it supposed to be? It seems like it wouldn't be super crispy with the wheat flour. Thanks!

06.24.2009 | Unregistered Commenterjennifer

If I had garden fresh produce at my disposal like you do, I think I would do likewise! Why slave around a hot oven/stove when so much in the summer is ready as-is? Plus eating things that look that beautiful make you feel good inside too. :)

That flatbread looks amazing - I am going to try that next!

06.24.2009 | Unregistered Commenterbiz319

Jennifer...I'm so sorry! Okay, first things first, did you read Mark Bittman's recipe? Because I just realized that I stupidly left the water out of the recipe. Hopefully you clicked over to his and got the right recipe. Secondly, I use a 12" nonstick skillet, and haven't ever tried it in a smaller pan. The edges get crispy, but the center stays nice and soft, almost like Indian nan. Also, it should just slide right out of the pan if you're using nonstick. Hmmm...I don't know if that was helpful at all! I'll try making it with a smaller pan this weekend, but nonstick is definitely key to making it work. Good luck, keep trying, and keep me updated!

thanks andrea! i did actually check out mark's recipe as a back up...i seem to always read off of 2 recipes at once. ok, so after your description, i think i might have got it right that last time. i just wasn't sure how soft it should be. thx!

06.25.2009 | Unregistered Commenterjennifer

Don't miss the July issue of Southern Living with the story about organic farming in the Charlottesville area. I always wish that we lived there, but now more than ever. You may already know about all of these spots but I thought it was interesting.

06.25.2009 | Unregistered CommenterSandy

Hey Andrea! I'm sorry I've not posted in so long =/ I missed so many yummy recipes! The recent lemon cake and quinoa salad sound really good, and the salad looks pretty easy to make, too. Can't wait to try it!

06.26.2009 | Unregistered CommenterGina

[...] dinner – 1 tasty beer, small piece of Gruyere, some marinated olives and half a tomato, and a bit of quinoa-chick pea-roasted red pepper salad. [...]

Hi there! Have you ever tried making the flatbread with chickpea flour? It's absolutely delicious. The ratios are a bit different (just google "socca" to find them...David Lebovitz has a great one), but it is truly amazing.

01.21.2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Hi Amanda! I haven't tried chickpea flour, but I certainly will now! Its on my list for the next grocery store trip... :)

01.21.2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

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