Apple orange farro salad

Yes, the little bowl is the focus. But I just couldn’t resist sharing my giddiness at how much I love this time of year! Our fruit bowls overfloweth! (The boys eat a ridiculous amount of fruit, so much in fact that last week required 2 grocery carts.) 

Sidenote: The most Googled recipe in Minnesota is shortcake. (Duh). I admit I contribute to those statistics, it’s one of our fav ways to enjoy fresh fruit. I would buy stock in Redi-Whip if I wasn’t spending so much on groceries.

I created this recipe after having an orange barley salad at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, which is an absolutely lovely place for lunch and quiet reflection time. The sculpture garden set atop a hilltop overlooking apple trees is one of my favorite spots. (Be sure to check Groupon, you can often find discounted admission tickets). 

The combination of apples and oranges seemed apropos, and perfect for a future picnic date 😊

Apple Orange Farro Salad 

  • 8 oz farro
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • Juice and zest of one orange
  • 1/4c dried cranberries 
  • 1/4c chopped red onion
  • 1/4c sliced almonds
  • 1tsp dijon
  • 2 tbsp champagne vinegar 
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Fresh parsley and dill if you have it

Cook farro according to package directions. Zest and juice orange. Drain farro and place it while hot into orange mixture. Mix in vinegar, dijon and oil. Allow to cool before adding remaining ingredients. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Summer’s first bite

I’ve been watching you

Grasshopper green becomes radiant red

On guard for competing squirrels 

What will become of you?
Salad’s tiara

Pasta’s punch

Frittata’s luscious lick

The tiny little beauty in BLT…

so many ideas
I cannot bear to think of you sentenced to ketchup or diced and trapped in a lightless can. 

Sure, I’ll be singing a different tune come January 

But now your beauty is singular and will be savored. 

Oops, all gone.

I will remember you fondly My little jewel, first bite of summer 

Chicken banh mi sandwich 

First off, priorities: the beer. A local MN brew called Hunny Do. Light, fresh and a touch of honeydew melon. Intended to be consumed while checking things off the ‘honey do’ list, which in this case was manning the grill. Perfect summer beer!

As for the food, we’re taking advantage of the peak of summer with fresh herbs, vegetables and grilled meat, so while this has a lot of flavors and ingredients it actually comes together fast. I’m looking forward to trying the marinade with shrimp and tofu. 

I used this recipe for the side salad, quinoa with ginger-peanut dressing and tweaked a bit based on what I had on hand (frozen edamame and green onions being nice adds).

Chicken banh mi sandwich 

  • 3 large chicken breasts, sliced in half horizontally 
  • Baguette, cut in 4
  • 1/2 c light mayo
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp Sriracha 
  • 1/4c water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp Sriracha 
  • Splash of fish sauce
  • Sliced radishes
  • Sliced jalapeño 
  • Matchstick carrots
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Cilantro sprigs
  • Mint leaves

Make marinade: Heat water until sugar dissolves, add garlic, lime, fish sauce, Sriracha. Cover halved chicken in 3/4 of marinade, refrigerate 12-24 hours.

Make mayo: mix mayo, lemon, Sriracha. (This is “spicy” level, cut back if you don’t like heat).

Toss radishes, carrots and lettuce with remaining marinade. Grill chicken. 

Assemble sandwiches: mayo, radishes, carrots, jalapeños, herbs, lettuce. 

Mexican street corn salad

One of our favorite discoveries during travel was at a little hole-in-the-wall Caribbean restaurant in Key West. The Mexican street corn served on the cob, slathered with a custom mixture of latin flavors was unlike anything that we were used to in Midwest corn country (ie. butter and salt). The boys loved it.

I wanted to find an easier way for Av to enjoy corn (he gets his braces off in a month, yippee!) so I converted this to a salad. If you’ve never grilled corn in the husk, this is also a super easy way to cook it. Plus you can do ahead since this salad is best at room temperature.

We like serious spice in our food, so you’ll want to back off if you don’t like feeling the burn. 

Mexican street food salad

  • 6 ears corn on the cob
  • 3 tbsp light mayo
  • Juice of a lime
  • 2 serrano peppers, seeded and finely diced
  • 1/3c crumbled feta
  • 1/3c cilantro, chopped
  • Dash of chili powder
  • Salt to taste

Grill corn in the husk over direct medium heat on a gas grill for 20 minutes, turning periodically. Pull from heat and allow to cool. **For a smokier flavor pull back husks and throw corn back on the grill for 5-10 min to char just slightly. 

While corn cools, mix together mayo, peppers and lime juice. Cut corn off of cob and add to mayo mixture, add cilantro and feta. Dust with chili powder and salt.

Soba noodle bowls

Noodles always go over well after swim practice. These vitamin-packed soba bowls are also easy to make ahead and let people eat as they get home without worrying about a cold dinner. 

Lots of room to improvise with whatever you have in the fridge too! Peppers, pea pods, edamame, even protein–ahi tuna would be killer!! You could also go the other way and omit the egg. 😉
Soba noodle bowls

  • 8 oz soba noodles, cooked
  • 12 oz extra firm tofu
  • Soy and sesame oil
  • Cornstarch 
  • 1 small head napa cabbage, chopped 
  • 1/2 c matchstick carrots
  • 3 green onions, chopped 
  • Hard boiled egg, 1 per bowl
  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
  • Cilantro
  • Jalapeno, sliced
  • Cashews and peanuts, chopped 
  • Juice of 1/2lime
  • 1/4c low sodium soy sauce
  • Crushed red pepper 
  • Lime wedges 

Drain tofu. Slice brick into 1/2″ slices. Lay flat on plate, cover with paper towels and weight with saute pan. After 30 minutes the towels will be soaked. Dice tofu into cubes, toss with soy sauce and 1 tsp sesame oil. Marinate for 30 minutes. Coat in cornstarch. Heat several tablespoons of vegetable oil in a pan, sauté tofu until golden on each side, about 10 minutes total.

Mix soy, lime juice and pepper together and toss noodles in dressing. Assemble bowls.

Coffee rubbed flat iron steaks

The boat’s in the water, we had our first trip to the golf club (hysterical) and a lovely hike picking wild flowers– a good weekend up north!

I didn’t do my grocery shopping before we got up there, so I was disappointed to find that the local store was out of flank steak. I will hands down choose flat iron over flank now. They hold a rub well just like flank, but they plump up and have a better texture, IMO.

I have been dying to do a coffee rub ever since we got back from Seattle. It’s in everything these days, and I thought mixing it with something smoky–thus the paprika and cumin–and something with some heat–cayenne–would be a perfect mix. The salt and sweet brown sugar help it stick, giving the steaks a nice crust.

We served this over a salad dressed lightly with balsamic vinaigrette and grilled asparagus on the side. Super easy and super delicious!

Coffee rubbed flat iron steaks 

  • 2 tbsp ground coffee
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika 
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne 

Mix together. Rub over steaks and allow to sit at room temperature for one hour. Grill 4 min per side, remove to top rack to finish cooking to desired temperature. 

This made enough rub for 6 12 oz steaks.

Strawberry rhubarb salad

Rhubarb is ripe with opportunity to mess with people. It’s usually cloyingly sweet, as mounds of sugar mask its inherently bitter flavor. There’s an infamous dessert in our family of strawberry rhubarb crumble made with packs of strawberry Jell-O, and finished off with Cool Whip to “cut the sweetness”. Classic Minnesota dessert.

Side note: only in Minnie do we require adjectives for salads: Jell-O salad, macaroni salad, fruit salad, bean salad, lettuce salad. Not to be confused with the entirely separate category of “fluff” aka salads made with Cool Whip. These types of descriptions are necessary to avoid salad redundancy at potlucks. I digress.

I actually prefer rhubarb closer to bitter than sweet, and so when I saw a recipe similar to this I couldn’t resist tinkering. It’s not going to be a regular in the rotation but would be awesome for a dinner party with adventurous friends. Or to freak people out at potlucks.

Reviews from the boys:

“Mom, that kiwi isn’t ripe.”

“Who put celery in the strawberries?!”

Hey, at least they tried it. And I enjoyed watching them pucker 😉

Strawberry rhubarb salad

  • 2 cups quartered strawberries 
  • 1 stalk rhubarb, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp orange juice

Mix ingredients and allow to marinate 30 minute.