Ok friends, please don’t think I’m loony but I actually kind of miss summer. Yes, 120 is a lot to swallow sometimes BUT lots of pool time and lost of fresh summer fruits and veg always get my recipe wheels turning. Today’s Thursday so I’m going to pull out some of my old recipes to re-share in hopes to get your summer food senses flowing! Of course, these recipes are great for any other time of the year as well and can maybe help brighten up some cold and gloomy days for my east-coasters (sorry, I’m not sorry I left!).
Quick side note! I have noticed recently that I have been having a lot of bloating, cramping, and discomfort when I eat a lot of grains (you have no idea how upsetting that is for me!!). Unfortunately, Celiac disease runs on my dad’s side of the family, so this has me a little nervous of what is to come in the future. Both my aunt and grandmother were diagnosed with Celiac disease later in life and have since adapted to eating gluten free. Because of these reasons, you may notice me start to play around with a few gluten-free recipes just to test the waters! If anyone has any good recipes to try — please send them my way!
Now, on to those recipes! The first one I’m going to share is one of my absolute favorites because it includes a “sauce” made with one of my favorite foods — avocado! This recipe is for my Creamy Avocado Pasta Salad.
Creamy Avocado Pasta Salad
- 1 avocado, fairly soft
- 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
- 1/3-1/2 cup fresh cilantro
- 1/2 lime, juiced
- garlic powder (I didn’t measure the seasonings, sorry! add to your best judgement)
- 2 cups whole wheat pasta, I used penne
- 1 small container of cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 1/2 cups asparagus, chopped
- 1/3 cup feta cheese crumbles
- 1/2 avocado, diced
- 1/2 cup kalamata olive without pits
- black pepper
Add all dressing ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside while you prep your other ingredients. Cook your pasta until tender; at the last minute, throw in your chopped asparagus (make sure to chop off the woody, rough end, about 1-2 inches from the bottom). Allow your asparagus to cook for ~2 minutes in the boiling water, then drain both the pasta and asparagus. Set aside to cool.
Chop the rest of you ingredients, including the olives. I halved the olives, but feel free to chop as fine as you like or leave whole. Once pasta is no longer steaming, add the rest of your ingredients to a large bowl and pour in your dressing. Mix until all ingredients are fully coated. Finish with a little sprinkle of black pepper. Serve chilled or lukewarm. Pasta salad will stay good in the refrigerator for ~4-5 days; your avocado may just turn a little brown in color. Enjoy!
Seriously that pasta salad is one of my favs! The sauce is super creamy but light for summer days by the pool! Also, healthy fats — sign me up! Avocado is filled with monounsaturated fat which actually helps lower cholesterol levels and can help provide satiety (feeling of fullness) during a meal or snack. Avocados are also high in Vitamin E, C, and B vitamins, so girls/women reading this — it’s great for hair, skin, and nails!
The second recipe is for my Roasted Summer Vegetable Pizza. This is another one of my favorites because well, who doesn’t like pizza! I use a store-bought whole wheat pizza crust from whole foods and top with yummy summer veggies and a blend of spices and cheeses!
Roasted Summer Vegetable Pizza
- 1 prepared whole wheat pizza crust (can also try gluten-free, regular white, or cauliflower crust!)
- ~1-2 Tbsp canola oil
- 1 medium-sized zucchini, sliced into about 1/2 in circles, then cut in half
- 1/3 cup frozen or fresh corn (you may use yellow, white, or sweet)
- 1/4 medium red onion, sliced
- 3/4 cup whole-milk shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/3 cup fresh feta cheese
- Seasonings: garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, red pepper flakes
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
If you are using frozen corn, thaw first, if using fresh there is no need to prep. Toss your zucchini, corn, and sliced onion in about 1-2 Tbsp canola oil, black pepper, paprika, and garlic powder (use as much as you like, or you may switch up the seasonings). Roast your veggies in the oven for about 15 minutes or until they are slightly brown and caramelized. Once your veggies have cooked, top your pizza crust with the veggies and 2 different types of cheese. Top with a little extra garlic powder and a pinch of red pepper flake.
*FYI: Red pepper flakes pack a BIG kick in a very little amount, so unless you want your mouth on fire, I caution you from using to much!
Bake your pizza in the oven for ~15 minutes or until the bottom and edges of your crust are a golden brown and have nice, crispy feel. Allow your pizza 5-10 minutes to cool before slicing and digging in! Again, I topped mine with a little fresh hummus, but you can omit that if you’d like. Enjoy!
How about a burger? Burgers are a perfect summertime food, but I tend to be partial to vegetarian versions. This recipe is for my Spinach Feta Black Bean Burgers which I actually came up with a few years ago when I was in college! These were so easy and can be made in advance and frozen for later use!
Black beans are a great source of fiber and can be used as a protein for those who choose to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. They are creamy in texture and can provide a “meaty” flavor when used for vegetarian burgers!
Spinach Feta Black Bean Burger
- 1 can black beans, rinsed to get ride of any extra seasoning or liquid that they may be sitting in
- 2 egg whites
- 1/3 + 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
- 1 tsp dried basil
- black pepper
- garlic powder
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/2-3/4 (eyeball, about 1/2 a bag) cups frozen spinach, thawed in the microwave and pressed between paper towels to squeeze out water
In a large bowl, mash your black beans with a fork until they are fairly smooth. Add the rest of your ingredients and combine well (get your hands dirty — this works best!).
Divide your mixture into 4, forming individual patties. You can wrap and freeze the other 3 to use at another time if you are only cooking for yourself. Cook on medium heat either on a grill or stove-top in a pan with a little cooking spray. Each side should take about 3-4 minutes. Be sure to press down your burger a little when you flip it over! Each side should get a little golden brown. If you still have some of the mixture seeping out of the sides if you push down lightly, cook for a few minutes longer. When finished, top with whatever toppings you like, add your bun, and you are done! I used a little sprinkle of mozzarella cheese, a few extra leaves of spinach, a tsp of dijon mustard, and whole-wheat bread as my bun. Lettuce leaves works well too!
Hope you try one of these out, and of course let me know what you think!