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bacon chimichurri salad with grilled corn, zucchini and potatoes.

This summer salad is brought to you by:  Bacon!  Because really, is there any dish it can't improve?  I always keep a little glass jar of bacon fat in my fridge, but I love coming up with recipes that use it right when you acquire it after frying up some sweet, sweet strips.  

Last Summer I fell in love with chimichurri.  We were getting insane amounts of parsley through our CSA and it was all I could do to come up with enough uses for it.  Meat is the traditional vehicle for this tangy, herbacious, spicy, garlicky condiment, but why stop there?  It seems to beg for an earthy grilled counterpart like the veggies in this salad.  Substituting bacon fat for olive oil really takes chimichurri to new heights of awesomeness.  The dressing has a bright tartness from the red wine vinegar but the bacon adds a rich, smoky, sexy flavor that really makes it shine.

Bacon Chimichurri Salad 

with Grilled Corn, Zucchini and Potatoes

serves 2


1 russet potato

1 zucchini

1 cob fresh corn

olive oil

1/2 a head of Romaine lettuce, chopped & washed

Bacon Chimichurri:

4 slices of bacon

3 T reserved bacon fat

1 T olive oil

1 cup chopped parsley

3 T red wine vinegar

2 garlic cloves, minced

generous pinch of red pepper flakes

salt and pepper, to taste

First, prep your salad vegetables.  Slice the potato and zucchini into 1/4 inch-thick diagonal rounds.  Toss them in a little olive oil to coat.  Brush the corn cob with a little more olive oil.  Place veggies on the grill and cook until a nice char forms on each side.  Remove from grill and allow to cool, slightly.  Cut veggies into smaller, bite-sized pieces and set aside.

Next, make your bacon chimichurri.  In a large pan over medium-high heat, fry bacon until crispy.  Remove bacon and allow to drain on a paper towel.  Chop or crumble bacon into bite-sized pieces.  Pour hot bacon fat into a small bowl through a fine-mesh sieve to filter out any burned bits (if desired).  Allow to cool until fat is just warm to the touch.

Meanwhile, place all your remaining chimichurri ingredients into a blender.  Pour 3 T of the cooled bacon fat into the mixture and blend really well, until the dressing becomes smooth.  Combine Romaine with grilled veggies and bacon and drizzle with desired amount of chimichurri (I used about half and stored the rest for later use).  Toss well and serve immediately.



rhubarb curd

It's a rhubarb party and everybody's invited!  We got our first fruit share from Grant Farms CSA this season and it's, you guessed it, a whole buncha rhubarb (not fruit, I know, but the closest thing we can get this time of year!).  As soon as I brought my armful of pink and green stalks home, I started perusing the interwebs for recipes.  Not rhubarb and strawberry recipes, but rhubarb recipes.  Now, I'm definitely not hating on the combo, but I just really wanted to find something that allowed the flavor of rhubarb to shine, not just to be a tangy counterpart to a sweet strawberry.

Enter, rhubarb curd.  The recipe is from Food52 and after making it once I'm already in love with it!  This sweet and sour concoction is both delicious and beautiful with it's pale pink hue and silky, spreadable texture.  I paired mine with this Plum & Strawberry Sour Cream Cake for a supremely summery dessert.  The next morning I spread some of the curd on a toasted baguette for breakfast.  I'm pretty sure it would be ridiculous on a good buttermilk scone.  The possibilities are many!

In order to get the pudding-like texture of curd, the recipe calls for pushing your cooked mixture through a fine mesh sieve.  This process admittedly takes a lot of work.  Like, a lot.  But will yield a more elegant final result with a smooth consistency.  Give it a try!

Rhubarb Curd

fills a 16 oz jar to the brim

3/4 pounds rhubarb (6-8 stalks)

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup plus a scant 1/2 cup sugar

4 egg yolks

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 T lemon juice

6 T butter, diced

Wash rhubarb well and trim the ends.  Cut into 1-inch chunks.  In a small saucepan, heat rhubarb, 1/4 cup sugar and water on medium.  Cook, stirring often, until rhubarb falls apart and all the pieces have dissolved, lowering heat to low when the mixture becomes thicker.  Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture well until it's pulpy but smooth.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Add a couple inches of water to the pot of a double boiler and set over medium heat.  Add the egg yolks, butter, remaining sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice and cook over the double boiler, whisking constantly until butter is melted and sugar has dissolved, about 3 minutes.  Add the rhubarb puree by the spoonful, whisking constantly, and cook mixture until it thickens and is warm to the touch, about 5 minutes more.  Remove from heat.  Using a flat-ended wooden spoon, push the curd through a fine-mesh strainer to refine the texture.  Pour curd into a 16 oz jar and refrigerate until ready to use.



grilled wedge salad with honey jalapeño dressing

Grill all of the things!  Summer is a time for grilling, that much is obvious, but there is still a lot of room for creativity when it comes to what you choose to grill.  In this case, we're grilling a whole mess of vegetables to create one glorious, grilled wedge salad.  Radicchio and cabbage make a bittersweet pair and look ever so pretty on the plate.  I topped that off with fresh, grilled corn, jalapeños, red onions and shaved rainbow carrots to make this flavorful, crunchy and quintessentially summery salad.

When grilling your veggies, make sure to pay attention to the cooking times for each item since they come in lots of different shapes and sizes.  The radicchio will grill the fastest, being somewhat light and delicate, followed by the jalapeño.  The cabbage and corn are much thicker and sturdier, so they take more time, and red onions are somewhere in-between.  I may or may not have grilled an extra cob of corn just so I could do this to it:

What the heck is that weird looking sauce, you ask?  If you haven't tried this Chicago-made but Alabama-inspired barbeque sauce, Lillie's Q Ivory, you need to immediately drive to Marczyk Fine Foods and go get yourself some.  It is a mayonnaise based sauce with lots of tang from the addition of cider vinegar and lime juice.  It's seasoned with lots of fresh black pepper and some other magical, wonderful and undisclosed secret spices that came from Grandma Lillie's genius brain.  I salute you, Grandma.  Your BBQ sauce is ridiculous.

Grilled Wedge Salad 

with Honey Jalapeño Dressing

serves 2


1/2 a small head of cabbage

1 small head of radicchio

1 cob of corn

1 red onion, sliced into rounds

1/2 jalapeño, halved and seeded

peanut oil

2 small rainbow carrots, shaved

1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco

1 handful cilantro leaves


Juice of 2 limes

2 tsp honey

1/2 jalapeño, grilled and minced

2 T peanut oil

2 T olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

Heat your grill to medium-high.  Slice the cabbage and radicchio into quarters and brush lettuces, corn, onion and the whole jalapeño with a little peanut oil.  Place your veggies onto grill and cook until each side gets a good char.  Remove from grill when done and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Set vegetables aside and allow to cool slightly, then mince the jalapeño and set half of it aside for your dressing.

For the dressing, whisk lime juice and honey together in a small bowl until well combined.  Slowly drizzle the oils in as you whisk continuously, then season with salt and pepper to taste and whisk in the minced jalapeño.  

Assemble grilled wedges on your plates or serving dish.  Slice corn kernels off the cob, chop the grilled onions, and mix the corn, onion, shaved carrot and jalapeño together with a little bit of dressing.  Drizzle desired amount of remaining dressing over lettuce wedges, then top with remaining salad ingredients, garnishing with the queso fresco and cilantro leaves.  Serve immediately.



shredded mexican salad

Summer is here!  It's salad season!!  OK, maybe that doesn't sound super exciting, but is there any other time of year that's better suited to enjoying a big plate of fresh, crunchy, cooling vegetables?  I think not.

Every Summer, without fail, I make some version of this salad.  It happens to be a favorite amongst our friends, who we cook for often, and definitely a favorite of mine, too, although I think I make it a little differently every time!  The foundation always remains the same - a whole bunch of sliced cabbage with lots of other vegetables (other really great additions/substitutions for this salad are grilled corn, jicama, sliced green onions, grilled peppers, or queso fresco) and a creamy, cilantro flavored dressing.  This dressing is extra luscious thanks to the avocado and sour cream, but it has a lot of tang from the fresh lime juice.  For a lighter version, I've played around with different fats like peanut oil (use judiciously!), yogurt or coconut milk instead of sour cream, or eliminating the avocado altogether.

This crunchy slaw gains a lot of heft, substance, and meaty flavor from the addition of ground bison, although a vegetarian version is equally tasty (black beans make a great protein!).  If you aren't familiar with bison, this recipe is a really easy, user-friendly place to start for first-timers.  I'm a real bison lover, myself!  It has a rich, beefy taste but with more sweetness than beef and a subtle grassy flavor.  Not to mention, bison is lean and very low in cholesterol compared to beef, chicken, and even some fishes.

So, here's to enjoying the hot weather with a cool, crunchy salad!  

Shredded Mexican Salad

serves 6


1 lb ground bison

1 T vegetable oil

2 tsp Southwest seasoning (I used

Savory Spice Shop's

El Diente Peak Southwest seasoning, which is a blend of chile powder, paprika, coriander, cumin, pepper, crushed red pepper, and mexican oregano)

salt and pepper

6 cups shredded cabbage

1 large red onion

2 tsp vegetable oil

1/2 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes

1 carrot, shredded or cut into matchsticks

1/2 an avocado, diced

3 large radishes, sliced

about 1 cup cilantro leaves

a handful of cilantro micro greens (optional)


juice of 2 large limes

1/4 cup sour cream

1/2 an avocado

a handful of cilantro (stems and all), roughly chopped

1/2 tsp Southwest seasoning

salt and pepper, to taste

First, cook your bison.  Add 1 T vegetable oil to a large, shallow pan and heat to medium high.  Add ground bison, Southwest seasoning, and a generous amount of salt and pepper, to taste.  Cook until meat is just browned, about 8 minutes.  Set aside, allowing to cool.

Rinse and dry your cabbage and set aside.  Slice red onion into rounds and brush with 2 tsp vegetable oil.  Using an outdoor grill or a grill pan, heat your grill to medium-high.  Grill onions until each side gets a good char, about 4-5 minutes per side.  Allow onions to cool, slightly, then chop well and set aside.  Meanwhile, slice the cherry tomatoes in half (start at the tip where the stem was once attached if your knife isn't so sharp) and set aside with remaining vegetables.

Assemble your dressing in a blender or food processor.  Add dressing ingredients and blend until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.  Mix salad ingredients in a large bowl and add as much dressing as you like (I used about half for a lightly-dressed salad).  Serve immediately.



Zucchini and Pine Nut Olive Oil Cake

Most of us are familiar with zucchini bread, but when it comes to using zucchini in sweet stuff, many people stop there.  Here is something a bit more elegant than zucchini bread but it is so quick and easy to put together that you don't even need to bust out your fancy Kitchenaid standing mixer.  A bowl and a wooden spoon are all you need to make this moist and delicious summer cake that is just as good for a slightly decadent breakfast as it is for a light, Summery and flavorful dessert.

Zucchini and Pine Nut Olive Oil Cake
serves 6

1/2 cup mild olive oil
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
zest of 1 lemon (about 1 T)
1 medium zucchini, grated (1 cup packed)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cake flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup pine nuts

Heat the oven to 350 and grease an 8" skillet or cake pan with a little extra olive oil.  In a medium bowl, mix oil, sugar, egg, vanilla and lemon zest until smooth.  Add zucchini and mix well.  Sift dry ingredients and add to cake batter.  Mix well to combine.  Stir in the pine nuts and pour batter into skillet or pan.  Bake until cake is set, about 40-45  minutes.  Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before slicing.  Serve warm or at room temperature.