Grilled Melon Salsa



Late Summer Tian

Late Summer Tian

This Provencal recipe is a great way to use the bounty of the farmers market during the late summer months when farm stands seem to explode with squash, tomatoes, and eggplant. Perfect for a dinner party or to make on a Sunday afternoon and have for lunches and dinners during the week.

2 red bell peppers
Olive oil
1 large or 2 small Globe eggplant, peeled and thinly sliced into 1/4-inch disks
Sea or kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
2-4 Summer squash (you can use one type or a variety, sliced into 1/4-inch disks
1 large yellow onion, sliced thin
2-5 tomatoes, depending on size (beefsteak or early girl work best), cored and sliced into 1/4-inch disks
1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs: oregano, thyme, basil, marjoram
1 pinch dried lavender
1 pinch ground fennel seeds

1. Preheat oven to 425°. Toss red peppers with olive oil and add to a baking sheet. Roast until charred on side facing down, turn and repeat until all sides are charred. Remove from oven and place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 5 minutes to steam. Remove plastic wrap from bowl and peel the skin off the peppers (it’s ok if a few little charred bits stick). Remove tops of peppers, slice open and remove seeds, discard tops and seeds. Slice peppers into thin strips and set aside.

2. Turn oven down to 400°. Toss eggplant slices with olive oil, salt and pepper and add to baking sheet in a single layer (you may have to do this in batches). Roast for 10-15 minutes, until the eggplant has softened but hasn’t started to brown. Set aside. Repeat with the squash and then the onion.

3. Combine the herbs with the lavender and fennel seed. Using a 12-x9-inch casserole dish, make a layer with 1/3 of the eggplant slices, followed by 1/4 each of the tomato, squash, onion, peppers, cheese and herb mixture. Repeat until you’ve used all the vegetables and finish with a top layer of cheese. Bake, covered with foil, for 30 minutes, uncover and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Roast Pork with Apples, Onions and Fresh Herbs

Pork Tenderloin with Devoto Garden Apples, Onions and Fresh Herbs

Devoto Gardens in Sebastopol, CA is the kind of place you visit once and all of a sudden find it creeping into your mind from time to time, daydreams of farm life tucked away in Sonoma, just miles from the Pacific Coast. The combination of gorgeous apple orchards, fields of flowers and grapes, and the charming generosity of the Devoto family makes one think twice about city living. It is with great anticipation every year that the Devotos return to the market with their 50 heirloom apple varieties, some lasting the entire apple season and some only in the market for a week or two, some even skipping a year every now and then. In a world where Granny Smith and Red Delicious seem to rule the roost, I so appreciate every bite I take of an Arkansas Black, Gravenstein and of course my beloved Empire (a more true apple, I have yet to taste).

We love a nice hearty roast balanced out with tart fruit here at Square Meals- this is our version of the classic pork with apple combination, made even more special by using a mixture Devoto Gardens heirloom beauties, enjoy!

Serves 4

1 1/2-2 pounds pork tenderloin, cleaned of silver skin as necessary
1 tablespoon rosemary leaves, chopped and divided
1 tablespoon thyme leaves, chopped and divided
1 tablespoon whole- grain Dijon mustard
Lemon juice and zest, to taste
Kosher or sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
1/2 pound Cipolline onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sage leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish
2-4 apples, depending on size (we used a blend of sturdy Jonathans and tart, beautiful Pink Pearls)
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Olive oil, to taste
Butter, to taste

1. Pre-heat oven to 375°. Rub tenderloin with half of the chopped rosemary and thyme leaves, Dijon mustard, a bit of lemon zest, salt and pepper. Set aside. In a large bowl toss together onion, sage, remaining rosemary and thyme, apples, garlic, a bit of lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper. Add this mixture in a single layer to a baking sheet. Set aside.
2. Heat a skillet large enough to sear pork. Add a glug of oil to the skillet, once it’s hot and begins to shimmer add the pork, searing on all sides until golden. Remove pork from skillet and set on top of the apple mixture. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 145° when inserted into the thickest part of the pork. Remove pork and set aside to rest for at least 10 minutes.
3. Continue to bake the onions and apples until they are completely tender, another 10 minutes or so. Remove from oven and add to a bowl. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon and a small knob of butter and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, lemon and butter as needed.
4. Slice the pork into medallions. To serve family style, spoon the majority of the apple mixture onto a large platter. Place the pork medallions on top and spoon the remaining apple mixture on top. Garnish with torn sage leaves and serve.

Grilled Melon Salsa

Grilled Melon Salsa

Grilled Melon Salsa

This past weekend Chef Alison was asked to put on a cooking demo at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market for their Melon Madness celebration. One of the recipes she made was this grilled melon salsa. Charring the melon on the grill caramelizes their sugars adding a nice depth of flavor. She used a grill pan during the demo, but an open-flame grill would impart a layer of smokiness that would play off the sweet melon nicely.

3 thick slices ripe cantaloupe, you want half-moon shaped, seeds and rind removed**
3 thick slices ripe honeydew, you want half-moon shaped, seeds and rind removed **
3 thick slices ripe canary or other yellow fleshed melon, you want half-moon shaped, seeds and rind removed **
¼ cup olive oil, plus a drizzle
1 jalapeno
1 shallot
1 cup ripe red tomato, diced
2 limes
½ cup cilantro leaves
Small handful basil leaves
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
**save rest of melons for another use or double the recipe!

1 . Heat a grill to medium-high. Toss melon gently in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil. Using tongs place melon slices across grill grates. Don’t disturb them once you’ve laid them down. Give them 3-4 minutes to brown, you’ll see the edges start to caramelize. Flip and brown the other side. Remove from grill and set aside to cool.
2. Meanwhile, dice the jalapeno and shallot as finely as you can. Add to a bowl with the diced tomato
3.Dice melon n into pieces that are about the same size or slightly larger than the tomato. Toss in to the bowl.
4. Add the juice of 1-2 limes, the remaining olive oil, salt, pepper to taste.
5. Coarsely chop cilantro and basil and stir in. Taste, season with salt, pepper and citrus as needed. This is great served with chips or spooned over grilled chicken or fish! Try on crostini with fresh mozzarella or ricotta.

Shaved Summer Squash Salad with Juliet Tomato-Olive Dressing

Simply put, we LOVE this salad. It has that magic equation found in certain combinations of food where every ingredient compliments each other, so that the sum is greater than the parts (truly high praise when you are using such amazing “parts”!). Bring it to a Summer potluck and be the envy of all your friends who slaved over complicated dishes (what? this old thing?)!

1 pound Summer squash, your favorite variety or a combination (we use a mixture of Mariquita Farm’s yellow and green zucchini, cousa, and crookneck), washed and dried
Salt, to taste
1 cup plus a little more extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup dehydrated tomatoes, rehydrated in hot water (we like to use dried Juliet tomatoes from Everything Under the Sun farm. If you use sundried tomatoes packed in olive oil, try to get an unflavored, high-quality variety)
1 tablespoon roasted garlic (chop the top off a head of garlic, exposing the cloves. rub with olive oil, wrap in aluminum foil and roast in 375° oven for 45 or so minutes, until the cloves are soft and tender)
Lemon juice and zest
A few teaspoons Dijon mustard
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives
Handful of parsley and basil leaves

1. Use a mandolin or vegetable peeler to shave the squash. If using a mandolin, run the length of the squash down the face of the mandolin using a very thin setting. If using a vegetable peeler, run the peeler down the squash lengthwise, turning the squash as you go until you can’t shave any more. Toss the shaved squash with a nice pinch of salt and a glug of olive oil.

2. Make the dressing: if using a blender, pulse tomatoes, garlic, lemon juice and zest, Dijon, a pinch each of salt and pepper, olives and about a cup of olive oil until combined. If making the dressing by hand, chop the tomatoes, garlic and olives pretty fine and whisk together with the rest of the dressing ingredients.

3. Toss half the dressing with the squash, taste and add more dressing, salt and pepper as needed. Toss the dressed squash with the herbs and serve room temperature or cold.

Stuffed Vegetables

This recipe can be used year round with endless variations.  Once you feel comfortable with zucchini and bell peppers, try other types of squash, eggplant, or any other study vegetable that strikes your fancy.  In non-summer months use heartier squashes like butternut, delicata or even little sugar-pie pumpkins.  At Square Meals, we used this recipe when we hosted Sprouts Cooking Club in our kitchen!  Chef Alison led a group of 8-12 year olds in a veggie stuffing lesson and then let them go at it.  We can vouch that this is a great recipe to use to get the whole family involved in a cooking project (bonus: there are very few complaints about eating veggies when one has created their own version of this dish!).

Makes 1 serving, multiply as needed

1 large zucchini or bell pepper
Kosher or sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1/4 cup cooked grains, try one or a combination of: rice, couscous, quinoa, bulgur
1/2 cup total vegetables, try one or a combination of: barely cooked and chopped green beans, corn kernels, halved cherry tomatoes, caramelized onions, diced carrots, diced celery, cooked mushrooms or any other vegetable you like
A tablespoon of cheese, try one or a combination of:  grated Asiago, grated Parmesan, grated Gruyere mozzarella, ricotta, goat cheese
A tablespoon of torn or chopped fresh herbs, try one of a combination of the following: basil, tarragon, parsley, cilantro, chervil, chives, thyme

1.  Preheat an oven to 350°. Prepare the vegetable you plan to stuff.  Zucchini: slice in half length-wise and scoop out most of the flesh with a spoon, leaving a ¼-inch thick wall all around.  Coarsely chop the zucchini flesh and set aside (add it to the vegetable mixture in step 2).  Rub the hollowed out zucchini halves with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Bell Pepper: trim the stem, if needed, and cut it in half length-wise.  Remove the seeds and ribs.  Rub the hollowed out pepper with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place zucchini or pepper on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool enough to work with.

2.  In a bowl combine the grains, vegetables, cheese and herbs.  Season with salt and pepper. Pack the resulting mixture into your zucchini or pepper halves.  Top with a little extra cheese if you like.  Place  on a baking sheet and return to the oven.  Bake another 10-15 minutes.

Ropa Vieja

Ropa Vieja garnished with cilantro

This dish receives rave reviews when we put it on our menu. It’s Cuban by way of the Spanish Canary Islands, though many countries have variations on this type of inexpensive-meat-stewed-in-sauce recipe. Our version stays true to the Cuban version: flank steak slow-cooked in sofrito and tomato until it has become completely tender and shreds easily. This truly is a one pot meal, perfect to make on a Sunday afternoon. Make extra and use leftovers to make sandwiches or tacos throughout the week. Delicious served with rice and beans- muy sabroso!

3 pounds flank steak (we like to use grass-fed beef from a trusted butcher or rancher at a farmer’s market), sliced into 3 large pieces
Large pinch ground cumin
Large pinch ground coriander
Large pinch chili flakes
Salt and fresh-cracked black pepper, to taste
2-3 tablespoons oil
2 medium yellow onions, diced
3-6 cloves garlic (depending on your taste), minced
2 green bell peppers, ribs and seeds removed, diced
1 large or 2 small carrots, diced
1-2 jalapenos (depending on your taste), ribs and seeds removed, diced
2 cups chopped tomatoes (either canned or fresh tomatoes with skins removed)
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water
Juice from 3-4 limes
1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves removed

1. Rub beef all over with cumin, coriander, chili flake, salt and pepper. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high flame and add the oil. When it begins to shimmer add the beef and sear until it turns golden brown on both sides. Do not crowd the meat in the pot or it will not sear. Instead work in batches removing each piece of beef to a platter once it’s finished.

2. Add the onion, garlic, green bell pepper, carrot, and jalapeno to the pot and cook for a few minutes, scraping up all the bits of beef clinging to the bottom of the pot. Add the tomato and stock or water and bring to a simmer. Add the beef back to the pot along with any juices that have accumulated on the platter. Turn the heat down so you it’s at barely a simmer. Cover partially and braise for 3-4 hours. The meat is finished when it shreds apart easily with a fork.

3. Take the pot off heat and remove the beef. When it is cool enough to handle use two forks or your fingers to shred the beef into long rope-like pieces. Add the shredded beef back to the pot and stir to combine. Reheat slowly for 15 or so minutes to allow the shredded beef to soak up the sauce. Add lime juice, chopped cilantro and salt to taste. Serve with beans and rice or warm tortillas. Bonus: this tastes even better on day 2 or 3!

Farro Salad: Summer Squash and Blistered Sungold Tomatoes

This is another versatile and simple summer recipe. The ingredients are basic so small details really elevate this dish. Blistering the Sungold tomatoes in the oven and adding the resulting juices mingled with the olive oil is key. Also, using a high quality olive oil is important. You definitely want something extra-virgin. We like to use a locally produced California oil such as Bariani Olive Oil (which tends to have a peppery finish) or Sciabica’s Marsala Olive Oil (which is balanced and a bit more fruity than peppery). You can find both of these Saturdays at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market or a good grocery like Rainbow Grocery. Marinating the squash before roasting also helps to maximize flavor.

Serves 4
1 cup farro
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
1-2 lemons, zest and juice
Olive oil, to taste
1 pound Summer squash, your favorite variety or a combination
1 pint Sungold tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes)
Oregano, leaves picked from stems, to taste

1. Add farro to a pot with 4 cups of salted water. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer, cover partially and cook for 30 or so minutes, until tender. Drain and toss in a bowl with olive oil and juice from half a lemon. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile: Preheat an oven to 400°. Cube the squash and add to a bowl with a nice pinch of salt, zest from a whole lemon, juice from half a lemon and olive oil. Let this mixture sit for 20 minutes.

3. Add the Sungold tomatoes in a single layer to a baking sheet. Drizzle with a good glug or three of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Stir to coat the tomatoes and roast for 5-10 minutes, until they just start to pop and collapse. Add the tomatoes to the farro, making sure to scrape all accumulated juices off the baking sheet into the bowl. Add the squash to the same baking sheet and place in the oven. Roast for 10 minutes or so, until tender but not mushy. Remove and add to the bowl with the farro and tomatoes.

4. Toss everything together. Add picked oregano leaves, more lemon juice and zest and plenty of good olive oil. The farro really will really suck it up. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon, salt and olive oil as needed. Serve.

Chef’s notes: this salad is tasty with any combination of roasted vegetables. Try subbing the eggplant (it will need to roast longer, until completely tender with absolutely no bite) for the squash or add corn and green beans for a salad highlighting everything summer has to offer. Basil, parsley, chives is a welcome addition as is cheese. Try fresh cheese like ricotta or goat cheese or cubed smoked mozzarella or jack.

Mariquita Farm Tomato Sauce

Mariquita Farm in Watsonville, California has been selling their amazing fruits and vegetables to Bay Area restaurants for years. Our weekly deliveries of their farm fresh produce, still warm from the sun, are eagerly anticipated by our kitchen team. We get especially excited for tomato season and can’t get enough of this simple, versatile tomato sauce made with their gorgeous Roma tomatoes. Make sure to stock your freezer, there’s nothing better on chilly day when tomato season is long gone than pulling out this tomato sauce and turning it into a hot bowl of tomato soup (grilled cheese optional)! Become a member of Mariquita’s Ladybug Buying Club to receive your own box of these beauties!

10-15 Roma Tomatoes
Olive oil, to taste
Kosher or Sea Salt , to taste
4 cloves garlic, lightly smashed and peeled
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 small carrot, peeled and shredded
4 sprigs basil, stems tied together with a long piece of kitchen twine or in a cheesecloth, leaves torn into small pieces

1. Preheat oven to 375°. Halve the tomatoes and toss them in a large bowl with a good glug of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Place them skin-side up in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes. Take a peek at the tomatoes- when they are done the skins will begin to separate from the flesh. If this is not happening yet, let them go 5 or so minutes longer. Remove from the oven, when they are cool enough to handle remove the skins- they should slip off easily. Add the tomatoes and all of their accumulated juices to a bowl. Use your hands to crush the tomatoes.

2. Meanwhile, Heat a heavy-bottom pot over medium-low flame and add 3 good glugs of olive oil. Add the garlic and cook slowly until the garlic turns golden brown. Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon. Add the onion and carrot, turn the flame up to medium and cook until they soften. Add the hand-crushed tomatoes to the pot with the basil stems. Season with a little salt and simmer for thirty minutes or so to allow all the flavors to come together. Taste and re-season with salt as needed. Garnish with torn basil leaves. Use as a pasta sauce or as an accompaniment to meatballs.

Notes: Add chili flake to the pot with the garlic for an extra kick. Add vegetable stock and/or milk or cream to create a tasty fresh tomato soup. Multiply this recipe by 2 or 3 to make a large batch and use as a braising liquid for sausages, pork, beef, lamb or vegetables (eggplant, for example).

Corn, Summer Squash & Cherry Tomato Salad with arugula instead of basil

Corn, Summer Squash, & Cherry Tomatoes

Sweet corn, tart cherry tomatoes and delicious first-of-the-season summer squash come together to make this simple, colorful salad. Add picked basil leaves and a squeeze of lemon to elevate and brighten the flavors. This one is sure to please everyone at your table!

Feeds 4
Olive oil
1/4 yellow onion, finely diced
4 ears corn, kernels removed from cob using a sharp knife
3-5 pieces Summer squash (you can use green or gold zucchini, 8 ball, pattypan or a combination of them all), chopped into approximately 1.5-inch cubes
Salt and fresh-cracked pepper, to taste
1 pint ripe cherry tomatoes
Fresh picked basil leaves, to taste
1 lemon

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat a saute pan over medium-high flame and add a glug of olive oil. Saute the onion until just translucent. Add corn and cook for  2 minutes. Remove from heat and add to a large bowl.

2. Toss the cubed squash with another glug of olive oil and a small pinch of salt. Add to a baking sheet in a single layer and roast for 8 or so minutes until just tender (you want the squash to maintain a crunchy center). Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

3. Meanwhile, halve the tomatoes and toss with the corn. When the squash is cool, toss in with the corn mixture.

6. Unleash your inner chef: toss all veggies to combine, tear up some fresh basil leaves, add salt and pepper to taste and a drizzle of good quality olive oil as needed. Squeeze in half of a lemon, or more to taste. When you like the way it tastes, you’re done! Serve on a beautiful platter and garnish with more basil leaves. Enjoy!

Notes: Instead of or in addition to basil, try using arugula (pictured above) or watercress for an extra burst of green color and peppery flavor.

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