Summer is breezing by. Before we know it the leaves will start to change and we will all be sipping hot cider and eating apple crisp. But for now, we are in the thick of it – the hot, humid, thankless summer. Even though the hot days never seem like they will end, they will. So while the weather is hot let’s make the best of it. How do we do it? Tapas.
The idea behind this dinner started with one dish in particular – seared padron peppers. The last time I tasted these deliciously sweet and sometimes spicy spanish peppers was several years ago in a restaurant in Santa Fe. It was during my friend and co-chef’s bachelorette party or, as it was appropriately coined, “spicy ladies night”. At one point this summer I started thinking about them again and, as it generally goes, I couldn’t get them out of my mind. After much research I found one purveyor of these fine peppers – La Tienda. My friend and I each ordered a pound and started to plan a tapas dinner menu.
In the end, there was too much sangria (a very simple and delicious sangria might I add) and as a result I did not adequately photograph everything we made. We prepared 7 courses – sadly, not every one was documented. That was the only dinner party foul – not bad I suppose.
Course 1 – Cheese/Bread and fried chick peas
Course 2 – Pimento olives wrapped in boquerones (white anchovy)
Course 3 – Mushroom croquettes with parsley puree (delicious although not pictured, I found the recipe here)
Course 4 – Grilled eggplant with saffron honey and manchego cheese
Course 5 – The peppers
Course 6 – Grilled octopus
Course 7 – Grilled peaches with homemade creme fraiche and balsamic glaze
Dinner tonight was one part new recipe (mint & feta potato salad), one part summer staple, and a frozen veggie burger.
Mint & feta potato salad
12 new potatoes
1/4 cup of feta cheese
a handful of mint (roughly chopped)
some good olive oil
preheat oven to 450
coat potatoes with 2 tsp of olive oil
roast potatoes for about 45 minutes or until browned
let potatoes cool for several minutes
toss with feta + mint
add salt & pepper to taste and dress lightly with olive oil
(thank you to Mandy & Susie for the delicious recipe)
There are many reasons why I craved the dinner we had tonight. One of these was the picnic I attended yesterday, where there were two different types of corn salad served – a raw salad, with sprouted quinoa, and a mexican corn salad with tomatoes, cilantro, and mexican cheese. Our dinner tonight could have also resulted from a conversation I had yesterday with the raw corn salad’s creator who, because of chronic headaches since a young age, has chosen a raw diet. Dinner tonight could also have been influenced by a chat I had with my co-workers today about a quest for the best tacos in Philadelphia. Clearly the weather, hot and humid, also played a role as I never feel like eating heavy on a hot day. It was all of this in addition to me wanting to eat a protein-rich, meatless, colorful dinner on this hot summer night. How can you not crave food when it looks like this?
As I entered Sue’s Produce on 18th Street, I decided that my meal tonight would yet again consist of corn on the cob. I walked around with $7. 75 in my pocket (Sue’s is cash only) and I picked out some corn, tomatoes, limes, cilantro… as I did this the meal started to build itself. I checked out, $6.00 total. It was then I decided with my extra $1.75 I would buy a small red cabbage with which to make a corn salad of sorts; however, this salad would contain some extra ingredients I had around the house: a can of black beans, red onion, and a very ripe avocado.
I peeled the red cabbage very carefully and made taco shells with the leaves. The meal really was influenced by several instances over the past few days, all of which contributed to my very healthy, light, flavorful dinner.
For my leftovers tomorrow, I chopped the remaining cabbage and tossed it with the salad along with the leftover avocado. It may even be better tomorrow because of all the ingredients spending the night in the lime marinade. I hope you too are enjoying the summer produce.