Lemon-Garlic Chicken and Tomato Skewers with Basil Chimichurri

Lemon-Garlic Tomato and Chicken Skewers with Basil Chimichurri
Lemon-Garlic Tomato and Chicken Skewers with Basil Chimichurri

Grilled chicken doesn’t always need a long marinade to be full of flavor. These spend just a few minutes in a lemony-garlicky mix before they’re grilled to charred perfection. The hot chicken absorbs the flavor of the fresh basil chimichurri, and the grilled cherry tomatoes bring sweetness and acid.

(This recipe appeared earlier on Serious Eats.)

We need only the slightest of excuses to cook outside in the peak of heat-wave summer. Turn the stove on? Ah, no, thank you. Making a quick-marinated chicken dish that we can throw on the grill is an ideal solution. And, if we can use the Mediterranean heroes of the summer vegetable garden—tomatoes and basil—so much the better. Not only do tomatoes and basil taste great together, they also have a symbiotic relationship in the garden; companion gardening with the two plants in proximity improves their resistance to pests.

Lemon-Garlic Chicken and Tomato Kebabs with Basil Chimichurri
Prepping basil and parsley for the chimichurri

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Yotam Ottolenghi’s Chermoula Roasted Eggplant

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Chermoula Eggplant

We roasted eggplant until it became soft and silky and topped it with Chermoula (a North African spice mix with garlic and preserved lemon). Sprinkled with tart feta cheese and fresh herbs. 

This dish is adapted from a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s brilliant cookbook, Jerusalem. Ottolenghi is an Israeli-born British chef who, among other things, writes one of my favorite recipe columns in the Guardian. He’s a master of incredibly flavorful vegetable dishes, and has a particular knack for eggplant.

Eggplant can be controversial: some love it, some hate it. If you’re on the hate side, it might be because you haven’t had it cooked well. Too much oil and it can be greasy, not enough and it turns rubbery. But grilled with a miso glaze, or roasted with Middle Eastern spices, it’s absolutely delicious.

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Basil Pesto with Walnuts and Pecorino

Basil Pesto with Walnuts and Pecorino

When life gives you basil, make basil pesto. It’s the perfect accompaniment to salads, pasta, as a bake-in sauce for chicken and many other dishes. Since we’re cheap, we substituted affordable walnuts for pricey pine nuts. 

We’re finally getting better at this whole “growing stuff” thing. Our first year here we struggled with just a few herbs on the deck. We grew some thyme, a bit of sage, a little rosemary. One scraggly little basil plant that got some sort of fungus and never recovered. Our second year was a little better. The rosemary was bushier, the chives flowered beautifully. Basil seemed happier.

This year, pow! Basil explosion. We’re growing them in large pots in a very sunny spot and they’ve gone absolutely bonkers. It’s like Day of the Triffids out there.

Basil

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Pesto Couscous Salad with Mozzarella and Tomatoes

Pesto Couscous Salad with Mozzarella and Tomatoes

If, like us, you have a mountain of basil in your garden, go make pesto! And then make this pesto couscous salad and feel damn proud of yourself.

With great gardening power comes great gardening responsibility. Namely, what the heckings do I do with the huge jungle of basil that is currently exploding in my front garden? Well fair reader, I’m glad you asked.

The first thing I did was make Basil Pesto with Walnuts and Pecorino. Holy moly, is it tasty. (I list a whole bunch of uses for it on that post but this magnificent salad deserved a post of its very own).

The idea came about because Matt and I had plans to go to a Sangria Festival at a local winery with some friends (and yes, this event is exactly as fun as it sounds.) We’ve gone the last few years and had an absolutely amazing time. It’s basically a huge picnic, with the most incredible views of the Hudson River, and endless access to refreshingly delicious but dangerously potent sangrias. It’s a week later and I’m still recuperating (#old).

Pesto Couscous Salad with Mozzarella and Tomatoes

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Radishes Drizzled with Sesame Oil and Maldon Salt

Radishes

Sometimes the best approach to fresh produce is to treat it lightly in the kitchen, and let its natural flavor shine. This is how we love to eat radishes: a little sea salt, a little sesame oil, and that’s it.

This is a very simple take on the classic combination of radishes and butter. In this case the butter has been replaced with toasted sesame oil which has a wonderful rich nuttiness that pairs beautifully with the crisp radishes. Maldon Salt is my favorite flaky sea salt but you could use fleur de sel or whatever kind you prefer. It’s so simple but it’s incredibly delicious.

These beautiful pink and purple radishes came from the Common Ground Farm.
These beautiful pink and purple radishes came from our local Common Ground Farm.

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Strata with Corn, Scallion and Cheddar

Corn, Scallion and Cheddar Strata

A strata, or bread pudding, is one of the best options when you want all the breakfast things in one pan. Our version is made with fresh corn, chopped scallions, and cheddar. Best part? You can have it any time of day, not just for breakfast!

We had only lived in Beacon for about six minutes before Matt decided he wanted to build a coop and raise chickens. Being a born and raised New York City girl (whose idea of the “country” was the slightly less organized part of Central Park), I thought he was nuts. Well, I know he’s nuts but I that’s pretty much why I married him. I still thought raising chickens would be … unwise for two people who had lived the rural life for all of a millisecond. [Matt says: Speak for yourself, city girl, you know where I grew up, every set of directions included the step, “Turn left at the first cow, and if you reach the second cow, you’ve gone too far”]

Now I can admit it. I was wrong. Not only have the chickens been awesome, they’re also the easiest of our animals to take care of and they contribute to the household by laying delicious, fresh eggs. In fact, they lay so many damn eggs that using them up is actually the most difficult part of keeping them. [Matt is holding a shovel and a large bag of chicken poo and shaking his head sadly for some reason.]

Nerd alert: I’ve come to realize that chickens are hilarious so let’s have a chicken caption contest. Write in the comments what you think each chicken is thinking.

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