Here’s a nice summer trick for you. Go down to your local farmers market. Right about now, there will be at least one stall that is selling shelled peas. Buy several pounds worth, and take them back home. Snack on at least a good chunk of them. And then? Take the rest, put them in a freezer safe bag, and toss them in the freezer. Congratulations. You now have frozen peas, and if you stock this right, you shouldn’t need to buy any for… call it at least a good few years. (I’ve got three pounds in the freezer after this recipe, all from last year or the year before.)

And since I’m growing mint this year, this is a ridiculously cheap recipe. All of this was either in the freezer, in the garden, or in the pantry. And the lemon and mint do amazing things to the peas. Try this, you won’t regret it.

Minty Pea Salad
Lasts two meals as a side

Ingredients

  • 1 lb frozen peas (2 c)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • (original recipe recommends shallot, I skipped it)
  • juice of 1 lemon (about .25 c tops)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • dash sea salt and pepper (freshly cracked pepper if you can get it)
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh mint (I used peppermint from the garden)

Take your peas, rinse them with cool water to speed the thawing process, and let them rest in a dish to thaw. (This should take no more than a half hour. Drain off the extra moisture at the end. Pics 1 and 2 show the difference between beginning and end of thawing.)

While your peas thaw, whisk together your lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Zest a bit of the lemon into the dressing, but zest the rest into the peas towards the end of the thaw time. Take your mint, and tear it and put it into the peas. Toss together to combine. Then pour the vinaigrette over the minted zested peas and toss again to fully combine.

You can eat it right away or toss it in the fridge to let the flavors combine further; I chose the latter route. 

In terms of impulse decisions, this is one of my better ones. I had everything for this in my fridge except for potatoes when Deb first posted the recipe, and new potatoes showed up at the farmer’s market literally last weekend, so I decided to go for it. 

And man, this is amazing. The vinaigrette is lovely, bacon/potato/eggs is a well known good combo, and it turns out that adding blue cheese into the mix only improves things. In short, yaaaaaaaaas. Would probably be prettier in a non bento-sized container, but man, it still works. Do yourself a favor and do the thing.

Potatoes With Soft Eggs and Bacon Vinaigrette
Lasts 5 meals as a side

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs fingerling or other small potatoes (used new potatoes)
  • whatever amount of eggs you prefer (recipe recommends 4, I made a whole big batch the other night to use in combination with breakfast)
  • .5 lb thick cut bacon (get it from your farmer’s market if you can)
  • 3 T red wine vinegar
  • .5 t smooth Dijon mustard
  • crumbled blue cheese to taste

Take your potatoes, put them in a pot with cold water, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer your potatoes for about 20 minutes, until fork tender. Drain them, and once they’re cool enough to handle, halve them. 

Meanwhile, chop up your bacon and cook it in a heavy skillet over medium heat, until it’s about ¾ths as done as you want it to be. When that happens, whisk in your red wine vinaigrette and dijon, and let simmer for ten seconds (see pic 3). As soon as that ten seconds passes, pour the bacon vinaigrette over the potatoes, add your blue cheese, and toss to coat. 

I recommend making the soft boiled eggs ahead. 

Bring a pot of water plus a good splash of white vinegar to a boil, add your eggs, boil for six minutes, and put into ice water.  Peel your eggs (if they’re cracked, it’s okay, that’ll make it easier) and store them. 

Right before serving, take a soft boiled egg, squeeze it gently so it opens in half and spills the yolk over your serving of potatoes and bacon, and then split the halves further to drizzle the last bit of yolk out, and toss the whites on the potatoes. And then, enjoy!

When I do veggies, I usually tend to roast them, as I feel it brings out their flavors better, and honestly, I usually don’t like them raw. Broccoli is one of those veggies that tastes amazing when you cook it just right, and I think I may have found a new favorite recipe using it, especially when it’ll inevitably show up at the farmer’s market in abundance (and cheap as shit because there’s a glut and people don’t typically buy it). 

You’ve probably noticed that I’ve got a lot of recipes with lemon juice showing up lately. I actually kind of have a small trick for that. I don’t own a juicer (and kind of think it’s a waste of time), but what I do have is a local grocery store that does fresh squeezed juices, and expands their typical orange juices to include lemon (and occasionally lime) in the summer. It’s cheap (usually $1 for 8 oz of juice), way less effort than juicing a ton of lemons yourself, and the fresh squeezed makes it taste even more delicious. 

Crispy Broccoli with Lemon and Garlic
Lasts 3 meals as a side

Ingredients

  • 1 lb fresh broccoli
  • 3 T olive oil, divided
  • red pepper flakes
  • sea salt
  • finely grated lemon zest (from at least half a lemon)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • fresh squeezed lemon juice to finish

Preheat your oven to 425. Take a baking sheet, lay down some foil on it, and take half of your olive oil, and drizzle it on the foil, brushing it into the foil so that it’s evenly coated (see picture 3).

Take your broccoli, and slice through the stems as close as you can get to the bottom of the floret crown. The florets will naturally break into several large chunks, and you can break these down a little bit further to get a more manageable size like the first picture that you see above. Deb recommends peeling and cutting up the remaining stems, but I honestly wasn’t feeling in the mood to do that, so I skipped it. It is an option, though.

Mix together your remaining olive oil, red pepper flakes to taste, a bit of sea salt, your minced garlic, and lemon zest, and then toss with the florets to coat.  Spread the broccoli in a single layer in your prepared sheet, and then put it in the oven. Roast for twenty minutes, and then flip and move around the pieces with a spatula. Picture five is what your broccoli will look like after those first twenty minutes or so. I roasted mine for another ten minutes to get a good char on it, but not, say, burnt (see pic six). General rule is after that first twenty minutes check it every five minutes or so to see where it’s at. 

Before taking it out of the oven, take one of the smaller florets and taste it to be sure it’s to your liking. If it is, take it out of the oven, and then sprinkle with fresh lemon juice to your personal taste, and then enjoy the ridiculously good broccoli. (Or follow one of Deb’s riff suggestions; some of those sound real good.)

It’s asparagus season at the farmer’s market, one of my favorite times of the year – it basically means I can pick up something like 2 lbs of real good asparagus for cheap, and use ALL THE ASPARAGUS. I decided to do something different than my two mainstay asparagus recipes this time, and while I was figuring out what I wanted to do, I came across this recipe, and realized I already had the blue cheese and balsamic caramel in my fridge. As such, the decision was pretty quickly made what to do with this. 

This is a flavor combination I’ve never tried before and might not have thought of, but trust me when I say that if it tastes even a quarter as good as it smelled when I was putting it together, you’ll be in for a real treat. 

Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Caramel and Blue Cheese
Depends on amt asparagus used; 2 lbs lasted appx six lunches as a side

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe balsamic caramel (I had some leftover from making the steaks a while ago)
  • desired amount of asparagus (I had 2 lbs on hand)
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • .5 c crumbled blue cheese (I just sliced mine off a block I had and it crumbled pretty easy)

Preheat your oven to 400. Lay some foil down on a large baking tray, and spread your asparagus out in a single layer (or as close to it as you can get), tossing with olive oil and sea salt. Roast your asparagus between 10 to 30 minutes, depending on how much you have (the above result was 2 lbs after 25 minutes). 

Take your roasted asparagus, drizzle with the balsamic caramel, and sprinkle with the blue cheese, and then enjoy!

This was a great dish to see out what is hopefully the last of the cold winter ugh. The local farmer’s market has a good winter potato mix (which is how I got this lovely roasting potato mix), and the miso I already had in my fridge, so this was pretty cheap and simple to put together.  

Plus, the coating is a pretty good blend of flavors. I ended up doubling the quantities for the coating because I had more potatoes than planned, and I liked the coverage that I got more. If you end up having closer to the original quantity, then I would recommend halving the quantities for the miso, sesame oil, and brown sugar.

Miso Roasted Potatoes and Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 1 lb roasting potatoes, quartered (mine was a bit closer to 2 lbs, original recipe recommends small new potatoes)
  • 8 oz button mushrooms
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 t minced ginger
  • 6 T white miso
  • 4 T brown sugar
  • 4 T sesame oil
  • (optional: chopped parsley and sesame seeds for garnish)

Preheat your oven to 400. Mix together your garlic cloves, ginger, white miso, brown sugar, and sesame oil with a whisk in a large bowl, and add your mushrooms and potatoes to the bowl and toss to coat them. Transfer your potatoes to a large skillet or baking dish (I used the latter) and roast for a half hour, stirring at least once (If you have closer to 2 lbs of potatoes, throw it in for closer to an hour). Add parsley and sesame seeds if you so choose, but otherwise, enjoy, and spite the cold!

Looking for a new way to try your vegetables? Just add beer and bacon!  Seriously. I found the green beans for a buck a pound on special last week, and it turns out Ale Asylum (a local brewer) just put out a new stout, so this was perfect timing in several senses. 

Stout Glazed Green Beans and Bacon

Ingredients

  • 4 slices bacon
  • 2 lbs green beans (note to self: reduce to 1 lb for the future, 2 lb was way too much)
  • .5 c stout (I used Ale Asylum’s Big Slick stout)
  • pinch smoked paprika, salt, and pepper

Cook your bacon in a pan to desired doneness. Remove, let cool, and chop. 

Add your green beans to the pan, and sear until slightly browned. Then, pour your stout in, drink the rest of the bottle, and cook until the beer reduces into a glaze (about ten minutes or so). Sprinkle with smoked paprika, salt, pepper, and chopped bacon, and toss in a serving dish to combine!

This salad is the perfect dose of summer. I’ve always had a thing for roasted tomatoes, and being able to do it with heirlooms is even better. And fried halloumi? Oh man, it’s like feta but even better.  …And really, thinking about this more, this could also be a great grilled cheese. 

The best thing I can recommend for this herb wise is to use whatever you have either in your garden, or whatever’s cheapest at the farmer’s market that week. I used oregano, basil, and mint from my garden.

Roasted Tomato and Halloumi Salad
Lasts 3 lunches as a side

Ingredients

  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes, thickly sliced
  • olive oil, sea salt, and pepper
  • 1 block halloumi cheese
  • 1/3 c fresh herbs of choice (I used oregano, basil, and mint)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and line a baking sheet with foil. Place your tomato slices on the sheet, and drizzle with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper.  Roast for twenty minutes, until wrinkly (see pic 2). 

Place a small amount of olive oil in a pan, and heat over medium high heat. Slice your block of halloumi into about six even slices, and add to the pan, frying until golden brown on each side (about three to five minutes). 

Combine the roasted tomatoes and halloumi, toss with the herbs, and enjoy the mouthgasm.