how to squash the summer doldrums

Before I share some zucchini-esque recipes, a couple notes on other ingredients:

As evidence of my maturity as “a person who cooks,” I’m proud to say I made every effort to go local this time around, and not just in the acquisition of the week’s featured produce. As a People’s Food Co-Op employee, I will admit I have a marked advantage (going local is not always the easiest) and I will also admit that this week’s dinner was a tad pricier than usual (going local is not always the cheapest), but I think most would admit that a countertop-full of southeast Michigan-originated veggies and herbs like the one pictured below is worth the added time and expense every so often.

Also, this week’s dinner marks my introduction to that craziest of bulbs, fennel. I was entirely taken by the size of fennel’s foliage, and of course had to document it (note the size comparison to my face).

But let’s cut to the chase, shall we? This time around, our featured market stand star found itself in a flavorful chickpea stir-fry and a summery farro salad.

lemony chickpea stir-fry

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt
1 small onion, sliced
1 can chickpeas
8 ounces extra-firm tofu
1 cup chopped kale
2 medium zucchini, sliced
zest and juice of 1 lemon

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and stir in a pinch of salt, the onion, and chickpeas. Saute until the chickpeas are deeply golden and crusty. (Note: I did not wait long enough for those chickpeas to get crusty, and I regret to say that just a bit more patience would have given these legumes the desired crunch.)

Stir in the tofu and cook just until the tofu is heated through, just a minute or so. Stir in the kale and cook for one minute more. Remove everything from the skillet onto a large plate and set aside.

In the same skillet heat the remaining olive oil, add the zucchini and saute for two or three minutes. Add the chickpea mixture back to the skillet, and remove from heat. Stir in the lemon juice and zest.

buttermilk farro salad

3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

7 small radishes, sliced paper thin
3 small zucchini, sliced paper thin
1 medium head of fennel, trimmed and sliced paper thin

4 cups cooked farro (2 cups uncooked), cooled to room temperature

Cook the farro, then set aside to cool.

Chop your herbs and slice your veggies (a food processor works incredibly well at getting the zucchini and radish paper thin!).

Combine the garlic and salt on a cutting board. Mash into a paste using the flat side of your knife. Place in a medium bowl, then add the buttermilk and vinegar. Whisk together and let sit for 5 minutes or so. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, then the herbs.

In a large bowl gently toss the radishes, zucchini, and fennel with the farro. Add 1 cup of the dressing and toss again. Let sit for ten minutes, taste, and adjust with more dressing, if needed (I ended up using nearly two cups of dressing), and salt to taste.

the dinner

This entry marks the first Ann Arbor-produced Sprout Diaries dinner! My sister Annie and her new husband Andrew offered the use of their fantastic kitchen and fresh-from-the-Bed, Bath and Beyond-box appliances for the creation of this dinner. Even better, the meal was enjoyed on the newlyweds’ back deck, beneath a canopy of red-orange trumpet vines. Andrew’s younger brother Sean, home to enjoy one last week of Michigan summer before heading westward, also partook of the meal. In addition to the zucchini salads detailed above, the two sibling sets shared a pitcher of Annie’s sangria, watermelon, a strawberry, feta & walnut salad, and a loaf of Zingerman’s bread.

By general consensus, the farro salad won as favorite of the two recipes, and was much enjoyed the following day, served cold with a sprinkling of feta.

Thanks to 101 Cookbooks for this week’s recipe ideas!

3 Comments Add yours

  1. rose conlin says:

    Hi Claire I am delighted to be a subscriber to sprouts! I love the pictures of the food in pretty bowls on summertime patio tables. One question about that farro salad… that zucchini raw? How we love radisihes at 1435 Byron and am open to any recipe including them. Will be trying out some of these recipes as soon as our poor kitchen is done shedding post leak plaster. That frittata looks awesome. Cheers, Rosemar

  2. betsy broene says:

    looks delicious! is there a secret dressing on the watermelon salad?

  3. Helen says:

    claire. that is SO GORGEOUS. i love the plating, too!

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