This is my favorite week of the year to cook. The tomatoes taste like big, sloppy pieces of candy and the corn is so sweet and fresh it doesn’t even require cooking. Local peaches are finally ripe so I bought a half-peck of Red Havens at Bauman’s Orchards in Rittman on Saturday, and they are waiting for me on the kitchen counter. I think I’ll make a peach and elderberry clafouti, finally using some of the elderberries that grow near my blackberry patch in the side yard.
Tonight (Monday when I’m writing this) I’ll make a salade Nicoise with those ripe tomatoes, our own green beans and a clutch of the baby Yukon Gold potatoes I grew in old 5-gallon soy sauce buckets out back.
Pandemic or no, life is good in Ohio in early August.
Last week was a pretty good week to cook, too. That’s when I invented my new favorite lunch, a protein salad I’ll be making the rest of the summer. I love it because it is crunchy and soft and herbal and so high in protein that it fills me up for the afternoon. That is a minor miracle because I’ve been limiting my calories to 1,200 a day since May, and I’m usually hungry before dinner time (I’ve lost 17 pounds).
The salad requires no cooking, just a bit of chopping and assembling. It is made with three protein-rich foods: Shelled edamame beans, feta cheese and canned tuna. The shelled beans are sold frozen in supermarkets. To save calories, I used low-fat feta and water-packed albacore tuna.
I added diced cucumber and sweet onion for crunch, cubed ripe tomato for a sweet, juicy note, and handfuls of snipped fresh herbs Mint, chives, basil, thyme and tarragon were what I grabbed, but you may use whatever fresh herbs you have on hand.
The salad is dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. A substantial 1 1/2-cup serving has just 184 calories.
EDAMAME PROTEIN SALAD
1 package (10 oz.) shelled frozen edamame
1 can (5 oz.) water-packed tuna (I used albacore)
1/2 cup crumbled low-fat feta cheese
1 1/2 cups peeled and diced (1/2-inch) cucumber
1 cup diced sweet onion such as Vidalia
1 cup diced ripe tomato
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Sea salt to taste
1/3 cup (more or less) finely snipped fresh herbs such as tarragon, basil, thyme, parsley, chives and mint
Empty bag of edamame into a microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave on high power for 1 to 2 minutes, until thawed and tender. Place in a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and toss well. Makes 6 1/2 cups, at 184 calories per 1 1/2-cup serving.
What I cooked last week:
Pesto, cream cheese, hard-cooked egg and tomato on toast; edamame protein salad; roasted eggplant and garlic salad, corn on the cob, smoked baby back ribs with gochujang barbecue sauce; chunky peanut butter toast with thick slice of tomato and sea salt (wow!); roasted eggplant lasagne with ricotta and mozzarella cheeses; open-face broiled tomato sandwiches with cream cheese, anchovies and mozzarella; corn on the cob; peanut butter and tomato sandwich; slow-cooker pot roast, Indian-ish grated carrot salad, incredible muskmelon from Dunkler’s in Copley.
What I ate from restaurants, etc.:
Stuffed peppers from Sam’s Club; sugar-free strawberry frozen yogurt from Menchie’s; chicken burrito bowl from Casa del Rio Express in Fairlawn. What I really have been craving is a lobster roll from Chowder House in Cuyahoga Falls; this week I’m determined to brave the 5 p.m. traffic.
THE MAIL BAG
From George, Akron:
With zucchini now in abundance, it’s time for one of my favorite recipes—your pasta with zucchini, heavy on the garlic flavor as I remember. After a concerted search, I now turn to you to supply it again. Thanks!
It’s cute that you assume I am organized. I have a few of my favorite recipes in hanging folders and more are stuffed in a big bowl in the kitchen. But I no longer have access to the crack team of librarians at the Beacon Journal — all of whom have been downsized now, sad to say — and my own filing is nonexistent.
I don’t remember that recipe, so we must hope to heck someone else does. If it was in my newsletter since 2015, you can search my blog (follow the link on this page). If it appeared in the newspaper, you can access it online with your library card through the Akron-Summit County Public Library’s website, akronlibrary.org. Go to “Databases” and click on the newspaper’s name under “A” But if the recipe was in my internet newsletter, either Second Helpings or earlier editions of See Jane Cook, we must rely on the hive mind. Does anyone remember a zucchini pasta recipe?
From Anne Marie:
I read your newsletter and the discussions on braised dishes with green beans, stewed tomatoes, onions and garlic. While I have no doubt that similar dishes exists across many cultures, to me it sounds exactly like Loubie Bzeit (several spellings), a Lebanese dish. It’s so easy to make, healthy and one of my favorites, and is available at Aladdin’s. There are dozens of recipes on the web, but my favorite is this one that appeared in Food and Wine in 2007:
Dear Anne Marie:
Thanks. I’m always interested in how recipes from other parts of the world end up here, filtered through our own lens.
From Donna G.:
We, too, have a bumper crop of eggplant. Easiest recipe ever — cut into 1/2-inch slices, salt and sweat. Brush with a little olive oil and put on a hot grill a few minutes on each side. Serve with roasted corn and grilled peaches. I love summer!
I do, too! I grill eggplant slices but brush them with sweet soy sauce mid-grill. Grilling does something wonderful to eggplant, right?
From Francie L.:
Just wanted to thank you for the fabulous Shrimp, Corn and Green Bean Salad recipe. My daughter and her husband had been visiting us from San Antonio, which started out as a two-week visit and extended to five weeks. It was lovely having them but my son-in-law is a vegetarian and I was running out of dinner ideas. Luckily I saw your recipe in the morning and was able to pick up green beans and corn at the Jackson Township Farmers Market. It was a huge hit and my daughter even asked for the recipe link.
They are safely back in San Antonio but I’m definitely keeping that recipe on rotation this summer.
You were so nice to let me know. I always am thrilled when someone likes a recipe.