Beet and Arugula Salad

Wow, it's already June. It's amazing how quickly time flies when you're busy. I'm feeling a bit guilty that my last post was in March, especially since I have plenty of content to share with you all. Over the past few months, I've shifted roles in my day job, helped friends prepare to move cross-country and have rediscovered my love of reading. More relevant to this blog, I've taken a few day and long-weekend trips that have left me with some great restaurant finds to pass along. I've found one of my true food loves is Southern cuisine, met one of my favorite chefs and experimented with a lot of seasonal produce. I've literally filled my fridge with produce in no less than a half dozen grocery trips this year. I've participated in 5-10k races and an 11-mile hike for charity, and while I've always been active, the running in particular has pushed me to pay more attention to how my body responds to different foods. There's really no comparison to a meal that's rooted in fresh fruit and vegetables, whether it's the side dish or an entire meal. Well maybe a meal rooted in mac & cheese ... but then, it's all about balance. 

I managed a 6-mile walk this past weekend in 95 degree weather to make a trip to the farmer's market. It was hard work as it got warmer, but well worth it when I made dinner that evening out of all my market finds. This simple three-ingredient salad is perfect for summer and makes a perfect compliment to a heartier pasta or steak. 

2 beets
2 cups arugula
1 cup sunflower shoots (These can be found at most farmer's markets and some specialty grocery stores, but other sprouts and shoots could easily be substituted)
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Peel and dice beets into small chunks. 
3.  In a baking dish, toss in just enough olive oil to coat and lightly season with pepper.
4. Roast beets for 35-45 minutes, until just soft. Remove and let cool for 20 minutes.
5. Rinse arugula and sunflower shoots, pat dry. Combine in a serving bowl. 
6. Add beets to serving bowl, toss and drizzle lightly with 1 1/2 tbsp each balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Depending on your taste, you can add more vinegar or less. 

Serves 2

Ratatouille Inspired Pasta

Usually I go to the store with a plan -- a meal I saw in a magazine, in one of my numerous cookbooks or while perusing blogs online. But every once in a while I let spontaneity rule my shopping trip and yesterday, while at the market I couldn't help but be inspired by some colorful fresh vegetables. Immediately I thought of ratatouille. Since I wanted a light meal, instead of using it as a side dish, I decided to toss it over pasta. So much bright color and flavor, packed into a really simple dish. And what's even better about this dish, if you have leftover vegetables, they'll work great mixed into scrambled eggs or tossed with meat and soy sauce for a 2-minute stir fry.

1 small onion
1 orange bell pepper
2 zucchini
7-10 baby bella mushrooms
1 large tomato
3 tbsp. olive oil
Italian seasoning
1 1/2 cups pasta

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. When al dente, rinse and set aside. 
2. Dice onion, bell pepper, zucchini, mushrooms and tomatoes into roughly 1/4 in. pieces.
3. In a large skillet, heat 3 tbsp. olive oil, and add onion and bell pepper. Saute until onions are translucent.
4. Add zucchini and saute for about 5 minutes, tossing so all sides will lightly caramelize. 
5. Add Italian seasoning and mushrooms, cooking for an additional 2-3 minutes until mushrooms are soft. 
6. Lastly, add pasta and tomatoes, stirring until tomatoes are heated through, about 2 minutes. 

Serves 2-3

Spaghetti Squash Stir Fry

1 spaghetti squash
12-15 cherry tomatoes
12-15 pearl onions
2/3 cup shelled edamame (frozen)
1/2 cup chopped broccoli
2 tsp garlic
4 tbsp terriyaki sauce
10 oz. firm tofu
Olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
2. Cut spaghetti squash in half and remove seeds. Coat with butter.
3. Place spaghetti squash halves in a baking dish and cook for 45-50 minutes, or until soft. Using a fork, scrape squash out in strands. Set aside.
4. Cut cherry tomatoes in half. 
5. In a skillet, combine 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp terriyaki sauce, broccoli, edamame, onions and tomatoes. Cook until broccoli and edamame become bright green and tender.
6. Add spaghetti squash, tofu and remaining 2 tbsp terriyaki sauce to pan and mix well. Cook for 4 minutes.

Serves 3-4