While typing out the title of this post, I realized that it might appear to be a bit redundant, as I just wrote about quiet time (and some sweet treats) last week. It's easy to think of simple and quiet as synonymous. I'm often doing simple things during my quiet time or being quiet as I do simple things like reading and writing. However, the two don't always go hand in hand. You can be quiet as you're doing strenuous, time-consuming work, or cackling loudly with friends as you do something simple like lying and listening to music on the beach. This Simple Summer Dinner works either way. It's simple, but the choice for you or your kitchen to be quiet while making it is totally up to you.
In this meal, the simplicity primarily stems from the ingredients — fresh, local, and seasonal produce I grabbed at (my favorite) Larchmont Farmer's Market — although the process of cooking them is pretty straightforward as well. In the summer, these are my favorite meals to cook because even if they do require some time (like the 3 hours it for tomatoes to slowly roast), the actual work is minimal. Not too many ingredients, not too much heavy lifting—aside from a glass or two of rose you sip on during and/or in between prep and cooking. In fact, if you're like me, this is the perfect meal to whip up on a lazy Sunday afternoon, as you dig into a new season of Orange Is The New Black, or continue playing catch up on Grey's Anatomy. Or as always, listen to some mellow tunes as well.
I think I appreciate simplicity because it's rather rare in my life out here in Los Angeles. Traffic alone complicates things, well everything actually, always. So, when I'm able to wake up, walk to the farmer's market upon its opening — pick out beautiful roses and rummage through a wide array of herbs as I think of which recipes I'd like them to star in during the week before heading to church, and then home to spend the rest of the day cooking and relaxing, I'm delighted. I often dream about every weekend being like that. But then again, the rarity makes it easy to truly appreciate those simple times, sans traffic, loud or quiet.
Much like the meal, the Simple Songs (is my alliteration obsession showing yet?) playlist I curated to ago along with (preparing) it is easy and breezy...and beautiful for that matter! It's quite a laid-back mix, featuring everyone from Cigarettes After Sex — whose self-titled debut I've had on repeat, along with SZA's Ctrl — to The Internet to Dave Matthews Band. Use it as a timer for the Slow-Roasted Tomatoes (with a little under a half hour to spare). Let it quietly seep through the speakers in the background as you take your first bite of the Ricotta Stuffed Squash Blossoms. Do as you please, but trust me, it's worth a listen. Nothing says summer like the sun, some simple tunes, and a cool breeze.
NOTE: Apart from THE simplest side salad ever, each of the recipes was pulled from cooks and publications I adore — David Lebovitz, Deb Perlman of Smitten Kitchen, Epicurious, and The New York Times. The only creative part I played in this meal was bringing it all together, and a few flavor tweaks, ie. I think the nutty taste of ghee nicely compliments fish like salmon, I love the bitter-sweet taste of blood oranges (and the color, obviously). I guess you could say I've taken simple (or lazy) to a whole new level. Now, shall we begin?
A Simple Summer Dinner: Salmon Roasted in Dill & Garlic Infused Ghee with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes, Ricotta Stuffed Squash Blossoms, Little Gems with Balsamic Vinaigrette, Blood Orange Olive Oil Cupcakes with White Chocolate Mascarpone Buttercream
FOR THE SALMON:
- 4 tablespoons of ghee (or clarified butter)
- 4 tablespoons minced chervil, parsley or dill *I used dill
- 1 salmon fillet, 1 1/2 to 2 pounds
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Lemon wedges
FOR THE SLOW-ROASTED TOMATOES:
- Cherry, grape or small Roma tomatoes
- Whole gloves of garlic, unpeeled
- Olive oil
- Herbs such as thyme or rosemary (optional)
FOR THE SQUASH BLOSSOMS STUFFED WITH RICOTTA:
- 1 cup whole-milk ricotta (preferably fresh)
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/4 cup finely chopped mint
- 2/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
- 12 to 16 large zucchini squash blossoms
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup chilled seltzer or club soda
- About 3 cups vegetable oil for frying
NOTE: I had some leftover tomato sauce in my refrigerator so I saved some time and heated that up in a sauce pan. Feel like making sauce from scratch, you do you boo, Epicurious has a great recipe linked above.
FOR THE LITTLE GEM SALAD with BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE:
- Handful of fresh little gems
- Cindy's Kitchen Balsamic Vinaigrette (with Omega-3)
Note: I did mention the word simple around here, right? Becuase I whole-heartedly embraced when it comes to this salad. Full disclosure: I ran out of olive oil (rookie mistake) after the cupcakes, but even if I had enough to make my go-to dressing—EVOO with Citrus Champagne Vinegar and tons of herbs—I'd still be happy with Cindy's. It's delightful and always in my fridge.
- 1 1/3 cups (185g) flour
- 1 cup (200g) sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, preferably aluminum-free
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup (180ml) fruity extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup (180ml) whole or low-fat milk *I used whole here
- 2large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
- 1/3 cup (80ml) mixed: half fresh orange juice *I squeezed about 3 blood oranges here, half Grand Marnier
Here's where I really embrace this simple thing, ya'll. I've linked to the recipe for all of the foods mentioned above. Give them a click and get cooking. Just toss the gems with some dressing. Oh! And, make sure you let the cupcakes/muffins cool completely before icing.
That's all she wrote. Don't forget to take a listen below :)