I think lunch is the hardest meal of the day to make at home. You need something uncomplicated, fast, and relatively light. Oh, and it should also be kid friendly. Sandwiches get old fast. Today I made these easy tostadas with crisp tortillas that are baked, not fried. They were great. Here’s how to do it:
Heat oven to 400 and brush both sides of corn tortillas with a little olive oil (or spray with oil.) Place them on a baking sheet and cook, turning once or twice, until the tortillas are lightly browned and sizzling. Saute a few tablespoons of minced onion; add a can of rinsed black beans, salt, and some ground cumin. Cook until beans are warmed, then use a potato masher or fork to coarsely mash them. Spread beans on tortillas and garnish with various toppings such as lettuce, diced avocado, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, cheese, and yogurt or sour cream. Serve with lime wedges.
I had only a handful of strawberries left, growing sadder-looking by the hour. They were still good enough to use, though, and I wanted to make something for my berry-loving toddler. Strawberry milk sounded somewhat treat-like and reasonably wholesome. This was actually the first time I’d ever tasted strawberry milk. Even though I grew up on packaged food and put away plenty of chocolate Quik in my day, I’d always steered clear of the strawberry variety. It just seems weird. But homemade strawberry milk is subtle, refreshing, and delicious.
Fresh Strawberry Milk
2 cups milk
1/2 cup strawberries, hulled and halved
1 to 3 teaspoons sugar, honey, or light agave nectar (to taste)
- Place milk, strawberries, and 1 teaspoon sweetener in a blender. Process until smooth. Add more sweetener to taste. Strain through a fine sieve and chill until cold.
Did you see the recent sandwich feature in NY Mag? (Drool!) 101 of NYC’s finest handheld meals. One in particular, the Scuttlebut from Saltie in Brooklyn caught my eye. It’s a vegetarian sandwich (which, let’s face it, are often uninspired) described in print as “an absurdly unwieldy Technicolor medley of vegetables, feta, and eggs.” Looks yummy, but hard to eat.
Clearly the work of geniuses, it inspired me to make my own old-fashioned layered salad version for a barbecue over the weekend. It was a hit and will become a staple this summer.
To make it:
Hard-cook 3 or 4 eggs. Roast a bunch of beets (sealed in a foil packet) at 400 degrees until tender; cool, peel, and slice into small wedges. Cook a pound of trimmed green beans until tender; cool in an ice bath and cut into 2-inch lengths. Make a vinaigrette by combining a spoonful of Dijon mustard, a few pinches of sugar, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl. Whisk in some quality olive oil and stir in a sprig’s worth of chopped tarragon and some chives. Pour half the vinaigrette over the beets and the other half over the beans; let marinate for at least 10 minutes. Mound the beans in a serving bowl. Top with the beets, hard-cooked eggs (sliced), a smattering of crumbled feta, and some chopped parsley and chives. Drizzle with more olive oil and season with some freshly ground pepper and flaky salt.
I’m off to the beach tomorrow for a long weekend. Instead of tossing my already-on-its-way-out produce, I love this idea for a fast and healthy dinner. Make some polenta (I made mine richer by adding milk and parmesan.) Then cut up a variety of veggies, toss with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast at 450 degrees until they are tender and browned. Serve the vegetables over the polenta, drizzled with some quality olive oil or shaved parmesan. It makes a great dinner! (Sorry for the iPhone photo.)
Polenta is really a blank canvas that will work with tons of different vegetable combinations. Here, I roasted mushrooms, Swiss chard stems, and leftover zucchini. The green parts of the chard were chopped and sauteed with a little olive oil and garlic until tender. Then I added some pinenuts, zante currants, and a little sherry vinegar. It was a great combo, but here are some more ideas:
- Bacon, cherry tomatoes, and corn
- Winter squash (like butternut), spinach, brown butter, and pinenuts
- Mushrooms and herbs (with goat cheese in the polenta)
- Eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers
- Root vegetables and fennel
- Broccoli and red onion
I could go on and on. Just use what you’ve got and let me know how it turns out!