Ahhh summer… My favorite time of year. This week really feels like summer’s arrived. Temps actually got to 90 yesterday! This week, I went to the local water park and the children’s museum with the children I nanny, ate watermelon al fresco, took a twilight stroll with Adam & finished a new book. It was glorious!
We’ve also been doing a lot of summery cooking: shredded barbacoa beef tacos, cucumber and chick pea salad, avocado chicken salad, tomato omelets, zucchini pasta, & lemon-lavender sorbet, among other things.
Last night we had a lovely date night (probably our last in Iowa!) at the Lincoln Wine Bar in Mt. Vernon, IA and the meal was summer perfection: a brick-oven pizza with tons of fresh oregano, yellow cherry tomatoes, and a light shaving of pecorino cheese. I had a delicious Malbec from Filus winery and Adam had an IPA from Nectar Ales. We finished the meal with fresh mint gelato. As I said, perfection!
I always love all of the zucchini in the farmers markets in the summer because it’s such a fun thing to work with- it can be either sweet or savory. You can bake with it and eat it raw. Awesome. A few days ago we made zucchini noodles to use with a meat sauce we’d made. We usually use spaghetti squash as our “pasta”, but wanted to upgrade to a more summery/seasonal pasta, plus I’d been interested in using raw veggie noodles for a while, so it was perfect. And let me tell you, they were fantastic! I may even like them better than spaghetti squash, which I love.
Zucchini Pasta with Triple Mushroom Ragu-
2 large zucchini
1 tsp. Extra virgin Olive Oil
1.5 lbs ground beef
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
1 cup Portabello mushrooms, sliced (or Cremini)
1 cup Button mushrooms, sliced
1-2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 jar mushroom pasta sauce
1 tsp. dried oregano
Salt & pepper, to taste
1. Wash, dry, then shred the zucchini with a mandolin, set on the thinnest/julienne setting. *You have to hold the zucchini lengthwise/horizontally to get long strands. Careful of your fingers!*
2. Lay out paper towels and place zucchini on top to drain while you make the sauce.
3. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and ground beef. Cook until beef is brown.
4. Add onions and saute until onions are translucent. Add mushrooms and garlic to pan and saute for 5-6 minutes until mushrooms are cooked.
5. Add oregano, salt & pepper, and pasta sauce; cover.
6. Simmer for 20 minutes to let flavors intensify and combine. Taste to check flavors&
7. Spoon sauce over zucchini and dig in!
A few weekends ago we went to Minneapolis to visit for a friend’s 30th birthday and for lunch, we went to this little Mexican restaurant called Andale Taqueria and had surprisingly authentic tacos (for Richfield, MN!). We all had the barbacoa beef and it was heavenly. I was craving it for days afterwards, so I decided to make my own version. I used this recipe from Against All Grain for inspiration, but had to improvise a little based on the ingredients I had, and even though I was missing tomato paste, for instance, it turned out great!
Barbacoa Beef Tacos-
2 lbs. top round steak or chuck roast- cubed
1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
juice from 1 lime
2 cups chicken (or beef) broth
3 garlic cloves
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. smoked paprika
3 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1. Place beef cubes in slow cooker. Add quartered onion, tomato and spices to slow cooker.
2. Add remaining ingredients to slow cooker and cover. Turn on slow cooker to low for 6-8 hrs.
3. When the cooking is finished (I took mine out at 6 hrs), remove beef and shred with two forks (this will be easy because the meat is super tender). Place shredded beef in a bowl and ladle some of the sauce (between 14/-1/3 cup) over the beef to keep moist.
4. Prepare tortillas (I just used organic corn tortillas from the grocery store, but home made would rock) and toppings like cilantro, lime wedges, salsa, sliced avocado, radish, etc. Enjoy!