Has anyone else noticed that peaches have been fantastic this summer? Their sweet smell has completely overtaken the produce section of my local grocery store, and I find myself filling my basket with them every week — they’re soft and juicy and perfect. I’d almost go as far as to say that the great peach season makes up for the less than stellar showing that strawberries had earlier this year.
Needless to say, when General Mills asked me to develop a recipe that would “make something good, better” using Land O’Lakes’ new Cinnamon Sugar Butter Spread, it didn’t take me long to decide on a creation that featured fresh peaches. At first I considered making a peach cobbler, a staple of summertime cookouts and a dish that’s perfect for sharing with friends, but then I thought that if there’s anything better than peach cobbler, it’s peach cobbler that you can eat for breakfast. These fluffy whole wheat pancakes layered with stewed cinnamon sugar peaches capture all the flavor of the favorite summertime dessert and repackage it as perfect breakfast treat.
Because I plan my meals for the week ahead of time and buy groceries as I need them, the available ingredients in my kitchen can vary greatly from week to week. Of course, there are certain items that I always have on hand — either because they’re staples that come together into a quick meal when I haven’t planned ahead or because they’re things that I use all the time. Pasta, lemons, goat cheese. Canned tomatoes. Black beans. Gin.
Lately, an increasing number of Asian ingredients have secured a dedicated spot in my cabinet. Especially seasoned rice wine vinegar and sesame oil. Both of these are easy to find in most grocery stores and add a ton of flavor to all sorts of foods. They make it super easy to prepare quick Asian-inspired dishes like Edamame Salad and these Soba Noodles with Grilled Shrimp.
These noodles are my idea of the perfect summertime meal. They’re fast and easy to make and require minimal effort. They also make great leftovers and don’t even need to be heated up – I think I actually liked them even more the next day, after the flavors had a chance to meld. Unlike other similar dishes that have a tendency to be flat, the combination of rice wine vinegar and lime juice gives these noodles have a nice acidity and a bright flavor that plays really well off the earthy buckwheat noodles and nutty sesame oil. Watery vegetables keep the whole dish light and fresh. Topped with a few grilled shrimp (another ingredient that I’m always sure to keep in my freezer), this salad makes a great light meal for a hot summer night.
I like to use San Marzano tomatoes, which are naturally lower in acidity and have a sweeter flavor than other canned tomatoes, in this sauce. Some brands can be expensive, but there are a few brands that aren’t bad at all. I like Bella Terra Organic San Marzano Tomatoes, which are about $3 per can. Since the rest of the ingredients in this sauce are cheap (I stock up on cheap saffron at Trader Joe’s whenever I’m visiting a place where there is one), I still make out better than buying a jar of “good” sauce. If you can’t find San Marzanos or want a cheaper option any can of whole peeled plum tomatoes will do.
Milk and butter add a layer of richness and help give the sauce its amazing texture. Full fat or skim milk will work, but you can also use almond milk or even coconut milk if that’s what you have around. I actually used Silk Simply Coconut in the sauce shown here and was very happy with the way it turned out (I had a coupon for a free half gallon of the milk, which is delicious!)
I’m sitting at an airport Starbucks right now, waiting for my flight to DC for Eat, Write Retreat. The people sitting behind me keep glancing over like “What is that crazy girl doing with a million pictures of food?” (Hi people reading over my shoulder!) Anyway, it’s going to be a great weekend, and I hope to come home with new skills and fresh inspiration that will help make this blog better. I’m really excited!
I’m also really excited about last night’s dinner – I just couldn’t wait any longer to share it. I really enjoyed the Southwest lentil patties that I created for the lentil challenge that I participated in last year, and I knew that I wanted to do a fresh take on them this year. This time, I put a Moroccan spin on the patties, with lots of lemon zest, cardamom, and za’atar. They had a wonderfully bright flavor and a great falafel-like texture with a crispy exterior and a soft, velvety center. Served over a salad inspired by some gorgeous kale that I picked up at the Schenectady Green Market, this was a light, yet super filling dinner that we both enjoyed immensely.
For any of you from the Capital Region who love the Troy Market but have never been to the one in Schenectady, I urge you to check it out! It’s on Sundays, which a little inconvenient for me (I like to plan y weekly menu and get my shopping out of the way on Saturday) but I really love it. The atmosphere is more intimate than the Troy market and the produce seems rawer and a little rough around the edges — but in a good way! There are always unique items to be found, like mustard greens, this amazing Russian red kale, and white beets. Whereas I tend to leave the Troy market with tons of prepared foods, I leave the Schenectady market with arms full of fresh produce and tons of inspiration.