Marinated Feta with Nectarine and Tomato Fattoush

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Right at this very moment is when this salad will be at its best — with tomatoes and nectarines in their prime at the greenmarket. And it will be well worth it, friends, because this is one delicious concoction. It’s the best kind of simple — using super fresh, seasonal ingredients that don’t need anything fancy to make them taste good. For this salad (recipe from the latest Food & Wine) I got fresh feta (buy the kind that comes in a solid block for this) from Murray’s Cheese Shop (yum), which is then marinated in a combo of red wine vinegar, olive oil and crushed coriander seeds. Marry that with chopped fresh tomatoes and nectarines — an awesome combo of the super sweet from the nectarines and the more savory sweet of the tomatoes, top with fresh dill and some crushed up pita chips for crunch. The sweetness of the produce is offset perfectly by the tart, salty feta and punch of acid from the dressing. It’s an awesome combo — I ate this salad on its own for lunch and it was amazing.

Fattoush is technically the name for a Lebanese bread salad, which you technically get from the pita chips in this I suppose. I was a little skeptical of that ingredient and debated getting fresh pita and toasting it, but I ended up really liking the chips, because they’re so super crunchy and stand up to the dressing and produce better.

TW’s Tips

  • I tried this salad with both red and yellow heirloom tomato — yellow is pictured but red adds a little more variety visually
  • Use plain pita chips — I picked Stacy’s brand
  • Fresh dill=critical
  • I found the amount of feta to be a little bit much, so you could cut that back by 1/4 if you wanted to

Enjoy!

Marinated Feta with Nectarine and Tomato Fattoush

Ingredients

  • One 8-ounce block of feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slabs
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 nectarines—halved, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 2 medium heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups broken pita chips
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped dill, plus small sprigs for garnish

Directions

Place the feta in a small rimmed dish in an even layer. In a small bowl, whisk the 
vinegar with the olive oil, coriander seeds and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Pour the marinade over the feta and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, turning the cheese over after 15 minutes.

Transfer the feta to plates or a platter. In a large bowl, toss the nectarines with the tomatoes, pita chips and the feta marinade. Add the chopped dill and season with salt and pepper; toss again. Spoon the salad over the feta and garnish with dill sprigs. Serve right away.

MAKE AHEAD
The marinated feta can be refrigerated overnight. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

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Spaghetti with Summer Squash and Tomatoes

Inspired by my friend Megan’s gift of a fresh zucchini from her garden (jealous!), I found this Tyler Florence recipe for Spaghetti with Summer Squash and Tomatoes and hit the farmer’s market for some more super fresh produce to round out the dish. Oh boy, was it worth it. This pasta is light and fresh, and bursting with great flavors from the veggies — and the fresher you go, the better this will taste. I even got some arugula from the farmer’s market and it was unbelievable — spicy, peppery and the perfect hit in this tasty bowl of pasta.

Roasting all the vegetables instead of sautéing really make a difference in this recipe. The roasting caramelizes the veggies and also adds more of a nutty taste to them — so much better than a turn in a frying pan, even if it does take a little longer. There are so many vegetables in here that you don’t even feel bad about eating a bowl of pasta!

TW’s Tips

  • Use fresh farmer’s market veggies.
  • Go super al dente on the pasta — I love when pasta has some bite to it, and it makes this even better reheated.
  •  Cut the tomatoes in half if they’re bigger than normal (which you may get since farmer’s market produce isn’t so uniform)
  • Don’t forget the ladle of pasta liquid before you drain!
  • Use lots of fresh cracked black pepper on top, and sprinkle with a little sea salt/kosher salt. Yum!

Spaghetti with Summer Squash and Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 summer squash, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Handful of arugula leaves, chopped
  • 3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat for the spaghetti.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the squashes, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and oregano in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and give it all a good toss. Dump that out onto a baking sheet and roast for 10 to 12 minutes, until the squash is tender and caramelized. Scrape the vegetables into a large pasta bowl and cover with a plate to keep everything warm.

The pasta water should be boiling by now. Add the spaghetti and stir to separate the strands. Cook for 8 to 9 minutes, until al dente.

To finish, scoop out about 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water, drain the pasta, and toss gently with the roasted vegetables. Add the pasta water if needed. Toss with the arugula and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Stack of Heaven: Eggplant, Tomato & Feta Cheese Napolean

I live for the day when heirloom tomatoes appear at the farmers market. I’m a bit of a tomato fiend — I’m sorry, but a sandwich is just not a sandwich without tomato — but nothing beats a fresh, local, funky-looking heirloom tomato. I love them so much that I spent $12 on them at the farmers market. And it will be worth every penny, believe me!

My go-to with an heirloom is a simple caprese salad with fresh mozzarella, but this week I found a delicious-looking recipe for Eggplant, Tomato, and Feta Cheese Napoleans (courtesy of Emeril). Um, yes please!

Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables, and I found some adorable little purple and white specimens at Whole Foods that I couldn’t pass up. Roasted with balsamic vinegar and stacked with goat cheese, tomatoes and basil oil…oh wow. Not only does it look impressive, I think I could eat this for every meal this week. I opted for goat cheese instead of feta — good choice, if I don’t say so myself.

Seriously — how amazing does that look? I outdid myself on this one.

Eggplant, Tomato and Feta Cheese Napolean

PESTO OIL:

  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves, washed and patted dry
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

NAPOLEONS:

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese or goat cheese (about 6 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
  • 2 large tomatoes, cored

To make the pesto oil, pulse the basil and garlic in a food processor or blender until finely chopped. With the machine running, add the olive oil in a steady stream and process until well blended. Season with the salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and cover tightly.

To make the napoleons, preheat the oven to 450°F.

Cut the eggplant crosswise into 12 slices about 1/4 inch thick. Mix 1/4 cup of the olive oil and the balsamic vinegar in a large bowl. Add the eggplant slices and toss to coat. Season with the salt and pepper.

Place the eggplant on a baking sheet in one layer and bake until soft, turning once, about 15 minutes. Let cool.

In a small bowl, combine the cheese, basil, and the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Slice each tomato crosswise into 4 slices about 1/3 inch thick. Place 1 eggplant slice on a salad plate. Top with about 1 tablespoon of the cheese mixture, then a tomato slice. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of pesto oil over the tomato, then top with another tablespoon of cheese. Repeat with an other eggplant slice, 1 tablespoon cheese, a tomato slice, and 1 teaspoon pesto oil. Finish with a final eggplant slice, another tablespoon of cheese, and a drizzle of pesto oil. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Serve at room temperature, with pesto oil drizzled around each napoleon.

Yield: 4 servings