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How I Became Obsessed With Mexican Food (+ recipe)

by | Feb 21, 2017

My best childhood memories include big family BBQs at my grandparents’ house, jumping off the diving board anywhere my mom would let me, riding bikes with my brother Dana, and of course Mexico.

My grandfather’s parents were Mexican immigrants. He grew up in Texas in a bilingual home, then ultimately enlisted in the Army where he served in WWII and became a featherweight boxing champion. He was so good at boxing in fact, that he was ultimately recruited to fight with the Marine Corps as well.

After his service he met my blue-eyed, red-headed grandmother in LA. Together they were a spitting image of Ricky and Lucy Ricardo.

After getting married they opened a German sandwich shop and hofbrau in LA. Grandpa was the chef and I don’t know why he chose German food, but my guess is that he was trying desperately to assimilate into the country he loved so he and his family would not be stigmatized by his immigrant heritage. Spanish was never spoken in the home my mother grew up in.

By the time I came into the picture though we ate Mexican food a lot. Even though my mother was the one with Mexican heritage, my father was a self-proclaimed Mexiphile and it was a rare day that our home wasn’t stocked with homemade salsa and guacamole (pronounced wah-cah-moe-lay, please). Chips were optional.

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Foodist Approved: Greek Bison Burgers Recipe

by | Aug 16, 2016
Greek Bison Burgers

Greek Bison Burgers

A note from Darya:

Big news! Our very own recipe guru Elyse Kopecky’s amazing new cookbook Run Fast Eat Slow is out in the world.

If you’ve been cooking Elyse’s recipes here at Summer Tomato for the past few years you already know how freakishly delicious everything in this book will be.

Even more exciting is that this book is specifically designed to nourish you for optimal athletic performance. Elyse’s co-author is world class marathoner and 4-time Olympian Shalene Flanagan, who credits a real foods approach to helping her perform at her best.

Together Elyse and Shalene have created over 100 nourishing and delicious real foods recipes that any home chef can make with ease.

Check out Run Fast Eat Slow today and show your support by attending her book events and checking her out on Good Morning American this Thursday.

Congratulations Elyse!



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Foodist Approved: Pesto Pasta Salad with Grilled Veggies and Sardines Recipe

by | Jul 19, 2016
Pesto Pasta with Grilled Veggies and Sardines

Pesto Pasta with Grilled Veggies and Sardines

Yup, you heard that right, sardines! Sardines are a much-underutilized ingredient, but should be a staple you keep on hand in your pantry. They’re a great addition to pasta because they add satisfying umami flavor, protein, and a serious omega-3 boost.

Since sardines are much lower in mercury and other toxins, they’re my go-to over tuna (Darya’s too). My two-year-old loves them and eats them straight up out of the can (personally I prefer them mixed into dishes like pasta and egg salad).

For this pasta dish, I was inspired by the broccolini and summer squash at the farmers market, but feel free to mix it up and grill any assortment of summer favorites. Red peppers, eggplant, fennel, and asparagus are other reliable grill-time staples.

If you’re feeding a small army, I recommend doubling this recipe. It makes great leftovers and can be served cold as a salad for lunch the next day.

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Foodist Approved: Summer Quinoa Salad Recipe

by | Jun 14, 2016
farmers market quinoa salad

farmers market quinoa salad

The ingredients in this hearty grain salad celebrate the start of summer and the opening of farmers markets across the country. This quinoa salad is packed with a power combo of kale, sugar snap peas, and radishes and is tossed with a bright lemony vinaigrette.

The secret that takes this salad from good to great is adding finely grated lemon zest to the vinaigrette. The zest brightens the other flavors and creates a beautiful flavor profile.

A microplane zester is an inexpensive tool worthy of adding to your kitchen gadget collection. Otherwise a paring knife can be used to carefully remove the zest from the pith. This will give you large pieces of zest that then need to be minced finely. Lemon zest adds exceptional flavor to everything from dressings to marinades to baked goods.

I’ll admit it. I made this salad three times this week! The first night for recipe testing, the next night for dinner at grandma’s house, and a couple nights later for a dinner party with friends. It was an acclaimed winner at every event.

Top this salad with a soft-boiled egg for a quick, nourishing meal or serve as a side with grilled steak for a no-stress dinner party.

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Foodist Approved: Mexican Pozole Soup Recipe

by | May 17, 2016
Pork Pozole Verde Soup

Pork Pozole Verde Soup

I asked Darya what she was craving this week and she said a Mexican-style soup. I tend to cook a lot of food that’s French and Italian, inspired by my time living abroad in Switzerland, so I was thrilled to turn-up-the-heat and experiment with creating a dish that incorporates roasted peppers, earthy cumin, and slow-cooked pork shoulder.

If you haven’t cooked much with pork, this recipe will inspire you to try something new. Pork can be a healthy and richly satisfying part of your healthstyle if you seek out a butcher selling local meat that’s been raised humanely. After a long, slow simmer (a slow-cooker works best) the pork shoulder gets so tender that you can shred it into bite-size pieces reminiscent of Southern-style pulled pork.

To save time, this dish can be made with canned diced green chiles, but prying open a can isn’t nearly as much fun as charring a whole tray of fresh peppers (just try not to set off the fire alarm!). It takes just two to three Anaheim peppers to add some nice heat to the soup, but if you’re going to go to the trouble to roast fresh peppers you might as well char a whole bunch.

You can chop and freeze the extra roasted peppers in individual portions for future soups, stews, or my personal fave—homemade fire-roasted salsa (tomato season is almost here).

Just before serving, stir in chopped purple cabbage to sneak in a cruciferous star and to add a satisfying crunch to each bowl.

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Foodist Approved: Green Curry Braised Salmon Recipe

by | Apr 19, 2016

green curry braised salmon kopecky 650px
This green curry salmon recipe, compliments of James Beard award-winning cookbook author Diane Morgan, proves weeknight dinners can be fancy without the fuss.

Last week I was thrilled to see the first fresh wild Alaskan salmon of the season at my local grocery store. It was an excuse to put friend Diane Morgan’s beautiful new Salmon cookbook to the test.

After flipping through all the mouth-watering recipes in her book, this recipe jumped out at me as being both simple and unique. I love making flavorful curries and hadn’t thought to try one made with fish.

I’m never good at following a recipe exactly, but this recipe is perfect as written below. If you’re feeling adventurous you can try these small tweaks:

Being a veggie lover, I couldn’t resist tossing in a hearty handful of baby spinach in the last couple minutes of simmering.

I also substituted coconut sugar for brown sugar.

Since I was using my favorite potent green curry paste, Oregon-based Thai and True, I scaled back to slightly less than 1/4 cup. If you prefer less spice than start out with 3 tablespoons of curry paste and you can always taste and add a little more curry at the end of cooking.

This recipe is great served on top of jasmine rice, short-grain brown rice, or quinoa.

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Foodist Approved: Sweet Potato Salad Recipe

by | Mar 15, 2016
Sweet Potato Succotash

Sweet Potato Succotash

With Spring right around the corner it’s time to bring back nourishing salads. And I’m not talking about uninspiring limp lettuce salads, but hearty, satisfying bowls of color. This creamy sweet potato salad stands on its own as a complete meal or pairs harmoniously with juicy burgers.

In our household we love to create side dishes whose leftovers can be transformed into work lunches. If you’re working 9-to-5, you need serious mid-day fuel to prevent that late afternoon slump (we all know that dreadful crash that leads to junk food snack attacks).

Thanks to the power combination of sweet potatoes, edamame, corn, and pepitas all tossed together in a rich yogurt-based dressing this salad will sustain you throughout the afternoon.

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Foodist Approved: Sweet Pea Soup with Parsley and Chèvre Recipe

by | Feb 16, 2016
Sweet Pea Soup with Parsley and Chevre

Sweet Pea Soup with Parsley and Chevre

Spring is just around the corner, but with the recent snowstorms across the country sunshine may feel hopelessly out of reach. Fear not.

Get into the kitchen and make soup to rejuvenate your soul. Plus, Souping is the New Juicing—the perfect way to squeeze more veggies into your life.

This pea soup only requires a 15-minute simmer, making it a front-runner for weeknight dinners. Add a little sautéed Italian sausage to transform it into a hearty meal and no other sides are needed.

Chèvre (goat’s cheese) is my go-to for adding creamy richness to soups without the use of heavy cream. Goat cheese is much easier to digest than cream, and it lends a tart, tangy, earthy flavor that turns this nourishing vegetable soup into a showstopper.

Get fancy and top each bowl with homemade croutons to add irresistible crunch.

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Foodist Approved: Super Healthy Bolognese Sauce Recipe

by | Jan 19, 2016

Healthy bolognese with extra vegetables

As winter drags on you’ll find yourself craving hearty food—I know I do this time of year. Sometimes nothing will satisfy that hunger except a classic bowl of spaghetti topped with a rich meat sauce.

My homemade bolognese sauce is loaded with vegetables, but won’t disappoint the meat lover in your family. I created this recipe for Lily, my 18-month-old who absolutely loves pasta, as a means to sneak more veggies into her life.

I prefer to make bolognese sauce with 85% lean grass-fed ground beef, but any ground meat will work (just not the really lean stuff). Try making the sauce with ground bison, lamb or turkey, or go meatless and swap in tempeh (grind the tempeh in a food processor).

This sauce is memorable served on top of pasta, but you can also serve it on top of spaghetti squash for a lighter meal. The gluten-free crowd will love it spooned on top of brown rice or a baked potato.

I highly recommend making a double batch and freezing half so you get two family dinners for the time-commitment of one.

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Foodist Approved: Roasted Butternut Squash, Farro and Kale Salad Recipe

by | Dec 22, 2015
Butternut, farro and kale salad

Butternut, farro and kale salad

This delicious salad with roasted butternut squash, farro and kale has become my family’s go-to nourishing winter salad to fight the onslaught of cold viruses.

One bowlful has it all going on: crisp kale, sweet butternut, hearty farro, salty Parmesan, and an addicting homemade dressing. It’s chockfull of vitamins and minerals including C, K, A, calcium, magnesium, and potassium—all enhanced by the enzyme-rich apple cider vinaigrette. But of course the best reason to eat it is that it’s delicious.

Prepping a butternut squash requires a good quality chef’s knife and a little muscle power (learn the best technique here), or many grocery stores sell it freshly cubed to save you time. You’ll just want to chop the cubes into smaller 1/2-inch pieces for guaranteed roasting perfection.

Make this colorful salad as an impressive side dish on a Sunday night then stowaway the leftovers for a work lunch that will be the envy of the office.

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