Summer bowl: Shrimp & gnocchi with corn, basil, and blistered tomatoes

Shrimp gnocchi

Back in our early days of parenthood, when I was too exhausted to make decisions of any sort, Spence and I subscribed to a meal kit delivery service.

I looooved it. And I mean loved. Gone were the nightly “what’s for dinner?” debates. The angst over what to cook, when to shop, and basically how to live with a newborn was all very foreign (and overwhelming to me). Using one of those “five free meals!”-type promotions, we opted for Blue Apron. Our box came on Mondays. The recipes were fantastic and I loved the cute, perfectly-portioned meats and “knick-knacks” like red wine vinegar. I especially loved that we could make restaurant-quality meals at home … with a newborn.

If that sounds like marketing, well — it’s kinda hard to turn off, given my day job and all. It also happens to be entirely true!

As our family grew and we began getting more than a few hours of sleep, I couldn’t justify the cost anymore. That’s around the time I discovered The Weeknight Dinner Cookbook, a/k/a my cooking bible. The moment we experience an unexpected windfall, though, I will sprint back to Blue Apron … mark my words.

In the meantime? We’ll settle for eBay.

For roughly $3, my husband recently purchased a big lot of Blue Apron recipe cards from another home chef. These babies are full-size, full-color with step-by-step instructions. I kept the recipe sheets from all of our favorite recipes, so it’s easy to replicate the dishes again and again — unless they call for a tough-to-find ingredient (it happens, though not often).

Anyway. I’m in danger of turning into this meme.

Here’s a delicious summertime dinner (or lunch!) that turned out pretty as a picture. The original rendition from Blue Apron calls for fresh ingredients we didn’t have on hand, so I substituted with canned and frozen varieties … and the result was still fantastic. This is my wild-eyed, busy parent version.

It’s fresh. It’s flavorful. It’s fast, because it’s shrimp … and gnocchi, which literally cook in minutes. The description below seems long, but it is not complicated. You’re basically cooking the ingredients in batches and layering them together to create one balanced, tastebud-satisfying dish.

Dig in. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

 

Shrimp gnocchi2

Shrimp & Gnocchi with Corn,
Basil, and Blistered Tomatoes

Ingredients:
1 lb. frozen shrimp, thawed
16 oz. package potato gnocchi
10 oz. cherry tomatoes, any color
2 cloves garlic, minced or diced
2 scallions, sliced
1 can (16 oz.) corn kernels, drained
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste
Parmesan, to taste

Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling. In a large pan, heat 2 tsp of olive oil on medium-high and add the tomatoes. Without stirring, cook the tomatoes until browned and blistered (about 3-4 minutes). Season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until slightly softened. Transfer to a bowl.

In the same pan, heat 2 tsp of olive oil on medium-high. Add the scallions and corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened (about 1-2 minutes). Season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat.

Pat the shrimp dry and season with salt and pepper. Add the shrimp to the pan of cooked corn along with the garlic and red pepper flakes to your preference. Cook on medium-high, stirring frequently, until the shrimp are opaque and cooked through (3-4 minutes). Turn off the heat.

As the shrimp are cooking, boil the gnocchi. Cook 2-3 minutes, or until the gnocchi float to the top of the pot. Reserve 1/3 cup of the gnocchi cooking water, then drain thoroughly.

Transfer the gnocchi to the shrimp mixture. Return the blistered tomatoes to the pan. Add the butter and fresh basil, along with a few tablespoons of the gnocchi cooking water. Cook on medium-high, stirring vigorously for 1-2 minutes, until the gnocchi are coated in the butter sauce. (Add additional cooking water a few tablespoons at a time if your sauce seems dry.) Season with more salt and pepper to taste.

Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and sprinkling of parmesan cheese (optional), plus more of the fresh basil (not optional — just delicious). Enjoy!

 

Grilled corn and tomatoes with a honey lime dressing

Roasted corn

Come Saturday morning, you’d be hard-pressed to find me somewhere other than the farmers’ market.

Given we have a stroller and adorably demanding human in tow these days, those trips have to be a bit more planned out . . . but since Oliver has been cleared for public strolls, we try to pack the little guy up and head out.

We were housebound for a while there — and the last time I made it to our local market, we had a choice of zucchini, squash and a few paltry peppers. This past weekend? Well, friends, it was a veritable smorgasbord . . . and I went hog wild.

Cherry tomatoes.
Watermelon.
Cantaloupe.
Blueberries.
Tomatoes so fat, you want to bite right in.

And after picking up half a dozen ears of corn for our little Fourth of July barbeque at home, I remembered a simple corn and tomato side dish I whipped up a few times last year. Like this cucumber and onion salad, this dish is light and fresh and comes together in no time flat.

Especially valuable when the little person inside the aforementioned stroller has a meltdown.

The original recipe calls for the addition of avocado, but I didn’t have any on hand — so I skipped it. It’s delicious without, so I’m imagining it’s even better with!


Grilled Corn and Tomatoes
with a Honey Lime Dressing

Ingredients:
1 pint grape tomatoes
4 ears of fresh sweet corn
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, or 1 tbsp dried cilantro

For the dressing:
Juice of 1 lime
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp honey
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Remove husks from corn and grill over medium heat for 10 minutes. (The corn should have some brown spots and be tender, but not mushy.) Cut the corn off the cob and remove silks. Set aside to cool. Slice tomatoes in half.

To make the dressing, add all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

Combine the sliced tomatoes, cilantro and grilled corn with the honey lime dressing and mix gently until evenly coasted. Chill the dish for at least 30 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Epicurious


A summer of peaches


I normally don’t pay much attention to fruit. And yes, I know I’m trying to “eat healthier” and “make better choices” and “exercise,” but somehow consuming more fresh produce hasn’t really gotten onto my radar.

But I’m working on that. Spencer and I have been hitting up farmers markets and fruit stands from here to California. Last weekend’s early-morning trip to Berryville, Va., had us stopping at a cute spot called Nalls Farm Market for goodies on our way back to Maryland.

Funny thing about Nalls: we’d gone looking for it 10 minutes earlier. According to trusty Google Maps, it should have been just up ahead on our left after a U-turn — but no such place existed. Dismayed but eying the ominous thunderstorm headed our way, we kept driving toward home and said we’d look for the market another day. And that’s when I spied the ant.

I really don’t like bugs.

“Do you really want me to pull over so you can get an ant off your door?” Spencer crowed, giving me his patented raised-eyebrows look of bemusement and irritation.

Yes, I said. I really do. Or I’ll stare at it the entire drive home — two-plus hours. “Just pull off up here,” I said, gesturing to a little barn and its driveway up ahead.

We were just a few feet away when I recognized the sign I’d seen online: Nalls Farm Market. If it hadn’t been for the wayward ant, we would have sailed straight past the stand . . . and I wouldn’t have gotten these delicious peaches.



In hindsight, we should have just sprung for the bushel. Buying eight of them individually was almost as much as a whole small basket, but I couldn’t imagine we would eat more than a dozen peaches before they rotted.

I was wrong. They’re already gone.

It’s been a summer of fruit. There’s something so refreshing and intoxicating about farmers markets, and I like buying local. What good does my $5 really do? I don’t know. But it feels good to pass it over, even if it’s just a small purchase.

I need more peaches. And peach recipes. If you have any, don’t hold out on me.