Ohh, how I've missed our mornings and evenings on the deck! We had a serious love affair with the deck last spring, and spent so much time out there. And then winter hit, and we've pretty much been inside ever since. It's been getting nicer, slowly but surely, here in Kansas, so I put together some seasonal recipes for a nice dinner. We also just got a gorgeous new outdoor rug from nuLOOM (linked here) that pulls together the space so perfectly. All the other details on our outdoor furniture can be found in a previous blog post: Our Cozy Outdoor Deck
We had quite a bit of leftovers for just the two of us, and I'd say this easily serves four people with a little room for dessert. A lot of the ingredients below can be swapped out for what's in season in a few months, and that's awesome for me because I love grabbing fruit and veggies that are on sale at my local grocery store. For example, the blackberries were only $0.77! But you could easily use strawberries, blueberries, or pears instead. Also, instead of asparagus later this summer try garden tomatoes (barely sauteed so they stay intact.) I didn't buy basil for my Caprese Salad because I was shopping with a toddler and honestly just forgot it, but again basil's not quite in season yet so we made do with spicy olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar.
I like to grocery shop with an entire week in mind, and if I'm picking up something specific like shallots instead of white onions, I make sure to incorporate it into a lot of different meals. That being said, all of these meals are meant to play nicely with your grocery planning while also helping you entertain with a variety of food. But don't feel like you have to use shallots instead of a simple onion if that's what you have on hand!
Lemon Pasta w/ Pine Nuts, Peas & Asparagus
This is one of my favorite ways to eat pasta since it's kind of an unexpected, fresher twist on Fettuccine Alfredo. The first time I had lemon pasta was in New York at a small Italian restaurant, and it completely changed my perspective. You can sub the sour cream for plain Greek yogurt, OR omit it completely if you're avoiding dairy (I promise it will still be delicious thanks to all the flavors involved!) We topped our pasta with grilled chicken, and it was a perfect mix of flavors.
1lb fettuccine pasta
1 tbsp salted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1 bunch fresh asparagus
1/3 cup of frozen peas
1 tbsp of pine nuts
1 cup of sour cream
Boil water for pasta, and cook as directed.
While the pasta's cooking, mince your garlic and shallot. Sautee in a tbsp of butter and a tbsp of olive oil for a few minutes on medium low heat. (Or until onion/shallot is translucent.)
While that's cooking, roughly chop your asparagus into bite size pieces. Add in lemon zest and juice, and mix. Toss in asparagus and let it cook until a darker, brighter green (about 4-6 minutes). Add in frozen peas and pine nuts. Cook until frozen peas are no longer frozen (2-3 minutes).
Set heat to low, and add in sour cream and cheese to taste (about a 1/4 cup is what I did). Turn off heat, and add drained (unrinsed) pasta to the sauce. Mix together and serve with more cheese on top!
I lucked out and found some very ripe heirloom tomatoes at my local grocery store, and that's the absolute key to this recipe! Tomatoes should be ripe and high-quality for Caprese Salad to taste like it should.
2 ripe tomatoes
1 package of fresh mozzarella
1 loaf of crusty bread (a baguette or french bread would work)
Drizzle of olive oil
Drizzle of basalmic vinegar
(Optional: Basil leaves)
Slice tomatoes and mozzarella into equally thick (about 1/2") slices. Layer them over one another on serving platter, and drizzle olive oil and basalmic vinegar before serving. Cut bread into similar thickness, and broil bread slices in the oven (with a little butter to taste) until golden brown. Arrange on the same platter around tomatoes and mozzarella.
Goat Cheese & Fruit on Leafy Greens Salad
Worst name ever, but if I call it fruit salad, the Midwesterner in me can't picture anything besides that pistachio jello salad with the marshmallows in it. Anyways, you can sub out the cheese for feta, blue, or even parmesan if soft cheese isn't your jam. I love goat cheese in salad, so this was a treat! Blood oranges and blackberries looked especially great at the store, but this would be excellent with regular oranges, strawberries, blueberries, and even pears.
Putting together a salad almost doesn't need instructions! I always start with my greens in the serving bowl, toss on my fruit (the orange was peeled/sliced), nuts, cheese, dressing, mix, and toss a little more of everything (sans dressing) on top for curb appeal.
Mixed bag of greens (Spinach, baby Kale and Argula are all great)
1 Blood Orange
1/2 cup of blackberries
1/4 cup of walnuts
Any simple vinegarette (simple recipe here)
Okay, this hardly needs its own section, but we've been enjoying some finer beers lately with the weather turning warmer. Jordan usually brings home Hazy IPA's, which are a more sophisticated version of fruity beers, and Sour Ales that have a really unique taste (that I really, really love.) I'll link the one we pictured here. It's harder to find where we are since it sells out often, but it's fun because it looks like a bottle of wine and serves just the right amount for two people.
I know we'll be spending more and more time out here as the weather gets nicer! B and Mali were in absolute heaven playing outside while I got dinner ready. I'm looking forward to more nights like this in the future!
This post contains sponsored content from nuLOOM. All opinions are my own.