Southwest Summer Salad

Here is a spicy, savory meal that makes great use of prime summer produce — corn, tomatoes, lettuce, and avocados — in one delicious salad.  This is a crowd pleasing superstar, as it’s dairy and gluten free, vegan, deliciously nutritious, and easy to do much of the prep in advance.

Southwest Summer Salad

This salad uses one of my prior recipes, Spicy Tofu Crumbles.  If you would prefer, you may substitute grilled chicken breast for the tofu crumbles.  The quick to make dressing can be adjusted for spiciness depending on your preference.  (for Hannah & Caleb) Enjoy!

Southwest Summer Salad
(all quantities are dependent on number of servings needed)

romaine lettuce, washed and cut
tomatoes, rough chop large tomatoes, or halve cherry tomatoes
fresh sweet corn – kernels cut off cobs, sauteed briefly in a little olive oil, then cooled to room temp.
avocado, peeled and diced
bell pepper, chopped
fresh cilantro, chopped
pinto beans, cooked and cooled
toasted pepitas
Spicy Tofu Crumbles
Chipotle Lime Dressing (recipe below)

Assemble all ingredients in a large shallow bowl.  Dress the salad just before serving.  Add tortilla chips for extra crunch.

Chipotle Lime Dressing
3 TB fresh squeezed lime juice
6 TB extra virgin olive oil
1/2 to 1 tsp. chipotle powder (depending on how spicy your like dressing)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 cloves fresh garlic, pressed

Carrot Salad with Lavender & Thyme

My CSA box* often includes carrots — and last week they were special.  Deep, rich purple on the outside with a bright orange core, these beauties deserved a starring role.


purple carrots, lavender, and thyme


Carrot Salad with Lavender & Thyme

Their flavor profile is a little duskier than a bright orange carrot, and so I paired them with the lovely lavender and thyme growing in my garden.  A simple dressing of olive oil, sherry vinegar and a touch of honey make it sing.  All together, this is a hearty, sweet/savory salad that would add sparkle to most meals.  And a bonus — this salad keeps for a couple days in the fridge — perfect for make ahead meals.  Enjoy!

Carrot Salad with Lavender & Thyme

6 – 8 purple carrots, rinsed and grated
3 TB olive oil
1 TB fruity sherry vinegar
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp sea salt, fine
3 sprigs fresh lavender, buds removed and chopped (or 1 tsp dried lavender)
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried thyme)

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, taste for salt and adjust if needed.

* I often feature vegetables from my Full Belly Farms CSA Veggie box.  Have you considered joining a CSA?  This stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  There are many in my neck of the woods, Northern California, but I know that they exist all over the country, and perhaps the world.  It is an excellent way to taste the best produce grown locally, grown in a way that respects workers and the land upon which they labor.  Here’s a link to Local Harvest, a site that helps connect you with the best CSA box for you and your family.

Blueberry Spongecake Roll

Blueberries are one of my favorite fruits.  I have several new Southern high bush blueberry plants in my garden this year.  Their flavor is rich and sweet — but subtle in a dessert.  To get the blueberry flavor and color I was after, I turned to freeze dried blueberries to add big blueberry flavor to this luscious spongecake roll.  Adding whole fresh blueberries adds texture and interest to this treat.

Blueberry Spongecake Roll slice

The spongecake is simple and fluffy, and rolls up nicely without cracking.  For this cake you’ll need a 15 inch jellyroll pan and parchment paper.

15 ”  jellyroll pan, mid prep

spongecake, just finished baking

cooled and rolled spongecake, unrolled to spread blueberry buttercream over the top prior to rolling

The Swiss meringue buttercream filling gets its amazing color and flavor from pulverized freeze dried blueberries.  Freeze Dried blueberries are super light in weight, but retain the shape of a fresh blueberry and have a crisp, crunchy texture.  I bought the freeze dried blueberries from my local market, then ground them in a spice grinder until a fine powder.  I used the entire contents of a packet of freeze dried blueberries (about 2 cups to begin with) and ended up with about 2/3 cup ground blueberries.

Blueberry Spongecake Roll, ready to eat!

The proportions aren’t exact — just add the amount of pulverized blueberries you like to achieve the flavor and color you desire.   Enjoy!

Spongecake Roll
(serves 8 – 10)

4 large eggs
7 oz (1 cup) sugar
4/1/2 oz (1 cup sifted) unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. sea salt, fine
1 TB vanilla extract
2 TB water
2 TB butter, melted

Preheat over to 375.  Grease and flour the sides of a 15″ jelly pan roll, then fit a sheet of parchment paper, also greased and floured, to the bottom of the pan.

Using the whip attachment to your mixer, beat eggs on medium high speed for a minute.  Add sugar, then beat for several minutes, or until very light and fluffy.  Reduce mixer speed to low, and add in vanilla and water.

Sift together flour and salt.  Gently fold flour/salt mixture into the egg mixture until incorporated.  Gently stir in the melted butter.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 13 – 17 minutes or until light golden brown, and the middle of the cake springs back when pressed.

Allow cake to cool in the pan for a couple minutes, then score the edges of the pan to release the sides of the cake.  Invert the cake onto a clean cotton or linen dishcloth that has been lightly dusted with powdered sugar.  Gently roll up the cake long-wise in the towel and allow to cool, seam side down.

Blueberry Swiss meringue buttercream

3 egg whites
6 oz sugar
8 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup finely ground freezedried blueberries
3/4 cup fresh blueberries – for the assembly of the dessert

Combine the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof mixing bowl.  Place over a pan with 1 inch simmering water, and whisk the egg/sugar mixture until the sugar has dissolved completely into the egg whites and the mixture is about 140 degrees.  (more info here)

Whip the hot egg/sugar mixture on high heat until fluffy, white, and cooled to almost room temperature.  Remove the whip attachment and replace it with the mixing paddle.  Add the butter one TB at a time while paddling on low.  Gently fold in the ground blueberries with a spatula.

To assemble the cake, unroll the spongecake from the towel.  Apply the blueberry buttercream over the inward side of the rolled cake and spread evenly, leaving a one inch margin on one long side.  Sprinkle the fresh blueberries evenly over the buttercream.  Roll up the spongecake longways, and place on a serving tray, seam side down.  Dust with additional powdered sugar if desired.  Allow to cool in the fridge for at least a 1/2 hour, then serve by slicing the roll.