Lemony Tomato Sauce with Dill

Lemony Tomato Sauce with Dill by Produce with Amy“There is no technique, there is just the way to do it.
Now, are we going to measure or are we going to cook?”
― Frances Mayes, Under the Tuscan Sun

I haven’t read Under the Tuscan Sun in ages and this is my reminder to do so soon. It was one of my favorites when I first began teaching and I pulled out line-after-line to share with my creative writing students. The way that Mayes described the colors of Tuscany took my breath away. Mayes writes, ” When it rains or when the light changes, the facade of the house turns gold, sienna, ocher; a previous scarlet paint job seeps through in rosy spots like a box of crayons left to melt in the sun.” In my dreams, I see the valleys she writes about — like bowls of fog  — filled with fruit tress. I want sink my teeth into figs, pears, and apricots and navigate the ancient Roman roads. I want to be there right now, don’t you? (It was -2 on my commute to work today.)

When I met John I learned that he shares my love of travel. We have plans to visit Alaska this summer – and he will be the travel director – meaning the vacation will be on his terms. Alaska was never on my bucket list before I met John but he talked so passionately about a trip he took there with his uncle and father that I want to experience the real Alaska with him. We will not be taking a cruise or staying in touristy hotels. We will be roughing it – so to say. I am nervous and excited to venture out of my comfort zone. I promise plenty of blog posts from our adventures.

I can get lost in the beauty of our home and land.

I can get lost in the beauty of our home and land.

My friends and family have found themselves shaking their heads in amusement many times over the past year as John encourages me to embrace my true Yooper. This includes helping him split and stack wood to heat our log home, cleaning the chicken coop, weeding the garden in my Bog boots and bikini, and this winter I have even learned how to load the outside wood boiler with logs.

Because marriage is about compromise, John has agreed to visit Italy and Greece – on my terms – for my 50th birthday (that gives us a substantial amount of time to save) and I cannot wait to experience the colors and flavors of the Mediterranean. In my mind’s eye I imagine the magic that  Mayes describes come to life before my eyes. I am a goal setter and I love having my eye fixed on the future and knowing that John and I can reward ourselves for hard work. It also helps me live more frugally, knowing that being wise with our money will pay off with new experiences and the wisdom gained by travel.

In my last post, Time to Make Myself a Priority Again, I shared my struggles in finding time for myself and even for cooking healthy meals. I was waving the white flag at my picky family and relying on processed food  – in return I have been feeling less than healthy. Last weekend an abundance of fresh fruit, vegetables, greens, and berries found their way into my shopping cart and this week I plan a repeat performance. My favorite mid-day snacks at work this week were grapefruit – peeled like an orange. They were so sweet and juicy that sugar was not needed (though I don’t think I’ve put sugar on grapefruit since I was a kid).

I love having a bottomless fruit bowl at home. Our kids love bananas and cuties.

I love having a bottomless fruit bowl at home. Our kids love bananas and cuties.

On Tuesday I got home from work and whipped up a batch of homemade marinara for a pan of vegetarian lasagna (a great way to sneak vegetables into my family’s diet). I sautéed garlic, onion, celery, red bell pepper, mushrooms, carrots, and spinach, and added one jar of store-bought spaghetti sauce and a large can of crushed tomatoes along with oregano and basil. I layered up the sauce with lasagna noodles, cottage cheese, and added three cheeses to the middle layer and top (mozzarella, parmesan, and Colby jack). My husband and stepson LOVED it – though my stepdaughter picked around her plate. Oh well, more for us! 😉

Vegetarian lasagna is a great way to "trick" my family into eating vegetables. They love lasagna!

Vegetarian lasagna is a great way to “trick” my family into eating vegetables. They love lasagna! I am wild about our new Pioneer Woman dishes and accessories.

In recommitting to my health, I started thinking about all the meals that I used to enjoy but have not made in over a year because I know that John and the kids would not favor them. I have decided to cook them again. John is always willing to help in the kitchen and we will just have to eat two totally different things more often. This morning when I came downstairs after getting ready for work; not only had John made my coffee and pulled my vehicle out of the garage, but he had already put dinner in the crock pot for him and kids (ribs with BBQ sauce). On Monday I roasted potatoes, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts and made sure to make a double batch – so there was plenty for tonight. I had roasted vegetables with a GIANT dinner salad with a veggie patty and a dollop of hummus for extra protein.

My dinner salad.

My dinner salad.

After dinner I decided that I would prepare one of my favorite tomato sauces dishes to have for lunch tomorrow. As I chopped up the ingredients and juiced and zested the lemon – I could not help envision the Italy that Frances Mayes has fanned out for me in the pages of her writing. Oh, what a delight it would be to select a fresh lemon from a tree and allow its perfume to fill the kitchen.  Like the quote I shared at the top of the page – I am often a cook that creates without recipes. Of course, blogging has changed that slightly, but I always recommend that you let your own taste buds lead you. Add as much or as little lemon as you like and season with the amount of dill that satisfies you. My recipes are always a suggestion and I enjoy hearing the tweaks that individuals make to suit their family and their own tastes.

This sauce is great with a variety of olives and I have even been known to chop up some of my mom’s famous dill pickles to add to the sauce. It is fantastic over pasta or zucchini noodles  If you eat fish, tuna is a wonderful accompaniment (I have added a tin of tuna to the sauce – or topped with a piece of seared tuna steak). If you are vegetarian or follow a plant-based diet, tender white beans are a fine addition.

LEMONY TOMATO SAUCE WITH DILL

*2 cloves finely minced garlic
*1/4 cup chopped onion
*1/2 cup chopped celery
* 1 Tbsp olive oil
*32 ounces canned tomatoes (I used crushed tomatoes because that is what I had on hand. I often use whole tomatoes and break them apart a bit with a spoon or my hand. In the summer I have made this with fresh garden tomatoes and there is nothing that can compare to it.)
*10-15 olives (cut in 1/2 or chopped)
*2 Tablespoons of capers
*Fresh chopped dill (I use kitchen shears to snip and I used approximately 1/4 cup. A couple teaspoons of dried dill would work as well)
*Juice and zest from one lemon
*Black pepper to taste 
(I do not add salt since the olives and capers add enough of saltiness to the sauce)

image

 

Sauté the onions, celery, and garlic until soft. Add in the tomatoes and simmer for ten minutes. Stir in the olives, capers, dill, and lemon zest and juice – simmer a few minutes to incorporate the flavors. Spoon over pasta or zucchini noodles.

 

 

Print out the recipe here: LEMONY TOMATO SAUCE WITH DILL

I hope that you enjoy this sauce as much as I do. I cannot wait to have it for lunch tomorrow. Incidentally, after my sauce was finished bubbling on the stove – John, who was scrubbing the pans in the sink (he sweetly offered to help without my asking) – eyed the Lemony Tomato Sauce. “Try it,” I encouraged him, curious as to what he would think. “It’s good!” he responded in surprise. He thought it would be a great topping for pasta with seared tuna steak. It looks like I will be adding tuna to my shopping list. I wonder what the kids will think – I will have them try a bite (they love tuna steak).

Not only am I changing up my meals and snacks, but this weekend I am going to buy a new multivitamin and add in a vitamin D and calcium supplement. What are your favorite brands of vitamins? I am open to suggestions.

It is also at the top of my list to make more time for myself to read for pleasure, write, and focus on my photography. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan has dramatic landscapes in all seasons and I need to capture the beauty of our hobby farm in the winter.

Thank you for the comments and emails – it certainly is empowering to know that I am not alone in my struggles and I love that we can help encourage each other. As I like to say about my new role of motherhood – it takes a village – and I am happy that you are part of mine! ❤

Our kitten Trixie is getting big and Louie loves her so much. Not only do they snuggle together but he growls at the other dogs when they get "too close" to her.

Our kitten Trixie is getting big and Louie loves her so much. Not only do they snuggle together but he growls at the other dogs when they get “too close” to her.

Avalon and Lukas started a mutiny about school hot lunch so we bought them new lunch bags for Valentine's Day. I always send a snack with them to school but it's complicated because their school is nut free.

Avalon and Lukas started a mutiny about school hot lunch so we bought them new lunch bags for Valentine’s Day. I always send a snack with them to school but it’s complicated because their school is nut free. I will be scouring Pinterest for healthy cold lunch ideas.

 

Advertisements

Zucchini Noodles with Lemon, Capers, Tomato, and Dill


Zucchini Noodles with Lemon, Capers, Tomato, & Dill by Produce with Amy

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
― Maya Angelou

Last week I proclaimed that perhaps my husband Mike and I needed an intervention because we were obsessed with zucchini noodles. At least it is a healthy addiction. We love them raw, lightly sautéed and topped with marinara sauce, mixed with my bruschetta topping (future post), tossed with pesto, and simmered in soup. The combinations are endless. Summer is the perfect time to experiment with different zucchini noodle combinations because I have fresh herbs in my garden which really enhances the taste of sauces and other dishes.

I purchased my spiralizer from Amazon and have had it for a year now. Even though I am a food blogger, I am not a huge fan of kitchen gadgets but a spiralizer is an exception. I wash the zucchini and leave the peel on and within less than a minute I have piles of 0 Point Plus zucchini noodles.  They are a healthy substitute to pasta and if you try them, I bet you will be hooked! You can even mix in a small amount of whole wheat spaghetti if you so desire.

The recipe that I am sharing today is unbelievably quick to make and delicious. My husband and I are both of Finnish heritage and we LOVE dill.

Produce with Amy

DillZUCCHINI NOODLES WITH LEMON, CAPERS, TOMATO, & DILL

*3 ribs of chopped celery
*2 small chopped tomatoes
*2 Tablespoons of capers
*1 medium spiralized zucchini
*1 small chopped onion
*1 large minced clove of garlic
*1 lemon (juice and zest)
*1 Tablespoon cooking oil of choice (I used coconut)
*1/4 cup vegetable broth (white wine would also work well)
*Kalamata olives (I was out but I will be adding them next time)
*Fresh chopped dill (to taste. I added approximately 3/4 cup)

Sautee the onion, garlic, and celery in the oil for a couple of minutes. Add the vegetable Lightly Sauteebroth, tomatoes, lemon juice and zest, capers, olives, and simmer for a couple of minutes. Add the zucchini and cook for a couple of minutes tossing the noodles in the sauce the whole time. I like the noodles Al dente and make sure that I do not over cook them or they will get mushy.

Printable Recipe: ZUCCHINI NOODLES WITH LEMON, CAPERS, TOMATO, & DILL

Pin it HERE.

 

Zucchini Noodles, with Lemon,  Capers, Tomato, and Dill

I hope that you enjoy this recipe and if you do try it, let me know what you think. You may be interested in these other zucchini noodle recipes:

 Raw Zucchini Noodles with Lemon Basil Pesto

Zucchini Noodle Soup

It is not too late for you to join me in the Summer Green Smoothie Challenge. Today is day #6 but you can jump in anytime. Thank you for stopping by my blog and I hope that you are having a healthy and happy August. I promise to keep the recipes coming!

 

Raw Zucchini Noodles with Lemon Basil Pesto

 

Raw Zucchini Noodles with Lemon Basil Pesto by Produce with Amy

“…we opened
two halves
of a miracle,
congealed acid
trickled
from the hemispheres
of a star,
the most intense liqueur
of nature,
unique, vivid,
concentrated…
-Pablo Neruda Ode to a Lemon

If you are like me, the mere thought of both lemon and basil can make your mouth water. Coming in second to taste – is their fragrance. I have always been enamored with the scent of basil and in the summer I make sure to plant many packets of basil seeds in my container garden. I have always said that I could bathe in water perfumed with the bruised leaves of basil (and maybe I have).

Pesto by Produce with Amy

Pesto is one of my favorite flavors and I love to freeze it for a taste of summer when the temperatures outside plunge and I need a mood enhancer. Trust me, pesto has the power to transport one to a beautiful July afternoon.

The pesto recipe that I am sharing today is not a traditional pesto recipe since it does not incorporate pine nuts or parmesan cheese. While I love the addition of pine nuts,

I buy raw nuts in the bulk section of our local co-op. However, I also purchase raw nuts from Target.

I buy raw nuts in the bulk section of our local co-op. However, I also purchase raw nuts from Target.

I did not have them on hand and most of my recipes are assembled by what is in the house. Since raw nuts are one of my protein and pantry staples – I used a raw nut mix that I purchase at Target. Our local food co-op has an incredible selection of raw nuts in the bulk section but they are currently out of my price range. The nuts provide a protein boost and I love the smooth and buttery flavor they give the pesto (trust me…you will not miss the cheese).

I bought a Paderno World Cuisine Spiralizer last summer and I knew that I would love raw zucchini noodles. For years I have enjoyed making summer salads out of thinly sliced zucchini (shingled and layered on a plate) and sprinkled with extra virgin olive oil, leeks or onion, lemon juice, and fresh herbs. It was a technique that I had learned from the Food Network after watching Tyler Florence make a similar salad. He explained that you should let the zucchini sit so the acids in the lemon juice soften and “cook” the squash.

The spiralizer makes easy work of processing the zucchini and I suggest letting the salad rest at least an hour before eating. It does taste better the longer the ingredients marry so it is the perfect dish to make for a gathering.

When I made this recipe last week my husband and I ate the zucchini noodles as they are pictured but normally I add in extra produce. Some of my favorite additions are tomatoes (fresh or sun-dried), colored bell peppers,  spinach, mushrooms, olives, and even roasted or boiled red or Yukon gold potatoes (the potatoes are incredible when they are folded into the cold zucchini noodles when they are still hot. When they are warm the potatoes really absorb the pesto).

 

PestoRAW ZUCCHINI NOODLES WITH LEMON BASIL PESTO

  • 3 small zucchini spiralized
  • Fresh basil (approximately 1 cup…loosely packed. I used a combination of sweet basil and lemon basil that I have in my garden)
  • 1/4 cup of raw nuts 
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon of fresh chives (optional. In the summer since I have chives in my garden I add them to everything)
  • Juice and zest of one lemon (if you are using bottled lemon juice – 1/4 – 1/2 cup depending on how tart you like the pesto)
  • 1/8 – 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil (I do not add the oil to my pesto but instead add oil to the top of the dish before serving for portion control)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Add the basil, nuts, garlic, chives, lemon juice and zest, and salt and pepper to a blender and blend until smooth.

I added approximately 3/4 of the pesto to the spiralized zucchini and let it sit for a couple hours in the refrigerator. I let the bowl sit out for 20-30 minutes before serving since I like this dish closer to room temperature. The remaining pesto I will use for dinner this week.

Raw Zucchini Noodles with Pesto

Printable recipe: RAW ZUCCHINI NOODLES WITH LEMON BASIL PESTO

Pin the zucchini HERE.

These raw zucchini noodles with pesto would make a great layer for a jar salad and they make a great salad bed (in place of or with greens) or as an accompaniment to your favorite grilled items. I love to top mine with a giant grilled portabella mushroom cap or vegetable kebobs.

Raw Zucchini Pesto Noodles

If you are interested in other zucchini noodle recipes make sure you check out my Zucchini Noodle Soup.

Scarlet Salads in a Jar with Cherry Chipotle VinaigretteI also love to spiralize raw beets to use in salads, check out my Scarlet Salad recipe.

Please make sure to stop by my Facebook Page and give it a “like” and sign up for email updates of my posts. Follow me on Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter.

I hope that you enjoy this simple pesto recipe and I would love to hear back from you if you try it. In the next couple days be on the lookout for my favorite cold savory green soup recipe and shortly I will be sharing printable recipes and a shopping list for an August Green Smoothie Challenge. I thought that a green smoothie a day would be a great way to celebrate summer fruit and produce  and I hope that you will join me!
9810

 

 

 

Summon Summer with a Raspberry Lemonade Green Smoothie

Raspberry Lemonade Green Smoothie by Produce with Amy“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” ~F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Today marked the third official day of my summer break. To many people being an educator and having summers “off” would be a dream come true. Yet, I feel guilt surface when Mike kisses me goodbye in the morning (I know he would love extra time to complete all of his household projects). While I love to have time to prep and plan for a fresh school year and enjoy much-needed R&R, the beginning of my summer holiday often gives me a hearty dose of the blues. Last year my friend Sue (now a retired teacher) suggested that perhaps it was the loss of adrenaline that I get from guiding spirited teenagers each day. Maybe it is the surge of the crowd that keeps me moving and drives me. Once the school year is over, my endorphins plunge and I feel depressed.

Well, I decided that this summer I was going to outrun the blues. To have a productive summer I decided that I WAS NOT going to lounge around in my pajamas drinking coffee and feeling sorry for myself. After all, I decided back in January when I started this blog that I was going to be PRODUCTIVE! So I started off Monday morning with a schedule (imagine that) to make sure that my time was structured.

I am enamored with my morning routine: hot water and lemon followed by a cup of green tea (yes, I am giving up coffee. I will dedicate this adventure to it own blog post in a week or so). 30 minutes of reflective journal writing (I listen to meditative/instrumental music and will gradually increase this writing time to 60 minutes). A short walk with Phoebe (our dog) and 30 minutes of cardio. One of the rules during the above is that I am not able to access facebook or other technology until I complete my morning routine. After cardio I drink water and have breakfast (usually a green smoothie).

My afternoon routine is composed of various household chores (which I have honestly failed at). For next week I am going to simplify my afternoon routine and come up with a long list of projects that need to be completed (example: clean the kitchen utensil drawers, scrub out the refrigerator, organize bookshelves, swap out winter clothes for summer). Each morning after my morning routine I will choose ONE project to complete. That way I can still spend time gardening, getting in extra exercise, reading, writing, blogging, and planning for the 2013-2014 school year.

Today I did have every intention to deep clean the kitchen from top to bottom. It would have been a perfect day since today was rather chilly, rainy and gloomy, with temperatures in the 50s. After my morning routine I quickly scanned my schedule on the refrigerator but I felt so calm and peaceful after my writing session and rejuvenated after my cardio that I started to rethink my day. Before Phoebe and I went for our walk I made myself a green smoothie. Since I drink one each morning I try to change things up but usually do not follow a particular recipe. Today’s smoothie was very simple and I could not help thinking how much it tasted like raspberry lemonade. I wanted to share this smoothie with others (which meant I could not possible deep clean the kitchen…sorry, Mike 😉

The ingredients for this green smoothie are simple: Raspberries (I used frozen), spinach, lemon juice and zest (I used a small organic lemon), frozen banana, fresh mint (optional but highly recommended), and water.

1

Fresh raspberries would be perfect in this recipe and makes me want to pick fresh berries this summer.

Fresh raspberries would be perfect in this recipe and makes me want to pick fresh berries this summer.

I only used two of these three pieces since I wanted my smoothie more tart.   For green smoothies I recommend waiting until your bananas are ripe. Peel and toss in a bag or bowl in the freezer.

I only used two of these three pieces since I wanted my smoothie more tart. I would recommend more banana if you want your smoothie to be sweeter. For green smoothies I recommend waiting until your bananas are ripe then peel and toss in a bag or bowl in the freezer. I buy extra bananas each week so I have plenty frozen for 1-2 green smoothies a day.

If you are using lemon concentrate my lemon rendered 1/4 cup of juice.

If you are using lemon concentrate my lemon rendered 1/4 cup of juice.

Lemon zest adds a fantastic zing to a smoothie!

Lemon zest adds a fantastic zing to a smoothie!

I have fresh mint growing in my garden and love to add it to smoothies, fruit salad, and even savory dishes.

I have fresh mint growing in my garden and love to add it to smoothies, fruit salad, and even savory dishes.

I will soon be celebrating our Vitamix's "One Year Anniversary." How did we ever live without it?

I will soon be celebrating our Vitamix’s “One Year Anniversary.” How did we ever live without it?

12

The finished product. Summery and nutritious.

Here is the exact “recipe” that I used with measurements. You may also want to add a few ice cubes to the blender or to the finished smoothie. For a larger version click on the photo.

Raspberry Lemonade Green Smoothie

I bought this dainty little crystal vase yesterday for 25 cents when I was thrift shopping. It looks darling with Johnny-jump-ups and forget-me-nots from my garden.

I bought this dainty little crystal vase yesterday for 25 cents when I was thrift shopping. It looks darling with Johnny-jump-ups and forget-me-nots from my garden.

Who wants to deep clean the kitchen when blogging is so fun? Not me. ;)

Who wants to deep clean the kitchen when blogging is so fun? Not me. 😉

It always makes me feel productive when I share a new recipe and focus on healthy living. I think that blogging will help fill the void of my empty classroom. I am looking forward to sharing more recipes and I even have a post on upcycling thrift store items started. Here is a sneak peek of some of the items that I purchased for a song yesterday. To give you a hint, the post probably will not take root for a couple of months. It needs warm weather and sunshine to help it bloom.100_1651

If you use Pinterest here is a pin for the recipe: Raspberry Lemonade Green Smoothie. Hopefully it will help summon summer in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Cheers to a productive and healthy summer!