Raw Beet Sandwiches ♥

Raw Beet Sandwich
Today's open-face sandwich, perfect for summer's best vegetables: Thin slices of beet, tomato and cucumber on good bread. You're gonna have to try this one to believe it, I know I did.

Okay, so this is one recipe I never imagined eating, let alone sharing. (Barring the question whether a simple vegetable sandwich even qualifies as a 'recipe'?) But some times you just go with your gut. Or trust the experience of a cook whose food you have learned to love – love – over the years.

Back in March, my friend Nupur Kittur who writes the food blog One Hot Stove taught a food class for a group of St. Louis food bloggers in one of the fabulous kitchens at Kitchen Conservatory, the top kitchen store and cooking school in St. Louis. "Indian Street Food" was the theme and oh my, what a feast we did eat. (Want to see more? I've posted pictures from our class on Flickr.)

But it was Nupur's simple sandwich that most captured my own attention. (Or maybe it was the beets. You see, if I weren't the Green Bean Casserole Lady, thank you World's Best Green Bean Casserole, I'd be the Beet Queen. How many beet recipes can one person collect? Thirty-something, last count. Oh wait. I guess that means I'm both. Anyway.)

Top good bread with butter, a little hot mustard if you like, then thin slices of beet, tomato and cucumber and yes, you've got a serious sandwich. I saved the idea until now, when gardens everywhere are just beginning to belch forth the summer's bounty, the most tender and luscious beets, cucumbers and tomatoes, worth waiting for, worthy of a sandwich. It's thin, it's cool, it's rustic. It's a keeper.

Chilled Green Bean Salad with Rosemary & Garlic Oil ♥

Chilled Green Bean Salad with Rosemary & Garlic Oil
Today's summer salad recipe: Just in time for the summer's first green beans, a simple salad, nothing more than beans tossed in oil infused with rosemary and garlic but somehow, somehow so much more. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real". Low carb. Weight Watchers 1 or 2 points. Happiness Quotient 100.

Tis a magical thing, when summer and the first beans arrive on the same day, a sign that something just might be 'right' with the world. So it happened on June 21, the day of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year for those of us in the northern hemisphere, what the Finns and other Scandinavians call 'Midsummer.' I wore a dress from Finland, I cooked my favorite Finnish recipes, especially the oh-so-lovely Finnish Summer Soup (kësakeitto) and a favorite fruit dessert I intend to make all summer long, just to sample all the variations.

But the beans, oh my, the beans. They'd been off the bush no more than 10 minutes by the time they plopped into the bubbling pot of water so the only thing fresher would be dusting them off right there amid the tomatoes (doing fine, thank you, especially the cherry tomatoes I'm so fond of) and onions and cabbage and pattypan squash and cucumber, then crunching right in to taste sun and the sky captured in a bit of greenness no longer than a finger. There we were with a Finnish feast and all we could think was, "Let's make a meal of the beans."

Mine is a northern soul but if these beans are a sign of the summer to come, bring it on.

"... you are so right, the beans are so wonderful and delicious." ~ Sherry
"What a terrific dish! I've made it 3 times already!" ~ Anonymous
"Tried this dish last night. ... even my guest asked for the recipe." ~ Sparkling Mimi

Weight Watchers Spinach Dip ♥

Weight Watchers Spinach Dip, another Freestyle-Friendly recipe ♥ AVeggieVenture.com
graphic button small size size 10 A healthy veggie dip, my variation of the spinach dip from Weight Watchers. Fresh and bright! Full of healthy spinach! Great for Meal Prep. Low Carb. Low Fat. No surprise, this recipe is already Weight Watchers Friendly and I've updated it to be Freestyle Friendly as well! Vegetarian. Naturally Gluten Free. graphic button small size size 10

On warm summer nights, I love that "gathering moment" before supper. The meat is on the grill, the salad waiting in the refrigerator. In hand is a glass of something cold and wet, occasionally what my sister Adanna calls an "adult beverage". These few minutes bridge the day's busy-ness and the evening's relaxation.

So during the summer, I make one homemade veggie dip after another, some quick concoction that will last a few days, one celery stick at a time. This is my adaptation of the Feta & Spinach Dip from Weight Watchers. I've modified it some, starting with 8X the spinach and substituting first low-fat sour cream and then non-fat Greek yogurt for non-fat sour cream, which I find too gloppy and sweet.

Feta cheese is a brilliant addition to cream-cheese based dips, adding both moisture and "tang" that really revs up the flavor profile. Feta is also featured in this tzatziki-ish dip from Kitchen Parade, Cucumber Dip with Feta. If you like feta, you'll love these dips!

PORTION CONTROL for WEIGHT WATCHERS When we simply "dip" into a common dip dish, it's easy to lose track of how many points we consume. To carefully track points, portion out however many points you've allowed into your own 'dipping' plate, then "dip" to your heart's content!

graphic button small size size 10 "This was delicious. I added chopped water chestnuts to make it more like the spinach dip recipe (full fat) I usually make." ~ Anonymous
graphic button small size size 10 "... it was a fave amongst the guests." ~ Hummus

Summer Easy, a special collection of Less Cookin' and More Livin' recipes especially for summer ♥ KitchenParade.com all summer long.
This recipe is so quick and easy that I'm adding it to a growing collection of easy summer recipes published all summer long ever since 2009 at Kitchen Parade, my food column. With a free Kitchen Parade e-mail subscription, you'll never miss a one!

Southwestern Potato Salad ♥
Weight Watchers Friendly Potato Salad

Southwestern Potato Salad
Today's recipe: A new take on potato salad, laced with southwestern-style flavors such as chipotle, lime and cilantro. Dramatically lightened with my new technique for mayonnaise-based salads, the addition of buttermilk. Weight Watchers, you'll love this potato salad, it adds up to just 1 or points, down from 4 points in the inspiring recipe.

Survey a potluck table and one ingredient will stand out: mayonnaise.

Potato salad. Cole slaw. Broccoli salad. Pasta salad. Seven-Layer Salad. So many favorite summer salads are dressed in mayonnaise. To my taste, this makes them all taste the same: like mayonnaise. To my taste, a mayonnaise dressing is too thick, too gloppy. Plus, we all know the calorie implications of heavy mayonnaise salads.

I loved the idea of a potato salad with southwestern flavors, I even thought about roasting some poblanos and roasting some corn, akin to Sweet Potato Salad with Roasted Poblano, Roasted Corn & Chipotle. (One reader made it over Memorial Day weekend and called it 'wonderful'!)

But instead, I decided to lighten the dressing. The recipe called for a cup of mayonnaise, I used only 1/3 cup of mayonnaise but then — this worked brilliantly — stirred in an equal measure of buttermilk. This made the dressing more liquid, so it would distribute more evenly. It also added 'tang' and removed some of that too-distinctive commercial mayonnaise taste. (Yes, I could have made my own mayonnaise. But ...) This is a technique I'll use again, for sure. UPDATE: And so I have, see the yummy Cold Shrimp in Creamy Dill Sauce with Capers!

Asian Greens ♥
(How to Cook Fresh Greens with Asian-Style Taste)

Asian Greens ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, cuz you never want to throw away fresh greens again. Low Carb. WW1. Vegan. Paleo. Whole30.
graphic button small size size 10 An easy way to cook fresh greens (such as kohlrabi leaves, beet greens, chard, and other greens) and then season with Asian-style flavors. Low carb. Weight Watchers friendly with just one PointsPlus. Paleo and Whole 30 approved. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real". Most important? Totally tasty and good for us, too! graphic button small size size 10

So maybe I should set up a challenge, "Never again throw away fresh greens".

Because we all know what really happens, right? We love the fresh beets from the farmers market. We're enchanted by the perfect globes of kohlrabi in our CSA box. But the greens? The beet tops? The kohlrabi leaves? Not so much.

Last week, after making a big batch of Roasted Kohlrabi, I started to throw away the kohlrabi leaves – and then stopped myself, knowing that it was wasteful, financially and nutritionally. But what to make with kohlrabi leaves? I considered the technique from Greek Greens, my favorite way to cook greens when they're fresh, to hold for a day or two, then took inspiration from a recipe by Ivy Manning published on Culinate.

Yay – an Asian twist to cooking fresh greens! In fact, while I used the recipe for cooking kohlrabi leaves, I would recommend this simple technique for the many greens found in Asian markets.