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Close up of Turkey Zucchini Meatball Pasta + Roasted Lemon Sauce.

Turkey Meatball + Roasted Lemon Zucchini Pasta is one of the tastiest recipes you can have in your weeknight toolbox. Pop these juicy meatballs into the oven and they'll be done in twenty minutes-- as long as it takes to get the rest of the dinner together. This fun and exciting weeknight meal is ready in under an hour, but is definitely company-worthy.

Lemon slices roast alongside the meatballs, then are chopped and added to the sauce with briny chopped olives to give this simple dish huge flavor for the amount of effort it takes.

Our household is not yet ready to make the shift to an entirely plant-based diet, but we make incremental steps in that direction. This turkey meatball and roasted lemon pasta is chock full of zucchini. The turkey meatballs hold a lot of zucchini which lightens the meatballs. Reduce and replace the volume of turkey with even more zucchini if that's where your dietary choices are taking you. In the future I'll be experimenting with replacing the turkey with mashed beans for a completely meatless "meatball."

Making the Turkey Meatball + Roasted Lemon Zucchini Pasta

First, form the meatballs and lay them out on a sheet pan with the sliced lemon which will go into the sauce after it roasts. The meatballs and lemon roast together while a pot of water boils for the pasta and a simple robust mediterranean sauce sautes. Then toss together the pasta and sauce with some of the pasta cooking water. Then top it off with the meatballs, and viola-- dinner is served.

Ingredients needed for Turkey Meatball and Roasted Lemon Zucchini Pasta.
A few common ingredients are all it takes for this easy weeknight pasta.

What Wine Shall I Serve?

Bowl of Turkey Meatball and Roasted Lemon Zucchini Pasta and glass of wine.
Turkey meatballs and roasted lemon zucchini pasta is perfect with Anne Amie 2019 Pinot Gris.

The mediterranean flavors in the sauce-- garlic, condensed roasted lemon, and Kalamata olives-- were perfect with the Willamette Valley wine producer Anne Amie 2019 Pinot Gris. 15% of the Pinot Gris barrels in this vintage were fermented in neutral barrels and aged on the lees, giving it a soft, round mouthfeel not often found in a Pinot Gris. This very enjoyable wine is found within our 101-mile sourcing radius!

In general, a dry white wine with some citrus and minerality will be a perfect match. Experiment and have fun finding those that you most enjoy.

Bowl full of Turkey Zucchini Meatball Pasta + Roasted Lemon Sauce

Turkey Meatball + Roasted Lemon Zucchini Pasta

Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean
Keyword: dairy-free option, gluten-free option, vegan option, weeknight recipe
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: Pam Spettel
Tucking a little zucchini into the meatballs lightens this hearty, comforting pasta dish that is loaded with delicious bright flavor. Less than an hour from start to finish makes it easy enough for a weeknight, but it's fancy enough for company.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

For the Meatballs

  • 1 cup panko or purchased bread crumbs both are available in gluten-free options
  • ¾ cup milk, dairy or plant
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 ½ cups grated zucchini squeezed of moisture in a clean kitchen towel
  • 1 pound ground turkey 94% lean will be juicier than 99% lean
  • 1 ¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese reserve ¼ cup for serving. For dairy-free, replace this with 1-2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast.
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder, optional
  • 1 large or two smaller lemons, sliced 1/2›" thin

For the Pasta and Roasted Lemon Sauce

  • ¾ pound spaghetti or bucatini or gluten free pasta
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 cups zucchini, diced in about 1/4" pieces
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flake
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives or other black olives, roughly chopped
  • roasted lemon slices, above, chopped into small pieces the lemon slices will roast at the same time at the meatballs, so they are included in the above ingredient list
  • Chopped flat-leaf parsley or basil for garnish

Instructions

Make the Meatballs

  • Line a sheet pan with foil and spray it with oil spray. Preheat the oven to 375°.
  • In a large mixing bowl stir together the panko and milk and let rest for 5 minutes while the crumbs absorb the milk. Add the squeezed grated zucchini, turkey, 1 cup parmesan, garlic salt, and onion powder, if using. Mix everything together with you hands until thoroughly combined.
  • Use an ice cream or cookie scoop to form the meatballs, rinsing your hands in cold water to smooth the balls and place them on the sheet pan. (This makes 12-14 meatballs, depending on the size of your scoop.) Place lemon slices around the meatballs on the foil-lined sheet. Bake the meatballs for about 20 minutes, or until they are lightly browned and the lemon slices have softened. Some of them may have browned edges.
  • When the lemon slices are cool enough to handle, stack them up on a cutting board and cut them into quarters. Set aside for the sauce.

Make the Pasta and Roasted Lemon Zucchini Sauce

  • While the meatballs are in the oven, bring a pot of water to boil and cook the pasta according to package instructions. Reserve one cup of pasta water.
  • While the water is boiling, place enough olive oil to amply cover the bottom of your largest skillet over medium-high heat. It may seem like a lot, but the oil will become your pasta sauce so be generous. When the oil is hot add the zucchini, shaking the pan to settle the zucchini in to the pan. Leave it to brown without stirring for 2 - 3 minutes. Stir the zucchini around and shake the pan again, and add the shallot, garlic, salt, and red pepper flake on top. Adjust the temperature if needed to allow the browning to continue without burning, stirring every 2 minutes or so until all the vegetables are lightly caramelized and cooked through, about 8 minutes total.
  • With the heat still on the skillet, add the Kalamata olives and reserved roasted lemon to the zucchini mixture. Use tongs to lift the al dente pasta into the skillet with the sauce. Add ½ cup of the pasta water and use tongs to mix the sauce and pasta together. As the water absorbs you may want to add the rest of the water, tossing the pasta and sauce together as it becomes silky and coats the pasta.
  • Serve the pasta and sauce on plates or bowls, and nestle in the meatballs on top. Garnish with the remaining parmesan and parsley or basil. Drizzle with additional olive oil if desired.

Notes

For a dairy-free version, omit the parmesan from the meatball mixture and add 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast. You may also sprinkle some nutritional yeast as a garnish to the finished dish. 
For a gluten-free version, use gluten-free bread crumbs or panko, and GF pasta.
For a vegan option, omit meatballs and just roast the sliced lemon alone.
Double the meatball portion of the recipe-- The meatballs freeze well and can be added to any pasta and sauce, or make great meatball sandwiches. 

Other Cool-Weather Pasta Recipes and Zucchini Recipes

Zingy Lemon-Ginger Zucchini Cake

Humble Pasta with Beans and Mushrooms

Flourless walnut spice cake adorned with fall fruits and flowers.
Flourless Walnut Spice Cake with Fall Fruits and Flowers

Rustic Cake at Its Very Best

In my calculus, a rustic cake has a short list of ingredients, an interesting texture, and most importantly is adorned very plainly-- a straightforward glaze, scoop of ice cream or whipped cream, a smatter of nuts or seasonal fruit is all it takes. This Flourless Walnut Cake and its coffee or spice versions deliver on a promise of simplicity.

What a cake like this misses in complexity is made up with a certain honesty. It's like the fresh rosy-cheeked girl in a calico dress that smells of clothesline sunshine.

Flourless walnut cake on a cake platter.
Flourless Coffee-Walnut Cake with Coffee Glaze and Candied Walnuts

Or, our flourless walnut cake is like filtering your way through a crowded party, and meeting a gentle-souled person standing in the corner with whom to while the evening away.

Uncomplicated joy.

Multi-tiered, colorful swooped, swirled, and filagree-frosted cakes sometimes disappoint on the part that really matters-- flavor. With flourless walnut cake or its coffee or spice versions, what you see is what you get. The beauty is natural, not forced.

Making the Flourless Walnut Cake

Woman holding place with flourless walnut cake.
Flourless Coffee-Walnut Cake, fresh from the oven.

Starting with room temperature eggs, like with most baking, is imperative to the success of this recipe. Sugar simply cannot dissolve into cold yolks. Cold whites don't whip to their lofty heights. Here you spend a good deal of time building structure by dissolving sugar into yolks and stiffening the whites, so give yourself a guaranteed win by setting your eggs out in advance. (When I forget, I help the eggs warm up by placing them on a bowl of lukewarm water, changing it for more when it goes cold. Never try this with hot water or you make crack open a semi-cooked egg!)

Traditional recipes for this type of cake ask you to whip all of the whites into firm peaks at once. Here, I have you whip them to medium peaks at first, then add only a third of them to the yolk/sugar/nut mixture to lighten the batter. Then, you'll go back and whip the remaining two-thirds of the whites into firm stand-up-at-attention peaks before gently folding them into the batter. I have found this greatly increases the structure of the cake, resulting in a taller cake with less shrinkage when it comes out of the oven. Even though our dear little flourless walnut cakes are humble, they still like to make a good first impression.

If you chose, top either version with a pile of candied walnut halves, made the same way Sarah at Sustainable Cooks makes her pecans. The only difference is that I add 1 tablespoon water to the skillet along with the sugar. Make extra! Candied walnuts are great in salads or on a cheese platter, too.

Both versions-- coffee-walnut and walnut spice cakes together on a table.
Choose plain walnut, walnut spice or coffee-walnut variations with this one simple recipe.

More Rustic Cake Recipes

Sweet Corn Buttermilk Cake + Blueberry Compote (gluten-free)

Zingy Lemon Ginger Zucchini Cake

Flourless walnut cake on a cake platter.

Flourless Walnut Cake with Coffee + Spice Versions

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: autumn dessert, coffee desserts, nut desserts, spice cake
Season: Bounty (August - October), Evergreen (April - July), Mist (November - March)
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free
Preparation: Baking
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 12
Author: Pam Spettel
Flourless Walnut cake is tender and delicious just as written, but the addition of coffee or baking spices takes it next level-- One recipe with three variations-- plain, Coffee, or Spice-- to suit your mood. Three primary ingredients, a few simple steps, and you'll have beautiful dessert cakes all winter.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups walnuts, ground (instructions below) 8 ounces
  • 7 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Flavoring Options

Coffee Glaze, Optional

  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground coffee beans
  • 5 tablespoons warm or hot strong brewed coffee
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Flourless Walnut Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Generously butter and flour (or use very finely ground walnuts) a 9-inch springform pan. Wrap the bottom of the pan with foil to catch any butter that melts out in the oven.
  • In a food processor, finely grind the walnuts. This will likely take only 8 -10 pulses. Stop just as they begin to clump. (Any further and you'll make walnut batter, not quite what we are after). Set the ground walnuts aside.
  • Seperate the eggs, placing the yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whip attachment. Beat the yolks with the sugar and salt 6-8 minutes until the mixture is fluffy and pale yellow. (You'll be glad you let your eggs come to room temperature for this-- the sugar more readily dissolves in eggs that are not cold.)
  • If you are making a plain flourless walnut cake, move on to step five. If you are making either a walnut-spice cake or a coffee flavored cake, add the spice mix or the finely ground coffee beans now and mix in thoroughly.
  • Remove the mixing bowl from the stand mixer and with a silicone or rubber spatula, fold the ground walnuts into the yolk mixture.
  • In a separate clean bowl free of any oils or grease, whip the egg whites, cream of tartar, and vanilla to medium peaks. (The cream of tartar helps stabilize the whipped egg whites.) Gently fold about a third of the egg whites into the walnut mixture. Then, whip the remaining egg whites once again until they just reach firm peaks. Fold them gently into the walnut mixture in two batches, folding until no more white streaks remain.
  • Place the cake batter into the prepared pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the cake is puffed, set (not jiggly) in the middle, and a cake tester (I use a bamboo skewer for this) inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Allow the cake to cool in the pan about 20 minutes before removing the springform ring. The cake will have sunk in the center and formed charming cracks and crags, perfectly normal for this rustic meringue-style cake.
  • Decorate with seasonal fruits, a dusting a powdered sugar, or the coffee glaze below. Seve with whipped cream.

Coffee Glaze

  • Place the sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Add the vanilla and coffee, tablespoon at a time, and whisk until a glaze forms. It should cling to the whisk and drip off in thick long ribbons. Adjust by adding more powdered sugar or water to make it thicker or thinner. Drizzle the glaze from the whisk around the edges of the cake, allowing some to flow toward the center of the cake and some to drip off the edges. Allow the glaze to set for an hour before covering or serving.

Notes

To make the Coffee Glaze a Spice Glaze, replace the ground coffee with one teaspoon of the same spice blend you use in the cake, and replace the brewed coffee with warm or hot water.
Garnish the spice cake with fresh fig halves, lightly roasted (6 minutes at 350, just to soften) plum prunes, tiny grape clusters, and/or unsprayed organic food-safe flowers or flower petals.  
A colorful plate of fajitas with green avocado tomatillo salsa.

Back in the '80s we thought we were so cool to make fajitas at home. Tex-Mex was a new rage and it became a fun new party food. Back in those days, we made fajitas with a thick London broil, sliced and then marinated, each slice grilled individually. The peppers (only green bells were readily available in those days) and onion were flash-sauted on the stovetop. What did we know?

Thinking of fajitas immediately brings back the scents of onions and peppers cooking, the sounds of laughter with friends, little kids running around everywhere. It's clearly time to revisit fajita making and zhoosh it up a little.

A colorful plate of fajitas and salsa, and a glass of rose.

The Marinade and the Meat

Swapping bavette steak (also called sirloin flap) for the London broil is a nice improvement from the way-back machine version. Bavette comes from the bottom of the sirloin section of a beef near the flank and has a texture very similar to flank or skirt steak. Its nice marbling offers a wonderful flavor, and it is infinitely more tender than the good ol' London broil ever hoped to be.

To highlight the texture of the meat and ensure it's tenderness, but sure to slice it thinly and against its grain. The dotted lines in this diagram show the inherent grain of the meat. The knife shows the direction the blade should cut through it to go against the grain. This way, it becomes much more enjoyable to chew.

A diagram of how to cut a steak agross the grain.

Bavette lends itself to a good bath in a marinade, absorbing its flavors well which this marinade delivers. Four easy ingredients-- fresh lime juice, a handful of cilantro, garlic, salt, and a quick whiz in a food processor are all you need.

A very hot grill lets you achieve a flavorful sear without overcooking. The wind was blowing hard the day I photographed this and my grill grates just couldn't get hot enough to lay down those gorgeous char lines. Such is the life of a home cook.

The Peppers and Onion

A rainbow of sliced peppers and white onion on a cutting board.
Use a good mix of peppers for a flavor, texture, and color explosion!

The updated version goes way beyond green bell peppers. The end-of-summer treasure trove of colorful peppers makes it easy to stuff your fajitas with a balance of flavor and color. Use all the colors! Reds, oranges, yellows, chartreuse, grassy greens and deep greens mixes means you'll be including the array of sweet, hot, mild, earthy, bright flavors.

The onions should be white. Period. Clean and crisp is best here.

Now is the time to invest in a grill pan if you don't already have one, as they should be on end-of-season sales. Cut your vegetables to size-- a mix of strips and rings is fun and beautiful-- and toss them into a pre-heated grill pan that has first been sprayed with a cooking oil spray. Blast them with a good amount of heat-- you want them to begin to char without overcooking. Char for flavor, but still with some good crunch for texture.

The Avocado Tomatillo Salsa

A bowl of green avocado-tomatillo salsa.
Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa

Let's straighten this out right away: This is not guacamole. One bite and you will see the difference. This simple element could easily be the star of the show. Avocado, tomatillo, and little cilantro if you want, garlic, and salt gets quickly pureed in the food processor happens in minutes start to finish. Because the base ingredients are the same, you don't even have to wash the food processor bowl out first.

You'll want to add this four-ingredient salsa to your go-to list. It is so good on everything. Everything. Rice bowls, snacking with chips, tacos, mixed with some chopped cooked chicken and a few crunchy vegetables for a new chicken salad, potatoes, eggs; you name it.

I'm so happy to have rediscovered homemade fajitas. A few ingredient additions, and grilling the peppers and onions fills the air with that unmistakable fajita scent. I'll definitely make this new and improved '20s version for gatherings coming up.

A colorful plate of fajitas with green avocado tomatillo salsa.

Tex-Mex Beef Fajitas + Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa

Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: crowd pleaser, salsa, Tex-Mex at home
Season: Bounty (August - October), Evergreen (April - July), Mist (November - March)
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free
Preparation: Grill
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: Pam Spettel
Sizzling grilled beef and the aroma of grilled peppers topped with the best of salsas you will want to add to your repertoire. This zhooshed-up version of the '80s classic is easy to scale for gatherings, family meals, or just yourself.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

For the Meat, Peppers, and Marinade

  • 3 limes, juiced
  • 4-5 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
  • ½ bunch fresh cilantro leaves and stems
  • salt to taste
  • pounds Bavette (sirloin flap) steak, or skirt steak
  • pounds mixed peppers (red, yellow and orange bells, Hatch, poblano, Hungarian, banana, etc.) Use what the garden or farmers market is offering!
  • 2 medium white onions
  • 12 taco-sized flour tortillas

Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa

  • 3 avocados, ripe
  • 1 pound tomatillos, papery husks removed and washed
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
  • ½ bunch fresh cilantro (optional)
  • ½-1 jalapeno, roughly chopped
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  • For the Marinade
  • Add the first four ingredients to the bowl of a food processor. Whirl, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until well blended and the cilantro is just shy of smooth. Place the Bavette steak in a one-gallon zip-lock bag and pour in the marinade. Place in the refrigerator and allow to marinate at least one and not more than four hours, turning and smooshing the bag occasionally to distribute the marinade.
  • Prep the peppers and onions and set aside until time to grill.
  • Heat a gas grill to high (about 500°) and let the grates get very hot. For a charcoal grill, build a bed of charcoal large enough to cook your grill pan of vegetables and the steak over hot direct heat. Place the grill pan on the grates while the grill heats.
  • Start the vegetables first: Spray your hot grill pan with cooking spray (stand back and be very careful to avoid flames) and scoot all the vegetables into it. Do not disturb the vegetables for 2-3 minutes to allow some charring before turning them. Do this several times throughout the cooking to get a nice char without overcooking the vegetables. depending on the heat of your grill, the size of your grill pan, and the amount of vegetables, this can take 10-20 minutes.
  • When the vegetables are about 5 minutes from being ready, spray the grates where the meat will cook, and place the meat on the grill. Again, do not disturb the meat to allow for great charring. After 2-3 minutes, check for char and flip. Repeat on the second side. It is very easy to overcook this thinner cut of meat, which may render it tough, so again, err on the side of caution.
  • While the meat is resting, heat a skillet to medium-high. Toast the tortillas until they are warm, soft, and beginning to blister, flipping once, about a total of 1 minute each. Slice the steak thinly across the grain. Pile peppers and onions and sliced steak into the tortillas and top with the avocado-tomatillo salsa. Serve!

For the Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa

  • Toss all ingredients into the bowl of your food processor. Pulse at first until the ingredients start moving freely, then whirl until a creamy pureed consistency. Refrigerate until serving. Don't be afraid to make a double batch, as this creamy/tangy salsa is divine on so many things. It keeps well for about three days in your fridge, if it lasts that long.

Or how to say thank you for a huge bag of summer squash and mean it.

lemon ginger zucchini cake on a cake stand with a lemon next to it.

Why people grow so much zucchini is a perfectly legitimate question. As a species we just never catch on that just three zucchini seeds will feed the whole neighborhood. How do we possibly forget year after year? The jokes about the overabundance of zucchini and the lengths people go to get rid of it are only funny because they expose this human flaw.

Neighbors drop off squashes the size of baseball bats to your front porch, ring the bell and run so you can't refuse it. Little old ladies give away brown paper grocery bags of zucchini at every church function. And if you grow a garden, you're rolling in it by mid-summer.

Glazed lemon ginger zucchini cake on a cake stand.

Even using the grate-and-hide technique of sneaking zucchini into everything-- meatloaf, chili, soups and stews, and baked goods, there is only so much one can be expected to eat.

A top-down photo of lemon ginger zucchini cake, glazed and decorated with lemon twists.

I worked out this brightly-flavored zucchini cake as a way to draw down an enourmous supply I was gifted from a generous neighbor. It completely suits my hankering for unassuming cakes, and its sunny lemon-ginger burst is a good excuse for turning on the oven in the middle of August.

Now I get a little happy when I'm gifted a huge bag of summer squash, and my thanks are sincere.

Why is this Lemon Ginger Zucchini Cake Special?

All the ingredients that go into the leamon ginger cake.
Mise en place for Lemon Ginger zucchini Cake

In this cake, I swap the typical butter for olive oil. Olive oil adds phenomonal rich flavor that sings with the lemon. The technique remains similar to that of a butter cake, but here the olive oil is added to the whipped eggs and sugar, turning it into a creamy fluff you just know will be good.

I used to make this cake with all-purpose flour only, but have recently added finely-ground almond flour to add a soft airiness to cakes, and it works really well here.

The copius amount of ginger in this cake comes in two forms-- freshly grated and ground-- to amp the gingery quality. Lemon and ginger are a match made in heaven, so I use a lot of lemon zest zing along with the double-dose of ginger. This large cake can hold all this flavor. It is a flavor bomb, not a flavor whisper.

The crunchy glaze-- think glazed donut and you've got the idea-- is due to the addition of granulated sugar to the typical powdered sugar. Just make sure and paint it on while the cake is still somewhat warm for this magic to happen.

Tips for Success

In this cake and all others, start with room temperature eggs.

A stand or handheld mixer is best for the eggs/sugar/olive oil steps. It is also good for gently beginning to incorporate the flour mixture, but stop there and pick up your spatula. Folding in the zucchini, ginger, and lemon zest by hand will automatically involve the streaky bits of flour without toughening the glutens in the all-purpose flour. Your tender result will make you glad you did.

All kinds of summer squash work. I've even made this with peeled young spaghetti squash to great success. If you're using an older/larger zucchini, take out the watery seeds, and gently squeeze the grated squash over the sink to remove some of the moisture to avoid a heavy wet cake.

This turns out a large cake-- 2" tall and 9" across, making 12-15 generous slices. If you want to take it easy on cake, or are like me in a small household, this recipe fits neatly into three 6" round cakepans, with six slices each. This way we can have a little splurge, and stash two cakes in the freezer for on-the-fly entertaining or when the mood strikes again.

Use this method for releasing the cake from the pan without it breaking or crumbling.

Zippy Lemon Ginger Zucchini Cake

Course: Dessert
Keyword: crowd pleaser, summer cake
Season: Bounty (August - October)
Preparation: Baking
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 15
Author: Pam Spettel
Made with olive oil, almond and AP flours, ginger in two forms, and loads of lemon zest, this bright rustic cake makes good use of excess garden zucchini. It's the perfect reason to use the oven on a hot summer day.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

Lemon Ginger Zucchini Cake

  • 3 cups zucchini or other summer squash, finely grated if large, remove seeds before grating and gently squeezed some of its water off over the sink
  • 4 lemons, zested grated reserve juice for glaze
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • cups almond flour, finely ground
  • cups all-purpose four
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • cups granulated sugar
  • cups extra virgin olive oil

Cake Glaze

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup confectioners (powdered) sugar
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Instructions

For the Cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Generously butter a 9" springform pan, 9" x 2" round pan, or three 6" round pans. Dust the pan/s with flour and tap out any excess.
  • Grate the zucchini, lemon zest, and ginger and set aside.
  • Combine the flour baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk together well. Set aside.
  • In a stand mixer with paddle attachement or with a handheld mixer, beat together the sugar and eggs until creamy and slightly fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Again turn the mixer to medium speed and add the olive oil in a steady stream. Continue mixing in the olive oil until fully incorporated and quite fluffy, another 3 minutes. Again scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • With the mixer at low speed, quickly add the flour mixture one cup at a time, not waiting for it to fully incorporate. Turn the mixer off and remove the mixing bowl.
  • Add the grated zucchini, lemon zest, and ginger to the bowl, and gently stir with a rubber or silicone spatula, folding up from the bottom, until the grated ingredients are evenly mixed through the batter.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared cakepan/s and smooth the top and bake. For the 9" pans, bake for 50-60 minutes until the top springs bake when gently pushed and the edges are just beginning to pull away from the pan, and a bamboo skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. for the 6" pans, bake 35-45 minutes. It is easy to underbake this cake, especially the larger pans, so take extra care to make sure they are done in the center.
  • Allow the cake to cool 15 minutes before inverting on a cooling rack. While the cake is cooling, make the glaze.

For the glaze:

  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk the granulated and powdered sugars to break up the powerded sugar clumps. Whisk in the lemon juice until smooth and no tiny bits of powdered sugar remain. Invert the cake onto the cooling rack and place a peice of parchment, wax paper, or a large plate directly under it to catch the glaze drips and make cleanup easier. While the cake is still warm, generously paint on the glaze with a pastry brush. Allow the cake to completely cool before slicing.
sweet corn buttermilk cake with bowl of blueberry compote

The first cake on 101-Mile Kitchen is like a country summer day on a plate. It is rustic in nature-- meaning it has textural interest and isn't overly sweet or elaborate. It is unfussy. It is flourless, therefore can be served to our gluten-sensitive beloveds. And most of all it uses fresh, seasonal, local ingredients.

A slice of Sweet Corn Buttermilk Cake with blueberry compote and whipped cream on a plate.
Sweet Corn Buttermilk Cake in a puddle of blueberry compote, with a tuft of lightly whipped cream atop.

A decade ago I played with and wrote about the magical flavor triad of sweet corn, blueberries, and buttermilk. I had two inspirations at the time. First by Claudia Fleming's sweet corn ice cream recipe from her famous out-of-print book, The Last Course, from her time as the innovative pastry chef at Grammercy Tavern in the 1990's. Tim Mazurak of the delicious blog Lottie + Doof created a blueberry galette in a cornmeal crust and served it with the same sweet corn ice cream. Swoon.

My addition of buttermilk to the corn and blueberries brought bucolic thoughts of summer full circle. I promptly forgot about this happy flavor song until now.

The Sweet Corn Buttermilk Cake

The Sweet Corn Buttermilk Cake is made with Floriani Red Flint stone-ground cornmeal from a local company, Camas Country Mill. This fantastic cornmeal and other flours, grains, and beans can be purchased at the charming Camas Country Schoolhouse Bakery and Store outside of Junction City, Oregon. Whatever brand you use, a stone-ground version is what gives this cake its particular toothsome texture.

close-up of the sweet corn buttermilk cake with a slice removed.
Flourless, moist, and tender Sweet Corn Buttermilk Cake, studded with kernels of corn, and a little cornmeal crunch

This simple cake has ingredients from the farm. Before you scoff at the idea of sweet corn in your dessert, remember that peak-season fresh sweet corn is much sweeter than zucchini, an ingredient that commonly makes its way into cakes and sweet breads.

As an aside, this flourless cake will be gluten free if your cornmeal is certified that way. The generous dose of buttermilk makes it moist, tender, and subliminally tangy.

The recipe makes enough batter for one 8" round or 8" square cake. The former will result in a taller cake, the latter a shorter cake that will bake more quickly. It also makes two perfectly tall 6" round cakes. As a household of two, six-inchers are my frequent choice. One for now, the other to be tightly wrapped and popped into the freezer for impromptu company or when the dessert mood strikes.

Be sure and view this short video tutorial for how to tip a cake out of its pan without it falling apart. If you're not familiar with the technique you may find it helpful.

sweet corn buttermilk cakes in their pans.
Sweet Corn Buttermilk Cakes, ready to be tipped out of their pans.

About homemade cakes in general: Please take the time to bring butter, eggs, and milk or buttermilk to room temperature. This is critical to achieving a good emulsion. If you've ever made a cake batter that turned curdly part way through, it is because cold ingredients just cannot emulsify. Your butter may get nice and fluffy, but plop a cold egg into it and it will seize back up into tiny bits rather than become one with the egg. The same goes for the milk or buttermilk you may add. Temperature matters!

The Blueberry Compote

A bowl of blueberry sauce being spooned.
Blueberry Compote

One fanciful learning I've had this summer is to use berry-flavored vinegar in place of lemon juice in berry desserts. Berries often need a little acid to brighten them up and to balance their sweetness. The typical remedy is lemon juice. In several trials I've found that replacing lemon juice with berry vinegar gives the same lift while amplifying the berry flavor. Either works just fine in this recipe. Use what you have.

This Blueberry Compote recipe makes a lot. It can easily be halved, but it is so wonderful on pancakes, waffles, and vanilla (or sweet corn) ice cream. Don't cut yourself short.

The ingredients for the sweet corn buttermilk cake on a platter.
Things you'll need for the cake
sweet corn buttermilk cake with bowl of blueberry compote

Sweet Corn Buttermilk Cake + Blueberry Compote

Course: Breakfast + Brunch, Dessert
Keyword: rustic cake, summer dessert
Season: Bounty (August - October), Evergreen (April - July)
Dietary: Gluten-Free
Preparation: Baking
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 10
Author: Pam Spettel
The magical trio-- sweet corn, blueberries, and buttermilk-- come together in this summery dessert. Rustic yet special, it makes a great summer gathering dessert and an indulgent breakfast the next morning.
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Ingredients

Sweet Corn Buttermilk Cake

  • cups stone-ground cornmeal (not corn flour) I use Floriani Red Flint Cornmeal from Camas Country Mill
  • 1 cup almond flour, finely ground
  • tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter (1 cube), room temperature
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. blackstrap or dark molasses
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla
  • 1-2 cups sweet corn kernels, cut from cob
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature

Blueberry Compote

  • 4 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup + 2 Tbsp. water, separated
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice or berry vinegar

Instructions

Sweet Corn Buttermilk Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Generously butter two 6" round cake pans or one 8" round cakepan, and generously dust the pans with cornmeal.
  • In a medium bowl, mix the stone ground cornmeal, almond flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • Using a stand or handheld mixer, beat butter to smooth it out. Gradually add the sugar, ¼ cup at a time, and continue beating until the mixture as paled in color and is light and fluffy. Add the molasses and beat until thoroughly incorporated into the butter mixture. Scrape down the sides of your mixing bowl several times during this step.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time and beating well after each one. Add the vanilla. Gradually add the buttermilk a little at a time to avoid it splashing out, and to keep the mixture emulsified. If the mixture breaks/curdles during this step, stop adding ingredients and turn your mixer to high speed for a minute or two. If the ingredients are room temperature, that should bring it back together. Scrape down the sides of your mixing bowl several times during this step.
  • Gently add the dry ingredients, again scraping down the sides of your mixing bowl several times during this step, until the cake batter is well combined.
  • If you are using two 6" pans, evenly divide the batter between them, or if you are using the 8" pan fill it with all the batter. Bake 20-25 minutes, until the center is set and a knife point or bamboo stick cake tester comes out almost clean. The center will feel puffy and springy when lightly tapped.
  • Allow the cake to cool in the pans for 15-20 minutes before removing the cake from the pans, and allow them to cool completely on a cooling rack.
  • Serve individual slices on a puddle of Blueberry Compote and a top with a tuft of lightly whipped cream, or if using the cake all at once, place the cake on a serving plate atop a puddle of Blueberry Sauce, top with a billow of lightly whipped cream, and pass a bowl of Blueberry Compote to your guests to serve themselves more.

Blueberry Compote

  • Place blueberries, sugar, and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan.
  • Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the berries have turned from dusky blue to deep purple, and some of them have started to pop open.
  • Combine the cornstarch and 2Tbsp. water in a small bowl. While constantly stirring, quickly and thoroughly stir the cornstarch mixture into the blueberries. Return to a boil for one minute.
  • Stir in the lemon juice or berry vinegar. Allow to cool.
  • Store in the refrigerator until using. You can easily cut this recipe in half, but you'll love having extra sauce for pancakes, waffles, and ice cream!

It is an odd little kid who prefers observing adults above hanging out with other kids, but that is how I was issued. With the focus of Jane Goodall and the sofa as my cover, I studied grown-ups and all forms of their behavior; language, cultural and social norms, and how curiously their developed biology drove their actions. Kids I found to be mostly mean, addled, and ridiculous.

Cold Buckwheat noodle salad with peanut sauce on platter

It will not surprise you, then, to know I hated peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The basic components were good, I thought. But jelly seeping through the bread, the gluey palate-sticking nature of the thing, and the whole sandwich mangled by the smacking of a thermos inside the lunchbox of a girl with a purposeful stride? Thank you, but no.

If Crunchy Cold Buckwheat Noodles in Peanut Sauce had been popular among suburban moms so long ago, it would have been my absolute lunchbox preference. A tangle of chewy buckwheat noodles and colorful crunchy vegetables draped in a velvet cloak of spicy, gingery peanut sauce is arguably the best use of peanut butter. It would have had me daydreaming about girls in Indonesian -- where peanut sauce originates-- wondering if they liked math any better than me, if their parents fought, and whether they moved a lot or got to live in one house their whole life. I would have wished the Weekly Reader to do a story on them so I could know.

This recipe is for my grandchildren should they want something other than jelly and bread with the peanut butter in their lunchboxes.

Cold Noodle Salad with peanut sauce on a platter

Crunchy Cold Buckwheat Noodle Salad + Peanut Sauce

Course: Main Dish, Salad, Side Dish
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Vegan
Preparation: Fast + Easy
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: Pam Spettel
Chewy soba noodles and crackly-fresh vegetables are draped in a velvety, gingery peanut sauce. Make it in less than 20 minutes for a speedy dinner, but be sure to make extra-- it holds well for tomorrow's lunches or picnics. Easily halved or doubled, this all-ages people pleaser will be a welcome addition to your meal rotation.
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Ingredients

Peanut Sauce

  • ½ cup smooth peanut butter, well stirred if natural
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lime juice or rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar, brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil also called dark sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. - 1 Tbsp. Sriracha or hot chili garlic sauce to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger and its juice
  • 1-2 grated garlic cloves

Noodle Salad

  • 10 oz. soba (buckwheat) noodles udon, ramen, or rice noodles or even spaghetti are also good choices. Use gluten free noodles if you'd like
  • 6 cups fresh crunchy raw vegetables (see list below to mix and match*) chopped , coarsely grated, or thinly sliced
  • 3-4 green onions, sliced
  • 1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup peanuts, coarsely chopped (optional)
  • Peanut Sauce (above)
  • 1 lime, cut in wedges for serving

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl that allows room for whisking, whisk peanut butter to loosen it. Add each ingredient one at a time, whisking thoroughly after each addition. (You are making an emulsion, and adding the liquids slowly in batches prevents a sloshy mess from forming. It will actually go faster this way, and will minimize cleanup.)
  • Whisk in warm water, one tablespoon at a time, until the sauce thickly drips from the whisk. You want the sauce to be thin enough to easily coat the nooks and crannies of the vegetables and noodles, but to retain some body. Depending on the thickness of your peanut butter and the room temperature, you will add between 1 Tablespoon and ¼ cup of water. Taste and make any adjustments of sweetener, lime juice, spicy heat, or perhaps salt. Set the peanut sauce aside.
  • Place a pot of salted water on to boil. Cook soba noodles according to package directions. When done, rinse in cold water until the noodles are completely cold.
  • While the water is heating and the noodles are cooking, prep your vegetables including the green onions. Aim for small dice, or thin matchstick pieces so that you can fork up a mix of vegetables and noodles in each bite. Place all the vegetables in a large bowl..
  • Coarsely chop the cilantro and peanuts. Keep a few tablespoons of each aside for garnish, and place the rest in the bowl. When the noodles are cooked, rinsed, and drained, add them to the bowl. Give everything a gentle toss.
  • Add about ½ cup of the peanut sauce to the bowl, and give everything a gentle but thorough toss, until all ingredients are evenly coated with peanut sauce. Add more sauce, tablespoon by tablespoon, until the salad is dressed to your liking.
  • Plate the salad individually or transfer it to a serving bowl or platter. Sprinkle cilantro, peanuts, and sesame seed on top. Serve with a lime wedge.
  • Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container. Will keep nicely for a day.

Notes

*Fresh crunchy vegetable options. Use what the garden or farmers market gives you, or what you have in your crisper:
  • cucumber*
  • green and/or purple cabbage
  • red or yellow bell pepper
  • snow or sugar-snap peas
  • carrot
  • radish
  • kohlrabi
  • white turnips
  • green or yellow summer squash* *Best added only if you'll consume the entire recipe right away, as they go soft and watery overnight. I don't mind this, but you might!
two glasses of wine and a plate of shrimp melon salad

Scorching record-breaking heat is promised across much of the U.S. this week, and you need cooling solutions, right? You're going to need this-- the best simple yet fancy cooling salad I can think of-- light, fresh and hydrating, and ever so tasty. When you eat it, try to imagine someone nearby fanning you with a palm leaf. Can you feel it?

This refreshing salad was made to serve with an equally refreshing chilled rosed. I love the 2020 Quady North Rogue Valley/Southern Oregon GSM Rosed for it's South-of-France typicity we don't often find in an Oregon rosed.

Quady North Rose bottle upside down in glass

About the Wine

Made with 48% Grenache, 42% Syrah, 9% Mourvedre, and 1% Counoise, it is quite dry and full of the mineral qualities I associate with a Provençal rosed. Its lower alcohol also makes it perfect for summer. You may notice a little orange peel aroma on the nose, and soft fruit and rain water filling out the mid-palate.

Quady North is organically farmed and LIVE certified for its sustainable winegrowing practices. Quady focuses on "small lot Loire-ish and Rogue Rhone releases". There we go talking about France again!

a glass of rose and a plate of shrimp melon salad
Screwtop equals picnic friendly!

He would not remember me, but years ago I met Quady North's fearless leader, Herb Quady, at a wine symposium. I knew I'd like him when he told of how people choose their favorite wines. He said something like, "It is the one you had that night under the stars with friends, someone was playing your favorite song on a guitar, and maybe you were falling a little in love." And, well, their labels are fantastic-- The tattoos I'll never have.

One last thing about Quady wines. At least for now, if you order two bottles shipping is free, and if you purchase a case you receive a 10% discount on this already quite affordable wine. Value added! (This is not a sponsored promotion.)

Platter of sweet and spicy shrimp and melon salad

The Sweet + Spicy Shrimp Melon Salad

Even boiling water for pasta or standing at the grill sounds a bit exhausting in heat like this. Sweet + Spicy Shrimp Melon Salad is a no-cook endeavor if you buy your shrimp already cooked, and please do! After a few chops of a knife and a few shakes of a jar you'll be made in the shade.

For a vegan option, sizzle bite-sized cubes of pressed tofu in hot oil until they brown, allow them to cool, and treat them the same as you would the shrimp.

Ingredients for the sweet and spicy shrimp and melon salad.
Avocado-- a last minute addition-- and olive oil are other ingredients you'll need
platter of sweet and spicy shrimp melon salad

Sweet + Spicy Shrimp and Melon Salad

Course: Main Dish, Quick + Easy, Salad
Keyword: light, picnic, refreshing, summer
Season: Evergreen (April - July)
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free
Preparation: Fast + Easy
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2 main course or 4 as a side
Author: Pam Spettel
Perfect for the hottest days of summer, this simple yet fancy cooling salad is light, fresh and hydrating. . . and ever so tasty. No-cook and made in minutes, you'll be sitting in the shade in no time.
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Ingredients

Salad

  • 6-8 per person cooked chilled shrimp, preferably shelled and tail-on
  • ¾ average cantaloupe, chilled and diced
  • 1 long cucumber, chilled and diced
  • ½ cup purple onion, scallion, or sweet onion
  • 1 large avocado, diced
  • 2 cups cilantro, basil, mint, and chives, chopped and lightly packed in any combination or alone
  • ¼ - ½ cup Sweet + Spicy Dressing, below

Sweet + Spicy Dressing

  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 Tbsp. Sriracha, or to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup olive oil

Instructions

  • Gently toss all ingredients except avocado in a large bowl. Top the salad with the cubed avocado tucked here and there. (This keeps the avocado from being squished!) Serve.

Sweet + Spicy Dressing

  • Place all ingredients in a screwtop jar. Shake until the honey and salt are dissolved. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for use on other summer fruit-based salads.

Notes

This honey lime vinaigrette-style dressing does not use the proportions typical to a classic French vinaigrette. 

Three years ago my beloved and I bought our forever home. We'd come together later in life and it took us a while to figure out where and how to live in a way that meets both of our needs. For ten years we searched to find this place we both love and have made our home.

Our sweet forever home visually melts into the backdrop of a 260+ acre forest that also backs the properties of our two neighbors. We have loved the forest for all it gives. Birdsong, shade, the ever-present rustling of the treetops, the pure fresh earthy scent that's especially noticeable in the early mornings, and the creaks and howls that call from it after dark.

Three dishes of Douglas fir tip sorbet.

Beginning Tuesday, as happens in Oregon, the crop of timber-- the entire forest-- will be harvested. By September what once was a Douglas Fir forest will be three new homesites. We knew this would happen one day. We just liked to think that one day was 20 years from now.

I am heartbroken.

My husband, who has had something grumbly to say about every clear-cut we've ever driven by, has nobly risen to reframe the situation as our "view expansion and sunset enhancement opportunity." His forward lean and courage is beautiful.

I fleetingly think of changing my name to Butterfly and chaining myself to a tree. Instead I just weep.

Douglas Fir tip sorbet

Our dear neighbors with whom we have shared the glories of this forest gathered this weekend to pay homage to the lush, oxygen-scrubbing, interconnected organism we've enjoyed and appreciated. A wake of sorts. Poetry was recited, a tear or two was shed, and we laughed and shared community lore. My hurting heart considered serving Funeral Potatoes but I refrained.

What does one serve on the occasion of a forest being cut down?

We ate from the forest, that's what we did.

Fir tip sorbet in a glass

Douglas Fir Tip Sorbet or Granita

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Pacific Northwest
Season: Evergreen (April - July)
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 35 minutes
Servings: 12
Author: Pam Spettel
How does one eat a forest? One little bite of fir tip sorbet at a time! A little resiny and a little limey, this refreshing sorbet or granita makes a wonderful dessert with a hazelnut cookie, or a fantastic palate cleanser between courses. Forage away!
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Equipment

  • Ice Cream Maker/Freezer (optional)

Ingredients

  • cups water, divided
  • cups white sugar
  • ½ lime, zested
  • cups fir tips, packed
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice (about 6 larger limes)
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 medium lemons)
  • 3 Tbsp. Douglas Fir Brandy, champagne, or vodka*

Instructions

  • In a small saucepan combine 2 cups of water, sugar, zest of ½ lime, packed fir tips. Heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Put a lid on the pan and remove from heat. Allow the mixture to sit for 30 minutes. Strain the mixture into an 8-cup measuring cup or mixing bowl.
  • Squeeze the lime and lemon juices. Add the remaining 2½ cups of water and the juices to the strained sugar mixture. Stir in the Douglas Fir brandy, champagne, or vodka. Cover, and chill in the refrigerator 2 hours or overnight.**
  • For sorbet, freeze according to ice cream maker manufacturers instructions. Serve immediately for slushier soft-serve, or harden in the freezer for two hours for scoopable sorbet.

Notes

*If you make the icy granita version, increase the brandy, champagne, or vodka to 4 Tablespoons.
**If you are making icy granita, skip the chilling step and pour the mixture into a large flat plastic container with lid and place in the freezer. Freeze for at least four hours, scraping every hour or so with a fork to break up chunks and create the fluffy "snow-cone" texture. To serve, rake through the frozen mixture again with a fork to create the fluffy icy texture and serve.

Other Ways to Eat a Forest

Douglas Fir Fettucine Alfredo and another beautiful sad story.

Douglas Fir Shortbread and Healing Conifer Tea from The View From Great Island

Douglas Fir Roasted Amarosa Potatoes Hasselback Style

It was May, just as the strawberry fields were beginning to ripen, when my family and I moved to rural Oregon from the desert southwest. A big hand-painted plywood sign announcing "U-Pick Strawberries" near our new house beckoned. As motivation and reward I promised my then nine, seven, and three-year-old kids we would go as soon as we were unpacked and settled in.

Having grown up in cities, this "U-Pick" idea was just the best thing I'd ever heard of. Farmers actually let people onto their property to pick their produce? I had no idea I was expected to bring our own buckets or bowls, and we showed up that first day empty-handed and wearing inappropriate shoes for farm work.

Farmers, in general, are really nice people, and they had met our kind before. Spare grocery sacks were handed out, and we skipped off to our assigned rows.

The four of us had never tasted strawberries before. Yes, we'd had the trucked-in grocery store variety a lot of times, but the color, aroma, and taste of these field-ripened berries was like Dorothy entering the technicolor Land of Oz.

The kids and I laughed and stopped to look at the loamy earth, the bugs, and the whiskery leaves of the strawberry plants growing in mounds. We raced to see who could pick the most berries. There was no way to hide my then three-year-old's strawberry-stained face, hands, and belly, and truth be told all of us had eaten our fair share in the field. I offered to pay for what we'd eaten, and the clerk made me a customer for life when she laughed and said it was all part of the experience.

There are no words to describe how alive I felt that day.

It was then I realized what a sheltered life I'd lived in the big city. It was then that I developed my sustained mad crush on local farms, farm stands, farmers, and the generosity of Oregon itself. That day goes down as one of the best in my life, and it changed me forever.

As the summer moved along and for many summers afterward we U-picked cherries, raspberries, blueberries, and Oregon's famous Marionberries. Wonder-filled memories were made through the years, from the gathering of the berries to the lovely things we made and ate from them.

Fun Dessert Duo: Strawberry Sorbet + Strawberry Ice Cream

The only thing better than ice cream for dessert is ice cream and sorbet for dessert! Making them with the same fruit makes a beautifully balanced contrast of color, tanginess, sweetness, creaminess and frostiness.

This type of dessert duo is one of my entertaining go-to's. The frozen desserts can be made in advance-- a big win for any host! There is something show-stopping about serving the two this way.

I like to serve my ice cream/sorbet duos with some type of cookie, often a shortbread or something nutty. This time I made my Rustic + Lovely Hazelnut Meringue Cookies.

Frozen strawberry treats with hazelnut meringue cookies
Strawberry sorbet and strawberry dairy free ice cream

Strawberry Sorbet and Strawberry Ice Cream Duo (Dairy-Free)

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Pacific Northwest
Keyword: easy, frozen strawberry desserts, no-cook
Season: Evergreen (April - July)
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free
Prep Time: 30 minutes
30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 8
Author: Pam Spettel
The only thing better than ice cream for dessert is ice cream and sorbet for dessert! Making them with the same fruit makes a beautifully balanced contrast of color, tanginess, sweetness, creaminess and frostiness. This type of frozen dessert duo is one of my entertaining go-to's. The frozen desserts can be made in advance-- a big win for the host! There is something show-stopping about serving it this way.
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Ingredients

Strawberry Sorbet Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. strawberries, hulled and quartered (about 5 ½ cups)
  • 2 small lemons, divided
  • ¾ - 1 cup sugar depending on the ripeness of the berries)
  • 1 pinch salt

Dairy-Free Strawberry Ice Cream Ingredients

  • 10 oz. strawberries, hulled and quartered, divided (about 2 ½ cups)
  • 1 13.6 oz. can full-fat coconut milk
  • ? - ½ cup honey depending the the ripeness of the berries
  • ½ tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3 drops almond extract (optional)
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice

Instructions

Strawberry Sorbet Instructions

  • Prepare (hull and quarter) strawberries and set aside.
  • In a food processor, process ½ small lemon with sugar, pulsing and whirring until the lemon is in tiny even bits and fully incorporated into the sugar.
    lemon and sugar in food processor
  • Add the strawberries, the juice of 1 ½ lemons, and the salt. Process until the strawberries are completely pureed, stopping to scrape the sides a few times to incorporate all of the sugar mixture.
    strawberry sorbet mixture in food processor
  • For best results, chill the sorbet mixture at least one hour or up to overnight. (It will freeze better in an ice cream maker if it is chilled, or you can make it ahead to this step and freeze the mixture the next day.) Freeze according to your ice cream maker directions. For soft-serve, serve right away. For a firmer scoop, store in the freezer for an hour before serving.

Dairy-Free Strawberry Ice Cream Instructions

  • Reserve about 1/2“ of the hulled and quartered strawberries. Add all remaining ingredients (1/2 of the berries through lemon juice) to a food processor and process until smooth.
  • Add the reserved 1/2“ strawberries to the mixture in the processor, and pulse a few times to break them up into bits and chunks.
  • For best results, chill the ice cream mixture at least one hour or up to overnight. (It will freeze better in an ice cream maker if it is chilled, or you can make it ahead to this step and freeze the mixture the next day.) Freeze according to your ice cream maker directions. For soft-serve, serve right away. For a firmer scoop, store in the freezer for an hour before serving.

Notes

Plan ahead if you are making these both at once. If you are using a Cuisinart-style tabletop ice cream maker you will either need two freezer inserts or you will need time to refreeze your insert. 
Spring lettuces with snap peas, thinly sliced raw beets, and foraged flowers with Classic French Vinaigrette

Have you ever had a restaurant salad that just took your breath away? One where everything is in balance, it's not gasping for life under a soggy dressing, and the lettuce is crackly-crisp and tender as angel wings? You can do that at home, too.

Here are three easy steps to rescue your salads from being sad and pathetic, including a fast and easy no-measure Classic French Vinaigrette. You'll see how fun and easy it is to take that basic ratio and create an infinite variety of vinaigrette options.

A summer mish-mash of heirloom tomatoes, canned mandarins, red peppers, cukes, steamed shrimp and basil

Dry Leaves for a Crisp Salad

Whether you wash your lettuce leaves or use pre-washed, thoroughly drying them will help make your salad restaurant-quality. I pile my washed greens into the center of a thin dish towel, fold the long edges over the leaves, gather the corners into my fist and walk outside.

Classic French Vinaigrette and variations tutorial

Here's where it gets weird. I stand in the grass swinging the dishtowel of lettuce around and around in huge arm circles like we did in grade-school calisthenics. The centrifugal force is enough to make and water fly out, but not harsh enough to maul the leaves. My neighbors think I'm a total nut. This is the price I pay for perfect salad.

Spring greens with gently steamed baby purple potatoes and asparagus with a basic lemony vinaigrette

Dry leaves accept a light coating of vinaigrette, and the salad will go to the table with its crisp crunch that won't fade through the meal.

Dry lettuce makes an amazing difference. And, hey, you get in a little exercise.

Little Gems lettuce with fresh strawberries, raw asparagus, and rotisserie chicken in a berry-vinegar vinaigrette

Dress and Toss For Success

Yes, your homemade vinaigrette makes an enormous difference, but the quantity you use is just as critical to a memorable salad.

With a great big bowl of lettuce-based salad and a nice homemade Classic French Vinaigrette, you likely need only one or two Tablespoons of dressing. This is true.

You won't believe it until you start tossing. And tossing, and tossing. Using two large spoons, gently turn your leaves over and over and over. In a minute, you'll see the dressing not dripping and puddling in the bowl-- it will be evenly clinging ever-so-gently on all the surfaces of the lettuce without bogging it down.

Lightly-dressed, your salad becomes a fresh and bouncy salad that is softly flavored with the lovely vinaigrette, as perfect salad was made to be.

A little bit of great vinaigrette, a lot of tossing. Try it!

Go Easy on Add-Ins

I love a salad that's loaded with vegetables, fruits, cheeses, nuts, croutons, and the works, but that can put a lot of pressure on your tender lettuce. There are a few ways you can remedy this.

One way is to simply go lighter with your added ingredients, as in the salad below.

Mixed lettuces with golden and red beets, sliced dried figs, chopped hazelnuts, and Mustard Fig Vinaigrette

Secondly, if you plan to toss the salad before serving, put heavy add-ins in the bottom of your bowl, then top with the lettuces and dressing, tossing the lettuce without spooning down to the other ingredients. In the last toss or two, scoop down to bring the heavier ingredients up to the top, and serve with dispatch.

Thirdly, toss your lettuce with your fantastic homemade vinaigrette and arrange it on a platter. Now place your other vegetables and ingredients into the bowl, add a little dressing, and toss them separately before gently placing them on the lettuce. Once again, serve right away.

Lastly, my favorite way to keep heavy ingredients from collapsing the life out of the lettuce is especially nice if you need to make the salad a little ahead of serving. Toss the lettuce and dressing and place on a serving platter. Mound each separate ingredient on your cutting board and drizzle each one with a few drops of dressing and toss it with your hands before moving on the the next. Take each separate pile of goodies and make a little space between the leaves and place it there. Be an artist and arrange these colorful piles around the lettuce.

This last method is perfect for gatherings and parties. Create some gorgeous salad-as-a-meal platters that present beautifully, and either toss it together tableside, or allow your fellow diners to select and build their own plates from your creation.

Another summer salad of steamed new potatoes, raw corn, cherry tomatoes, cukes, grilled steak and quick-pickled red onion with Balsamic Herb Vinaigrette

One Set of Ratios, Infinite Options

This no-measure recipe offers you a few measurements as guidance to get you started, but soon you'll just grab a spoon, a jar and a knife and whip dressings and marinades out like you're the garde-manger of your favorite French restaurant.

lettuce salad with vegetables and shrimp in bowl

Classic French Vinaigrette and Infinite Variations

Course: Salad
Cuisine: French, Pacific Northwest
Keyword: customizable, marinade, salad dressing
Season: Bounty (August - October), Evergreen (April - July), Mist (November - March)
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan
Preparation: Fast + Easy
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Author: Pam Spettel
Use no-measure easy ratios and flavorful vinegars, oils, aromatics, herbs, sweeteners, and emulsifiers to create a world of your own customized vinaigrettes and marinades. Taking your salads from boring, limp, and soggy to exciting, crisp and refreshing couldn't be easier.
Print Recipe

Equipment

  • Small clear glass jar

Ingredients

Classic French Vinaigrette

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ - 1 small shallot, finely minced
  • salt and pepper to taste Kosher salt dissolves easiest, but any salt is good
  • lemon juice, white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • good quality olive oil the flavor is prominent in this dressing, so use the best you have

Mustard Fig Vinaigrette

  • 1 teaspoon grainy mustard Inglehoffer Stone Ground is really good, but any kind will be wonderful
  • 1 teaspoon fig jam Trader Joes almost always carries this
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sherry or champagne vinegar
  • olive oil use the best you have

Balsamic Herb Dressing

  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano and/or basil, finely chopped
  • ½ - 1 small shallot, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil use the best you have

Instructions

For each of the three variations and all of your own creations:

  • In the bottom of the jar, put all of the ingredients except the vinegar and olive oil. Be generous with the salt-- it's the only salt all your salad vegetables will get!
  • Eyeballing it, pour vinegar into the jar until is about half full.
  • Eyeballing it again, pour in about the same amount of the olive oil as vinegar and other ingredients until the jar is 1/2 full. Screw the lid on tightly (very important!) and shake like heck.
  • Viola! You've made a fabulous vinaigrette!
  • A word about proportions: We're working in equal proportions of vinegar + aromatics/sweeteners to olive oil. To make less vinaigrette, fill the jar with fewer aromatic ingredients and vinegar. Then just match the height of olive oil in the jar to the height of the things in the bottom of the jar. (If your aromatics and vinegar come ¼ of the way up the jar, add about that same amount of oil to make the jar only half full.
    Sometimes I only want a tiny bit of vinaigrette for just one salad, and I may only put ¼" of flavorful ingredients and vinegar in the bottom of the jar, topped off with ¼" of olive oil. It's all a matter of ratios, not a matter of strict measurements!

Notes

Make it Your Own:
Aromatics, singular or in combination:
  • any mustard, except yellow
  • any chopped fresh or dried herbs
  • smashed strawberries, blackberries, or blueberries
  • garlic
  • shallot
  • lemongrass
  • green onion
Sweeteners:
  • honey
  • jam or jelly
  • date syrup
  • rice syrup
  • maple syrup
  • a touch of sugar
Vinegars/acid base:
  • any kind of citrus juice
  • almost any kind of vinegar
    • red wine, white wine, sherry or champagne
    • apple cider
    • fruit and berry varieties
    • coconut
    • rice and rice wine
    • balsamic and white balsamic
Oils
  • high quality olive oil
  • neutral-flavored vegetable or canola oil
  • a few drops of sesame oil in addition to one of the above

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Photo of 101-Mile Kitchen blog owner.

You’re in the right place to break up with cooking and hospitality anxiety, learn how to use recipes as guides rather than strict rules, and let your cooking intuition and confidence soar. I’m Pam Spettel, home cooking expert and guide, and I’m here to show you how.

Superpower: Dreaming up recipes that work, serving them to my friends and family, and writing little stories about how cooking them well is the same as loving well.

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