Garden Vegetables for a Garden Salad – Baby Zucchini Summer Salad

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Looking at these photos makes me feel all sorts of warm and fuzzy.  Going to a different farmers’ market every week has been so rewarding and it has truly given me a more genuine understanding of and appreciation for the concept of “farm-to-table”.  I see things differently now and I am so much more aware of my consumption patterns and how I eat and cook at home.  Over the years, our freezer has become more and more empty as we make more visits to the market and rely less and less on premade, prepackaged food.  We make a lot more of our food from scratch and our fruit and vegetable baskets and bins are happily overflowing with a bounty of freshness.  Just the other day, we finally got ourselves a little food processor and I am wiggling with happiness at the endless possibilities of food we can make.     

The markets have inspired me and they’ve also inspired the creative juices.  My mum and I have gotten into the habit of brainstorming ideas on how to incorporate whatever I bring home from the market into a meal for the family and it’s been a lot of fun.  I always go into every farmers’ market visit with an open mind.  No matter how big or small the market is, I make it a point to bring home something awesome, something we can use to make a great meal.  The baby eggplants I bought at the East York market were turned into roasted eggplant parmesan melts, the baby potatoes I bought at the Queens Quay market were used into a giant Canada Day picnic salad, and the baby zucchinis I bought last week were used to make this colurful summer salad!  We used romaine, arugula, radicchio, red leaf lettuce, and baby spinach along with grape tomatoes, and our zucchinis.  I loved the cute yellow ones so much and it was so satisfying making this salad because it got my brother to eat his vegetables – willingly 😀  As a boy who isn’t very fond of veggies, he did a complete 180 on us while he was eating this.  He was scarfing plates and plates of this and it made me feel so good when he said to me, between mouthfuls, “I like zucchini, this is good!”.  Score one for Deb 😉

Weekly Feature: The Grad Lounge – The Fruity and Summery Jerk Chicken & Mango Salsa Wrap

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Let’s tick off all the foodie things that scream out SUMMER!  There’s watermelon, ice cream trucks and popsicles, juicy corn on the cob straight off the grill, juicy salads, berries, iced beverages, and one of my favourites, salsa!  Tomato salsa, avocado salsa, it’s all amazing.  You eat it with tacos and burritos, dunk chips and pita wedges in it, and hey, bruschetta wouldn’t be the hot tamale that it is without it.  So imagine my jubilance when I saw a Grad Lounge menu item with MANGO SALSA in it!  A jerk chicken grilled flour tortilla wrap (gosh, don’t you just love the grill marks?) outfitted with fresh romaine lettuce and juicy mango made with diced mango, mango puree, and diced red bell pepper.  I was so thrilled to see this menu item on The Grad Lounge’s daily specials menu board that truth be told, I wanted to pluck it off the daily specials right into the permanent menu because it is delicious.  I may feature a different Grad Lounge meal every week, but that doesn’t mean that I absolutely, positively looooove everything to death.  I enjoy many of the meals but there’s always that handful that really make you do the Elaine thumbs-and-little-kicks dance.  And no, I didn’t do the dance…not outwardly anyway.

Just as I talked about last week in my stuffed peppers post, The Grad Lounge once again made good on their resources.  The jerk chicken is something that they regularly serve on their rotating specials menu, normally with rice, salad, and a roll or corn muffin and they used that same chicken to make their jerk chicken and mango salsa wraps.  The wrap had tender pieces of jerk chicken meat with just the subtlest of heat kick.  I’ve had the jerk chicken meal before and holy jeebus does it live up to its name in spiciness!  It’s awesome how spicy it is, but boy did it make me wheeze and pant!  If you have the jerk chicken meal with rice be prepared for a hot one.  Having said that, the heat is completely toned down for the wrap and it’s more about the tenderness of the meat that shines through, which is important in a wrap.  Meat in a wrap needs to be soft, otherwise it just defeats the purpose and you end up having to tug and pull and gnaw and basically destroy the tortilla. 

The grilled tortilla was warm, slightly crispy, and didn’t fall apart, the romaine was fresh and crunchy, and the mango salsa was fantastic!  It further moistened the chicken, dressed the romaine, and gave the wrap the fruitest of flavours.  And it was the perfect consistency.  It wasn’t liquidy yet there was enough body in it from the diced mango and bell pepper that it made the salsa chunky enough to be considered an actual salsa as opposed to a chutney.  It worked on all levels and I’m so happy I got to try this one out.  I’d say this is definitely in my top 5 list of favourite Grad Lounge meals, right up there with the vegetarian lasagna, lamb curry on rice, cannelloni, and vegan chili.  It’s yummy and so perfect for the sunny summer weather.

*****

The Grad Lounge is located at 166 South Ross at the York University Keele campus.  The Grad Lounge’s summer operating hours are from 11:30pm-6:30pm, Monday to Friday.  It is a graduate student space on campus, so please ensure that if you wish to come here that you are either a York grad student with ID on hand, or that you are accompanied by a grad student if you aren’t one.

Weekly Feature: The Grad Lounge – The Chicken Salad Panini With Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Mayo

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The sun has been shining and it finally seems as though the weather is cooperating and giving us all a giant hug and kiss.  The fall/winter terms at school have ended and summer school has officially started.  And then there’s me, happily relishing in the fact that I finished grad school just a little over a month ago and enjoying all the time that I can for myself.  Having said that, I know it seems weird to see me writing Grad Lounge posts even after I’ve finished school.  The thing is, I’ve had so much fun profiling The Grad Lounge each week that I don’t really want to stop.  And I don’t feel I should have to.  I felt all warm and fuzzy and accomplished when I made my “20-post round-up” last week and it really solidified how special this place has become for me.  The presence of school in my life has no bearing on my ability to eat here, so I will continue to post about the meals here until I have exhausted all options and avenues 😀

I may not be an incredible “bread head” the way my mom, brother, and boyfriend are, but oh how I love grilled sandwiches.  Grilled foccacia, panini buns, ciabatta, whatever; I will eat a grilled sandwich any place, any time.  I love warm grilled bread with grilled vegetables as well as warm sandwiches with a shocking bite of coolness from fresh veggies and dressing.  I’ve been having a lot of fun trying out different breads and vegetarian sandwiches over the past little while and the great vegetarian and vegan sandwich hunt (inspired by my friend Wini) continues. 

So you can say that I was a bit of a sucker when I looked over The Grad Lounge’s daily specials chalkboard menu.  Lucky for me, I am a big fan of sun-dried tomato (plus sun-dried tomato mayo?  Colour me excited!) and I’m always interested in seeing different interpretations of chicken salad, so I took one look at the chicken salad panini menu item and didn’t even need to consider anything else.  Just think, for once I wasn’t completely and annoyingly indecisive about what to eat! 

Although the panini could have been grilled more (I guess I like mine extra toasty?!), the chicken salad dressed in the sun-dried tomato mayo was both creamy and crunchy with chopped celery and peppers mixed into the salad, and some big leaves of romaine lettuce gave an extra bit of fresh crunch to it.  I really loved the sun-dried tomato flavour mixed in.  And you know what the best part was that made the panini extra special?  The sprinkling of parmesan cheese!!  That made me squeal 😀  Along with my juicy dill pickle spear, half serving of salad and half serving of fries (because I wanted both and couldn’t decide, so they humoured me and gave me a little of each, awww).  Yup, it doesn’t take much.

*****

The Grad Lounge is located at 166 South Ross at the York University Keele campus.  The Grad Lounge’s summer operating hours are from 11:30pm-6:30pm, Monday to Friday.

 

Weekly Feature: The Grad Lounge – Vegetarian Taco Salad

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Now here’s a meal with some serious crunch to it!  The vegetarian taco salad, available on the The Grad Lounge’s permanent menu, is full of fresh veggies and flavourful yummies.  I had this salad during the summer because I wanted something fresh and lighter than the usual pub fare, but I think it’s awesome for any time.  Romaine lettuce hearts, diced tomato, green bell pepper, and red onion, and shredded marble cheese all on top crunchy corn chips.  A vinegar dressing finishes off the dish, and it’s a really nice alternative to the heavier, starch-friendly meals when you don’t necessarily feel like downing a plate of rice or pasta.  And it’s colourful! 😀  *squee*  Fresh veggies are always great, but the corn chips really make this dish.  It has this yummy, salty crunchiness to it that complements the tamer taste of the romaine.  YUM!  Hopefully this salad brightens up your day, especially for everyone who had to deal with the pounding of snow today!  Stay safe everyone and I’ll see y’all tomorrow 😉

*****

The Grad Lounge is located at 166 South Ross at the York University Keele Campus.