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Lunch Bunch: Lemon Pasta, Cucumber Soup, Tomato-Chickpea Salad and Ice Cream with Berry Compote

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We've been lunch-bunching since January, and our meals have changed with the seasons. In the winter, we all lined up in front of the microwave to heat our lentil stew or Thai curry. Nowadays, we're enjoying chilled foods that put the spotlight on CSA goodies, and an ice cream-based dessert is pretty much a given. Here's what we whipped up this week.

Lemon Pasta

This was inspired by a recipe in a cookbook of Deborah Madison’s from years ago:

Add the zest and juice of 1 lemon to a bowl. Whisk in about 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil and 1 to 2 tablespoons butter (unsalted or salted), and sea salt to taste (maybe 3/4 teaspoon). Add one pound cooked pasta, and scatter a liberal amount of chopped basil and parsley on top. Sprinkle with lots of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano. Toss together, adding a little bit of the hot pasta water if the noodles seem dry.

For the gluten-free noodles, we used the penne by Tru Roots, which is made with quinoa, brown rice, and amaranth, and is barely distinguishable from regular pasta.

Chilled Cucumber Soup

I based this on a recipe from the Los Angeles Times. It takes only a few minutes to prepare, with minimal clean-up (just a blender jar, a peeler, and a cutting board). Next time I'll experiment with Greek yogurt and different herbs, such as dill.

  • Two large cucumbers, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • A few basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in a blender and puree (stopping to stir as needed). Refrigerate for a few hours before serving, and garnish with more torn basil leaves. (This serves four or five; I made four batches for our hungry group!)

Tomato-Chickpea Salad

I based this quick and easy summer salad off this one from Italian Food Forever, eliminating the capers.

  • 6 cups of cooked chickpeas
  • 3 cups chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 12 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Combine all the ingredients together and toss.

Ice cream with berry compote

  • Two bags mixed frozen berries (unsweetened)
  • Handful of fresh blueberries
  • Handful of sliced fresh strawberries

Simmer all berries over a low heat for up to 10 minutes, or until the juices begin to boil and the berries have softened. Add a teaspoon of honey or a pinch of sugar for desired sweetness. Serve warm over vanilla or salted caramel ice cream with extra fresh berries.

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