Whole Living Daily

Lunch Bunch: Rooftop Revelry

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After about four months of talking about eating on the roof, we finally did it! It's not that we're procrastinators (at least not when it comes to Lunch Bunch), but it was one of the first days where it was comfortable enough to eat al fresco. And as much as we're savoring these last golden days of summer, our minds are already moving ahead -- we were already starting to discuss the 2013 Action Plan and the updates from last year's plan. But for now, we're happy to just squeeze in a few more rooftop meals while we can.

Lemon Zest-Almond Basil Pesto

1 cup raw almonds, toasted
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

Pulse almonds in a food processor until they resemble a coarse meal. Add basil, garlic, and lemon juice and zest. Add oil in a steady stream until processed. Season with salt and toss with cooked pasta.

Roasted Vegetable Ragout

(variation of this Whole Living recipe, adjusted for a larger group)

Ingredients
6 cipolline onions
4 baby turnips, or 2 large, cut in eighths
1 small celery root, peeled and cut into wedges
1/2 pound whole baby carrots
3 new potatoes, halved
2 leeks, white part only, cleaned and cut into 1/4-inch rings
2 parsnips, peeled and quartered
8 Brussels sprouts
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 sprigs each of fresh thyme, rosemary, and parsley
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups Vegetable Stock, or low-sodium canned
One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
1 bay leaf
2 cups coarsely chopped Swiss chard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
In a heavy roasting pan, combine the vegetables
and olive oil and toss to coat. Roast 20 to 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes, until the vegetables are nicely browned. Meanwhile, tie the herbs together with kitchen string. Transfer the pan to the top of the stove. Add the wine, stock, tomatoes, and herbs and cook over high heat for 15 minutes. Stir in the Swiss chard and cook 2 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.

Mixed Greens Salad with Honey Dijon Dressing

Salad:
4 cups baby spinach
6 cups arugula
1/2 cup sliced shitake mushrooms
1 cup chopped asparagus
1/4 cup sliced red onion
1/2 cup honey roasted sliced almonds
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

Dressing:
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
Salt and pepper

Toss salad ingredients together. Whisk dressing ingredients (add more rice wine vinegar for a thinner consistency) and drizzle over salad.

Mexican Chocolate Pudding

This dessert tastes sinful but is dairy-free and relatively low-fat. I worked off of Mark Bittman’s recipe from The New York Times, but since I was making a bigger batch, I modified it so that I could do all of the food prep in one big pot with an immersion blender.

3/4 cup sugar
1 pound silken tofu
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
1  1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon chili powder, or more to taste

In a large pot, combine sugar with  3/4 cup water; bring to a boil and cook until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. Turn heat way down and add chocolate chips, stirring constantly until they’re completely melted. Add other ingredients and puree with an immersion blender until completely smooth. (If you’re using a normal blender, melt the chips in the microwave and combine with simple syrup, tofu, and spices in the blender jar.) Pour into ramekins or a serving bowl and chill for an hour or more. Optional: sprinkle with sea salt -- a Whole Living staff favorite!

Photography by Jillian Guyette

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