On a recent trip to the farmer’s market, I spotted the cutest little mini eggplants (I learned they’re called fairy tale eggplants) and had to scoop some up to experiment with. Given the warm weather recently, I decided to use them in a summer-temperature-friendly appetizer — eggplant caprese bites. I washed the eggplants and sliced them into thin, 1/4 rounds, then dunked them in a whisked egg batter and dredged them lightly in Italian bread crumbs. Using a large skillet, I browned the eggplant in olive oil, and then let them come up to room temperature while resting on a clean paper towel to remove some of the oil. Then comes assembly time — on a toothpick I stacked up tomatoes, eggplant rounds, halves of mini-mozzarella balls, and fresh basil leaves. Right before I served them I sprinkled the bites with sea salt for a little extra flavor. Aren’t they so bright and cheery?

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I have started a fun little summer challenge: on Tuesdays and Fridays I have been hitting up the Copley Square Farmers Market on my lunch break and try to make a dinner completely out of ingredients from the vendor stands. There is one particular vendor that makes amazing fresh pastas which has been a great base to feature all of the delicious crisp veggies I have been able to get at the market. So farmers market pasta is becoming a new staple.20140713-193838-70718068.jpg

It’s the same process each week: boil water for the pasta and steam the veggies on top. Then in a pan, melt 1 tbsp of butter and sauté the veggies and a few minced shallots: add 1/4 cup of white wine and reduce the mixture. Then toss the pasta in with a few tablespoons of the pasta water and coat with the sauce and vegetables. Then top with a fresh squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper, and Parmesan cheese. This week I made it with English peas, heirloom carrots, and yellow summer squash, but have also tried garlic scapes, zucchini, and broccoli. It’s healthy, local and so tasty! 20140713-193835-70715137.jpg20140713-193836-70716109.jpg20140713-193837-70717091.jpg

Sometimes inspiration just comes in bursts, doesn’t it? I have been scooping up ideas from so many gorgeous parties around the web — like a darling garden party from Grey Likes Weddings — I need to dip-dye some napkins just like those! The color palette, the bows, the florals, and the stripes are all perfection in a Kate Spade-inspired bridal brunch. And a sweet little farmer’s market picnic party has my wheels turning for some spring-time fetes!

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Guys, is there anything better than a cheese plate? I’m loving the slate board we got as a wedding gift from my cousin, using chalk to mark the different plate components I think makes it so user-friendly, no more “hmm, I wonder what this cheese is?” guesses for our guests. I also got thrifty and used a leftover cardboard berry basket from the farmers market to hold some carb-y treats — eco-friendly and darn cute, don’t you think?

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This weekend, I let the Farmer’s Market be the inspiration for Sunday dinner and decided to make whatever looked good — and a pretty little container of colorful tomatoes caught my eye. We scooped some up and then hit the fresh pasta tent for some lemon basil linguine and we were on our way to making a tasty meal. While the water was heating for the pasta, I cooked the tomatoes over high heat with a little EVOO and a tablespoon of butter, salt, and pepper. After the tomatoes cooked down and started to burst, I lowered the temperature and sauteed in three cloves of chopped garlic and a handful of pine nuts. Then after a minute, I added in a quarter of a cup of white wine, and three tablespoons of pesto, plus a few spoonfuls of the pasta water. Then I drained the pasta when it was just about cooked and finished cooking it in the pan with the tomato mixture. We served it with freshly chopped basil leaves and a little Parmesan cheese — perfection!

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