Grilled Broccoli with Black Olive Tapenade

Grilled Broccoli with Olive Tapenade ©2014 La Domestique

I love grilling. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the Southern United States where people take their BBQ seriously. Maybe it’s because I get to create perfectly caramelized grill marks on my food. Or maybe it’s because the sizzle and the smoky aromas always take me back to carefree Arkansas summers spent by the pool.

During summer I grill almost every single night because it’s quick and easy. Grilled broccoli was a revelation for me—charring this slightly bitter brassica gives it a smoky, caramelized sweetness. Any true Southerner knows that good condiments are essential to BBQ and I’ve paired the charred broccoli with tapenade, a boldly flavoured olive paste. Tapenade is open to variation based on what herbs you’ve got on hand. Basil, lemon-thyme, mint, oregano or even lavender would be fine substitutions for the rosemary. For this recipe, a good quality extra virgin olive oil is worth using. Splurge on a special bottle with plenty of spice and vibrant flavour. Take note that this tapenade is a briny sauce flavoured with two cloves of fresh garlic—be ready for its punch! Here the spirit of Italian antipasti embraces French Provençal flavours in a dish that’s perfect for munching on in a sunny garden with either a glass of Prosecco or rosé wine.

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Easy Everyday Vegetable Stir-Fry

Easy Stir Fry Ingredients ©2014 LaDomestique

We had a couple days of unbelievable sunshine and warmth here in Dublin this week (though today it has turned cloudy and cool). In true la belle vie style my husband made the last minute decision to take a vacation day and we skedaddled off to Portmarnock beach. It felt so good to put my feet in the warm sand, breathe the salty air and listen to the ocean waves. When the weather is warm and the days are spent outdoors having fun all I really want is to come home and throw together something quick and easy for supper.

Taking a break from meat and carbohydrates for one meal can leave you feeling a bit lighter and healthier. That being said, you’ll be surprised at how filling a bowl of stir-fried vegetables can be. My Easy Everyday Vegetable Stir-Fry is packed with ingredients that promote the health of your skin– which really needs that extra support during summer battling the sun’s rays. Carrots, broccoli and Bok Choi are all known for their skin-boosting vitamins and minerals. Both broccoli and carrots are high in the anti-oxidant beta-carotene, while carrots contain silicon for strengthening nails and skin. No need to peel organic carrots– just wash and scrub off the dirt. Also, don’t discard those broccoli leaves– they’ve got higher levels of beta-carotene than the florets and stalks. Toss the broccoli leaves into your stir-fry at the end with the Bok Choi leaves.

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My Favourite Picnic Recipes

During summer I prefer to savour my meals outside, don’t you? On a recent sunny Irish weekend the husband and I enjoyed breakfast, lunch and dinner al fresco on the patio with little Minnie (our dachshund) sunbathing at our feet. Today I’ve gathered up a few of my favourite summer recipes perfect for le pique-nique. All of these dishes are simple to throw together and will hold up well as you travel to find the perfect spot.

Strawberry, Spinach and Quinoa Salad

Pasta Primavera

Spanish Tortilla with Red Peppers, Chorizo and Manchego

Wheat Berry Salad with Roasted Fennel and Red Bell Pepper

Panzanella

Spring Pea and Herb Salad

Lemon Curd Tart

 

Delicious Detox Beetroot, Avocado and Wild Rice Salad

Delicious Detox Beetroot Salad ©2014 La Domestique

I don’t believe I ever saw a single beetroot growing up. Never even thought much about that strange dirt cloaked root until I grew up and planted a garden. I fell in love with beets after tasting my very first homegrown beet baby, pulled from the soil just minutes before cooking.

I love beetroot because it’s not just flavourful—it’s highly aromatic. I’m not talking about the shrivelled specimens, petrified beet fossils left to languish in supermarket fridges. Freshly harvested beetroot from the garden or farmers market is perfumed with the sweet and musky scent of the soil.

The shockingly crimson colour of beetroot is due to a special type of anti-oxidants called betacyanins, which aid the liver in detoxifying the body while also reducing cholesterol and blood pressure. Beets are packed with iron and B vitamins as well, to keep your blood cells healthy and your nerves firing on all cylinders. I’m talkin’ all sorts of anti-inflammatory goodness to keep your heart pumping and your blood flowing.

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Celebrate the Season: Spring Pea, Spinach and Fennel Soup

Spring Pea, Spinach and Fennel Soup ©2014 La Domestique

June is the height of spring, when the garden really starts producing. You can see pink radish shoulders poking out of the soil, voluptuous bunches of salad greens and perfect pea pods dangling from delicate trellised vines. It’s an exciting time for a gardener, harvesting the first bounty of the year and bringing it straight to the table. The veg is still alive and full of nutritious goodness. You see, once vegetables are picked they begin to deteriorate, losing precious vitamins and minerals. By the time they reach the supermarket and languish on the counter for days these vegetables are only a shadow of their former selves. You may be trying to do the right thing and eat healthy fresh produce, but it’s just not the same as freshly harvested produce. The missing ingredient: life.

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