Sweet Potato Salad

Sweet Potato Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

I am a little addicted to this Sweet Potato Salad. This inspiration came from the restaurant chain Not Your Average Joe’s. I’m not sure if you have one in your state, but we have a few here in Massachusetts and Matt and I are hooked. Last summer they had a limited time barbecue menu and one of the sides was a sweet potato salad. When I asked our waitress about the special sides she started raving about the sweet potato salad so I figured I would give it a shot.

Sweet Potato Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

It was amazing! It was incredibly flavorful, a little tangy, a little sweet and I couldn’t stop eating it! The next day at work I started telling people that they had to go and order it because it was that good. This summer I haven’t seen it back on their menu yet so I set out to recreate the recipe. Just like the one I had at Not Your Average Joe’s, I couldn’t stop eating this potato salad!

Sweet Potato Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

I knew the base of the dressing wasn’t all mayonnaise since it had a rich tanginess to it, so I added some buttermilk. The mustard seeds give it a great crunch and the celery salt and smoked paprika bring a ton of flavor. I added in hard boiled eggs and scallions because I remembered them from the original dish and I love both those ingredients in my potato salads. I don’t like spicy food so I put in the teeniest tiniest pinch of chili powder, but you can definitely add more if you want a bit of a kick in your salad.

Sweet Potato Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

One of my favorite parts of this Sweet Potato Salad is that it tastes even better the next day making it the perfect make ahead side dish for 4th of July, potlucks and summer barbecues. I hope you all have a fantastic weekend and enjoy this Sweet Potato Salad!

Sweet Potato Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Sweet Potato Salad
 
Yield: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ¾ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon celery salt
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Pinch of chili powder, optional
Directions
  1. Put the cubed sweet potatoes in a large sauce pan then cover with water. Add 1 teaspoon salt to the water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat then reduce to simmer for 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through. Drain the potatoes, rinse with cold water, then let drain until dry. Place in a large mixing bowl and let cool. Once cool add the chopped hard boiled eggs and sliced scallions.
  2. Mix together the dressing. In a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the mayonnaise, buttermilk, apple cider vinegar, parsley, Dijon, mustard seeds, celery salt, smoked paprika and chili powder, if using. Pour over the potatoes and carefully stir until coated. Let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Give it a stir before serving. It tastes even better the next day.
Notes
If you don't want to buy buttermilk you can make your own with regular milk. Put a little less than a teaspoon of lemon juice (or vinegar, but I like to use lemon juice) in a measuring cup then fill with milk until you reach ¼ cup. Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes.

 

Watermelon Caprese Salad

Watermelon Caprese Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Tomorrow is the first day of summer! I’m posting one of my favorite summer dishes to celebrate – Watermelon Caprese Salad. Even though caprese salad is incredibly simple, when it’s made with fresh peak-season tomatoes it is complete summer perfection. Layers of sweet tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and fresh basil are drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, syrupy balsamic glaze and thick granules of sea salt.

Watermelon Caprese Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

The only addition I’ve ever tasted that has somehow been even better than the classic is juicy watermelon slices. I first had this combination during the summer five years ago with my parents at a restaurant out in Colorado. I even have a picture! Here it is below. Matt had just gotten me my first “real” camera that spring for our trip to Seattle so I was putting it to good use taking pictures of all our dishes.

Watermelon Caprese Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

It was a special on the menu that night and even though their summer caprese had figs, heirloom tomatoes and burrata, the real standout was the watermelon. Diane and I could not believe how much the crisp sweet watermelon brought to the dish.

Watermelon Caprese Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Later that summer we were at our annual family beach week and my aunt was making a caprese salad with some tomatoes she got at the farm stand. Diane suggested that we put some watermelon slices on it like the dish we had in Colorado; just like that we officially converted to religious Watermelon Caprese Salad makers and we haven’t looked back since! Watermelon individually pairs well with all the components of a caprese salad and makes the salad even more refreshing and summery.

Watermelon Caprese Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Since there’s only a few ingredients you want them to really shine so make sure you buy the best watermelon, tomatoes, mozzarella and basil your farmer’s market or grocery store has to offer. I promise once you try this version it will be your new summer go-to! Enjoy and happy summer everyone!

Watermelon Caprese Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Watermelon Caprese Salad
 
Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • ¼ of a seedless watermelon, sliced into pieces roughly the same size and thickness of the tomato slices
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt, preferably sea salt or kosher salt
  • Balsamic glaze (see note)
Directions
  1. Layer the caprese salad. I like to do a tomato slice, topped with a mozzarella slice, topped with a watermelon slice, then finally topped with a basil leaf. I usually plan on 2 stacks like this per person, depending on how many other sides there will be. Arrange the stacks so they are layered over one another.
  2. When you are ready to serve, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic glaze. Sprinkle the salt over top then serve.
Notes
You can find balsamic glaze at the grocery store - Trader Joe's has a great one. If you want to make your own: combine ½ cup good quality balsamic vinegar with 2 tablespoons brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer until the mixture is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. The glaze should be thick and syrupy. Let cool before serving. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

 

Summer Roasted Veggie Pesto Pasta Salad with Burrata

Summer Roasted Veggie Pesto Pasta Salad with Burrata  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’m starting my 4th of July recipe posts early so that you can have lots of delicious backyard barbecue inspiration ready to go. Also, summer barbecue season is in full swing and is it really a barbecue if there isn’t pasta salad? I love cooking seasonally so I wanted to pack as many seasonal veggies as I could into this Summer Roasted Veggie Pesto Pasta Salad with Burrata. We have red bell peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, green beans, corn and arugula – like I said, all the veggies!

Summer Roasted Veggie Pesto Pasta Salad with Burrata  |  Lemon & Mocha

The best part is that all the vegetables, except the arugula, are roasted, which concentrates their flavor and sweetness. It also gives them a nice caramelization taking your pasta salad to the next level. And if you want to be at the top level then you have to toss your pasta salad with a lemony pesto and creamy burrata cheese! How amazing does that sound? If you’ve never had burrata it’s basically mozzarella’s cooler sibling and is soft on the inside. You can find in the grocery store near the fresh mozzarella, but if you can’t find any you could substitute fresh mozzarella or even goat cheese.

Summer Roasted Veggie Pesto Pasta Salad with Burrata  |  Lemon & Mocha

Pasta salads tend to either fall in the creamy macaroni category or the Italian dressing camp, so I love switching it up and using the pesto to dress and flavor the pasta and veggies. I tried to keep this as simple as possible by roasting everything at the same temperature for the same amount of time.

Summer Roasted Veggie Pesto Pasta Salad with Burrata  |  Lemon & Mocha

While making this recipe I also discovered my new favorite way to make corn! I love grilled corn, but it takes a fair amount of prep work, while boiling corn seems to take forever and doesn’t add any flavor. Baking corn is the way to go! I shucked the corn, lightly drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper then wrapped in aluminum foil before popping in the oven along with the other vegetables. The corn came out tender and full of flavor.

Summer Roasted Veggie Pesto Pasta Salad with Burrata  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you are looking for other pasta salad ideas, Diane’s Orzo Pasta Salad is another favorite of mine! How do you like your pasta salad? Are you team creamy macaroni, team Italian dressing, or something completely different?

Summer Roasted Veggie Pesto Pasta Salad with Burrata  |  Lemon & Mocha

Summer Roasted Veggie Pesto Pasta Salad with Burrata
 
Yield: 10-12 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound short pasta
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup halved green beans
  • 1 ear corn
  • 2 cups arugula
  • ¾ cup pesto
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • ½ lemon, zested and juiced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 6 ounces burrata
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Prep the veggies. Cut the red pepper into a large dice. Cut thick rounds of the yellow squash and zucchini then quarter. Place the cut red pepper, cut yellow squash, cut zucchini, tomatoes and cut green beans on a full sheet pan (18”x 26”) then lightly drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat then season with salt and pepper. Spread out the veggies so they aren’t overlapped or on top of each other. Remove the husk and silk from the ear of corn. Get a piece of aluminum foil large enough to wrap the corn in then place the ear of corn in the center slightly turning up the edges. Lightly drizzle with olive oil then season with salt and pepper. Tightly wrap the ear of corn. Place the baking sheet and the wrapped corn on the middle rack of your oven and let cook for 25 minutes, or until the veggies are nicely roasted. Set aside.
  3. While the vegetables are roasted, boil the pasta to al dente according to the package instructions. Once cooked, rinse with cold water and strain. Once cooled slightly and dry, put in a large mixing bowl. When the cooked vegetables have slightly cooled add them to the mixing bowl, using a sharp knife to carefully cut the kernels of corn off the ear.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together together the pesto, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, salt and some fresh ground pepper. Pour over the pasta and the vegetables. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust salt and pepper according to taste. Place in the serving dish. Top with the burrata, breaking off chunks to spread on top.

 

Pistachio Semifreddo with a Nutella Magic Shell Topping

Pistachio Semifreddo with a Nutella Magic Shell Topping  |  Lemon & Mocha

I know, I know. It’s early in the morning and you’re already drooling over a dessert. I’m sorry, but I had to share this one, especially just in time for Father’s Day on Sunday! I kind of consider this an all-parent dessert since I actually made and photographed it for Mother’s Day with the intention of posting it for Father’s Day. I have to work ahead over here so I’m often doing odd things like celebrating 4th of July in June or Christmas in September. This Pistachio Semifreddo with Nutella Magic Shell Topping would be good for any occasion, but I made it with my Dad in mind.

Pistachio Semifreddo with a Nutella Magic Shell Topping  |  Lemon & Mocha

My Dad loves ice cream, but I’ve made him so many ice cream desserts over the years that I wanted to try something different. I’ve also always wanted to try a semifreddo, which to me tastes like ice cream mixed with whipped cream that’s been semi-frozen. The creaminess of the semifreddo with the crunch from the pistachios was an addictive combination. It would be delicious if you just left it at that. But I could never, ever in good conscience discourage you from topping the pistachio semifreddo with this Nutella magic shell! Adding coconut oil to the Nutella makes it act like that amazing magic shell topping you can buy in the bottle where the topping hardens when it touches the ice cream. This Nutella topping starts to harden as soon as you pour it over the semifreddo and will harden to completion if you just pop it in the the freezer for a little bit. Whacking off big hunks of the hardened Nutella to eat with the creamy semifreddo felt downright sinful. And so, so good.

Pistachio Semifreddo with a Nutella Magic Shell Topping  |  Lemon & Mocha

The recipe seems like a lot of steps, but it’s actually fairly simple. A lot of the comments on the original recipe were from people who said they don’t cook or bake often and they were surprised at how easy it actually was to make. You are basically whipping a meringue base, whipping a whipped cream and folding them together with the chopped pistachios. Then it goes into the freezer for at least eight hours so you will definitely want to plan ahead.

Pistachio Semifreddo with a Nutella Magic Shell Topping  |  Lemon & Mocha

You all know I love my food memories so of course I have some to share about my Dad and pistachio ice cream. The first is that my Dad’s company always had an ice cream sundae party every summer – and still do! My Dad is retired, but they still do the ice cream parties. Back when there weren’t as many people they would have everyone vote on the flavors by marking their vote on a printout of the flavors from the local ice cream shop. My Dad and another guy who worked there loved the pistachio ice cream and somehow that flavor would always win even though everyone else made fun of them for liking an “old man” flavor. I will always think of it as an “old man” flavor even though now I love it. I guess that makes me an old man? Anyways, my second memory I want to mention is when I got accepted to Boston College my Dad and I went to visit the campus that weekend. Of course we had to check out the closest ice cream shop, which is White Mountain Creamery. Funny enough, I don’t remember what flavor I got, but I remember my Dad got the pistachio ice cream. I was so happy in that moment being on a high from excitement to go to Boston College sitting there eating ice cream with my Dad.

Pistachio Semifreddo with a Nutella Magic Shell Topping  |  Lemon & Mocha

Now even though I made this dessert with my Dad in mind it kind of backfired on me. For those of you that don’t know, my Dad can be very picky. He’ll eat everything, but he will finish the meal saying that it was good, but he prefers his classic favorites. This was one of those times. He liked it, but thought it was a little too sweet for him and wanted it to be ice cream – haha – but everyone else had seconds so I think it’s safe to say that 98% of your guests will go nuts for it. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and make lots of delicious food memories with your loved ones! Happy Father’s Day to all the awesome Dads out there, especially my Dad, Lee, and my father-in-law, Floyd!

Pistachio Semifreddo with a Nutella Magic Shell Topping  |  Lemon & Mocha

Pistachio Semifreddo with a Nutella Magic Shell Topping
 
Yield: 8-10 servings
Ingredients
for the semifreddo
  • 1½ cups shelled pistachios
  • ½ cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 6 egg whites
  • 2 cups heavy cream, kept in the fridge until ready to use
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
for the Nutella magic shell
  • 1 cup Nutella
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil
Directions
for the semifreddo
  1. Line an 8½” by 4½” loaf pan with plastic wrap so it hangs over all the sides then set aside. Roughly chop ¼ cup of the pistachios and set aside.
  2. Pulse ¾ cup pistachios with 2 tablespoons of the sugar until the pistachios are finely chopped. Add the remaining ½ cup pistachios and pulse a few times until the pistachios are very roughly chopped and large chunks still remain. Set aside.
  3. Whip the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer on medium speed until there are soft peaks. This mean the peak is just barely holding its shape and would flop if you lifted the beater. Increase the speed to high and add ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons of the sugar a little at a time. Once the sugar has been added continue to beat until the egg whites are holding stiff peaks. This means the peaks hold their shape completely straight even when beaters are lifted.
  4. In a different bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the cold cream and the almond extract on medium speed. Carefully increase the speed to high and beat until you have stiff peaks. Carefully fold the egg white mixture into the cream mixture, then gently fold in the pistachio mixture. Pour and scoop into the prepared loaf pan. It will probably go over the top of the pan. Just keep adding and smooth to create an even surface on top. Lightly cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 8 hours.
  5. Remove the semifreddo from the freezer. Invert onto a serving dish (or plate/container that will fit in your freezer if you aren’t serving right away) and carefully remove the pan and plastic wrap. Top with the Nutella magic shell. Look harden slightly then sprinkle the reserved chopped pistachios on top. Return to the freezer until ready to serve. Let soften slightly before serving
for the Nutella magic shell
  1. Microwave the Nutella and coconut oil in a small microwave safe bowl until melted. I start at 30 seconds, stir then continue microwaving and stirring at 15 second intervals. Once the mixture is melted and smooth let cool slightly at room temperature before using.
Notes
This recipe contains uncooked egg whites, which may be a concern if salmonella is a problem where you live.
Using a metal mixing bowl for the egg whites and heavy cream makes a big difference, especially if you can chill them in the freezer, along with the metal beaters, before using. If your egg whites or cream isn’t coming to peaks it may be that your ingredients or bowl wasn’t cold enough so I always chill mine.

Semifreddo recipe slightly adapted from Epicurious.

Healthy Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Healthy Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwich  |  Lemon & Mocha

How many posts have I started with, “I’m so excited to share this with you!”? I think that’s okay though because I only ever share recipes here that I think you NEED in your life so it makes sense for me to always be excited! These Healthy Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwiches have me really excited for several reasons, but mostly because the chicken salad is just damn delicious! Now, as many of you know, I am mayonnaise obsessed. At least half of you are probably cringing right now (I know Matt is!), but I’ve just always been hooked. Mayonnaise and healthy don’t exactly go together so I challenged myself to make a mayo-free chicken salad that wouldn’t make me miss the mayo at all. Well, as mayo-free as possible – I did throw in just one little tablespoon of mayo (which is less than a teaspoon per serving). Sorry, I can’t help it!

Healthy Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwich  |  Lemon & Mocha

I was completely prepared to hate this chicken salad. I thought with subbing in plain Greek yogurt that would be all I would taste and that it would be okay, but not a solid substitute for the classic. I was so wrong and I’m so excited about it! I didn’t miss all the mayo one bit! The apple cider vinegar, Dijon, parsley and scallions give this chicken salad so much flavor and the crunch from the apple and the almonds keeps it from being anything but boring.

Healthy Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwich  |  Lemon & Mocha

Another reason this chicken salad has so much flavor packed in is that I used grilled chicken. I love grilling chicken in the summertime and this sandwich is the perfect reason to throw a few extra chicken breasts on your grill. Matt hates chicken salad because he doesn’t like mayo and even he was chowing down on these!

Healthy Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwich  |  Lemon & Mocha

The chicken salad tastes great on its own or on a green salad, but my favorite way to eat it is as these Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwiches. I love using locally baked sourdough bread as a healthier option. I am allergic to oats and most multigrain breads have rolled oats, oat flour or oat fiber in them. Although sourdough is similar to white bread in terms of calories and carbs, it is usually made with no sweeteners or oils, doesn’t require extra preservatives and is higher in protein. A lot of people also find it much easier to digest due to the lactic acid present as a result of the baking process. I also love how it’s soft and chewy with a bit of a tanginess to it. It holds up really well to this chicken salad and tastes so good with a little bit of fresh arugula for some added green veggies. I hope you enjoy this one! If you try a recipe, don’t forget to let me know how it was in the comments – I love hearing from you all!

Healthy Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwich  |  Lemon & Mocha

Healthy Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwich
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
for the chicken salad
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken, grilled, about 2.5 cups cooked
  • ½ cup diced apple
  • ¼ cup chopped almonds
  • ¼ cup sliced scallions
  • ⅓ cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
for the sandwich
  • 4 slices sourdough bread
  • 1 cup arugula
  • Carrot and red pepper slices for serving, optional
Directions
for the chicken salad
  1. Dice the chicken. Toss in a medium mixing bowl with the diced apple, chopped almonds and sliced scallions. Add the yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar, Dijon, salt, pepper and parsley. Stir well to combine.
for the sandwich
  1. Put the sourdough bread on 4 plates or in 4 meal prep containers. Divide the arugula between the 4 slices of bread. Top with the chicken salad, dividing between the 4 slices of arugula topped bread. Add carrot and red pepper slices to container, if using.