Farro Salad with Endive, Blueberries, Almonds, and Goat Cheese + 5 Summer Salad Links

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If you are looking for another go-to summer salad, this is it.  Fresh blueberries and sliced endive come together with toasted almonds and hearty farro to make this not just a salad but a perfect summer meal.  The shallot vinaigrette is bright and compliments the earthy farro and sweet blueberries.  Fresh goat cheese and thinly sliced chives top this salad stunner adding a little creaminess and a bit of zing.  America’s Test Kitchen does it again.  If you haven’t ordered a copy of Vegetables Illustrated I encourage you to do so today!

Farro and Endive Salad with Blueberries, Almonds, and Goat Cheese

Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated Vegetables Illustrated

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

1+ 1/2 cups cooked farro

Sea salt and pepper

2 tablespoons champagne vinegar

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 heads of Belgian endive, about 4 ounces each, cut in half, cored, and thinly sliced cross-wide

1+1/2 cups blueberries

¾ cup toasted slivered almonds

1 cup crumbled goat cheese

Directions:

Cook farro according to package instructions.  Drain, rinse with cold water, drain, and set aside.  Toast almonds in a dry pan over low heat until fragrant and light brown.  Set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together vinegar, shallot, chives, mustard, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.  Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and continue to whisk.  Add drained farro, endive, blueberries, and almonds.  Toss to combine.  Next, season to taste with sea salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with goat cheese.  Serve and enjoy!  This salad makes excellent leftovers for lunch!

5 Summer Salad Links

Looking for a new Caprese salad to add to your collection?  Check out Brooklyn Supper’s shaved fennel and cherry bing Caprese salad.

Summer screams watermelon.  Why not try it in a salad with a little feta and mint?  Head to One-Pot Recipes blog for this one-pot recipe!

Take advantage of fresh corn season and make Kickass Baker’s avocado corn salad with white balsamic honey reduction.

Fruit salad is a welcome addition to any summer gathering.  Head to Bloglovin’ for a list of 5 fast and fancy fruit salads that are sure to be crowd-pleasers.

Israeli couscous salad with pickled shallots, peas, and feta is a must make every summer.  It’s also one of the most popular recipes on this blog.  Check it out!  I promise it will not disappoint!

Blueberry Cheesecake Bars + 5 Summer Cheesecake Desserts You Should Check Out!

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She started this years ago.  Cheesecake, any form, any flavor, equaled special occasion.  My mother’s go to cheesecake recipe featured a vanilla wafer crust, creamy, silky smooth cheesecake topped with canned cherry or blueberry pie filling.  She rarely needed to refer to the recipe.  She knew it by heart.  She also knew how quickly the little individual cheesecakes nestled in their silver cupcake liners would disappear.  A stern warning like “don’t touch them until Christmas Eve or you’ll get coal in your stocking” usually followed the last dollop of pie filling she place on the perfectly browned cheesecakes.  We waited, and not so patiently waited, until she declared, after her final sip of wine, “let’s have dessert!”

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When she pulled the little bites from the fridge, our mouths watered.  We always ate two immediately and maybe a third if her mood allowed it.  When we got older, the cheesecakes would make a late night appearance usually due to an insatiable case of the munchies.  The baffled look on her beautiful morning face when she discovered just how many we consumed still haunts me to this day.  I’m sure she thought “wtf”?  And then quickly figured out the culprit.  She was, after all, an ER nurse, she grew up during Woodstock, she knew, though pretended otherwise.

When we moved out of her nest, these sweet treats became her go to dessert for any family dinner.  No longer were they just for the holidays. Merely having us in her nest again warranted an appearance of her cheesecake.  We still eat them with the same passion as when we were children.  It’s amazing how food has way to transport you back to a time and place that you still long for, a place we attempt to create in our new families; a place called home, but really home was her.

bcc816I thought about asking her for the recipe, but I knew damn well she wouldn’t share it.  It is still her made from scratch delight.  I get it.  So I drew inspiration from her, but adapted a recipe from Pioneer Woman.  Like my mother’s, the cheesecake is smooth and tangy.  The crust is perfectly sweet, but features graham crackers instead of vanilla wafers.  The blueberry topping is made from fresh blueberries.  Honestly, I could go either way.  I love the canned stuff, but with blueberries abundant this time of year how can you not go fresh?

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I made and shared these bars at a fourth of July party with good friends.  They were a hit.  I saved a few for Bubba and the kids at home.  They asked for them the next day and the day after that.  Maybe this will be the dessert for my kids.  The dessert that reminds them of home, the dessert that reminds them of me.

Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

recipe adapted from Pioneer Woman

Makes 16 bars

Ingredients for Crust:

2 sleeves of graham crackers

1/2 unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ingredients for Filling:

3 packages, 8 ounces each, cream cheese, softened

1 + 1/2 cup sugar

1 + 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 eggs

1/2 cup full fat Greek yogurt

1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

pinch of kosher salt

Ingredients for Blueberry Topping:

4 cups blueberries, about 2 pints

3/4 cup of sugar

squeeze of lemon juice

1/4 cup water

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

4 tablespoons water

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.  Line a 9×13 baking pan with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray.  Set aside.

Using a food processor, pulse the graham crackers into crumbs.  Add the melted butter and vanilla extract and pulse until the crumbs look like wet sand.  Dump the mixture into your prepared baking pan and the press the crumbs evenly into the bottom of the pan.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a handheld electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla until smooth.   Next, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg.  Add the Greek yogurt, lemon juice and pinch of salt and mix until well combined.

Pour the filling into the crust and smooth out the top.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Then turn off the oven, leave the door closed and allow it to bake for another 10 minutes.  Lastly, open the oven door a bit and allow it sit in the oven for another 10 minutes.  (Yup, with the door open.)

Remove the cheesecake and let it cool completely on a wire rack.

While the cheesecake cools, make your blueberry topping.  Add blueberries, sugar and 1/4 cup of water to a small pan.  Over medium high-heat, bring to a boil and cook until the juices slightly thicken, about 5 minutes.  ( I mashed some of the berries during this time for a less chunky topping, but it is not necessary.)  In a small bowl, make a slurry: 2 tablespoons cornstarch + 4 tablespoons of water, mix well.  Stir in slurry and a squeeze of lemon juice.  Let it boil for another couple of minutes and then remove from heat.  Allow to cool before adding to cheesecake.

Pour the blueberries over the cheesecake and smooth over the top.  Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours.  I think overnight is best.  Once chilled, remove from 9×13 pan by lifting it out with the foil overhang.  Grab a serrated knife and cut into squares.  Enjoy!

(Can be made two days ahead. Keep refrigerated, covered and cut just before serving.)

5 Cheesecake Recipes You Need To Check Out!

Looking for a completely new and creative take on cheesecake?  Check out My Mother’s Apron Strings for The SoNo Cheesecake: pistachio graham cracker crust, cheesecake topped with fresh raspberries. Wow!

If you need a quick and easy cheesecake, head to Food &Wine for their icebox chocolate cheesecake.

Smitten Kitchen’s raspberry swirl cheesecake and strawberry cheesecake ice cream pie are on my must make list!

Check out my lemon ricotta cheesecake. It was a huge hit!