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I know, more panzanella. And another dish with a trillion vowels and syllables. I had the idea for this in my mind last week and could not let it go, couldn’t let it wait until next summer. Caponata is this irresistibly rustic Sicilian eggplant  and tomato stew/condiment that comes together with some minor rough chopping and simmering. It brings out the meatiness of the eggplant to the point of serious questioning sometimes. There are wonderful salty bits, cooked out summer-tomato juices, a scatter of parsley leaves that have barely been grazed by the knife. Sweet, sour, salty–perfect on any and all toasts once it’s cooled, maybe with some charcuterie and cheeses if that’s your thing. I thought I could cut to the chase and just throw the toast component right in there, mix it up real simple with another dose of olive oil, bursts of fresh tomato and even more grassy, peppery parsley. That thought was correct. So correct.

There is a pre-fall cool blowing through town, so I didn’t mind flipping the oven on to make the croutons while I sipped some tea and hung out by the stove. I donned a sweatshirt on my morning run today and marvelled at the pace of the clouds drifting on by while the whoooosh in my ears never ended. I have plans for soups, cookies and hella roasted summer squash next week. The pup shivers a little bit when we try to enjoy a little coffee/tea break outside and requires snuggling (OBV). My jorts preferences have faded to actual jeans-wearing. Maybe this isn’t so much the same where you live (especially on those jorts). Tuck the thought of this hearty salad into your back pocket for September if that’s the case. So simple, wonderful and lightly warming. Doubling the caponata for other uses/eating straight from the pan still-warm is a fine idea too.

So with that, I’m just going to keep it short today. This is my favourite time of year, this micro/in-between season of bright, cool and dry days. Maybe a little summery thunderstorm here and there. It tends to make me a touch sentimental while giving a clear focus for what’s ahead at the same time. Renewed purpose, eyes up to the moon, creativity and inspiration is everywhere you could find it. It’s a generous time in my corner of the world. Hope you’re all wrapping yourselves up in it too :) xo

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caponata panzanella salad recipe
serves: 4-6
notes: It’s pretty crucial to cook the eggplant until it’s way tender, like a solid 15 minute simmer. Also, there’s a lot of salty bits in the caponata so maybe taste the finished product before you season the whole thing.

caponata ingredients:
big glug of olive oil
1 large eggplant, chopped into big pieces
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 small red onion, small dice
1 clove of garlic, rough chopped
big splash of red wine vinegar
1 tbsp capers
handful of green olives, pitted + rough chopped
2-ish cups diced fresh tomatoes
salt and pepper
handful of chopped flat leaf parsley

panzanella ingredients:
4 cups torn up bread pieces
olive oil
salt + pepper
handful of small tomatoes, halved
more chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the pieces of eggplant and oregano. Stir the pieces around to coat them in the oil and herb. Stir the pot here and there until the eggplant is browned on all sides. Add the red onions and garlic to the pot. Stir it up a bit, adding a bit more olive oil if necessary to avoid sticking. Once the onions are soft and translucent, add the red wine vinegar. Scrape the bottom of the pan and stir the mix until the vinegar has evaporated. Add the capers, olives and tomatoes to the pot and stir. Allow the mixture to simmer for 15 minutes or so, until the eggplant is tender and the tomatoes have let out a bit of juice. Remove from the heat, stir in the parsley, season to taste, and set aside to cool.

Place the bread pieces on the parchment lined sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Slide the tray into the oven and bake until golden brown on all sides, about 12-15 minutes, flipping them halfway through. Set aside to cool.

Combine the caponata with the croutons, stirring gently until just combined. Garnish the salad with a healthy drizzle of more olive oil, the halved tomatoes and extra parsley. I also like to scatter the crouton crumb-y bits left on the pan over the top of the salad for more crunch.

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  • Harriet15/08/2013 - 4:56 am

    Wow! This dish is seriously resonating with some tomato vibes I’ve got happening this week – definitely going to the top of my to make list when the eggplants come into season here in Australia! And the salt-hound in me loves the olives and capers!ReplyCancel

  • Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche15/08/2013 - 5:40 am

    This is a fantastic idea! And a great way to turn caponata into a full meal. Your photos are gorgeous too :)ReplyCancel

  • Johanna15/08/2013 - 8:21 am

    This looks delicious! I can’t say I knew what caponata or panzanella was before actually looking at this, but now I’m convinced I need to make this :) You always have such great recipes.ReplyCancel

  • thelittleloaf15/08/2013 - 8:26 am

    It’s cold here in the UK but I’m not ready to admit the end of summer yet! I’ll hold onto this recipe for autumn though, it looks gorgeously fresh and full of beautiful flavours.ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Barnaby15/08/2013 - 9:09 am

    Thank you for reminding me about Panzanella! I haven’t made it in yonks but it will be perfect for a dinner party I’m hosting this Saturday. I loved your photos too. I hope mine looks as pretty as yours.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley15/08/2013 - 9:33 am

    Your optimistic words are refreshing and always make my day. And this recipe? Showstopper (OBV).ReplyCancel

  • Heidi @foodiecrush15/08/2013 - 10:18 am

    Thankfully for us you didn’t let that idea escape your head, what a stellar combo. But then I’d eat anything with capers in it. Beauty.ReplyCancel

  • fashionablecollections15/08/2013 - 11:10 am

    wow this looks INCREDIBLE.ReplyCancel

  • Shanna15/08/2013 - 1:01 pm

    You can never have too much panzanella! Love this!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley15/08/2013 - 1:25 pm

    Seriously cannot wait to make this!! You have the best recipes, stories, pictures EVER! Thank you for an amazing blog to read :)

  • Kathryn15/08/2013 - 1:36 pm

    This is a magical kind of dish, just absolutely perfect for this time of the year. I can’t think of anything I want to eat more.ReplyCancel

  • Eileen15/08/2013 - 2:11 pm

    Hey, there’s nothing wrong with another panzanella–especially when it’s as beautiful as this one! Roasted eggplant and tomato sounds so good right about now. :)ReplyCancel

  • Big wow, this looks truly amazing.ReplyCancel

  • Steph @ This Chick Eats Clean16/08/2013 - 12:01 am

    Holy cheese and rice!!! Or should I say, holy panzanella! This looks ahhhmazing and I can’t wait to give it a shot! And your photography is gorgeous!
    xo, This ChickReplyCancel

  • What a gorgeous looking panzanella. Sounds delicious!ReplyCancel

  • Jeanine16/08/2013 - 10:46 am

    yum! I love caponata and panzanella, genius idea to combine them!ReplyCancel

  • Kasey16/08/2013 - 3:45 pm

    Ahhh! This makes me want to go back to Sicily so bad! I have what felt like 100 different versions of caponata there – some more salty, some sweet. The combination of caponata + panzanella is brilliant! Also, that is helluvalotta vowels. xoReplyCancel

  • Emma16/08/2013 - 4:44 pm

    Caponata and panzanella are 2 of the most fabulous things! I have an Italian friend who makes a simply incredible caponata- I keep meaning to ask him how he makes it. I bet the hearty, crunchy bread is the perfect foil to the melting aubergine and rich tomato base here.ReplyCancel

  • Adri16/08/2013 - 8:12 pm

    What gorgeous photos, and what a wonderful dish! Complimenti1ReplyCancel

  • Angharad16/08/2013 - 9:18 pm

    We just made this for dinner and it was an absolute delight! Our caponata was a bit more liquidy because our tomatoes were just that juicy but adding uncooked tomatoes at the end was a genius fix for that.

    We added in some fresh basil too, just because we had it, and garlic. And then proceeded to wolf the whole thing down! Delicious.ReplyCancel

  • HolliDe16/08/2013 - 10:29 pm

    I am soooo glad that I found this fab recipe today. How could you go wrong with both of those mixed together? I subbed 4 Japanese Eggplant for 1 large one and toasted an olive oil/rosemary rustic loaf for the bread part. It was out of this world; we finished the entire platter!ReplyCancel

  • Abby16/08/2013 - 11:48 pm

    these photographs are absolute perfection. so, so gorgeous… wow. i adore ALL your work but the first photo in this post? and the third one…
    seriously incredible!!ReplyCancel

  • Juliette17/08/2013 - 3:56 am

    This looks very tasty! Enjoy the first chilly days!


  • Valeria17/08/2013 - 4:06 am

    Uh, caponata -love! You didn’t dare frying the eggplant for the caponata – I almost never do, too, I have to say, as I live in the smallest tiny flat and couldn’t cope with the smell of it. I find it works nicely without frying the eggplant as well, but oh gosh, the Sicilian oily real-deal thing is something I die for.
    I really like this combo – a bit of Sicily and a bit of Tuscany revisited and mixed into such a lovely dish. It has been moderately warm here in London but evenings are fresh and the oven on is more than welcomed.ReplyCancel

  • Julia18/08/2013 - 9:03 am

    brilliant post. brilliant panzanella. thx:)ReplyCancel

  • sarah18/08/2013 - 9:51 am

    ‘It’s a generous time in my corner of the world.’ – Love that. I feel the same – it was cool here for over a week, and that ‘just before fall’ feeling is lovely! Fall is my favorite time of year, and while I hate to rush the end of summer, I don’t mind the cooler temps. I always feel more creative/inspired, too. Your panzanella is beautiful! Another good idea for dinner tonight. :)ReplyCancel

  • Amy S21/08/2013 - 8:32 pm

    Serious goodness. We made this on Sunday with the eggplant, red onion and super sweet grape tomatoes in our bushel this week. Fantastic, enjoyed every bite, and will put it in the “make often” category when eggplants are plentiful.ReplyCancel

  • Amrita22/08/2013 - 2:03 pm


    With your food photography, I feel like walking away from my computer screen, turning back around, and taking a running jump to dive right into the screen so I’d land smack-dab on your food. Face first and spread-eagle.

    Total bliss.ReplyCancel

  • menningen liên24/08/2013 - 5:21 pm

    thank you for this refreshing vegetables “bouquet”of garden, we feel the earth, love of cooking, tasty and delicious, life and love of sharing, thank you again and have a good day, liênReplyCancel

  • Kathryne29/08/2013 - 3:17 pm

    What Amrita said!ReplyCancel

  • […] blog that has to die for recipes. Along with this one, I spotted Lemon poppyseed pancakes, and Camponata Panzanella Salad that I can’t wait to […]ReplyCancel

  • […] of recipes that I wanted to make, uh, immediately. Given our very changeable weather this week, her Caponata Panzanella seemed just right. I made it that very […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Recipe and Photos credit to […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Caponata Panzanella […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Caponata Panzanella Via The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Grilled Skirt Steak, Caponata, Bruschetta. My friend Christy makes a honey flank steak once a week by marinating the meat in a […]ReplyCancel

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We had just arrived back at the canoe entry point after about 6 hours of paddling and portaging. We packed up our tent life, ate a simple breakfast as the sun rose and took in the park’s stillness for a few more minutes while we brushed our teeth in the lake. The first leg was calm in the early light. We wrapped ourselves up in its cool quiet, making our way. Some winding rivers and gear-hauling jaunts later, we were at the final lake stretch of the trip. The wind was blowing right at us. Irritability started to creep up. My shoulders were hurting. All of those little cottages that dotted the lake, with their paddle boarding teens and solar panels hanging off the dock, seemed so ridiculous in their luxury. I had been dying for a coffee since we got out of the truck at the same launching point three days prior.

Obviously we made it and everything was fine. We washed up onto the sandy bit next to a convoy of very pale dad-types with ALL of the gear, reeking of Banana Boat and talking about optimal vegetable preservation methods (like straight out of Portlandia). We were bringing everything back to the truck and strapping the canoe onto the roof. There were two families milling about right beside us starting on their adventure. The kids were watching us lift and flip the canoe onto the roof of the truck, just seemingly fascinated by the whole thing.

Mark asked me to push the canoe forward, to center it on the roof. I tried with some emphatic might. Wouldn’t budge. “I can’t,” I said “You’re gonna have to come over here and try.” Now the parents were distractedly watching this whole gear-up thing go down at Access Point 1. One of the mothers, in a way that most certainly suggested a girl-power sentiment, volunteered this in my general direction: “Yes you can…”

I was still orienting myself after the effort. I smiled at her in a way that could only be described as polite. I was tired, kind of grubby, and had been interacting exclusively with the one person who knows me better than anyone else for the last four days. Maybe I wasn’t ready for human contact, or maybe I just read into it too much, but her comment kind of threw me. I kept circling back to it on the long drive home.

It seems obvious–the act of pushing the boat two inches to hit the right point of balance on a pickup for optimal highway driving is not a firm claim on my status as a strong woman. Her encouragement was positive and in terms of social graces, was offered rather easily–which is surprising and wonderful when you’re thinking about the human race in general. Maybe she drew a little fast on it though. Showcasing brute strength at any moment isn’t a statement of equality. I don’t want to cross that line, if it exists, either. I have a hard enough time negotiating the path to being a good and effective person on this earth, let alone trying to measure up with some “other” entity that’s just as human, and no doubt sincerely grasping to find the way just as hard as I am. What bothered me about her comment, possibly implying that if I dug a little deeper I wouldn’t need a man for the given task, was that it spoke to division and separation. It was that routine backing away from an attempt to understand what we all share in our humanity, which is everything. In that moment, I needed him because I was mentally spent and aching down to the bones; not because I lacked for anything in any regard.

Rather predictably, we didn’t end up moving that canoe the extra couple inches. It got strapped in right where it lay and arrived safely. There was nothing to prove. Everything leading up to that point, the actual physical effort, those human interactions that come from deeply rooted experience, the focused and visceral wonderment of the untouched world, the community feeling that is restored upon return… in the boat, the parking lot, and in my human life, had been enough.

When we came back, I found myself craving a lot of fresh things, all in the name of a slight life/body reset of sorts. So this salad came to be. I wanted it to be real easy. Even a little jam jar shake of some dressing seemed like too much effort. A lazy smear of aged balsamic vinegar on the serving plate keeps it cool and fancy-free. I’m not sure how hip melon ballers are these days, but I will always insist that it keeps pieces of the fruit very juicy. The presentation possibilities can be nice too (they can also be ridiculous) if you try to stay natural with it. I just scatter the scoops and thin wisps of cucumber and onion around, break up some herb flowers and give it a faint sprinkle of flaky sea salt. This time of year, the goods don’t need much fussin’ around anyway.

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simplest balsamic melon salad recipe
serves: 4-6
notes: I use an aged, good quality balsamic vinegar for this. The kind that lightly coats a spoon and has traceable sweetness from the first impression. The taste and consistency of it negates the need for any other additions to this simple salad. If you have a thinner variety in your pantry, simply reduce it in a saucepan until it’s thickened up a bit and concentrated. Also, I intended to throw some halved cherry tomatoes in here too, but… just kind of forgot. Might be delicious if you have them around (and you remember them!).

3-4 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
4-5 cups small melon balls/chunks
1/2 english cucumber, thinly sliced/shaved with a mandolin
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced in half-moons/shaved with a mandolin
flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
thinly sliced basil + mint OR broken up basil + mint flowers

Pour the balsamic vinegar onto the base of your serving dish and spread it around evenly with the back of a spoon. The idea is that, with every scoop of salad, a little vinegar catches on the bottom of the serving over to the plate. This maintains an optimal appearance and it ensures even distribution.

Scatter the melon balls, cucumber slices and red onion slices over the balsamic vinegar-coated plate. Season the whole thing with flaky/crunchy salt and pull apart the herb flowers/leaves over the top. Serve immediately.

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  • Simple flavors are magical. Nice story.ReplyCancel

  • Emma08/08/2013 - 5:35 am

    Gosh, this is beautiful! I’ve been crazy for melon recently and was thinking about turning it into a salad of sorts…ReplyCancel

  • Lucie08/08/2013 - 6:23 am

    Wow, it looks sooo fresh and beautiful! I love all kinds of melon. And fruit with balsamico is my favourite combination :PReplyCancel

  • Charul @ Tadka Masala08/08/2013 - 7:25 am

    Lovely colors. And loved the pics too.ReplyCancel

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar08/08/2013 - 8:12 am

    This sounds soooo good!ReplyCancel

  • Blaine08/08/2013 - 9:07 am

    No fussin’, I’m all about that! AND some aged balsamic, I’m all about that too.

    Until I tried true aged balsamic vinegar I didn’t really “get” it, but when I did I completely understood the compulsion to pay $50 for a smidgen of aged grape vinegar. Yeah.

    This looks pretty freaking spectacular…ReplyCancel

  • Ashley08/08/2013 - 9:11 am

    Stunning!!! These photos are beyond gorgeous. I love the shot of the honeydew with the melon baller [so hip] punctures. I could use this reset salad right about now but have about a week until the kitchen is ready for me.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley08/08/2013 - 9:11 am

    p.s. the link to the watermelon with the face on it…..AH-mazing.ReplyCancel

  • autumn08/08/2013 - 9:17 am

    I was totally going to affirm your use of the melon baller before you even questioned it. Thank you for this. I’m now craving the outside like whoa.ReplyCancel

  • annie08/08/2013 - 9:49 am

    This sounds so simple and refreshing! Can’t wait to give it a try. Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Trisha @ Vignette08/08/2013 - 12:15 pm

    What a gorgeous summer salad! So simple and fresh. I love that you paired it with balsamic. Now I need to go out and buy a melon baller. :-)ReplyCancel

  • “Maybe I wasn’t ready for human contact…” I feel like that, well, pretty much every day. I dig that photo of melon ball divots. Beautiful salad – I especially like the combination of melon and cucumber.ReplyCancel

  • Deb08/08/2013 - 1:35 pm

    I am also a happy “melon baller” owner! An irresistible recipe, bright with seasonal flavor and easy to prepare. A fragrant summer treat!ReplyCancel

  • Shelly08/08/2013 - 4:12 pm

    Love the simplicity of this and the mix of textures / shapes – so gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • hungryandfrozen08/08/2013 - 11:34 pm

    That top photo is dazzling! And um, my melon baller need no longer be maligned!

    Thanks for sharing the story, too. It’s a theme I think about a lot, perhaps because there is so much more for women to navigate because of how we’re framed and discussed and expected to be…anyway, thanks. And glad you had this juicy-fresh salad to bring you back to life afterwards!ReplyCancel

  • Ruth09/08/2013 - 12:46 am

    I just tried this with nectarines instead of melon as that’s what I had. It was delicious. Nectarines, onions, cucumbers, herbs all grown in the garden. Delish! Guess I need to make my own vinegar now!ReplyCancel

  • […] virtual dinner from around the food blogs, summer style ala Italia. Peach and Thyme Spritzer Simple Balsamic Melon Salad Heirloom Tomato and Mozzarella Tart Linguine and Clam Puttanesca with Burrata and Basil Almond […]ReplyCancel

  • Trisha09/08/2013 - 5:24 am

    looks scrumptious and so fresh. I would definitely make this. Might try it this weekedn! xReplyCancel

  • […] simple, fresh salad side dish to bring to a […]ReplyCancel

  • hannah11/08/2013 - 12:05 pm

    This looks sooo gorgeous, you make me WANT a melon baller!
    Bet this would be nice with some grilled tofu – how did you serve it?ReplyCancel

  • Irina @ wandercrush12/08/2013 - 11:41 pm

    Hey Laura :) Beautiful colours, as per usual! So crisp. This post reminds me so much of the anecdote my mom always tells me—how her first job after moving to the USA was a melon-baller in her university cafeteria. She got her freshman 15 from all the free food they paid her with in return :) Anyway, I want to make this for her! Melon is one thing I haven’t tried with balsamic.ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth13/08/2013 - 4:37 pm

    A canoe is so on my list. I feel like if I can just push off and sit out in that water, I’ll be just where I need to be. But, boats are pricey so I’m adding it to next year’s list. Easier to procure is a melon baller, which you have single-handedly made cool. I’m looking at a giant watermelon on my table right now, and am pretty sure I have everything I need to make this amazing salad on the spot.ReplyCancel

  • Chelsea//TheNakedFig16/08/2013 - 11:23 am

    All of my favorite foods in one dish!ReplyCancel

  • miya20/08/2013 - 4:45 pm

    Balsamic and melon is a match made in heaven! Melon salad is perfect for summer, and since summer is almost done in Norway I need to hurry up and try this recipe!

  • EmilieMurmure21/08/2013 - 3:20 pm

    Wow! What a recipe!! And amazing pictures (as usual!) :)ReplyCancel

  • Kathryne29/08/2013 - 3:16 pm

    Sometimes there is nothing to prove. And, you make melon balls look sexy. :)ReplyCancel

  • […] Balsamic Melon Salad by My First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • […] simple balsamic melon salad from The First Mess can be concocted from many local ingredients and looks […]ReplyCancel

  • joybee8309/06/2014 - 4:07 pm

    This is a gorgeous salad. Very fresh and refreshing for summer. I’m pinning this…can’t wait to try.ReplyCancel

  • […] those things that I love, those starchy, starchy things. I stumbled on vegan recipes like this one, and this one, and this one. While not all of those are a replacement for the love of my life, starch (Just […]ReplyCancel

  • […] | Source: Brazilian Flair in the USA 11. Watermelon Feta Bites | Source: The Classified Chic 12. Balsamic Melon Salad | Source: The First Mess 13. Watermelon Salsa | Source: Raining Hot Coupons 14. Grilled Watermelon […]ReplyCancel

  • Silvia26/05/2015 - 10:18 pm

    It looks delicious! The red fruit in the pictures is watermelon or those cherry tomatoes that you say you forgot?? Neither of them are in the ingredients so I am a little confused. Wanna try it this weekend!!ReplyCancel

    • Laura27/05/2015 - 2:31 pm

      Hey Silvia, It’s the watermelon! Just some really deeply covered fruit :)

  • […] Balsamic Melon Salad Recipe By: The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • […] While this First Mess recipe may be called A Simple Balsamic Melon Salad, the flavors are far from simple thanks to the addition of sharp balsamic and fragrant mint. Not to mention, the beautiful pink and green color is a major selling point. Find the recipe here. […]ReplyCancel

  • doris green01/08/2015 - 5:34 pm

    A simple salad with some of my favorites in it. Just love it!ReplyCancel

  • […] Simpel maar o zo smakelijk! Deze meloensalade met balsamico is heerlijk bij een zomerse barbecue, maar kan net zo goed bij iedere andere maaltijd als […]ReplyCancel

  • […] | Source: Brazilian Flair in the USA 11. Watermelon Feta Bites | Source: The Classified Chic 12. Balsamic Melon Salad | Source: The First Mess 13. Watermelon Salsa | Source: Raining Hot Coupons 14. Grilled Watermelon […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Simple Balsamic Melon Salad by The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • […] threw this refreshing watermelon salad together for a staff potluck, and was really pleased with how well it turned out and how simple it […]ReplyCancel

  • Du27/07/2016 - 10:51 am

    Great!! I tried this (including the tomatoes) and loved it. I will definitely repeat soon!!ReplyCancel

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The first time I went camping, in my whole life, was only two short years ago. Our family holidays always saw us on a beach or at an amusement park in the winter because summertime was just too busy with gardening, work and being happy with the sun-dappled walls and rich soils of home. I had been with my man for almost a year when he proposed a little canoe + camping jaunt for a weekend in the summer. I was coming off of about 6 years in the city at that point. I didn’t really know if I was a wilderness enthusiast/type yet, but when I started to think about wood-fired breakfasts, the sheer density of trees, and when Mark mentioned offhand that the whole thing would be pretty romantic, I was all in.

I bought some hippie-dip s’mores fixins, some cheap-o water shoes at Mark’s recommendation, worried about staying hydrated, made up little batches of homespun instant oatmeal, packed a Malcolm Gladwell book for extra lightness and some other things. We woke up way before the sun to start on the 5 hour drive. There were road stops. I drank a coffee (rarely, if ever, drank coffee back then). I ate a doughnut (same rarity of occurrence–went for sprinkles, duh). I couldn’t believe that even the little Tim Hortons shops were surrounded by conifer-draped cliffs. All the rough trucker dudes just having their first coffee were probably weirded out by the wide-eyed, jorts-clad little lady in the parking lot taking pictures of everything. We weren’t even close to the park yet.

We eventually got to the park entrance. The little shop that sold firewood also had a particularly rich selection of bear figurines and bacon. We set the canoe in at the launching point. The water was shallow, clear and cold. There were two mountainous hills covered in foliage straight ahead. Mark had told me that the 3 hour canoe trip we were about to embark on was pretty much rookie-level. I got a quick tutorial on paddling technique, but I mean I had prepared by doing some dry strokes at my desk informed by Wikipedia, so was basically pro at that point. Once we had been going for a bit and had separated from the other boats, this comment just spontaneously came out of my mouth: “It smells like mulch everywhere!”

So my initial brush with wilderness had me comparing its overall atmospheric greatness to that pre-bagged shredded business that you can buy for your garden to keep the moisture in (and the weeds out, HOLLA). Totally normal.

I was hooked after that trip though. The quiet, the simpler mode of living, the romance of it, the warm glow of fire for hours at night, the growing optimistic hunch that maybe the whole world could be covered in trees. The experience and mindset wouldn’t have even entered my realm of possibility if Mark hadn’t (handsomely) strolled right into my life. I always bust out that crucial chorus from the 90’s Salt ‘N’ Pepa CLASSIC “Whatta Man” when he does something particularly great, but actually? He is kinda mighty(, mighty) good.

This green drink isn’t exactly optimal camping food, BUT. It’s been keeping me energetic while I sort out and check off what I need for our little wilderness jaunt this weekend (!!!). I go in phases where I absolutely love this stuff for breakfast. It’s green, sure, but it’s also minty, punctuated with a nice hit of lime, cold from frozen peaches/mango and lightly sweet. Sometimes I’ll tote one to work if I haven’t had enough time to rustle up a little meal pre-shift and it most definitely hits the spot. Anyway, I know there’s a lot of green drinks and smoothie recipes out there, kale is the new beef, for your health!, yadda yadda–but this one is my favourite because it really does taste great and I feel like a million bucks once I finish up that last sip. Whatta drink, whatta drink, whatta drink, what a mighty good draaaank. (Had to.)

pin it!pin it!pin it!

the green drink recipe
serves: 1
notes: I generally aim for milder greens here. I love kale, but it can be a touch strong in this particular application. Chard, spinach, romaine and beet greens are preferable, friends. If you’re opting for filtered water instead of coconut water, I would add some more frozen fruit to make up the extra sweetness.

1 1/4 cup cold coconut water or filtered water
juice of 1 lime
1 1/2 cups rough chopped greens, lightly packed
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, cilantro, basil or mint leaves, or a combination
1/2 an English cucumber, rough dice
1 small apple, cored and rough diced
1/2 cup frozen + diced peaches or mango
1-inch piece of peeled ginger (optional)

Combine all of the ingredients in the blender in the order specified and blend on high for a minute or so. Once the greens are fully incorporated/non-chunky, you’re good. Drink it up!

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  • Sophie01/08/2013 - 6:05 am

    I love green smoothies! Your photos are absolutely gorgeous.ReplyCancel

  • Emma Galloway01/08/2013 - 8:51 am

    We LOVE green smoothies in this house :-)ReplyCancel

  • Amanda01/08/2013 - 9:07 am

    I am a lover of green smoothies and this looks like an amazing combination. I have everything in my kitchen to whip one of these bad boys up, it will make the perfect post-yoga refresher. And make up for the bagel and cream cheese I just inhaled. Oops!ReplyCancel

  • michelle01/08/2013 - 9:09 am

    hey there pretty lady!ReplyCancel

  • Blaine Arin01/08/2013 - 9:26 am

    What a mighty might good drink indeed! Just looking at it makes me feel all healthy and virtuous.

    Your wilderness jaunt sounds crazy fun, I haven’t done something like that since camping out in a Texas state park when I was a freshman in high school. There’s definitely sumpthin’ about it!

    Have an amazing jaunt!ReplyCancel

  • carey01/08/2013 - 9:59 am

    Heck yes green drink! I resisted greens in drinks for a while (which I’m sure is something most people can say), but I got past it pretty quickly when J began running the cafe/juice/smoothie bar at the natural foods market in town. I have yet to try parsley in a drink though, and I don’t know how that’s possible. Needs to happen asap-like.ReplyCancel

  • Steph @ stephsapartmentkitchen01/08/2013 - 10:08 am

    I love green smoothies! Your comment about the peaches / mangos is so important. I’ve found that adding just a few slices gives the smoothie a really creamy consistency, and makes it so sweet and delicious!ReplyCancel

  • tara01/08/2013 - 10:46 am

    You’re adorable. And really, you can’t go wrong with a Niagara peach.ReplyCancel

  • Lindsay Frélot01/08/2013 - 12:10 pm

    Beautiful recipe! I always like new ideas when it comes to green drinks! Haven’t tried peaches yet and it sounds delightful! Thanks! LindsayReplyCancel

  • I do love green smothies, drink them quite often and I do love your story. Camping is in my blood, I just have to do it.ReplyCancel

  • Courtney01/08/2013 - 3:09 pm

    Why have I never thought to put peaches in my green smoothies?! Going to have to try this soon. Oh, and I totally have that salt ‘n’ pepa song stuck in my head now :)ReplyCancel

  • Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe01/08/2013 - 5:36 pm

    This smoothie it totally the answer to my desire to incorporate more greens into my life. Perfection!
    PS. Have a wonderful adventure!ReplyCancel

  • Tianna01/08/2013 - 6:32 pm

    this sounds lovely! I’m a huge fan of green drinks and smoothies thanks for sharing your recpe ♥ReplyCancel

  • Jaimie01/08/2013 - 10:30 pm

    Ok. You’re too cute. That first photo is SO HAPPY! I am in love. This green drink sounds lovely.. glad you didn’t use kale.. I totally agree that it isn’t really suited for this type of beverage. Question: do you need to strain?ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright02/08/2013 - 12:20 am

      Hey Jaimie!
      Thanks for your sweet comment. I have a high powered blender, so I never strain. There might be a tiny bit of “chew” involved if you’re doing this in a regular blender. See what it’s like. A strain might not be a bad idea!

  • e / dig in hobart01/08/2013 - 11:36 pm

    it sure is green! i feel healthier and energised just looking at your photos. looks like the perfect summer treat.ReplyCancel

  • Kiran @ KiranTarun.com02/08/2013 - 1:30 am

    Divine! This is one of my favorite green juice combo!!ReplyCancel

  • Julia02/08/2013 - 8:31 am

    i love everything about this smoothie!!!! thx :)ReplyCancel

  • […] I’ve felt so much more energetic this week getting back into my green smoothies […]ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn02/08/2013 - 5:21 pm

    I’ve never actually been camping which I’ve never regretted until now and after reading this all I can think about is how much I want to go out there and explore the wilderness (so long as there are s’mores involved of course). Have an adventure-filled weekend of fun : )ReplyCancel

  • hungryandfrozen02/08/2013 - 9:45 pm

    I love that there’s no banana in this! Frozen peach is much more fun.

    My family went camping at this one spot every year since I was a baby (they still do!) and even though I’ve never been the wilderness type, I do love it. All the reading and cosiness and sunburn and mosquito bites and uncomfortable beds and why do I love it again?

    Also thanks for getting that song in my head :)ReplyCancel

  • Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence03/08/2013 - 5:28 pm

    Now THAT is one green smoothie. Looks so delicious.ReplyCancel

  • SARAH03/08/2013 - 5:30 pm

    Love this so much! The recipe, of course, which looks delicious (and sooo much better than the typical kale-celery-kelp concoction!), but also the writing. I have been craving nature in a very serious way lately, as many city-folk tend to do this glorious time of year. Thank you for yet another gorgeous and inspiring post!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie @ Eat My Tortes04/08/2013 - 10:24 am

    your photos are gorgeous! green smoothie with no banana–can’t wait to try!ReplyCancel

  • linda jaseck05/08/2013 - 10:27 am

    this is so beautiful, i really can’t stand it. i’m making this today.
    thank you for your beautiful, inspiring posts. please never stop.
    this really made my day. i lovelove your stories and everything that you write pre-recipe. truly inspiring & sweet. xReplyCancel

  • sarah05/08/2013 - 5:26 pm

    I so, super-duper love that photo of you. You are the cutest. And! I just found out my Naked green juice has all kinds of crap in it, boo. So, I need to make this! xoReplyCancel

  • Jessina07/08/2013 - 10:12 am

    Love love love your site. I just found your Vimeo page and watched your Summer Panzanella video…I want more! Ok, I just can’t get enough of The First Mess posts. Love love.ReplyCancel

  • Yum, We Love . . .09/08/2013 - 7:05 am

    […] from The First Mess and her incredibly healthy recipes. I mean, check out the ingredients for her Green Drink pictured below . . . if this doesn’t cure me, I don’t know what […]ReplyCancel

  • Sol10/08/2013 - 3:50 pm

    I feel in love with his smoothie from the first time I tried it. I find myself craving it for a light snack or my meal after a heavy brunch. I tried to replace the apple for a banana once and it was not so great, so I will stick to the main combination for now. I’m using green chard, mint-parsley and peaches. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Shelly12/08/2013 - 8:28 pm

    I love the shapes and colors of your green smoothie pre-blending! So gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • […] The second was a green smoothie recipe- […]ReplyCancel

  • Benji15/08/2013 - 3:40 pm

    I’m just looking at your picture of Kale it looks like Chard????????ReplyCancel

  • Benji15/08/2013 - 3:44 pm

    Please ignore my previous comment it’s amazing what happens when you read fyrther…:-DReplyCancel

  • […] ♔ I’m not always 100% on board with green smoothies, but this one seems indulgent AND healthy. Score! The Green Drink […]ReplyCancel

  • Wednesday Bites! | Sous Style11/09/2013 - 10:07 am

    […] Kitchy Kitchen 4. Gruyere and Prosciutto Croissant, Alexandra Cooks 5. The Green Drink, The First Mess 6. Caprese Crostini with Pesto, Pinch & Swirl 7. Kale Grapefruit Salad GymRa 8. Mushroom […]ReplyCancel

  • Claudia03/03/2014 - 4:56 pm

    Love your advice on greenies =)ReplyCancel

  • Grace12/08/2014 - 12:04 pm

    I have never had a better and more refreshing green drink in my life!!!! Thank you for your amazing culinary skillsReplyCancel

  • Martine05/09/2014 - 7:08 pm

    My go-to is blueberries, banana, almond milk, and almond butter. A new creation that I really like is frozen cranberries, a splash of cranberry juice, water or almond milk, and vanilla protein powder.ReplyCancel

  • daba13/06/2015 - 4:58 am

    Awesome and exciting. Can’t wait to try thisReplyCancel

  • […] 19. The Green Drink by The First Mess: […]ReplyCancel

  • Alexia18/08/2016 - 1:15 pm

    Hello! I’m looking forward to trying out this smoothie, but I’ve never put parsley, mint or ginger in my smoothies. Can you give me quantities that are a little bit more specific for these ingredients? I want to make sure I incorporate the right amount of flavor.ReplyCancel

    • Laura18/08/2016 - 1:27 pm

      Hi Alexia, I’ve updated the recipe with specific amounts. Hope that helps!

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  • Emma25/07/2013 - 7:07 am

    I love raw tacos! I’ve only made them with a walnut meat before but like the idea of using a combination of nuts. The raw corn salsa sounds a delicious addition too.ReplyCancel

  • Harriet25/07/2013 - 8:16 am

    These photos have me salivating – beautiful photography. And these tacos – I can taste the freshness and feel the crunch. I love all the components and all the possibilities.ReplyCancel

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar25/07/2013 - 8:19 am

    Raw tacos are so fun…and this particular recipe is super colourful! Love!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley25/07/2013 - 8:34 am

    Coconut aminos are so good!! I have a feeling after the next week and a half of being in limbo between 3 houses we are going to need a meal just like this. Feeling lucky the huz also enjoys this type of deliciousness. The last sentence in this post is my fav [and so are you!]. XO!ReplyCancel

  • Lauren @ La Dolce Pita25/07/2013 - 8:37 am

    I’m not usually into raw but these look awesome.

    Also, your post made me laugh :)ReplyCancel

  • Jo25/07/2013 - 8:40 am

    This is totally my kind of summer food. Fresh, light and full of flavour! I’ll defiantly be making these. I adore raw corn so much and your combo of ingredients sounds sooo good! Thank you.. I love your orange table cloth too!ReplyCancel

  • Beck25/07/2013 - 11:01 am

    Dude, this looks INCREDIBLE. Also, your intro made me laugh out loud.ReplyCancel

  • sara forte25/07/2013 - 11:28 am

    you are so wonderful. love your hippie self. By the pic, I thought that was tempeh, I am liking the nut mixture. Brilliant, you.ReplyCancel

  • Golubka25/07/2013 - 12:33 pm

    Your writing is so fun and the photos are tempting. Thank you for reminding me of raw tacos, so yummy and I think I have pretty much everything to make them tonight. Love raw corn!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer25/07/2013 - 12:50 pm

    What a great read! I too am a “summer slipper” and a raw taco fiend. And that has to be the most beautiful, pillowy, inviting photo of a head of cabbage I’ve ever seen.ReplyCancel

  • Christine Cummings25/07/2013 - 4:28 pm

    You are so funny! I feel lifted by your vibes. And the tacos are beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • sarah25/07/2013 - 4:43 pm

    Love this! Although, I am sitting here sipping on iced coffee. But I love all your vibes. ;)ReplyCancel

  • Emma Galloway25/07/2013 - 10:44 pm

    This post made me laugh, I’ve been accused of having those same hippy ‘vibes’, which I’m cool with :-)
    These look and sound amazing, another one to bookmark for our summer xxReplyCancel

  • Shanna25/07/2013 - 11:24 pm

    Ha! I can sound pretty vibey, too, I guess, and I am so with you on craving raw things when my body needs a reset. Laura, these pictures are so good! Adding these to my to-make list soon.ReplyCancel

  • Kayla26/07/2013 - 10:13 am

    I can’t get enough of your recipes and writing! Absolutely love it, and can’t wait to try this one out.ReplyCancel

  • carey26/07/2013 - 7:52 pm

    So I avoided lettuce cups in place of taco shells for the. longest. time. I don’t know why — I guess I just imagined they wouldn’t be as good, or they’d make me feel like a weenie. I finally gave them a go this summer, and I realized that (a) they’re delicious and (b) they allow me to eat MORE TACOS. Duh. (:ReplyCancel

  • Annika27/07/2013 - 12:11 pm

    Looks amazing!ReplyCancel

  • Another great healthy idea.ReplyCancel

  • Julia28/07/2013 - 9:10 pm

    WANT :)ReplyCancel

  • Claire (Eat Well. Party Hard.)29/07/2013 - 8:54 am

    Okay, if there at any point comes a time when we are in the same country, could we, maybe, you know–hang out? Because the whole joking-but-mostly-serious hippie BS + patio beers combo has me thinking that’d be SO much fun.

    I’ll bring the beer, you bring the tacos.ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright29/07/2013 - 8:58 am

      Claire, YESSSSSS! I KNOW, without any doubt in my hippie BS-loving heart, that we would vibe :)))ReplyCancel

  • These tacos sound like such a treat, and perfectly light for a nice summer dinner. I plan on having company over this weekend I think these will be on the menu!ReplyCancel

  • Maria | Pink Patisserie31/07/2013 - 12:11 am

    This is perfect, lush summer food. I’ve yet to try a raw taco but I’m going to fix that stat. Gorgeous photos!ReplyCancel

  • Elen31/07/2013 - 11:20 am

    Made these last night and OMG they were so delicious. Full of flavor, but left us feeling light and satisfied when were done.
    This was my first experience with your recipes, but certainly not my last.
    Thank youReplyCancel

  • hungryandfrozen31/07/2013 - 3:14 pm

    loving the double-green layers of the wraps! Also your relaxed attitude. Um, I mean, vibes. I’ve still got half a jar of recently-made taco pickles sitting in the fridge so will keep this in mind next time I want a vegetable onslaught.ReplyCancel

  • Dervla @ the curator31/07/2013 - 4:02 pm

    i’ve totally been craving caffeine in the worst way lately. That morning cappuccino gets me all revved up and then a few hours later I’ll notice a tight rushed feeling in my body, like i’m being wound up like a spring. I’m on day 3 of no caffeine, and i’m totally making these raw tacos this weekend to feel “light and full at the same time” Love it!!

    PS: we were both on So, How was Your Day?! Fun :)ReplyCancel

  • Courtney West01/08/2013 - 3:22 pm

    I need these raw tacos in my life! I made a version recently using chard as a sort of “tortilla” but the cabbage looks a lot sturdier and easier to deal with. It gives it more of a taco vibe :)ReplyCancel

  • Alanna03/08/2013 - 10:30 pm

    These look absolutely DELICIOUS, especially the the nut and seed crumble. I would totally eat these and not feel deprived in the slightest. After all, my body is a temple. Now for a gin and tonic. ;)ReplyCancel

  • Rose07/08/2013 - 2:33 am

    Words cannot actually describe how good these look right now!!! I’m on exchange and my host family doesn’t go in for raw vegan food much (hardly surprising, I’m in northern France!) and so I must wait for another 2 months until I can get home to try them…luckily it will be spring in Australia by then!ReplyCancel

  • Kristina09/08/2013 - 7:23 pm

    I just made these, and they were great. I used iceberg lettuce for the shells because it was all they had at Trader Joe’s – still good, but I felt a little less healthy. The nut crumbles were AWESOME. Thanks for the recipe!ReplyCancel

  • Lately | Charlotte au Chocolat12/08/2013 - 3:44 am

    […] How stunning are these raw tacos?! […]ReplyCancel

  • Jeanette12/08/2013 - 6:17 pm

    Goodness Yum! I am prepping these right now and the “meat” is delicious. I cannot wait to serve them tonight to my friends. Thank you for such a wonderful recipe and beautiful inspiring photosReplyCancel

  • Lauren15/08/2013 - 2:44 pm

    Laura, these photos are gorgeous! I’m so inspired by your thoughtfulness in your photography, and also the FOOD. Amazing! I live in LA and eat relatively clean and these tacos totally fit the bill. I cannot wait to give them a try. So glad to have found your blog! XO, LaurenReplyCancel

  • Teresa03/10/2013 - 1:12 pm

    Holy YUM!! Thank you so much for these recipes! I will be sharing the link in my blog post today ( with a few other healthy taco recipes to celebrate national taco day tomorrow. These look amazing!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth Clarke17/10/2013 - 9:58 pm

    I just shared these on my facebook page. We are having them for lunch tomorrow. YUM!ReplyCancel

  • […] my google quest, I took this recipe and this recipe, combined them with this sour cream and then added a few tweaks of my own to […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Raw + Vegan Taco Vibes by The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Raw + Vegan Taco Vibes by The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Raw Vegan Tacos are from one of my favorite blogs The First Mess. They are DELICIOUS and LOADED with nutrition!! A great recipe for a spring day. All of the […]ReplyCancel

  • YoungOldMe16/05/2014 - 11:38 pm

    Made these for an appetizer party with 7 women. They were the best! Everybody ate them and liked them. I was surprised how many ate the cabbage leaves. I had some nice savoy cabbage leaves. Followed the recipe fairly closely. Everyone liked the nut mix part the best – I used cumin and chili powder. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • […] Raw Vegan Taco Vibes by The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • […] town, I was inspired to find a solid recipe for a vegan taco salad. A bit of Googling later, and I found this recipe – so good! It was super simple, quick and both my boyfriend and I really enjoyed it. So much […]ReplyCancel

  • 3 Ways: Vegetable Wrap Ideas02/09/2014 - 5:23 pm

    […] No. 2: CABBAGE & SWISS CHARD raw taco wraps.  The leaves contain cancer-fighting flavonoids shown to help inhibit colon cancer cell growth. // The science. Recipe created by The First Mess. […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Raw Vegan Tacos by The First […]ReplyCancel

  • Taco Tuesday - Chez Us02/12/2014 - 3:04 am

    […] […]ReplyCancel

  • […] The First Mess Raw Vegan Tacos with Chard […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Raw tacos with spicy nut crumble and sweet corn ceviche salsa from The First […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Mushroomes with Spicy Nut and Seed Crumble.  The mushrooms were my recipe but the nut and seed crumble recipe can be found here.  This was truly an amazing and tasty […]ReplyCancel

  • Never Eat Shredded Wheat03/08/2015 - 9:23 am

    We first made this when we were focusing on health before our wedding, but have come back to it many times since. The fresh corn is like a little bit of sunshine. Thanks for the great recipe!ReplyCancel

  • […] Raw tacos with spicy nut crumble and sweet corn ceviche salsa from The First […]ReplyCancel

  • […] weird at first, but with the avocado and other ingredients, it really worked. I  modified the raw tacos from The First Mess. My modifications were sriracha instead of cashew sour cream (the three hour […]ReplyCancel

  • Merilee Estes18/01/2016 - 1:05 pm

    Can’t wait to make this!ReplyCancel

  • […] Raw and Vegan Tacos – If you’re not already blown away by just looking at the health in the picture […]ReplyCancel

  • Caitlin28/03/2017 - 3:24 pm

    I made this into a taco salad for my lunch this week. Delicious!

    I will say that I followed your instruction to blend the cashew sour cream and it went poorly. The mixture just went right into the corners and beneath my blade in my vitamix and I was constantly scrapping down. Ended up moving it into my food processor and it blended right up!ReplyCancel

  • […] Find the recipe here: The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • Sara10/08/2017 - 7:26 pm

    I made this tonight for my newly vegan husband (Im still a carnivore lol). Absolutely wonderful recpe. We both loved it. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • […] Mac and cheese (add smoked crispy sage leaves or your fav veg bacon!), and raw tacos (I add jicama slices, and make my “meat” with dehydrated mushrooms sometimes too – you can […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Raw Corn and Avocado Tacos […]ReplyCancel

pin it!pin it!pin it!pin it!
There’s a few instances of life-y things that I can count on one hand (hope you’re not expecting deep thoughts today):

The number of times in my adult existence that I’ve had a professional haircut (ditto for manicures and pedicures combined).

The number of times that I’ve visited New York City (’bout to change in September yesssss!).

The number of times I’ve bought a tie dyed/acid wash clothing item and regretted it (I can actually count that on NO HANDS, guys).

…And with the previous in mind, the number of times I’ve lingered over this Himalayan salt lamp purchase page (good air viiiiiiiibes).

Finally, the number of times I’ve really, truly, sincerely enjoyed a potato salad (LET’S DO THIS THING).

It’s hella obvious why a more typical potato salad is just not my scene. The texture is most definitely gloppy because the ratio of potatoes to mayonnaise is generally 1:1. There’s something wrong there. I’ve had a few vinaigrette-dressed versions that I could totally get behind, but I mean… filling 1/3 of my plate with potatoes at the hot-as-eff-in-July BBQ and washing it down with at least two beers (make mine a High Life, k thanks) is going to elicit some lethargy + all-out crankiness later on in the day (“But I’m TIRED.”). I want some vegetables. Some crunchy things. Something with water and vitamins.

So with this version, I started with seriously tender potatoes dug up from the garden. I filled out half of the salad with vegetables, grilled everything for texture, and dressed the whole mess in a tinkered up version of one of my favourite sauces. I love romesco because the ingredient list is fairly basic and it offers mucho flavour to anything you could possibly want to eat. Typically I would blitz it up in the food processor, but I went for a full on purée in the blender to achieve a creamier consistency. Once I had a batch made, I mixed a portion of it with a bit more oil for even coating and a touch of dijon mustard to evoke that traditional potato salad feel.

Then I went crazy with the add-ons: grilled mini zucchinis that I had picked up at a farm stand (some of them came with flowers attached!), the sweetest cherry tomatoes, garden green beans, olives, chives and grilled lemon. Basically all of the good things. Grilling a halved lemon is kind of my go-to fancy lady barbecue trick (you have those too, right?). The juices caramelize a bit and add just the right amount of lightly smoky acidity. Just baller on simple grilled vegetables or kale salads, but especially nice here because it thins the intensity of the romesco a bit. I kind of love this little mash up salad because it knocks out the veggie + the starch sides in one slick move.

And with that, I’ll raise a frosty High Life to you all from my heat wave-drenched nook of the world :) xo

pin it!pin it!pin it!pin it!pin it!

grilled potato, lemon + zucchini salad with romesco recipe
serves: 6-8
notes: If you don’t have access to a grill, roasting all of the vegetables in batches might be a nice approach (but maybe only if you have air conditioning/a crazy strong fan in your house…).

romesco sauce ingredients:
1 roasted red bell pepper, stems + seeds removed (use one from a jar if you feel it)
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/2 cup blanched almonds
2 tbsp tomato paste
big splash of sherry vinegar
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
pinch of chili flakes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt + pepper

salad ingredients:
1 lb of small potatoes, scrubbed
1 big handful of green beans, trimmed
6-7 small zucchinis, or 2 regular ones, cut down the middle lengthwise
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 lemon, halved
1/2 cup romesco
1-2 tsp dijon mustard
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
handful of pine nuts (optional)
handful of olives
10 chives, rough chopped
salt + pepper

Make the romesco: combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend on high for a minute or so, until a creamy consistency is achieved. Check the sauce for seasoning, adjust, and scrape into a sealable container. Pour a thin layer of olive oil on top to help preserve the sauce a bit more. Place in the fridge or set aside if you’re using it right away.

Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover them with cold water. Put a lid on the pot and place it over medium-high heat. Bring the pot a boil and simmer until potatoes are just tender, about 20 minutes depending on the size of them. Place the beans into the pot in the last 5 minutes of cooking. Drain the whole thing and return the potatoes to the pot. Run the green beans under cold water to avoid overcooking. Cut the potatoes into bite sized pieces once cool enough to handle and thread the pieces onto skewers. Coat the potatoes with a bit of the grapeseed oil. Season them with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Preheat a grill to high. Toss the zucchini halves with a bit more of the oil and season them with salt and pepper. Place the potato skewers and zucchini halves on the grill. Place the grilled lemon, cut side down, onto the grates as well. Flip all of the vegetables once they start charring a bit, about 5-8 minutes total. Place the potatoes in a large bowl. Cut the zucchini pieces into bite sized bits if necessary. Remove the grilled lemon from the grill as well.

Combine the romesco with the remaining oil and dijon mustard. Squeeze the grilled lemon into the romesco mixture and stir it up. Pour this mix on top of the potatoes and zucchini. Add the blanched beans, cherry tomatoes, pine nuts, olives and chives. Squeeze the grilled lemon over top and season the whole mix with salt and pepper. Toss lightly to combine. Check the salad for seasoning and garnish the top with some extra chives. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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  • Nat @ the Apple Diaries18/07/2013 - 7:27 am

    Amazing! I love the addition of olives in this recipe, they’re a great source of healthy fats and good for hormone balancing. I just wish I had seen this when I needed to use up my zucchinis!ReplyCancel

  • Emma Galloway18/07/2013 - 7:50 am

    Oh you lucky thing, freshly dug spuds are one of life’s greatest things. Loving reading about your summer salad as I sit here freezing my butt off with gloves on :-) xxReplyCancel

  • Kathryn18/07/2013 - 8:12 am

    Totally on-board with your feelings about potato salads(although I’m not sure I will ever forget the potato salad my ex-housemate made for a barbecue without realising that he had to cook the potatoes first…). Grilling the potatoes is a great start plus the kick of flavour from that romesco sauce. Love it.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley18/07/2013 - 8:14 am

    Umm, can I tell you how much I love your use of the word, “gloppy?” This is the potato salad of my dreams!! But, High Life? Yah…we’ll work on that when you’re out here. ;) The light in the kitchen table shot is spectacular!!!ReplyCancel

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar18/07/2013 - 8:17 am

    This looks totally dreamy!ReplyCancel

  • nicola lynde18/07/2013 - 9:39 am

    This looks awesome! As much as I love a good old bacon, cheddar, green onion classic, I love some of the sans mayo version too. Definitely pinning this for my next BBQ.ReplyCancel

  • Leah18/07/2013 - 10:28 am

    Yes to hating on conventional potato salad. There’s an interesting section in My Berlin Kitchen where Luisa Weiss discusses her hatred of all things mayonnaise-potato-salad. She then turns to a vinegar based German variety, finding herself relieved that her partner shares this preference. True love indeed. I’m happy for her, but this is still not my thing. Like you, I prefer a sauce based in oil.

    It’s funny that potato salad is such a staple, yet if you read food blogs, people seem to hate it! How is this possible? Either food blogs are just doing their own thing, or people are politely eating a ton of potato salad that they can’t stand.ReplyCancel

  • Michele18/07/2013 - 12:59 pm

    Just curious, did you never make any tie-dye purchases or did you never regret the purchases you made? Have fun in NYC!ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright18/07/2013 - 1:02 pm

      Ahaha. Clarification! The tie dyed section of my closet is impressive–no regrets EVER. And thanks!ReplyCancel

  • dana18/07/2013 - 4:34 pm

    BEAUTIFUL! Love everything about this post – its simplicity, the stunning photographs and this gorgeous, gorgeous recipe. Must try this summer!ReplyCancel

  • Shanna18/07/2013 - 8:55 pm

    Your pictures seriously always blow me away. Gorgeous post.ReplyCancel

  • hungryandfrozen19/07/2013 - 6:32 am

    Romesco! I love it. Also I am totally with you on the professional haircuts thing. I like my hair to be long…and tend to just be able to get by on the occasional fringe trim. Also, this sounds a million times nicer than any potato salad I’ve ever had (looking at you, three-day-old supermarket delicatessen offering…)ReplyCancel

  • Jessen19/07/2013 - 7:31 am

    LOVE This! In the winter I usually make Roasted Potato Salads without the Glop.ReplyCancel

  • Harriet21/07/2013 - 6:03 am

    So many good things in this salad I don’t even know where to start! Romesco is frickin’ awesome, but I hadn’t thought to use it as a salad dressing before – genius! The mix of veggies, herbs and olives also looks divine!ReplyCancel

  • Blaine Arin23/07/2013 - 9:44 am

    I couldn’t be MORE with you on this potato salad situation – gimme more veg! Gorgeous post, thanks lady.ReplyCancel

  • JAY23/07/2013 - 6:33 pm

    Looks amazing! Zucchs are my favorite this summer!ReplyCancel

  • SouthernSpoonBelle24/07/2013 - 8:07 am

    I really dislike mayonnaise and ‘traditional’ potato salad, always looking for alternative recipes for spring/summer meals. This looks incredible, love all the veg, and romesco is amazing. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Shira25/07/2013 - 1:35 pm

    Gorgeous salad Laura! I am with you and gotta have something special to make me want to make (or eat) potato salad. Looks like we will be in NYC in the same month too – so looking forward to getting back. Happy summer to you!ReplyCancel

  • […] The First Mess, Grilled Potato, Lemon and Zucchini Salad […]ReplyCancel

  • Michelle York01/08/2013 - 10:49 am

    As a vegetarian for 35 years, I adore your blog. The photographs are gorgeous..the writing is so personal. The recipes are begging to be made. Thanks for all your efforts.ReplyCancel

  • jgBoston03/08/2013 - 9:50 pm

    Made this for a picnic potluck, though it wasn’t in a pretty container, it tasted fabulous and travels well. I only had a few olives and no chives, I’d include more next time. I don’t have a grill, but “grilled” the veg in a grill pan and it had a great char. I’d grill a few more lemons, some sliced to add to salad presentation.ReplyCancel

  • Danielle06/08/2013 - 11:10 pm

    Beautiful pics!!!ReplyCancel

  • Jess11/08/2013 - 4:25 am

    Just made this for dinner & it was amazing! Definitely going to be making a regular appearance on the dinner table. Made it with roast chicken and kumara as a side. Delish :) love your blog!ReplyCancel

  • […] a new recipe last night for a grilled vegetable salad with romesco dressing /sauce.  I first tasted romesco at one of my most favorite restaurants anywhere – […]ReplyCancel

  • […] grilled salad: I have already made this potato, zucchini salad + romesco sauce with this summer’s bounty and I can testify that  it is unbelievably delicious. The romesco […]ReplyCancel

  • […] different. I pretty much followed Deb’s recipe here and was using The First Mess’ recipe: Grilled potato, green beans, lemon + zucchini salad as inspiration for the image I just mentioned. […]ReplyCancel

  • […] link is here and you should check it out for sure as the photograph is mouth watering gorgeous.  And then you […]ReplyCancel

  • […] on this recipe from The First […]ReplyCancel

  • […] suggest befriending someone with a zucchini garden | via the First […]ReplyCancel