Fall has arrived here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia – which means, oyster harvests are in full swing in the waters surrounding our little peninsula. From the salts on the seaside, to the sweeter guys harvested out of the Chesapeake Bay and the rivers on the western shore – we have such an amazing variety of oysters in Virginia.

A couple of weeks ago the Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce hosted it’s 45th Annual Chincoteague Oyster Festival – an event that’s anticipated all year long. Fried oysters, steamed oysters, raw oysters…a true celebration of the briny bivalve.

I was running around taking photos to earn my keep, in exchange for my ticket. But, I managed to tote over my little portable grill and snag a few oysters to throw on it, to get some photos to share of this super easy way to prepare them with you guys.

Oysters on the half, brushed with a simple garlic-herb butter while on the grill. Couldn’t get easier, delicious, or more impressive. If shucking isn’t your thing, you can steam them until they pop open, and then pry off the top shell – the garlic butter will still keep them plump and juicy.

If you’re really lucky, like I was on this particular day, you may find a tiny friend lurking inside your oyster. Pea crabs are considered a delicacy by many around here, tender yet slightly crunchy little crustacean parasites that like to set up shop inside our oysters. We eat them, but if it’s not your thing – by all means, serve them their final eviction notice before enjoying.

A few minutes on the grill is all you need, just until you see the butter start to sizzle. A little squeeze of fresh lemon juice to finish.  Enjoy them hot, and be prepared to reload the grill. You can’t eat just one!

The big game is this weekend! Anyone planning on having a party? Or heading somewhere where you want to bring something to share? I’ve got the perfect munchie to fit the bill, if that’s the case!

Y’all know I love to incorporate seafood into my dishes whenever possible, and for a throw-down like Sunday’s event – it’s always fun to splurge a little bit for your spread…

Since most of my local seafood shacks are closed for the off-season here on the island, I took a road trip “across the bay” to my closest Whole Foods Market – in Hampton Roads, to see what kind of goodness they were offering for the big game!

While I’m usually not a purveyor of pre-made items, their uber-tubs of guacamole have always been a favorite for me (incidentally on sale this week). I’ll usually buy one to snack on with some chips on the way home! So, I decided to use that as a base for my guacamole for both simplicity, and times sake.

For the shrimp salsa, I picked up some of the gorgeous grey shrimp found at their seafood counter (another sale item this week – score!). Their fishmongers are always so knowledgeable, and always ready to answer any question you can throw at them! I love that they work with small, local fisheries whenever possible. Knowing that I can still support sustainable fishing practices, while shopping at a large grocer, is very important to me. Just another reason why I love Whole Foods, and everything that they stand for.

So, those shrimp. I roasted them with the shell on (helps to retain moisture and tenderness) with some fresh lemon, oregano, and lots of pepper. Once they were perfectly cooked I let them cool down enough to peel, then give a rough chop. Combined with a little tomato, red onion, jalapeno, lime juice, and a bit of cilantro to brighten it up – the rustic, chunky salsa was the perfect contrast against the smooth, creamy guacamole. And, it was so pretty on the plate!

The perfect addition to your big game day buffet.  

Disclosure: I have a partnership with Whole Foods Market and was compensated for my work, but all words and opinions are my own.

Roasted Vegetable Quiche

This summer was insanely hectic. I feel like it passed it a blur of beaching, boating, and warm summer nights. I wasn’t in the kitchen making new things to share with you as much as I’d like, but now that the days are becoming cooler – it’s my favorite time of year to be in the kitchen. Not to mention it’s the best time of year to work with the bounty that your garden, or local farmers in your area have produced.

I’ve always been passionate about gardening, and particularly varietal history and seed saving. So when the good folks at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello reached out and asked me to share the details on their 10th Annual Heritage Harvest Festival happening this weekend, I was delighted to do so!

Thomas Jefferson championed vegetable cuisine, plant experimentation, and sustainable agriculture. In today’s modern world,  they are continuing that tradition at Monticello – and have been doing so, for many years. They were kind enough to send me a beautiful box of garden goodness fresh from the fields.

monticello

I mean – what an honor. Talk about tasting history! Eggplants (Listadia di Gandia and Black Beauty), Peppers (Marconi and Fish Hots – a variety that was used in seafood houses in my region for hundreds of years), a Green Nutmeg Melon, fresh sesame, and some of their locally made Hickory Syrup and Peach Butter available from their online shop. I can’t thank them enough for sending that box of loveliness my way, it was a real treat!

I ended up tossing the eggplants Marconi peppers with a little olive oil and salt, and added a tomato and some garlic from my dad’s garden for good measure – then roasted. That’s a great way to get out excess moisture, that can lead to soggy situations in whatever dish you’re preparing. Plus, it really intensifies all of the flavor.

Used my favorite pie crust recipe to line my tart pan, and blind bake. Then piled in the roasted vegetable goodness and a rich egg-custard to fill in all the nooks & crannies. And a little goat cheese for good measure. A local farmer has been selling his goat cheese at the farmer’s market here on Chincoteague, and it’s insanely wonderful. Have been enjoying it every chance I can get!

A quick bake for about half an hour, and you’re good to go. Paired with a simple green salad, it’s the perfect meal for this time of year. Could also be made in a pie plate without the crust!

And, if you’re in the vicinity and looking for something to do tomorrow – make sure you check out the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello. The’ve got a great lineup of speakers, activities for kids, gardening info, seed saving, good eats….they’ll have it all! A great day to get outside and live, breathe, and taste history.

 

mediterranean tortilla pizzasHave you guys had tortilla pizzas? I’d heard about them, but hadn’t tried it until last week. A flour tortilla acts as the crust (a particularly sturdy one, mind you!), topped and cooked in a cast-iron skillet for just a few minutes. A complete no-brainer, with ingredients that you probably already have hanging out in the pantry already!

Which, I so need meals like this in my life right now. Boy scouts, soccer practices and games, homework… and, now the Holidays right around the corner?  Sheer craziness. The best part is, it can be switched up so easily! Whether it’s a trip to the Mediterranean coast with salty olives and feta cheese like this example,  or barbecue sauce and chicken, or topped with a ton of veggies, or the more traditional route with just cheese and pepperoni – the possibilities are endless.

Bertolli recently reached out to me about participating in their My Tuscan Table campaign to celebrate their 150th anniversary. I wanted to do something very traditional and Italian…but the truth of the matter is, a quick dinner consisting of something super easy like tortilla pizzas and a simple green salad are the norm for our family’s table these days. Everyone gathers around to make their own, which is really important on those busy nights. Cooking and enjoying a meal together is pretty much the cornerstone of Tuscan culture, in fact, I’m pretty sure it transcends all cultures!

Bertolli’s new Riserva line of sauces make it super easy – and with fresh ingredients and no additional sugars, it they bring new hope to the jarred pasta sauce aisle. I’m usually a homemade girl, but sometimes you just need a good store-bought sauce! Bertolli is asking everyone to share their Tuscan tables. For every hashtag “#MyTuscanTable” used during the month of October, they’ll be donating $1 to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign.  So get to hashtagging, folks!

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by the good folks at Bertolli. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.