Harvest Salad with Fruit, Herbs, and Goat Cheese


This time last year: Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal (2014)


Never have I ever truly craved a salad. I wish that was my life, but sadly, it is not. Chocolate, bread, coffee? Yes. I crave those every day. Salad? Mmmmm not so much.

However, a few weeks ago my dear friend Rachel invited me over to her house for lunch, and we whipped this salad together. The combination of goat cheese, fresh herbs, fruit, and colorful vegetables made for one of the most refreshing meals I’ve had all season! Thus for the first time, I was truly craving salad!

As the last glimpses of summer slip away, I had to dig up this recipe and enjoy the incredible combination of fruit and vegetables! No surprise- it was just as good as I had remembered it, and I am going to be enjoying it all week long!

If you’re not a huge salad person, give this a try. If you’re a huge salad person, you’re welcome for just changing your life.

Life should be colorful. Life should be healthy. Food should taste like this.

Dig in 🙂

Love, A Rented Kitchen



Salad Ingredients:

  • 4-8 cup romaine lettuce, chopped
  • ½ cup fresh basil and parsley, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 ears grilled corn, kernels removed from the cob (or one can of corn- no sodium added)
  • 1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • ¾ cup fresh blackberries
  • 1 peach, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • ½ cup mixed toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas), pecans, walnuts, and/or pistachios
  • 1 avocado, pitted + chopped
  • 4-6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Dressing Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • ½ -1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. In a large bowl, toss together the lettuce, basil, parsley, thyme, corn, tomatoes, red pepper, blackberries, peach, jalapeno, and nuts.
  2. In a separate mason jar or small bowl whisk together the dressing ingredients until fully combined.
  3. Top the salad off with avocado and goat cheese, toss once more, and serve with dressing on the side or drizzled over top. Enjoy!


Notes and Tips!:

  • Want to add more protein? Try warming up 16 ounces of chickpeas and throwing those into the mix! They are an excellent healthy source of protein!
  • Source: Half Baked Harvest
  • Like this salad? Try these other healthy and seasonal dishes from A Rented Kitchen! (Recipe links below photos):

Strawberry Caprese Salad


This time last year: Marinated and Roasted Eggplant with Smoked Almonds & Goat Cheese (2013)


It is hard to believe summer is coming to a close! This happens to me every year. One day I’m perusing my cook books- picking out recipes that are in season with the summer heat, and the next second it’s fall and I’ve still got strawberry and watermelon recipes to post! Woops.

This recipe, a delicious variation on the classic tomato and mozzarella caprese salad, is a perfect summer side dish. The fact that it is served room temperature or chilled makes it ideal for that summer heat, and the addition of strawberries and walnuts makes it a creative crowd pleaser!

It may not be quite time for pumpkin and cider, but time is flying before our eyes. So, while the nights are still long, give this dish a try, in honor of summer. I promise you will not regret it.

Come back soon!

xo A Rented Kitchen




  • 2 cups rinsed, sliced strawberries
  • 1 bunch chopped basil
  • 1 cup bocconcini (mozzarella balls)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • Sea Salt (to taste)


  1. Combine the strawberries, basil, mozzarella, and walnuts in a bowl. Toss gently.
  2. In a separate dish or jar, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sea salt to taste.
  3. Drizzle the strawberry salad with the dressing and serve!



Notes and Tips!:

  • Source: Edible San Fransisco
  • Store chilled
  • Like this recipe? Try these other scrumptious and healthy dishes from A Rented Kitchen! (Recipe links found below:)

Strawberry Balsamic Caprese Pasta Salad



This time last year: Stuffed Breakfast Tomatoes (2013)


This time of year, it seems as if every other week I have a potluck or a picnic to go to (because who wants to do school work when it’s so nice outside?!). I have absolutely zero complaints about this potluck schedule; however, casual group gatherings do involve some strategy regarding what dish to bring. Ie: something that might not need heating or isn’t too messy to enjoy while sitting on a picnic blanket. Choices, choices!

This recipe is one of those ideal dishes for a potluck or picnic. I introduce you to this scrumptious Strawberry Balsamic Caprese Pasta Salad! (you’re welcome).

This pasta salad is so easy to make. It only takes ten minutes, five ingredients, and two bowls max. In addition to preparation ease, this dish is also a win in flavor! This pasta salad is beautifully rich and light, with the beautiful smell of the fresh basil, sweet taste of the strawberries, and the delicious flavor of the balsamic glaze.

You can’t go wrong here folks!

Enjoy this pasta salad, and come back and see me!

Happy picnic season 🙂




  • 1 pound dry pasta
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 1 ball mozzarella, diced
  • ½ cup fresh basil, rinsed, dried, and roughly torn
  • 3 Tablespoons balsamic glaze


  1. In a large pot, cook the pasta according to packaging instructions.
  2. Once soft, remove the pasta from the heat, drain, and immediately rinse with cold water to stop the pasta from cooking any further.
  3. Transfer the pasta back to a serving bowl and toss with the strawberries, mozzarella, and basil.
  4. Drizzle the pasta with half of the balsamic glaze, and stir to incorporate. Once incorporated, drizzle the remaining half of the balsamic glaze over the top of the pasta, serve, and enjoy!



Notes and Tips!:

  • Yield: 4-6 servings
  • Source: Gimme Some Oven
  • Gluten Free? Use gluten free pasta!
  • Like this recipe? Try these other delicious dishes form A Rented Kitchen (Recipe links found below!):
  • Parmesan Pesto Pasta with Roasted Balsamic Cherry Tomatoes
  • Strawberry and Goat Cheese Quesadillas with Mint and Caramelized Onion
  • Balsamic Mushroom and Fruit Summer Salad

Parmesan Pesto Pasta with Roasted Balsamic Cherry Tomatoes



One of the best things about summer, is eating like it’s summer. All of that fresh produce, eating your meals outside on the porch….


It’s things like this that make me geek out and get absurdly nostalgic and grateful for this beautiful messy life. You’ve been warned.

Anyhow, in terms of the perfect summer meal, this dish ranks at the top. It is quick and easy and the two main ingredients you can pull straight from your garden or local farmer’s market for dirt-cheap.

This is the type of summer meal that will make you reevaluate your life to appreciate the little things. Ok- the whole life reevaluation thing might be a little bold for a simple pasta dish, but it Will at least make you wish you had a basil plant if you don’t already. (Those little herbs are expensive, and so much better fresh!)

Thus, I hope you make the time to whip up this summer dish while the basil and tomatoes are perfectly in season. Eat it outside. Eat it with friends. Catch a firefly or two. Summer passes quickly, life passes quicker.

Happy cooking!

xoxo A Rented Kitchen




  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • ½ cup – 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil + 1 Tablespoon (set aside)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 box penne pasta
  • 8-12 ounces cheery tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar


  1. Heat the oven to 350˚F and brush a baking sheet with olive oil. Set aside.
  2. In a food processor, combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts. Process until well chopped and thoroughly combined.
  3. Add the olive oil (omitting the additional 1 Tablespoon) to the blender and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
  4. If using immediately, transfer the pesto into a large bowl and stir in the cheese. (If using later, see the notes below!)
  5. Prepare your pasta in a large pot of boiling water with a dash of salt.
  6. Meanwhile, toss the cherry tomatoes with 1 Tablespoon olive oil, 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar, and a dash of salt and pepper as desired. Once thoroughly coated, arrange the tomatoes on the pre-oiled baking sheet and cook for about 10 minutes, or until soft and plumped, but not yet popped.



Notes and Tips!:

  • Shout-out to my beautiful cousin Rebekah for this creative and delicious meal!
  • Gluten free? Make sure you use gluten free pasta!
  • Pesto Source: Food Network
  • If you intend to make the pesto and save it for a later date, after you add the oil and pulse until smooth, transfer the pesto into an air-tight container, drizzle with a little olive oil over the top, and freeze. On the day you intend to use the pesto, remove it from the freezer, thaw, and then stir in the cheese! Enjoy!
  • If you like this recipe, try these other scrumptious dishes from ‘A Rented Kitchen’ (Recipe links found below!):

Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes with Blackberry Salsa



It is kind of crazy to think that I started this blog as a sophomore in college. It’s even crazier to think that I am now a senior in college! Where did the time go?! I can tell that it is the last semester of my senior year, because I am busier than I think I’ve ever been.

We all go through seasons and make choices to commit to different things that occupy our lives, and in this last stretch I have found myself committed to probably a few too many things. It’s a balance, and I’m learning. However, despite the crazy, I do not regret any of my decisions or commitments because my every day is filled with so much joy.

One of the negative consequences of my busy schedule is this blog and my cooking efforts have been slightly neglected. I promise to you I am still cooking up a storm here in Richmond, however the posts have been coming slower than usual recently and I apologize for that!

I have a ton of changes coming my way in the next several months- a new school, a new degree program, a new community all together. Despite these changes, one thing that I know will not change is my passion for environmental friendly living, and my commitment to witnessing to that through this blog.

Thus, I appreciate all of you patient enough to continue following despite my crazy college schedule. You all are one of the sources of my daily joy, and for that I am so grateful.

Enjoy these delicious sweet potato quinoa cakes! They’re seriously as good as they sound.




Sweet Potato Quinoa Cake Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sweet potato (about 6 oz), peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Blackberry Salsa Ingredients:

  • 1 pint fresh blackberries, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • the juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add 1/2 tablespoons olive oil.
  2. Once hot, add the sweet potato, onion, ¼ teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.  Stir thoroughly, cover, and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until potato is soft.
  3. Create a circle in the center of the pan, and toss the garlic into the middle. Cook for 30 seconds, or until fragrant, and then stir into the potato mixture.
  4. Transfer the potato mixture into a large bowl and mash well.
  5. Add the quinoa, breadcrumbs, cheese, herbs, and remaining salt and pepper to the bowl- mix thoroughly.  Once mixed, stir an egg into the bowl for added moisture.
  6. Using your hands, shape four equally sized patties.
  7. Meanwhile, heat a Tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet you used previously over medium heat. Cook the patties one at a time, about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
  8. To prepare the blackberry salsa: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix thoroughly. Use alongside or on top of the patties for an extra kick of flavor!  



Notes and Tips!:

  • Yield: 4 patties
  • Source: How Sweet It Is  
  • Gluten Free? Use Gluten-free bread crumbs! 
  • Like this recipe? Check out these other delicious dishes from ‘A Rented Kitchen!’ (Recipe links below!)

Recipe Links: