Wheatless Wednesday – Warm Scallop Salad with Lentils and Frisee

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I love Autumn salads which are a bit heartier than those we enjoy in summer.  With the advent of chilly evenings, we need more tummy-filling ingredients to keep us warm and satisfied.  It also helps that bikinis are soon to become a distant memory (unless you’re going on a tropical vacation).  I really like adding either grains or legumes to salads, especially if they are the main course and French green lentils are a favorite.  In creating this salad, I started with a bed of frisee which adds texture and interest, then a layer of French green lentils, tomatoes and oranges topped with warm seared scallops.  A final drizzle of mustard vinaigrette completes the dish. To make this dish vegan, substitute sliced hearts of palm instead of scallops. I don’t know how hearts of palm are when seared, so would recommend using them raw unless you are up for a challenge. It could be worth a try, though.  They sure worked well as a meat alternative in my Pulled ‘Pork’ Sliders. I may have to try…

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Frisee is an under-appreciated green, at least in the Univted States.  Frisee, also called curly endive, is part of the chicory family, along with Belgian endive, radicchio, and escarole.  Frisee is packed with nutrients, and very low in calories like most greens. It is an excellent source of folic acid, vitamin A and vitamin C, with approximately one third the daily recommended amount of each, in a single serving. It is also a good source of vitamin K, and manganese. It’s slightly bitter and nutty flavor makes it a nice addition to salads but it works best mixed with milder greens or with complementary flavors like sweet citrus, earthy lentils and a tangy vinaigrette.

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I often use French green lentils (De Puy) which I think are the most flavorful and they keep their shape when cooked, unlike red lentils which are soft and split open, making them perfect for soups and stews.  Brown lentils, which are the most commonly available, can be substituted.  Just be careful not to overcook as they also can become too soft.  Lentils not only delicious, they are high in protein, low in fat and are a good source of fiber and vitamins and minerals, including iron.

TIPS: When purchasing scallops, try to buy dry sea scallops.  Scallops are often labelled ‘dry’ or ‘wet’.  If they aren’t labelled, ask. ‘Wet’ scallops are treated with a solution called STP (sodium tripolyphosphate), which helps the scallops maintain their moisture. The STP solution gives scallops a longer shelf life and keeps them plump and fresh looking. As a result, you’ll not only pay for the added water weight (meaning you get fewer scallops per pound and possibly scallops that are less than fresh)  In addition, you’ll also have trouble browning these scallops—no matter how hot your pan—because of all that excess moisture. If you have had trouble browning scallops in the past, this could be the reason. You will still rinse and dry your scallops which shouldn’t effect the browning as long you dry them well with paper towels.

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WARM SCALLOP SALAD WITH LENTILS AND FRISEE

1 lb large sea scallops
1/2 cup French green lentils
2 ripe tomatoes
1 orange
3-4 scallions, sliced
1 head frisee
2 Tbsn olive oil
salt

VINAIGRETTE
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/8 tsp pepper

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  • Cook lentils as directed but don’t over cook.  They should be al dente.  Pour off any excess water, remove from heat and set aside to cool with lid off.

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  • Slice tomatoes into wedges.  Peel oranges and slice into rounds and then halves.

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  • Pull frisee apart and place in one a large platter or bowl.

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  • Spread cooled lentils over frisee.

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  • Top with tomatoes, orange slices and scallions.

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  • Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

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  • Rinse and dry scallops. Heat olive oil over medium high heat until the pan is very hot. Arrange scallops in a single layer, uncrowded.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes and flip to cook the other side for another 1 1/2 minutes.

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  • Remove from heat and place on top of salad. Sprinkle with vinaigrette and serve immediately.

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Warm Scallop Salad with Lentils and Frisee

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
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 1 lb large sea scallops
1/2 cup French green lentils
2 ripe tomatoes
1 orange
3-4 scallions, sliced
1 head frisee
2 Tbsn olive oil
salt

VINAIGRETTE
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/8 tsp pepper

  • Cook lentils as directed but don’t over cook.  They should be al dente.  Pour off any excess water, remove from heat and set aside to cool with lid off.
  • Slice tomatoes into wedges.  Peel oranges and slice into rounds and then halves.
  • Pull frisee apart and place in one a large platter or bowl.
  • Spread cooled lentils over frisee.
  • Top with tomatoes, orange slices and scallions.
  • Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Rinse and dry scallops. Heat olive oil over medium high heat until the pan is very hot. Arrange scallops in a single layer, uncrowded.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes and flip to cook the other side for another 1 1/2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and place on top of salad.
  • Sprinkle with vinaigrette and serve immediately.

 

Wheatless Wednesday – Mexican Street Corn Salad

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You’ve heard of Mexican Street Corn, fresh corn on the cob slathered in spices, herbs and savory cheese – delicious but messy.  Here it is ‘off the cob’ and ready to feed a big crowd – the same yummy ingredients but easy to serve. Served off the cob, the dish is called Esquites while the traditional street food grilled or steamed right on the cob is known as Elote. Traditional ingredients include mayonnaise, cotija cheese, lime juice, and chili powder but other herbs and spices are often included.

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I have been visiting family in Seattle for the last week, living like a hobo out of my suitcase and bouncing around the Seattle area from Tacoma to Seattle to Whidbey Island to Bothell.  I was lucky enough to see five of my sisters, two of my brothers and both of my parents.  Yes, I know. This is starting to require higher math, and three sibs were even missing!  As one of eleven children, I am used to large family celebrations where everyone brings something to share.  We are the masters of potluck.  Needless to say I was not in my kitchen, so obviously did no cooking myself, but I did watch my sister, Margaret, prepare this tasty dish for one of our family potlucks over the weekend.  With fresh corn, chili peppers, spicy seasonings and crumbly Mexican cheese, this is a definite crowd-pleaser, great for a family dinner or a potluck party.  For our large crowd, Margaret doubled the recipe.

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Guest Chef, Margaret Vandenberg, has made this recipe from The Kitchn before and admitted that she and her husband, Scott, have polished off leftovers with grilled salmon and tortillas as a great late night snack.  Sounds yummy to me!  This is the lovely view of Lake Washington from Margaret’s living room.  I can sit there for hours watching boats and birds and clouds….and then she serves wonderful food too.  No wonder I keep going back….

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TIPS:  I have not made this salad yet, but witnessed my sister in action.  This salad is delicious as is but if you want to make it even more ‘street’ you could try grilling or roasting the corn on the cob, before cutting off the kernels, for additional color and flavor.  Spicy food lovers could also add a dash or two of cayenne pepper to add more zest.  You could also serve with additional cotija sprinkled on top.

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Recipe Adapted From The Kitchn

MEXICAN STREET CORN SALAD

6 ears fresh corn kernels from the cob (or 4 cups frozen yellow corn)
2 Tbsn olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 hot pepper (jalapeno, red chili, etc)
3 Tbsn cotija cheese (goat or feta), crumbled
2 Tbsn mayonaise (vegan mayo or plain yogurt)
2 Tbsn cilanto, chopped
1 1/2 tsp Mexican style chili powder
2 limes, juiced
salt and pepper to taste

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  • In a large cast iron pan, saute the corn in the oil on medium-high heat until toasted, 15 to 20 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds or so and remove from heat and let cool and place in a large mixing bowl.

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  • Cut the peppers into a fine dice and add to the corn mixture.

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  • Add all the other ingredients to the corn mixture and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings and add ingredients to suit your tastes.

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  • Serve room temperature.

Mexican Street Corn Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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6 ears fresh corn kernels from the cob (or 4 cups frozen yellow corn)
2 Tbsn olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 hot pepper (jalapeno, red chili, etc)
3 Tbsn cotija cheese (goat or feta), crumbled
2 Tbsn mayonaise (vegan mayo or plain yogurt)
2 Tbsn cilanto, chopped
1 1/2 tsp Mexican style chili powder
2 limes, juiced
salt and pepper to taste

  • In a large cast iron pan, saute the corn in the oil on medium-high heat until toasted, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds or so and remove from heat and let cool and place in a large mixing bowl.
  • Cut the peppers into a fine dice and add to the corn mixture.
  • Add all the other ingredients to the corn mixture and toss to combine.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings and add ingredients to suit your tastes.
  • Serve room temperature.

Meatless Monday – Beet & Apple Salad with Almonds & Feta

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I know what you’re thinking…raw beets, yuck!  Think again.  Did you know that Beets are considered to be nature’s Viagra? (I’m not making this up) The ancient Romans, used them medicinally as an aphrodisiac and science has backed them up. Yep!  Apparently, it’s all about Boron which is used in the production of hormones. That aside, beets are surprisingly sweet and delicious when eaten raw, especially if they are thinly sliced, shaved or shredded.  In fact, that they are so sweet, especially in combination with the apple spirals, that they need an acidic dressing, fresh herbs and buttery almonds for balance.  I also love the addition of creamy feta or goat cheese to round out the flavors and add a bit more protein.

 

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Okay, I’m admitting to a mild obsession with my spiralizer.  Who knew how gorgeous raw beets could look when spiral sliced into angel hair proportions! I added Fuji apple because I thought they would be a good combination, but another veggie or fruit combo would work too, like kohlrabi or carrots.  OR try several colors of beets for a very pretty salad.  You really can’t go wrong here. If you don’t have a spiral slicer, you can use a grater or mandoline but it will be a bit more work.

In case you are still not convinced about Beets, from a nutritional standpoint they have a lot to offer. They are good sources of potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, iron; vitamins A, B & C; beta-carotene, beta-cyanine; folic acid.  They are also wonderful for the liver and work as a purifier for the blood. It also contains trytophan, which relaxes the mind and creates a sense of well-being, similar to chocolate. At the same time they are low in calories and high in sugar (although the sugar is released into your system gradually, as opposed to chocolate). Very few foods found in the natural world are as beneficial as beets in this regard.  Whoa, heady stuff here!   But I know you’re still thinking about Boron and Nature’s Viagra. Am I right?

TIPS: I love almonds with this dish.  They add just the right buttery crunch, however, almost any nut will work.  If your almonds are raw, just toast them in a dry pan over medium heat until golden brown, stirring occasionally.  Let cool before adding to salad.

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BEET & APPLE SALAD WITH ALMONDS AND FETA

2 medium raw beets
1 large Fuji apple (or other firm sweet apple)
2 large scallions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/3 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese (optional)
1/4 cup fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, etc), chopped

VINAIGRETTE
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (0r red wine vinegar)
2 Tbsn olive oil
2 Tbsn lemon juice + zest from one lemon
1 Tbsn fresh parsley or mint, chopped
1 Tbsn maple syrup, honey or agave (or more to taste)
1/3 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

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  • Cut off the stem end and peel the beets.  Using the smallest blade on the spiral slicer, slice  beet into angel hair strands. Repeat with remaining beet. Place beets into large bowl or platter.

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  • Peel apple and slice into angel hair strands. Add to platter.

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  • Whisk together all ingredients for vinaigrette and pour over beet apple mixture along with scallions and herbs. Toss to combine.

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  • Top with toasted almonds, scallions and feta.

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  • Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Beet & Apple Salad with Almonds & Feta

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2 medium raw beets
1 large fuji apple (or other firm sweet apple)
2 large scallions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/3 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese
1/4 cup fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, etc), chopped

VINAIGRETTE
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (0r red wine vinegar)
2 Tbsn olive oil
2 Tbsn lemon juice + zest from one lemon
1 Tbsn fresh parsley or mint, chopped
1 Tbsn maple syrup, honey or agave(or more to taste)
1/3 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

  • Cut off the stem end and peel the beets.  Using the smallest blade on the spiral slicer, slice into angel hair strands.
  • Place into large bowl or platter.
  • Peel apple and slice into angel hair strands. Add to platter.
  • Add toasted almonds and scallions.
  • Whisk together all ingredients for vinaigrette and pour over beet apple mixture.
  • Toss to combine.  Top with feta or goat cheese.

Wheatless Wednesday Tomatoes, Mozzarella & Peaches with Balsamic Reduction

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Summertime favorite, Caprese Salad goes rogue with sliced ripe peaches and a drizzle of velvety rich balsamic reduction. This colorful combo was the brainchild of my son, Eric.  I had recently purchased a flat of perfectly ripe peaches and I am lucky enough to have a constant supply of lovely heirloom tomatoes from my garden in shades of red, yellow and even striped green.  The peaches add a nice sweetness to the traditional tomatoes and mozzarella and the balsamic reduction is the piece de resistance.  Of course, you can drizzle with a balsamic vinaigrette which is easy and delicious, but the reduction is worth the minimal effort.  In only 10 minutes or so, balsamic vinegar is transformed into a richly flavored syrup that can be drizzled on almost anything to enhance its natural flavors.  I also love using a variety of colors for an exceptionally colorful presentation.

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Peaches are one of summer’s most popular fruits and they are so good when they are at the peak of the season, like they are right now. Peach peels can  be fuzzy and tough, so I peel them for this salad so they blend better with the tomatoes.  If you are using a thinner skinned peach or nectarine, just slice them up without peeling.  Peaches are low in calories and fat free but provide fiber and a host of vitamins and minerals, including A, C and potassium.  They definitely add some pizzazz to this salad! For another ‘rogue move’, try substituting goat cheese or feta and adding some chopped fresh mint along with the basil.  Yum!

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I love using columnar basil when I can, especially as a garnish.  It has small leaves which are tender and fragrant, and quite pretty when sprinkled on top of foods since they don’t need to be chopped.  Most grocery stores don’t carry columnar basil but some Farmer’s Markets do.  I grow my own from seedlings I bought at a garden center.  They are pretty hardy compared to other types of basil and don’t flower as often (i.e. needing to be constantly clipped) so the plant keeps growing, up to three feet tall.

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TIPS:  For a beautiful arranged salad, cut all components into similar sizes, shapes and thickness, at least as much as possible.  To make ahead, slice tomatoes, peaches and mozzarella and arrange on a serving platter.  It will be fine sitting at room temperature for an hour or so until you’re ready to serve.  Drizzle with balsamic reduction and garnish with basil just before serving.

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TOMATOES AND MOZZARELLA WITH PEACHES AND BALSAMIC REDUCTION

3-5 assorted ripe tomatoes
1 large ripe peach
6 oz bocconcini (or other size fresh mozzarella balls)
1/4 cup fresh basil
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsn sugar

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  • Bring balsamic vinegar and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the vinegar mixture has reduced to 1/3 cup, about 10 minutes.

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  • Taste balsamic reduction and add another Tbsn sugar if it seems too acidic and cook another 5 minutes.. Set the balsamic reduction aside to cool (It should be a syrupy consistency) Check the consistency.  If it’s too thin, simmer for a few more minutes.  If it’s too thick stir in one drop of water at a time until syrupy.  Transfer to a small bowl or server with a spout.

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  • Remove stem end of tomatoes and cut in half vertically.  Cut horizontally into 1/4 inch slices (or wedges, if you prefer)

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  • Cut peach in half and remove pit and peel.  Slice horizontally into 1/4 inch slices and place on a platter with the tomatoes.

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  • Slice each bocconcini the long way into 3 slices. and arrange over tomatoes and peaches.

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  • Cut basil into julienned slices if using large basil leaves and sprinkle evenly over tomato mixture.

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  • Drizzle balsamic reduction over tomato mixture and serve with more reduction on the side.

 

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
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3-5 assorted ripe tomatoes
1 large ripe peach
6 oz bocconcini (or other size fresh mozzarella balls)
1/4 cup fresh basil
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsn sugar

  • Bring balsamic vinegar and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the vinegar mixture has reduced to 1/3 cup, about 10 minutes.
  • Taste balsamic reduction and add another Tbsn sugar if it seems too acidic and cook another 5 minutes.. Set the balsamic reduction aside to cool (It should be a syrupy consistency) Check the consistency.  If it’s too thin, simmer for a few more minutes.  If it’s too thick stir in one drop of water at a time until syrupy.  Transfer to a small bowl or server with a spout.
  • Remove stem end of tomatoes and cut in half vertically.  Cut horizontally into 1/4 inch slices (or wedges, if you prefer)
  • Cut peach in half and remove pit and peel.  Slice horizontally into 1/4 inch slices and place on a platter with the tomatoes.
  • Slice each bocconcini the long way into 3 slices. and arrange over tomatoes and peaches.
  • Cut basil into julienned slices if using large basil leaves and sprinkle evenly over tomato mixture.
  • Drizzle balsamic reduction over tomato mixture and serve with more reduction on the side.

Wheatless Wednesday – Cucumber Ribbons with Red Onion, Feta and Mint

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Are you a lover or a hater?  Cucumbers have a reputation for being boring. I don’t agree.  I love cucumbers and this salad, which is refreshing and definitely not boring, brings it!  There is a bit of a kick and crunch with added jalapenos, lemon zest and pistachios. Topped with crumbled feta and a drizzle of red wine vinaigrette and you have a taste sensation. Did you know cucumbers have a secret?  Scroll down for the big reveal.

Lemon Water

I am on the cucumber bandwagon and drink Lemon Cucumber water every morning (recipe HERE) but know there are haters out there, including my future daughter in law.  (For her I make strawberry, lemon, blueberry water or other concoctions)  So, if you avoid cucumber but like the ‘idea’ of this salad, just substitute zucchini.  Win!

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I was gifted a bag of lovely Heirloom Japanese long cucumbers from my friends, Linda and Michael Rosso, and their prolific garden in Sonoma.  Aren’t they fabulous?  Linda tells me that one plant has already yielded 20 of these babies and summer is not over yet.  Linda and Michael own Sonoma Rosso, a California Wine Country getaway in Kenwood, California that offers a one bedroom guest cottage with access to a salt water pool and an organic garden.  Yes, you can keep what you pick! I haven’t been lucky enough to see it yet, but it looks like a beautiful spot for getting away.  Click on the LINK for more information.  Here’s a photo of Michael harvesting ‘my’ cucumbers and other produce from their garden.

Are you ready for a botanical shocker?  You may have heard that tomatoes are a fruit and not a vegetable.  Well cucumbers fall under that same umbrella.  What?  Tomatoes were a surprise way back when I heard that news – but at least they are sweetish, round and colorful.  This is quite a shocking revelation to me as there is nothing remotely fruity about cucumbers, however they are actually a fruit. Really!  They contain seeds and grow from the ovaries of flowering plants which is the definition of a fruit.  Does this make all vegetables males?  I’m afraid to ask.  Cucumbers are members of the plant family Cucurbitacae, which also makes them related to squashes and melons.  But there is more to cucumber than just water which makes them really hydrating and great to eat in summer.  Cucumbers also contain Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, Folic Acid, Calcium, Vitamin C, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, and Zinc.  Mind still blown…

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TIPS: Cucumbers have a lot of water which makes them a super healthy snack but in salads, they continue to release water so this salad should only be made just before needed, otherwise it will be sitting is a pool of water.  To store any leftovers, pour off excess water before refrigerating and toss with a bit more vinaigrette and fresh mint to refresh.

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CUCUMBER RIBBON SALAD WITH RED ONION, FETA AND MINT

2 large cucumbers (Persian or other thin skinned cucumber)
1/2 red onion
1 jalapeno (or more)
1/2 cup fresh mint
1/2 cup roasted pistachios
zest from one lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine or apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

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  •  Using a mandolin, slice cucumbers on the thinnest setting. Cucumbers don’t need to be peeled unless they have thick and bitter skins. Place in a large serving bowl.

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  • Slice onion vertically and add to the bowl with the cucumbers

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  • Chop or julienne mint leaves and add to the bowl

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  • Finely dice jalapeno

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  • Roughly chop pistachios

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  • Add mint, jalapeno, pistachios and lemon zest to the bowl

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  • Whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Drizzle over cucumber mixture and toss to combine.

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  • Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese, if desired. Serve immediately. (This is not a make ahead salad as cucumbers make a lot of water.)

 

Cucumber Ribbons with Red Onion, Feta and Mint

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2 large cucumbers (Persian or other thin skinned cucumber)
1/2 red onion
1 jalapeno (or more)
1/2 cup fresh mint
1/2 cup roasted pistachios
zest from one lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine or apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

  •  Using a mandolin, slice cucumbers on the thinnest setting. Cucumbers don’t need to be peeled unless they have thick and bitter skins. Place in a large serving bowl.
  • Slice onion vertically and add to the bowl with the cucumbers
  • Chop or julienne mint leaves and add to the bowl
  • Finely dice jalapeno
  • Roughly chop pistachios
  • Add mint, jalapeno, pistachios and lemon zest to the bowl
  • Whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Drizzle over cucumber mixture and toss to combine.
  • Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese, if desired.
  • Serve immediately. (This is not a make ahead salad as cucumbers make a lot of water.)

 

Wheatless Wednesday – Roasted Beet and Tomato Salad

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If tomatoes are the star in summer, beets are a bold and intense showgirl.  Together they are a showstopper!   Fresh and easy, pretty enough for a party, this Roasted Beet and Tomato Salad is a Summer Showcase!  Sun-ripened tomatoes in reds and yellows paired with dark-ruby roasted beets, resting on a bed of mixed greens and topped with crumbled feta and fresh herbs is a pure delight.  I love the simplicity of this five ingredient salad drizzled with a simple vinaigrette.  Each flavor is strong enough to stand on it’s own, and tossed together they make a colorful and flavorful salad, good enough for company but tasty enough for family.

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Photo Credit: Dr Oz

Roasted beets are not to be compared to the tasteless canned variety.  Roasting them intensifies their flavor as none of the juice is lost in boiling water. Beets are very low in calories, contain no cholesterol and small amount of fat and they are loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants.  All of that glorious color has to mean something!

I feel like a word of caution is in order here.  As I mentioned, dark beets have a vivid color and when roasted with olive oil, some of the escaped juices are quite vibrantly red, which I found out looks remarkably like blood when spilled.  Yes, I tipped the foil and juices leaked out; on the counter, down the cabinet and on the floor.  Even my bare feet looked like they were splattered in blood.  It looked like someone cut off their arm in right in my kitchen.  Note to self for next gory Halloween costume…  Also, beet juice can stain wood cutting boards, so I recommend plastic washable cutting surfaces or a ceramic plate.  Otherwise, beets are lovely.

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Do we even need to talk about tomatoes?  If you aren’t convinced, click  HERE to read how eating tomatoes can make you healthier.  If you love beets but not tomatoes so much, here are a few other Goodmotherdiet salads that were also inspired by beets:

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Beet and Citrus Salad with Goat Cheese and Pine Nuts

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Layered Beet Salad with Glazed Pecans and Citrus Vinaigrette

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Roasted Beet Salad with Ripe Peaches and Goat Cheese

TIPS:  If you were lucky enough to buy beets with the greens still attached, don’t cut them off and discard them.  The greens are delicious raw, thinly sliced into salads or sauteed and stirred into pasta or prepared any way you would use chard, kale or any other dark leafy green.  They have a slightly bitter taste that mellows with cooking and adds flavor and nutrients to your meal.  Beets can be roasted a day or two ahead of time and refrigerated until ready.  Note that beet juice stains porous surfaces, like wood cutting boards.  Use non-porous surfaces for preparation and slicing.

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ROASTED BEET AND TOMATO SALAD

1 lb beets (3-4 medium)
2 lbs tomatoes, mixed
1 bunch arugula or mixed greens
3 oz feta, sliced or crumbled(optional)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped or sliced
1/4 cup olive oil+
1/4 cup apple cider or red wine vinager
salt and pepper to taste

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  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut away beet greens without cutting into the skin and place beets on a large piece of foil, separately or together.  Drizzle with olive oil and tightly close foil packet. Roast on a rimmed baking sheet until tender, about 75 minutes.

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  • When cool, use a paper towel to remove skins.

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  • Slice into rounds on a plastic cutting board or plate.

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  • Slice large tomatoes into 1/4′ rounds, and halve cherry tomatoes.

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  • Place greens on the bottom of a serving platter and arrange the beets and tomatoes on top.

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  • Whisk together the olive oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Top tomatoes with feta, cilantro, basil and drizzle with dressing.  Serve with more herbs and feta on the side.

Roasted Beet and Tomato Salad

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 lb beets (3-4 medium)
2 lbs tomatoes, mixed
1 bunch arugula or mixed greens
3 oz feta, sliced or crumbled
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped or sliced
1/4 cup olive oil+
1/4 cup apple cider or red wine vinager
salt and pepper to taste

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut away beet greens without cutting into the skin and place beets on a large piece of foil.  Drizzle with olive oil and tightly close foil packet. Roast on a rimmed baking sheet until tender, about 75 minutes.
  • When cool, use a paper towel to remove skins and slice into rounds on a plastic cutting board or plate.
  • Slice large tomatoes into 1/4′ rounds, and halve cherry tomatoes.
  • Place greens on the bottom of a serving platter and arrange the beets and tomatoes on top.
  • Whisk together the olive oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
  • Top with feta, cilantro, basil and drizzle with dressing.
  • Serve with more fresh herbs and feta on the side.

Meatless Monday -Broccoli Slaw with Cranberries and Toasted Almonds

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I am at my house in Maine for the month of July. My Maine kitchen is full of many cooks as friends from around the country show up to visit beautiful Maine.  Some nights we are positively bursting at the seams, even the bunkroom is full to the rafters.  One night such as that, I was lucky enough to have our friend, Evan Kendall, who is a student at New England Culinary Institute and working towards a BA in Culinary Arts, here for a visit. We all clamored for him to make his signature dish, Broccoli Slaw.   This lovely raw broccoli salad is a dish  I have had the pleasure of enjoying the last couple of summers in Maine. It features sliced broccoli, tossed together with cranberries, toasted almonds and red onion.  The creamy buttermilk dressing pulls all the flavors together.  This salad is delicious and good for you!  He originally got this recipe from Smitten Kitchen and has made a few small changes.  As happens with really good recipes, they get passed down again and again.   Yay, power to my fellow bloggers for making food better everywhere!

TIPS:  This recipe would be easy to make vegan by substituting vegan milk and mayonaise products. 

It was just my birthday weekend and I spent it hiking in the White Mountains.  The White Mountains, known as the most rugged mountains in New England, are beautiful but not for sissies!  We hiked to the Greenleaf Hut which is perched at the treeline on Mount Lafayette on the Appalachian Trail. The Greenleaf Hut, which is part of the AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) Hut Network, offers bunk accommodations and a delicious hot dinner and hearty breakfast before hikers continue on their way. We followed ‘Franconia Loop’, a challenging almost 10 mile trail that climbs Mount Lafayette (5240′), Mount Lincoln (5089′) and Little Haystack (4780′) on Franconia Ridge and winds around seven waterfalls on the Falling Waters Trail.  It was a wonderful and challenging trip – off my bucket list.  My legs are still sore, just saying…

Anyway, I was nowhere near my kitchen for the last few days, making this is a great time to host a guest chef for your Meatless Monday. So without further ado…

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who “Adapted a little bit from family, a little bit from Apartment Therapy
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BROCCOLI SLAW COMPLIMENTS OF GUEST CHEF, EVAN KENDALL

Broccoli Slaw

  • Servings: 6 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2 heads of broccoli
1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds, toasted
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

Buttermilk Dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk, or plain milk
3-4 tablespoons cider vinegar, to taste, use less with buttermilk
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallot (or, you could just use a little extra red onion to simplify it)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Prepare the broccoli by cutting it into large chunks and then slicing them thinly. This can be done by hand with a knife, in a food processor with the slicing attachment, or on a mandoline. I really enjoy the stems of broccoli, give them a try if you don’t usually. The outer skin is tough and can be unappealing, so try peeling it off and slice thinly. In a large bowl, toss with the dried cranberries, toasted almond. You can include the red onion as well, or combine that in the dressing to temper the onion flavor.
In a small-medium bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Season with a pinch of salt and ground pepper. Pour the dressing over the broccoli and other ingredients, and toss to combine. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, I like to make the pepper stand out.
 

Wheatless Wednesday – Fried Catfish over Napa Corn Slaw

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Do you ever just crave some crispy fried deliciousness?  Good news!  Now that fat is no longer the enemy, It’s okay to eat fried foods as long as you use a good oil and serve with a healthy side dish. My regular readers all know that I have been on a Southern kick for the past couple of weeks following my trip to Charleston.  I was greatly inspired by the old, tried and true classics that have lived on in the South for generations (for good reason).  Well, no list of Southern favorites would be complete without Fried Catfish.  This Fried Catfish is the last recipe that was a direct derivative from my SC trip.  I’m all fried out for the time being, except maybe for trying Fried Pickles (Yes, that’s a thing!)  I’ll let you know…

In the South, Fried Catfish is usually served with hushpuppies, a yummy fried cornbread-type appetizer.  I personally can only do one fried food at a time and decided to balance the fried fish with a light and flavorful slaw made with napa cabbage, fresh sweet corn, red onion, bell pepper and jalapenos drizzled in an oil and vinegar dressing. My corn was sweet enough to eat raw, just cut off the cob.  Older corn may need to be steamed or boiled for a few minutes to soften.  I love the combination of steamy hot crispy fried fish with the cool and spicy slaw.  Add a good tartar sauce or aoli and you’re done!

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So what is a good oil too cook with anyway? Recommendations keep changing, who can keep up?  Butter is now a ‘good’ fat for cooking but not for high heat cooking as it contains small amounts of sugars and proteins which makes it burn when overheated.  When it comes to high heat cooking, coconut oil is a great choice. Over 90% of the fatty acids in it are saturated, which makes it very resistant to heat. Avocado and olive oil are good choices too.  Oils that are high in polyunsaturated fats should be avoided for cooking, as are fats (even good fats) that go through extreme processing measures. We have an amazing number of choices at the market, no wonder we are confused.  Click HERE for a breakdown on fats and oils, including a list of oils to avoid.

TIPS:  Prepare the slaw first, if serving, as the taste only improves if it is allowed to sit while you prepare the fish. This recipe calls for catfish, which is so prevalent in the South, but any mild white fish will work as well, like cod or haddock.  Just make sure it’s from a Sustainable Seafood Source  Use a good quality oil like avocado, coconut or olive oil and you will have a good result.  Drain cooked fish on a rack lined with paper towels or newspaper to keep the fish crispy and  for easy clean up.

I wanted a true Southern fried fish so went to the Food Network and adapted the recipe for Southern Fried Catfish by Alton Brown to make it wheat/gluten free.  For more Southern inspired recipes check out Fried Green Tomatoes with Buttermilk Lime Sauce Grilled Shrimp and Cheesy Grits or  Charred Okra with Tomatoes.

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FRIED CATFISH

2 cups high heat oil (avocado, coconut or olive oil)
1/2 cup stone-ground fine cornmeal
1/2 cup coconut flour (or all purpose)
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
6 (7 to 9-ounce) Wild Caught or US farm-raised catfish fillets, rinsed and thoroughly patted dry
2 eggs (or 1/2 cup  buttermilk)

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  • Heat the oil in a heavy large saucepan or dutch oven over high heat until it almost reaches the smoking point.  If you are using a fryer the temperature should be 350 degrees F on a deep-fry thermometer. Adjust the heat to maintain the temperature. While the oil is heating, whisk the cornmeal and flour together in a shallow dish.

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  • Combine the seafood seasoning, kosher salt, paprika, and pepper in a small bowl.

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  • Season the catfish fillets evenly on both sides with the spice mixture.

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  • Pour the buttermilk into another shallow dish. Dip each fillet into the egg/buttermilk, flip once to coat both sides, hold over the pan and allow the excess to drip off. Coat both sides of the fillets in the cornmeal mixture. Set the coated fillets on a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.

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  • Gently add the fillets, 2-4 at a time, to the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the fried fillets to a cooling rack set over a newspapers or paper towels.. Repeat method with remaining fillets.

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  • Arrange the catfish on a serving platter and serve immediately with slaw and tartar sauce.

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NAPA CORN SLAW

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6 cups Napa cabbage (Savoy, green, and/or purple), cored and shredded
2-3 ears sweet corn
1 large red or yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion
1-2 Tbsn fresh jalapeño(or other hot pepper),minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsn red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Whisk together oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper and set aside.

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  • Cut the kernels off the corn with a sharp knife.  If they are sweet enough to eat raw, just add to salad.  If they are tough, steam them for a few minutes to soften, then let cool.

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  • Combine the cabbage, bell pepper, and onion.and toss with the dressing. refrigerate until ready to serve. (Slaw tastes best when it’s allowed to rest for an hour or so to allow the flavors to blend.) Just before serving, toss with the parsley.

Fried Catfish with Napa and Corn Slaw

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2 cups high heat oil (avocado, coconut or peanut)
1/2 cup stone-ground fine cornmeal
1/2 cup coconut flour (or all purpose)
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
6 (7 to 9-ounce) Wild Caught or US farm-raised catfish fillets, rinsed and thoroughly patted dry
2 eggs (or 1/2 cup  buttermilk)

  • Heat the oil in a heavy large saucepan or dutch oven over high heat until it almost reaches the smoking point.  If you are using a fryer the temperature should be 350 degrees F on a deep-fry thermometer. Adjust the heat to maintain the temperature.
  • Whisk the cornmeal and flour together in a shallow dish. Combine the seafood seasoning, kosher salt, paprika, and pepper in a small bowl. Season the catfish fillets evenly on both sides with the spice mixture.
  • Pour the buttermilk into another shallow dish. Dip each fillet into the buttermilk, flip once to coat both sides, hold over the pan and allow the excess to drip off. Coat both sides of the fillets in the cornmeal mixture. Set the coated fillets on a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.
  • Gently add the fillets, 2-4 at a time, to the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the fried fillets to a cooling rack set over a newspapers or paper towels.. Repeat method with remaining fillets.
  • Arrange the catfish on a serving platter and serve immediately with slaw and tartar sauce.

NAPA CORN SLAW

6 cups Napa cabbage (Savoy, green, and/or purple), cored and shredded
2-3 ears sweet corn
1 large red or yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion
1-2 Tbsn fresh jalapeño(or other hot pepper),minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsn red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Whisk together oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper and set aside.
  • Combine the cabbage, bell pepper, and onion.and toss with the dressing. refrigerate until ready to serve. (Slaw tastes best when it’s allowed to rest for an hour or so to allow the flavors to blend.) Just before serving, toss with the parsley.

Wheatless Wednesday – Arugula, Corn and Tomato Salad with Jalapeno Vinaigrette

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1-2-3-GONE! Or ‘How to make a salad disappear!’  Want to hear more magic words?  How about;  Ready in 15 minutes or less…   I am very lucky to have been graced with a bounty of lovely, ripe tomatoes so early in the season.  I’m heading out of town this weekend (to Charleston, so I foresee some southern cooking in my future) and I needed to use some of my fresh tomatoes before I go.  I also happened to have some young, white corn that is so sweet and tender that it can be eaten raw, right off the cob.  Now that is good corn!  With these ingredients, I couldn’t really go wrong.  I tossed them together in a salad with baby arugula and avocado, then drizzled them with a yummy jalapeno vinaigrette that is loaded with fresh basil and cilantro.  But it’s really about the tomatoes and the corn, so don’t hold back.  I served this to a group of men, watching the NBA playoffs last night and almost didn’t get a chance to take photos.  Luckily I managed to snap a few before they all descended.  I served the salad with corn tortilla chips which were a great pairing. (Alas, no photos…They were too quick.)

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But corn is a carb!  Fear not my carb-avoiding friends.  Corn is a high quality, slow digesting complex carbohydrate and a great source of vitamins, minerals and fiber.  Corn has high amounts of insoluble fiber — meaning, the kind of fiber that goes through the body intact and gets things going in the bowels (You didn’t read that here!)  Insoluble fiber has been shown in research to help feed the “good” bacteria in our gut which is very important in our over-processed world.  Corn is also gluten free which makes it a good choice for those avoiding wheat and wheat products.

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TIPS:  Consider serving the salad in individual glass jars or small bowls. This is a great use of leftover corn on the cob, either grilled, steamed or boiled.  Just slice it off the cob and you’ve got the start of a great meal!  I love the Jalapeno Vinaigrette.  It’s just slightly spicy and the fresh herbs give it a pesto-like quality which is really delicious on this salad.  If you like food really spicy, add a second jalapeno or include some of the seeds.   I also added fresh mozzarella because I had a large crowd of hungry men to feed, but it’s not really necessary.  The real stars here are the fresh, ripe vegetables.

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ARUGULA, CORN AND TOMATO SALAD WITH JALAPENO VINAIGRETTE

2 cups fresh baby arugula
3 ears fresh corn (or 2 cups frozen corn)
3-4 large tomatoes (or combination with cherry tomatoes)
1-2 avocados
6 oz fresh mozzarella (optional)

JALAPENO VINAIGRETTE
1 large jalapeno pepper
1 cup fresh herbs (basil and cilantro)
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbsn fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp salt

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  • Wash and dry arugula and place in a large serving bowl

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  • Shuck corn and cut the kernels off the cob using a sharp knife. If the corn is young and sweet, put it right into the salad.  If it’s a bit chewy you can steam.boil or pan fry it for a few minutes.  Let it cool before you put it in the salad.  You can also grill the corn first (before you cut it off the cob, shucked or unshucked).

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  • Chop tomatoes into a medium dice.  Cut cherry tomatoes into halves or quarters. Add to salad.

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  • Cut mozzarells, if using, into medium sized cubes.

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  • Chop avocado into a medium dice.  Add to salad.

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  • Put all vinaigrette ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.

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  • Drizzle salad with vinaigrette and toss to combine.  Serve with tortilla chips if desired.

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Arugula, Corn and Tomato Salad with Jalapeno Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 46
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2 cups fresh baby arugula
3 ears fresh corn (or 2 cups frozen corn)
3-4 large tomatoes (or combination with cherry tomatoes)
1-2 avocados
6 oz fresh mozzarella (optional)

JALAPENO VINAIGRETTE
1 large jalapeno pepper
1 cup fresh herbs (basil and cilantro)
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbsn fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp salt

  • Wash and dry arugula and place in a large serving bowl
  • Shuck corn and cut the kernels off the cob using a sharp knife.
  • If the corn is young and sweet, put it right into the salad.  If it’s a bit chewy you can steam.boil or pan fry it for a few minutes.  Let it cool before you put it in the salad.  You can also grill the corn first (before you cut it off the cob, shucked or unshucked).
  • Chop tomatoes into a medium dice.  Cut cherry tomatoes into halves or quarters. Add to salad.
  • Cut mozzarells, if using, into medium sized cubes
  • Chop avocado into a medium dice.  Add to salad.
  • Put all vinaigrette ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.
  • Drizzle salad with vinaigrette and toss to combine.
  • Serve with tortilla chips if desired.

 

Meatless Monday – Kale Salad with Lentils and Wild Rice

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This one is for you, Margie!  My sister, Margaret, asked me to come up with a new lentil salad recipe, so here you go!  Thank you for the inspiration –  this one is a keeper!  Lentils and rice are one of my favorite food combinations but they can be heavy which makes them a perfect belly warming winter meal but luckily those cold winter months are behind us.  I decided to lighten them up for summer by tossing French green lentils in a salad with chewy wild rice, toasted pine nuts, tomatoes and kale. Top with scallions, fresh herbs, crumbled feta and a drizzle of lemony vinaigrette for a really delicious and satisfying salad.

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Lentils come in a rainbow of colors, each with their own characteristics.  In general, the darker the lentil, the firmer the texture.  Lighter colored lentils, like yellow and red, are quite mushy when cooked and best for soups.  Brown lentils have a nice flavor but can get mushy if cooked too long.  French green lentils (pictured above) are my favorite but closely followed by Black Beluga lentils which I often use with colorful squashes because of the striking color contrast.  If you don’t normally eat lentils, here are Five Reasons why you should start:

  1. PROTECT YOUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM – high in fiber
  2. PROTECT YOUR HEART – significant amount of folate and magnesium
  3. STABILIZE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR – full of complex carbohydrates
  4. HIGH IN PROTEIN- the vegetable with the highest level of protein other than soybeans
  5. IMPORTANT MINERALS AND ANTIOXIDANTS –   good source of iron, magnesium and zinc

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Wild rice is actually not really rice. It’s the seed of the water grass, Zizania.  It has a wonderful chewy texture and nutty flavor that is really good in this salad, however it packs it’s own nutritional whollop.  Wild rice is also a good source of protein, fiber, iron and copper as well as other minerals and vitamins including B complex.  Together, they make this meal hearty enough to be a main course.

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Should we even talk about kale?  We all know it’s the reigning queen of leafy greens for it’s nutritional benefits, and rightly so. I used a bunch of red kale from my CSA box but lacinato (dino) or curly kale will work well too.  Since kale is so fibrous, I removed the center rib and sliced the leafy green leaves into thin julienne strips.  This preparation makes it easier to eat and allows the flavors to blend more easily since all the other ingredients are so small.  I learned one unexpected benefit of using kale in salads instead of more traditional lettuces.  I had some leftover salad which I stored in the refrigerator.  Well you know what happens to salads that have already been dressed that sit in the refrigerator overnight… Two days later, I remembered the salad and went to throw it away but it still looked okay.  I ate it for lunch and it was still surprisingly good.  The kale held up really well.  Who knew?

TIPS:  I used two Roma tomatoes for this salad because they are easier to dice and have fewer juices and seeds than the larger Beefsteak or Celbrity types, however, any ripe tomato will work.  If you aren’t a fan of wild rice, you can use a wild rice mix or substitute any kind of rice you like.  A long grain rice cooked al dente will give better results than the stickier shorter grains.

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Kale Salad with Lentils and Wild Rice

1/2 cup dry wild rice
1/2 cup dry lentils (green, black or brown)
1 large or 2 smaller tomatoes, finely diced
2 cups kale, thinly sliced
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup cilantro or parsley, chopped
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup crumbled feta (optional)

VINAIGRETTE

¼ cup Olive Oil
1 Tbsn lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp coriander
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt

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  • Cook the wild rice according to package instructions (about 45 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool, uncovered.

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  • Cook the lentils according to package instructions but make sure they don’t get too soft.  They should be firm enough to maintain their shape.  Remove from heat and let cool, uncovered.

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  • Toast pine nuts in a dry pan over medium heat until golden brown.  Remove from heat and let cool

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  • Wash kale and remove the thick center rib.  Stack kale and slice thinly crosswise.  Place in a large serving bowl
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  • Whisk together all vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.

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  • Transfer wild rice, lentils, pine nuts and cilantro to bowl with kale. (Wild rice and lentils can be slightly warm but not hot)

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  • Just before serving,  toss with vinaigrette.  Serve with crumbled feta or goat cheese, if desired.

Kale Salad with Lentils and Wild Rice

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1/2 cup dry wild rice
1/2 cup dry lentils (green, black or brown)
1 large or 2 smaller tomatoes, finely diced
2 cups kale, thinly sliced
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup cilantro or parsley, chopped
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup crumbled feta (optional)

VINAIGRETTE

¼ cup Olive Oil
1 Tbsn lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp coriander
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt

  • Cook the wild rice according to package instructions (about 45 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool, uncovered.
  • Cook the lentils according to package instructions but make sure they don’t get too soft.  They should be firm enough to maintain their shape.  Remove from heat and let cool, uncovered.
  • Toast pine nuts in a dry pan over medium heat until golden brown.  Remove from heat and let cool
  • Wash kale and remove the thick center rib.  Stack kale and slice thinly crosswise.  Place in a large serving bowl.
  • Whisk together all vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.
  • Transfer wild rice, lentils, pine nuts and cilantro to bowl with kale. (Wild rice and lentils can be slightly warm but not hot)
  • Just before serving,  toss with vinaigrette.  Serve with crumbled feta or goat cheese, if desired.

 

 

Antipasti Platter – Roasted Eggplant, Peppers & Tomatoes with Burrata

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NBA Playoffs are here and my husband had an offer to go the the Warriors game LIVE, so I invited my two lovely neighbors over for some impromtu girl time.  Yes, the game was on and the Warriors won!  But more importantly, we watched female style, champagne in hand and a lovely antipasti platter spread before us.  Needless to say, a good time was had by all and my platter with thin slices of roasted eggplant, charred mini sweet peppers, wilted cherry tomatoes, salty olives and creamy burrata passed the test!  The eggplant was a rich and flavorful, the mini peppers just got sweeter through roasting and the burrata was a delight.  The big winner though, was the balsamic reduction that I drizzled over the whole thing. Credit goes to my son, Eric, for that recipe.  Yum!  Oh, and here are our fun napkins…just because.

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If you have never had burrata, it’s similar to fresh mozzarella but creamier and even more delicious! Burrata means ‘buttered’ in Italian if that gives you any indication of it’s yumminess. It resembles fresh mozzarella but it’s insides are soft and ooze out upon cutting it open. Mmmm….. I used a burrata from Belfiore, one of the few small family owned, cheesemakers in the SF Bay Area.  I love to promote local companies, especially when they take such care to use only quality natural ingredients, and the owners just happen to be friends of mine – even better!  Belfiore handcrafts their cheeses using no artificial ingredients, additives or preservatives.  In addition I love that they  use a vegetarian rennet in making their burrata.  I really like this brand but there are many other good handcrafted cheese companies out there too so look around.

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TIPS:  I love fresh herbs on almost anything.  I just walk outside my kitchen door and clip whatever I have on hand.  This time it was fresh basil, thyme and parsley, however, any fresh herbs will work just fine.  If you don’t have access to fresh herbs, sprinkle a bit of Italian Seasoning on top of everything before drizzling with balsamic reduction.  The balsamic reduction is heavenly and I can think of dozens of ways to use it in the future.  It’s easy to make but if you don’t want to go to the trouble, a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar and a drizzle of olive oil will be tasty too.

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I will be out of town next week at Rancho La Puerta (an early birthday present to myself) so I will not be in my kitchen but getting inspiration from the wonderful chefs at The Ranch.  So stay tuned, especially on FACEBOOK and INSTAGRAM for photos from my week at The Ranch.  When I come back, I’m sure I will have a lot to share… Have a good week!-Joyce

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ROASTED EGGPLANT, PEPPERS & TOMATOES  WITH BURRATA

1 globe eggplant
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 pint miniature sweet peppers
8 oz burrata, room temperature if possible
1/4 cup olive oil plus more for drizzling
1 cup fresh baby arugula
1/2 cup fresh mixed herbs, parsley, basil or thyme, roughly chopped
1/2 cup kalamata or black olives (optional)
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2-3 Tbsn sugar, brown sugar or honey
Vinaigrette:  2 Tbsn olive oil, 2 Tbsn lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

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  • Remove the leafy stem and cut the aubergine into half lengthwise

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  • Then slice thinly lengthwise using a sharp knife or a mandolin

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  • Spread the slices on papertowels and sprinkle liberally with salt.  Let sit for at least 10 minutes to let the excess water come out.

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  • Wipe eggplant slices dry. Lightly oil a large cookie sheet and spread eggplant evenly in the pan in a single layer.  You may need more than one pan depending on the thickness of the slices.

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  • Brush tops with olive oil and roast at 400°F until they turn light brown, about. 25-35 minutes

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  • Place cherry tomatoes and peppers in another lightly oiled pan and roast in the same oven until charred in spots and wilted. Turn peppers once.
  • Stir balsamic vinegar and 2 Tbsn sugar together in a small saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the vinegar mixture has reduced to 1/3 cup, about 10 minutes. After 5 minutes, taste and add another Tbsn sugar if it seems too acidic and cook another 5 minutes.. Set the balsamic reduction aside to cool (It should be a syrupy consistency)

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  • Remove the eggplant from the oven and let cool slightly.  Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl and pour the vinaigrette onto the warm eggplant and lightly toss to combine.

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  • Arrange eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, olives and burrata on a platter.

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  • Sprinkle herbs and arugula over the top.  Drizzle with olive oil (optional) and balsamic reduction.

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  • Serve room temperature with crusty sourdough bread and the remaining balsamic reduction on the side.

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Roasted Eggplant, Peppers & Tomatoes with Burrata

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 globe eggplant
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 pint miniature sweet peppers
8 oz burrata, room temperature if possible
1/4 cup olive oil plus more for drizzling
1 cup fresh baby arugula
1/2 cup fresh mixed herbs, parsley, basil or thyme, roughly chopped
1/2 cup kalamata or black olives (optional)
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2-3 Tbsn sugar, brown sugar or honey
Vinaigrette:  2 Tbsn olive oil, 2 Tbsn lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

  • Remove the leafy stem and cut the aubergine into half lengthwise, then slice thinly lengthwise using a sharp knife or a mandolin
  • Spread the slices on papertowels and sprinkle liberally with salt.  Let sit for at least 10 minutes to let the excess water come out.
  • Wipe eggplant slices dry. Lightly oil a large cookie sheet and spread eggplant evenly in the pan in a single layer.  You may need more than one pan depending on the thickness of the slices.
  • Brush tops with olive oil and roast at 400°F until they turn light brown, about. 25-35 minutes
  • Place cherry tomatoes and peppers in another lightly oiled pan and roast in the same oven until charred in spots and wilted. Turn peppers once.
  • Stir balsamic vinegar and 2 Tbsn sugar together in a small saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the vinegar mixture has reduced to 1/3 cup, about 10 minutes. After 5 minutes, taste and add another Tbsn sugar if it seems too acidic and cook another 5 minutes.. Set the balsamic reduction aside to cool (It should be a syrupy consistency)
  • Remove the eggplant from the oven and let cool slightly.  Combine vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl and pour the vinaigrette onto the warm eggplant and lightly toss to combine.
  • Arrange eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, olives and burrata on a platter.
  • Sprinkle herbs and arugula over the top.
  • Drizzle with olive oil (optional) and balsamic reduction.
  • Serve room temperature with crusty sourdough bread and the remaining balsamic reduction on the side.

 

 

Wheatless Wednesday – Caramelized Endive with Brown Butter Sage Sauce

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Blackened lettuce?  I know that is not the traditional way to prepare greens usually reserved for salads but it’s all the rage right now, and with the summer salad season coming up, it’s an interesting alternative to your tossed green salads.  Along with some lovely heads of endive, I found a recipe for Caramelized Endive with Brown Butter Sage Sauce in my CSA box, compliments of Farm Fresh To You.  Thank you FFTY.  It was delicious! My family was surprised at how good it was.  I have to admit they were a bit skeptical at first,  but they were quickly won over by the lovely, caramelly flavor of the blackened endive paired with the brown butter and crispy sage leaves.  I’ll admit that this isn’t the prettiest of preparations, but if you are brave enough to try it, you won’t be disappointed. This technique is also very easy and requires only four ingredients, plus salt and pepper and about 15 minutes.  You’ve got to love that!  If you live in Northern California and are interested in getting organic produce delivered to your door, Farm Fresh To You will offer $10 off the first box.  Just use promo code 6164. I love it! It’s like sending myself a gift every week.

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If you are looking for more of a salad recipe using endive, check out these Three Bite Salads which I made a couple of weeks ago with my first delivery of endive. They are a tasty way to serve endive as either an appetizer or side dish.  Although, if you eat enough of them (like I did) it could be dinner.

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And just because I was completely stunned by my new-found knowledge that endive is grown indoors in dark warehouses, I am also sharing their photo again along with the link on how endive is grown in case you missed it the first time. I was fascinated by the process.  You almost have to look twice to realize what you are seeing. At first glance I thought they were roosting chickens.

TIPS:  The brown butter and crispy sage leaves really make the caramelized endive special.  The butter browns quickly so don’t walk away from the pan or get involved in something else or it might burn. I would recommend one whole endive per person (so each gets two halves) and at least one sage leaf per half so no one gets cheated. You may want to add a few extra so you can taste one or two to make sure they are crispy.

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CARAMELIZED ENDIVE WITH BROWN BUTTER SAGE SAUCE

4 heads endive
2 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbsn salted butter
8-10 fresh sage leaves
1/4 cup grated parmesan (optional)
salt and pepper

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  • Cut the endive in half lengthwise.

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  • Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat until shimmering.  Place endive in the skillet cut side down and cook until nicely browned, about 5 minutes.

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  • Carefully turn endive and cook another 2 or 3 minutes, until tender.

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  • Remove from skillet to a platter and tent with foil. Melt butter in the skillet over medium heat.  Add sage and cook until butter is browned and fragrant and sage is crispy, 3 or 4 minutes.

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  • Drizzle over endive and sprinkle with grated parmesan.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Caramelized Endive with Brown Butter Sage Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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4 heads endive
2 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbsn salted butter
8-10 fresh sage leaves
1/4 cup grated parmesan (optional)
salt and pepper

  • Cut the endive in half lengthwise.
  • Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat until shimmering.  Place endive in the skillet cut side down and cook until nicely browned, about 5 minutes.
  • Carefully turn endive and cook another 2 or 3 minutes, until tender.
  • Remove from skillet to a platter and tent with foil.
  • Melt butter in the skillet over medium heat.  Add sage and cook until butter is browned and fragrant and sage is crispy, 3 or 4 minutes.
  • Drizzle over endive and sprinkle with grated parmesan.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Wheatless Wednesday – Endive Salad Bites

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Appetizers are the little things you keep eating until you lose your appetite. ~ Joe Moore
I don’t know who Joe Moore is but I’m with him on this.  The way I look at it, you might as well make the appetizer as yummy and nutritious as dinner.  This one is sure to satisfy, or at least start your night off on a delicious, healthy and low cal note.  I’m loving the three bite salad!

I was feeling a bit under the weather today, perhaps a result of spending so much time clearing out and planting my garden.  My raging allergies  have turned into a cold and the best remedy for a cold is soup.  So I made a big pot of White Bean and Swiss Chard Soup for dinner last night, which is a personal favorite. It has luscious creaminess without any added cream or thickener. Click on the link for the recipe. I also had some endive from my CSA box that was not yet destined for anything so decided to make salad bites. I am a sucker for foods that have a nice presentation and are easy to eat appetizer style, my kind of eating! Their shape is perfect for stuffing. I just tossed all the salad ingredients with the dressing and piled them up in the endive spear, or boats as I have always thought of them.  Their slight bitterness is offset by the sweetness of the orange and grapes and the creaminess of the avocado and goat cheese.  The vinaigrette is simple but helps to blend the flavors nicely.

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Alternatively, you could julienne the endive and toss the whole thing together as a large salad.  Either way, delicious!

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This is only the second time I can remember using endive.  It definitely won’t be the last.  I thought it was a really tasty salad/appetizer and I will make it again with whatever is in season.  My CSA box came with an informational blurb on endive which I found quite interesting.  Endive is a member of the chicory family (which makes me think of coffee for some reason).  Belgiun endive is grown from chicory roots in a dark environment, which is why their tender leaves are such a light color. I was enthralled, so I googled, and here is what endive looks like growing. You can click on the photo link for the full story on endive.

For their pale complexions, endive are surprisingly nutritious, providing many valuable vitamins and mnerals, including vitamin C, calcium, iron and zinc, among many others.  The biggest surprise is that it is a good source of beta-carotene which we usually attribute to the orange vegetable family.  But that’s not all.  It has more than 50% of the potassium of a banana. Not too bad for our pale friend, the endive.  It also makes a darn good edible appetizer boat.

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ENDIVE SALAD BITES

1 head Belgian endive
1 orange or grapefruit
1 avocado
1/2 cup red grapes
4 scallions, chopped
1/3 cup crumbled goat, gorgonzola or blue cheese
1/3 cup cilantro or parsley, chopped (or more)

Marinade

2 Tbsn olive oil
1 Tbsn balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsn red wine or apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

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  • Cut the ends off orange and remove the peel by cutting in a downward motion going all the way around.  Cut into wheels and then sections.  Place in a large bowl.

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  • Slice grapes and admire their gorgeous jewel toned colors.

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  • place in the bowl with the oranges.

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  • Halve avocado and cut into pieces a similar size to the orange segments.

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  • Add avocado, cilantro, scallions and crumbled goat cheese to the bowl.

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  • Prepare marinade and drizzle over salad sparingly.  You can always drizzle more later and since they are to be eaten by hand, you don’t want them too drippy.

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  • Cut the core end off the endive. Clean by gently wiping both sides with a lightly damp paper towel. Pull off as many leaves as you want to use. The remainder can be stored in the refrigerator under a lightly damp paper towel.Place 1-2 tablespoons of salad into each endive spear.   Arrange on a platter and garish with extra cilantro.

 

Endive Salad Bites

  • Servings: 12 pieces
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 head Belgian endive
1 orange or grapefruit
1 avocado
1/2 cup red grapes
4 scallions, chopped
1/3 cup crumbled goat, gorgonzola or blue cheese
1/3 cup cilantro or parsley, chopped (or more)

Marinade

2 Tbsn olive oil
1 Tbsn balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsn red wine or apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

  • Cut the ends off orange and remove the peel by cutting in a downward motion going all the way around.  Cut into wheels and then sections.  Place in a large bowl.
  • Slice grapes and place in the bowl with the oranges.
  • Halve avocado and cut into pieces a similar size to the orange segments.
  • Add avocado, cilantro and scallions to the bowl.
  • Crumble goat cheese and add to the salad.
  • Cut the core end off the endive. Clean by gently wiping both sides with a lightly damp paper towel. Pull off as many leaves as you want to use. The remainder can be stored in the refrigerator under a lightly damp paper towel.
  • Prepare marinade and drizzle over salad sparingly.  You can always drizzle more later and since they are to be eaten by hand, you don’t want them too messy.
  • Place 1-2 tablespoons of salad into each endive spear.   Arrange on a platter and garish with extra cilantro.

Wheatless Wednesday – Beet and Citrus Salad with Goat Cheese & Pine Nuts

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Citrus is here!  I love eating with the seasons, especially when nature provides such colorful abundance.  Right now citrus is at it’s best and, for a short time, blood oranges are available.  So take advantage!  I paired citrus – oranges from my tree, which are surprisingly sweet and juicy this year in spite of the drought we are having in California, blood oranges and grapefruit – with golden and red beets.  This is the time of year for root vegetables as well, and together they make a spectacularly colorful presentation.  Topped with creamy goat cheese, toasted pine nuts and a drizzle of a savory-sweet balsamic vinaigrette, this salad is a sensory delight!

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Beets are funny little root veggies, rather on the homely side with their tough skins and little ‘mouse’ tails (root end) until you cut them open to find their jewel-like interiors.  The greens, on the other hand, can be quite lovely.  So looking at these gorgeous beet greens, I knew I had to  make something with them.  Often I saute them with butter and garlic for a delicious side dish and if you don’t overcook them, they keep their brilliant colors. This time, however, I wanted to make more of a main course.  When I spotted the 10 eggs on my counter fresh from my next door chickens, I decided to make a frittata which did not disappoint.  Recipe will post tomorrow but here is a preview:

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Okay, back to the Beet and Citrus Salad, which actually pairs nicely with the beet top frittata by the way.  The intense colors of this salad are a visual indicator of how nutritious this salad really is.  Roasted beets are rich and intense in flavor but also loaded with vitamins, phytonutrients and antioxidants.  We all know that citrus fruits are a good source of vitamin C but they also contain an impressive list of other essential nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.

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TIPS AND SUBSTITUTIONS: Beets can be roasted a day or so ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator.  I like to sprinkle a bit of micro greens over the top of the salad to add freshness without covering all the bright colors, however, a good alternative would be to place the beets and citrus on a bed of greens. Arugula or baby spinach would be good choices.  Toasted pine nuts add a nice buttery crunch but roasted pistachios would also make a nice alternative. Non goat cheese fans can substitute feta or just omit the cheese and let the vivid colors stand on their own.

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BEET AND CITRUS SALAD WITH GOAT CHEESE

1 bunch red beets(3 large or 4 small)
1 bunch golden beets (3 large or 4 small)
1 orange
2 blood oranges (if available, or substitute any other citrus)
1 pink grapefruit
3 oz goat cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup micro greens (optional)

Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp honey, agave nector or sugar (scant teaspoon or to taste)
1/3 cup olive oil

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  • Cut beet greens from beets leaving a half inch of stem remaining.  Do not cut into the beets.  Rinse, dry and place beets on a square of aluminum foil.  Drizzle with olive oil and close the foil so no steam will escape.

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  • Bake at 375 degrees for about an hour or until they are easy to pierce with a fork.

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  • Let cool.  Using a papertowel, peel the skins from the beets and pinch or cut the beet tops to remove.

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  • Cut the top and bottom off of the orange and the blood oranges, then cut  downward to remove the peel and pith and work your way around the fruit.

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  •  Slice into rings

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  • Repeat the process with the grapefruit, except that once the peel and pith are removed, use your knife to separate the tough membrane from the segments.  For my wordsmith friends, these membrane free sections are called ‘supremes’ and they are worth the extra work.

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  • Dry toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet until golden brown and aromatic, several minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.

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  • Slice the beets into rounds and place on a serving dish.  Top with citrus and micro greens.

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  • Sprinkle with goat cheese and pine nuts

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  • Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together and drizzle over beet and citrus.

Beet and Citrus Salad with Goat Cheese and Pine Nuts

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 bunch red beets(3 large or 4 small)
1 bunch golden beets (3 large or 4 small)
1 orange
2 blood oranges (if available, or substitute any other citrus)
1 pink grapefruit
3 oz goat cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup micro greens (optional)

Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp honey, agave nector or sugar (scant teaspoon or to taste)
1/3 cup olive oil

  • Cut beet greens from beets leaving an inch remaining.  Do not cut into the beets.  Rinse, dry and place beets on a square of aluminum foil.  Drizzle with olive oil and close the foil so no steam will escape.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for about an hour or until they are easy to pierce with a fork.
  • Let cool.  Using a papertowel, peel the skins from the beets and pinch or cut the beet tops to remove.
  • Cut the top and bottom off of the orange and the blood oranges, then cut  downward to remove the peel and pith and work your way around the fruit.  Then cut into rings
  • Repeat the process with the grapefruit, except that once the peel and pith are removed, use your knife to separate the tough membrane from the segments.
  • Dry toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet until golden brown and aromatic, several minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.
  • Slice the beets into rounds and place on a serving dish
  • Top with citrus
  • Sprinkle with micro greens, goat cheese and pine nuts
  • Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together and drizzle over beet and citrus.

Meatless Monday – Black and Wild Rice Salad with Roasted Squash and Pomegranate (Re-Do)

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Black Rice Dish

Pomegranates are back!  I have been waiting for pomegranates to come back into season just so I can make this dish again. People often ask for recommendations.  Here it is people –    one of my top five favorite dishes so far!  This is a Wow! dish. The photo does not do it justice. It’s proof though that I’m a little better with my camera than I was back then.  Goodmotherdiet was only 2 months old.  Just a baby! I can remember feeling it was a major accomplishment just to get a photo onto the blog. But I digress… Black and wild rice, roasted squash, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate and microgreens, all topped with a yummy honey vinaigrette, just in time for Thanksgiving!  I have made this dish out of season with dried cranberries or cherries with good results but nothing compares to the zing and pop that you only get from pomegranate seeds.

A weekend filled with fabulous parties and friends was great fun but it means that I spent little time in my kitchen.  I have been working my way through my old posts though and reformatting them so the recipes can be printed onto one page instead of many. (Thanks Barbara and Jane for the suggestion!) So in case you missed Black and Wild Rice the first time, here it is again.  You won’t be sorry! I have already bought my pomegranate and I am definitely making this soon, although not tonight since it’s hubby’s 55th and we’re going to celebrate in “The City”.  The party continues… Happy Birthday Jeff!

PS:  If anyone makes this, please send me a photo.  It will definitely be better than mine…

 

 

CLICK HERE FOR THE RECIPE