Dilly Lentils with Citrus Dressing & Ricotta Salata

April 29, 2012 § 2 Comments

In college, I had an across-the-hall-chum who was borderline obsessed with lentils.  She piled them on top of mammoth salads and claimed they were nature’s most perfect food.  When she’d go up for seconds, I’d roll my eyes and crunch through another bowl of frosted mini wheats.  Suffice it to say, I found these little legumes entirely underwhelming.

Fast-forward to 2012: In a turn-of-the-new-year cleaning frenzy, I began sorting through the pantry dregs.  I found a couple of gems: unsweetened Scharffen Berger chocolate; a quart of dried, Mexican oregano!  I also found hoards of lentils in little baggies, nicely twisty-tied.  (Several years ago I tried to perfect a lentil soup recipe; clearly, I didn’t get very far.) After a day of lentil pondering, I decided it was time for two recipe experiments: I set out to make a savory lentil burger and a springtime lentil salad.  As I type, Trial Two of the lentil burger is in the oven.  As for the salad, after four different trials, this Mediterranean bowl — punctuated with a little dill, citrus, scallion, garlic, winter greens — is down-right wonderful.  Just be sure to season it as you go; salt is key!  And the silver lining, you can make a huge batch and freeze it.  It thaws perfectly.

Ingredients for the Lentils:
2 cups lentils, raw*
olive oil
1 large white onion, thinly sliced
1.5 cups purple cabbage, shredded
2 cups winter greens (kale/collard greens/brassica leaves/etc.)
8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
sea salt, to taste
dressing (see below)
1/3 cup scallion, sliced on diagonal
3/4 cup ricotta salata grated (or feta) **
1/2 cup dill

*If following the SCD-diet, soak lentils 24 hours prior to cooking and rinse well.
**If following the SCD-diet, use a hard cheese like Parmesan.

Ingredients for the Dressing:
4 tablespoons meyer lemon juice
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar*
3-4 tablespoons fruity olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dill, chopped
3/4 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
sea salt, pepper

*If following a strict SCD diet, swap balsamic vinegar with apple cider vinegar.

Method:

1. In a large pot, boil lentils until al dente.  Drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a wide-brimmed pan, saute onion in a little olive oil. Salt and saute until translucent (about 5 minutes).  Add cabbage and saute an additional few minutes, until slightly softened.  Add garlic and winter greens and stir until wilted.  Remove from heat.

3.  Prepare dressing; whisk and set aside.  In a large serving bowl, combine lentils, sauted mixture and dressing.  Taste and add dressing and salt as needed.  Top with scallion, dill and cheese.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free, nut-free, SCD-safe (see asterisks)

Winter Herb & Greens Salad, with a little sweet & crunch

March 24, 2012 § 1 Comment

It’ll be nearly 90 degrees in Tucson today.  With the advent of the near-double digits, the end of March calls for tank tops, margaritas and the last of the winter greens, herbs and recently-harvested pecans and dates.  I’ve made this salad six times in the last two weeks — for potlucks, for the fam and just for me.  My friend James is a big fan of the dates.  My mom says the feta takes the cake.  (A sidenote: My dad likes this salad best when I tuck a few pieces of south-of-the-border avocado in between the leaves.)

The dressing is my favorite part, so I’ve put a “sketch” of my method, below.  I unceremoniously shake all the ingredients together in a ball jar to emulsify and then taste-test using lettuce leaves, often adding a bit of additional acid (citrus/vinegar), salt or honey.

Ingredients for the Salad:
10 cups winter greens
1 cup fresh herbs (dill, basil, parsley, cilantro)
1/2 cup scallion, chopped
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
3/4 cup dates, chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Ingredients for the Dressing:
juice of a few citrus fruits (grapefruit, orange, lemon, lime)
a few glugs of white balsamic vinegar (apple cider vinegar is good, too)
hefty pinch of salt
10 cracks of pepper
a dab of dijon mustard
a long drizzle of honey
a few cloves of garlic, minced
stream of olive oil, to taste

Method for the Salad: Layer greens and herbs at the bottom of a large serving bowl.  Top with scallion, pecans, dates and feta.  Dress just before serving.

Method for the Dressing: Combine all ingredients in a glass jar and shake until thoroughly incorporated and emulsified.  Taste and adjust seasonings/acid/oil as needed.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free

MAKE THIS PRONTO: Tangy Cabbage, Avocado & Basil Slaw

March 10, 2012 § 4 Comments

My mom claims that this salad is how I’m going to make my first million.  (Bless her.)  This slaw is creamy, crunchy, tangy and a little sweet from the basil and avocado.  I’ve made multiple batches of it this week so that at any time of day, a forkful is mere seconds away.  That’s right: even the slaw leftovers are good (not gloppy).  Give it a try.  I’ve never been so emphatic about a brassica recipe in my life.  In fact, it actually takes the cake — literally. I ate a second helping of this cabbage salad instead of a chocolate coconut muffin, hot outta the oven.  (Recipe coming.)  Now that’s sayin’ something.

Ingredients:
6 cups cabbage, shredded
2 avocados, sliced
1/2 cup basil, ripped
1/2 cup scallions, chopped
salt

1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup plain kefir (or tangy, sharp yogurt)
2-3 tablespoons lime juice
1 large clove garlic, minced
salt, to taste

Method:

1. Cut cabbage into thin strips.  Place in a large bowl and salt lightly.  Toss and set aside.

2.  In a separate bowl, prepare the dressing.  Whisk until thoroughly incorporated.  Taste and adjust lime juice and salt as needed.

3. Chop scallions and rip basil.  Toss with cabbage.  Slice avocados and dunk in the dressing (to prevent browning).  Drizzle dressing and avocados over cabbage.  Toss carefully until cabbage is coated.  Eat immediately or chill until serving.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free, nut-free, SCD-safe

Balsamic and Ginger Cabbage with Dried Cherries

February 11, 2012 § 2 Comments

While farms (and farm stands) bring us crunchy winter delights like cabbage and sweet apples, I wanted to share my early February lunchbox favorite.  This recipe unites an odd assembly of players — dried cherries and purple cabbage, balsamic vinegar and ginger — but they bring more than the sum of their parts to the table.  This salad is both sweet and savory and it’s hardy enough to stand alone.  While it’s very good at any temperature (I’ve tried ’em all), it’s unequivocally tastiest warm or at room temperature.

Ingredients:
1/2 red onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ginger, minced (or more, to taste)
3 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt, pepper
4 cups red cabbage, shredded
3-4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup dried cherries (no sugar added)
4 small sweet apples, thinly sliced
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Method:

1.  Shred cabbage and set aside.  In a large, high-rimmed pan, saute onion and olive oil on medium-high heat until wilted (about five minutes).  Add garlic and ginger and season with sea salt and pepper.  Stir until fragrant (an additional minute or two).

2.  Add cabbage and gently toss.  Drizzle balsamic vinegar and cook for 6 minutes, until cabbage has heated through and is al dente.  Meanwhile, slice apples.

3.  Add apples and dried cherries and saute until heated through (but not cooked).  The apples should still have “crunch” and maintain their shape.  Remove pan from heat and fold in feta cheese.  Serve warm.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free, nut-free

Quick Bread & Butter Apple Pickles

November 17, 2011 § 1 Comment

Quick pickles are my go-to recipe when the cucumber crop goes gang-busters.  But it wasn’t until this past fall, when I cooked side-by-side with Cammy at Super Chilly Farm, that I added apples into the vinegar brine.  We made this recipe six times in three weeks and since coming home to Arizona, my mom has kept the crisper drawer stocked with cucumbers.

Two things to note:

(1) Use the very best apple cider vinegar you can find.  If you can, seek out a local apple orchard and buy vinegar in bulk (we buy gallon jugs).  The cost isn’t prohibitive (in fact, it’s often comparable to grocery store prices, or cheaper when purchased in larger quantities); it only requires a bit of extra effort.  While I lived in Maine I tracked down Sewall’s cider vinegar.  I brought home a bottle for my mom who tried it and said it tasted like wine and was the best she’d ever tasted.

(2) At Super Chilly Farm I was fortunate to have a stock pile of heirloom apples at my disposal.  With each batch of pickles, I sliced up different kinds of apples — softer, crisper, sweeter, tarter.  My favorite pickle batch used sweet, only slightly acidic, very crisp crab apple varieties called Chestnut and Pipsqueak.  Close runner-ups were Red St. Lawrence and Garden Royal apples.  (Photographs here.)  I suspect that this recipe would be quite good with the conventional varieties Pink Lady, Fuji, Braeburn or Gala.  Or, if you live in apple country, visit an orchard growing out apples native to your area and try out a couple that strike your fancy.

 Ingredients:
4 medium-sized pickling cucumbers, thinly sliced
4-5 small/medium apples, unpeeled, cored
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 early onions/shallots
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup honey (or more, to taste)
1 cinnamon stick

Method:

1. Prep cucumbers: Cut off ends, discard, and thinly slice with a cabbage shredder, mandolin, food processor or sharp knife.  Place cucumber slices in a colander and toss with sea salt.  Let sit for 20 minutes.  Prep apples and onions using the same slicing utensil—aim for uniform thinness and size.

2. In a small bowl, whisk vinegar, water and honey until full incorporated.  Add cinnamon stick and pour dressing over apples and onions.

3. Rinse cucumbers and lightly dry.  Add slices to bowl with apples and stir well.  Let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Diet Notes: SCD-safe, nut-free, gluten-free

Autumn “Coleslaw” with Dates, Apples and Pecans

October 31, 2011 § 1 Comment

I’ve had a couple days to rewind my September and October in Maine.  My two month stay at Super Chilly Farm — a homestead and genetic bank for apple diversity — served as an indoctrination into the technique, science and delectability of food preservation.  (I’m hooked.) I saved tomato seed and studied biennials.   I pressed grapes and drank cider; I canned tomatoes and made apple pectin.  I also read great big books about apple identification; I’m now somewhat versed in biological lingo like “mucronate” and “emarginate.”  I even helped resurrect an outhouse wall; I used my first power tools!  (Vrroom! Vrroom!)  Puttering around my cozy, Tucson home, I tend to perseverate on my unfettered access to electricity, running water and plumbing.  These conveniences seem somewhat extraordinary to me, and I’m a little embarrassed about my feeble comprehension of their mechanics.

I left Super Chilly Farm with a 50-pound (on the nose!) suitcase, bursting at the zippers with canned salsa, jam, apple molasses and a small bag of heirloom apples–Blue Pearmain, Sweet Sixteen, Black Gillyflower, Grimes Golden and Wagner among them.  Upon arriving at my southwestern doorstep, with no water to pump or chicken eggs to scrub, I felt a little bit stalled, unsure of how to spend my time.  I jump-started this slightly static homecoming by donning my cowboy hat, grabbing a pair of scissors and heading out to the garden.  I clipped basil (for drying) and dehydrated tomatoes, lemon rind, banana, grapes and fruit puree (for fruit leather).  That evening I made this salad; I shredded cabbage and chopped up the Sweet Sixteen and Black Gillyflower into thin matchsticks, giving my family a little taste of Super Chilly, here at home.

When Priya of “muffins on sunday” invited me to post one of my favorite fall recipes on her blog, this one surfaced to the tippy top of my arsenal of tested apple dishes.  If you’re in the mood for a seasonal, sweet and savory salad, please head over to her site for the recipe.  Be sure to scroll down and read her witty and laugh-inducing posts about killer pasta salads, soups, cookies and lip-smacking jams.  Priya recently posted a muffin recipe on my blog and in the last week and a half, I’ve made five batches.  She’s good, you guys… real good.

One final note: If you try out this slaw recipe, I’d love to hear how you liked it and if you have any recommended tweaks.  I’ll share your suggestions with my Super Chilly gang back in Maine; I know they’d love to hear from you.

Diet Notes: SCD-safe, gluten-free

Fiesta Salad: Roasted Tomatoes, Corn and Mango

May 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

The saying goes, “Knee high by the fourth of July,” but blog-o chums, just two hours South of my Saguaro-ville home, corn has grown past the thighs.  Harvest season, in the hotsy-totsy southern parts, has begun.  It occurs to me that unless you live in Arizona, south of the border or in Florida, none of the three star ingredients in this salad (see title) will be seasonal.  But for the smattering (read: four of you?) that live in these parts, I wanted to share a salad I’m smitten with.  I’ve made it two times in three days and I intended to make it again tomorrow, but my third mango was ripe for peeling tonight.

Ingredients:
8 cups leafy greens
2 early onions, chopped (including scallion-like green part)
1 large mango, cut in slivers
2 ears corn, cut from the cob

2 cups cherry tomatoes, preferably heirloom
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

Ingredients for the Dressing — approximations
Juice from one large orange (~ 1/3 cup)
few glugs of white balsamic vinegar (~ 2 tablespoons)
small spoonful dijon mustard (~1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon)
pinch sea salt (at least 1/4 teaspoon)
10 cracks pepper
2 teaspoons maple syrup (real-deal)
1.5-2 tablespoons olive oil

Method:

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Chop tomatoes in half.  Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, chopped garlic and sea salt and pepper.  Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven and stir.  Bake for a remaining 15 minutes until carmalized and slightly browned/blackened around a few edges.

2.  Meanwhile, bring a small pot of salted water to a boil on the stove.  Cut corn kernals from cob.  Boil in salted water for 2 minutes, ridding the kernals of a raw-corn taste.  Blanch in cold water (or rinse thoroughly under cold tap water) and set aside.

3.  Prepare the rest of the salad ingredients.  In a separate bowl, whisk together all ingredients in the salad dressing, save the olive oil.  When thoroughly combined, begin adding in a slow stream of olive oil.  Taste and adjust salt and pepper.

4.  When tomatoes are finished, remove from oven and cool for ten minutes.  Assemble salad.  Toss with dressing just before serving.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free, vegan, nut-free

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