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

Lightly-Spiced Almond Milk

March 16, 2012 § 3 Comments

About a month ago, I came across this video by Sarah Britton, blogger of one of my top three favs: My New Roots.  Since then, I’ve watched this little flic nine more times.  I’ve graduated from a noodle strainer to a cheesecloth to a fine mesh “nut milk” bag.  I’ve drunk a few gallons of nut milks.

Why go to the trouble?  Certainly, there are plenty of health benefits: Nuts are spankin’ healthy. Also, in most packaged almond, rice, oat, hemp and some soy milks there are added ingredients like carrageenan, a thickener (seaweed derivative) that can be rough on sensitive tummies and may have longer-lasting detriments.

These are good reasons to buy a few cups of raw nuts and dust off the blender. But I like making nut milk for two other reasons (the purported health benefits being a mere kick in the pants).  First, making this drink makes me feel delightfully resourceful.  Second, you can make oodles of variations.  I spice each batch differently, depending on my mood.  For instance, if I want a sweet nut milk, I’ll add medjool dates (soaked in water for a half hour to soften) or a tablespoon of honey to the blender.  If I want a plain milk, I won’t add any spices; it’s still creamy, the flavor is more subtle.  Below, I’ve put my favorite combo of late.  I use the leftover nut “pulp” to make cookies like these. I nibble on one or two for an afternoon snack with a cold glass of almond milk.

Ingredients:
1 cup raw almonds
8 medjool dates, pitted
water
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
1/2 teaspoon vanilla, optional

Equipment:
fine mesh bag
blender
air-tight jars for storage

Method:

1. Pour raw almonds into a large glass bowl and cover with water.  Soak for a minimum of 8 hours, up to a day.  A half hour before blending, add dates to soften.  Drain almonds and dates and place in a blender with 4 cups of water and spices, if using.  Blend.

2. Place a fine mesh bag or cheesecloth in a pitcher.  Drain and squeeze the almond pulp.  Reserve pulp for a fun recipe.  Pour almond milk in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Diet Notes: SCD-safe, vegan, 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

Thyme-Spiced Almonds, with a kick

February 26, 2012 § 3 Comments

A third of this batch has disappeared in the last 48 minutes.  There are only two of us in the house.  In my dad’s words, “These are the best [crunch] spiced [crunch] nut-things [crunch] I’ve ever had [crunch, crunch]!”

If you have a hankering for spicy food, up the amount of red pepper flakes and pepper.  Just don’t skimp on the fresh thyme.

Ingredients:
3 cups almonds, raw
1.5 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup thyme, fresh
2 tablespoons Mexican oregano, dried
1 teaspoon dried garlic flakes
1/2+ teaspoon sea salt
10 cracks pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees on convection.  In a large bowl, toss almonds with honey and olive oil.  In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and toss until thoroughly coated.  Line a sheet pan with a Silpat mat or grease thoroughly.  Bake for 18 minutes, stirring half way through.  Cool completely before packaging.

Diet Notes: Gluten-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

Preserving Winter’s Bounty: Spicy Arugula Pesto

February 5, 2012 § 1 Comment

I tend to be overzealous about a number of things (ie. an empty email inbox, books (of non-electronic varieties), election cycles, coffee, citrus and cocoa powder, to name a few).  Last week, after gabbing with farmer friends and ogling over the bounty of winter grub, I came home with four, enormous cloth bags of spicy winter greens.  I can’t help myself.

With only two, lonely cubes of garden, basil pesto in the freezer (and wanting to save those for a rainy day), I decided to do a riff off of traditional pesto and use spicy greens for the leafy base instead.  After a few trails, this recipe is my favorite.  (A close second had a few squeezes of meyer lemon blended in at the end.)

Ingredients:
4 cups arugula (packed)
1 clove garlic, large
3 tablespoons olive oil  (plus additional, if desired)
1/2 cup asagio cheese, grated
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted

Method:
Pulse arugula, garlic, walnuts and cheese in a food processor.  Slowly add olive oil and blend to desired consistency.  Freezes and thaws well.

Diet Notes: SCD-safe, gluten-free

Cilantro-flecked Chickpea-Quinoa Balls with Tahini-Citrus Dressing

January 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

When I set forth to make this wrap, I combined a hodgepodge of recipes and aimed to make a falafel-like ball with crunch and Mediterranean flavor.  Instead of relying on dried coriander and cumin to amp up the taste, I wanted to use garden-fresh cilantro and scallion.  I wanted to see what would happen when I incorporated a whole grain into the mix (quinoa) and fresh vegetables (spinach) for nutrients and eye-popping color.

Before supper one night, I happened upon Green Kitchen Stories saffron-falafel recipe.  I liked their idea of using flappy cabbage leaves as a wrap (a pita would be good, too) and tahini as the base for a bright dressing.  I experimented with a few simple four-ingredient tahini dressings. The one below was my favorite.

Ingredients for the Chickpea-Quinoa Balls:
1 cup quinoa, cooked
2 cups garbanzo beans, cooked
2 cups spinach, fresh
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 cup scallion
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon flax meal
4 tablespoons brown rice flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1-2 tablespoons water (if necessary to thin)

Method:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees on convection (or 400, standard).  In a food processor, combine all ingredients and pulse until pureed.  The mixture should be sticky, but not so sticky that it doesn’t hold a form or stay together.  (In the event that there is too much liquid, add extra brown rice flour, a little bit at a time.  If too dry, add water a tablespoon at a time.)  Scoop into balls, uniform in size, and bake for 20 minutes.  Flip over and bake an additional 15 minutes.

Tahini Sauce
1/4 cup tahini
2 tablespoons grapefruit juice
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
generous pinch sea salt, pepper
2 tablespoons water, to thin

Method:
Whisk together and drizzle on top of wrap.

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