Mint, Lemon and Garlic Scape Dressing

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Garlic scapes are the delightful necessity of the garlic plant. In order to transfer energy to storage in the bulb, we humans stop the reproductive process of the plant. The garlic is making seed in the scapes, and if we steal these delicacies, we also benefit from a generous garlic bulb. I only know this because I am the dwarf in the garden, “standing the shoulders of giants!” Some smart grower discovered this manipulation of nature, and now we all benefit! After cutting the scapes, growers let the garlic bulbs bulk up for about two weeks before digging. Once the garlic is out of the garden, I will hang it to cure in the barn for a few weeks, sort by size to keep the biggest for next year’s crop, and begin to the cloves it into my other summer favorite garlic recipe: Chimichurri!

 

Most people who try garlic scapes love them. In terms of texture, they are a solid juicy vegetable that even veggie haters can enjoy. And, yes, they taste like garlic, only more mild in flavor. There is no prick of heat that raw garlic bulbs give off. These can be munched raw, roasted or turned into any variety of pesto or salad dressing without any intense garlic off-putting. It’s unlikely that garlic scapes will function as well as garlic bulbs for a vampire deterrent.

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Since our garden is not only giving generous quantities of garlic scapes but lettuce and mint as well, I decided salad dressing would be the next scape recipe. As you all know by now, I am the jazz musician in the kitchen riffing on this, mixing in a little Doo Wah Diddy and throwing in a little Ella Scat for my final notes. In other words, I will give you the approximations for ingredients and then expect you to build your own composition. The key to salad dressing is the balance between acidity, salt, sweet and oil. You want it to zip and glide to give a full-mouth pleasurable sense. Jazz it up until that is achieved!

Ingredients:

  • 6 garlic scapes
  • 2 large handfuls fresh spearmint leaves – (Idea: add other herbs like dill, fennel, arugula, basil, oregano)
  • 2 lemons zested and juiced
  • 1/2 cup white balsamic (or any white wine or champagne) vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

Directions:

Use a blender. Put all of these ingredients into the blender and zing on high until the dressing begins to look creamy. Taste. Adjust. Enjoy.

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Beet Greens, Herbs and Butter Lettuce Salad

The Table Was Set…

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The Harvest Prepped…

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And An Herbed Beet Greens And Butter Lettuce Salad Was Born!

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If you’re getting a CSA or shopping the farmer’s markets, look for healthy and perky leaves on your beets for a double whammy as beet greens make fabulous salad. They have a wonderful, rich, mellow flavor, and their tender leaf makes for a nice crisp salad chew! I chopped the greens and thinly sliced one beet for a quick salad, but should experiment with the tearing method as the greens may have a better aesthetic that way.

Aesthetics aside, the flavors in this salad were quite complex and enjoyable. One of my weekend menus called for Farm Fresh Spring Rolls that were to include rice noodles, beet greens, butter lettuce, mint, basil, fennel and dill, but I ran into a bit of a materials snafu and had to alter the course. Before I discovered my missing ingredient (forgotten spring roll wraps), I made a spicy sesame ginger dressing which ended up topping the beet greens and spring roll herbs in a wonderful accident. Toasted sesame oil pairs well with the buttery nature of beet greens and the ginger-garlic-spice made for an interesting and delicious surprise flavor.

Here’s an approximate recipe for the dressing. You will want to taste and adjust especially the soy sauce. I don’t like the dressing too salty, so find that I add the aminos slowly.

Spicy Sesame Ginger Garlic Dressing:

  • 1 cup toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. Braggs Liquid Aminos
  • 2 Tbs. honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 inch piece ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried chile flakes

This salad was followed by a simple collard stir fry with ginger and garlic,  spicy tofu and jasmine rice.

After All Was Said And Done…

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Learning to Love Radish Salad

 

Radish Salad with Curry Vinaigrette

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Let the truth be told…radishes have often found their way into my compost bin! Of course, that was a long, long, long time ago when I didn’t know better! Now that I understand how much work goes into vegetable gardening, I wouldn’t dream of gifting them to the kitchen gods quite so often. Even so, I can only eat so much radish. I like them. I like them a lot, but one or two a year seems to be quite enough for me! Well, after they exploded from the garden the other day, I realized I would soon have quite a number of radishes having dutifully companion planted them with my beans and carrots. Not only would the challenge be to create a highly palatable radish dish, but hopefully use the greens as well.

IMG_1405The last few years I have been making quite a lot of fermented veg, so of course, using the radishes in that manner was the first thing that came to mind, but I am the only one in the house who will eat them. Thinking about the fermenting process reminded me of making kimchi – specifically of grating the veg and soaking it in salt water. This is a great trick for removing the “bglahh” from some of our more bitter friends!

I also pondered a dressing that would highlight the earthy nature of the green knowing that those, too, must be included in the salad. It also occurred to me that a long time ago I used to make dressings with dijon mustard, but have forgone that option for my simple oil, vinegar and honey concoctions as of late. And so, this salad was born!

I grated the radish with a bit of carrot, salted the mix for about an hour. Then I rinsed it and squeezed out the excess water. This was added to the finely chopped radish greens, tossed in the dijon curry vinaigrette and topped with toasted almonds. It is quite delicious if I might say so myself!

The next week… I made the version below with white icicle radishes, massaged collard greens, a few leftover red peppers, the same curry dressing and a sprinkling of mustard flowers.

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Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch fresh radishes, grated
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • radish leaves, finely chopped
  • toasted almond slivers
  • kosher salt to sprinkle

Curry Vinaigrette Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 Tbs. rice wine, apple cider or red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 2 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Grate radishes and carrots. Sprinkle the grated veggies with kosher salt, mix together and let sit for an hour.
  2. Finely chop the radish leaves, cover and refrigerate.
  3. Mix all ingredients for vinaigrette. Taste and adjust as needed – some like more salt, more vinegar, more oil, more sweet.
  4. Once the salt has pulled much of the water from the veggies, rinse under cold water in a colander then squeeze extra water out.
  5. Toss greens, grated veggies and vinaigrette. Top with almonds right before serving. This salad can marinate in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

May is Salad Month! Aparagus Salad with Basil Honey Vinaigrette

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Did you know that today is not only Cinco de Mayo, but it is also Cartoonist Day, Childhood Stroke Awareness Day, Oyster Day and Chocolate Custard Day? Tomorrow is National Crepe Suzette Day, Nurse’s Day, No Diet Day and No Homework Day! If you were wondering why everyone went around with Princess Leia earmuff buns yesterday, it’s because it was Intergalactic Star Wars Day! This is really important stuff to know. With the lists at http://www.checkiday.com/ I will finally have a purpose, a focus and a guiding light for each day of my life!

Salad month for me is actually SALAD YEAR. I eat salad everyday. Sometimes my salad is interesting, but often it’s just a handful or two or the various greens from the fridge topped with nuts, fruit and other veggies. One thing is it is always delicious.

We have nothing green yet in Minnesota, but thank goodness for spring in nearby places – eh hum – California and Mexico. If I were posting locally grown fare today, I’d have to serve last year’s applesauce, canned tomatoes or frozen pesto. Longing for green and fresh, I opted for the spring flavors of asparagus and mint. This is a light and fresh salad with a surprise layer of flavors. Perhaps I’ll use the Salad Month idea to inspire more interesting salads!

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 head read leaf lettuce
  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus, steamed
  • 1 handful mint leaves, thinly chopped
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 Tbs. chopped white onion

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 10-12 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 Tbs. white wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbs. honey
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Chop and steam the asparagus for 2 minutes. It should be bright green and crisp. Chop the lettuce, mint, red peppers and onion. Mix the mint with the lettuce in a serving bowl. Top with the peppers, asparagus and onion.

Mix all ingredients for dressing in a blender until well mixed. I always taste to see if it needs more salt, oil or vinegar.

Sweet and Sour Slaw with Wilted Kale

I’ve really been moving towards simple lately; cleaning out the basement, organizing cabinets, and sending excess stuff off to the thrift store. It’s such a liberating feeling for me to see a basement storage shelf empty, old things out with no new to replace, and clean uncluttered lines as I look around the house.

The same goes for my food. I love the surprise of layered flavors, but lately I’ve wanted to shed a few pounds. To do this I have opted for simple, unadulterated and mostly raw. I figured, it’s so easy to over-eat when food is rich and delicious, so I thought if I keep my food simple, I won’t be overly preoccupied with it. I’m trying to cut my addiction to a high calorie and high-carb diet by changing my thinking and simply focusing less on food. To get my mind off food, I’ve lowered my carb intake to about 30 percent of my daily calories. I’m staying away from grains and sugars, and am eating mostly salads and beans. I’m also eating most of my calories in the early part of the day and staying away from food after four in the afternoon. I think summer and having the CSA veggies has made this really easy to do.

Basically what this means, is I am doing lots of veg prep and very little cooking. I’m spending little time in the kitchen or dining room, and having very few dinner parties. I’m doing everything I can to stop thinking about food so much – have you noticed?

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch kale, deveined and chopped
  • 1/2 head red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 2 Tbs. agave nectar
  • salt

Directions:

Saute the kale in a large skillet in just a bit of olive oil. Lower the heat, cover and let it steam for a few minutes until bright green and tender.

Mix the red cabbage, kale, lemon juice, olive oil, agave and salt in a large bowl. Allow the salad to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour.

Mint Mock Duck Soba Salad

When husbands complete chores on the “Honey Do List,” it’s so satisfying to thank them with their favorite foods. In preparation for a backyard pizza oven, we are also working to reshape the backyard gardens, but the ground had become so hard-packed, it was very difficult for me to dig. I needed the leverage of the big guy, and so with his help got the garden reshaped, dug, double dug and implemented with peat moss this morning all before 8:00! After I divided and rearranged all the plants, and got the whole thing mulched, I enjoyed the new view out the kitchen window while chopping and prepping one of Jeff’s favorite salads.

This salad comes from Pho 79 – a little Vietnamese noodle place on “Eat Street” in Minneapolis. There they serve “Bun,” a rice noodle romaine salad with mint and mock duck with an eggroll on top, and the whole thing gets covered in a light spring roll sauce. I can’t remember if they also serve crushed peanuts on top, but I think I will try that with this one.

Since I am working with CSA vegetables, today’s salad not only has romaine, but also includes a red leaf, napa and grated turnips. I think as long as you have the nice crunchy romaine, any other greens could be added. My prefered Japanese Soba noodle replaces white rice noodles most often as I like the added health benefits as well as the saltier taste and lighter texture.

Salad:

  • romaine lettuce, chopped
  • napa cabbage, chopped
  • red leaf lettuce, chopped
  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • 4 turnips, peeled and grated
  • 2 cans mock duck, sliced
  • soba noodles, cooked (about 4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts (optional)

Prep all the veggies and arrange in a large bowl. Mix the soba noodles in a separate bowl with a little of the dressing to keep them from sticking together. Top the salad with noodles and chopped peanuts.

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. sesame oil
  • 1 inch chunk ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbs. chopped lemongrass
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. hot pepper flakes

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the ginger and garlic are finely minced. Drizzle over salad right before serving.

Brown Rice Quinoa Salad

Quinoa is a new grain for me. I’ve used it a few times, but it has not found its way into my fall-back vernacular. I have to force myself to think about things that aren’t in my normal repertoire, and I am sure glad I thought to play around with this little nugget of goodness. This stuff is a major yoga workout for the mouth. The spoon makes a delivery and the tongue and teeth get a good workout chasing down each little curlique and chewy ball. I can imagine texture people would not want to bother with this one, but I find it quite a lovely little pose. Quinoa eating could become the new workout craze to replace facial plastic surgery. I find it’s particularly helpful in tightening up the neck muscles! Don’t be a slacker through the routine, however or you’ll end up with bits between the teeth!

The wonderful thing about this dish is the lemony queen and mint the king. It’ll deliver a flavorful workout and leave you wanting more!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups black quinoa, cooked
  • 2 cups brown rice, cooked
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 2 tsp. lemon grass, chopped
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 inch chunk fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Cook the two cups of quinoa in three cups water with a pinch of salt. Cook the rice the same way. Once the rice and quinoa are cooked, fluff with a fork and mix together. Allow to cool before you add the remaining ingredients. In a food processor, chop the mint, basil, ginger, garlic, jalapeno, and lemon grass. Mix into the rice and quinoa. Last add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well and let the flavors mingle for a couple of hours before serving.

Ensalad Petite Bouquet

It’s been awhile since I’ve heard screeches and yelps coming from my crisper drawer, but this morning a perky bunch of leaf lettuce sang delightedly and asked to be rolled up with fresh veggies like a little petite bouquet. Or perhaps a nosegay in honor of prom? After cutting the bottom off the leaf lettuce and washing it in the colander, I saw that each lovely piece could be rolled and somehow tied. Fortunately Kate was here to save the day. I was about to send Jeff to the co-op for leeks which I knew would work well to tie the bundle, when Kate suggested I use flat peels of carrot. The carrot added a splash of color, and when speared diagonally with a toothpick, held the salad bouquets together nicely.

Another reason I chose to venture into the realm of salad rolls is that the Lemon Walnut Dressing I made for the salad came out very thick and spreadable. I knew it would hold up well as a salad slather for this project as it had little liquid to cause the greens to break down and would allow me to make the rolls ahead of time.

One head of leaf lettuce will probably have enough leaves for ten to twelve rolls.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head leaf lettuce
  • 1/2 English cucumber thinly slice
  • 1 orange or red pepper, thinly sliced
  • jicama sticks, thinly sliced
  • Lemon Walnut Dressing
  • 1 carrot peeled into long, flat ribbons

Directions:

Wash the leaf lettuce and allow it to thoroughly dry in a colander. Prep the veggies and make the dressing.

To assemble the rolls spread the dressing on the leaf and fill with two or three slices of each veggie. Roll up the lettuce and wrap the carrot peel tightly around the middle. Spear the end of the carrot peel at a diagonal from the top of the bouquet to the bottom so it does not poke through the opposite side.

Lemon Walnut Dressing

The inspiration for this came to me from the most recent issue of Food and Wine. Of course I changed the recipe a bit and left it in the food processor too long, but it worked out great for the Salad Petite Bouquet concept I had. It would be a great bottom-of-the-plate dressing for a roasted vegetable salad, or a wonderful dip for a crudite platter. The fresh lemon gives it a nice kick and the walnuts, a rich satisfying texture.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1 small shallot, quartered and roasted
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

The walnuts can be toasted in a 425 degree oven for about ten minutes, or over a flame in a dry pan. Either way, you want to make sure to move the walnuts around a little so they don’t burn or they will become bitter. Once they are toasted, let them cool on the counter for awhile.

If you choose to toast the walnuts in the over, throw the shallot into a shallow baking dish to roast until it begins to brown on the edges. Let the shallot cool as well.

Once the walnuts and shallots have cooled, pulse all the ingredients together in a food processor and add salt and pepper to taste. I used perhaps 1/4 tsp. of salt, but you may prefer more or less.

Tofu Vegetable Salad

Today for dinner with friends, I am in charge of bringing a cold dish. I have no idea what else will be served, so I am kind of going out on a limb here with this Asian flavored tofu salad. Not feeling particularly inclined to grocery shop, I went to the fridge to see what was on hand and found an abundant supply of cucumbers, broccoli, tofu and a few snap peas. Next I went straight to Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks salad section and found her Miso Vegetables and Tofu idea from a few weeks ago. Using what was available in my pantry without a trip to the co-op, this is what I came up with.

Dressing:

  • 1 Tbs. red miso
  • 1 Tbs. sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 tsp. chopped ginger
  • 2 Tbs. Brown Rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce

Oven Browned Tofu:

  • 1 pound super firm tofu cut into cubes
  • sesame oil
  • salt
  • hot pepper flakes

Toss the cubed tofu in the oil and spices and bake in a single layer at 450 degrees for 30 minutes. You will want to flip the tofu cubes once while baking.

Veggies:

  • Cut broccoli, to bite size pieces and steam until just tender. You can use any combination of veggies you like, but steam each vegetable type separately as some cook more quickly than others. I started with the broccoli which needed a few more minutes in the steamer than the snap peas. Once the veggies are just tender and bright green, run under cold water to stop the cooking process.

Toss all the ingredient together, decorate the plate with sliced cucumbers and chill.

Roasted Red Potatoes, Cauliflower and Green Bean Salad

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This potato salad is hearty, yet feels light and fresh with a lime and fresh basil vinaigrette. Foxtail Farm CSA vegetables included: red potatoes, green beans, cauliflower, garlic, basil, and red onions.

Roasted Red Potatoes, Cauliflower and Green Bean Salad Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds red potatoes, diced
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1 pound green beans, cut into one-inch pieces
  • olive oil to coat vegetables
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

Vinaigrette:

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 limes juiced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil

Directions:

Clean and prep the vegetables. The potatoes will be roasted on a separate cookie sheet from the cauliflower and green beans as they take a bit longer. Mix the diced potatoes with a little oil to coat and salt and pepper. Then turn them out onto a baking sheet and roast at 450 degrees until they are browned on the top. Do the same with the cauliflower and green beans – toss them in a bit of oil, salt and pepper and then spread onto a baking sheet. The potatoes will take about 45 minutes to roast and the green beans and cauliflower will take about 20 to 30 minutes. I didn’t keep track of my time, so just keep an eye on them.

Once the veggies are roasted, take them out of the oven and let them cool. Meanwhile, mix the vinaigrette using a food processor. Pulse the garlic, basil, lime juice, Dijon, salt, pepper and oil. When the vegetables have cooled, mix the vinaigrette and onions into them and serve.

Candy Cane Beets and Toasted Almond Salad

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Here’s a simple and hearty Fall dish both beautiful and tasty. I roasted the beets yesterday when I made the rigatoni, so whipping up this little salad was a breeze today. Buy beets and throw them in the oven whenever you get a chance. They are so delicious.

Candy Cane Beets and Toasted Almond Salad Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 large beets, whole roasted 40 minutes
  • 1 handful cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp. raspberry balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup whole almonds, dry toasted

Directions:

Brush the bottom of a baking pan with a little olive oil. Trim the leaves and roots from the beets, wash and place in roasting pan. At 400 degrees it takes about 30-40 minutes depending on the size of the beets. After the beets cool, peel and dice. Dry toast the almonds until they begin to brown. Turn them out onto a plate to cool. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. So easy – so delicious!

Roasted Pineapple and Black Bean Salad

Roasted Pineapple and Black Bean Salad

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Beans may very well be at the center of many people’s food psychosis. Often bean consumption can cause anti-social behavior, anger management issues, or even severe emotional response to deep-seated traumatic childhood bean experiences. Many people refuse to eat beans for fear of gas while others refuse to eat beans because they are a pain to make. Every time I make beans I have to work through the trauma of the day the lid blew! Growing up, my mom used the pressure cooker method to prepare beans, and I remember avoiding being indoors while the beans softened under extreme pressure. I always feared the pot. The pot that looked somehow militaristic with its’ gauges and locks and submarine-looking lid – the pot that induced talk about whether there would be an explosion or not. These were scary images and ideas for a little girl and I’m surprised not to have permanent psychological scars.

Even though I was traumatized, it ended up being the pot that caused the fear for me and not the beans, so I have spent much of my adult life fine-tuning the cooking of the bean without using the pressure of a militaristic submarine. There are a couple of tricks I have discovered. You know how on the bag of beans they tell you to wash them? Well, not only does this remove little bits of dirt, but washing them helps eliminate some of the gas inducing enzymes. Wash away your fears!

How you wash a bean is important, too. I use a colander and the cooking pot. I put the beans in the pot and cover them with water. Then I swirl them around with my fingers to break up little clumps of dirt and force any spoiled beans to float to the top. I remove the damaged legumes and then dump the good beans into the colander. I repeat this process two or three times until I am sure the beans are clean. Check under the colander for dirt or debris. Then I cover the beans with water and bring to a boil. I usually let them cook for about ten minutes and again drain the water, bathe and rinse. This wash is to help eliminate gas. Finally, I fill the pot again and let the beans cook until they are done – here they get a final wash and rinse.

By now I’m sure you have discovered my other trick to cooking beans: cook in large volume! Cooking beans is a time-consuming process, so I never make a paltry little pound. I usually cook four pounds in a large stock pot, and once I complete the final wash, I divide the beans into freezer containers and have many easy meals to come! It’s worth it. If you go through this process, you will not only avoid the gas found in canned beans, but you will also save money as dry beans are very inexpensive. Once new healthier habits and behaviors are formed, you will forget you ever had a bean psychosis!

Now on to the salad.

Ingredients:

1/2 fresh pineapple cored and diced

4-6 cups black beans

1 red pepper diced

2 cups corn cut from cob

5 scallions thinly sliced

1 bunch cilantro chopped

4 cloves garlic minced

2 hot peppers minced

1 tsp. salt

2 limes juiced

3 Tbs. olive oil

Directions:

Dice and slice the red pepper, scallions and pineapple. Place the pineapple on an oiled cookie sheet under the broiler. Let the pineapple brown on one side, turn it and let the chunks brown on the other side. Meanwhile, start a pot of water on the stove to boil the corn. Once the water is rapidly boiling put the cobs in and time it – two minutes is all they need. Remove the cobs and run under cold water to cool. Slice kernels from the cob. Mix beans, corn, peppers, scallions and pineapple together in a bowl. Next, mince the garlic, cilantro and hot peppers in a food processor and add to the salad. The salt, lime juice and olive oil can be added directly to the salad and mixed well. I like this salad to have at least an hour to marinate and bring all the flavors together.