Category Archives: veggies

Asparagus Potato Salad

It’s springtime and local asparagus is back in stores and at the farmers’ markets. Here’s an easy recipe for potato salad that includes delicious, fresh asparagus. I like this vinaigrette based version better than mayo for letting the flavor of the asparagus shine through. By following the method in the recipe (letting the onions marinate in the vinaigrette, then adding the hot potatoes) the onions are “cooked” to make them milder than raw onions added at the end would be.

This recipe is extremely adaptable. If asparagus is out of season, you can use blanched green beans, snap peas or any other green vegetable that you like. Or you can skip the green vegetable all together and add chopped olives and capers. You could also substitute thinly sliced fennel for the onions. A garnish of chopped boiled egg or bacon crumbled on top would also be nice

ASPARAGUS POTATO SALAD

Ingredients:

½    pound             Asparagus
1      pound              Yukon Gold Potatoes–small
2      tspns               Dijon Mustard
1      tspn                 Salt
¼    tspn                Black Pepper
2     Tblspns           Sherry Vinegar
6     Tblspns          Olive Oil
½    medium        Yellow Onion—julienne
¼    cup                 Parsley, Chives or Dill—chopped (optional)

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• Cook asparagus by your preferred method—steamed, broiled or grilled. Just be sure not to overcook it. Cut into 1” lengths.

• Scrub potatoes and cut into ½” pieces. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Add 2 Tblspns salt. Bring to a gentle boil and cook until just cooked through—about 15 minutes. Drain.
• Meanwhile, make vinaigrette in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together mustard, salt, pepper and vinegar until combined. Continue to whisk while drizzling in oil. Stir in onions to thoroughly combine.
• While potatoes are still warm, mix with dressing and onions. Gently stir every 10 minutes or so until cooled to room temperature.
• Stir in asparagus and herbs.

 

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Continuing to Dress Better

As promised, a follow up to my last post about DIY salad dressings. In the midst of winter, flavorful tomatoes are in short supply. Sun-dried tomatoes are a good way to bring tomato flavor into the depths of winter.

Here’s a creamy, flavorful dressing that goes beyond the basic vinaigrette, but is still quick and easy to make.

SUN-DRIED TOMATO FETA DRESSING
(makes 2 cups)

Equipment:
• Immersion (or “stick”) blender, food processor or blender.

Ingredients:IMG_5444
4 each Sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil)
2 cloves Garlic – roughly chopped
1 small Shallot – roughly chopped
2 Tblspns Capers (optional)
⅓ cup Water
¼ cup Basil Leaves
1 Tblspn Maple Syrup or Brown Sugar
1/3 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
½ tspn Black Pepper
4 oz. Feta Cheese
2/3 cup Olive Oil

IMG_5457• Soak tomatoes in hot water for 15-20 minutes.
• If using immersion blender, place all ingredients except feta and oil, in a tall, clear cylindrical container or measuring cup. Blend until fairly smooth.
• Crumble feta and add to container.
• With blender running, slowly drizzle in oil.
• If consistency is too thick, blend in water, one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

Other herbs, such as marjoram, dill, parsley or chives may be substituted for basil according to your taste. This dressing works well on a traditional greens-based salad, but its bold flavor also works well when mixed with blanched and chilled green beans, drained and rinsed garbanzo beans and chopped Kalamata olives (as pictured below). You can substitute other green veggies (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers or even kale) for the green beans. And cooked grains (farro, wheat berries, barley) or any other type of canned beans can replace the garbanzos.

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Resolve To Dress Better

If you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to eat more salad, why not go one step further and resolve to make your own salad dressings. It doesn’t take long, the ingredients you need are probably already in your pantry, and the dressings you make from scratch will taste much better than anything you find on the shelves of you local supermarket.

A basic vinaigrette is a great starting point. From there you can add ingredients to suit your tastes or that will complement the other ingredients in your salad. Vinaigrettes are just a combination of acid, fat and flavor in a standard ratio:IMG_5411
-1 part acid (citrus juice, vinegar)
-3 or 4 parts fat (oil)
-flavor (salt, pepper, chopped shallot, garlic, dried or fresh chopped herbs)

If you’d like your vinaigrette to hold together (emulsify) you can add a little dijon mustard or honey. You can also play with the ratio of oil-to-acid based on your personal taste and the boldness of flavor in the acid. If you like your dressing tart, add less oil.

You can whisk together the acid and flavor ingredients in a bowl and then drizzle in the oil while whisking. However, it’s much easier to just put all of your ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake vigorously until well mixed. Added bonus: no clean up!

You can use a high-end extra virgin olive oil in your vinaigrette, but in most cases the vinegar and flavorings will overpower the oil, so a decent mid-priced extra virgin oil with a flavor profile that you like will do just fine.

To balance out the flavor of vinaigrette that seems too strong, add a few drops of water and shake or whisk until incorporated. Keep in mind that extra virgin olive oil may solidify in the refrigerator so you will need to take your vinaigrette out of the fridge an hour or so before you plan to use it and shake to reincorporate the oil.

Here’s a variation on the basic vinaigrette with an Asian twist. Fresh, crisp, raw baby bok choy is a great green for making salads and this dressing works especially well on bok choy. Teriyaki vinaigrette also makes a good marinade for tofu, chicken, fish, beef or pork

TERIYAKI VINAIGRETTE
(makes 1 ¼ cups)

Ingredients:IMG_5421

¼ cup Soy Sauce
2 Tblspns Rice Wine Vinegar
2 Tblspns Orange Juice
1 Tblspn Honey
1 clove Garlic—minced
2 tspns Fresh Ginger—grated (or 1 tspn dried ginger)
½ tspn Hot Sauce
2 tspns Orange or Lime Zest
¾ cup Canola Oil

• Whisk together all ingredients except oil until well combined.
• While whisking, drizzle in oil until blended.
• Alternatively, place all ingredients in a small jar and shake vigorously until combined

I’ll go beyond basic vinaigrette with a couple of blended dressings that will help shake up your winter salad repertoire in my next post.

Fall Colors

IMG_0151I always enter the food doldrums when fall rolls around. You see, I’m really passionate about the flavors and colors of spring and summer. Asparagus, peas, plums, corn, nectarines, blackberries, tomatoes, fava beans…well, you get the idea. I think it’s more the change of season (cooler weather and shorter days) that actually brings me down. Because when you think about it, autumn’s bounty isn’t just about the brown and earthy. There’s a lot of color and flavor right now, too. So bring on the winter squash, the blood oranges, the Brussels sprouts, the persimmons and the apples! And try this bright and tasty recipe for Braised Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage.

(serves 4 as a side dish)

2          tspns                Canola Oil

½         medium           Yellow Onion—thinly sliced

6          cups                Red Cabbage (about 1 small or ¾ of a medium cabbage)

1          tspn                 Salt

½         tspn                 Ground Cardamom (optional)

½         cup                  Sherry or Cider Vinegar

¼         cup                  Maple Syrup

¼         cup                  Dried Cranberries or Cherries (optional)

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  • Heat oil in a medium sized sauce pan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until softened—about 2-3 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cut cabbage into quarters and remove core. Cut into strips about ½” in width and add to the pan. Stir to combine. Cook for 8-10 minutes until cabbage has wilted a little.
  • Add salt, vinegar, syrup and cardamom. If you’re not a fan of cardamom, try ground coriander seed or even a pinch of ground cloves or nutmeg. Just something to perk up the flavors a bit.
  • Lower heat to simmer and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally—about 25 minutes. IMG_0149The longer you can cook this dish, the creamier the cabbage will be.
  • Add cranberries or cherries (or even some grated apple) and cook for 5 more minutes.

Works well as a side for roasted pork or braised short ribs or served over polenta.

Romanesco Broccoli with White Beans

There were no Brussels sprouts at the Aptos Farmers’ Market today, so I had to make do with another favorite veggie: Romanesco broccoli. It’s kind of a cross between broccoli and cauliflower with beautiful, light green spires. Romanesco is milder and less bitter than broccoli and has an almost creamy texture. I thought that texture would blend well with white beans (another one of my favorites). I perked up the flavor a bit with crispy garlic slices and sun-dried tomatoes. This recipe would also work well with those Brussels sprouts I was craving or regular broccoli.

Ingredients:

1 head                   Romanesco Broccoli–cut into florets

4 each                   Sun-Dried Tomatoes

2 Tblspns            Olive Oil

4 cloves              Garlic–thinly sliced

1 can                    White Beans–drained and rinsed

to taste               Salt & Pepper

Soak sun-dried tomatoes in hot water for 20-30 minutes. Drain and julienne. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add Romanesco and return to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes, then drain and run under cold water. Heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat until oil shimmers. Add garlic slices and saute until lightly browned. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add tomatoes to the pan and stir and saute for a minute. Add Romanesco and cook and stir for another 2 minutes. Add beans and season with salt and pepper. Stir and cook for another 2 minutes. Add garlic slices and serve immediately.