Posts filed under ‘salad’

Lemon-Zucchini Salad

Everything good is in season right now, and I have a barbecue to attend this afternoon. So: Farmers’ market for produce, and a big batch of Lemon Zucchini Salad with Tomatoes and Sweet Corn, a fabulously flavorful – and easy! – summer recipe from Lynne Rosetto Kasper’s always-excellent Splendid Table/Weeknight Kitchen. Think “pasta salad” – only with thinly shaved raw zucchini filling in for the pasta, dressed with lemon, basil and garlicky oil. I got this via email subscription a couple of summers ago, and it never fails to make me – and anyone to whom I feed it – happy.

Lemon Zucchini Salad with Tomatoes and Corn

As Kasper suggests, I added More Stuff: cucumber, Kalamata olives, a little diced red onion. My tomatoes were great big heirlooms, chopped in chunks, and I pan-roasted the sweetcorn till it was browned before adding the garlic, basil and olive oil. For the dressing, I went with a 50-50 Greek yogurt-mayo blend, and another half-lemon’s worth of juice to thin it, with crumbled, herbed feta.

I can hardly wait for the barbecue.

(Am I back to blogging? Maybe … this is the peak time of year for the market, and for my garden … and thus my peak time of year for cooking. And my wonky sense of smell continues to improve, to the point where I can just about cook by taste again. Stay tuned …)

August 3, 2013 at 1:02 pm Leave a comment

Making things up: Menus as inspiration

Seared tuna and watermelon saladOur little farmers’ market is getting more sophisticated by the month. One of the latest, and most welcomed additions: Brandywine Fisheries, a family fishing operation out of Charleston, trucking caught-the-day-before fish inland to satisfy my seafood cravings when I can’t make it to the coast.

Yesterday, they had whole albacore tuna loins for $7 a pound, which is an astonishingly good price. Could I resist? No, I could not.

Ever since my trip to New Orleans last fall, I’ve been day-dreaming about the fabulous meal I had at The Green Goddess – and all the  enticing things on their menu that I didn’t have a chance to try.  One, in particular, keeps coming back to haunt me: a dish of seared tuna and diced watermelon, of all things, called Tumblin’ Dice.  Now, I don’t have access to the more esoteric ingredients – fennel pollen, for instance. But the basic concept, pairing warm, barely cooked tuna with cool watermelon, sounded like a fantastic high-summer meal.

Having acquired the tuna, I hit the supermarket and picked up a small, sweet seedless watermelon. After pondering flavor combinations, I came up with this. Call it a Pacific Rim tribute to a great New Orleans restaurant.

Seared Tuna and Watermelon Salad

(Inspired by The Green Goddess)

Ingredients

  • Fresh (or shipboard-frozen and thawed) tuna loin
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • dried hot chili peppers, crushed (I used two fiery little Thai chiles)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp sesame seeds.
  • Seedless watermelon,  rind removed, cut into cubes*
  • Sea salt
  • Tender greens of your choice (I used baby lettuce and chives from my garden)
  • Pickled sushi ginger
  • Wasabi mayonnaise (mix prepared wasabi into store-bought mayonnaise at a strength that suits your tastes).

Preparation

In a large resealable bag, combine lime juice, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, chiles and black pepper. Add the tuna loin, seal bag and turn several times to coat the fish with the marinade. Marinate in the refrigerator for an hour or more.

When dinner time rolls around, prepare watermelon by cutting it in inch-thick slices, removing rind and cutting the slices into cubes. Place melon cubes in the fridge (or freezer!) while you prepare the fish.

Remove tuna from refrigerator and drain off marinade. Sprinkle sesame seeds in a plate, and roll the tuna loin in the to coat well.

Heat a large, heavy skillet on high until a drop of water sprinkled onto the surface sizzles and dances.

Using tongs, place the tuna in the skillet (you may want to cut it in half to make it fit) and sear each side for about a minute, if you like your fish, as I do, cooked on the outside but pink and rare-to-raw inside. Feel free to cook it longer if you prefer, although it won’t be as luscious.

When fish is cooked to your taste, transfer to a cutting board. Remove melon cubes from freezer and pile on plates. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Cut inch-thick slices off the tuna, and  arrange atop the melon, garnish with greens. Serve *now*, with wasabi mayo and pickled ginger.

Depending on the size of the fish, a whole tuna loin can easily serve 4-6 people. If you wind up with leftovers, as I do, the best bet is to wrap it in foil, pop it in a 350F oven and let it cook through (it should only take 15-20 minutes), then refrigerate. Me, I’m going to be taking fabulous tuna sandwiches and fresh watermelon cubes to work for lunch this week. (-:

Quick links:

July 31, 2011 at 5:41 pm Leave a comment

Of cabbages and …

Color SlawThanks to the recent increase in great local winter produce here, combined with my inability to resist it, I found myself staring at the vegetable bin this weekend and thinking, ” You know, I really need to eat this stuff up before I make another order – or worse, before it goes bad.”

So there I was with a big, beautiful head of purple cabbage, bunches of beets and carrots, and a half-dozen radishes left from the clutch I’d been nibbling at all week. Plus four lovely little boneless Red Wattle pork chops from Heritage Farms Northwest. And a couple of Liberty apples.

Apples, pork and cabbage are naturals together, and a rummage through my recipe collection turned up some traditional German dishes that provided the inspiration for a sweet and sour cabbage with pork that, while delicious, wasn’t terribly photogenic.

That still left me with half a cabbage, and I’ve been craving crunch, so: slaw, with beets and carrots and a fistful of parsley thrown in for vitamins. Talk about color!

My errant sense of smell (and thus taste) is mending, but slowly, so I decided to give all that crunchy color a horseradish kick. The result is absolutely delicious.

Spicy Winter Slaw with Root Vegetables

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 large head red cabbage (or 1 small head), cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 1 medium beet, shredded
  • 6 large  radishes, shredded (that’s a lot of shredding – thank goodness for my Benriner Japanese mandoline!)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley, minced
  • 1/4 cup commercial cole slaw dressing (I like Marie’s)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp prepared hot horseradish (or more, or less, to taste)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method:

In a large, lidded bowl, combine all the vegetables and parsley. Blend remaining ingredients well, pour over vegetables and toss well (or, as I did, close the bowl and shake it for a while). Taste, correct seasoning. Cover and chill for at least a few hours to let the flavors blend. Makes 6-8 servings, depending on how hungry you are and the size of your vegetables.

Sweet-and-Sour Cabbage with Apples and Pork Chops

Ingredients

  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1-2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 head red cabbage, coarsely sliced
  • 2 tart apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 boneless pork chops (do not trim off fat)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cut bacon into 1/2 pieces; in a large skillet, fry over medium heat until most of the fat has rendered off. Drain off all but 1 Tbsp of bacon fat; return skillet to heat and add onions. Saute until onions start to go limp, then stir in the sugar, balsamic vinegar and wine. Add cabbage and apples and stir well to coat. Cover skillet and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, then add water and cook uncovered for another 10-15 minutes, until cabbage begins to soften and a good deal of the liquid has evaporated. Taste to correct the seasoning.

Transfer cabbage mixture to a 9×13 ovenproof baking dish. Add oil to the skillet and turn up the heat. Using oven tongs, hold the pork chops on edge to brown the fat, then lay them down and sear for about 2 minutes per side. Remove from heat.

Lay the pork chops on the bed of cabbage. Place pan in oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until chops reach an internal temperature of 160F (or are just barely pink in the center).  Serve immediately.

Serves four, generously (or in my case, one, four times). Goes great with mashed potatoes.

January 25, 2010 at 9:17 pm 1 comment

In the best of all possible worlds …

Tomatoes, at last I’d be reveling in that brief, magical season when tomatoes, sweet corn and peaches are all ripe, abundant and cheap.

But this isn’t that year, it seems, at least in this part of the Willamette Valley.

The peach crop has been sparse, thanks to bad weather when the trees were in bloom. Some varieties haven’t been seen at the market at all; others are small, buggy or expensive.

Sweet corn is around, but not by the usual truckloads, and not at the usual prices. I’m seeing corn priced at 5 ears for a dollar, double what it was last summer.

And tomatoes? Sloooooooow to ripen, both in back-yard gardens and, evidently, on the farms. The six tomato plants in my own garden, all different heirloom varieties, are loaded with fruit, but only one of them – a Black Plum – has produced any ripe tomatoes yet. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping they’ll ripen in the next couple of weeks, before the rain starts up or the nights get frosty.

But woudn’t you know it: today’s Albany market finally had a great selection of tomatoes, including lots of big, ripe heirloom varieties – and I was in no position to buy, because I’m heading out of town for a nine-day vacation in Seattle. Now’s the time to eat the produce on hand, not stock up on more.

Besides, a friend whose wife has better gardening prowess than I do dropped off a bag of mixed cherry tomatoes last night, and they need to be eaten before I leave town on Monday.

At this time of year I crave tomato sandwiches. Bread, tomatoes, mayonnaise, maybe a little black pepper or a bit of minced basil = heaven. As much as I like a good cherry tomato, you can’t make a decent sandwich from them, because the little suckers keep squirting out from between the slices of bread.

So I settled for the next-best thing: A BLT salad.

I don’t know why you’d need a recipe for this, but here’s one, anyway.

BLT SaladBLT Salad

Per serving:

  • 1 thick slice of slightly stale artisan bread, cut or torn into bite-sized pieces. (I used a some leftover roasted garlic bread from Big River restaurant in Corvallis that a friend had brought to my Labor Day barbecue.)*
  • Olive oil
  • Lettuce, torn in bite-sized pieces*
  • Cherry tomatoes. Small ones can stay whole; if they’re more than a mouthful, slice them in half.*
  • 2 slices of bacon, fried and crumbled*
  • Real mayonnaise. Helman’s/Best Foods is canonical. Make your own if you’re feeling adventurous
  • 3-4 leaves of fresh basil, minced*
  • Black pepper

Toss the bread in a little olive oil. Wrap it in foil and put it in a 350F oven while you cook the bacon (10-15 minutes).

On a plate, layer lettuce, toasted bread, tomatoes and bacon. Top with a spoonful of mayonnaise, scatter basil over the top and finish with a generous grinding of black pepper.

* Locally grown or made ingredients

September 6, 2008 at 7:27 pm 5 comments

Substantial summer salads

Tuscan Bread Salad

Tuscan Bread Salad

Wouldn’t you know it: The mood for salad struck this week, just as the hot spell finally broke and we got some rain? Where were my salad cravings when it was 100 degrees in my kitchen? As wilted as the greens in my refrigerator, I guess.

No matter. The salads I’m interested in this week are more than just greens-and-crunchy-stuff, they’re salad-as-a-meal, complex and flavorful but not the least bit difficult to make. And they use a lot of the same ingredients, but with quite different results. One brings back memories of my daughter-of-a-Southern-mother childhood; the other is a tradition from an entirely different part of the world. They’re both delicious – and they both benefit from an overnight stay in the refrigerator to let the flavors meld.

Tuscan Bread Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 cups hearty bread*, cut or torn into bite-sided cubes. You want bread of substance for this, and you want it a little stale; I used the heel end of a round sourdough loaf I bought at the farmers’ market last weekend; whole-grain bread is also wonderful.
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small cucumber, or a couple of lemon cucumbers*, scrubbed, peeled (if the peel is tough, otherwise don’t bother) and cut in chunks
  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes*, cut in chunks, or several little tomatoes, halved. I used small BlackPlums from my garden
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped*
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp capers (optional)
  • 2-3 Tbsp fresh basil*, coarsely chopped and then rubbed between your hands to release the aromas
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Fresh greens*
  • Pecorino romano cheese

Method:

Preheat oven to 350F. Toss the bread with 1 Tbsp olive oil, lay it out in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, turning once, until the bread is toasty brown and fairly hard. Cool.

In a medium bowl, combine the bread, tomatoes, cucumbers and onion. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, capers and basil. Pour over the bread mixture and toss well to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight to let the bread soak most of the liquid.

Before serving, correct seasoning if necessary. Dress plates with a bed of washed, torn greens, top with a generous portion of bread salad and use a vegetable peeler to shave a few curls of Pecorino romano cheese on top.

Serves two, generously (or one, with plenty left for the next day’s lunch). If you’re the sort of person who insists on protein at every meal, this is also very good with drained albacore tuna mixed in just before serving.

Black-eyed Pea Salad

Roast pork tenderloin with black-eyed pea salad

Black-Eyed Pea Salad with Roast Pork

I know, I know: People who didn’t grow up with black-eyed peas sometimes find them a little off-putting. An ex of mine once sampled my traditional mom’s-recipe New Year’s Eve black-eyed peas, grimaced and muttered, “Tastes like dirt.” I can’t argue with that – but to my mouth, that’s “earthy,” and it’s a great flavor, especially when the beans are cooked from scratch instead of dumped out of a can. Now, normally, I automatically throw a chunk of salt pork or (when I can find it) ham hock in with black-eyed peas. This salad is so flavorful, though, it can do without (vegetarians take note). And while I’m having it as a dinner side dish tonight, I plan to eat it again for lunch tomorrow, all by itself, and quite possibly dinner tomorrow night, too. It’s that good.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups cooked black-eyed peas (or 2 cans, if you must, or an equivalent amount of frozen black-eyed peas.)
  • 2 large tomatoes* (or an equivalent in smaller ones), chopped
  • 1 large cucumber* (or 2-3 lemon cucumbers), peeled if necessary and chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion*, finely chopped
  • A fistful of fresh Italian parsley*, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil*, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme*, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-2 small hot peppers*, seeded and diced (I dipped into my endless supply of little red chiles of unknown provenance, provided by a friend who grows them in vast quantities)
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Method

Cool and drain the cooked beans; if you’re using canned ones, rinse them to get rid of the liquid from the can, which is kind of nasty. If frozen, thaw them in the microwave, rinse and cool.

In a large bowl, combine the beans, tomatoes, cucumber and onions. Add the herbs and toss thoroughly to mix.

In a small bowl, combine garlic, peppers, olive oil, vinegar and sugar and whisk well to blend. Pour over the bean mixture, and toss until the beans are well-coated with dressing. Taste; add salt and pepper if necessary. Cover and chill for several hours or overnight. Serve with cornbread for a complete-protein vegetarian meal, or as an accompaniment to roasted pork tenderloin (rub a small, lean tenderloin with olive oil, pat on a mixture of paprika, dry mustard powder, cayenne and a little salt, and roast at 450F for about 20 minutes, until a meat thermometer registers 150 degrees. Remove from oven, cover with foil and let sit for 10 minutes or so to firm up before slicing on the diagonal into medallion.)

Makes 4-6 servings, and it’s a great potluck dish, too!

* Local ingredients, from the Albany farmers’ market or my garden

August 20, 2008 at 7:18 pm Leave a comment

Beets and carrots and herbs, oh my

Roasted beets and carrots

Roasted beet and carrot salad

Friends in warmer climates are telling me about their home-grown tomatoes. I put my fingers in my ears and console myself with the thought that our tomatoes will be along in their own good time – and that, meanwhile, there’s plenty of other flavorful produce showing up at the market.

This week I steered clear of the berries (well, almost. One pint of blueberries doesn’t count, does it?) in favor of vegetables: Carrots, shelling peas, cucumber, zucchini and a big bunch of mixed beets, red and golden and a pretty stripey red-and-white stripe variety.

I love root vegetables, and beets and carrots are never better than when they’re young and tender, full of sweet, earthy flavor. I love to roast them together, and just a little extra effort can make the difference between a nice mess of roasted vegetables and a terrific dish that highlights the subtle differences in the two vegetables flavors.

Beets, even young ones, take longer to roast than carrots. So why not take advantage of that fact and treat each vegetable a little differently, even when you roast them in the same pan?

Roasted beets and carrots with herbs

Ingredients:

  • A mixture of red and golden beets (I used six medium-sized beets), scribbed, trimmed and cut in half
  • 1 Tbsp Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh thyme, finely minced
  • 4-5 medium-sized carrots, scrubbed, trimmed and cut in roughly equal-sized pieces
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds

Method:

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a bowl, toss beets with olive oil. Spoon them out, leaving excess oil in the bowl. Place in one layer at one end of a roasting pan and sprinkle lightly with salt; scatter a few sprigs of thyme among them. Place roasting pan in oven. 15 minutes into cooking, use a slotted spoon to turn the beets.

Meanwhile, add carrots, vinegar, maple syrup and cumin to the bowl and toss well.

When the beets have been in the oven 30 minutes, add the carrots at the other end of the pan. Continue roasting for 15-20 minutes more, stirring once to turn, until tender and lightly caramelized.

Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly so you can slip the skins off the beets without burning yourself. Serve warm as a side dish, or, as I did, allow the vegetables to cool to room temperature, slice them into bite-sized pieces and serve them on a bed of lettuce with a little blue cheese, some toasted hazlenuts and a light vinaigrette incorporating a touch more thyme.

If you don’t have the time or energy to bother with roasting them, young beets and carrots are also splendid raw, grated or sliced paper-thin, and added to a salad or slaw – or just tossed with a little Meyer lemon juice, sprinkled lightly with salt and heaped on a plate as a crunchy, vivid savory.

July 20, 2008 at 7:48 pm Leave a comment

Keeping it local in the larder

I was out of town last weekend and missed the farmers’ market: How was I going to meet my weekly Eat Local Challenge goal? All I had left from the previous week’s market were a couple of bulbs of kohlrabi (a good keeper, fortunately), and that didn’t sound like much of a dinner.

Luckily, my pantry (and the big old freezer in my basement) usually contains a good supply of canned, bottled, frozen and dried foods of local origin. Jams and jellies, of course (but a person can only eat so much apple butter, as tasty as it is), but also dried fruits and wild mushrooms, frozen meat, locally produced sausages – and seafood.

OK, the coast is an hour and a half’s drive away, but I still consider it local, especially at the height of the fishing season. There’s no fish fresher than the fish you can buy right off the docks in Newport, for instance, headed and gutted (and if you sweet-talk the fisherman, sliced into filets or steaks) and packed in a cooler full of ice for the drive home.

But thanks to a growing number of entrepreneurial fisherfolk, some seasonal seafood is also available canned: Pacific albacore, brined or smoked, salmon (yes, even with this season’s harvest restrictions, some varieties of Pacific salmon are available) – and Dungeness crab.

Last winter, I splurged on a case of crab canned by my friend and former Oregon Sea Grant colleague Ginny Goblirsch and her fisherman husband Herb under their Oregon’s Choice label, which they sell on line and from select Newport markets. One of the things I appreciate about Herb and Ginny is that they’re committed to sustainable fishing practices; their albacore is caught with hook-and-line, a method certified as eco-friendly by the Marine Stewardship Council. The other seafood they can is caught by similarly sustainable methods, and when they decided to begin canning their own products, they worked closely with OSU seafood specialists to come up with production methods that follow “best practices” for both quality and safety.

The big canneries that used to dot the Oregon coast are pretty much history, but the boutique seafood canners who’ve emerged in recent years represent a real, local-food treasure. While much of their output gets sold in gift shops or shipped outside the region, there’s nothing to keep us from trying it, too, if we can get hold of it before the tourists do. The price may be premium, but so is the quality.

Most of that case of crab got used up last winter, in crab bisques, crab dip for holiday pot-lucks and crab salad. But I still have a few cans left, and when I happened on them tonight while foraging for dinner ideas, crab cakes came to mind.

Crab cakes can be an iffy thing; I’ve had way too many that were all cake and not much crab, like greasy wads of vaguely crab-flavored fried dough. Through trial and error – and tips from a couple of excellent restaurant chefs – I came up with a recipe that’s both easy and light, crisp, moist and very, very crab-by. They’re astonishingly good when made with fresh crab meat, but between you and me, when Dungeness crabs are in season I rarely bother making anything elaborate from them – I just boil them and eat them, armed with a nutcracker, a bowl of melted butter and a lot of napkins. Picking crabs to produce enough meat for a recipe is just too darned time-consuming when you could be eating crab.

So I let people like Ginny and Herb do the hard work, and I get to enjoy the results. And boy, did I enjoy tonight’s crab cakes, served with an improvised Asian-style slaw of kohlrabi I’d bought at the market the week before.

Dungeness crab cakesLight and Crispy Crab Cakes

(This recipe uses one can of crab to make four modest crab cakes – more than enough for one person, or a light meal or appetizer for two. You can easily scale it up to make more).

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh Italian parsley; other fresh herbs, added sparingly, can be lovely, too.
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 Tbsp real mayonnaise (do not, under pain of banishment from my blog, tell me that you used Miracle Whip or “lite” mayonnaise. Seriously.)
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 6 oz. can Dungeness crab meat
  • 1/4 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs), or other light, dry bread crumbs, plus extra for coating
  • Salt and pepper if you want it. I never do.
  • Equal parts butter and oil (I use canola) for frying

Method:

In a bowl, combine parsley, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, egg, mayonnaise and lemon juice and stir until well-blended. Lightly fold in the crab meat and bread crumbs until just mixed – try not to break up the crab too much.

Heat butter and oil in a skillet until fragrant and sizzling.

Spread extra bread crumbs on a plate. Using a large spoon, scoop up a fourth of the crab mixture (it will be quite wet) and press first one side, then the other into the crumbs. Transfer to hot skillet, flattening a bit to shape. Repeat to make four cakes.

Sautee until golden brown, turning once (3-4 minutes per side). Drain on paper towels and serve while still hot. No condiments required, although a dollop of mayonnaise with prepared wasabi mixed in can be tasty if you like that sort of thing.

Asian-style Kohlrabi slaw

(I don’t actually measure the ingredients for salad dressings – I work by the proportions-and-glugs method. This is my best estimation; feel free to taste and experiment)

  • 1-2 kohlrabi, peeled, sliced and coarsely julienned
  • Pickled sushi ginger, minced
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar. If you have seasoned sushi vinegar, use that and omit the following two ingredients)
  • 1 tsp Mirin (sweet Japanese cooking wine) OR 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • Black sesame seeds

Method:

Mix the kohlrabi and pickled ginger. Whisk together the vinegar, Mirin (or sugar), salt and sesame oil and toss with the vegetables. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds. This is even better when it’s sat overnight in the refrigerator.

June 11, 2008 at 9:17 pm 1 comment

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