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*
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.
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)
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
May 15, 2011 § 1 Comment
While my aunt skied down frosty slopes in Southeast Alaska this past week, my mom and I ate kumquats picked from our baby tree and harvested our first cherry tomato. The horse trough gardens are teeming with leafy explosions of zucchini, a bright orange pepper, tomatoes up the wazoo and a dozen overzealous herbs (a few of which are nearly bolting). To pay homage to the last of our winter harvest, I whipped together a simple garden coleslaw so that we could taste the inherent flavor and sweet tang of this maroon-y brassica. This isn’t a recipe per se; rather, I gathered what looked best in the garden and threw it into the salad. It is a fantastic riff off of the usual sweet slaw of summer.
1 small head red cabbage
handful of herbs (dill, parsley, basil) — approximately 1/3 cup chopped
2 early onions, chopped on the diagonal
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 tablespoon mayo
juice of one lemon (approximately 1/4 cup)
sea salt, pepper to taste
Thinly slice cabbage in ribbons. Toss with chopped herbs, sea salt and pepper. Add liquids (lemon, mayo and sour cream). Stir until combined and chill until served. Best eaten cold, prepared several hours (or overnight) in advance.
Diet Notes: Gluten-free, nut-free
September 15, 2010 § Leave a Comment
I foolishly overlooked planting dill in the herb garden and now, I’m kicking myself as I’ve begun to rekindle my dill fanaticism. I’ve bought over-priced, plastic packages of these grass-like snippings each week since returning from California. Recently I’ve enjoyed dilly egg scrambles, green beans tossed with dill and garlic and herb-speckled leafy greens. But this simple salad (inspired by Heidi) was my favorite. It uses dill and lemon to unite a pile of carrots — seasonal in nearly every part of the country at this moment — and a mound of creamy, white beans. This light, late-summer dish has a protein punch and a bit of bite from the thinly-sliced shallots. It was an addicting, cool highlight at our most recent summer BBQ.
2 cups carrots, chopped along diagonal
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups white kidney beans, pre-cooked*
1/3 cup dill, chopped
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup shallot, thinly sliced
generous pinch sea salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
*For those following the SCD-diet: Incorporate beans into diet after one symptom-free month. Soak beans for 24 hours prior to cooking to remove excess starch.
1. Scrub carrots and, if skins are particularly bitter, peel carrots before slicing. Chop into quarter-inch circles.
2. On medium-high, heat a generous tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet and add carrots. Toss every few minutes until each side is nicely browned — about 10 to 12 minutes, total.
3. Meanwhile, whisk together the lemon and olive oil with shallot slices. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside and allow shallots to wilt slightly. Chop dill and set aside.
4. When carrots have cooked and browned, add beans and stir until heated through (about 1 minute). Remove from heat and add dill. Pour half of the dressing on top of the salad and allow the warm carrots and beans to soak up the dressing. Reserve the other half. Toss with remaining dressing just prior to serving. Serve at room temperature or cold.
Diet Notes: gluten-free, nut-free, vegan, SCD-safe (see asterisk)
May 30, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Until recently, I never imagined using basil outside of pesto, sage without goat cheese, oregano without tomatoes or dill outside of matzo ball soup. But now that I grow a bunch of herbs in my backyard, I’ve been sticking them in everything! (Most recently I’ve been stuffing handfuls of various aromatic flecks into shredded zucchini pancakes, all bound together with an egg.)
Last month, nearly every meal I made came speckled (at times, reeking) with sage. Last week, I turned the corner: now I’m tackling dill. A good matzo ball broth demands handfuls of these grass-like flecks; the whole body of the soup improves ten-fold once it’s stirred in — fresh or dried. But I’m discovering zillions of other possibilities for this sweet-smelling perennial. This recipe has been the most notable success to date.
The weekend my mom returned to the southwest after a 3-week Jersey stint, I happened to stumble across an enticing blog post from eat me, delicious. The night before my mom skidded into our dinky airport, we chatted on the phone. She was feeling under the weather with a hurt back and was craving the spring vegetable harvest that had just kicked into high gear. I wanted something tasty to be ready when she set down her bags, so I whipped up her favorite tomato soup and thawed the herbed quinoa corn bread from the freezer. But I wanted to make something lighter, too – something healthy and comforting. Here’s what I came up with. It makes a fair amount (approximately 6 modest servings), although my mom and I slammed through the first batch in two days. It’s hearty from the beans and pasta, as well as energizing and savory from the lemon squirts and bites of finely-chopped onion and dill. Already one of our favorite salads of summer.
1 cup orzo, uncooked
1/2 cup scallion or early onion, sliced
3 cups garbanzo beans, cooked the day before (or use canned, rinsed and drained)
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
2 tablespoons dill, chopped
sea salt, pepper (to taste)
juice of 1 large lemon (approximately 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon fruity olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced (approximately 1 teaspoon)
1. In a medium-sized pot, heat water + a teaspoon of sea salt on the stove until boiling. Add orzo and cook until al dente.
2. Meanwhile, chop scallion and dill and toss with garbanzo beans. Set aside. Prepare dressing: combine juice of lemon, olive oil and garlic. Whisk and set aside.
3. Once orzo is cooked, drain and place back inside the warm pot. Toss with dressing and let it soak up some of the flavors for one to two minutes. It may look a bit soupy, but that’s okay — it will be dressing for the entire salad. Pour orzo on top of garbanzo bean mixture. Immediately add crumbled feta and toss, allowing it to melt against the warm pasta. Serve warm.
Diet Notes: Nut-free
October 13, 2009 § Leave a Comment
A couple of days ago after a long day of reading and research, I excitedly crossed off the last of my tedious “do’s” from my “to do NOW!” list and hurried into the kitchen. I plopped a few frozen fruit chucks into a blender, whirred and scampered back to my bedroom, banana + pineapple smoothie in hand, and cozied up to my laptop to watch a couple of online episodes. Not Gossip Girl (a show I claim not to watch, but secretly do). Not even old Office reruns. I sat down to review the past month of Mark Bittman Minimalist videos. If you haven’t seen a Mark Bittman video, I suggest you sit down and watch a couple right now. They’re such a hoot, sometimes I turn on his Chickpea video just to stave off a rotten mood!
A half hour later, smoothie cup drained, I had some great recipe ideas. The following day, I ca-clunked my cast iron skillet out of the cupboard and hacked up a giant mound of asparagus, eggplant, four types of herbs and gobs of garlic in preparation for whipping up his “More-Vegetable-Than-Egg Frittata.” Here’s his frittata video, which I heartily recommend, but if you want to cut to the chase, here’s the recipe print-out as well.
One quick suggestion: an addition that made this dish especially good was the amount and variety of herbs that got tossed around in the skillet just before I poured in the eggy mixture. If you don’t happen to have these different herbs on hand you can experiment with dry, too. Or, if all else fails, coarsely chop a lot of garlic.
We ate this frittata along side a light leafy-green salad with roasted sweet potatoes, toasted pecans and herbed goat cheese. We also broke into some warm buttermilk corn muffins a la Alice Waters, The Art of Simple Cooking. And on top of the frittata we generously spooned my ma’s salsa (roasted chiles, onion, gobs of cilantro, garlic, stewed tomatoes pulverized until “chunky” in the blender) and it was wonderful.
1 onion, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
5+ cloves garlic
1-2 cups diced eggplant
2-4 cups asparagus
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
splash soy milk/milk preference
1/3+ cup basil, chopped
2 tablespoons each: fresh oregano, dill, parsley (optional)
salt, pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop between 4 and 6 cups of vegetables.
2. Heat olive oil on medium in an oven-proof skillet until hot. Add onion, a pinch of salt and pepper and cook until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and additional vegetables and cook until al dente. Cooking time varies depending on vegetables.
4. Turn the heat down and stir in any leafy greens, herbs, sun-dried tomatoes (if using). Remove from heat.
5. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, milk and Parmesan cheese. Whisk. Pour into the skillet.
6. Bake for 10 minutes or until the egg at the center is set (springs back slightly to the touch) and the top is golden. Let sit for 1-2 minutes and serve immediately.
Diet Notes: SCD-safe, gluten-free, nut-free
October 8, 2009 § 2 Comments
During my dwindling summer days in the City, my work friends showered me with food suggestions. They’d even calculate how many remaining meals I had left to prioritize their recommendations. They’d tell me where to find “the best” anythings – pickles, cupcakes, muffins, falafel, hamburgers, baguettes, madelines, buttery egg breads, cheap sushi and baby artichokes. I faithfully jotted down every suggestion in a small, disheveled notebook (which I organized by neighborhood and subway lines!) and made plans to seek out everything, making muffins my top priority. I figured, I was in the food capitol of America and by golly, I was going to “eat the most” out of my final few weeks!
But somehow, as early August steamrolled into late-August, I’d glance at that little booklet, sadly flip-flipping through all the uncharted, vendrified streets. Each evening as I walked home I’d say, “Now, just drop your stuff off. Don’t sit! Don’t open the fridge! Get your purse! Go to the subway!” I’d say, “Tonight will be different! Tonight I’ll go to the artichoke man! Tonight I’ll eat a bag of madelines!”
You can see where this is going. Looking back, it was inevitable. I’m sorry to say it, but I’m a creature of habit. It’s not unusual for me to rewatch the same movie twice, even three times in the same evening. I bobby-pin my hair in the identical do-up each day. I also floss religiously. And so, back in Brooklyn, each night I’d shuffle up five flights of stairs. I’d open up the door to my cozy studio, plop down my backpack, splash my face under the faucet (still with the best intentions to leave just moments later!), drink two giant mason jars of refrigerated water (daily brain freeze) and then, as just as the fridge door nearly shut, I’d cast a sideways glance at two, unassuming plastic tubs: the hummus and tzatziki. I was doomed. I’d wrench the fridge back open with gusto! I’d actually giggle out loud. I’d shmear hummus onto warm, homemade pitas, blobbing globs of tzatziki on top and folks – I was in tastebud heaven.
These shmearox gems came recommended by Sheila, my friend from work, who clued me in on her Brooklyn Heights hot spots: around the corner from Trader Joe’s, another Starbucks, another Dunkin’ Donuts and a teeny movie theatre are two little shops — Sahadi’s and Damascus — home of warm pitas, pistachio halvah (absolutely killer, in both shops), mujeddara (better at Damascus), the creamiest hummus (very different at both places but equally good) and tzatziki that I ate like gazpacho.
There are some parts of New York City I’ll never miss (ie. subway screech; tourist mobs; weirdos at 42nd street) but there are other parts I miss already. I’ve been making hummus on a bi-weekly basis and it just doesn’t come close. The tzatziki, on the other hand – well, I’m almost giddy to say – the moment I blobbed this batch on top of my pita and took a bite, I knew it: I tasted NYC once again.
6 – 8 oz. plain whole-milk goat yogurt *
1/3 cup cucumber, seeded & chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon dill, chopped
2-3 tablespoons mint, roughly ripped
*If following the SCD diet, swap out with SCD-yogurt that has incubated for 24 hours.
Slice cucumber in half, lengthwise and scoop out seeds with a narrow spoon. Chop into smaller-than-bite-sized pieces. Mince garlic cloves. Chop dill and mint. Squeeze lemon juice. Mix all ingredients with plain, full-fat goat yogurt. Serve cool or cold on top of everything.
Diet Notes: SCD-safe (see asterisk), gluten-free, nut-free
August 3, 2009 § 1 Comment
After 24-hours of marinating/refrigeration.
4 medium-sized cucumbers
1 small red onion
1 small white/yellow onion
few springs fresh dill
3/4 cup rice wine vinegar
4 heaping tablespoons evaporated cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1. In a small bowl, combine vinegar, salt and sugar in a bowl and whisk until dissolved.
2. Chop cucumbers and onions in thin slices. Place in a non-corrosive bowl. Add sprigs of dill.
3. Once sugar/salt has dissolved add peppercorns and olive oil. Pour liquids over vegetables. Refrigerate for at least two hours so that the cukes and onions can “wilt down,” preferrably over night. Enjoy staight out of the fridge or as a delicious salad topping!
Diet Notes: Gluten-free, nut-free, vegan
June 26, 2009 § Leave a Comment
Last Wednesday I was flipping through my fav D-Section of the Times and saved Melissa Clark’s “Resistance is Futile, Sweet Pea” article for last. That woman is hysterical! If you haven’t read one of her articles, check out her column from last week.
I folded up her recipe and toted it around in my backpack for six days, making occasional tweaks in my head to suit my taste buds. I really liked her suggestion to use mint; I also chucked in some dill and thick Greek yogurt. I ate the leftovers all week; one day, I just poured about a cup off this salad on top of a bed of greens and it was a great alternative to my usual apple cider vinegar + olive oil salad dressing drizzle.
1 cup sugar snap peas
1/2 cup radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 cup baby onion, sliced
1/4 cup mint leaves, torn
1 tablespoon fresh dill
few basil leaves, torn
1/4 cup plain, Greek yogurt*
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lemon, juiced
sea salt, pepper
* If on the SCD-diet, use SCD-yogurt incubated 24 hours.
Chop onions, garlic, radish, snap peas (into three pieces per pod), mint, dill and basil. Combine in a bowl with lemon juice and Greek yogurt. Stir. Season with sea salt and pepper, to taste.
Diet Notes: SCD-safe, gluten-free, nut-free
May 16, 2009 § Leave a Comment
It’s May and with 101+ temperatures and final exam flurries, it’s about that time for me to start packing up my school-year things and prepare for summer. I’ve been moving out of my house this week and I haven’t been cooking. I’ve been making a last-ditch attempt (however futile) to “eat down” the freezer. I’ve found quinoa bagels, a couple pear and pistachio blondies (still good!), assortments of pine nuts, walnuts, pecans, even a lone tub of pesto! But yesterday, I found an exciting surprise: a frozen tub of cabbage soup, (not freezer-burned!). I made this recipe about a month ago when cabbage was first harvested in the southwest.
For a long time, I was neither here-nor-there about cabbage. My introduction to cabbage probably started with soupy cafeteria slaw and needless to say, I wasn’t overwhelmed. But yesterday I popped the frozen block out of the Tupperware tub, heated it on the gas stove, and even in 101+ degree weather, I slurped up every drop. This recipe is delicious. I wanted to post this recipe pronto because warmer temperatures will be hitting other parts of the States soon and soups will sound like a feeble alternative next to icy drinks, cold bean salads, and spring-time sandwiches. So here goes: last of the soup recipes (excepting gazpacho, perhaps).
This recipe was inspired by Heidi’s “Rustic Cabbage Soup.”
1/2 large head green cabbage
4 potatoes (Yukon Gold or red)
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 yellow onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups garbanzo beans, pre-cooked
8-10 cups veg broth (in a pinch, use Rapunzel bullion cubes)
2 teaspoons dried dill
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
sea salt, pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese, for garnish (optional)*
*If on a vegan diet, omit.
1. Prepare vegetables: Chop potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Chop onions; slice cabbage into thin strips. Mince garlic.
2. In a large pot, heat olive oil at the bottom of the pan. When hot, add potatoes and cook until slightly soft and crispy on the sides, about 5 or 6 minutes.
3. Add onions, cabbage and garlic and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add chickpeas and cook one more minute. Add herbs.
4. Fill pot with water or broth and bring to a boil. (If using, add bullion cubes.) Boil for 5-10 minutes. Test broth and season generously with additional sea salt and pepper. Garnish individual bowls with Parmesan cheese.
Diet Notes: gluten-free, vegan (see asterisk), nut-free