April 18, 2012 § 2 Comments
This is a straightforward, easy-peasy recipe that has four ingredients and comes together in a minute flat. Thanks to the avocado, I like to think of this creamy, vegan shmear as a hybrid pesto and alfredo sauce.
A note about the above photo: South Tucson greenhouses are teaming with ripe, cherry tomatoes and zucchinis. As the bounty of winter brassicas and greens wanes, I’ve started loading my canvas bags with these (Sonoran) spring fruits and vegetables. My latest kick? Zucchini pasta. That’s right. I’ve been cranking one of these suckers. I’ve dabbled with many different “noodle” preparations, but here’s my favorite method that yields flavorful, al dente “noodles”: Saute a half-cup early onion/scallion with a lot of garlic and a generous pinch of salt in a wide-brimmed sauce pan. Saute until wilted and fragrant (just a minute or two) and add zucchini “noodles.” Toss until heated through and coated with oil, garlic and onion. Remove from heat; add sauce; serve warm.
2 cloves garlic
2 cups basil
juice of a lemon (about 1/4 cup)
Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until combined. Add additional lemon juice to thin, if necessary. Toss with zucchini or grain-pasta and serve immediately. Leftovers keep two days.
Diet Notes: SCD-safe, vegan, gluten-free, nut-free
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
July 10, 2011 § 3 Comments
Some of you may already carol the merits of the two primary ingredients in this drink. But if you’re not a member of camp-ginger or camp-lemon—if, let’s say, the title of this recipe induced a nose wrinkle, a stomach turn or a mighty urge to click away to a different hyperlink—let me quell your worries.
Let me preface by saying that lemonade makes me pucker, unless it’s diluted with plenty of water and a couple glugs of orange juice. Similarly, if I had to eliminate one spice from my spice rack, it would be a toss-up between a pristine jar of ground ginger or a plastic container of poultry seasoning re-gifted to me nearly a decade ago. Ginger and sweetened lemon water are two things I figured—if I ever really thought about either—I could very easily live without.
But friends, life is full of surprises! Five weeks ago my friend invited me to one of our favorite local coffee shops. I happened to have a bit of an upset stomach that day and when the cutie-pie barista started listing off the slew of available iced teas—ginger and lemon was his favorite—I shyly smiled and said “Oo, that sounds good!” while inwardly eye-rolling. I sheepishly figured that, if nothing else, it might be a tummy-soother. My friend and I shuttled back to our table, sweating glasses in hand, and I took a sip, hoping for palatability.
To say I liked it would be a severe understatement. I went back to Bentley’s Coffee Shop and ordered that tea nearly every day for the next two weeks (disclaimer: Cutie-Pie was only present a third of the time). To everyone I dragged with me, I claimed that I was deflating my wallet for “testing purposes,” while I tried to master my own Ginger-Lemon Tea at home. But while that was sort of true, I didn’t start any feverish duplication attempts until my summer job started 374 miles away in Santa Fe.
If you’re not sold on making this drink, let me make one last attempt. I’m under the impression that when you boil the heck out of a bunch of ginger and mix it with a dizzying amount of lemon juice, they somehow rule out each other’s less-than-savory attributes and harmonize—with a nudge of honey—in the most exceptional way. I’ve made over a dozen batches of this sweet-tea blend in the last month and this is as close as it gets to the real-deal. (Although nothing is quite as good as sitting in Bentley’s with an iced glass in hand, gabbing by the big window with a good chum. The ambiance can’t be beat.)
This recipe is easily tweakable to your tastes: If you like it sweeter, add another quarter-cup honey. If you want the lemon to stand out more than the ginger, add the juice of another lemon or two. I’ve made this tea several times with just ginger tea bags (four bags total for this recipe) and it’s quite good—but nothing beats the real-deal ginger. If you can, buy the knobby rhizome. It’s critical to note that the recipe makes a concentrate. I’d rather not expend the energy to bring eight cups of water to a boil. Instead, when the concentrate has cooled, you can reconstitute with another quart of water and chill until serving. (Usually, lacking shelf space, I simply leave the concentrate in a glass jar in the fridge and pour myself a half-glass and top it off with cold water.)
Ingredients for a 1-quart concentrate*
*Reconstituted, this recipe yields 2 quarts ginger-lemon tea
2/3 to 3/4 cup lemon juice (approx. 5 large lemons)
4 cups water
1/3 cup ginger, peeled and chopped in hunks
1 ginger tea bag (optional)
½ cup honey, high quality
To make a pitcher of tea:
3-4 cups water, chilled (added at the end)
To make one glass of tea:
Add equal parts chilled water and concentrate
1. Peel ginger (perfectionism is unwarranted here) and chop into chunks. In a medium saucepan, heat water to a boil. Add ginger and simmer for 20 minutes; the water will turn an amber-gold color. Remove from heat and steep an additional 10 minutes (if desired, add one tea bag at this stage).
2. Meanwhile, squeeze lemons and strain pulp and seeds.
3. Remove ginger pieces (and tea bag, if using) by straining or skiving off with a slotted spoon. Add lemon juice and honey to the pot. Heat and stir until honey dissolves, just below a simmer. Remove from heat and cool completely.
4. Add 3 cups of water and taste; add additional water if preferred. Chill in the refrigerator and serve over ice. A fun tip: Freeze an ice cube tray with ginger-lemon tea and serve drink over iced tea cubes.
Diet Notes: SCD-safe, gluten-free, nut-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
December 11, 2010 § 2 Comments
This is going to sound dramatic, but sometimes I get to feeling as though my body houses two different people: Debbie Downer & Calm Cucumber. At times I get overwhelmed with anxiety — due to lack of a clear life trajectory — with so many unknowns in this weird, limbo state between school and more school (but wanting to fill the gap with “experience”). On these days I feel unable to organize, piece apart or analyze; but thankfully, they are often offset by good friends who offer their two-bits of no-stress, laugh-inducing distraction.
One of these chums came over this week and we gabbed over this hearty Moroccan salad (presentation inspiration from this incredible site). I prepared it earlier in the afternoon — a luxury that comes with severed job hours — and served it at room temperature. After spending the better part of the evening talking about skydiving and doomed dating stories, I walked her back to her car, down the crunch-crunch gravel covering the alleyway behind my bitty house, feeling satiated, in stomach and noggin. Ballooning stress quelled, I felt quietly lucky to have the fortune of a few, rock-star friends and a bit of extra time to see and cook for them.
1 cup quinoa, raw
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons dried blueberries & cherries
1 cup almonds, chopped and toasted*
1/2 cup scallions, chopped
1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 winter squash (butternut, acorn, etc.)
2 avocados, chopped
juice of 1/2 large orange (approx. 1/4 cup)
juice of 2 lemons, separated
6 garlic cloves
2-4 tablespoons olive oil
* To toast almonds, place in a 350 degree oven on an ungreased baking sheet and roast until lightly browned and fragrant — about 8 minutes.
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Chop eggplant and squash in quarter-inch slices and lay on greased baking sheet. In a small bowl, pour a tablespoon or two of olive oil and mix with chopped garlic. Slather on to the tops and sides of squash and eggplant. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste. Roast until crisp, flipping halfway. Depending on size of slices, approximately 25-35 minutes total baking time.
2. Meanwhile, combine quinoa, spices and dried fruit in a pot with two cups of water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, covered. Cook until al dente. Set aside.
3. Prepare the quinoa dressing: Whisk together orange juice and juice of one lemon, a tablespoon (or more, to taste) olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and pepper. When quinoa has finished cooking, fluff with a fork and stir the dressing in, until incorporated.
4. Chop avocado. With remaining lemon, toss avocado in juice to prevent discoloration. Chop scallions and cilantro.
5. When all ingredients are prepped, layer quinoa mixture in the bottom of a bowl and line the sides with prepped ingredients, including the toasted almonds. Enjoy mixed together — hot, at room temperature or chilled.
Diet Notes: Gluten-free, vegan
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)
August 19, 2010 § 3 Comments
Last night I pulled into the driveway, eased my accordian-legs out of the car and began to unload: I yanked out my sleeping bag, a bathing suit, a suitcase full of tangled clothes and a freezer bag full of road snacks, trailing beach sand and Redwood twigs across the floor. A week and a half ago, I headed westbound toward California where I spent the next 10 days hop-scotching across the state. I took a dizzying drive up Route 1 where I photographed my first glimpse of Elephant Seals. I baked a nectarine and peach crisp in an old gas oven in the middle of the Redwoods. I ate Bibimbop out of granite bowls in Oakland, sipped coffee at the famous Tartine Bakery in San Francisco (and spent hours in this marvelous bookstore) and caught up with new friends from Guatemala and old friends from early college days. I also visited a gaggle of cousins, aunts and uncles and on my last night, I read poetry and ate chocolate truffles with my great aunt at the end of a warm, Pasadena day.
It’s been a marvelous close to a summer teeming with new experiences and ideas. And like all good things, I’m left feeling bittersweet: a bit glum at Summer’s end, and, at the same time, a bit renewed with the smell of freshly sharpened pencils in the air. Time to get back in the saddle and get back to work at the university.
Fortunately, I ate my way through California with gusto (I may have discovered the most delicious blueberry muffin on the West Coast). But I’m excited to re-tie my cooking apron and use up the last of my summertime garden vegetables.
I made this recipe just before I left for California. It calls for asparagus and spinach — two vegetables I had frozen from a springtime harvest. The lemons, basil and onion came from the garden. This recipe is a breeze to throw together and packs a delicious punch from the citrus and cheese. I enjoyed it best heated, just a smidgen.
1.5 cups pasta, uncooked*
1 large onion (about 2.5 cups chopped)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 cups asparagus, chopped
2 cups spinach, chopped and cooked (about 6 cups raw)
2 cups cannellini beans
juice of 1 lemon (approximately 1/4 cup)
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup basil, loosely packed, ripped
sea salt, pepper
*For gluten-sensitive, choose brown-rice or quinoa pasta.
1. Heat a pot of water on the stove with a generous pinch of sea salt. When boiling, add pasta, lower heat slightly and cook until al dente.
2. Meanwhile, chop onion horizontally in long, thin strips. Heat a large skillet on the stove and begin to saute the onions until crisp and brown (about 7 minutes). Season with salt and pepper. While onion is sauteing rinse and chop asparagus and spinach. After onion has browned, add asparagus and cook until bright green (approximately 3 minutes) and then add cooked spinach and cook until heated through (approximately 1 minute). Alternatively, if using raw spinach, add at the same time as asparagus.
3. Toss asparagus and spinach with feta cheese. When pasta is cooked, don’t drain the pasta water! *The reserved water can help loosen the pasta if the pasta clumps with the vegetables.* Scoop pasta out of the water with a slotted spoon and toss with vegetables. Squeeze lemon juice, add beans and toss. Taste and season to preference. If necessary, add a spoonful of reserved pasta water at a time to help loosen the pasta salad. Serve at any heat or chilled — slightly warm is my favorite.
Diet Notes: gluten-free (see asterisk), nut-free
August 4, 2010 § 1 Comment
For the past six weeks, I can count the number of vegetables I’ve consumed on five fingers. (I’m cheating: The “fifth vegetable” is really an herb — called “chipilin” (apparently similar to a Night Shade).) Instead, I’ve been eating bread (“pan”), bananas ’round the clock and a few corn tortillas and cup or two of hot chocolate.
If you guessed that I had a parasite… ding! ding! You win! My meal prospects were bleak for a while; in fact, I actually started dreaming of vegetables in my sleep (no joke!) and, now that I’m feeling nearly all better, I have a new found love of eating simple, fresh foods. This recipe was just what the doctor ordered: vegetables from the garden (parsley! mint! tomatoes! onion!) and a whole-grain base. This salad is light and made me feel squeaky clean from the burst of lemon. And an added plus: it didn’t bump the house temperature up eight degrees by turning on the oven — it’s a one pot meal, requiring only 15 minutes of stove time.
1 cup quinoa, cooked
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1/2 red onion, diced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup mint, chopped
4 tablespoons lemon (juice of 1 lemon)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, diced
sea salt, pepper, to taste
1. Heat water and quinoa on the stove and cook according to instructions, until al dente.
2. Chop vegetables and herbs and toss. Set aside.
3. Once quinoa is cooked, remove lid and squeeze in juice of one lemon, olive oil and chopped garlic. Stir. Combine with vegetables and herbs. Add sea salt and pepper to taste and serve warm, at room temperature or chilled. (Room temperature is my favorite.)
Diet Notes: Gluten-free, nut-free, vegan
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
April 14, 2010 § 2 Comments
I cannot begin to dole out enough effusive adjectives for this little salad. And I’d like to point out that I’m rather surprised I like it as well as I do. Generally speaking, I don’t get particularly – or even remotely – excited about quinoa, and I’m really not a big fan of mint (except in a watermelon & feta salad). But I have a surfeit of the former and an overzealous mint plant in my backyard, so I decided to cut a couple of stems, whittle-down my grain stash and dabble with a new salad experiment.
Out of all the salads I’ve made in recent months, this one may be the most addictive. While I can usually eke out four lunches from a salad this size, I happily polished off this salad in half the days. What won me over – more than the crunch of toasted walnuts and the delicate plumpness of citrus-soaked dried blueberries and cherries – was the superb flavor from the Meyer lemons. Meyer lemons have an almost-orange-like taste about them, yet they still provide a sour zing. But, if you can’t find them at your farmers’ market or local supermarket, try squeezing one lemon and one orange and using the combined juice for this salad.
Two final notes: Don’t skimp on the salt and pepper – they’re crucial for rounding out the flavor. Lastly, while this salad is tasty both hot and cold, it really shines at room temperature or just slightly warmed. I suggest preparing this salad 2 hours before serving time.
zest and juice of 2 Meyer lemons
1 cup dried quinoa
1 cup dried berries (dried cherries, blueberries, cranberries, etc.)
1 cup walnuts, toasted
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
1/3 cup mint, chopped
1 tablespoon fruity olive oil
sea salt, pepper to taste
1. In a 2:1 ratio of water to dried quinoa, fill a pot with water and quinoa on the stove and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook quinoa for 15-18 minutes until tender.
2. Meanwhile, toast walnuts on the stove in a brimmed, oil-free skillet until fragrant (about 5-7 minutes). Alternatively, bake in the oven for the same amount of time at 375 degrees. Chop in rough pieces and set aside.
3. Place dried fruit in a bowl with lemon zest. Cover berries with 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and stir, thoroughly incorporating the liquid with the berries.
4. Chop mint and parsley. When quinoa has finished cooking, fluff with a fork and dump in a large bowl. Combine with walnuts, citrus-soaked berries and herbs. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt (at least 1/4 teaspoon) and several cracks of pepper. Combine with a tablespoon of fruity olive oil (or more) and taste. Add additional Meyer lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.
Diet Notes: Gluten-free, vegan