elevating the status of the salad

Carrot Ginger Dressing

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This Japanese-inspired dressing is good on top of most fresh vegetables. If you use less water, it can make a great dip, too. I used this recipe on Epicurious, and only adjusted the amounts of each ingredient. Also, rather than use both a food processor and a blender, I put all the ingredients in the Vitamix at the same time and blended for about a minute until smooth. 

  • 4 medium carrots, peeled
  • 1/3 cup fresh ginger
  • 2 shallots
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup water (or more to thin out as necessary)

It will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a week or so. The salad in the picture has lettuce, roma beans, cherry tomatoes, sprouts, and thinly sliced cucumbers. I actually think a great appetizer would be thicker cucumber slices with a dollop of this orange gold on top.

Mexican Salad/Cilantro Lime Dressing AND Baked Chips/Cashew Avocado “Cream”

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This post features a bunch of recipes. Not only is there the salad and dressing, but I also want to share  this simple way to make baked chips. I served it with leftover vegan cashew avocado “cream” from these incredible tofu tacos I discovered on Love and Lemons. 

To make the salad (I measured nothing):

Put some chopped romaine lettuce in a bowl.

Top with the following: I chose to do it cobb-salad style, but you can toss it all together, too. Go loco.

  • radishes
  • cherry tomatoes
  • grilled corn (Soak it first for about a half an hour. Grill on medium-high for about 10 minutes, rotating a few times. Then, let it cool and cut it off the cob)
  • shredded carrots
  • chopped red bell peppers
  • thinly sliced red onions
  • drained black beans
  • optional: shredded cheddar cheese
  • You can also do: avocado, jicama, etc.

Basic cilantro-lime dressing:

Blend the following until smooth:

  • 2 handfuls of cilantro
  • juice of 2 limes
  • a little bit of honey (or agave or sweetener of your choice)
  • salt/pepper
  • a few tablespoons of olive oil
  • water to thin out as needed

For the chips:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Prepare oil: Mix together a few tablespoons of olive oil with spices of your choice. I did a few shakes of cumin and paprika, and then a few pinches of salt.
  3. Put a stack of corn tortillas on a cutting board and cut them into sixths (first cut in half and then cut each half into thirds)
  4. Arrange tortilla triangles in a single layer on a cookie sheet (no overlapping) and brush both sides with the oil mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until slightly brown and crispy.
  5. Serve with salad and dip of choice.

Fork-Free “Salads”

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My challenge this morning was to create “salads” that could be eaten on a boat, picnic style. Whether you’re heading to a barbeque, movie night in the park, or any other occasion where utensils are a hassle, here are a few easy ideas:

The first is  caprese salad…on a stick. You need:

  • small mozzarella balls, cut in half
  • a bunch of grape tomatoes
  • basil leaves
  • salt
  • your favorite balsamic vinegar dressing (you can make your own by whisking/shaking equal parts vinegar and olive oil)
  • toothpicks

Assemble toothpicks with the mozzarella on the bottom, flat side down so it can stand. Then, fold one basil leaf in half and put it on the toothpick. The grape tomato tops it off. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Just before serving, drizzle with balsamic dressing.

The other option is chopped up vegetables and some great dressing as dip. I went with Sang Lee’s sweet ginger dressing. The farmer’s market had quite a selection for dippable vegetables today. I went with: wax beans, red and green bell peppers, burpless cucumbers and carrots. I also used some home-grown roma beans.

OK, it may not be rocket science… but it’s August and sometimes we just want to cut vegetables and use them as a vehicle for good dip.

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Grilled Eggplant with Vegan Cashew Pesto

This cashew pesto is really easy, and can be put on anything. It complemented smoky grilled eggplant.

All measurements are approximate, so adjust according to taste.

Ingredients:
1 cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked for at least an hour
1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
A handful of basil
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
Water to thin out as needed (1/2 cup?)
1/2 t salt

Blend all ingredients until smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender as needed.

For the eggplant…

Turn heat on grill to medium/high.

Slice into planks and brush with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Grill for 4-5 minutes a side.

Wrap in foil for 10 minutes to evenly cook the eggplant.

To serve, spoon some pesto on the plate and place a few slices of eggplant on the pesto.Top with basil or fresh slices of tomato.

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Coffee Ice Cubes

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Nothing beats the heat like a good iced coffee. Except when that iced coffee gets abandoned while you do something else for a while, and then you have more like coffee-flavored water. Not so refreshing. These ice cubes solve that problem. While the coffee beans are not from this borough, I have good reason to include them on this blog. Here goes: The beans are from the Brooklyn Roasting Company on Jay Street in DUMBO. If you haven’t visited yet, I recommend it.  Also, I got the idea to make coffee ice cubes from the geniuses at One Girl Cookies on Dean Street. Since the beans were roasted in Brooklyn and I was inspired by a local establishment, it’s pretty much fresh from brooklyn-esque.

No recipe here. I just used some leftover coffee and poured it into adorable fish ice cube trays (regular ice cube trays will work, but are far less fun). They were ready a few hours later. The next day I did it again, and now I have a bunch of coffee ice cubes that will last a while! 

Keep cool!

Grilled Corn Salad

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After a recent encore viewing of Forks Over Knives, several of us were inspired to cook some plant-based foods last night. On the menu were spicy peas, sweet corn salad with cucumbers and tomatoes, and this grilled corn, zucchini, and bell pepper salad with black beans and barley. Thanks for Oh She Glows for this recipe. If you dice instead of chop the vegetables, you can have more of a relish/salsa for chips. Because everything is better on a chip. 

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 3 bell peppers (any color–I used a few beautiful purple peppers that turned an unappetizing gray after grilling)
  • 2 zucchinis, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 6 ears of corn, husk removed
  • 1.5-2 cups cooked black beans (or one 15oz can)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked wheatberries (I used barley since that was available)

Dressing:

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (2 limes) I’m sure lemon works too
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro (or herb of choice)
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (or other sweetener)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

 Directions:

1. Preheat the grill over medium heat. When it’s ready add the corn, rotating every few minutes. After about 10 minutes, add the zucchini and bell peppers. No need to chop the peppers, you can leave them whole. Grill for another 10 minutes, rotating frequently, until lightly charred.

2. Meanwhile, cook your grains on the stovetop (if using them) according to package directions. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients and adjust to taste.

3. When vegetables are done on the grill, cool, and then remove corn and chop the peppers and zucchini. Mix the drained and rinsed beans, grains, dressing, and vegetables together in a large bowl. Add a generous amount of salt and pepper, to taste. Will keep for a few days in the fridge.

Grilled Romaine with Parmesan Basil Crisps

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With the recent abrupt onset of summer, our grill has been getting some good use lately. Although I love grilling vegetables (asparagus, potatoes, eggplant, and portabellas are among my favorites), I kept my greens off the flames until today. I’m happy to report a new vegetable will now be part of the regular rotation. The parmesan basil crisps on top of the lettuce add the necessary crunch. Also, parmesan cheese might be one of the best foods out there and making these crisps  seemed like a  fun experiment to try on this quiet Sunday. 

The crisps can be made a day ahead of time and stored in an air-tight container. Hopefully you make a few extra because you’ll want to taste a few right away, just in case. 

Thanks to Grillin’ Fools for the lettuce method, and to Giada for the crisp method.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 3 T julienned basil
  • 2 large heads of romaine lettuce, outer leaves removed, cleaned and patted dry, and sliced lengthwise down the middle
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

 

For the crisps…

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine cheese and basil.
  3. Put a heaping tablespoon on  a parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten gently.
  4. Continue to add more tablespoons of the cheese mixture, leaving a bit of space between each one.
  5. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until golden and crisp.
  6. Allow to cool, and then remove with a flat spatula.

For the lettuce…

  1. Once your lettuce is dry, you’re good to go.
  2. Heat grill to medium-high
  3. Combine olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper and set aside for a few minutes so that the oil gets garlicky.
  4. Brush both sides of the lettuce with the oil mixture, starting with the rounded side and then doing the flat side of the lettuce.
  5. Place the romaine heads flat side down on the grill.
  6. After 2-3 minutes (check for a nice browning), flip the lettuce 1/3 way. Repeat again after 2-3 minutes more. Do it again until the lettuce is nicely browned all over.
  7. Serve with crisps.

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