elevating the status of the salad

Category Archives: seasonal

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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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It was one of those perfect-weather weekends in Brooklyn. Even though yesterday included a devastating playoff loss for the  Nets, nothing was going to bring me down. We were so inspired by the weather that we grilled for the first time. You can roast this asparagus in the oven if a grill is not nearby. This recipe makes more than enough dressing for 1 bunch of asparagus, and I figure it would taste great on any green salad throughout the week. 

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 T honey or brown sugar
  • 2 T peeled and minced ginger (I’m a big fan of the ready-to-go minced ginger in glass jars)
  • 1 t sesame oil
  • sesame seeds, for garnish (optional) (Really, everything is optional…let’s be honest here)
  • 1 bunch asparagus, woody stems removed

Directions:

  1. Heat a grill to high heat.
  2. Place the first 7 ingredients (through the sesame oil) in a food processor (a mini one works) and blend until smooth. Add water to thin out if necessary. Set aside.
  3. Lightly coat asparagus with cooking spray or a touch of olive oil, and put in a grill basket. Heat on a grill for 2-4 minutes, shaking the basket once or twice, until spears are slightly tender and starting to brown. Remove from grill.
  4. Place asparagus in a large bowl, and coat with a few tablespoons of the dressing. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using, and serve.

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Today was an exciting day at the Carroll Gardens Farmer’s Market. There were ramps and asparagus! Seeing these signs of spring made me feel better about still wearing my winter coat on April 21st. I was hoping that Grazin’ Angus had some fresh cream so I could make my own butter, but they didn’t.  They did have their own butter, which I used for this recipe.  Thanks for Birdworms and Buttermilk for this great idea. I think this would be a great base for sautéing some of the asparagus I got this morning. I tasted a little bit of this today, and reluctantly froze the rest. 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound butter, softened (I used unsalted, so I added salt to the recipe)
  • 1 bunch ramps, cleaned
  • zest and juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)

Directions:

  1. Place butter in medium bowl; set aside.
  2. Blanch ramps in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then place in an ice water bath to stop the cooking. Squeeze excess water and then chop the ramps.
  3. Add the chopped ramps, zest, lemon juice, and salt (if using) to the butter and mix thoroughly with a spoon or spatula.
  4. Form the butter into a log shape on a piece of parchment paper. Tightly roll the parchment paper around the butter, and twist the ends tootsie-roll style. Store in the freezer until you are ready to enjoy.

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Trade in your green beer for a green smoothie this St. Patrick’s Day!

I was a skeptic of drinking my greens until recently, and now I’m hooked. For the fellow skeptics, start with just a few greens and then slowly add more each time. We’ve been aiming for a ratio of half vegetables and half fruits, with most of the vegetables being leafy greens. Many people ask, “Why smoothies instead of juice?” I have two main related reasons: less waste and easier clean-up. I like knowing that I’m getting all the nutritional benefits of the whole fruit and vegetable. Also, I hate cleaning up. The vitamix blender I use has a clean setting, so all I have to do is rinse out the soap at the end. Any variation of this smoothie makes for a very filling breakfast or snack. 

Today’s smoothie included the following ingredients, many of which were available at this morning’s farmer’s market. It’s fun and healthy to vary the ingredients daily, and pretty much any combination is good. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup kale (assorted)
  • 1/4 cup vitamin greens
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 green apple, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 1/2 cup frozen peaches
  • 1 banana, chopped

Directions:

  1. Blend 2 cups of water with the kale and vitamin greens until you have a gorgeous green water. 
  2. Put the rest of the ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Drink right away, or put some in the fridge for later or the next day.

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This recipe comes from Crazy Sexy Kitchen, the creative vegetarian cookbook by Kris Carr and Chad Sarno. Not only is this chili delicious and filled with vegetables, but it can be made in under 45 minutes from start to finish. Serve with your favorite chips. We tried Lundberg’s rice chips–Fiesta Lime flavor. We crushed them up and sprinkled them on top for added crunch and flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 Tbs. cumin seeds
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeño chile, finely diced (omit seeds or use less jalapeño for a milder chili)
  • 2 Tbs. chili powder
  • 1 1/2 cups ground seitan, crumbled tempeh, or finely diced mushrooms (I used frozen Quorn crumbles)
  • 1 zucchini, diced (I used 2 small zucchini)
  • 1/2 cup diced potato
  • 1 15-oz. cans of black beans, rinsed (The recipe called for 2 black bean and one kidney, but I reversed it because that’s what I had on hand)
  • 2 15-oz. can of kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1 14-oz. can of crushed tomatoes, such as San Marzano
  • 2 Tbs. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish (optional)
  • 1 cup kale, chopped
  • Diced avocado, for garnish, optional

Directions:

1. Toast cumin seeds in dry soup pot over medium heat for 2 minutes or until aromatic.

2. Add oil, onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Stir until onion is golden and translucent. Add chili powder, seitan, zucchini, and potato, and stir well. Sauté 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Add black beans, kidney beans, tomatoes, 2 cups water, maple syrup, sea salt, and cilantro. Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and cook 20 to 25 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

3. Remove from heat;  stir in kale. Garnish with diced avocado and sprigs of fresh cilantro, if using.


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I have a funny feeling that you want more kale recipes. Here you go! I used curly kale for this one. Also, disclaimer that I didn’t measure anything, so please adjust amounts to make it the way you like it. Have a good variation of this recipe? Let me know!

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups kale
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 large parsnip, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place parsnips on a sheet pan and toss well with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Roast for 15 minutes, or until soft.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat. Cook the onions for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until evenly browned. You can add a bit of water if the pan starts to dry out.

3. Combine basil, garlic, mustard, lemon, vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper in a food processor. Blend until smooth, adding small amounts of water as needed until the desired consistency. Add salt to taste.

4. Now the fun part: Place the kale in a large bowl and gently stir in onions and parsnips. Use your hands to coat the kale evenly with the dressing.


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This Epicurious recipe is a great way to use the vegetables you can find at the Farmer’s Market even after a week of below freezing temps. Thanks to LF for bringing this over for brunch and then leaving the leftovers so I could have it for dinner, too. It went well with a vegetable frittata and sourdough bread. Although this recipe calls for Tuscan, you can use any kale that is available.

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large bunches of Tuscan kale (about 1 1/2 pounds total), center stem discarded, leaves thinly sliced
  • 12 ounces brussels sprouts, trimmed, finely grated or shredded with a knife
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/3 cup almonds with skins, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup finely grated Pecorino

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Although this salad doesn’t highlight local ingredients (for those of us in the northeast), it is a great way to beat the winter blues. To turn it into a meal, try adding some chopped avocado and putting it over a bed of farro. Happy New Year everyone!

From Food and Wine, December 2012 (makes 8 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 6 oranges
  • 2 red grapefruits
  • 2 limes
  • 1 large shallot, very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche or sour cream (I used Vermont Creamery’s crème fraîche)
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • Salt

Directions:

  1. Using a sharp knife, carefully peel the oranges, red grapefruits and limes, removing all of the bitter white pith. Working over a small bowl to catch the juices from the fruit, cut in between the membranes to release the sections. Cut the lime and grapefruit sections into thirds and leave the orange sections whole. Transfer all of the citrus to a serving bowl and add the sliced shallot and chopped parsley. Reserve the citrus juice for another use.
  2. In another small bowl, whisk the lemon zest with the lemon juice, crème fraîche, maple syrup and poppy seeds. Season the dressing lightly with salt. Pour the dressing over the fruit, toss the salad gently and serve right away.

I had to take advantage of the tomatoes that were still at the farmer’s market this chilly weekend. Also, I picked up some eggs from Grazin’ Angus Acres stand. They are a farm in Ghent, NY, and their eggs have the “Animal Welfare Approved” sticker. Not only are the chickens a lot happier than your typical chickens, but the eggs really are delicious as well. 

I didn’t have any curry powder on hand, so I mixed the following spices to make my own version of pseudo-curry powder: red pepper flakes, turmeric, yellow mustard seed, brown mustard seed, coriander, hungarian paprika, cumin, and cloves. 

Also, I used the egg-poaching advice from Smitten Kitchen and it worked out well. 

Thanks to Cooking Light for this recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried small red lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

  1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until lentils are tender. Drain; discard bay leaf.
  2. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and tomato; sauté 8 minutes or until onion is tender. Add curry, cumin, 1/4 teaspoon salt, red pepper, and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add lentils; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  3. Add water to a large skillet, filling two-thirds full; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer. Add vinegar to pan. Break eggs into custard cups. Gently pour eggs into pan; cook 3 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Carefully remove eggs from pan using a slotted spoon. Place about 3/4 cup lentil mixture on each of 4 plates; top each serving with 1 poached egg. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon yogurt and 1 1/2 teaspoons cilantro.

I love roasted butternut squash soup. This one stands out because of the other flavors involved: apples, hint of chili, rosemary, coriander, and of course cream. It’s also fairly easy because pretty much everything just roasts together for the same amount of time. 

I altered this recipe from NPR, (which originally was a Jamie Oliver recipe)  just a little bit. They suggested putting the pumpkin seeds in the oven alongside the vegetables for 10-15 minutes, but that resulted in black, smelly pumpkin seeds. Instead, I just toasted them on a skillet for a few minutes, stirring a few times to make sure they got evenly browned. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash, about 2 pounds, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3 firm, sweet apples, such as Braeburn, Pink Lady or Jazz, peeled, cored and quartered–I used Honeycrisp from the Grand Army Plaza farmer’s market
  • 1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 fresh hot red chili, seeded and finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled and crushed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup olive oil plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, separated
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (the shelled kernels, sometimes called pepitas)
  • 3 1/4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2/3 cup light cream–I used a combination of half and half and heavy cream, and you can probably get away with less cream if you want to keep it light.
  • Pumpkin seed oil, for garnish(I did not use this)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spread the squash, apples, onion, chili and garlic on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, coriander and rosemary. Drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil and toss until well coated. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until all the vegetables are cooked through and golden.
  3. Heat a skillet to medium-low, and toast pumpkin seeds, tossing occasionally, until evenly browned–about 5-10 minutes.
  4. Remove the vegetables from the oven. When they are cool enough to handle, squeeze the garlic from the peel. If you have an immersion blender, scrape the vegetables into a large pot. Deglaze the baking sheet with 1/4 cup boiling water, scraping at the burned-on bits to capture them. Add the water to the pot. Add the stock to the pot and puree, using the immersion blender.
  5. If you are using a countertop blender, deglaze the pan as above and pour into the blender. Add roughly 1/3 of the vegetables from the baking sheet and puree. Transfer puree to a large pot. Continue this process with the rest of the vegetables, using the stock.
  6. Once the vegetables are pureed in the pot, add the cream and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer until the soup is warmed through and reaches your preferred consistency.
  7. To serve, divide into bowls. Drizzle with pumpkin seed oil (or not). Top with toasted pumpkin seeds.