This is a beautiful special occasion salad, and our special occasion was that it was Wednesday. I think there is a certain irony to a salad that includes “fried” and “candied” in the title, and I couldn’t resist it. I used beets and Boston lettuce from this week’s CSA share. Thanks to sophistimom for the great recipe, which I adapted a only a little bit.
For the beets:
- 2 beets, scrubbed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper
For the candied walnuts:
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
For the fried goat cheese:
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- zest of 1/2 lemon
- 1 1/2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
- Oil for frying
Greens and Dressing:
- 1 head Boston Bibb lettuce (0r any other greens)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Prepare the beets:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a sheet of aluminum foil on a baking sheet. Top with a piece of parchment paper. Place beets on parchment paper, drizzle with about a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap paper and aluminum foil around the beets and bake for 60-90 minutes, or until beets are tender. Let cool completely. Then, cut into 1/4 inch slices and divide each slice into fourths. Meanwhile, lower the oven to 325 and get going with the walnuts:
Prepare the Candied Walnuts:
- Mix together the walnuts and maple syrup until evenly coated. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Make a single layer with the walnuts, and heat for 20-25 minutes, flipping once during cooking.
- Allow to cool, and then roughly chop the walnuts.
Prepare the Fried Goat Cheese: (NOTE: You will want the cheese to be warm, so you can compile the whole salad, and save the second step below for last.)
- Mix cheese with lemon zest, parmesan, thyme, and salt and pepper until well blended. Roll cheese mixture into quarter-sized patties. Freeze for about 20 minutes. Roll in egg, and coat with Panko.
- Heat oil in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan on medium heat. When you put the cheese in the saucepan it should start bubbling immediately. Flip them after 10-15 seconds, and cook on the other side for 10-15 seconds. The cheese should be golden brown.
Prepare the greens and vinaigrette:
- Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss with the greens.
Compile the Salad:
- Layer the greens and vinaigrette, followed by the beets, walnuts and then goat cheese. Enjoy!
If you want to use up a bunch of your root vegetables but don’t feel like turning on the oven, this is the perfect dish. You can make it in under 10 minutes, and can pretty much use any vegetables you want. The two key tools here are a mandoline and a mini food processor (You can use a blender, too). To make this salad a meal, serve it with the second recipe below, Quick Sesame Peanut Noodles.
Here are the vegetables I used:
- 1 harukei turnip
- 1 red beet
- 1 medium zucchini
- 1 medium yellow summer squash
Other vegetables you can substitute are: carrots, kohlrabi, any other type of beet…
Use a mandoline to thinly slice all of the vegetables and combine in a large bowl. Then, make the dressing:
- 1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon honey or sugar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Place ginger and garlic in mini food processor and process for a few seconds. Scrape down sides if necessary.
- Add vinegar, soy sauce and honey in food processor and blend for another 30 seconds or so.
- Slowly drizzle in oils. I use the itty-bitty hole at the top of the mini-prep so that I can continue to process while adding the oils.
- Pour dressing over salad and combine. Serve immediately.
Bonus Recipe: Quick Sesame Peanut Noodles
- Banh Pho Noodles (wide, flat rice noodles–I used about 1/3 of the package of the very wide kind, like the type of noodle in Pad Thai)
- a handful or two of raw unsalted peanuts
- 1 teaspoon tahini
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1-2 tablespoons of scallion, roughly chopped
- Cook noodles according to package directions. I put mine in boiling water for about 6 minutes and then drained. Then I returned them to the pot.
- Blend noodles, tahini and soy sauce in a food processor for a 1-2 minutes, scraping down sides as necessary.
- Place peanut mixture in a bowl with 2-3 tablespoons warm water. Stir to combine.
- Pour mixture over noodles and add the scallions.
- Heat up the noodles over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes, and serve immediately.
It has been my experience that the topic of tofu brings up assorted emotional reactions. Some people are afraid of it, and stay as far away as possible. To those of you who fit in that category, there is help. Try this recipe. Perhaps it will convert you.
As a vegetarian for practically my whole adult life, soy was a major staple in my diet. I made dips out of edamame, ate soy-filled energy bars, my freezer was filled with Morningstar Farms products (fake chicken, fake rib, fake you-name-it, I piled my salads high with “chik’n” and “soy medallions” from the Whole Foods salad bar, I used tofu in stir fries, and looked forward to eating my “not dog” with sauerkraut at summer bar-be-ques. However, after hearing some controversial and conflicting ideas about soy’s health effects, I stopped eating soy cold tofurkey in January. It was kind of like an experiment: Can a vegetarian go without soy?
Side effects might include:
1. Eating more than your fair share of rice and beans. Guess the consequence.
2. Missing tofu terribly, and gazing at it longingly in the supermarket freezer.
3. Plummeting stock of Morningstar Farms (I am just assuming).
4. Eating even more rice and beans.
5. Eating meat.
So, although I no longer label myself as a vegetarian, I still think carefully about incorporating lots of meat-free protein-rich sources into my diet, such as quinoa, nuts, and, well…rice and beans.
When I got the napa cabbage and scallions from the CSA this week, I thought back to one of my favorite tofu recipes. The recipe below is adapted from Did Emmons Entertaining for a Veggie Planet. I began to wonder if perhaps eliminating something 100% was not necessary. Maybe, just maybe, moderation is the key to a healthy diet. And then I broke down, went out the the store, and bought myself some tofu. I know, I am such a rebel that I can hardly believe it myself.
3 cups very thinly sliced napa cabbage
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 16 ounce carton firm or extra firm tofu
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup bean sprouts
3 scallions, white and green parts, coarsely chopped
1 cup raw,unsalted peanuts
1 tablespoon chile paste (or minced small chiles)
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1. In a large colander, combine the cabbage and salt and toss to coat. let stand for 30 minutes in the sink to leach out excess water. Rinse well with cold running water and drain. Pat dry with clean kitchen towels.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place peanuts on rimmed baking sheet. Cook until toasty, 12-15 minutes. Then, chop and keep the peanuts aside for now.
2. Wrap the block of tofu well with a clean dishtowel and press firmly until you feel the towel become damp. Unwrap the tofu and cut it into 1/2 cubes. In a large, well-seasoned skillet, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and salt it liberally. Fry the tofu undisturbed until it forms a dark golden crust on the bottom, then use a spatula to turn it an brown it well on at least one more side. Drain well on paper towels. Transfer the tofu to a large bowl and add the cabbage, bean sprouts and scallions.
In a small bowl, whisk together the chile paste, ginger, garlic, sugar, and vinegar until sugar dissolves.
Right before serving, pour the dressing over the slaw and garnish it with the peanuts.
Every month, I get a package of fresh organic fruit as part of the fruit of the month club. (Thanks, mom and dad!) This month, I received a giant box of sweet and juicy nectarines. I made a fruit salad with some of them, mixed with blueberries and raspberries from the CSA. I also wanted to incorporate the nectarines into a savory salad as well. This salad is protein-packed, vegan, and gluten free. A triple threat.
Grain salads can be a little bit more work than green salads because you need to cook the grains. I recommend making a large batch of grains ahead of time, and keeping it in the fridge. Then you have ready-to-go grains which you can use for salads throughout the week.
1 cup quinoa
1 2/3 cups water
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup chopped parsley
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)
2 ripe nectarines, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup raisins
zest of 2 limes
juice of 2 limes
2 tsp honey
2 tsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp paprika
2 tablespoons olive oil
additional salt and pepper to taste
1. Let quinoa soak in a bowl of water for 15 minutes to 1 hour. Rinse thoroughly and allow to drain. (This step takes out the bitter flavor of quinoa. If your quinoa is pre-rinsed, you can skip this step.)
2. Boil 1 2/3 cups water and then add quinoa. Bring to a boil again, and then reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the “halo” separates from the seed and all of the water has been absorbed. Spread quinoa out on a baking sheet, and allow to cool completely.
3. Toast the almonds and pumpkin seeds on a skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally. They are ready when the almonds start to turn golden, and the green pepitas begin to turn brown .Watch closely, as they will both burn quickly. Remove from heat and let cool.
4. Mix the quinoa with the rest of the salad ingredients.
5. To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients through paprika. Then, slowly whisk in olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Toss dressing with the salad, and serve room temperature or chilled.
On a hot, hot day, nothing can cool you off quite like a cucumber.
1/2 cup peanuts
4 cucumbers, peeled, cut in half length-wise, seeded, and chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
1 tablespoon salt
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped (adjust according to your spice tolerance–I’m looking at you, El Diablo)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1. Set oven to 325 degrees. Place peanuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Chop peanuts (You can briefly pulse in a food processor).
2. Toss cucumbers with salt and let sit in colander for 30 minutes. Drain excess water, rinse thoroughly, and pat dry between clean kitchen towels.
3. Mix sugar and vinegar until sugar dissolves. Stir in cucumbers, cilantro, jalapeno, and peanuts.
I have a few strong beliefs about Indiana sweet corn:
1. Indiana Sweet Corn is the Great Equalizer
Horace Mann said that education is the great equalizer. However, on a muggy summer evening in northern Indiana, when the fireflies light up the sky and the crickets start to play their nightly symphony, corn can certainly level the playing field as well.
My love affair with Indiana sweet corn began soon after my love affair with my husband started. We sat down to a wonderful dinner with his family on a hot Indiana night several years back. This was before we were married. I was just getting to know his family. Of course, I was feeling nervous about eating with the right fork, talking at the right time, and passing my food in the right direction.
When the corn got passed to me (from the left), I gingerly selected an ear, and quietly panicked. How am I supposed to eat this thing? No one was passing the corn holders from left to right. Reluctantly, I began to tackle the corn. It took me way too long to peel the husk off, as I was trying painstakingly hard to remove every single fiber. I delicately began nibbling at my corn, being careful not to get any stray kernels on the corner of my lips or between my teeth. Should I floss mid-meal?! I was about to take a knife to start cutting the kernels off the cob, when I finally looked around me.
I saw everyone else eating corn with gusto! Husks were being nonchalantly tossed to the middle of the table, and ear after ear was being devoured with no utensils or apparent concern for dental floss. Everyone was busy eating their corn type-writer style. It seemed that my future father-in-law had especially mastered this technique. He glanced at me for a moment, and smiled. I picked up my corn with two hands, started chomping away, and smiled back with a corn-toothed grin. It was then I learned the power of corn to bring people together.
2. Indiana Sweet Corn Can Be Eaten Raw
Before I tasted Indiana sweet corn, I used to only eat corn when it was slathered with butter and salt, or hidden under a mound of a mayonnaise/cheese/spices to make Mexican street corn. While I still adore the street corn at one of the numerous street fairs in NYC in the summertime, I enjoy eating Indiana sweet corn just as nature made it. If you’ve never eaten raw corn before, I recommend only doing so if the corn is as fresh as possible. We get our Indiana sweet corn from none other than Sweet Corn Charlie’s farm stand:
And a quick quiz, for my fellow city slickers. How many ears of corn grow on a single stalk? (Scroll down to find the answer)
Indiana Sweet Corn Salad
This recipe is from Real Simple magazine
1 cup walnuts
4 cups fresh corn kernels: To cut the kernels off the cob, first cut it in half crosswise. Then, Place one half cut end down on a rimmed baking dish or shallow bowl. The rim will keep the kernels from falling all over the place. Use a sharp knife and cut as much of the kernel off as possible. Avoid cutting too close to the cob, or you will end up with tough pieces.
2 jalapenos, seeded and thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool and roughly chop.
In a large bowl, combine the corn, jalapenos, lime juice, oil, walnuts, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspooon pepper. Sprinkle with feta before serving.
Quiz Answer: One! (sometimes 2)
You can enjoy this corn salad with some beer can chicken. These lovely ladies are organic Amish chicken from northern Indiana.