Roasted squash salad with pomegranate vinaigrette + easy slow-cooker vegetarian chili

Hello! For all my west coast friends and family who have visions of me shivering in a snowsuit, just want you to know that we survived the Nor’easter of October ’11. We were not snowed in and trapped at home, but the frigid cold did not bekon me outdoors, so I stayed inside and made a roasted squash salad and a zesty slow cooker vegetarian sweet potato chili. Continue reading

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Eggplant rolatini and salad with peach vinaigrette

I used to hate eggplant. My three brothers and I made a no-eggplant pact. We figured if we banded together we could convince my mom not to make it for us. Who could blame us? How about some bitter spongy slices sawed from those fat purple blobs, then coated in egg and bread crumbs and pan fried, for you?

The eggplant ban lasted for decades and then one day a thin, balsamic-roasted slice ended up in a roasted vegetable sandwich. Hmmmm. Pretty good. Then a friend made honey roasted eggplant and I started to rethink eggplant.

What clinched it was overhearing a recipe described a the farmer’s market: roasted eggplant slices, spread with goat cheese and pesto, rolled up and topped with fresh tomato sauce.

So, now that the eggplant ban is officially lifted, I’m making my favorite eggplant dish with my mom and dad, who always thought the ban was ridiculous but gave in to us because we ate everything else they put on our plates. This is a great dish to make for company because it’s vegetarian and easily made vegan, and you can do most prep ahead of time, which means more time to spend with your friends.

Menu
Artichoke and olive tapenade with crackers
Mixed greens with peaches, almonds, and peach vinaigrette
Eggplant rolatini with tomato sauce over linguini
Strawberry sorbet
Continue reading

Golden beet and raw kale salad

Golden beets have become a recent favorite. I’ve been preparing them using Mark Bittman’s good advice of wrapping cleaned and trimmed individual beets in foil and baking them at 400 degrees until a sharp knife slides easily through them. After they cool, you peel them and eat them or put them in the refrigerator for later. They find their way into salad, sandwiches (with goat cheese and arugula), and maybe even a dessert (shhhhh…).

They also go nicely with raw kale. I tried my first raw kale salad last summer, and it was the NY Times version with raw kale ribbons, lemon juice, and ricotta salata. Pretty good, but not enough to convert non-fans of slighly bitter green leaves. Then there’s the gateway raw kale salad in Melissa Clark’s In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite. I could tear up strips of junk mail and use them in place of the kale and get rave reviews.

Golden beet and raw kale salad
I bunch of lacinato kale, washed and dried
2 1/2 TBS fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 TBS olive oil
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
3 golden beets, cooked and sliced into bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup or more, parmesan (finely grated or shaved into ribbons with a vegetable peeler)
salt and pepper to taste

1. With a sharp knife, remove the center ribs from the kale. Then stack leaves and cut them in ribbons of about 3/4 wide. Repeat until all leaves are cut.

2. In your salad bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

3. Add to the bowl kale, beets, walnuts, and most of the parmesan and toss until all ingredients are coated. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Top with remaining parmesan and serve.

Serves 4 as a first course or light lunch along with beet, goat cheese, and arugula sandwiches.

Lacinato kale and tangerine salad + spicy pork stir fry

Menu

Lacinato kale and tangerine salad
Spicy pork and cilantro stir fry
Steamed brown basmati rice
Sliced papaya

It feels like Spring is almost here. After a string of grey days, the sun is out and it’s light out until after 7. I went for a quick run and was energized by all the smiley people out for walks. Then, with renewed energy and a growling belly, I got to work. 

Kale is always on those lists of healthy food you probably don’t eat but should. I never did until I was introduced to it by my friend Rob, who made a salad of thin-sliced raw lacinato kale, lemon juice, and ricota salata. Simple and so good. Then a week later I had an elegant vegan version with citrus at Shojin, that again changed my opinion of kale (the nice people and enthusiastic vibe at Shojin could make anything taste good).

I ended up with 5 lbs of the best clementines I’ve ever had in my life (Whole Foods shopping frenzy), and found a bunch of some very fresh looking kale. So here’s my take on raw kale salad: 

Lacinato kale and tangerine salad:
1/2 lb (approx) lacinato kale
5 TBS fresh squeezed tangerine juice (from 2-3 tangerines)
2 tangerines, peeled, broken in half and thinly sliced
1/2 clove minced garlic
pinch salt
1 TBS good tasting olive oil
2-3 TBS sliced or slivered almonds, toasted

Wash kale, cut out the center rib, and then stack leaves and cut crosswise into half-inch strips.

Make dressing: in small bowl, add garlic and pinch of salt, and with a pestle or the round side of a lemon zester, mash garlic to a paste. Add tangerine juice and olive oil and stir with a fork to blend it. Add salt and pepper to taste. If the tangerines are not very sweet, consider adding a touch of sugar or honey.

Put dressing in the bottom of bowl, add kale, and toss. Top with almonds and tangerine slices, and lots of freshly ground pepper.

Now for the rest of dinner. I found this lovely recipe in the Chez Pim archives for Pad Krapow Moo–spicy stir-fried pork with holy basil.

I’ve always been intimidated by Thai cooking, but this seemed do-able. Except for the key ingredient: holy basil. Pim had it growing in her garden when she wrote that entry. I’ve got nothing growing in my thawing garden, and the basil I bought a couple days ago is looking sad. So here’s my adaptation of the spicy pork stir fry:

6 cloves finely chopped garlic
2-3 Thai bird chilies, seeds removed and thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper cut into small strips
1 lb ground pork
2 tsp canola oil
3 TBS fish sauce
2TBS soy sauce
4 green onions, white and green parts thinly sliced
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro

Heat large stir fry pan over medium high heat. Add oil and then add garlic and chilies, stir for about a minute and add pork, breaking it up with a large spoon.

Continue stirring the pork and breaking into pieces as it cooks.

When it’s almost fully cooked, add fish sauce, soy sauce, peppers, and onions. Stir until the peppers are cooked to your liking.

Take off the heat and stir in the cilantro. Serve with steamed rice. Serves 4 hungry people.