Tag Archives: salad

Head Games

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There’s no metaphor tied to this salad. No anxious, overwrought voice in my head that asks ‘How can I completely overthink this dish to best represent my emotions?’ Don’t worry – I’ve barely scratched the surface of my food-as-therapy inclinations. But here and now, this is just a salad. In summers past, I’ve played the ‘how do I use all my vegetables before the next box arrives’ game. Not so this summer – I’m leaving Minneapolis in just FIVE DAYS (!!!) and now is right when the season is hitting its stride. So, to replace the CSA game, I’ve developed a new one over the past several weeks: Clean out the pantry before I move!

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I never meant to have farro in my kitchen. I accidentally bought it during one shopping trip when I meant to get freekah (for the most amazing pilaf), but as always happens when I shop on my way home from work, I forgot my grocery list and relied on my memory. Turns out, my memory isn’t always the most reliable source of information. My pantry has been harboring farro as a fugitive ever since.

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I love a good salad (even if most of you must think I only eat ice cream) only they frequently leave me craving a cookie by mid-afternoon. Particularly at this time of year when I am cycling 6.5 miles to get to campus. But this salad – oh this salad! Who knew something made up on a whim some random summer evening while Skyping with the family would leave me so smitten. It delightfully manages to keep my hunger at bay. Not only that, but it maintains its integrity over several days as the farro just keeps soaking up the juices from the cucumber, tomato and corn.

A win by all accounts.

Summer Farro Salad 

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1 cup farro
2 cups vegetable stock
 
¼ cup lemon juice
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon black pepper
 
3 ears worth of corn kernels (removed from cob)
2-3 shallots, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon coriander
 
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber, chopped
6 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1 bunch arugula, chopped
3 tablespoons mint, chopped
 
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In a medium pot bring farro and vegetable stock to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 20 minutes, until tender. Drain remaining cooking liquid. While farro is cooking, whisk together extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt, sugar and pepper. Toss with warm farro.
 
In a saucepan, heat olive oil and cook shallots until softened, ~5 minutes. Add corn kernels and coriander and cook 5 minutes more. Toss with the farro and add tomatoes, cucumber and feta cheese. Serve atop a bed of arugula and garnish with mint.

Farewell Summer and Goodbye Watermelon

I snapped this photo yesterday on my way to work.

Autumn’s arrived. Crisp, clear, crystal blue skies and leaves the shades of fire. Chilly mornings and warm afternoons.

I am excited for the start of autumn. To wear my skirts with bright tights, boots and to layer on the cardigans. To roast squash, simmer soups and bake apples. Here’s the thing: I’ve had these watermelons hanging out, overstaying their welcome and refusing to leave.

Watermelon unequivocably resonates summertime. You see my dilemma.

I love my CSA, but watermelon every week for what seems like forever is wearing a bit thin. My relationship with watermelon is akin to the family friend whom you like, but drives you crazy after about an hour. It’s not like I don’t like watermelon, I do, I just don’t love it. You are always pleased to see them, happy to reunite after time spent apart … and then you are ready to go your separate ways. Enough is enough.

Watermelon, two ways

The problem is that I cannot stand to throw out food. I’m a frugal foodie – not in the money sense, I certainly don’t have a problem opening up my wallet to expensive ingredients, but I hate wasting food. It’s why I made half a dozen angel food cakes this summer in order to use up all of the egg whites I’d saved from my ice cream adventures. So what to do with watermelon?

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First off, pair it with mint and some citrus.

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And if you’d like, add some salty cheese and a hint of heat.

Watermelon Lime and Mint Aqua Fresca: This was an excellent way to use up a lot of watermelon and is a riff on the raw rhubarb juice that I adore. Whew. And a cinch to pull together, with only four ingredients. Fantastic on it’s own, but is also quite appealing as a twist on a gin and tonic (add gin) or a mojito (add rum). One small watermelon yields 3-4 cups of juice.

Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint: I first made this salad when I was in the Pacific Northwest and it was entirely decent. I made it again, using half of the Yellow Doll watermelon (yes, a yellow watermelon!) from my CSA, swapped shallots for the onion and added a pinch of cayenne pepper to the dressing and I was ready to re-evaluate my feelings toward watermelon. Perhaps I’d be okay if it married into the family.

Watermelon, Two Ways

Watermelon Lime Mint Aqua Fresca
makes ~4 cups 
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1 small watermelon, deseeded and chopped in 2-inch chunks
juice from 2 limes
1 cup mint
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
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In a food processor, combine the watermelon and lime juice. Process until there are no more watermelon chunks. Pour through a fine mesh sieve and discard pulp. In a small saucepan, combine mint, sugar and water. Bring to a boil and cook until sugar has dissolved and the mint has wilted. Pour through the mesh strainer into the watermelon-lime juice, pressing hard on mint leaves to extract all their flavor. Stir to combine.

Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint
from Food and Wine
makes ~2 servings
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Salad
1 small watermelon, deseeded and cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped mint
1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles
 
Dressing
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
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In a large bowl, combine watermelon, diced shallot, mint and feta. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, lemon juice, salt, black and cayenne peppers. Toss with watermelon.

Beet, Orange and Goat Cheese Salad

I made this salad tonight and within one bite I knew I wanted to share. It’s not fancy or fussy, but is brilliantly hued and surprisingly sweet. I don’t have much to say – no deep thoughts about life, just a nod to how much I enjoy food. This salad is a shining example of why I love my CSA. The salad greens were amazingly robust and flavorful. And the beets … oh my, this season’s beets have been wonderfully balanced between earthy and sweet.

This is a breeze to put together … I had a conference call to Singapore this evening (I am still in hard-core work mode) and managed to throw this together in a matter of minutes. Of course, I had the foresight to roast the beets earlier this week (and in the morning no less, while my apartment is still blessedly cool).  Pairing the beets with citrus was amazing. I had bookmarked this recipe some time ago, as I am always looking for inventive uses for rhubarb. And I attempted to cook the rhubarb as described – but just wasn’t feeling it for a salad (stay tuned for how I re-invented it …), so I ended up omitting it. I swapped goat cheese for feta, simply because I had some in my refrigerator, and these days I just don’t have time for extra trips to the grocery store.

I am smitten with this salad. For the colors and the flavors. My only hope that there are more beets in this week’s CSA…

Beet, Orange and Goat Cheese Salad
modified from Bon Appetit, April 2010
1 generous entrée-size salad
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1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon orange juice 
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
 
mixed salad greens
1 medium beet, roasted and thinly sliced
1 orange, peeled and segmented
1 1/2 ounce goat cheese, crumbled
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Whisk orange peel, orange juice, lemon juice, vinegar, honey, and olive oil together. Season dressing with coarse salt and pepper. Toss with salad greens, sliced beets, orange segments and goat cheese.

Apple Cranberry Cabbage Salad

I love this salad. It’s something of a cross between a waldorf salad and a slaw … but without the heavy, gloppy mayonnaise. I originally made it for our lab picnic earlier this summer (along with this Rhubarb Cobbler Cake) as I had a head of cabbage from the CSA box. And I made it again this week because I found myself with another head of cabbage and because I am love with apple season. It’s got some serious tang – the dressing has two different vinegars in it but is balanced by the sweetness of the apples, cranberries and sweet and spicy walnuts.

It feels hearty, because for some reason in my mind cabbage has much more substance than lettuce, but not heavy. A great dish for the transition into autumn. I’ve been savoring the local Ginger Gold apples and they are great in this salad because they keep well once cut (i.e. won’t turn brown). I used half a head of cabbage and it was perfect for two decently sized salads … but this is easily scaled up if feeding more than a mouth a or two.

Apple Cranberry Cabbage Salad

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1/2 head of cabbage
1 apple
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup sweet and spicy walnuts, recipe below
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste
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Thinly slice the cabbage. Peel, core and thinly slice the apple into large, bite-sized pieces. Throw in a bowl with the dried cranberries and sweet and spicy walnuts.

In a small jar (I think this one had red curry paste in it originally) combine the olive oil, rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar and dijon mustard. Salt and pepper to taste. Give it a good shake.

Pour dressing over salad and toss. It doesn’t get that much easier or delicious.

Sweet and Spicy Walnuts

makes ~1 1/2 cups

I love, love, love these nuts. Sometimes I used pecans instead and will throw them on salads or eat straight out of the jar.

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1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups walnuts
freshly ground black pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
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In a small pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the sugar and walnuts, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Stir until the walnuts are evenly coated and the peppers are distributed. And wait. Eventually (~5 minutes) the sugar will start to melt. At that point, make sure to be constantly stirring the walnuts into the melted sugar until all of the sugar is cooked and the nuts are evenly coated, about 2-3 minutes.

Transfer to wax paper to let cool. You can store these nuts in a jar for a couple of weeks.

CSA Week 9: Sweet Corn, two ways

The sweet corn has arrived. I really only like fresh corn, either on the cob or off, but please don’t make me use frozen or canned corn. Apparently it arrived last week, but I was on vacation. However, while on vacation, menu-planning for a big family dinner I came across a recipe for corn salad from Mark Bittman that got me pretty excited. Mostly because it involved avocado in addition to the sweet corn. I didn’t end up making it for our family dinner but when there was sweet corn in the CSA box this week I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it.

So salad it was. And it hit the spot in the most perfect way. An amazing balance of sweet and spicy.

Again, while on vacation, I came across an intriguing recipe for sweet corn and blackberry swirl ice cream while I was perusing Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams (thank you Scott for bringing me her book back from your trip to Columbus, Ohio). And then upon my return to Minneapolis, my friend Laura also brought up the idea, after reading this New York Times article.

Corn ice cream. Who knew? (Although I highly recommend it with the berry swirl – without it, it’s just too much corn flavor and the berries balance it out nicely.)

Sweet Corn Salad

from Mark Bittman

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1 tablespoon oil
3 ears of sweet corn, kernels removed
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 small tomato, diced
1 small avocado, diced
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
juice from 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste
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Remove kernels from corn cobs (but save the cobs – you’ll need them for the ice cream!). Dice the red onion and red bell pepper. Set aside.

Heat oil in medium skillet and add corn kernels. Cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in chili powder, red onion and red bell pepper. Transfer to a medium sized bowl. Let cool for a few minutes.

Dice tomato and avocado and add to bowl. Add chopped cilantro. Toss with lime juice and salt and pepper.

Call it a salad or call it a salsa. I ate it with corn chips and was extremely happy with my decision.

Sweet Corn and Blackberry Swirl Ice Cream

adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

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Sweet Corn Ice Cream
3 hulled corn cobs
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
 
Blackberry Sauce
1 cup blackberries
1/2 cup sugar
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Mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch, until dissolved. Set aside. Whisk cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Set aside.

In a medium pot, combine remaining milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup and corn cobs. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and pour through mesh sieve. Return to pot and whisk in cornstarch slurry, cooking until slightly thickened, about a minute. Remove from heat. Gradually pour the hot milk mixture into the bowl with the cream cheese, whisking constantly until smooth. Pour through mesh sieve to remove any clumps. Chill mixture thoroughly.

While the ice cream base is chilling, make the blackberry sauce. Heat blackberries and sugar in a small pot over high heat until boiling. Cook for 7-8 minutes and remove from heat. Transfer to a blender and puree. Run through mesh sieve to remove seeds. Chill thoroughly.

Freeze ice cream base in ice cream maker, about 25 minutes. Once churned, layer ice cream and blackberry sauce in alternating layers in a storage container – do not mix! End with a spoonful of sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and an airtight lid and store in freezer.

The first bite is shocking – it tastes like corn! And you think “I’m not too sure about this” but as you continue to eat it you start to dread the fact that it is coming to an end.