Archive for the 'salads' Category

flowering bok choy

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

The rain is back. It’s been crisp and sunny lately, almost t-shirt weather—not quite cold but not too hot either. Just the other day I saw some geese waddling around the pond near my work. A cozy duck couple have been sunbathing on the grass, napping lazily with their bills tucked into their wings. This morning the sky was drab as a Soviet era apartment building. And asphalt looks so depressing when it’s wet.

I wonder if this weather means no more green garlic at the market? Fewer pastured eggs? Less flavorful goat cheese? Just as I had begun to crave salads and cool watermelon with feta cheese, must I turn my appetite back to hot soups and heavy stews? While Nature vacillates between renewal and hibernation, the natural world can’t decide whether to bloom or go back to sleep for the winter. It’s enough to force a person to eat bread and water in utter seasonal confusion.

But a person cannot live on bread alone. And if this damn weather keeps harking back to winter, what can you do but create your own spring?

bok choy flowers with grapefruit jewels

At the farmers market, I came across tiny little bok choy greens crowned by tinier butter-yellow flowers. The crisp greens are the backdrop to bittersweet, soft fillets of oro blanco grapefruit, which in turn, cut the plump creaminess of the avocado pieces. Candied almonds bring it all together with their sweet crunch. The tiny bok choy buds bring spring indoors, even if the weather says otherwise. The pale gold grapefruit segments are jewels of sunlight shimmering through leafy bok choy branches.

3 handfuls flowering bok choy or other mild greens, coarsely chopped
1 oro blanco grapefruit or small pomelo, filleted
1/2-3/4 of an avocado
olive oil
salt and pepper
mandarin orange roasted almonds, or other candied almonds

  • In a large bowl, combine the bok choy with the grapefruit.
  • Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit.
  • Make lengthwise cuts in the avocado, cutting down to but not through the skin.
  • Make two crosswise cuts in the avocado, cutting the lengthwise slices into thirds.
  • Turn the skin of the avocado inside out and push out the slices with your finger or the end of your knife.
  • Combine the avocado with the greens and fruit.
  • Pour over olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper, toss to combine.
  • Plate and garnish with candied almonds.

Serves 2-3

green beans and strawberries

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

green_bean_strawberry

I tried, I really did. I just couldn’t get a good photo of this evening’s side dish. So for your amusement, I’ve created a stylized (*ahem*) rendition of a green bean with a strawberry. They look rather happy together, don’t they? Each in its own lopsided way.

What’s a green bean got to do with a strawberry, you may ask? The truth is, I have no idea. I just needed something to lend a little chutzpah to the skinny, sedate French beans I served with supper. I spotted the basket of forgotten strawberries from the corner of my eye and thought “yeah, that’ll do.” It did indeed. I’d forgotten how wonderful strawberries taste with freshly ground black pepper. They’re also a soft, juicy contrast to turgidly crunchy beans.

This is one of those non-recipes that’s too simple to really be a recipe. The only rule is to try to balance the green beans with the strawberries. A ratio of two to one is about right, I think.

green beans and strawberries

1 bunch green beans, washed and trimmed
strawberries
olive oil to taste
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Place a large sauté pan or skillet on a medium flame and toss a bunch of green beans into it.
  2. While the green beans are cooking, rinse and trim some strawberries and slice them in half. Then slice the halves into thick matchsticks.
  3. Toss the green beans around periodically, and cook until they just turn a bright shade of green.
  4. Transfer the beans to a large bowl, combine with strawberries.
  5. Drizzle with good olive oil, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Taste and correct seasoning. If you’d like the salad to be sweeter, add more strawberries.

Variations:

  • Dress with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
  • Instead of freshly ground black pepper, use freshly cracked black pepper for more pronounced heat and black pepper flavor.
  • Try shaving or grating some parmigiano-reggiano on top.
  • Crumble some good quality freshly fried bacon on top.
  • Serve with prosciutto.
  • Deconstruct the dish by cooking the strawberries separately with balsamic vinegar and reducing them to a sauce. Season liberally with cracked or ground black pepper. Spoon the hot or cold sauce over the green beans. (This is the most peculiar, yet intriguing suggestion I could think of. If anyone tries it, do let me know how it turns out.)
  • Reduce the green beans to a sauce, and spoon it over the cold strawberries. Just kidding.

lazy mezze meal

Monday, September 25th, 2006

When I’m feeling lazy and the weather is warm, a light dinner of assorted mezze is very satisfying. Here are some ideas for small dishes, followed by a couple of recipes. Combine a few of these dishes with toasted country style or flat bread and cured meats and cheeses for a light supper or lunch.

  • Halved tomatoes, fried in olive oil with sliced garlic, sprinkled over with salt & pepper and a basil leaf
  • Zucchini blossoms lightly sauteed in olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Steamed stinging nettles (or spinach), mixed with butter, sauteed garlic, seasoned with salt and pepper and garnished with grated parmesan

chickpea and fennel mezze

1/4 can chickpeas
1/4 large fennel, diced
1 clove garlic
juice of half a lemon
olive oil
salt and pepper

  • In a bowl, lightly mash the chickpeas. Toss in the fennel.
  • Press the garlic clove and squeeze the half lemon over the mixture.
  • Pour olive oil on the meze and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 2-3 (small, mezze style portions)

cucumber, yogurt, and blueberry mezze with lemon thyme

1 large Persian or other long cucumber, finely diced
2 tsp fresh lemon thyme, pounded in a mortar and pestle or finely chopped fresh mint
about 1 c natural, unflavored, full fat yogurt
about 1 TBS fresh lemon juice
1/4 c fresh blueberries
salt and pepper to taste

  • Put the diced cucumber and herbs in a medium bowl.
  • Pour over some of the yogurt, then squeeze in the lemon juice and toss. You want to balance the acidity of the lemon juice with the tartness of the yogurt, but you don’t want the mixture to be too runny. Add more yogurt as needed and taste as you go.
  • Add in the blueberries and toss carefully, so as not to smash the fruit.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 2 as part of a mezze style meal

P.S. Stay tuned for more reports on NYC and Stockholm…

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