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LENT: Big Up Your Tuna Salad

26 Feb

We’re approaching the second Friday of Lent (and my second week without cheese, Lord help me). It’ll be tuna salad for lunch tomorrow, but not your run-of-the-mill deli style tuna salad. I like my flavors a little bigger and bolder (except for the tuna, which I confess to liking on the milder side; I prefer albacore and try to purchase ocean friendly brands). Here’s my easy way of making tuna salad special.

I am trying to keep the carb load down, so I'll just have my tuna salad with lettuce.

I am trying to keep the carb load down, so I’ll just have my tuna salad with lettuce.

To one 5 oz. can tuna, drained, I add 1 Tbs prepared mayonnaise and 1-2 tsp each of prepared mustard, drained capers, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, chopped onion, and chopped roasted red pepper. Mix well, season to taste, and serve on bread or salad.

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Garbanzo (Chick Pea) Salad with Tahini, Black Olives and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

13 Aug

I love garbanzos (chick peas, ceci) in all different ways, but especially as a salad or salad topper. They add meatiness and texture to everything and taste great with loads of garlic and onions.

Also, very versatile...

Also, very versatile…

Here is a quick and easy salad that uses up the bits and bobs you have in your fridge. When I make this kind of salad, I feel as though I am just giving it everything I’ve got; you’ll notice that the quantities of each ingredient can vary to your taste and availability. We’ll be having this one tonight with cold leftover chicken, perhaps some marinated artichoke hearts, an olive assortment, some pistachios and clementines. Delicious light dinner!

A worthy accompaniment to summer meals

A worthy accompaniment to summer meals

Garbanzo Salad with Tahini, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Olives

2-3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

½ – 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Juice of half a lemon

1-1 Tbs tahini

Pinch salt

1 Tbs garlic, minced

2 Cup garbanzos (soaked or from a can)

¼ Cup onion, chopped fine        

¼ Cup green pepper, chopped fine

2 Tbs sun-dried tomatoes, diced

1-2 Tbs pitted black olives, sliced

1 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped

In a serving bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, and lemon juice, until smooth. Stir in tahini until smooth, then a bit of salt. Add remaining ingredients and mix well, adding additional salt if desired. Serve over salad greens or rice.

Georgia Kalamidas’ Purslane Salad (Another weed made useful!)

12 Aug

We were a bit bemused to find this thick-leaved rubbery-stemmed plant called purslane (Portulaca oleracea) in our pick-up and completely unsure of how to use it. It seemed to be the exception to the CSA rule of thumb: “When in doubt, saute in garlic and oil.” What to do?

Purslane is a succulent. those fat leaves hold water during drought.

Purslane is a succulent. those fat leaves hold water during drought.

Fortunately, our Restoration Farm grower Caroline Fanning provided a recipe from someone I think is another another member, Georgia Kalamidas (duly credited here) and the Internet provided more info on what this thing is. Apparently, some folks think it is a beautiful edible ornamental. Others think it is a weedy, resilient pain the gardener’s ass.

University of Illinois Extenson educator, Sandra Mason in a very funny and informative piece called “Purslane: Weed it or Eat it?”  discusses the relative merits of purslane in the garden. For example: “Purslane is an annual reproducing from seeds and from stem pieces. Seeds of purslane have been known to stay viable for 40 years in the soil. You may find that fact either depressing or exciting.”

Use it or lose it. One day after pick-up this needed using

Use it or lose it. One day after pick-up this needed using

The edible nature of this useful weed is another story. In young plants you can use the stem. My pick-up partners, Lori and John, and I tasted the stems and were not impressed. So we removed the leaves (it takes a while, so factor in time for that), rinsed thoroughly (purslane generally grows close to the ground) and followed Georgia’s recipe. The purslane is a bit like watercress without the nuttiness, and a bit like parsley but milder. In fact, you could substitute either in this salad, which was absolutely refreshing and delicious, with a lot of brightness and crunch. And by the way, you can apparently saute it in garlic (the rule stands!), and also in soups, but don’t cook it too long or it will become mucilaginous (slimy, like okra). Also, next time I might substitute oregano for the mint and add feta. Click for basic recipe! Continue reading

20 Summer Tomato Recipes and Techniques (including rescuing and freezing!)

31 Jul

Here it is finally, a round-up of recipes for using summer tomatoes, including rescuing tomatoes past their prime and processing for freezing (without the trouble of canning!). Bookmark this one….

1. The Easiest of All: Chopped Tomato Sauce

Light and beautiful, any kind of tomatoes will do, as long as they are garden fresh!

Light and beautiful, any kind of tomatoes will do, as long as they are garden fresh!

2. Speedy Bruschetta (great for using up tomatoes past their prime salad days)

A lovely way to start a meal (or grate some cheese over and call it a movie snack)

A lovely way to start a meal (or grate some cheese over and call it a movie snack)

3. Pan-Roasted Cherry, Grape or Sungold Tomatoes (Oil-Free options and another way to use up those minis gone soft)

4. Grilled Cherry Tomato Salad or Burger Topper

This recipe has terrible photos so I am not using them here, but great flavor.

This recipe has terrible photos so I am not using them here, but great flavor. Try it!

5. Roasted Plum Tomatoes with Garlic and Basil

Bung these in the oven while roasting other veggies!

Bung these in the oven while roasting other veggies!

6. Spanish-style Stuffed Tomatoes

Stuffed Tomatoes!

Stuffed Tomatoes!

7. Provencal Vegetable Tian (baked layered summer veggies with olives)

Assembly is easy on this vegetable tian

Assembly is easy on this vegetable tian

By the time it came out of the oven, my natural light was gone...but you get the idea.

By the time it came out of the oven, my natural light was gone…but you get the idea.

 

8. Marinated Mini-Mozzarella Balls

Perfect for a summer BBQ or buffet (and big savings over the pre-marinated from the Italian deli

Perfect for a summer BBQ or buffet (and big savings over the pre-marinated from the Italian deli

 9. Classic Criollo Tomato and Avocado Salad

The go-to side for spicy, salty, strong-flavored creole cooking

The go-to side for spicy, salty, strong-flavored creole cooking

 10. Cannellini and Tomato Salad (no cook)

Add crusty bread and you've got yourself a no-cook hearty cool meal!

Add crusty bread and you’ve got yourself a no-cook hearty cool meal!

11. Pan-Roasted Tomato and Tomatillo Salsa (fat-free)

Pretty all the way from start to finish

Pretty all the way from start to finish

2012-08-26 04.56.47 tomato tomatillo

12. Oven Charred Tomatillo and Tomato Salsa

Oven Charred...Yum

Oven Charred…Yum

Next page: Bisque; Watermelon Feta and Tomato Salad, AND several ways to preserve tomatoes by freezing!

Continue reading

Beets: A Variety Pack of Easy and Delicious Techniques

21 Jul

Beets are popping up in CSA boxes, farmer’s markets and gardens (except mine, because I haven’t planted any this year since I wasn’t going to be consistently available to thin and tend them).  I never liked them as a kid, because when I was a kid they only came out of a can and were floppy and disgusting! Today I know better and I love them.

David and Goliath

David and Goliath

They are available year-round and store well, but are really a cool season crop. Grilled, roasted, boiled, or steamed…there are many ways  to skin this veg. We usually keep one around to grate raw onto salads for extra crunch, flavor, and color, paring just enough to grate some off the bulb and then sticking it back in the fridge.

Rinsing the beets

Rinsing the beets

Any vegetable that colorful has to be good for you and beets prove the rule. They contain phytonutrients called betalains which are supposed to be rich in anti-oxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties (for more on the healthful properties of beets, click here) , so eating them is a good thing. And they are very sweet, which is also a good thing, because they stand up to a lot of interesting flavors. THE GREEN ARE EDIBLE AND DELICIOUS so make the most out of your purchase following the instructions below, or try out one of the easy-peasy recipes here.

Beets are available year-round, but are best from June to October and that's when the beet greens are best too!

Beets are available year-round, but are best from June to October and that’s when the beet greens are best too!

For advice from Cornell on growing your own, go here.

BASIC PREP

Trim off the greens about an inch from the actual beet. You can eat them and they should be used within a day or two, taking out larger ribs before cooking. They can be used like most other leafy greens.

The unwashed beet roots will last about three weeks in the fridge. To use, scrub gently and do not remove the root. Do not peel before cooking. You can wrap in foil and roast at 400°F for 1-1.5 hours or simmer in salted boiling water for 30 minutes to 1.5 hours. Another option is to steam in a vegetable steamer for 30-45 minutes. the beets are done when a fork goes easily through the center. The skins will come off easily and should be removed while the beets are still warm. Use kitchen gloves or put your hands in plastic bags to handle them, as they will stain*. Flavor affinities include goat cheese, tarragon, herring and ham.

Zesty Orange Beet Salad with Beet Greens

El amor entra por los ojos -- This dish is love at first sight!

El amor entra por los ojos — This dish is love at first sight!

 USE THOSE BEETS GREENS! 

How to select, store and saute these excellent greens that come attached to your beets!

I like to mash mine into bolied yuca or boiled potato with olive oil...and that's just what I did after taking this photo.

I like to mash mine into bolied yuca or boiled potato with olive oil…and that’s just what I did after taking this photo.

Grilled Beets (No Oven Required)

Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese and Walnuts (or feta)

Roasted Beets with Feta and Walnuts

Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese and Walnuts

Golden Beets (sauteed with garlic and parsley)

Golden Beets, sauteed

Golden Beets, sauteed

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guineitos en ájili-mójili (garlicky green bananas)

4 Jan

“What!?!”you are asking yourself. “Bananas with garlic!?! Eeeeew!!!!”

Yup. they are banans. But they are green.

Yup. they are bananas. But they are green.

But wait…this is not a sweet yellow eating banana dish. Nor is it a plantain dish. It is a savory, salty salad, served at room temperature and made with boiled green bananas (basically yellow ones – Musa sapentium – that are not at all ripe and must be cooked). They are widely used in the Caribbean and Central America because they are cheap and readily available. (For more on the origins of Puerto Rican ingredients, buy my ebook: Eat Your Way Through Puerto Rico!)

This is how you prepare them for boiling.

This is how you prepare them for boiling.

You might have a bigger challenge finding completely green bananas in your local supermarket; we usually get them at a Latin supermarket. I believe that Indian cooking also uses green banana; it makes sense, since the banana and all its relatives are believed to have originated in the Asian subcontinent, so if you have an Indian grocery near you you may find them there. And I have noticed that Costco’s bananas tend to be totally green; not good if you are looking for a raw fruit snack right away, but great for Latin cooking! Continue reading

Crunchy, Salty, Sweet: Cabbage and Apple Slaw Two Ways (one vegan, one not)

16 Aug

My brother and his family are in town and we are taking a couple of weeks (yes weeks) to celebrate our parents’ 50th wedding anniversary and there is a whole lot of eating and drinking going on.

One of my favorite pictures!

One of my favorite pictures!

But in between the grilling and giggling, I pause to give you these two very successful recipes for summer slaws. Regular readers know that my dad is on some crazy-ass vegan diet (the parameters of which change with bewildering frequency), so I do try to be accommodating.

This one has mayo and yogurt

This one has mayo and yogurt

This slaw is vegan!

This slaw is vegan!

Therefore my sister-in-law and I chopped enough for two salads and dressed them differently. Both were delicious! Next time I may also add a handful of corn kernels…(credit to Beth Greer for inspiring these slaws)

Bright and beautiful, Crispy and Snappy!

Bright and beautiful, Crispy and Snappy!

Cabbage and Apple Slaw (with dairy)

1 Cup finely chopped red cabbage

1 Cup finely chopped green cabbage

1 Tbs finely chopped red onion

1 Cup diced apple (Granny Smith, Gala, or other sweet-tart firm apple), peel on

1 Tbs chopped walnuts or slivered almonds

Dressing

2 Tbs prepared mayonnaise

1 Tbs plain nonfat or lowfat yogurt

1 tsp your favorite mustard

1 pinch salt (optional, depending on your mayo and mustard)

Place vegetables, fruits and nuts in a bowl and mix. Add mayo, yogurt, and mustard. Mix well, play with proportions and salt to taste.

Vegan Cabbage and Apple Slaw

1 Cup finely chopped red cabbage

1 Cup finely chopped green cabbage

1 Tbs finely chopped red onion

1 Cup diced apple (Granny Smith, Gala, or other sweet-tart firm apple), peel on

1 Tbs chopped walnuts or slivered almonds

Dressing

2 Tbs prepared balsamic vinaigrette

3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbs white vinegar

Salt to taste

Place vegetables, fruits and nuts in a bowl and mix. Add prepared dressing. In a separate bowl, whisk the oil and vinegar together until emulsified. Add to vegetables. Mix well.  Salt to taste.

You may also like:

Easy Summer Squash Slaw

Celeriac Slaw (Remoulade)

Warm Kohlrabi, Cabbage and Apple Salad

enjoying the hols....

enjoying the hols….

Finally! A Summer Alternative to Roasting: Tender and Crunchy Grilled Beets

29 Jul

We are awash in beets in the summer and while roasted beets are fantastic, the recent heat wave has not made me (or anyone else) eager to run the oven at all!

Vinny buying the beets at the Greenport Farmstand...Vinny might make a better blogger than me...he was very insistent that I photograph everything!

Vinny buying the beets at the Greenport Farmstand…Vinny might make a better blogger than me…he was very insistent that I photograph everything!

So, thanks again to the Macchiroles, I learned a new technique for an old favorite. it was great at theirs and then this week my dad gave it a try and they were sublime.

Capturing Vinny's every move

Capturing Vinny’s every move

So, without further ado, here is the recipe (this is a very busy week of kid stuff — all good, but more in-depth posts will not be happening for a while!)

These are simple and delicious...beet sweetness

These are simple and delicious…beet sweetness

That caramelization balances the saltiness!

That caramelization balances the saltiness!

Grilled Beets

As many beets (the root part) as you’ve got

Olive oil

Pepper and salt (or Adobo seasoning)          

Top, tail and peel your beets (Note: Vinny does not peel, his but scrubs them well. It’s up to you!). Slice into ¼ inch rounds. Rub with olive oil until evenly covered and add salt and pepper or Adobo to taste. Alternately, you can marinate them for a while in the olive oil and seasonings while you do other things.

Lay rounds on a hot grill and cook, turning after about four minutes. Check after eight minutes. They won’t get soft like roasted or boiled beets, but they will be tooth-tender. Serve as a side to any summer dish!

You may also like:

Roasted Beets with Feta and Walnuts

Roasted Beets with Feta and Walnuts

El amor entra por los ojos -- This dish is love at first sight!

Roasted beets with orange and beet greens!

Easy Summer-Squash Slaw (remoulade of zucchini and yellow squash)

3 Jul

Summer squashes are starting to appear in farmer’s markets (and, in the case of zucchini/courgettes, in my garden!) …so…since they tend to be very prolific and an integral part of weekly farm shares all summer long and are also cheap in supermarkets at this time of year — it is time to start getting good recipes together!

Summer squashes — which include yellow squash, also called marrow; yellow crookneck squash; and zucchini, also called courgettes — are pretty good for you according to Self.com, are delicious, and lend themselves to many great dishes, So there is no reason to be sick of them by August or to refuse your neighbors’ offers of extra bounty when they get overwhelmed with what they’ve grown.

Don't peel the squashes; part of the appeel (sic) of this salad is the hint of color!

Don’t peel the squashes; part of the appeel (sic) of this salad is the hint of color!

Mind you, I may have fewer than anticipated…some critter, which may or may not be the cutworm, sliced off several of my zucchini flowers before they could produce the magic green wands….grrrrrrr.

Some of the recipes I have offered before for these garden giants are Zucchini Corn Fritters, Zucchini Fritters with Manchego and Rosemary, and Sauteed Summer Squash with Oregano and Lemon,

Today I went for something different – a quickie slaw alternative called remoulade, like the French classic Celeriac remoulade. This one integrates the garden vegetables that most lend themselves to grating. You can mix and match them however you like!

The Perfect Summer Side

The Perfect Summer Side

Easy Summer Squash Remoulade

(makes side salad for 2; multiply recipe for a crowd!)

2 Cups mix and match: zucchini/yellow squash/hakurai turnip/mild radish, grated with a large hole grater.

Squeeze of lemon*

1 Tbs grated red onion

1-2 Tbs prepared mayonnaise

1 tsp your preferred smooth mustard

Generous pinch salt

Pinch of freshly grated black pepper, if desired

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve as an alternative to cole slaw.

*If there will be a lag between grating the vegetables and making the remoulade, add lemon juice to the waiting vegetables to prevent browning.

Five Delicious Asparagus Recipes – done in no time flat!

15 May

Asparagus is in season in these parts and that means a drive out to the North Fork of Long Island for asparagus, as much of it as I can afford and think we can eat in a few days. Leandro and I love it and usually just break off the bottoms, smear in olive oil and put under the broiler for ten minutes. We sprinkle them with salt and eat them with our fingers.

But sometimes, sometimes, we get a bit more fancy. Just a bit. Not complicated, because we don’t do a lot of complicated stuff, but just dressed up enough to make it special. Here are five terrific recipes for this springtime delight!

Savory Asian Asparagus Steak Bites! (Click on image for the recipe)

Savory Asian Asparagus Steak Bites! (Click on image for the recipe)

Frittata with Asparagus (duck or hen eggs) Click image for recipe!

Frittata with Asparagus (duck or hen eggs) Click image for recipe!

Leek and Asparagus with eggs (Click image for recipe!)

Leek and Asparagus with eggs (Click image for recipe!)

Zippy roasted ped pepper dipping sauce and roasted asparagus (Click image for recipe)

Zippy roasted red pepper dipping sauce and roasted asparagus (Click image for recipe)

Ready to roll: Hummus, Roasted Asparagus and Tomato Wraps!

Ready to roll: Hummus, Roasted Asparagus and Tomato Wraps! Click image for recipe!

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