Lemony Carrot Salad with Fig & Pistachio


SUMMER! The rains are finally here. It took a long time this year, so long we began to wonder if they would ever get here. But now it is officially summer. Hot, sticky days beg for cold, crunchy salads.

You know how much I love me some carrot salad. It’s a summer staple in our house. I made this one for my mom’s birthday lunch, and loved it so much I’ve made it again and again.
This is an easy-peasy salad, almost like that carrot raisin salad from childhood, but with a grown-up (and mayonnaise-free!) twist.

1# fresh carrots, peeled and grated (about 3 to 4 c.)
¼ c. dried figs, sliced in thin rounds
¼ c. toasted pistachio meats, coarsely chopped
Zest of ½ lemon (1 tsp.)
Juice of ½ lemon (2 Tbps.)
1 Tbsp. agave sweetener (or sugar, or honey)
1 Tbsp. mild vegetable oil

Use a food processor to grate the carrots. Or use children – free labor, quick healers, and all that.

In a medium-sized salad bowl, whisk together the lemon, agave, oil. Dump in the rest, stir and serve. Or, you can stick it in the fridge and eat it later. It is good both ways: crisper with less sauce the first day, crunchy and juicier the next.
This is fantasic for picnics and barbecues (no mayo!), or with a sammie at lunch.
Going with four servings, the calorie calculator at verywell.com says each serving has:
Calories 163
Fat 7.3g
Carbs 23.9g
Fiber 5g
Sugars 14.8g
Protein 3.1g
and…..632% of your Vitamin A for the day!

Cherry Tomaisins


Not to go all foodie on you, but an oven dried tomato is an amazing sweet tart chewy bit of umami magic. Happily this is the time of year when Sprouts has these little cartons for less than a dollar. I needed half of one to roast with some fish, but of course bought two because LESS THAN A DOLLAR, you guys.(What’s the green, you ask? Himself made a chickpea spread and it is yum!)

Those little pints stared at me everyday from the kitchen counter. Then this morning I realized – I can roast them! I started to think about a quinoa salad with roasted veg and a garlicky balsamic, and thought how yummy these would be. Or maybe in a wrap. Or tossed with some green beans. Or as a layer in a bacon sammich. Or…..anyway, these freeze like a dream – if you have any left to freeze. Seriously, you will eat them like candy when they come out of the oven.

This is a Sunday at home for a couple hours recipe. It requires almost zero effort, and hardly any oven heat – but it takes two or so hours for that chewy sweet goodness.

Cherry Tomaisins
2 pints cherry roma tomatoes
2 Tb XVOO
½ tsp. pimentón ahumado dulce
garlic salt & pepper
Heat your oven to 225*. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Wash and laterally slice in half the tomatoes. (From stem to tip, in other words.) Toss them on the lined tray. sprinkle with the olive oil and seasonings. Toss in the oven. After an hour, gently stir them every half hour until they are done – about 2 hours, depending on how juice they were to start with. This batch was 2 hours and 17 minutes.

Mmmmmm
PS – If you want the link for that spread, it’s here at BlenderGirl.

Roast Butternut Soup

I know, I know. ANOTHER butternut squash recipe? I should be getting some kind of commission from the Butternut Council of America. I am so googling to see if that exists after I finish this post.

So, you know what they say. Soup: it’s what’s for dinner. Or at least, that’s what my poor, long-suffering husband says every time there’s a grey sky. Besides – Costco had two packs of these bad boys. On a cold day, this is a win/win, people.


Roasting concentrates the flavor and brings out the sweetness of the veg. Add some earthiness with the celery and the thyme, and the tartness from the apple, and this is simple goodness all around. Shall we?

Roast Butternut Squash Soup
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
½ large (or one small) white onion, large dice
1 small green apple, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tsp. dried thyme
S&P
1 ½ to 2 quarts chicken (or veg) stock.

Toss together everything but the stock on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast 375* for about an hour
The last twenty minutes, bring one quart of the stock to boil, then reduce to simmer to keep it hot. When the squash et al are done (fork tender, nicely caramelized), toss it all in the pot. The stock should just cover everything (add more if needed). Take a stick blender to it, puree, consume. Add more stock if you’d like a thinner soup.

Or – keep the squash in the fridge, and bring to boil and puree later when you’re ready to eat. It’ll keep in the fridge for several days (as will the soup once it’s done.) If you freeze this one, expect some water separation at the thaw. You can do it, I just wouldn’t recommend it.


I garnished mine with a little greek yogurt and some toasted walnut – butter would also be delish.

P. S. That Butternut Council of America does not exist. I must confess to being disappointed, although another smartass food blogger had the same idea back in 2013. So there’s that.

Chopped Satay Salad

Chopped Satay Salad
Salad with Satay Sauce
If you are like me, and when you go out for a specific kind of food – you order the same baseline item to gauge if you’ll like the rest: Chips and salsa, eggs benedict, fried rice, fish taco. When we go out for Vietnamese or Thai food, we always get the rice paper rolls and peanut sauce. Oh, that sauce. When it is good, I just want ask for a bowl of it and a spoon.
chopped salad with satay

It dawned on me this weekend that (duh!), there is probably a good recipe for it online. And there is – I made this recipe from SheSimmers.com, and it is AMAZEBALLS. Instead of just eating it with a spoon (and believe me, I can neither confirm nor deny that happened), I thought I’d get out the rice paper and make some spring rolls with tofu. Then as I was slicing the jalapeno and the cilantro, I got lazy and said ah, hell. I’m just going to make a chopped salad and dress it in the satay.
So tasty
Holy Peanut Sauce, y’all. This is yum. Just so much yum.
Make the sauce – it takes all of five minutes and you will be SO HAPPY.

Mix together:
1 c. chopped green cabbage
1 c. diced extra firm sprouted tofu
½ c. chopped broccoli
½ c. celery
½ c. diced jicama
½ c. diced cucumber
¼ c. diced red pepper
¼ c. chopped cilantro
2 radishes, sliced thin
¼ jalapeno, sliced thin
1/8 sweet onion, sliced thin
½ c. satay sauce
Toss it, serve with lime wedges and the sauce and some sesame seeds if you feel fancy.

If you don’t like tofu, do chicken. Or grilled fish or shrimp. Or,a add some cold rice vermicelli as a base. That would be delicious, too.

Tacos de Camotes (Sweet Potato Tacos)

sweetpotato7medc
I toyed with some pretentious hipster title for this puppy – caramelized sweet potato tacos in a chipotle garlic emulsion. But, nah. This are simple and good – so tacos de camotes is much better. I want to try it with pumpkin, too. One day….. Anyway, if you get tired of turkey day leftovers in a couple of weeks, or want to use up that leftover sweet potato on the counter, or hell! Make an awesome first course to Thanksgiving dinner, these are ready to roll. Fast, easy and yummy. I can’t really say ‘no pica’, but the heat isn’t bad.
sweetpotatotacos1

These are crunchy and soft, tangy, sweet and spicy. Truly lovely.
sweetpotato6medc

This is enough for two people as a main dish, or four for a side.

For the Taco filling:
2 large sweet potatoes, diced*
1/2 white onion, diced
1 Tbps. olive oil
garlic salt
For the chipotle emulsion:
2 large cloves garlic
1 tsp. Mexican oregano
2 whole chipotle peppers en adobo
2 Tbsp wine/cider/sherry vinegar
2 Tbsp olive olive
(A little water mixed with some adobo if needed)
And…..
Soft corn tortillas

*(diced means 1/2” cubes, people)
Preheat oven to 375*. Line a cookie sheet with parchment. spread out evenly the sweet potato and onion, drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle with the garlic salt.
Roast about 20-30 minutes, until really nicely caramelized.
sweetpotato4
While that’s roasting, put the dressing ingredients in the blender and puree. You may need to add a little water/adobo sauce mix to get enough liquid to blend. Transfer to a bowl large enough to hold all the potato/onion mix when it comes out of the oven.
sweetpotato2collage

When the potato/onion mix is done, remove from the oven and set aside just for a few minutes. (This lets the outside crust on the sweet potato cubes develop just a tidge more). Heat your tortillas and get your serving plate. Toss the hot sweet potato/onion mix in the chipotle emulsion, fill the tortillas and consume immediately.

These would be awesome with a smoked fontina cheese. Or avocado slices. Or even with some scrambled egg for an amazeballs breakfast taco. Or hell, underneath some poached eggs for that matter.

** This would also work with kabucha squash.
sweetpotato5medc

Bon apétit

Crunchy Green Bean Salad

GreenBean2Med
Originally I was calling this post: Blanched Green Bean Salad; or, that didn’t exactly turn out….

We went to Willcox yesterday, in our annual pilgrimage to farm country. Loaded up on fresh peaches, squash, eggplant, roasted green chile and of course the green beans. I was blanching them this morning, munching on one and thought – hey, this would be yummy in a salad besides salade niçoise.
GreenBean1Med

I was extremely disappointed when I first put it together – even himself was not enthused. It just tasted like raw green beans and dijon mustard. Yuck. I was so sad – I mean, come on! Green beans, bacon, onion, almonds – what could possibly go wrong??

GreenBean3Med
But the next day? It was pretty yummy. Only thing is, leave green beans in a acidic solution like that vinaigrette and they lose that pretty green in the pictures and become a more olive green, less fresh, appetizing color so I feel as if my pictures are false advertising now.

So…..make this the day before you intend to eat it; perhaps if your garden is drowning you in green beans.
GreenBean4Med

Whisk together:
1 tsp. bacon fat
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp canola oil
½ tsp celery seed
2 Tbsp. sugar
¼ c. rice vinegar
Stir in:
2 c. freshly blanched green beans, cut in bite-sized pieces
1 celery stalk, thinly chopped
2 Tbps. thin sliced white or red onion
1/4 c. almond slivers
1/4 c. minced parsley
1 slice cooked bacon, chopped

Make the day before. Serves 2-4.
Bon apétit!

Purée de choufleur à l’ail et aux fines herbes

When I was growing up, mashed and vegetables together meant one thing: potatoes. Then I went to Paris – they call it a purée there. And you can purée lots besides potatoes – carrots were quite popular. Then I had a friend from New England tell me how her family always had mashed turnips instead of potatoes for the big feasts.  Food is so awesome – a virtual root cellar full of possible variations.

Take one bag of frozen cauliflower....
Take one bag of frozen cauliflower….

Forgoeing mashed potatoes when Himself had to change his diet was probably the most traumatic thing for me. Mashed potatoes are their own food group in my family. But, luckily there’s the interwebs. And friends.  Through some trial and error, I’ve come up with a great flavorful creamy purée that we look forward to at our house.  I’ve had a couple friends ask for the recipe, so here it is – Purée de choufleur à l’ail et aux fines herbes.  Although we just call this cauli mash at our house.  I was hoping if I fi-fi-chi-chi’d up the name a little, it would fancify things a bit.  Now, before you go any further please take heed: this is not mashed potatoes.  Let me repeat:  this. is. not. mashed. potatoes.  If you want something that tastes like mashed potatoes, you will need to actually eat mashed potatoes.

What this IS (caveat aside) is a delicious, rich, smooth purée that captures the slight sweetness of the cauliflower and garlic and which has a lovely creamy texture that goes great with roasted or grilled meats. 

CauliMash1MED
A little butter, a little garlic, a little sour cream, some herbs ….with and “h”.

 

Honestly, if we could eat real cheese in our house, I would totally put this in a buttered casserole and toss it in the oven with some cheddar on top. That would be freaking amazing. … …. if we could eat cheese. Not that I’m bitter or anything. Cheese. Damn my dairy-rejecting genes. Bastards.

CauliMash3MED
With a little daub of Kerrygold butter, of course. Because butter.

 

 

I really hope you try this one. If you like cauliflower, this is an awesome and fast side dish that will fill the craving for creamy spudnicks without a starchy overload. And remember it has herbs. With a fucking “H” in it. Try it!

Ingredients
1 20oz package generic frozen cauliflower
1 fat or 2 small cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp sour cream or cream cheese (or, if you live at our house, Tofutti sour cream)
2 tsp. Penzey’s “Buttermilk” seasoning blend (or italian herbs if you don’t have Penzey’s lying about.)
Instructions
Put the cauliflower and the garlic in ‘wave safe bowl, covered, in the microwave on high until it’s quite soft and hot. That takes 9 minutes in my wave. Drain off any water that come out during cooking.
Put that and the rest of the ingredients in the food processor. (Or the kitchen robot, if we keep up our Frenchie trend.)
Pulse until it’s a delightful smooth concoction; you may need to stop and scrape down your sides. Don’t go too far, I’ve heard you wind up with a gluey mess. I’ve not experienced that, but best to stop before that happens

Servings 3
Calories 138
Fat 10 g
Sodium 66 mg
Carbs 11 g
Protein 4 g

Baked Tomatoes

Love those  Campari tomato clamshells from Costco.  We eat these. A lot. 

Somewhere between a cherry tomato and a regular tomato....
Somewhere between a cherry tomato and a regular tomato….

And, because it is winter we usually bake them with some olive oil, parmesan and S & P.

...just like the Grinch's heart....
…just like the Grinch’s heart….

Because Himself has to really limit the starches now, we needed to add a second veg option to dinner (and weekend breakfasts, too). This is simple and fast. And very, very tasty. 

Baked Tomatoes 6BCmed

 

Got 30 minutes? Let’s go!
Ingredients
4 Campari tomatoes, washed and sliced in half.
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
S & P
Instructions
Preheat oven to 375*.
Place the tomatoes cut side up in a shallow baking dish.
Sprinkle with S & P.
Sprinkle with cheese.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Bake for 25 minutes. The cheese should be crispy brown on top of the toms
Serve immediately.
Notes
If they’re not brown at the end of the time, turn on the broiler for a minute or two to toast up that cheesy top. (Assuming you’ve used a pan that can take it, obviously….)
This is great with steak, roast chicken, omelettes, green beans, and just about anything you can think of.
You can sprinkle with some herbs before the cheese layer for variety: basil, tarragon, chives, etc. The cheese will seal the herbs in with the tomato’s juice and keep them from burning.

Servings 2
Calories 200
Fat 16 g
Sodium 161 mg
Carbs 10 g
Protein 5 g

Spicy Cherry Tomato Onion Jam, aka Grown Up Ketchup V2.0

 Cherry Tomato Jam

Our fabulous neighbors who market have struck again! This time with four pounds of cherry tomatoes from the Market on the Move.  But it’s December, so cooking them was the main option.  Ya’ll know I love me some cherry tomato jam, so I thought it’d be fun to mix it up a little this time around. Add some spice. Add half onion. I’d been reading about slow cooker jams, so I thought, “Hey! Let’s try it!”

Jam Montage
What could possibly go wrong?

 So, I got all the ingredients in the crockpot about midday, happily anticipating canning some jam after dinner. …. Fast forward to 6 pm. Yes, that would be six hours later. When suddenly I remember an essential element of jam making: evaporation. And an essential element of the slow cooker’s success: lack of evaporation. I had a soupy mess that looked almost exactly like it did six hours earlier. Sigh. So, I had to ice bath those puppies and started again the next morning. A couple hours on low in a stock pot on the cook top, and we were ready to rock and roll. 

Finally!
Finally!

This version is very tasty, but it can’t stand on its own as a jam like previous versions – say with a bacon or cheese scone. With a good strong cheese like asiago or Manchega and some crispy bread, though? We are talking seriously tasty.

Know any Ploughman looking for lunch?
Know any Ploughman looking for lunch?

 

Tangy, sweet, creamy, crunchy. That's the four food groups, right?
Tangy, sweet, creamy, crunchy. That’s the four food groups, right?

 Bon appétit!  Try it, and share how it goes!
Ingredients
3.75# grape or cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
2# sugar
1 large white onion, grated
2 sm. White onions, in ¼” crescents
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smooshed
½ c. balsamic vinegar
3 dashes Worsteshire sauce
3 tsp. grated ginger (or 3 Dorot frozen ginger cubes)
1 tsp. Liquid Smoke
2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 tsp. pimenton dulce ahumado
1 tsp. red chili flakes
1/2 tsp. ground clove
Freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
Put everything in a big stock pot, cook on low until it is reduced to a good jam consistency. Put in sterile jars in the fridge or the freezer. If you’d like to can, I’ll put a link below with the directions.
For canning directions. These folks know their stuff
http://www.pickyourown.org/jam.htm

Cebollas en Escabeche al Estilo Karencita

Cebollas en escabeche
Cebollas en escabeche

The barbacoa taco post, continued……

 

The marinade and the onion....
The marinade and the onion….

 

From raw to righteous
From raw to righteous

So, I wish I had the patience for the real deal. And the forethought to plan ahead several weeks. But, I don’t. So, although I started with this recipe, I cheated.

 
For the onions
1 medium red onion, sliced in 1/4″ slices left whole.
1 c. boiling water
For the marinade
1/2 c. red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1/2 c. water
1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano leaves
1/4 c. water
2 bay leaves
4 black peppercorns
2 cloves, whole
Instructions
Stack the onions in a heat-resistant glass jar (like a wide-mouth Mason or Weck jar)
Cover with the boiling water and let cool to tepid. (This parcooks the onions.)
Put the marinade ingredients in a pyrex measuring cup, and microwave for two minutes.
Drain the soaking water from the jar, but leave the onions in.
Cover the onions with the marinade, making sure the pepper corns and cloves go in. Slide the bay leaves around the outside of the onions because it’s pretty.
If you have leftover vinegar, just toss it.
If you need more liquid, heat up some more vinegar/water to boiling (1:1 ratio) and top off the container.
Let cool on the counter, then refrigerator for up to a month.
Notes
You can eat these as soon as the next day, and they get tastier the longer they sit. Assuming you can get them to last, that is.

Adapted from Mexican Authentic Recipes