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!

Butternut Coconut Curry Soup

November will be here in a few days. It is still ninety forking degrees here (You guys are all watching ‘The Happy Place’, right?) I am thoroughly disgusted. As Himself enjoys saying, “Love that global warming!” Oy. But still, that autumnal food urge is upon me. The markets are filled with winter squashes – butternut, acorn, turban, delicata, sweet dumpling, kabucha. Makes my head swim with happiness. I’ve got a cashew cream kabucha gratin idea floating in my mind, but it hasn’t fully formed yet. Maybe in a few weeks.
In the meantime, this behemoth of a butternut keeps winking at me every time I walk past it on the kitchen counter. It’s a four-pound giant. Gonna get two meals outta that mofo.
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I think the hard squashes scare off a lot of people. Did you know you can peel him with a vegetable peeler? (Mainly because it isn’t lumpy like an acorn.) Goes quickly, and you can peel and cube him in a few minutes – toss half in a ziplock in the fridge to make a couple days later. Here, check it out.
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This and a big salad, and dinner is done. Or, if you’re really hungry, a grilled cheese and fresh jalapeno sandwich would be awesome with this: melty crunchy spicy contrasting with slightly sweet and creamy. Such happiness!
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Butternut Coconut Curry Soup
3 stalks celery
½ white onion
2# (about six cups) butternut, peeled & in 1” cubes
2 Tbsp. oil or butter
3 Tbsp curry powder
1 (-ish) quart chicken (or veg) stock
Coconut milk, the full-fat kind.
Fried onions for garnish

Over medium heat, stir together the curry powder and oil. Let it get a little toasty (when you really smell the spices, time for the next step.) Ad the celery and onion, cook over medium until the onion is translucent around the edges. Add the squash and just barely cover with the chicken stock. (It if boils down, you can always add a little more. Harder to take it away if you do too much, though.) butternuecoco2med
Simmer on medium for about half an hour, until the squash is tender.
When it’s done, purée. (With a stick blender, in an actual blender (remember to allow for steam escape!), or in the food processor. It should be like loose mashed potatoes, almost thick enough to hold up a spoon. Return it to the pot, stir in about ¾ can of coconut milk just to heat it back up. Ladle in to bowls, garnish with a swirl of the remaining coconut milk and or fried onions.
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Bon apétit!

Beef & Avocado Salad with Wasabi Vinaigrette

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Crispy romaine base with sliced radish, perfectly ripe avocado, sliced cucumbers and roast beef slices, with pickled ginger, white & black sesame seeds. Delicious!

This adventure all began because I asked my lovely husband to pick up some sliced roast beast for sammiches at The Costco.  When he got home, I realized we didn’t have any horseradish.  Now, to most households that is probably meaningless. But, at ours, we have to have horseradish on a roast beast sammich.  Anything less is uncivilized.  So, no horseradish. But, hey! I do have wasabi in the fridge – maybe I’ll make some wasabi mayo. Then the work week happened.  I started to have guilt about making my low-carb man have a sammich. I started to think about that roast beast in cute little rolls on a salad.  Plus, I had some gorgeous avoschmados. Mmmmmm. Wasabi vinaigrette! Our Google overlords proved it had been done, and that was all she wrote. 

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It turned out fantastic. Truly an outstanding salad. Totally making this again.  As I was eating, it helped me figure something out.  I love sushi. But I hate raw fish. This little salad adventure made me realize what, exactly, made me like sushi.  It’s a combination of flavors – the creamy beauty of ripe avocado, the salty soy sauce, the piercing wasabi, the sweet crispness of ginger, and the crunchy nuttiness of sesame.  Ok, flavors and ironically, textures. (Since I hate the texture of raw fish.)  All the interwebs used this kind of dressing on a seared ahi salad. Living in the desert, I save the seared ahi for our trips to San Diego. Plus, this is much less expensive.  I also think cubed firm silken tofu would be awesome on this salad if you’re not in to the whole beef thing.

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What a fantastic dinner, with a gorgeous bowl of miso soup. (Wait. What? You don’t know how to make miso? Ya gotta be kiddin’ me! Easiest soup EVER. Seriously – do this, too!
Ingredients
2 Tbsp prepared wasabi
1/2 c rice wine vinegar
¼ c low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
½ tsp. toasted sesame oil
½ tsp. sugar or honey
About 1 c. lightly flavored oil
Instructions
Put everything in the blender (or your smoothie maker) and pulse a few times
serves 8
calories 264
fat 29
cholesterol 0mg
sodium 266mg
carbs 2g
-fiber 0g
-sugars 0g
protein 1g

Blueberry Sorbet

This is one of those cheater posts, where its so easy I feel guilty even sharing it. A two-ingredient wonder.   But this is yummy. And easy. And fast.   So, we’ll just have to suck it up and know it’s really close to the blueberry cheatagranita recipe I posted last year.

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So, this serves like gorgeous soft serve when you first make it. But, I wanted perfect little boules so I froze it before scooping.  And, I’d say just make this and eat it.  Honestly, once it was frozen it actually flaked gorgeously in to a a granita…but that’s already here, so …. yeah.

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The longest part of this is the waiting. But hey, set out the blueberries when you sit down to supper, and then just whip together dessert.
Ingredients
3 c. frozen blueberries
6 packets Truvia or PureVia sweetener
Instructions
Put the frozen blueberries in the food processor, and walk away for 20 mins.
Once they’re partially thawed, sprinkle them with the sweetener.
Pulse until everything is mostly smallish and then leave the processor going for 1-2 minutes.
Scrape down the sides halfway through.
Stop when it looks like soft serve.
Garnish with some whipped cream or coconut cream or nothing.

serves 4
calories 65
fat 1
cholesterol 0mg
sodium 1mg
carbs 15g
-fiber 3g
-sugars 11g
protein 1g

Posole’s Pork-Free Cousin

I want posole. But It’s hot.  I don’t want to have the oven on for six hours to roast a pork shoulder.  Plus, pork sounds so heavy. But I want posole.  I wonder how it would be w/o the meat? …..

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Answer: fucking delicious. And, as a bonus, totally crockpot-able. Hells to the yeah!

What makes this posole-esque is the puréed chile and the hominy in the broth, then serving it with the crushed red pepper and mexican oregano, shredded cabbage, lime, radish and tortilla strips.  Plus we added some avocado (because avocado!). 

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With all those lovely condiments, this is just scrumptious!  I used chicken broth, but use veg broth if you want to go 100% vegetarian.

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Please make this. You will be so happy!

 
Soup
2 celery stalks, in soupy size chunks
½ white onion in ½’ dice
1 carrot, in ½” dice
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2 fat zucchini, in 1“ dice
5 or six button mushrooms, quarted
1 can no salt diced tomatoes
1 can hominy, rinsed and drained
1 tsp. mexican oregano leaves
2 chile california or guajillo, seeded, soaked and puréed in the blender
2 quarts chicken broth
Garnish
tortilla strips
radish slices
cabbage shreds
lime wedges
cilantro
mexican oregano
red pepper flakes
olive oil
avocado slices
Instructions
Plug in the crockpot.
In a big microwave safe bowl, bring 2 c. of the stock to boil. Toss in the seeded chile pods and let them soak a half hour.
Chop all your veg, throw them and the rest of the soup ingredients (except the soaking chiles) in the crockpot.
Throw the chile and liquid in the blender and puree. Mine takes about 2 minutes.
Strain the chile puree in to the soup.
Set on high for 2-3 hours, or low for 4-ish.
Serve with the selection of garnishes.

6 Servings; 194 calories, 7g fat, 881 mg sodium, 28 g carbs, 10 g proteinn

Nectarine Sorbet: Hello, summer!

 

Another three-ingredient miracle thanks to magic of the season.

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Ever have one of those recipes in your mind, and you can just imagine and taste how it will be. And then you make it, and it’s good. It’s yummy.  It is just not the mind-blowing deliciousness you had in mind? Yeah – that’s me this week.  But this was still a yummy treat, and it froze and reserved beautifully.

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My only complaint is I thought this would have a deeper nectarine taste. Then I remembered the ice cream Alton Brown lesson – d’oy – if it’s going to be frozen, it needs to be super-saturated in flavor and sweetness or it won’t taste right at the end.

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See how the color lightened up, and it looks fluffy? That’s done!

 

That said, we totally ate this. It was delicious. Next time, I might try roasting the nectarines like the pears.

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Or maybe leaving the fruit out until it is almost too ripe. Time will tell – stay tuned!

I am just not happy with shots for this post. Dammit. The pear shots turned out so great, and these are….meh. 

Kvetching aside, Bon apétit.
For the frozen nectarines
6-8 just ripe to almost too ripe nectarines.
1 lemon, washed and chopped in to chunks.
¼ c sugar.
For the sorbet
You *may* need a couple Tbsp of simple syrup or fruit juice.

DIRECTIONS
Blanche/peel the nectarines. Cut in to chunks (Mine were not free-stone, so I cut them up like a mango). Squeeze the lemon chunks with the sugar in a big bowl. Toss in the nectarines, and mix to coat with the lemony sugar mixture.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment. Spread out the coated nectarine chunks in an even layer. Put the tray in the freezer, and freeze until they’re hard. Remove from the parchment, and keep in a zip bag in the freezer for up to a couple months. (Ha! Yeah – like they’ll last that long)
OK – to make it, set in the cuisinart for 10-15 mins.
Once you’v tempered the frozen fruit, you just pulse it until it is creamy and lightens in color. You may need to add a couple tablespoons of simple syrup (or apple or orange juice).
Be sure to pulse – because one second you’ll have crumbles and then whoosh it comes together.
Fantastic fluffy texture using this technique
Could you do this without peeling the fruit? Totally – it will just have tiny flecks of skin throughout. I’ve tried it that way, but didn’t like the texture.
I thought this would be awesome in a bellini, btw. Haven’t tried it yet.

Servings 4
Calories 54
Fat 0 g
Sodium 1 mg
Carbs 14 g
Protein 0 g

Roasted Pear Sorbet

Dude – this has four ingredients. Four. And it is AMAZING. Remember those roasted pears from last week?

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So, I put some in the freezer. Yes, fine, so I wouldn’t just eat all of them in one sitting. You got me. Then I started to think of that awesome banana “ice cream” you can make with just frozen bananas, and thought, “Hey! I wonder if I could do that with that bag of frozen roasted pears?”

 

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The answer is YES.  It was amazing. But himself was not impressed. So, I added some minced candied ginger – and pop! He liked it!  I’ve read about this flavor combo tons, but never thought I’d like it so didn’t try it. This is delicious!

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There isn’t really a recipe for this – take the Roast Pears post from last week, freeze it and then puree it in the Cuisinart. Stir in some candied ginger and serve. I can’t tell you if it freezes well at this time because….uh…..there wasn’t any left. Yeah. Try it, tell me what you think. 

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And, hey! That garnish is those Martha pear chips I linked to last week.

 
Ingredients
1 batch roasted pears (peel/core/cube 4 pears, toss w/ lemon juice & sugar & roast 375* 40m), frozen
2 Tbsp. minced candied ginger
Instructions
Put the frozen pears in the food processor. Spin till a beautiful soft serve is formed. Stir in the ginger, and serve in frozen dishes.
Servings 4
Calories 2
Fat 0 g
Sodium 1 mg
Carbs 7 g
Protein 0 g

Roast Pears

Damn you, Costco. Damn you and your cute food. I can never resist the bags of those dainty and delicious Forelle pears. They beckon me, in their out-of-season-shipped-from-Chile voices. Pear bastards.

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Next to nectarines, pears are my favorite fruit. Fresh, they are a dream. But when it comes to cooking, they just lose their essence. Their delicate flavor is lost and a mealy texture remains. I thought when I discovered Pear Honey it would be the solution, but that’s just so damn sweet. (Yes, I see the word honey in the title. That stuff is amazingly delicious, btw, and you should make some immediately. But I digress.) 

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So, I’m walking past three pounds of pears on the dining table for a week, waiting for them to ripen. The magic day arrives – and I realize I have to eat three pounds of pears in the next 48 hours or they will go bad. What to do, what to do. 

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With spoonful of plain yogurt, a drizzle of honey and some fresh thyme. (Himself called that gilding the lily, and prefers them plain.)

 

So last night, I got out the mandoline and made some pear chips. (Thank you, Martha.) Yum! Need some chèvre to eat ’em, though.  This morning I woke up and said, chuck all – I will just toss them in lemon juice and sugar and roast them all. 

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All in all, this was pretty easy. Any pear would work for this, although personally I wouldn’t use a Bosc. Mainly because they are a pain in the ass to peel and cube with that long skinny neck. D’anjou and Bartlet will do just fine, or the Farelle.

So, why roast? It cooks out some of the liquid in the fruit, and concentrates the flavor. That, with that tinge of caramelization makes for a more pear-tasting pear. Trust me, this is delicious.
Ingredients
4 large or 6 medium pears, just barely ripe
Juice of ½ lemon
¼ c sugar
Instructions
Heat oven to 375*.
Line two baking sheets with parchment.
Peel, core, and cube the pears.
Toss with the lemon juice and sugar.
Spread out evenly not touching on the baking sheets.
Bake about 40 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through. The bottoms of the pears should be just barely caramelized, and the top edges tinged golden.
Ways to eat them
By themselves, straight off the tray.
With plain greek yogurt (or crème fraîche), thyme and honey.
With whipped cream and sprinkled with chopped candied ginger.
On top of vanilla ice cream.
On top of yogurt.
Frozen and pulsed into a sorbetto/granita hybrid in the cuisinart with chopped candied ginger.
Baked in to a coffee cake.
Pulsed with some fresh pear cubes and a little simple syrup and made in to popsicles.

Servings 4
Calories 182
Fat 0 g
Sodium 3 mg
Carbs 48 g
Protein 1 g

Avocado, Blood Orange & Fennel Salad

Could you hear me squeal all the way to your house on  Saturday? That would be when I saw the blood oranges had arrived at Sprouts.  I just love their color. Of course I had to wander around the produce department after that, looking for something to make with them. The avocados looked amazing, and that sealed the deal. 

A blood orange, a bulb of fennel and thou....
A blood orange, a bulb of fennel and thou….

This is a delicate salad, with very subtle flavor.  Make sure your avocado is absolutely prime.  

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This is rich and smooth with the lovely anise crunch of the fennel. I liked it best after it had sat for about an hour, to let that nice heat from the jalapeno really soak in.  We have some left, and I am on my way to the store to get some shrimp to grill and serve with rest. Dang I wish I’d thought of that first.

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And, here’s a cheat on how to peel the oranges.
Ingredients
1 small bulb fennel, sliced in ¼” crescents
1 avocado, in ½ ” dice
3 blood oranges, peeled and sliced in ¼” crescents
1 tangelo, peeled and sliced in to ¼” crescents
¼ cup red onion, in ¼” crescents
1 Tbsp. jalapeño, in wafer-thin crescents
¼ c. minced italian parsley
Drizzle olive oil
Drizzle sherry or rice vinegar
S&P
Instructions
Assemble.
Chill for an hour.
Eat!
Notes
Would be amazeballs with some fat gulf white shrimp, grilled over mesquite. Served with a blood orange mimosa, of course….

Servings 4
Calories 202
Fat 8 g
Sodium 39 mg
Carbs 27 g
Protein 3 g

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. 

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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.

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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