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!

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)

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

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!

White Gazpacho: Adventures in the Land of Meh

Bill tells me I need start a fail tag. Made me laugh.  My friend T always raves about the white gazpacho at one of our favorite wino bars.  I was wracking my brain for a post idea, and a friend suggested salsa. Which made me think of gazpacho. Which made me think of T and her white gazpacho. 

Google recipe search garnered pretty much the same recipe over and over – water, almonds, bread, garlic, sherry vinegar, olive oil. Garnished with grapes. And if you drill down, they almost all go back to José Andrés.

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Serve chilled. Sounds simple. Easy. 

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Gotta tell you, though. We just weren’t big fans.  Grapes are not himself’s favorite fruit, which maybe didn’t help.  We tried this the day we made it after it chilled,  and again the next day.  We tasted it over and over, and are just on the fence. It’s cool, and creamy, and subtle; but the bread flavor is just too strong. Maybe it’s the homemade (poolish) bread I used; maybe its flavor is too strong and I needed a more neutral one.  

WhiteGazpacho4BCmedWell, we have tried this recipe for white gazpacho. And with $5 worth of almonds as the main ingredient, I am not so sure we’ll pursue this to see if tweeks would change our minds.  But, it sure is purdee. So, enjoy the pictures if not the soup. 

Soup
4 cups water
7 ounces blanched almonds
2 clove garlic
3 ounces day old white bread
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt
Garnish
Drizzle of the olive oil
Handful of green grapes, halved
Sliced cucumber
Instructions
Put the almonds and the garlic in a sauce pan with one of the cups of water.
Bring to boil, then drain.
Add another cup of water.
Bring to boil, then drain.
Cool to room temp.
Put all the (remaining) soup ingredients in the blender, and puree until super smooth.
Strain through mesh and chill, prefereably overnight.
Serve with a drizzle of olive oil on top, dotted with the grapes

Servings 4
Calories 617
Fat 54 g
Sodium 571 mg
Carbs 26 g
Protein 13 g

Summer summer summer salads!! Gurkensalat.

My father’s family is from a tiny, tiny town in Ohio. Often in the summer, we would go “back east” to visit. My paternal grandparents were wound pretty tight; I never felt comfortable when I was there. But my Grandmother Charlotte always made two things that stuck in my mind: cucumber salad, and huge soft lemon sugar cookies.  Those are my favorite memories of those trips; well, those and fireflies. Being from the desert, fireflies have always fascinated me.  As far as the victuals, to this day I’ve not found the equivalent for the cookies but I have for the cukes!  Thank you, interwebs.
GurkenCollage

This is simple. And quick. And so very yummy and cool, and great with summery foods like picnics and barbecues.  It pays to make a big batch; it will keep in the fridge for at least a week. Unless you live with me; then it’s two days, tops.

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The only thing is, you really do need a mandoline for this. Unless you’ve been to chef school and have the mad knife skills to slice a cucumber in to wafer thin slices.

 

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I really hope you try this one. It’s tangy, sweet, savory and crunchy.
For the marinade
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. white vinegar
For the salad
1/2 English cucumber, washed and sliced wafer-thin on a mandoline
1/4 Sweet white onion like a Vidalia or a Maui Sweet, sliced wafer-thin on a mandoline
1 Tbsp. dried dill weed, or 2 Tbsp. minced fresh.
Instructions
Put the marinade ingredients in a sauce pan or in a microwave-safe bowl. Bring to an almost boil, until the sugar is dissolved and set aside to cool.
While the marinade is cooling, wash and slice the veg.
In a tall, wide-mouthed container, put a single layer of cukes, a single layer of onion and sprinkle of dill.
Continue until all the stuff is in the jar.
By this time, the marinade should be about room temp. Pour it over the ingredients in the jar.
Refrigerate.
If you can contain yourself, these are best eaten after a day.
Notes
You can also make this with crème fraîche instead of the marinade. Just mix it all together. Nerms.

Servings 4
Calories 114
Fat 0 g
Sodium 5 mg
Carbs 28 g
Protein 0 g

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.

Nectarine Collage

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

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