Roasted Buttercup Squash and Soba Noodle Salad with Creamy Miso Ginger Dressing

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This hearty autumn salad was inspired by last week’s trip to Napa Valley. On our first day, we drove to Sonoma County and spent a lazy afternoon wandering around Healdsburg. SHED, the foodie paradise market and café, was by far our favorite spot. My friend Domonique, a San Fransisco native, mentioned that it’s probably the most instagrammed place in wine country and after seeing it for myself I understand why. SHED exemplifies Northern California culture – hyper fresh, local, sustainable, organic, simple and thoughtful. The eat-local/organic/farm-to-table movement now prevalent everywhere began in this little corner of the world, and spending time there had a profound impact on me. Continue reading

Kale and Chickpea Salad with Honeyed Almonds and Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette

 

DSC_0044 Isn’t this French kale beautiful?  I know, I know – the words kale and beautiful don’t normally sit side by side in the same sentence, but the dark green and purple all ombréd together and those perfect, rounded ruffles make it the ODLR of the vegetable world.DSC_0023I brought the above kale home from Elawa Farm’s garden market, tore it into bite sized pieces (which almost made me sad), massaged it with vinaigrette (yes, massaged it…we’ll get to that), and tossed it with ingredients that reside in just about everyone’s pantry.DSC_0212DSC_0237Kale and Chickpea Salad with Honeyed Almonds and Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette

serves 2 for a main course, 4 as a side

for the vinaigrette (makes 1 cup) –

  • 1/3 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, finely chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 small shallot (about 2 tablespoons), finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

for the salad –

  • 1 bunch kale (any variety), center ribs removed and discarded, leaves torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, from a jar or home roasted, cut into strips
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup honey roasted almonds, store bought or homemade (recipe to follow)
  1.  Place all vinaigrette ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake vigorously until emulsified.
  2. Add torn kale leaves to a large salad bowl.  Pour 1 tablespoon of vinaigrette onto the kale leaves and massage with your hands for a minute or two until kale begins to soften (kale will wilt in a good way and lose its bitter edge).
  3. Add the sliced roasted bell pepper, chickpeas, and a tablespoon or two more of vinaigrette.  Toss to coat.
  4. Divide salad among plates and sprinkle with honey roasted almonds.  Pass extra vinaigrette at table.

Honey Roasted Almonds

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • big pinch kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together honey, oil and salt in a small bowl.  Add chopped almonds and stir to coat.
  3. Spread almond mixture evenly on baking sheet and bake for 8-9 minutes until nuts are light golden, stirring once during baking.  (Be sure to monitor nuts carefully – they burn in the blink of an eye!)
  4. Allow to cool completely.

DSC_0014This cheery bouquet of yarrow also came home with me…how could I resist?

 

Lemony Lentil Salad with Dill, Cucumber and Feta

DSC_0013This Greek inspired lentil salad hits all the right notes – crunchy, creamy, light-yet-filling, and bursting with bright flavors.  It’s a great take-along for a Memorial Day picnic, and though it stands alone as a vegetarian entree, it would be a fabulous accompaniment to anything from burgers to grilled chicken.  The lemony dressing will seem like too much at first, but the lentils will absorb it over time.  French green lentils are worth seeking out – they have a wonderful nutty flavor and do not get mushy like other lentils.  I also love French feta if you can find it – it is milder and creamier than other varieties.

Lemony Lentil Salad with Dill, Cucumber and Feta

makes approximately 6 cups

  • 1 cup French green lentils
  • 3 cloves garlic, one peeled and two minced
  • zest of two lemons
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, small diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small cucumber, small diced (about 1 cup)
  • cherry tomatoes, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 small red onion, small diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 3/4 cup feta, small diced
  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil with one peeled garlic clove and a large pinch of salt.  Add lentils and cook over medium-high heat until lentils are tender and cooked through, 18-20 minutes.  Drain, then place in a large bowl.
  2. While lentils are cooking, make the dressing by whisking together the two minced garlic cloves, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
  3. Add dressing to the still-warm lentils.  Allow to cool completely.
  4. While lentils are cooling, chop veggies, herbs and feta.  After chopping the tomatoes and cucumbers, place in a colander lined with paper towels for at least 10 minutes to absorb excess liquid.
  5. Add all veggies and herbs to the cooled lentil mixture.  Stir in feta last.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

Tomato Season

First Big Tomato!“There’s only two things that money can’t buy – true, true love and homegrown tomatoes.” – from Kevin West’s Saving the Season, a cook’s guide to home canning, pickling, and preserving

We picked the first giant, juicy yellow tomato from our garden last night and sliced it into a caprese salad while it was still warm from the sun.  My daughter remarked, “Don’t you love the way your hands smell when you’ve just picked a tomato?” “One of life’s great pleasures,” I replied.

This is barely a recipe it’s so simple!  When ingredients are this fresh, almost nothing needs to be done.  Here, the tomato’s sweet acidity is balanced by creamy fresh mozzarella then finished with fragrant, spicy, basil and a drizzle of best quality extra virgin olive oil.

Caprese Salad

serves two

  • two large, ripe homegrown or farmers’ market tomatoes, sliced to desired thickness
  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced to same thickness as tomatoes
  • washed and dried leaves from 2 stems of basil, sliced into thin ribbons*
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Divide tomatoes and mozzarella between two plates, drizzle each with a tablespoon of olive oil, top with basil.  Sprinkle liberally with kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

*Chiffonading basil: Stack several basil leaves on top of one another and roll lengthwise into a cigar.  Slice across the roll to create thin ribbons.

First Harvest

veggies copyThe cold temperatures of spring and early summer gave our garden a very slow start.  Despite a 24′ x 8′ bed filled to the brim with plants and seedlings, we’ve only had lettuce and herbs to enjoy.  Until now!  Seemingly overnight, bright pink tops emerged at the base of radish greens, several teeny tiny green beans exploded into full size, and sweet banana peppers grew almost too big.  The ‘sun sugar’ yellow cherry tomato plant (one of eight varieties I planted) gave us our first tomatoes of the season, reminding us that a homegrown tomato is one of nature’s greatest delights.  And yes, I should have let the radishes grow a little longer, but I was itching to pull something out of the dirt!creamy basil avocado dressingI sliced up all of the veggies along with a handful of mixed fresh herbs, then tossed the salad with this Creamy Basil Avocado Dressing.  (I also drizzled some over grilled salmon, which was crazy good!)

Creamy Basil Avocado Dressing

makes 1 1/2 cups

  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup parsley leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeno (seeds and membranes removed), chopped
  • 1 small ripe avocado, seeded and peeled
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until dressing is smooth and creamy.

recipe and photos via the aesthete and the dilettante

A special thank you to my son who patiently taught me how to add text to photos.  Extra allowance this week, Little Man!

Strawberry Avocado Salad with Fennel and Mint

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If you’ve been craving bright, fresh, seasonal ingredients that taste like Spring, I have the perfect salad for you.  Sweet strawberries, creamy avocado and crisp shaved fennel are layered on delicate bibb lettuce leaves and dressed with a lime-ginger-mint vinaigrette.  Finished with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of sea salt, this salad makes a light, satisfying lunch or delightful first course for a Spring inspired menu.

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Strawberry Avocado Salad with Fennel and Mint

serves four

  • 1/3 cup grapeseed or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey, plus more for drizzle (replace honey with 2 teaspoons agave if making vegan)
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves
  • 1 head Bibb lettuce, leaves torn into large pieces
  • 1 small fennel bulb, fronds removed and shaved thin with a knife or on a mandolin
  • 2 avocados, halved and sliced thin
  • 8 ounces fresh strawberries, sliced
  1. Whisk oil, lime juice, honey, ginger, shallot and mint together in a bowl.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Layer fennel, strawberries and avocado on lettuce leaves on four plates and dress with vinaigrette.  Drizzle each salad with honey and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt.  Garnish with fresh mint.

DSC_0405recipe and photos via the aesthete and the dilettante