Greens with Fruit and Mustard Vinaigrette

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By Freya Bellin

Fresh leafy greens are among spring’s treasures. Arugula, mustard greens, and spinach all abound at the farmers market these days, and there’s no better way to honor these flavorful greens than with a simple salad.

Summer fruits like raspberries and strawberries are great salad ingredients, but while we’re still waiting for berries and stone fruit to grace us with their presence, you can use apples and pears or dried fruits for this salad. I tossed red mustard greens with thinly sliced apples and chopped dried dates. The combination was sweet, spicy, and quite refreshing. Try the cheese and nut variation if you’re looking for a bit more heft. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Barley with Cucumber and Yogurt-Dill Dressing

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Makes: 4 servings

Time: 40 minutes

Cool, crunchy, and chewy, this is a perfect summer salad, and quickly made with pearled barley, which cooks relatively fast. Other grains you can use: brown rice, wheat berries, cracked wheat, pearl couscous, or wild rice. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Posted in Middle Eastern, Produce

Dandelion Greens with Double Garlic

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Makes: 4 servings

Time: 15 minutes

The first measure of garlic mellows as it cooks with the greens; it’s the second that adds a real kick. Substitute minced ginger for the second addition of garlic if youl like.

Other vegetables you can use: broccoli raab, gai lan, beet greens, turnip greens, chard, bok choy, tatsoi, kale or collards (separate thick stems as needed), cabbage, or spinach. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Easiest Bean or Grain Salad on the Planet

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By Freya Bellin

There’s no joking here with the superlative in the title of this recipe. It is truly the easiest salad ever. And what’s even better is that it’s also the most versatile. There are endless ways to vary a basic vinaigrette (see suggestions below), so you’ll never get tired of experimenting with flavors. My favorite addition is about a teaspoon or two of Dijon mustard to the recipe below.

These salads do well mixed with other ingredients, too, like extra veggies (carrots, celery, bell peppers, etc.). I really like combining both beans and grains into one salad and serving that over mixed greens—it makes for an easy lunch to pack. I find that I need a little more dressing for the grains than the beans, since they absorb the liquid. It’s worth just making extra dressing if you think you’ll use it within a few days. Homemade is so much better than the bottled stuff. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Roasted or Grilled Asparagus

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Makes: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes

Asparagus are terrific when blasted with high heat; if you haven’t had them browned, you’re in for a new treat. If you have a grill going, you should really try grilling them; thick spears, especially, are wonderful this way (thin ones are good too, but you have to be especially careful not to let them fall through the grill grates). If the grill is not on, roast them. They’re amazing this way, especially with butter. Recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

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Smashed Potato Salad with Escarole

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By Freya Bellin

In this dish, ultimate comfort food meets veggies, and they get along pretty well. Mashed potatoes are classically very buttery, but this version doesn’t suffer at all in the absence of milk or butter. The olive oil flavors the potatoes nicely, and although you don’t want to over-smash the potatoes in this dish, I was able to achieve a really creamy consistency, dairy-free. The greens add color and make the salad a little lighter, while the lemon offers a bright, springy, and zesty touch. The citrus is lovely but quite pervasive, so I would start with half a lemon’s worth of juice and add more to taste. I tossed in some salt and lots of extra black pepper at the end, which helped cut the lemon if you find it’s too strong. For those who like spice, try sprinkling red pepper flakes or cayenne on top. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Raw Beet Salad

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Makes: 4 servings

Time: 20 minutes

Beets, like carrots, can be eaten raw. And they’re delicious that way, crunchy and sweet. So sweet, in fact, that they need a strongly acidic dressing like this one for balance. Recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

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Pan-Cooked Vegetables with Crunchy Fish

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By Freya Bellin

When a recipe transforms winter vegetables into something bright and summery, you know you’ve stumbled upon something special. That’s exactly how this dish is; it has a tropical element despite being composed almost entirely of root vegetables. The vegetable base for the fish is like a hash, especially if you use mostly potato. (I used a combination of sweet potato, carrot, parsnip, and turnip.) A food processor with a grating blade will be tremendously helpful, unless you have a particularly good hand grater (and a fearless disregard for your knuckles).

The seasoning for the dish is simple, which highlights the natural sweetness of the veggies. I used a mild curry powder, but a spicier one could work too. If you stay with the sweet and mild theme, I think there’s even room in this dish for some fruit, like raisins, apple, plantains, or mango. While the vegetable mixture makes a great side dish here, it could easily stand alone without the fish, garnished with red onion and parsley. It would also make a good potluck dish, as it isn’t temperature sensitive.

I chose striped bass for the fish, which held up really nicely to this method of cooking. You could also try halibut or mahi-mahi.  If you don’t like the idea of breading or dredging fish, you’ll be happy to know that the fish ends up with just a light coating of the flour and cornmeal mixture. It makes a thin, perfectly crispy layer that is otherwise hard to get without frying in lots of oil. Texturally, the crispy fish makes a great contrast to the soft, grated vegetable hash. Sweet, crunchy, spicy, and quite light: an excellent combination. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Produce, Seafood

7 Ways to Make Lentil Soup

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Makes: 4 servings

Time: About 45 minutes

Lentils make soup making easy—they cook quickly and are incredibly tasty. And unlike many lentil soups, which are so thick they put people off completely, this one is nicely balanced with some simple vegetables. The lentils break down a bit during the cooking to give the soup a hearty consistency, but you can purée it if you prefer. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Roasted Carrots with Cumin

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Makes: 4 servings

Time: 35 minutes

Sweet and totally delicious, with many wonderful variations possible. Other vegetables you can use: parsnips, turnips, sweet potatoes, or winter squash.  Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

1 to 1 1/2 pounds baby carrots, green tops trimmed, or full-sized carrots, cut into sticks

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the oven to 425°F. Put the carrots on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil; sprinkle with the cumin and salt and pepper. Roast until the carrots are tender and browning, about 25 minutes. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Roasted Carrots with Fennel Seeds. Substitute fennel for the cumin.

Roasted Carrots with Pine Nuts. Omit the cumin. Add 1/4 cup pine nuts in the last 3 or 4 minutes of roasting.

Roasted Carrots with Sesame. Substitute 2 tablespoons peanut or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, and 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil for the olive oil. Substitute up to 2 tablespoons black and white sesame seeds for the cumin; add them in the last 3 or 4 minutes of roasting.

Roasted Carrots with Dates and Raisins. Omit the cumin. Add 1/4 cup each golden raisins and chopped dates in the last 10 minutes of roasting. Garnish with chopped nuts, like pistachios, almonds, or walnuts, and a couple tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves.

 

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