Steamed Artichokes with Tahini Sauce

Steamed Artichokes2Most people think of artichokes only as the hearts that come out of a can or jar or occasionally the freezer. They casually throw them into salad or maybe cook them with chicken and rice. Very little thought is given to the rest of the vegetable. I freely admit that steamed artichokes are an acquired taste – one that I acquired as a very young child. My mother frequently served them with a lemon butter sauce or a simple vinaigrette – both wonderful and something you should consider trying. I recall the fun of peeling off the leaves one by one and dipping them in the sauce while I grabbed that teeny bit of edible green at the bottom between my teeth. I would peel and dip and discard over and over anxiously waiting to get to the prize at the bottom – the artichoke heart. But first I had to winnow the leaves down until I came to the spiny purplish leaves which covered the fibrous choke. The trick then was to dig out the choke without losing even the tiniest bit of the heart. That wonderfully green, firm/tender taste of the heart was the final destination at the end of the journey.

I haven’t made artichokes in years but I saw a recipe in the Sunday Chicago Tribune newspaper by Leah Eskin that reminded me how truly simple they are to prepare and I made up my mind to make some. You want to find nice green, fat globes. They can be eaten warm or cold with a host of sauces. My husband was not a huge fan, but for me – well, it brought back many fond memories and I enjoyed it immensely. Give it a try and make up your own mind.

Steamed Artichokes with Tahini Sauce (I always make extra sauce since left-overs never go unused)

Yield: Makes 2 but can easily be doubled or tripled

Ingredients 

Steamed Artichokes

1 lemon cut in half

1/2 cup tahini

2 cloves of garlic

3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt plus 2 teaspoons

1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or fresh cracked black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground sumac

2 bay leaves

2 large, fat artichokes

Directions

  1. Trim the stems of the artichokes with a large chef’s knife. You only want about 1/2 inch of stem and the artichoke should be able to sit flat on its bottom. Using the large knife, cut through the top third of the artichoke, discarding the leaves. Pull off any nasty leaves along the bottom of the artichoke. Using a pair of kitchen shears, snip off the sharp points of the remaining visible leaves so that the top of each leaf is flat.
  2. Place the artichokes cut side up in a deep pot that is large enough to hold them in a single layer. Pour in cold water to a depth of about one (1) inch. Place one garlic clove and the bay leaves in the bottom of the pot. Place 2 teaspoons of salt in the pot. Squeeze the juice of the lemon into a dish or measuring cup and set aside. Place the lemon halves (without the juice!) into the pot. Steamed Artichokes3Bring the water to a boil,cover the pot and reduce the temperature to a simmer. Steam until tender, which took 25 minutes for me. When the artichokes are tender (test by piercing a sharp knife into the base) carefully remove them from the water. Either use tongs or a large slotted spoon. Place them cut side down onto a clean dish towel and allow them to drain for at least 10 minutes. Discard everything else. The artichokes can be made up to a day ahead and eaten cold or you can eat them immediately.
  3. While the artichokes are cooking make your sauce. Place the well-stirred tahini into a bowl or measuring cup with the lemon juice. Whisk until well blended. Then add the remaining clove of garlic that has been crushed, the 3/4 teaspoon of salt, the Aleppo pepper and enough cold water to achieve the consistency of sauce that you like. When you serve them, be sure to have a place for people to discard the leaves and individuals bowls of the sauce for dipping. Steamed Artichokes4

Holiday Coleslaw

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I could make the same thing every Thanksgiving and no one in my family would complain. But I would be unhappy and bored. So each year I try to keep all of the favorites but I then add some new element. Occasionally, like this year, one of the new things fails and ends up in the garbage before it ever makes it to my holiday table. However, I also had three successes and they are foods that would be delicious anytime. This is the first of those items and with the availability of pre-shredded slaw, it is a snap to put together. I used a colorful mix of kale, Brussel sprouts, carrots and cabbage which held up beautifully so that even with some left-overs, I could enjoy it a day later. While it added that satisfying crunch and lightness to my holiday meal, this slaw would be equally good with burgers (veggie or otherwise) or grilled meat, chicken or fish.

Holiday Slaw from kitchn and tweaked by me

Yield: 10-12 servings

Ingredients

For dressing

1/3 cup EVOO

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

4 teaspoons Dijon mustard (I used a wonderful walnut Dijon mustard)

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/2 of a medium red onion, finely chopped

Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

For the salad

Two 14 ounce bags of mixed slaw or about 2.5 pounds of green cabbage, shredded (about 10 cups)

3/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

3/4 cup dried cranberries

One bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Directions

  1. Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together. I made this the night before and refrigerated it. Make it at least 30 minutes before to allow the flavors to meld properly.
  2. Put all of the salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Toss with the dressing. This can be tossed at least two hours ahead and should be tossed at least 30 minutes before serving for optimal taste.

 

 

 

Moroccan Beet and Orange Salad with Pistachios

Beet and Orange Salad

I find that North African food and Indian food mix and match beautifully. So when I was serving an Indian-themed dinner for the first night of Rosh HaShana, I didn’t hesitate to use this Moroccan beet salad as a side dish. Aside from being healthy and delicious, beets add such vibrant color to any table and when paired with bright oranges there are few foods that are more visually stunning. I saw this recipe in the Chicago Tribune and immediately decided to include it in my holiday dinner. Since now you can easily purchase pre-roasted and peeled organic beets in your grocery store, this dish only takes minutes to prepare. I prepped all of the elements ahead of dinner and then combined them just as my guests were arriving. If you add the oranges too soon, they will pick up the color from the beets and while the salad will still taste wonderful, the effect of the contrasting colors will not be as pronounced. And here for a perfect pairing of Moroccan and Indian….

Moroccan Beet and Orange Salad by Joan Nathan from “King Solomon’s Table”

Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients

6 to 8 medium beets

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 to 3 navel oranges

Juice of 1 small lemon

2 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. ground cumin, or to

taste

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

½ bunch fresh parsley, chopped

2 tbsp. chopped green

pistachios

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Rinse the beets, rub them with the olive oil, and then wrap them in foil and put them on a baking sheet. Roast them for about one hour until tender when poked with a fork. When cool enough to handle, peel the beets and cut into bite-size wedges. (Or buy pre-roasted and peeled beets, simply drain and cut them.)
  3. With a sharp knife, cut off the tops and bottoms of the oranges. Slice off the peel and the white pith and cut in between the white membranes to extract individual segments.
  4. Mix the lemon juice, garlic, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl or jar. Whisk in the olive oil, then toss with the beets. Let sit for a few hours at room temperature.
  5. Just before serving, add the orange segments and sprinkle with the parsley and pistachio nuts for color.

Radish Slaw with Remoulade and Pistachios

Looking for a light, refreshing summer salad? This the answer to any steak or other rich, red meat dish that needs a zesty sidekick (though this also went very nicely with salmon).screen-shot-2017-06-03-at-8-57-20-pm-e1496538875297.pngWe made this originally to pair with our steak with corn salsa, and then quickly realized it went well with an assortment main meats.

Ingredients

Remoulade

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1.5 tbsp coarse grain mustard
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup of EVOO
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp minced chives
  • 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 2 tbsp cornichons
  • 1/2 tsp liquid from canned chipotles in adobo sauce (optional but if you have the chipotles from the steak recipe then why not?)

—–

  • 1 large daikon radish, about 8 oz, peeled and dice
  • 1 bunch red radishes, sliced
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1/3 cup shelled pistachios
  • (optional but good if you’re repurposing leftovers) handful of mixed greens

Directions

  1. Place the egg in boiling water for 90 seconds using a slotted spoon.
  2. Take the egg out of the water, let it cool slightly. Tap the top of the egg to peel of the top of the shell and using a small tsp, carve out the egg from the shell (think of it as a flash soft boiled egg). Add to a food processor.
  3. Add the lemon juice, mustard, salt and the pepper and pulse or blend. With the motor running, add the olive oil until it is emulsified.
  4. Add the tomato paste, parsley, chives, capers, cornichons and the chili liquid and keep processing until well mixed.
  5. Separately, combine the radishes and celery in a large bowl. Add about 1/2 cup of the remoulade to coat completely and mix. (Save the remaining remoulade for seafood dishes or sandwich condiment. We still haven’t figure out what to do with our leftovers quite yet. Mainly because we forgot about it.)
  6. After mixing thoroughly, refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
  7. Prior to serving, add the pistachios and mix.

Adapted from the Wine Lover’s Cookbook.

Beet and Chickpea Quinoa Salad

I used to live right above a Le Pain Quotidien and as it was one of the few restaurants in my neighborhood where I could just sit with my newspaper and eat my favorite soft boiled eggs.  They also had some light, rustic French fare that included this tasty quinoa salad.

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We try to pack our lunches during the week, and lately I’ve been making a lot of quinoa salads, but it felt time to mix up the type of quinoa salad.  I suddenly remembered this one, and it ended up also being a delicious brunch when set over some lightly dressed arugula and a side of avocado toast.

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Add some eggs and then you truly have a healthy but elaborate brunch. Bon Appetit!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 medium beet, chopped (I like to buy the precooked, prepeeled beets and just dice them)
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas

If you’re serving this over an arugula salad… then also:

  • 2 cups arugula per serving

And if you want to add eggs…

  • 3-4 eggs/person

Directions

  1. Begin by preparing the Quinoa salad. In a medium bowl, mix the cooked quinoa, beet, parsley, and chickpeas. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper until fully incorporated.
  2. If you’re serving over arugula, add arugula to your serving plates, and then add about a cup of the quinoa salad.
  3. If you also want to add eggs, heat olive oil on a medium sized skilled, crack your eggs into the skillet and cook for about 5-10 minutes until the whites are not runny anymore.  Serve on top of everything else!

Adapted from Le Pain Quotidien, Quinoa Taboule Salad Recipe.

 

Easy Feta and Roasted Tomato Salad

Light salads often feature as a first course in our more elaborate dinners on the weekends.  Oftentimes I know I want to make a green salad but am never sure what to throw into them.  The best salads, though, are often when you discover leftover bits and pieces in  your fridge, that when assembled look picture perfect.  This was one of those.

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I happened to have a bunch of roasted tomatoes leftover from a previous brunch, and so decided to throw them into this light salad.

Ingredients

  • 1 block of feta cheese
  • 5 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1/2 lb arugula
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • pinch of kosher salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Cut your tomatoes in half and arrange them on a baking sheet lined with foil with the flesh sides up.   Season with salt and pepper and oregano.  Bake for about 35 minutes or until the tomatoes look slightly browned.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the arugula, olive oil and lemon juice.
  3. Cut the block of feta cheese into 2″ squares and set aside.
  4. Once the tomatoes are done, let them cool for about 15 minutes.
  5. Assemble the salad by placing the arugula in a shallow bowl, followed by an arrangement of feta and tomatoes to your taste.
  6. Serve immediately!

Herbed Farro Salad

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Farro is one of those wonderful ancient grains that is so satisfying it might just turn you into a vegetarian. I’m using an organic, whole-grain farro which I buy at nuts.com. You can also make this with a pearled version of farro. Since the cooking times are very different, follow the cooking instructions on the farro you buy. This salad is from Giada DeLaurentiis, slightly tweaked by me. It is a wonderful side dish to grilled fish or meat. If you add some cubed feta or Bulgarian cheese, it becomes a light meal in itself.

Herbed Farro Salad

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

1.5 cups of farro, cooked according to instructions on package

1.5 teaspoons Kosher Salt

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half if small or quarters if larger (If you can buy the small heirloom tomatoes, it makes for a very delicious and colorful salad.)

1/2 chopped sweet or red onion

1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

1 bunch chopped flat-leaf parsley or a mixture of cilantro, parsley and mint (I used a mixture this time, but have made it with just parsley as well.)

1-2 cloves of minced garlic

2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Fresh cracked black pepper or Aleppo Pepper to taste

about 1/4 cup EVOO

Directions

  1. Drain the farro and allow to cool to just warm.
  2. Add the tomatoes, onion, chive and parsley and mix through.
  3. In a jar or small bowl, mix together the garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper and EVOO and add to the farro salad. Toss to coat everything.

NOTE: This salad is best eaten at room temperature so if you make it ahead of time and refrigerate it, take it out 30 minutes before serving.

Cooking Farro: There are many different methods, but the following is how I cooked it.

For whole-grain organic farro, I used these directions:

Soak farro in water for 8 hours or overnight to reduce overall cooking time. To cook whole-grain farro on the stove top, combine 3 parts liquid to one part farro. Bring the farro to a boil over high heat, and then reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook uncovered for approximately 30-45 minutes, or until the grain is tender. It is a bit of personal taste just how chewy you like your farro.

For pearled farro, use these directions:

Use 3 parts liquid to 1 part farro. Bring water or broth to a rolling boil, and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the farro and let it cook for 20 minutes. For a chewy texture, cook for less time. For a mushy texture, cook longer.

Bread Salad My Way

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I could give up many foods without a great sense of loss, but carbs – particularly bread – is not one of them. When the weather gets hot, my husband and I eat a lot of salads for dinner. We eat salad all of the time but in the summer months, instead of salads being a side, they are the main event. What follows isn’t really a recipe; it is more a method. There are almost infinite ways to vary the ingredients, as long as you keep the overall balance of flavors and textures intact.

I’ve read recipes where you soak day-old bread in water and squeeze out all of the liquid. I tried making panzanella that way and frankly prefer the way I do it. Why soak the bread in water when it can absorb all of the wonderful juices from ripe tomatoes? You can use almost any kind of good rustic bread. I happen to have bought a sourdough boule, but I have used multi-grain or whole wheat farmer-style breads successfully as well. Take whatever bread you choose and cut it into 2-inch dice. Place the bread on a baking sheet in a cold oven and heat the oven to 325 degrees F. When the oven comes to temperature, turn it off, but leave the bread in there, with the oven door closed, for at least 20 minutes or overnight. That will form the base of your salad. How much bread you use is really up to you. A half boule can easily feed 4 people.

Several hours before you are ready to serve the salad, place the dried bread cubes in a large bowl. We have entered farmer’s market season so getting beautiful heirloom tomatoes should not be a problem. You want LOTS as well as the lovely little Persian cucumbers, although the seedless English cucumbers will also work. I like to have a thinly sliced onion – yellow, Vidalia or red – and pitted olives and capers. Start cutting up the vegetables and layering them over the bread cubes in the bowl. Once you have these basics, you can play around. I made my salad up to this point and added in a few of the additional vegetables I mention below, set it on my counter, covered, until about 45 minutes before I am ready to serve. My other ingredients and the dressing will go on about 30 to 45 minutes ahead of serving and I will toss the salad. Tonight, I am using marinated cooked shrimp, but some times I use grilled, diced chicken or thinly sliced salami and coppa or jamon. If you want to go vegetarian, just use a good diced cheese – like a fontina or a sharp provolone, cut into small cubes or large julienne.

You will want LOTS of fresh herbs – the more the merrier. I bought some beautiful garlic chives at the farmer’s market on Tuesday, so I am adding lots of that and an entire bunch of flat-leaf parsley. I really enjoy the slightly anise taste of fennel as well as the bright green crunch it provides, so I will add both sliced stems or bulb and the feathery ends that look like dill. If you are not a fan of fennel, you can get the same basic texture by using celery or even Napa cabbage. I have marinated artichoke hearts, but sometimes I will add roasted peppers instead. I hope that you are getting the idea here that you can tailor the salad to your personal tastes and what is fresh and available. The end result should be as attractive to the eye as it is to the palate.

As I mentioned above, about 30 to 45 minutes before I plan on serving, I add my protein and dressing and toss the salad. I like to make a garlicky vinaigrette with fennel seed and some Dijon mustard, but use whatever you like – just make it yourself. When I am ready to plate the salad, I have a bed of arugula which I also picked up at the farmer’s market and which I lightly dress with a bit of my homemade dressing and I pile the bread salad on top. You need nothing more than a glass of a crisp white or Rose and maybe some fresh melon and cherries for dessert. If I have any leftovers, I eat them for lunch the next day. The weather is perfect and our terrace is blooming so tonight we dine al fresco!

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Orange and Radish Salad

IMG_1473IMG_1473This salad was such a hit at the Seder that I am making it again in a much smaller quantity to accompany tonight’s Sockeye salmon. While I am making this for Passover, there is absolutely no reason that my salads can’t be eaten during the rest of the year – or at least throughout spring and summer. And, in fact, I am always preparing some salad or other since veggies and fruits make up a large part of our diet. This salad is adapted from Madhur Jaffrey and sounded wonderful so I gave it a try. For the Seder I made a much larger amount and used both the plain red radishes and daikon radish. I also used a couple of blood oranges in addition to navel since I happened to have them and they lent such a lovely color and unique taste. Tonight’s version only has the navels.

Orange and Radish Salad adapted from Madhur Jaffrey

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients

2-3 navel oranges

1/4 packed cup radishes, thinly sliced

1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Torn mint leaves, scattered

Drizzled glaceed balsamic vinegar (This is vinegar that has been reduced until it is almost a syrup. You can buy it in most grocery stores and is wonderful over strawberried served with basil.)

Directions

  1. Peel the oranges in such a way that you remove all of the white pith along with the skin. Slice off the “navel” and a slice off of the other end. Cut into circles about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and set aside.Arrange attractively on a large plate.
  2. Scatter the radishes over the oranges.
  3. Sprinkle the salt, cumin and pepper.
  4. Scatter with the mint and just before serving, drizzle with the glaceed basalmic vinegar.

Lentils du Puy and Potato Salad with Tarragon

lentils de puyThe beauty of Lentils du Puy is that they just never seem to get mushy, which is wonderful if you want to serve them in a salad where they are the star. This is a classic French salad and is wonderful eaten at room temperature. I’m serving lamb chops tonight and lamb and lentils are a wonderful marriage of taste and texture. I also make this salad when I am serving a summer dinner of lamb merguez sausage or any other flavorful sausage. All it needs is a green salad with some ripe tomatoes, a nice Dijon mustard and a crisp wine. Well, okay, I have already admitted that my husband and I are bread people, so I would also serve this with a crusty baguette.

Lentils du Puy and Potato Salad with Tarragon

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

1.5 cups Lentils du Puy or other green lentils

6-7 small potatoes like a red baby Bliss or Yukon Gold or a mixture

1 small onion, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1.5 teaspoons Kosher salt or to taste

1.5 teaspoons dried tarragon or 1 Tablespoon fresh tarragon

6 Tablespoons EVOO

2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar

20 cracks of fresh black pepper

Directions

  1. Rinse your lentils in cold water and place in a medium pot with water to cover by at least 2 inches. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. If you are using Lentils du Puy, cook uncovered for about 23 minutes, immediately drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Regular green lentils may only take about 18 minutes. You want them tender but still holding their shape.
  2. While the lentils are cooking, add all of the other ingredients except for the potatoes to a large serving bowl. When the lentils have cooked and been cooled and drained, add them to the bowl with everything else and mix through.
  3. Cook the potatoes uncovered, whole and in their skins until tender but firm – about 14 minutes, but check if a sharp knife easily pierces the potato and pulls out easily. Once cooked, immediately drain them and run under cold water to stop the cooking. The potatoes should easily peel. Cut into large dice and add to the lentils. Adjust your seasonings and enjoy.