Cookery Bookshelf Recipes

Warm IPA Braised Cabbage Salad with Pastrami and Swiss

As the outdoors get chilly during autumn, serve warm salads. We love this Warm IPA Braised Cabbage Salad with Pastrami and Swiss cheese.

Let’s say you’re a beer drinker. And, by beer drinker, I don’t mean no-other-adult-beverage-is-in-the-fridge-so-I-guess-it’s-a-good-night-for-beer drinker. Instead, you’re someone who first evaluates a restaurant by what’s on their beer list. What’s on tap first only to be followed by the bottled options. It may be very en vogue to be a beer drinker now, what with the explosion of amazing craft brews available from independent outfits, but I know someone whose delight for hops and yeast knows only the limits of what’s available in IPA. I can appreciate that kind of fixation with my gaze on tea (and have been noted to say more than two handfuls of time that “kombucha is my beer.” But let’s be honest, I can’t imagine tacos without Negra Modelo and have a penchant for Ranger with its elderflower notes. I’m a fan of dark oatmeal stouts too, but it must be said, anything I appreciate or know about beer originates with my main squeeze). Oh, husband. Lover of India Pale Ales. My dear heart. The man to whom I once gave an anniversary gift of a new-to-him-brand six-pack of IPA and a smattering of cheeses. Man whose dad once owned a t-shirt emblazoned with the sentiment, “Wisconsin: Beer, Cheese, and a Few Weirdos.” He’s my weirdo and as such, I’ve never seen the kind of enthusiasm he laid down when he picked up Lori Rice’s first cookbook, Food on Tap. It should be known I’m a fan of adding beer to food (hello, frijoles borrachos!) and every autumn I make my Beer Braised Lamb and Leeks and, now to add to the list will be Warm IPA Braised Cabbage Salad.

Lori and I met a few years ago through a mutual friend, but aside from a few hellos by twitter or likes via Instagram, we never really got it together to get together until after she moved out of the Bay area. It didn’t stop me from tracking her down at IFBC and asking if I could write about her book because I understand that kind of single-minded obsession with an ingredient and wondering how its variations can imbue familiar foods with awesome flavor. And, let me tell you Food on Tap did not let me down. Let’s start here though: I’ve made one of the recipes. Three times. That doesn’t usually happen, but I couldn’t get over how easy it is to eat a not sad desk lunch with the Warm IPA Braised Cabbage Salad. I can almost recite the recipe off the top of my head (and literally did so as a friend who was headed to Bend for work mentioned he needed to make an easy staff meal. Bingo!)

food on tap book review

To continue, I like that each recipe name in Food on Tap tells you in the title which kind of beer you will use. She also includes tips in tiny print of specific beers to consider for the recipes, which will give you the best chance to taste what’s in her mind as she’s crafted these recipes. Or, that the recipes have both a homey essence to them but also with a deeper insider understanding that Lori’s background is in nutrition (and she’s penned a blog entitled Fake Food Free so you know that there is temperance in there somewhere. Her take on Pub Cheese for example riffs on holiday flavors for a Pumpkin Ale Cheddar and White Bean Dip (p. 63) where she sneaks in creamy legumes for texture but I’d bet also because they lighten a recipe that could’ve gone solely indulgent. I’ve cooked with beer before, but have received a request for the Nachos with IPA Beer Cheese Sauce (p. 97) or the Three Cheese IPA Soup Shooters (p. 59).

Do you see a pattern emerging? I, for one, am keen to bake with stout over the holidays, most notably Gingerbread Stout Bars with Brown Butter Frosting (p.147) or the Peanut Butter Stout Chocolate Chip Scones (p. 53)– can you imagine those paired at teatime with a bold Assam or Yunnan tea?

Warm IPA Braised Cabbage Salad Recipe from Lori Rice - Food on Tap Book Review

Warm IPA Braised Cabbage Salad with Pastrami and Swiss

(Recipe reprinted with permission from Food on Tap by Lori Rice, published by The Countryman Press, October 2017).

The beer suggestions for using in this salad inspired by a Ruben Sandwich include Stone Brewing Stone IPA, Bell’s Brewery Two Hearted Ale, and Bear Republic Brewing Company Racer 5 India Pale Ale. Racer 5 is a favorite in our house because of its flavors, but also because there might be a bicycle hanging from the ceiling of the Bear Republic restaurant in Healdsburg that belongs to one of my family members.

Serves 6

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 medium head green cabbage, thinly sliced (about 8 cups)

3 to 4 ounces IPA

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 pound sliced pastrami, chopped

6 ounces Swiss cheese, cubed

Heat the olive oil in a large pot, such as a Dutch oven, over medium high heat. Add the cabbage. Turn to coat it in the oil. Reduce the heat to medium. Carefully pour in 3 ounces of the beer. Cook, stirring often, until the cabbage begins to wilt and the liquid has evaporated, about 4 to 6 minutes. If you would like the cabbage softer, add more beer and continue to cook to reach your desired texture. Stir in the salt and pepper. Transfer the cabbage to a serving bowl. Toss in the pastrami and Swiss cheese. Serve warm.


Bacon Cauliflower Wheat Berry Salad

Bacon Cauliflower Wheat Berry Salad - anneliesz Sometimes where we end up isn’t where we thought we’d go. There was a season in my life where I refused to cave into procuring a leather jacket because I wanted to be able to live overseas at a moment’s notice. Somehow that jacket unwittingly became the symbol of not settling down into a lifestyle in the U.S. At the time, South Asia held my focus, even if I didn’t know exactly how to make that move a reality.
We moved last week. But instead of crossing the Pacific Ocean, we crossed the nearest freeway driving south. Reasons like a string of yarn that’s still unspooling went into us making the move.
As a working artist, we wanted a space big enough to water small ideas and let them stretch and grow. Upon entering houses 1, 2, 3, and finally 4, I envisioned the books I might write at the desk facing a mature Meyer Lemon tree, the photos I might take from the single pane window with its yummy West-facing light. I even caught a glimpse of the poems to be penned in the sunny Bay window of a kitchen. Finding the right space for us felt like a scavenger hunt except instead of looking for clues in the open, I hunted consistent patches of light and considered the bones of the building itself. We would be leaving an apartment that sometimes gobsmacked visitors with its bright disposition of long French windows, light filtering into each room.
It’s an interesting thing, thinking about the constraints of creativity. When given a small canvas, you make the most of its surface space, but a large canvas requires something different from the painter. Musically, Nathan’s band of disparate intellectuals are gelling and sounding in sync in a way that it might be time soon to lay down permanent tracks of their progress. The notion that he can play plugged in without disturbing neighbors down the hall or downstairs is a kind of freedom. As I write this, my office is in cardboard boxes, the wall of the room itself getting scraped, primed and then ready to open for the business of unboxing its bits. This too is an exercise in patience, of a perseverance in writing even when the conditions of the writing is not optimal. Where I knew the windows best for setting up foodscapes in my former dwelling, I have yet to discover which window and time will become my favorite retreat for interesting light.
In December, we visited Edgar Allan Poe’s house and it inspired us in two very distinct ways that played out as we looked for our first house. First, his study and bedroom were almost inter-connected. I could envision him lying on his bed, a line coming to mind and leaping up to walk the short distance from leisure to livelihood. Secondly, his home informed his writing and specifically one room spoke into the idea behind one of his stories (more of this in an upcoming post). It fascinated me to think how a space can worm its way into your work. How the space in which we create is part of the toolkit joining the camera, notebook, or guitar.
Most days the feel and groove of the new neighborhood makes it seem like we moved to a new city. It’s been only a week and still the sounds surprise me. A rooster crows down the street in the morning and afternoon. Hens gab engulfed in the gossip of backyard goings-on next door. The booming bass of music rattles the window up front as a car passes by. A seagull screeches in its circle above the tops of the trees.


Bacon Cauliflower Wheat Berry Salad - anneliesz
When the move began to seem imminent, I began scouring our pantry for foods better eaten now than packed in one of the many cardboard boxes and reusable cloth bags. And, there they were, gleaming pearls in the shelf of whole grain filled jars. Wheat berries offer a hefty chew and hearty addition to a lunchtime salad. Though we are certainly in the throes of Spring, the humble and under-appreciated turnip turned up into this February salad too. I’m harboring plans for fall and winter to pursue the potential in this root vegetable even as we are decidedly in asparagus and pea season.
But like a good poem, a recipe is never too late in arriving. It comes just when it needs to, even after a gestation period that turned out to be longer than intended. Even after we end up surprising ourselves with the courage required to take our creative work deeper by rooting down and filling new rooms with ideas. Even if there’s still no room for a leather jacket.
Bacon Cauliflower Wheat Berry Salad - anneliesz

Bacon Cauliflower Wheat Berry Salad

Makes 4-6 servings
2 1/2 cups cooked wheat berries
1 cup peeled and chopped turnip
1 cup chopped cauliflower stalks
2 slices bacon
3 tablespoons sliced leeks, whites only
1 Swiss chard leaf, chiffonade
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly cracked pepper
1 tablespoon tahini
1 lime, juiced
Place the wheat berries in a large bowl. Steam the turnip and cauliflower stalks until fork tender. Add them to the bowl with wheat berries. Meanwhile, fry the bacon. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon. Saute the leeks, Swiss chard, salt, and pepper in the bacon fat until cooked down, about 4 minutes over medium low heat. Add the cooked Swiss chard to the bowl of wheat berries. Mix together the tahini and lime juice. If it’s too thick, add 1/2 teaspoon of water. Pour the tahini sauce over the wheat berries. Toss and serve.
PS- This salad is best eaten on the day it’s made. (Try to stop yourself after it’s just tossed).
PPS- Make this salad gluten-free by swapping out the wheat berries for brown rice. It’s got a similar grit and sense of self-import that matches the swagger of this salad.
PPPS- Stash the cauliflower florets to use in a different recipe. I like to take stock and provide ideas for using the less pretty bits of vegetables like cauliflower stalks. If the size shown here is too ungainly, feel free to chop them into smaller chunks.

Salad for Endless Summer


Salad for Endless Summer

Everything inside of me wants to braise– to uncover a pot and release the steam of beer-scented lamb into the small confines of the kitchen. My red Dutch oven peers out from its file cabinet perch, forlorn. The sourdough starter that brings joy to the bread eaters in my family and among friends sits on the top shelf of the refrigerator, its fermentation retarded until its bi-weekly feeding time. Sandwich boards tout the flavors of fall even as the thermometer tells me otherwise.

We live in Oakland. We live in endless summer. In fact, I’ve taken to calling our fair city “endless summer” anytime the occasion arises, which I can assure you is as frequent as forgoing cups of hot tea for cooling quenchers of iced. For years, I lived in a patch of fog that finagled the idea of grey skies into my daily experience. Yet, even when I visit the bookseller friend in that former San Francisco neighborhood whose fondness for the East Bay encouraged me to embrace our move, she tells me the patch of fog in our old neighborhood has hung up a sign that it’s on holiday.

During the summer, no-bake recipes flitter through feeds on twitter, eat up the thread on pinterest, and woo home cooks with the idea that dinner can be a winner without the assistance of the oven. Zucchini noodles may just have transitioned this summer from fringe food to mainstream main dish. When it comes to kitchen gadgetry, bypass one of those contraptions that cranks out zoodles for the humble box cheese grater or reach for your food processor.

A simple lunch salad for endless summer comes together with a can, a squash, a squeeze, and a sprinkling of almonds. It takes a nod from summer appetizers of prosciutto wrapped figs pairing them with creamy garbanzos. As dinner, it comes together in 10 minutes and satisfies the urge for healthy food that’s fast. It is a safeguard against evenings of easy take-out and my response to the days of drought that keep summer forestalling fall. Soon enough, the pumpkins will get hacked into roastable chunks. The half moons of delicata will sizzle from brushed-on olive oil. Raw squash will give way for roasted. And, the glow of oven coils will replace the long days of our overworked brightest star.

Salad for Endless Summer

A Salad for Endless Summer

Feel free to omit the prosciutto for a vegetarian version of the salad—the garbanzos star in this salad that can easily be doubled and is best served right away. 

Makes 2 servings

3 zucchini, grated (3 cups)

1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

3 slices prosciutto, rolled and chopped

9 dried figs, chopped (1/3 cup)

1 tablespoon chopped green onion

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon toasted slivered almonds

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 crushed red pepper flakes

Stir together the zucchini, garbanzos, prosciutto, figs, green onion, almonds, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and red pepper flakes.


Winter Fruit Salad

Winter Fruit Salad

A famous man once said, “Winter is coming” and the evil king disliked that idea so much that he beheaded him. Okay, the man was really a fictional character, and the king really didn’t chop off his head just because he made the proclamation about the seasons changing. But, sometimes fictional characters are written to be just as large as life-sized and sometimes the idea of the nip in the air and the requisite need to pull out three layers of clothes can change a person, freezing them from the outside in. If you crave all things roasted, braised or wrapped in blankets this season, you are not alone. This winter fruit salad evokes the brightness of fall flavors to complement said roasted and braised objects of table side affection. In it, you’ll find colors to brighten up those early evenings too. Then again, you could whip up a winsome bowl of winter bounty to pass on a new tradition at the Thanksgiving table, though I’ve been eating scoops of winter fruit salad with plain yogurt for breakfast. So, pop on over to Ideal Magazine for this easy recipe.


Bulgur Salsify Salad

Over the course of one’s life you meet people with whom you find a deep camaraderie. It can come about as easily as an introduction between two people, both far from home and overly jet lagged. Mercedes had flown in from Alaska, and I, from California. Both of us had arrived in Massachusetts on red eye flights, beleaguered, and began introductions over pizza before attempting to meet our new classmates at the beginning of our stint in poetry school. Small details, shared in common began sewing a thread to bind our two swatches into a friendship that has deepened over its eight year run.

Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder’s friendship started from a mutual friend seeding them each other’s work, and then, correspondence ensued between both poets. I’ve been reading selected letters of theirs, gathered and published in the book, Distant Neighborsand thinking of my own distant neighbor, Mercedes. Where Snyder and Berry comment on each others’ work through publication and even through criticism, Mercedes and I used to set aside time to swap poems and then workshop them on the phone. This practice began shortly after school ended and even when I could still easily call myself a newlywed. We charted those workshop waters while moored or even when paddling through brackish waves. Our phone workshops always reminded me of Anne Sexton and Maxine Kumin‘s practice too.

Yesterday, we reconnected again after a year of both of us pulled by our personal lives and projects. How good it was to hear her voice and word of her progress! She has been a cheerleader of my work and I, of hers. With two small children in tow, it pleases me to no end to hear how she has been carving a writing life that aligns with her growing family. It gives me hope that it’s possible. Like Snyder and Berry, when we see each other, we resume old conversations and begin laying stonework for new paths of productivity and topics to plumb.

Some ingredients may not seem like they could be neighborly, but end up working together surprisingly well. Bulgur is most commonly associated with parsley and tomatoes for the Mediterranean salad, tabbouleh, but bulgur is so much more than a one-note actor. It makes an easy whole grain side dish that cooks in 10-20 minutes that I particularly like with sweet sultanas, crisp verjus and savory celeriac and salsify.

A good recipe is like friendship. For the whole to work, the various parts mesh together and impart what they are best at contributing. I draw comfort from seeing the date stamps on the letters between Berry and Snyder, reminded again that the writing life is a solitary one that comes together in community as possible. For now, I anticipate our full schedules and look forward to the phone calls best reserved for nap time when silence is the soundtrack to our conversation. Until then, I’m left wondering which poem to send her and awaiting the poem she sends me.

bulgur salsify sultana salad

Bulgur Salsify Salad with Sultanas and Verjus Vinaigrette

Whenever I read salsify, my eyes do a double take because at first glance it appears to read, “satisfy.” I’m beginning to think this is no coincidence. This root vegetable looks like a stick and, when peeled makes me think I’m preparing kindling for a fire. But the flavor of salsify offers an unexpected oyster-like flavor. This recipe comes together easily for a deliciously different side dish.

SERVES 6 side salad portions

2 teaspoons grapeseed oil
1/2 celeriac, peeled and minced
1 salsify root, peeled and minced
1 cup coarse bulgur
1 3/4 cup water
1/3 cup sultanas (golden raisins)
1/4 cup pecans, chopped and toasted
1 tablespoon basil

1/3 cup Verjus
2 tablespoons shallots, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1. Preheat oven to 450F.

2. Place the celeriac and salsify root pieces on a roasting pan and drizzle grapeseed oil over them. Jostle them until coated. Roast  for 30 minutes or until soft. Let cool.

3. While the celeriac and salisfy are roasting, place the water in a pot over medium high heat. Once the water is at a rolling boil, add in the bulgur and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook for 10 minutes uncovered.

4. Whisk together the verjus, shallots, garlic, oil, and basil. In a large bowl, stir together the bulgur, celeriac, salsify, pecans, and sultanas in the dressing until coated.



Rich & Creamy Salsify Gratin on Food + Wine

Black Salsify Fritters by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Salsify Tempura with a Spicy Dipping Sauce by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Jerry Traunfeld’s Root Ribbons with Sage

Salsify and Roasted Garlic Soup from Eat Like a Girl





Christmas Salad

Broccoli Brown Rice Salad | Annelies Zijderveld

Silent night.

Holy night.

All is calm.

All is bright.

At a long wooden table, we sat, pulling out our cameras and getting ready for our workshop in the photography studio. We had just begun our day’s discussions when Peter, our teacher, started things off with a simple rhetorical question, “This is a hard time of year for a lot of people, isn’t it?” He then recounted seeing a friend contending with a longterm illness and another who had recently fallen ill. A pallor hung over his face and if I looked at the other people seated around the table, there might have been a knowing glimmer of solidarity in their eyes. Here we were sitting around a table in the bright noon light discussing chasing the light through the lens and in our lives.

The next day, our family sat in the second tier of the Davies Symphony Hall: One couple showed up late, champagne flutes in hand; another congregated in the lobby until the last moment, hungrily eating a sandwich before the concert began. Tucked in my bag, a round loaf of Chocolate Orange bread from Marla Bakery waited to pass hands with my mother-in-law. If you looked at our hodgepodge row, you might catch Beck mock conducting in his seat with one or both of his sisters laughing quietly at his antics. We worked our way through “Good King Wenceslas” and then on to “O Come All Ye Faithful” for our part of the sing-along. The soprano slipped easily over the high notes of “O Holy Night,” dazzling us with her range and sequined navy gown with a peek of fuchsia fabric revealed from the slit in the back of the dress when she walked. Small children decked out in their afternoon finery were acting on their best behavior, even if that meant sucking on candies doled out from their dad. A seven year-old girl outfitted in a bright red dress with a soft white bolero sweater audaciously conducted the entire concert from her seat on the front row.

After the concert ended, we inched our way out of the symphony hall. We snapped photos along the outer ledge like countless other families and later congregated at a nearby restaurant. Assembled as we were around the long table for dinner and full of raucous laughter, I stood at the end of the table trying to capture the light bouncing from one person to the next, knowing later that evening I would see my mom. Something about having the people you love nearby is grounding.

And yet, what is it about this time of year that makes it challenging? If it’s the possibility of not participating in Christmas because it doesn’t feel like a holiday you believe in, I understand that. Perhaps it’s being surrounded by people you love and finding you have a short fuse that gets lit unexpectedly. I often wonder why it is that the people we love the most sometimes are the ones we grow exasperated with so easily.  This time of year stirs up dormant emotions or memories mired under several inches of dust… which brings us back to “Silent Night.”

The symphony hall had erupted with clapping while the soprano and conductor curtseyed and bowed. I clapped along with everyone else, but a little disappointed that the concert had come to a close. Last year, they had capped the performance with a rendition of “Silent Night” that had catapulted it from one of my least favorite Christmas songs to one I wanted to sing every year. Perhaps part of the song’s new appeal was the choral arrangement or the house lights dropping out for minimal blue lights twinkling around the chorus. And on this day, we had made it to the end of the concert with anything but a silent night. The clapping subsided. The soprano and conductor exited the stage.

And then, like the light of a bright star penetrating a dark evening, they came back  on stage and the conductor raised his arms for the chorus to rise. Down went the house lights, letting blue lights twinkle as the chorus commenced singing “Silent Night.” I settled into the warmth and comfort of the opening notes. As the words carved white space around them, they ushered in the calm and peace we seek during this frenetic time of year where all is calm. All is bright.

We all chase the light where we think it will be found. While we were sitting with Peter, I mused about setting my camera, calibrating it to the amount of light in any given area. Photographing through the window, catching the neighborhood out walking through the window frame at crosshairs: ISO 200. Stepping back from the window, deep into the hallway where more shadow existed than light: ISO 800. And, if we had pulled the curtains shut, turned off the overhead light and struck a match to a candle wick: ISO 1600. Even in the darkness, we chase the light.

Christmas may harbor much that plucks our strings to minor keys or for you it may be a time of exceeding merriment. Whatever your lot, I have turned a corner of it being drenched in difficulty to one of  joy, and you can too. There is always light to be found. There is still light yet to be found.

Christmas Salad | Annelies Zijderveld


Let’s talk about Buddha’s Hand. I am rightly obsessed with this oddly-shaped citrus, all fingers and pith. The zest is nothing short of marvelous (think slightly floral, slight lemongrass tones with an aroma that sings high note hallelujahs in your kitchen) and in my attempts to make sure that our household plays host to no less than five of them during their short season, I look for new ways to incorporate them into whatever discoveries await. When selecting Buddha’s Hand, the color of the fruit should be that shade of yellow you associate with lemons. The skin should be firm, not wrinkly and if you see any soft spots, know you will need to cut it out and use the fruit quickly as it will begin to rot with amazing speed. This recipe below is clinched by slender slivers of Buddha’s Hand, the amount of one bright yellow citrus finger’s worth. This leaves you with an abundance of extra zest you can turn into Buddhettes or Buddha’s Hand Ginger Syrup. Now, if you can’t get your hands on a Buddha’s Hand, Meyer lemon will work in a pinch. The flavor will be not as complex but it still gives the brightness of citrus that complements broccoli and brown rice. This salad can be served immediately or if you have the luxury of making it ahead of time, does well with some time in the refrigerator to let the flavors meld.

YIELD: 4-6 side dish sized servings


1 bunch of broccoli (2 cups chopped broccoli)
2 cups cooked brown rice
¼ cup pomegranate arils
1 tablespoon Buddha’s Hand zest
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon carrot top pesto
pinch of salt
freshly cracked pepper

Process one bunch of broccoli by chopping off the stalk into two pieces, cutting the stalk just underneath the florets. Slice off the woody outside of the broccoli stalk to get to broccoli hearts. Discard the woody outside; chop the heart of the broccoli stalk. Break down the larger florets into smaller florets. Place the chopped broccoli and tiny florets in a large bowl.

Spoon brown rice, pomegranate arils and Buddha’s Hand zest into the bowl.

Make the dressing by whisking olive oil into a small bowl with apple cider vinegar until emulsified. Whisk in the carrot top pesto and season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the dressing over the salad. Stir the salad until coated with dressing.


Chicken Salad with Creamy Chimichurri Sauce

Chicken Salad with Creamy Chimichurri Sauce | the food poet

Beyond the natural world, survival of the fittest perhaps is most prevalent in the kitchen.

In the course of establishing how you cook, some ingredients emerge as the work horses, the indispensable elements that lay the foundation for your cooking. In the back of my mind, I can hear my dad bemoan me reaching for the garlic, again. He never appreciated the sweet finer points of this pungent menace. And, it might go without saying, but the role of any allium relative makes most dishes better. It’s the Leonardo di Caprio of my kitchen. Glossy purple shallots make way for green strands of chives and during that small portal when spring onions make their way onto the plate, a small celebration could easily ensue with confetti and streamers.

Who, then, gets excited about the green bell pepper. When stacked next to its sexier counterpart the yellow pepper or the vitamin-C rich and much touted red pepper, the green pepper lowers its expectations. When was the last time you saw it as the featured ingredient?

Maybe it can be attributed to how common it is, and in the world of the bigger! better! shinier! new! why reflect on the tried and true? But, I, for one, have not given up on the green bell pepper. Though I don’t celebrate it often enough, think of what it can offer: crunch. deep flavor without heat. color. To kick off the bell pepper revival, I’m packing up jars of this savory salad perfect for summer potlucks.

I found the foil to show off and spiff up the bell pepper, letting it shine in all of its humble and oh-so-common glory in a sauce usually attributed to beef. But, this is a chimichurri that might seem a distant Greek relative to the Argentine version with the addition of whole milk yogurt stirred into the sauce. Don’t be put off by the small amount of bell pepper used in the recipe- a little provides ample flavor.  This salad, like summer requires the bare minimum. Stir up a batch of creamy chimichurri, shred a rotisserie chicken and chop. You might even find a few of your workhorse ingredients in the mix.
 creamy chimichurri sauce | the food poet

Creamy Chimichurri

Below is a recipe for a chicken salad with creamy chimichurri sauce. Since you will only be using a small portion of the sauce, you might be wondering what else you can do with the creamy chimichurri sauce. The obvious idea is to smear some sauce on a chicken burger or use it to marinate beef for grilling on skewers. Then again, you’ve got a simple appetizer ready. Rustle up some green bell pepper slices, radish halves or even wishbone cuttings of fennel for crudités to sidle up against this piquant sauce.

YIELD: 2 cups


– 1 ¾ cups parsley leaves, thick stems removed
– ¼ cup cilantro leaves
–  2 large or 3 small garlic cloves
–  1 tablespoon dried red pepper flakes
–  3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
–  ¼ cup olive oil
–  ¼ cup whole yogurt

Chop the parsley, cilantro and garlic into one another until minced. Place the minced parsley, cilantro, garlic mixture in a small bowl. Stir in the red pepper flakes, vinegar, olive oil and yogurt. Add freshly cracked black pepper and kosher salt to taste. Chicken Salad with Creamy Chimichurri Sauce | the food poet

Chicken Salad with Creamy Chimichurri Sauce

YIELD: 4-6 servings

–       2 cups of cooked buckwheat
–       1 cup shredded chicken
–       ¼ green bell pepper, minced
–       1 small summer squash, minced
–       2 tablespoons minced chives
–       ¼ cup coarsely chopped parsley
–       2 broccoli trunks, minced (with the woody part peeled off the outside)
–       ¼ cup creamy chimichurri sauce

Spoon the buckwheat into a large bowl. Over the buckwheat add in the shredded chicken and minced squash, bell pepper, chives, and broccoli trunk chunks. Stir in the creamy chimichurri sauce until coated. Garnish with the chopped parsley.



Broccoli Salad with Raisins or What to Take to a Potluck

broccoli salad with raisinsIt would seem I’m on a bit of a broccoli bender. First came the challenge of concocting a brunch recipe with broccoli that yielded the highly flavorful broccoli breakfast tostadas smeared with an Aleppo pepper white bean spread, roasted broccoli, a dollop of labneh, and a sprinkling of sambal oelek, giving that meal that encompasses two meals a bit of flair. Then came Jeff Friedman’s Pan-Sauteed Broccoli with Walnuts, paired with an homage to our King Arthur visit. Just when you thought the green crown had been deposed, it’s still in charge.

Sometimes the CSA delivery surprises me not with what’s inside but with its arrival. Notoriously, I heed some inner alert to buy vegetables for the crisper the evening before the brown cardboard box greets us with its array of fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s happened often enough that I’ve had to get creative about assessing its contents and the newly procured produce to deduce what will go bad quickly. Broccoli usually passes the test, like a small tree uprooted whose crown keeps green. This buys me time and as such has made broccoli an indispensable addition to the regular rotation.

broccoli salad with raisins

Recently, after attending a Big Traveling Potluck, I found myself happily saddled with a block of Kerrygold Skelling cheese. Tucked in an insulated bag, deep in the confines of my suitcase, it became one of my “food-venirs” to make the journey back up north to San Francisco from San Diego. Like the contents of our CSA box, the unexpected block of cheese was whisked into the fridge where it greeted us each time we opened the door, somewhat bewildered how to use it best. Part of the cheese slid off the block and onto a cheeseboard with a little help of prunes and crackers. Another bit made its way from the block into the mouth with ease and this might have continued if the crisper had not beckoned.

The notion of salads doused in mayonnaise somehow leaves me limp like greens past their prime. One evening I discovered that the drawer I thoughts had held spinach was bare. In its place, the head of broccoli eyed me with promise. Recent broccoli boasts included different techniques- pan-sauteeing and roasted, why not add a raw offering to the mix? Raw broccoli contrary to a misconception I had growing up is not bitter but crunchy and a good foil for other flavors. Punched up with mini cubes of the Skelling cheese, sweetness from fennel, raisins and a bit of maple makes this salad surprising without any mayonnaise marring its flavor.  If I’m going to get fixated on an ingredient, and I do all the time, then broccoli’s time has peaked. I can think of worse things to vie for space in the crisper. broccoli salad with raisins



You’ll find this recipe calls for hemp hearts and avocado. I think this greatly makes up for the lack of mayonnaise as it’s still full of fats, albeit healthy ones. Hemp hearts are fantastic- they’re slightly nutty and a delicious way to also add some omega 6’s to your meal. Hemp hearts are what you find inside hemp seeds. Both are available at grocery stores, but keep in mind that hemp seeds are crunchy as you also eat the outer shell as well as the heart. It’s your call as to which one to use here, but I find the fennel and broccoli provide ample crunch on their own. To store hemp hearts, pour them into a wide mouthed mason jar and freeze until your next use of them. This should keep them fresh for several months. A big thank you to the California Avocado Commission for a bag of San Diego avocados that found their way into this salad and the block of Skelling Kerrygold cheese, both from the Big Traveling Potluck and both of which provided important elements for the salad. It goes without saying that all opinions are my own.

YIELD: 4-6 servings




1 bunch broccoli, diced

1 fennel bulb, diced

2 oz. sweet cheddar (I used Kerrygold Skelling)

¼ cup pecans, chopped

¼ cup raisins

2 tablespoons hemp hearts

avocado, cut into slices



1 tablespoon maple syrup

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

¼ cup olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced




1 tablespoon fennel frond, minced



  1. In a large bowl, toss diced broccoli, fennel, cheese, pecans, raisins and hemp hearts. Set aside.
  2. Pull out the avocado pit. Cut each avocado half into slices and set aside.
  3. Whisk together the maple syrup, Dijon mustard, olive oil and garlic. Grind black pepper to taste.
  4. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.
  5. When plating the salad, spoon out the avocado slices on top of the salad on each serving plate.



Ensalada Gremolata

Ensalada Gremolata

I don’t know about you but my eyes perk up when I see Brussels sprouts on a menu. Lest you think I’m some anomaly, in recent years, this winter vegetable has made its way into the food spotlight. Whether doused in bacon grease and cooked on the stovetop or roasted with cracked black pepper and sea salt, it’s quite likely you will find a rendition of it on menus when in season. Their rise in popularity has not quite experienced the astral projection of kale, but chefs and home cooks conspire about how to get these little cabbage doppelgangers regularly onto menus when the season descends.

So, imagine my dismay in sharing this recipe with you right as the season is ending. It’s a rather cruel jape, but believe me when I tell you that this recipe is so easy to prepare, you will beat the coming of spring in earnest as shoots of green pop out of frosted earth, evidence of what has been hibernating underground. Or if you’re in Texas, when the sun has already begun its ploy of heating things up at 80 degrees in February. You have time to squeeze out at least one shot to make this fine salad.

This preparation feels a bit like a cheat, something that might make you wince in familiarity or blink to make sure you stole an appropriate gander at the short list of ingredients in a game of made-you-look-again. The thing is I happen to like simple food and nine times out of 10, if you happen to come over for dinner chez nous, you will find yourself the recipient of simplicity on the plate… with maybe a few exotic accents for a bit of flair and intrigue. Let’s just say 007 and I share that in common.

The type of intrigue dished up here finds its genesis in Mexican, Tex-Mex or Cal-Mex restaurants. When a plato fuerte indicates salad as a component of the hearty main dish, I can already envision limp lettuce leaves torn with a necklace of chopped tomatoes placed atop. This type of ensalada has no intention of stealing the show. In fact, it brings a small mound of color to the plate as well as cool, fresh texture. This style of inclusion reminds me of Costa Rican Casados, where the point is how that little bit of ensalada will snake its flavor and texture into other items on the plate.

At an Italian restaurant, usually, the salad is reserved as its own course in the meal like a stop on a putt-putt course, where after you hit the golf ball into the hole in the ground, which in this case is your gullet, you then progress forward to the next course. To switch things up and don a bit of flair, behold the Ensalada Gremolata. This is my twist on bringing the more-than-a-garnish salad onto the same plate in the style of the plato fuerte. Like most things, this ensalada came about by necessity.

Pasta happens to be one of my comfort foods and somehow my propensity of gauging proportions from eyeballs to stomach can be deceptive. My eyes can be tricksters. It might be the pleasure of twirling noodles around the tines of a fork and then chewing the al dente strands slowly. One evening, I made way next to a highly skeptical mound of steaming Pesto noodles for a cheerful helping of Ensalada Gremolata. The Ensalada then found its way into the hearts of chicken enchiladas the next night too. And that friends, is the beauty of Ensalada Gremolata.

Gremolata should be a tool in your cooking back pocket. Perhaps it already is. Three ingredients give you an unforgettable seasoning trio. Pluck a lemon off a lemon tree or nudge a slightly firm one from the lemon bin, rolling it around in your hand to loosen the juices inside until fingers find a bit more give when squeezing the flesh. Grab a microplane or use the smaller holes on your grater and zest the lemon until bald. Then crush and peel away the papery bits of a few garlic cloves, mincing the cloves into already coarsely chopped parsley until fine. Easy. Juice the bald lemon and whisk in walnut oil for a light dressing with a bright, mellow bite. Shred Brussels sprouts and you’re ready to toss it altogether for an accompanying salad that can sneak its way easily onto most plated dishes.

Ensalada Gremolata



Since this ensalada is muy sencillo, code for “very easy”, I would encourage you to adjust the ingredients to your preference. You might find you prefer more lemon juice or a touch more oil. Then again, you might find swapping in avocado oil or a good olive oil works better for you. Maybe you might pinch and add sea salt to the mix. Taste as you toss and feel free to iterate.

YIELD: 4-6 side servings

15 Brussels Sprouts

1 cup parsley, minced

zest of 1 large lemon (Eureka or Meyer)

1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic

2 teaspoons walnut oil

2 teaspoons lemon juice


1. Decapitate the Brussels sprouts by slicing off the bottoms. Then, cut the Brussels sprouts in half. Take each half and set it flat side down and begin slicing it from one short end to the other. Proceed with the others until all the Brussels sprouts have been shredded.

2. Pull off the leaves of parsley from a bunch and measure it out to around 1 cup. On a cutting board, begin to start slicing your parsley in a chiffonade, wrapping the leaves around one another and slicing uniformly from top to bottom. Once the leaves have been coarsely chopped, add to your pile, the lemon zest and garlic. Begin to mince the garlic and zest into the parsley leaves. This allows you to cut the flavors into the leaves while cutting the leaves down until minced.

3. Pour your minced gremolata onto the shredded Brussels sprouts and then toss. Drizzle the walnut oil and lemon juice over the salad. Toss again. Season to taste with salt and pepper.




Parsley Fennel Citrus Salad


Every now and then you come across something so fabulous you must find a way to make it your own.

Last year, I attended a cookbook launch party for “Herbivoracious.” Author, Michael Natkin served up a salad of sautéed grapes with chevre and parsley that piqued my curiosity. I circled the counter where he demonstrated the process, inching my way in to see the exchange of conversation begin between the ingredients. I peppered him with questions, eager to understand the possibility (!) of using parsley as the greens in a salad. My hand shot forward enthusiastically as he offered plates of his concoction. As attendees and friends began gathering to collect their salad plates, I retreated.

Crunching on the parsley, its innocuous flavor clung to a small clump of creamy chevre, tangy against the sweet warm grapes. I found myself swooning at the simplicity of this exchange and knew I needed to make this one mine. Then, later, I stumbled upon an entire chapter devoted to parsley in the cookbook, “Hero Food” by New York chef Seamus Mullen and continued my new amusement of parsley as more than a garnish. Parsley is part of Mullen’s daily regimen for its health properties, helping manage his rheumatoid arthritis by what he eats. My curiosity was unabated.

It’s akin to reading a poem that grabs you by your pantaloons, calling you to attention and making you wish you had written it. I love that. How often are we really moved to act by food we try or moved to re-create by words we read. I call this type of appreciation its own form of inspiration. It strikes me every time I read poems like “The Fish” by Elizabeth Bishop or “Tender” by Toi Derricotte.

And, like crayons in a crayon box, I shelved this idea away for the appropriate time to paint in parsley.

This is how on an ordinary Saturday afternoon I happened upon this salad below. I’m inclined to believe that if you stock your kitchen with good ingredients, even the dregs take on new, unexpected and delicious life. Such was the birth of this pairing. From the crisper, out came the head of parsley. In the fruit bowl, the citrus began conspiring a take-over. The fennel poked its fronds out from the seam of the CSA box and I’m pretty sure the cashews began clapping the sides of the small Ball jar trying to transform it into a maraca. The avocado didn’t need to make its case. It sat smug on the counter, biding its time and shining its skin in anticipation of being used.

Nothing short of easy brilliance. You might find this salad to be an unexpected conversation starter.




You can play around with how much dressing feels appropriate to you. The dressing below results in a well dressed salad, but if you would prefer something more light, consider tossing each portion in 1 tablespoon each of the mandarin juice, olive oil and apple cider vinegar. You will find that to be a barely dressed salad that I find still works well. Also, some salads work well the day after and if you have any inkling that some of this salad may not be finished on the day it is prepared, don’t toss in dressing or add the cashews and avocado. I took leftovers of the parsley fennel citrus salad for lunch to work with small containers holding my dressing, cashews and avocado for me to add later and to help maintain the natural crunch of the salad ingredients.

YIELD: 4 servings

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed Satsuma Mandarin orange juice

2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup mild olive oil

1 bunch parsley

1 orange

1/2 cup cashews

1 avocado (1/4 per plate)

1 fennel bulb

salt and pepper to taste



Rinse your bunch of parsley well. Pat with a paper towel to catch some of the residual water on the leaves. With one of your hands, grab underneath the leafy part of the parsley and with a knife, lop off the leafy part from the stems, taking care to protect your fingers. Then chop the parsley leaves coarsely. Toss the chopped leaves into a large bowl.

Chop off the fennel fronds. Cut the fennel bulb in half. Then slice each half thinly. Toss the sliced fennel into the bowl.

Cut off the skin. Segment the orange by putting the bald orange on its side and cutting into slices.

Toast the cashews either in a saucepan over medium low heat until they start giving off an aroma or turn golden. Set aside.

In a small bowl, strain the juice of a freshly squeezed satsuma mandarin along with the raw apple cider vinegar. Drizzle in the olive oil slowly while whisking. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Quarter the avocado and then slice each quarter.

Toss the salad with the dressing and the cashews until fully combined.

Plate the salad, making sure each portion receives adequate amounts of cashews and citrus. Then distribute the slices of each quartered avocado onto each plate.





Toasted Walnut, Green Bean and Labneh Salad

The end of summer comes as an omen of the quick passing of time. One evening in August, something changed in the air. The gusty fog of summers past made way for a wind with bite.  We happened to be taking an evening constitutional and I noted Beck popping his collar for a bit of increased protection from the elements.  As we returned home, I almost reached for the small plastic lever on the thermometer to turn on the heater but abstained from the impulse.

After a few days of warm sunny skies, of summer weather taking place during summer days, I had become somewhat spoiled by the possibility of bare legs in August. On one of those downright balmy days, I let my legs take me to the Farmer’s Market on a Tuesday. Unthinkable! And yet, that day’s lunch break had one goal in mind. I spotted them almost gleaming from their big brown box and began the dance of picking them up, one by one, squeezing them between my fingertips and looking for the right give in this conversation of flesh and fingers.

Stashed in a big bag, my treasure swung by my side, three pounds heavy and full of promise that while summer may not linger much longer, it would return as surely as the sweetness of September tomatoes taste of the summer sun relishing them with the urge to grow.

Toasted Walnut Green Bean with Labneh Salad




Talk about one delicious way to use your homemade labneh kefir cheese, the colors and flavors of the salad dress up any table with their simple elegance. Like most dressed foods, you might find it tastes better with time and I find makes a great leftover for the next day. The addition of labneh lends a creaminess that once your fork has its way, blends with the dressing and coats the tomatoes, walnuts and green beans. It gets a little messy in appearance, but that’s part of the charm.

YIELD: 4 servings
TIME: 10 minutes

1 pound green beans

1 cup cherry tomatoes or 1 large Early Girl tomato, chopped

1/3 cup walnuts

1 shallot, minced

3 tablespoons walnut oil

2 teaspoons lemon juice

3 tablespoons labneh

1 teaspoon dried chervil

salt and pepper to taste


  1. Snap the ends off the green beans. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add green beans to boiling water and steam them for 2 minutes until bright green. Drain in colander.
  2. Chop the walnuts and then toast them for a few minutes until their aroma punctuates the air. Set aside.
  3. Mince the shallot. In a bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and walnut oil. Add in the shallot once the dressing is somewhat emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Tumble the green beans into a large bowl. Add the cherry tomatoes. Then drizzle the dressing over the beans and tomatoes and use tongs to disperse them in the dressing until coated.
  5. Add walnuts atop the green beans and tomatoes. Then add your dollops of labneh and finish with chervil sprinkled on the labneh.



Chopped Carrot Basil Salad

This past weekend my cousin Erika flew up to the city by the Bay for a visit with her son, who we will call the Wedding Cake Bandit. We call him that because a very clever wedding photographer caught a somewhat clever ring-bearer right before he deposited his index finger in our wedding cake on our big day. This remains one of my favorite wedding memories and can only endear me more to this little one so full of mischief and spirit like someone else I know. Ahem.


You love someone deeply not just because they are family, but because in some ways they tell your story back to you when you forget it. You don’t think anything could make your love grow for them and then you meet their progeny. Something about the child that they bear and raise makes you ridiculously invested and protective of their innocence and life.

You are not their mother. Yet, you mother. The mother and the child.


The mother, the child, Beck and I set out for a grand tour of San Francisco, which is to say, this time, included one visit to see Claude, the albino alligator, an adventure filled with baskets of ollalieberries, and an early morning trek for some Early Girls.


As Erika and I shared stories from childhood, we, in turn, were making memories that her little one will remember and if he doesn’t, then we will be the mirrors in which he can populate the stories for when he grows up. I made sure to sneak in daily visits to the park for us, sometimes including feeding the ducks and trying to avoid the pigeon gaggle descending from on high. We also made sure to work in several visits to the giant slide and once made our way through the dog run to see my favorite Frenchie I call “the boss” chase after his dingy well-loved tennis ball.


Three birthday celebrations later and the end of the weekend snuck up on us. After a Mexican feast capped off with Gluten Free Carrot Cupcakes, a Puerto Rican themed party with a piñata and smorgasbord of farmer’s market finds, we found ourselves tuckered out from all of our excursions and celebrating. Isn’t that what the summer, even a summer in San Francisco is all about? Granted, borrowed sweaters are peeled off at the midday burning off of fog.


After splurging on treats and waiting in the abysmally long line for one swell Blue Bottle latte, at the end of all the celebrating and at the beginning of returning to life as usual, a call for summer simplicity is in order. After dirtying every plate, platter and serving bowl in your cupboard, in the end, you might find something that requires one serving bowl sufficient. Here’s where this summer salad comes in. It flirts with your taste buds and is a snap to put together. In the lazy summer evenings where the sunlight pokes through the fog well past 7 p.m., something unfussy, you can pull together is as good as the memories you created all weekend long.

SALAD RECIPES- Chopped Carrot Basil Salad




Something about the sweetness of carrots and basil is a revelation. It takes a lot of strength of will to not just slice up the Early Girl tomato and eat it as is, but this combination is so mellow and life-giving. From the creaminess of the avocado, the bright tang of the tomato, a fruity splash of good olive oil and the sweetness emanating from carrots and basil, I think you might find yourself and guests polishing off this colorful salad easily.

YIELD: 4 servings

  • 1 bunch of Carrots
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 Early Girl tomato, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Arbequina or other fruity olive oil
  • dash of sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  1. Set a pot of water to boil. In the meantime, wash your carrots. Peel them and roughly chop. Once the water is boiling, set the carrots gently in the water and turn down the heat to a gentle rolling boil and cook for 5 minutes. Place carrots in a colander and let them drain when cooked through.
  2. Place basil leaves inside one another and roll them to then thinly chop in a chiffonade.
  3. Next, chop your tomato.
  4. Slice your avocado.
  5. Place carrots, basil, tomato chunks and avocado slices in a serving bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, a sprinkling of sea salt, and a few cracks of black pepper.