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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

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BROCCOLI RAISIN SALAD

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

 

INGREDIENTS

Salad

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

 

Dressing

1 tablespoon maple syrup

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

¼ cup olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

pepper

 

Garnish

1 tablespoon fennel frond, minced

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  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.

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Recipes

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.

mother-child

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.

mother-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.

updo

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.

celebration

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.

celebration

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

 

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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.

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Categories
Recipes

Bok Choy Soup with Avocado Crema

Bok Choy Celeriac Soup

I would be remiss if I didn’t say that my current obsession with celeriac knows no bounds. Celery root is mellow in its celery flavor and is great roasted with sea salt.

In the past few weeks we’ve tossed it into salads , tried it braised letting it soak up the juices of the other ingredients as well as impart its distinctive flavor into them and played with working it into soup… This soup layers green upon green blending the mellow celery flavor of roasted celeriac with the sauteed greens of bok choy, a hint of ginger and the toasted pistachio meal for something quite special.

You will note that I don’t recommend salting the soup and that is purely for preference. If you want to add salt to the soup to taste, go for it. I included the generous pinch of salt in the avocado crema knowing it would suffuse its slight saltiness to the rest of the soup and avocado for me comes alive after a hit of salt. Have you ever tried avocado with a pinch of salt, smeared on fresh baguette? With sliced tomatoes, it is a meal of much hullabaloo. But I digress…

Topped with a bright dollop of avocado crema, you might find, like we did, that this soup makes a tasty accomplice to an egg frittata or baked ricotta casserole.

SOUP RECIPES- Bok Choy Celeriac Soup with Avocado Crema

 

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BOK CHOY SOUP WITH AVOCADO CREMA 

SOUP

  • 6 Bok Choy, coarsely chopped
  • 2 leeks, coarsely shopped
  • 1 medium celery root, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (plus 1 teaspoon for roasting pepper)
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pistachios
CREMA
  • 4 tablespoons plain goat’s milk yogurt
  • 1 avocado
  • a generous pinch of salt

 

1. Preheat oven to 425F.

2. Place celery root and whole green bell pepper on roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes.

3. Saute ginger, leeks and garlic over medium low heat for 3 minutes in 2 tablespoons of oil.

4. Add bok choy to pot and stir in. Stir for five minutes as bok choy cooks down. Add chicken stock. Set to low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

5. Remove pepper from the oven and remove the skin, seeds and stem.

6. Chop the pepper into strips and add to pot along with adding the celery root to the pot once done.

7. Pulverize pistachios into meal. Then add the pistachio meal to the pot and stir in.

8. Puree in small batches in a blender until smooth or use an immersion blender in the pot and puree until smooth.

9. For the avocado crema, mash the chopped avocado with the yogurt together and add salt. I like this a bit chunky, so mash until the avocado is slightly broken up.

10. Serve soup with a dollop of avocado crema.

 

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Recipes

Lagarta Lodge Ensalada de Palmito

COSTA RICAN RECIPES- Lagarta Lodge Ensalada de Palmitos

A former roommate of mine, Lisa, first introduced me to hearts of palm years ago. Picking my way through eating all during childhood, I missed a lot. When I first caught sight of the heart of palm in one of her salads (Lisa has the gift of salad-making), I was skeptical. Perhaps downright dubious. I didn’t know what the white flecks were and bet I wouldn’t like them. But that night, she made me a believer in the beloved palmito. I might even want to name a son after it. Then again, I’m not sure how Nathan might feel about a son named “Heart of Palm” (though it sure sounds cute in Spanish). Palmito. Maybe it could be the name of a bird instead…

While celebrating the arrival of the new year with family at the Lagarta Lodge in Nosara, Costa Rica, I spotted Ensalada de Palmito on the menu. Nathan and I split this salad and wiped the dressing bowl that accompanied it, clean. I have given it my own spin by adding in the avocado, though now I can’t imagine the salad without it. Did I mention that all of us who ate heart of palm salad at Lagarta Lodge practically licked the bowl of dressing clean. Think cat to the milk bowl. This dressing is so good, you might find it becomes your new secret sauce.

The recipe makes a lot of dressing and I have a hunch it would be a fantastic twist to any of the typical prepared salads: tuna, chicken, potato or egg salad. Heck, go crazy and combine them.

A word on Palmito, compliments of my scavenging at all places, the Fancy Food show. From a piece of collateral picked up at the La Cima booth:

“In Costa Rica, it was consumed by indigenous people before Columbus even reached the continent… The heart of palm is in itself the new leaf of the palm in its formation.”

Already the indigenous people knew what it would take the rest of us so much longer to figure out: palmitos are good for you! The fiber, protein, potassium and calcium are reasons to add palmito to any salad.

One word of caution though, you might find you want to somehow add it to every salad. I would suggest moderation, if not for this reason alone, from La Cima: “The cultivated culture of Hearts of Palm diminished the exploitation of wild Hearts of Palm which year after year has devastated the forests of the tropical lands. This indiscriminate exploitation led to the extinction of some species of palms.”

That is no bueno. So as you’re shopping for palmito,  perhaps check the source. We are in an age of wanting to know, again, where our food comes from.  And maybe this salad below will have you envisioning yourself frolicking in the tropics.

 

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Lagarta Lodge Ensalada de Palmito

YIELD: 4 servings

DRESSING

  • ½ cup white onion, minced
  • 5 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 6 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

SALAD

  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 12 grape tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 hearts of palm, halved and then sliced
  • 1 avocado, halved and then sliced

Mix dressing ingredients together. Set aside. Chop the lettuce and put about 1 cup on each salad plate. Add the equivalent of 3 chopped grape tomatoes per plate along with a quarter of avocado per plate. One heart of palm, halved and sliced is sufficient to add onto the salad per plate. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of dressing on each salad and serve.

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