rutabaga carrot & apple salad

rutabaga carrot apple salad
rutabaga carrot apple salad

i was wandering around the farmer’s market last week, thinking about how i’d written about so many different foods that what else could i experiment, and then i saw some rutabagas and realized i’ve never even had one. from what i’ve read, these weren’t the finest examples [the best advice is to pick smooth, unblemished roots, and the ones i found had cracked ridges around the tops], but i thought i’d take them home and do a little experimenting.

i can see why they’re only preferred in desperate, world war famine times. they’re sort of neither here nor there, and often served in a group with a selection of other root vegetables. one reason may be its natural bitterness which comes out with cooking. i decided to try my hand at baking my own root vegetable chips, and while sweet potatoes and beets turned out nicely, rutabagas are not a good choice for this.

this brought me back around to eating them raw, which is quite nice. they’re crunchy, lightly sweet, full of fiber, and taste fine on their own or with your favorite dressing or dip. since i love shredded salads, i thought the taste would work well with some carrots and apples, and a light vinaigrette.

rutabaga, carrot & apple salad

1 rutabaga
1 large carrot
1 fuji apple
1 tb roasted walnut oil vinaigrette dressing

break out your julienne mandoline [or super chef knife skills] and shred up the rutabaga, carrot and apple into a mixing bowl. prepare your favorite vinaigrette, or use the one i suggested [i’m way into this roasted walnut oil lately] and drizzle it over the top. mix well to coat, season with salt & pepper and enjoy!

glazed purple sprouting broccoli

purple sprouting broccoli
purple sprouting broccoli

i’ve been seeing the rapini in the farmer’s market lately and wanted to get my hands on some to work with it more, but then i saw this nice table of mixed young green and purple broccoli sprouts and and had to have it for the color alone. this isn’t actually rapini, but purple sprouting broccoli, which is a variety of broccoli that comes in with purple buds and lots of smaller stems. they’re very cute and do well lightly cooked to retain their crunch.

i also recently got some toasted walnut oil after tasting some and loving it. the bottle has this vinaigrette recipe on it, which i made for topping this dish, and it’s really delicious.

glazed sprouting broccoli & caramelized red onions
glazed sprouting broccoli & caramelized red onions

glazed purple sprouting broccoli & caramelized red onions

1 red onion, sliced thin and cut once crosswise
1 lb purple sprouting broccoli
1 tb butter or ghee [i used ghee]
1 tb white wine vinegar

place half the tablespoon butter or ghee in a frying pan and melt over medium heat. add the sliced onions and tablespoon of vinegar, sauteeing until browned on edges and soft in texture. remove from the pan and set aside.

layer the broccoli in the same pan, place the remaining tablespoon butter or ghee over the top, and add about a quarter inch of water to the bottom of the pan. cover and steam on low heat about 8 minutes or until al dente.

arrange broccoli and onions on a plate and serve. optionally, drizzle with your favorite vinaigrette [mine was toasted walnut oil, balsamic vinegar and dijon].

pea shoot, radish & apple salad

pea shoot salad
pea shoot, radish & apple salad

i’ve been trying to work pea shoots into my life ever since i tried this kohlrabi slivers and pea shoots with sesame dressing. though you can cook them, i’m not all that into the wilty texture in comparison to the fresh crunch of the raw shoots. i thought i’d whip up another shredded salad today and i like this one just the same. i guess it’s time to plant a container of them outside to eat every day!

pea shoot, radish & apple salad

1 large handful of pea shoots
4 large radishes, julienned
1 granny smith apple, julienned
1 tb sesame oil
1 tb rice or white wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame seeds [i used black and toasted]
1 tb toasted pepitas

use a mandoline/julienne slicer or your expert chef knife skills to cut the apple and radishes into matchstick slices. roughly chop the handful of pea shoots into 1″ pieces. toss everything in a salad bowl, adding the oil, vinegar, sesame seeds and pepitas. toss to mix and coat through.

garlicky balsamic brussels sprouts

brussels sprouts at the farmer's market
brussels sprouts at the farmer's market

i grew up in a house where brussels sprouts were not served. this is simply because the mushy-ness of my grandmother’s brussels sprouts [and all her vegetables, really] was legendary, and so scarred my mother that, for years, she believed them to be a nasty vegetable that could not be served any other way. so naturally, my general assumption was that they weren’t so great, which was pretty easy to do during my supermarket shopping years, since they’re not exactly popular there either.

but then one day, i think i convinced myself that if it was a naturally grown vegetable, it couldn’t be inherently bad. i asked around to my midwest friends who ate them a lot more often and heard of these great quick-sauté preparations, leaving them crunchy and flavorful and i got hopeful. better yet, i bought some and tried it out. i’ve grown to love the larger family of brassica vegetables and look forward to trying out new flavors with them.

this garlicky sauté isn’t exactly unique, but it’s very simple and tasty, and allows for a side dish for most any main dish flavor profile.

garlicky balsamic brussels sprouts
garlicky balsamic brussels sprouts

garlicky balsamic brussels sprouts
about 24 brussels sprouts
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tb olive oil
2 tb balsamic vinegar
2 tb water
salt, pepper & additional balsamic vinegar to taste
optional: juice and zest of one lemon

wash brussels sprouts and drain on a dish towel. add oil, vinegar and water to a frying pan over medium heat, heat through and add brussels sprouts to the pan. cover and let the water lightly steam through the brussels sprouts 3 minutes. uncover, turn up the heat to medium-high and sauté brussels sprouts until they are lightly browned in spots. season to taste with salt, pepper and more balsamic if you like. or zest it up if you have lemon around!

stinging nettle pasta with lemon pepper feta

stinging nettles
stinging nettles

as i was saying last week, we never got much of even a southern california winter this year, so springtime greens are in the markets early. i’ve read about stinging nettles over the years, but never foraged for them or bought any. turns out, it’s not something you do on a whim, since stinging nettles have earned their name from tiny barbs that break easily and dispense histamines and irritants to the skin, it’s best to have gloves, shears and a bowl or bag to collect them with.

so why bother, if they’re so potentially annoying? the irritants are disarmed after a quick blanching, leaving behind a spinach-like green full of vitamin a, c, iron, potassium and calcium, without the oxalic acid in spinach that prevents absorption of many of the nutrients. after you trim the leaves from thicker stems [again, with gloves on] get a pot of salted water to a rolling boil, throw in your cut leaves for a minute or 2, and then dunk in a bowl of cold water. let them drain completely in a colander and you’re ready to either pack them up to freeze or use as a cooked green.

i saw some suggestions to purée and make pasta or gnocchi, so i thought i’d try something similar. i also used the opportunity to try out half-white / half-rye egg pasta, and i like how it came out. one thing you might notice, there is a faint fish-like smell to cooked nettles, but they don’t taste fishy. however, if you’re on the fence about this, make something that compliments it, adding smoked oysters or anchovies.

making nettle pasta
making nettle pasta

nettle rye pasta
1 cup all-purpose white flour
1 cup rye flour
2 eggs
2 tb olive oil
1 bunch nettles, leaves blanched, puréed & drained

set up your pasta ingredients in a mixing bowl, spreading the flour to line the bottom of the bowl, cracking the eggs & pouring the oil in the middle with the nettles. use a fork as you would to scramble eggs, and scramble lightly, scooping up a bit of flour on each turn, mixing through, and continuing to incorporate flour until you have a loose crumbly dough. once the fork is no longer truly effective, use your hands to incorporate the dough fully and knead until smooth. let the dough rest an hour in the fridge and then roll it out and/or shape it as you like.

when cooking, note that fresh pasta only take about 2 minutes to cook in boiling salted water.

nettle pasta with lemon pepper feta
nettle pasta with lemon pepper feta

nettle pasta with lemon pepper feta
1 nettle pasta recipe, above
3 oz feta cheese
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tb olive oil
1 tsp pepper, or to taste

bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil and add the nettle pasta. it will soften up rapidly, stir gently to cook through. after 1-2 minutes, strain out the pasta in a colander, and then place in a mixing bowl.

shake up the lemon juice and olive oil in a dressing bottle or jar and pour over the pasta and toss to coat. incorporate the lemon zest and pepper with the feta cheese until mixed well. place servings of pasta in serving dishes and top with the lemon pepper feta.

experimenting with lambsquarters

a bunch of lambsquarters
a bunch of lambsquarters

so, we never really had much of a winter here in LA, which is why spring greens are appearing mid-winter. a selection of wild greens has shown up at the highland park farmer’s market, including lambsquarters, which you can forage all over los angeles. since i haven’t had any first-hand experience with this edible weed, i thought i’d start by buying it, so i’d have a better sense of what to look for when foraging.

lambsquarters is similar to spinach, and distantly related. it’s got a soft, toothy texture, which would make it a nice addition to salads. the leaves are fuzzy on the under-side, so you’ll probably want to wash them, to minimize this.

lambsquarter breakfast ramekin
lambsquarter breakfast ramekin

lambsquarter breakfast ramekin, serves 2
1/2 bunch lambsquarters
1 medium onion
2 eggs
1 tb butter
1 tb white wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tbs grated parmesan cheese
salt & pepper to taste

preheat oven to 350º if using a large oven, hold off if using the toaster oven.

pull the leaves from the stems of all lambsquarters and wash in a colander. chop the onion and sauté in butter over medium heat until translucent, 5 minutes. add vinegar, water and the lambsquarters leaves, cover and turn heat down to low, wilt the leaves 5 minutes. uncover and sauté until lambsquarters are sufficiently wilted and liquid is cooked down.

place a scoop of the sauté mix into 2 ramekin dishes, crack an egg over each, sprinkle parmesan over the top and bake 20 minutes at 350º, or shorter if you prefer soft-cooked eggs.

breakfast salad

breakfast salad
breakfast salad

i was recently in la jolla and had brunch at cody’s where i tried this amazing idea: a breakfast salad. theirs was a mix of baby field greens dressed in a mild vinaigrette, topped with goat cheese crumbles and poached eggs. they poached the eggs freeform, and despite having an egg poacher, i think i prefer the freeform method, for the delicate texture, for the ability to see just how much the yolks are cooking, and for the fact that the eggs look like formative solar systems when they’re done. i have been thinking about the breakfast salad i had for nearly 2 weeks, so i thought i’d try to recreate it with baby spinach and a lemon-dijon-maple dressing.

breakfast salad serves 1
2 eggs
1 tbsp vinegar
1 large handful of baby greens
1 oz goat cheese, crumbled
salt & pepper to taste

1 tb dijon mustard
juice of 1 lemon [zest optional]
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp oil [try a flavored oil like sesame or garlic]

heat a pan of water with 1 tablespoon of vinegar over medium heat until simmering. swirl the water into a whirlpool and crack eggs, gently dropping them into the water. poach to desired consistency, and set aside on a plate when done.

place all dressing ingredients in a bottle and shake well to mix.

place the field greens in a tossing bowl, pour 1-2 tablespoons of dressing over them, and toss to coat. transfer to a serving bowl and top with the poached eggs. add crumbled goat cheese, and season with salt & pepper to taste.

butternut squash salad

butternut squash salad
butternut squash salad

i’ve been eyeing the butternut squash in the farmer’s market since september, but hadn’t bought one till this week. when researching recipe ideas, i found lots of delicious baking, roasting and cooking / puréeing ideas, so naturally i wanted to fill in the gap of something fresh mixed with greens. i thought i’d work on a variation of this spicy squash salad since this is in line with how i like to eat. i’m halfway through the bowl i photographed above as i write this, and it’s delicious.

butternut squash salad
1 small butternut squash, about 2 pounds
1/2 cup black mung beans [urad, available at indian specialty markets]
2 cups water & salt for cooking beans
3 tb olive oil
1 tb cumin
1 tb paprika
1 tsp salt
2 oz light feta cheese, crumbled
1 large handful baby arugula leaves
2 tb balsamic vinegar
pepper to taste

peel the butternut squash with a vegetable peeler or knife, slice the neck down to the gourd, cut the gourd in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and cut all pieces into .5″ cubes. place in a roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle cumin, paprika and salt over all pieces. mix to coat with a spoon and roast at 400º for 40 minutes, flipping pieces halfway through to cook evenly.

while squash roasts, cook urad in 2 cups salted water about 30 minutes until soft. when both squash and urad are done, set out to cool. when cool, add both to a mixing bowl, add crumbled feta, arugula and balsamic vinegar, and toss to mix well. serve with fresh pepper over the top.

farro pomegranate salad

farro pomegranate salad
farro pomegranate salad

i’ve been playing around with farro lately, since it’s such a nice alternative to rice. i think it does particularly well as the bulk of a more pilaf-type salad, with fruit, nuts and greens all cut to similar sizes. i pulled this selection of seasonal flavors for a hearty late-fall farro salad.

farro pomegranate salad
1 cup farro
2 cups water
arils from 1 pomegranate
2 apples [i chose 1 fuji and 1 granny smith]
juice of 1 lime
6 roasted garlic cloves, mashed with a fork
2 tbs olive oil [i used garlic-infused canola oil]
1/4 cup italian parsley, chopped
1/4 cup sliced toasted almonds
1 handful arugula leaves, chopped
1 tbsp lemon zest, minced
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
salt & pepper to taste

cook the farro in 2 cups of salted water until water boils away and farro is al dente. cut apart the pomegranate and collect all the seeds. chop apples, collecting pieces in a bowl, and sprinkle with lime juice.

place the farro in a large mixing bowl. add the mashed garlic cloves and oil, parsley, almonds, arugula, lemon zest and parmesan cheese and mix well to incorporate. fold in the apples and pomegranate arils and mix gently to incorporate. salt and pepper to taste. serve warm or chilled.