Monday, May 10, 2010

Asparagus, Fava Bean and Pea Shoot Salad

Here is a light, fresh and springy salad I found on one of my new favorite food websites food52. The spring salad is made with asparagus, fava beans and pea shoots and is simply dressed with olive oil and Pecorino.

Asparagus, Fava Bean and Pea Shoot Salad

Adapted from food52.

2-3 oz. fresh pea shoots

2 lbs. asparagus, cut into ½ inch pieces

3 lbs. fava beans

2-3 oz. Pecorino cheese, coarsely grated

Extra virgin olive oil

Flaked salt

Freshly cracked peppercorns

Blanch asparagus until bright green, then plunge into ice water bath to shock it and prevent further cooking. Drain and dry well.

Shell the fava beans, and blanch them for 2-3 minutes. Cool quickly in ice water, and drain well. Remove the skins if you prefer.

Coarsely chop the pea shoots put them on a platter. Top with the asparagus and fava beans.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the grated Pecorino, salt and cracked pepper.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sautéed Kale with Kohlrabi

Among the piles of kale and chard at the market, I found a peculiar looking piece of produce. It looked like a plant out of Harry Potter with its swollen purple bulb and spindly arms shooting out of the globular form. I had never encountered the strange looking Kohlrabi and thought I would give it a try.

The leaves tasted like cabbage and the bulb was mild, crisp, juicy and delicately sweet. I found a recipe that utilized the bulb and some kale I had also bought.

Sautéed Kale with Kohlrabi

Adapted from Gourmet

1 ¼ pound kohlrabi, bulbs peeled

½ teaspoon grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 pounds kale, stems and center ribs discarded

5 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/3 cup salted roasted pistachios, chopped

Very thinly slice kohlrabi with mandolin.

Whisk together lemon zest and juice, 2 tablespoons oil, and ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss kohlrabi with dressing.

Finely chop kale. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Sauté garlic until pale golden, about 30 seconds. Add kale by the handful, turning and stirring with tongs and adding more kale as volume in skillet reduces. When all of kale is wilted, sauté with ½ teaspoon salt until just tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Toss kale with kohlrabi and pistachios.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Lentil Almond Stir-Fry

Alongside the late winter leafy greens at the market this weekend were trays and trays of herb, vegetable and other spring seedlings. I managed to exercise some restraint and walked away with only three heirloom tomato plants and some spinach.

Here’s a spinach recipe to get you through until the spring produce arrives.

Lentil Almond Stir-Fry

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

extra-virgin olive oil

6 to 8 very small new potatoes, cut into 1/2 pieces

2 cups brown or black lentils

1 bunch spinach

1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt, thinned out with a bit of water, and salted with a pinch of salt

2 dates, pitted and chopped

Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. While waiting for the water to boil, rinse and pick over the lentils. Add the lentils and cook for around 20 minutes until they are tender. Drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes, cover and cook until they are softened, about five minutes. Remove the lid and turn up the heat to medium-high and cook until potatoes are a bit golden. Add lentils, almonds and spinach and cook until spinach is wilted. Turn onto a platter and drizzle with yogurt. Sprinkle with remaining almonds and chopped dates.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Roasted Beet Salad with Beet Greens and Orange Segments

I was picking out beets the other day when a woman next to me asked if I ever cooked with the beet greens. I told her that I had tried cooking beet greens once before, but ended up with a mushy green mess. She gave me some advice on how she boiled them, and I decided to take another stab at preparing the greens I usually discard.

Roasted Beet Salad with Beet Greens and Orange Segments

6 medium beets with greens attached

3 large oranges

1 small shallot, minced

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon honey

½ cups feta cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 400°F. Trim greens from beets and reserve leaves. Place beets on large sheet of foil and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt. Wrap beets in foil, place on a baking sheet and roast until tender when pierced with fork, about 1 hour. Let beets cool, and then gently rub off the skins with a paper towel. Cut beets into 8 wedges and set aside.

Remove stems from beet greens and coarsely chop leaves. Cook greens in a pot of boiling water until tender, about 2 minutes. Drain the greens and squeeze out any excess moisture.

Finely grate enough peel from an orange to measure ½ teaspoon and reserve for dressing. Cut peel and white pith from oranges. Use a small sharp knife to cut between membranes and release segments. Squeeze remaining membranes and save 2 tablespoons of juice.

Put vinegar, oil, shallot, honey, lemon juice, orange juice and orange zest in a small jar and shake until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Arrange greens, beets and orange segments on plates. Sprinkle with feta and drizzle with dressing.

Makes 6 servings.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Saag Paneer

Saag paneeer is one of my favorite Indian dishes. The spinach and cheese dish is rich, warm and comforting.

Making cheese may seem like a complicated task, but I encourage you to try making this paneer. This cheese recipe is great for beginners as it only requires two ingredients and basic kitchen skills. It is very similar to the ricotta recipe I featured earlier except paneer is pressed into a solid form.

My passion for cheese began when I started working for a local cheese company making goat and cow milk cheese. In addition to working in the kitchen, I sold cheese at local farmers markets on Saturday mornings during the summers. It has been my favorite job I have held so far and really sparked my interest in food.

Saag Paneer

adapted from Saveur Magazine

For Cheese:

8 cups milk

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

6 tbsp. ghee or vegetable oil

For Spinach:

1" piece ginger, peeled and chopped

3–4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 serrano chile, stemmed and chopped

4 bunches spinach, washed, trimmed and finely chopped (about 6 cups)


½ tsp. garam masala 

1-2 pinches cayenne

6 tbsp. heavy cream

For the cheese:

Line a colander with 4 layers of cheesecloth, draping it over sides, and set colander aside in sink. Put milk into a large saucepan and bring just to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon to prevent it from scorching, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, add lemon juice, and very slowly and gently stir until large curds form, about 30 seconds. Carefully pour milk mixture into colander and gently rinse off under cold running water any foam and residual lemon juice from curds. Gather corners of cheesecloth together and gently squeeze out liquid. Tie opposite corners of cheesecloth together to make a sack, and hang it from a large kitchen spoon suspended over a deep bowl. Set aside at room temperature until excess liquid has thoroughly drained from cheese, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer sack to a large plate, untie cheesecloth, and loosely drape corners over cheese. Place a large heavy pot on top of cheese, then set aside for 30 minutes to compress cheese. Remove pot and unwrap cheese.

Cut cheese into1/2" x 1" pieces. Heat ghee in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add cheese and fry until golden brown all over, 4–6 minutes. Transfer cheese with a slotted spatula to a plate and set aside. Set aside skillet with ghee.

For the spinach:

Put ginger, garlic, chiles, and 1/4 cup water into a blender and purée to a smooth paste. Return skillet with ghee to stove and heat over medium-high heat. Add ginger–garlic paste and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 30 seconds. Add spinach, season to taste with salt, and cook, stirring often, until spinach wilts, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring often, until spinich is very soft, 10-15 minutes. Stir in garam masala, cayenne to taste, and cream.

Add fried cheese to skillet, cover, and continue cooking until liquid thickens and spinach is silky soft, about 15 minutes more. Serve with naan or over rice.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Orecchiette and Chard

Chard, pasta and cheese

Yum, you are so delicious

My plate is clean. More?

The chard recipe comes from Fresh from the Farmers’ Market by Janet Fletcher. It is a helpful cookbook to have on hand if you frequent farmers markets because the produce is divided by season. When there are so few ingredients in a recipe, I like them to be the best quality possible. I made my own orecchiette for the dish using an old recipe from my mountain of clippings from Gourmet magazine.

Orecchiette and Chard

For orecchiette

½ cup warm water

¾ teaspoon fine sea salt

1 ¼ cups semolina

For chard

2 bunches chard

olive oil

6 cloves of garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

2 ounces ricotta salata, grated

Make orecchiette:

Stir together water and sea salt in a bowl until salt has dissolved. Add semolina in a stream, beating with an electric mixer at medium speed until a stiff dough forms, about two minutes. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead with lightly floured hands (use all-purpose flour) until smooth and elastic, about six minutes. Divide dough into five pieces and let stand under an overturned bowl 30 minutes.

Line each of two trays (or a work surface) with a dry kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and dust with some semolina. Keeping remaining dough covered, roll one piece of dough into a 14-inch-long rope (about ¾ inch thick) on an unfloured surface. Cut rope into ¼ -inch pieces. Dust your thumb with some flour and press down on each piece of dough, pushing away from you and twisting your thumb slightly to form an indented curled shape (like an ear). Transfer as formed to lined trays. Make more orecchiette with remaining dough. Let stand until dry, about 30 minutes.

Make chard:

Wash chard in a sinkful of cold water. Separate chard leaves from ribs. Chop ribs and boil in a large pot until tender, about two minutes. Add leaves and cook additional two minutes until wilted. Drain and press out extra water. Coarsely chop.

Heat 1/3 cup olive oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. Add garlic and hot pepper fakes and sauté until garlic is lightly colored, about two minutes. Add chard, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Keep warm

Cook orecchiette:

Cook orecchiette in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (three tablespoons salt for six quarts water) until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup of cooking water.

Return pasta to pot and add one tablespoon olive oil. Toss until coated, add chard and ricotta salata and toss again. Add a little of the reserved water if needed to keep the pasta moist.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Roasted Acorn Squash and Gorgonzola Pizza

I have been stuck in a winter vegetable rut and looking for new inspirations to get me through until the spring. Sifting through my mountain of recipe clippings, I found a remedy for my culinary malaise with a roasted acorn squash and gorgonzola pizza.

Giada De Laurentiis has a way of combining unusual ingredients for a fresh take on old favorites. The acorn squash, gorgonzola, brown sugar, and pepper flakes are so flavorful and together. I love the combination of sweet and hot, with the creamy cheese and peppery arugula to balance it out.

Roasted Acorn Squash and Gorgonzola Pizza

Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

1 one pound acorn squash

1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 pound pizza dough

1 cup shredded whole milk mozzarella

1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola

1 cup arugula

Squeeze of lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 375 ˚F .

Slice the squash in half from top to bottom. Scoop out the seeds. Slice the squash into 1/2 to 3/4-inch wide half moons and place in a medium bowl. Toss the squash with the brown sugar, olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Place the squash on a baking sheet and bake until tender and golden, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Keep the temperature on the oven at 375 degrees F. Roll out the pizza dough on a lightly floured surface to a 13-inch diameter. Place the pizza on an oiled baking sheet. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese and the Gorgonzola on the pizza dough. Bake in the oven until golden and cooked through, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Peel the skins off the squash. Top the cooked pizza with the cooked squash. Toss arugula with a squeeze of lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper and place on top of pizza. Slice and serve.