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.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Black-Eyed Pea Salad with Roasted Sweet Potato and Poached Pears with Ricotta

Sara Foster’s Fresh Every Day is one cookbook that I end up turning to again and again. My mom bought the cookbook for me at the height of my obsession with Martha Stewart. Foster, a friend of Stewart’s, signed the cover page, “For Meghan—Martha says hello. Enjoy!” Looking back, it is kind of silly but I love it.

Foster owns two local gourmet markets with great ambiance and amazing brunch and lunch menus. Foster’s is the perfect place for a casual Sunday brunch with friends. I stop in way more than my limited college budget allows.

The cookbook has excellent recipes for using farmers market produce. She favors simple, highly adaptable dishes that rely on fresh, seasonal ingredients for flavor. Some of her recipes even list seasonal variations to experiment with.

I have made Foster’s Black-Eyed Pea Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese several times and had a craving for it the other day. I could not find a decent butternut squash at the farmers market so I substituted sweet potatoes. Many of her recipes list variations and suggest creative ways to use leftovers.

I have been devouring pears lately and went overboard at the grocery store the other day, buying more red Anjou pears than I could possibly eat. I decided to make a dessert with my surplus and poached the pears. I love the combination of ricotta and pears so I served them over a fresh spoonful of the still-warm cheese.

Black-Eyed Pea Salad with Roasted Sweet Potato and Goat Feta

Adapted from Sara Foster

2 sweet potatoes, peeled, and cut into 1-inch cubes

3 tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 cups fresh or frozen black-eyed peas

1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced

1 jalapeño pepper, cored, seeded, and diced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram leaves

2 ounces goat milk feta cheese

1 bunch Arugula

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup canola or safflower oil

Scatter the sweet potato cubes in one layer on a baking sheet with sides. Drizzle the cubes with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes in a 400ºF oven, until the sweet potatoes are brown around the edges and tender when pierced with a fork, stirring the pieces periodically so they brown evenly. Allow it to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, place the black-eyed peas in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover by 3 inches. Salt the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, until the peas are tender but still firm. Drain in a colander, rinse under cool water and drain thoroughly.

Stir the vinegar, honey, lemon zest and juice, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper together in a medium bowl. Add the oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until all is incorporated.

Gently scrape the warm sweet potato cubes into a large mixing bowl. Add the peas, bell pepper, jalapeño pepper, marjoram, salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette and toss gently. Season with additional salt, pepper, or vinaigrette to taste. Layer salad on bed of Arugula and sprinkle with crumbled feta.

Ricotta and Poached Pears

Adapted from David Lebovitz


2 quarts whole milk

1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt

2 teaspoons white vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

Bring the milk, yogurt, vinegar and salt to a boil in a large pot. Gently boil for one to two minutes, until the milk is curdled. Pour the milk mixture into the strainer lined with cheesecloth and set over a deep bowl. Let drain for 15 minutes. Gather the cheesecloth around the curds and squeeze gently to extract any excess liquid.


4 cups water 

1 1/3 cup sugar

4 Anjou pears; peeled, cored, and quartered

1 vanilla bean

In a large saucepan, heat the water, vanilla and sugar until warm and the sugar is dissolved. Slide in the pears. Keep the liquid at a very low boil and simmer the pears until cooked through, 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the pears. Remove from heat and let the pears cool in their liquid.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Lentil Soup

I have lived in North Carolina my entire life and I cannot remember a time when we have had snow on the ground for this long. Though it isn’t much, it’s still there. This past Saturday morning the market was covered in a fresh dusting of snow and the vendors were sparse. The wintry weather called for a warm, hearty soup and I had the perfect recipe in mind. I grabbed some fresh eggs and a hearty head of kale and headed home to warm up.

Heidi Swanson’s ‘Lively Up Yourself Lentil Soup’ from 101 Cookbooks is my go-to soup recipe. It is simple, delicious and adaptable. I have made the soup more than ten times, but I have never prepared it the same way. When I want a heartier soup I add sausage and squash. For a light soup I make the saffron yogurt drizzle Heidi recommends. My favorite variation is with Sriracha and a poached egg on top.

Lentil Soup

2 cups green French lentils

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
(I prefer fire roasted)

2 cups water or broth

3 cups of kale, rinsed well, deveined, finely chopped

Fresh eggs

2 teaspoons white vinegar

Sriracha to taste

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.

To poach the eggs, heat water in a saucepan until it is almost boiling. Add the vinegar to the water to help the egg whites to congeal. Crack an egg into a small cup, then hold the cup near the water’s surface and slide the egg in. Use a spoon to nudge the whites closer to the yolk to help the egg hold together. Turn off the heat, cover and let sit for 4 minutes until the egg whites are cooked. Lift eggs gently out of pan with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onions and salt and cook until tender. Add the tomatoes, liquid and greens and bring back to a simmer. Simmer until the soup is warm and the greens are wilted. Season soup to taste with Sriracha. Ladle into bowls and top with a poached egg.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sweet Potato Tacos

It was so hard to get up yesterday morning because of the gloomy, wintery weather of the past few days. I managed to drag my best friend out of bed and bring her with me. Bundled up and armed with warm coffee, we got to the market later than usual amidst a little snow flurry.

We were upset when we found out we had missed a cooking demonstration for sweet potato tacos. I thought I would try to make my own version because the idea sounded delicious. So, I am excited to share my first attempt at writing a recipe.

Sweet Potato Tacos


1 small head cabbage

zest and juice of 1 orange

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Splash of white wine vinegar

Taco Filling

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 small onion, diced

2 cans black beans rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons cumin

1 tablespoon chili

Corn tortillas

Feta cheese

Thinly slice cabbage. Whisk orange juice, zest, oil, and vinegar together in the bottom of a large bowl. Toss the cabbage with the vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let sit while preparing the tacos; it gets better as the flavors meld.

Heat the olive oil in a small pot. Cook the onions and sweet potato until the onions are soft and the potato is tender. Add the black beans, cumin and chili powder and allow to cook for another minute or so.

Preheat broiler. Place corn tortillas on baking sheet and top with the sweet potato filling. Sprinkle tacos with feta and put under broiler. Leave in oven until feta gets soft and the tortilla is warm and starts to crisp.

Top tacos with slaw and serve.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Here we go...

Hello! Welcome to my first attempt at blogging.

Working at a farmers market for two years, I have made a habit of cooking a big meal on Sunday nights with ingredients I picked up at the market the day before. I have decided to start sharing these recipes.

This is also a space for me to write for myself. It is easy to forget how much I enjoy writing when I am cooped up in the library cranking out papers for class. Hopefully this will offer a respite from my sometimes daunting school work.

Thanks for reading,