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,