Tomato, Corn and Avocado Salad with Ricotta Salata

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Pretty warm day here in the Bay Area. I decided I would make crab cakes Crab Cakes and a tomato, corn and avocado salad. This was based on what looked fresh at the grocery store today. Just a quick salad that I threw together, no actual recipe, but I tried to capture it the best I could in the recipe below. Enjoy!

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Tomato, Corn and Avocado Salad with Ricotta Salata

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: very easy
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Healthy and quick spring/summer salad.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half or quarters depending on size
  • 1 avocado, diced and soaked in lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice (approx)
  • 2 ears of fresh corn, cooked and sliced off the cobb
  • 2 tablespoons ricotta salata cheese, very small dice
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil

Procedure

  1. Combine the tomatoes, avocado with lime juice, corn and ricotta in a medium bowl. Try to add the corn while it is still hot or warm, it warms up the rest of the salad and makes the flavor more intense. Mix well.
  2. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper and olive oil and mix well.

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May 10, 2017

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FENNEL AND FETA SALAD WITH BACON

I originally made this in the fall after going to the Farmer’s Market where I saw this very fresh and beautiful Fennel bulb that I had to buy as well as some super fresh assorted baby lettuces.  These are still available and looking pretty good at Whole Foods, so I thought I would make it tonight.  My recipe is inspired by Food and Wine’s Spinach and Fennel Salad with Candied Bacon . The F&W recipe uses A LOT of bacon and sugar, so I lightened the recipe by adding more vegetables, cutting out the “candied” part of the bacon and using 75% less bacon. I feel that just a little bacon adds a lot of punch, no need to go overboard. Yum! I really like the combination of the slightly sweet dressing with the very savory bacon and feta. Try it out and let me know what you think.

Fennel and Feta Salad with Bacon

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 40 min
  • Difficulty: easy
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Delicious and savory autumn or winter salad

Credit: Food & Wine 

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of thick-cut Applewood Smoked Bacon
  • 1 medium sized fennel bulb. Halved, cored and sliced very thinly
  • 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for the dressing plus some extra for drizzling on the fennel)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ½ tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (this is very different from regular balsamic vinegar — I like it in this dressing because it is slightly sweet to contrast with the savory bacon and feta –if you don’t have any use a white wine vinegar and add a little more honey)
  • ½–1 teaspoon of honey
  • ~8 oz. mixed baby lettuce
  • 1 large heirloom tomato (or whatever is available), cubed
  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
  • Fresh feta cheese to sprinkle over the top
  • 2 tablespoons of pine nuts, lightly toasted

Procedure

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees
  2. Cook 2 pieces of bacon on a foil-lined baking sheet for 15 minutes or until desired doneness (I often cook more pieces and put some of it into my son’s lunch box that week). Lay cooked bacon on a plate with several paper towels to absorb as much grease as possible. Let the bacon cool and then chop into small pieces.

  3. At the same time, lightly spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Add sliced fennel and lightly drizzle a little olive oil onto the fennel and season with a little salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes or until soft and starting to brown a bit. Remove from oven and let cool.

  4. In a small container whisk the Dijon mustard, fresh lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar, honey, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a sprinkle of kosher salt and a several grinds of fresh black pepper. Set aside.

  5. Combine the tomato, radishes, lettuce, fennel, bacon, feta and pine nuts. Toss with the reserved dressing and serve.

    Pairs nicely with an unoaked Chardonnay or Chablis

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March 8, 2017

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Kale Salad with Miso and Pistachios

This is pretty much a straight-up Food and Wine/Andrew Zimmern recipe. Really easy and really flavorful! Original recipe included 2 scallions, thinly sliced and did not include the mushrooms or tomatoes that I added. I think some chopped avocado and/or hardboiled egg would be really good in this as well.  I served this with Quick Brined Roasted Salmon with Lemon Garlic Oil and some simple brown Jasmine rice. Very easy and delicious meal. My son could not get enough of the salmon and the salmon’s savory sauce.

Kale Salad with Miso and Pistachios

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: approximately 15-20 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Quick and savory kale salad.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds kale – stems discarded and leaves thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1 tablespoon brown miso
  • 1 teaspoon coconut palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cremini mushrooms, thinly slices
  • 1 cup of baby tomatoes, sliced in thirds
  • 1/4 cup unsalted pistachios, roasted  and chopped

Procedure

  1. In a large bowl, toss the kale with the lemon juice and a generous pinch of salt.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar with the sesame seeds, miso and sugar. Gradually whisk in the oil.
  3. Add the tomatoes and mushrooms to the kale and then add the dressing and toss. Add the pistachios on top and serve.

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February 21, 2017

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Kale Chips

img_3421What to Make for Dinner…

Note: This is actually an older post from my original Medium Blog site.

My daughter has gone back to boarding school and my husband has a work dinner, so tonight I am cooking for just my son and myself. I wandered up and down the aisles of Whole Foods for a while drawing a blank. I almost never go to the store without a list or at least a plan in my head for what I need. Today was different for some reason, I was just completely drawing a blank! After running into a friend who suggested I grab something in the meat department that is half-way prepared since there are only two of us (great idea!) I settled on a lemon-herb marinated piece of salmon (the hubby is not really a fish fan so this is a good thing to eat without him) and some really big and beautiful looking organic Lacinato Kale (a.k.a. Dinosaur or Tuscan Kale). I decided I will also make some plain jasmine rice in my rice maker, to make things easy.

Below is the recipe for kale chips that I made out of the kale. They are a really yummy way to eat kale and my kids love them (but another thing my husband doesn’t care for). They are crunchy, a bit salty (depending on how salty you like them) and tangy from the vinegar. Yum, flavor explosion! Sometimes they are almost gone before the rest of dinner is made (but I have no idea where they go?).

Kale Chips

  • Servings: varies
  • Time: approx. 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: medium
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Such an incredible crunchy way to eat kale. Delicious and healthy alternative to a potato chip when you are craving some crunch and savory flavors.

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of Lacianto Kale (aka Dinosaur Kale or Tuscan Kale)
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 lemon, juiced (Recently I have been leaving this out)
  • Kosher salt or sea salt to taste

Procedure

  1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Wash kale thoroughly and pat dry. Remove the center ribs so you just have the dark green leafy part. Slice the kale leaves in half.
  3. Place sliced kale leaves in a large bowl. Add enough olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice to coat the leaves. Add the salt and using your hands massage the ingredients into the leaves so they are all covered.
  4. Spread the coated kale leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 7 minutes to start. I often use a silicon baking mat (Silpat) to bake these on.
  5. After 7 minutes check to see if any leaves have become crispy (but still GREEN), if so remove them from the baking sheet and put in a serving bowl. Turn over the leaves that are still wet (most will still be wet) and return them to the oven and cook for a few more minutes.
  6. Every 3 minutes (or so) re-check for crispy pieces, removing them from the baking sheet and putting the rest back into the oven. This may seem tedious, but the kale can burn quickly and then it is ruined (even slightly brown kale tastes burnt), it took me a few tries before I understood I needed to keep the heat LOW and check on the kale constantly so I don’t burn any of it. When it is all crispy you are finished!
  7. May be served warm from the oven or at room temperature, but don’t make it too far ahead of time as it may lose its crispiness over time.

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February 9, 2017

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Remove the hard ribs.
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Ready to start baking.
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Baked to perfection!
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Close-up of a perfectly crispy piece of kale. Mmmm!
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I originally made this in the late summer when tomatoes were at their peak.
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The pre-seasoned salmon from Whole Foods. Can’t always make everything from scratch.

Ginger Sesame Beef Salad with Quinoa

Updated 3/26/17.

What to make for dinner tonight…? Well this popped into my inbox this morning from Food and Wine Magazine, and I thought that this looked like a good candidate. Here is the original recipe: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/skirt-steak-stir-fry-quinoa-and-ginger-sesame-dressing. I added more vegetables and marinated the meat for a few hours, but I otherwise followed the recipe. The dish turned out to be a really nice mix of crunchy vegetables with very tasty, succulent beef. I have to admit that my son found it a bit “strong” so he just picked out and ate the beef chunks and left most of the rest but my husband and I really enjoyed it.

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Grating the ginger.  The minced garlic is on the side.

Ginger Sesame Beef Salad with Quinoa

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: approximately 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Healthy ginger beef and vegetable salad that comes together quickly. Good choice for a healthy weeknight meal.

Credit: Food and Wine 

Ingredients

Marinade:

  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger

  • 1 clove of garlic, minced

Quinoa:

  • 1 cup of un-cooked quinoa

Dressing: 

  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

Stir-Fry:

  • 1 tablespoon of dark sesame oil

  • 1 pound skirt steak, cut into small pieces and sliced against the grain (1/4” thick strips)

  • 1 large Portabello mushroom cut into small cubes

  • 2 tablespoons of fresh minced garlic (2 cloves)

  • 1 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger

  • kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

  • 1 head of red leaf lettuce (or lettuce of choice), chopped

  • 2 cups of shredded carrot

  • 2 cups of bean sprouts

  • 2 tablespoons of basil leaves, chiffonaded

Procedure

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of organic rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger and garlic. Add the sliced beef and marinate at least 30 minutes or several hours if possible.
  2. Cook the quinoa without adding salt or oil. I like to use a rice maker. Set the cooked quinoa aside (Can cook this earlier in the day and refrigerate).
  3. In a small bowl whisk the ¼ cup of soy sauce, 1 ½ tablespoons of fresh grated ginger, 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon of lime juice and 2 tablespoons of sesame oil. Set aside.
  4. In a large skillet heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the steak, mushroom, half the shredded carrot and salt and pepper to your taste, and then stir-fry for a few minutes until the steak is cooked to your liking. Remove the steak mixture and add half the bean sprouts and cook for a couple of minutes.
  5. Divide the lettuce between four plates. Top with cooked bean sprouts, meat mixture, uncooked carrots and bean sprouts, cooked quinoa and then the dressing. Garnish with basil.

https://healthyseasonalcooking.wordpress.com

September 29, 2016, updated March 26, 2017

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Stir frying the beef, mushrooms, and carrots
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Finished stir-fry

 

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The quinoa in the rice cooker.
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The finished dish

 

Autumn Mixed Baby Lettuces and Apple Cranberry Salad

A friend invited us for dinner and asked us to bring a salad. We were in the mountains and I thought an Autumn-feeling salad would be nice, but where to find a recipe? I searched online and found quite a few butternut squash salads, but that seems very heavy to me, then I found a salad on Cooking Light that inspired me, Fall Salad with Apples, Walnuts and Stilton. In the end, I ended making up my own salad recipe with ingredients I was able to procure in the one store in the mountains, but I did use the dressing from the Cooking Light recipe, and it was quite delicious (even though the dried apricot seemed weird-I think it added something so use it)! Feel free to try the salad as written or swap out the dried cranberries for fresh pomegranate, pears for the apples or pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) for the pine nuts. It is pretty versatile. This serves 6-8 side salads, or 4 large entree-sized salads (maybe add cubed chicken for an entree).

Autumn Mixed Baby Lettuces and Apple Cranberry Salad

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Healthy Autumn salad with crunchy apples, pine nuts and dried cranberries.

Credit: Dressing is from Cooking Light’s  Fall Salad with Apples, Walnuts, and Stilton 

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons shallot, minced
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I used a whole small lemon)
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 ounce package mixed baby lettuces
  • 1 large crunchy sweet red apple such as Fuji, Pink Lady or Honey Crisp, skin on, sliced thinly and then cut in thirds.
  • 1 pint of mixed cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 2 ounces goat cheese (I used a goat cheese with figs)
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 cup juice-sweetened dried cranberries

Procedure

  1. In a small bowl mix the first 6 ingredients (shallot – apricots) in a blender or food processor until smooth. Gradually pour in the olive oil with the blender running on low until all of it is mixed in. Add black pepper to taste and stir to blend. Set aside.
  2. Slice the apple. After slicing, immerse the apple pieces in a bath of cold water and a few tablespoons of lemon juice. Let sit while assembling the rest of the salad.
  3. Toast the pine nuts in the oven at a low heat (around 300 degrees F) for a few minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
  4. On a very large platter (or bowl) lay out the lettuce. Layer on the apples and tomato halves, and then toss with half the dressing. Add little spoonfuls of the goat cheese (I left this on the side so the dairy-free people can leave this out), cranberries and finishing with the toasted pine nuts. Serve the remaining dressing on the side for anyone who wants more. Enjoy!

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This is the salad without the cheese, pine nuts and dressing. 

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

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Basic, but I love caesar salad, especially this recipe that a family member taught me when I was a child. This is the 1970s type of caesar salad dressing but I don’t include the raw egg anymore as I am a little more afraid of Salmonella. Lately I have been making it with kale or a mixture of kale and romaine lettuce to boost the nutrients. Today I added cubed avocado, halved cherry tomatoes and put some baked chicken on the side for my husband who seems to be craving protein lately. I also didn’t have any croutons on hand so I spread a piece of whole wheat sourdough bread with olive oil, a little salt and pepper, dried oregano, and then rubbed a cut piece of garlic all over it and toasted it in the oven until it was crisp like a crouton. Actually much better than what you will find in a bag or box!

Ingredients:  

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Lacinato Kale – by far my favorite kale!

Dressing (the amounts are approximate):

  • 1/2 cup high quality olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, mashed
  • 1 tablespoon anchovy paste (or a couple of anchovies)
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire Sauce
  • 5-10 drops Tabasco sauce (depending on how much spice you like)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional: sometimes I add a tablespoon of non-fat plain greek yogurt to make it more creamy like caesar salad dressings you find at restaurants today, lately I haven’t added this though. Or if you are ok with raw eggs, you can add one whole egg.
  • For variety I sometimes add hard boiled eggs, a piece or two of bacon chopped up, chicken, cherry tomatoes and/or avocado chunks.

Salad

  • Kale and/or Romaine lettuce
  • Sliced Mushrooms
  • Caesar Salad Croutons
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese – finely grated
  • Optional:  if using Kale:
    • Lemon juice
    • Olive oil
    • Salt
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Removing the ribs from the kale
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A perfect avocado
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Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Procedure:

  • If using kale
    • de-stem the kale and cut into bite size pieces
    • put kale into a large bowl and put lemon juice, olive oil and a few shakes of salt on it to soften the kale. let sit for 15 – 30 minutes at room temperature. Rinse if you like before using to reduce sodium count.
  • Make dressing by combining all ingredients and stir with a whisk. Set aside so flavors can combine. Great to make ahead of time if possible and store in the refrigerator.
  • Cut mushrooms and romaine lettuce if using that type of lettuce (and other vegetables if using).
  • Mix lettuce, mushrooms, croutons, cheese and dressing in a bowl. Toss and serve with fresh ground pepper.