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Warm Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese

28 Oct

warm lentil saladHere’a nice recipe that appeared recently in the New York Times.

You can cook the lentils up to four days ahead and store them in the fridge. Bring the lentils back to a simmer before proceeding with the recipe.

You can serve it as a main dish for a light meal.This recipe makes quite a lot. We halved it for the two of us and still had some leftover.

If you can’t spot the chives and/or parsley in the photo, that’s because I forgot to add them at the end. The dish would probably have been even tastier if I hadn’t left them out!

Ingredients:

2 cups (14 oz.) green, brown or black lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 small or ½ large onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
Salt to taste
¼ cup red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
| cup broth from the lentils
3 to 4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
Black pepper to taste
¼ cup minced chives or parsley or both
2 cups wild or baby arugula, or mixed greens

Directions:

In a medium pot, combine the lentils, onion, two of the garlic cloves and the bay leaf with 6 cups of water. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat.

Add salt to taste, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 25 to 30 minutes, until lentils are cooked through but still have some texture (they should not be mushy). Taste and adjust the salt.

Using tongs, remove onion and bay leaf (though the onion may fall apart!)

In a small bowl mix together the vinegar, remaining garlic, salt to taste and olive oil. Set aside.

Place a strainer over a large bowl and drain the lentils. Reserve ¼ cup of the broth. Return the lentils to the pot.

Whisk the reserved broth into the dressing. Stir the dressing into the lentils. Add the goat cheese and stir until it melts into the lentils. Season to taste with pepper and stir in the herbs.

Line a platter, salad plates or wide bowls with the arugula or greens and top with the lentils. Serve warm.

Serves 4 to 6

The Best Potato Salad

8 Jul

Potato saladI love my homemade potato salad, and it’s not hard to make!

First some tips about the potatoes. It’s best to use a waxy thin-skinned type like Yukon Gold or red potatoes, or small “new” potatoes. If you do, you can keep the skins on when you cut them up for the salad, and they hold their shape better than baking potatoes. If all you have is baking potatoes, don’t worry. Boil the potatoes, and then peel them as soon as they’re cooked — the skin will zip right off.

And here’s a foolproof method for making hard-boiled eggs, for those of you who may say you can’t even boil an egg. It works for any number of eggs, as long as they’re in a single layer in the pot. Cover the eggs with cold water and bring to a full, rolling boil. Then turn off the heat, cover the pot and let them sit, covered, for 15 minutes. Drain and place  immediately in ice water to cover, until the eggs are cool.

This method cooks the eggs completely without giving you that unattractive gray ring around the yolk. What this method doesn’t do is make the eggs easy to peel. The ice-water bath helps a bit, but if eggs are hard to peel it’s usually because they’re too fresh! Really fresh eggs don’t have that little air pocket that develops between the white and the shell. For hard-boiled eggs, it’s best to use eggs that have been in your fridge at least a week after purchase.

Ingredients:

1 lb. waxy potatoes, such as red or Yukon Gold
1 hard-boiled egg
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 large or 2 small scallions, sliced (or use 2 Tbs. minced red onion)
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 Tbs. cider vinegar
½ tsp. celery seed
½ tsp. salt, or more to taste
black pepper to taste
paprika

Directions:

Wash the potatoes and cut off any imperfections but don’t peel them.
Place the potatoes in a large pot, cover with cold water, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and cook until the potatoes are soft, about 15 or 20 minutes (test by sticking a knife into the largest potato).

Rinse the potatoes in cold water, drain completely, and cut them into 1-inch cubes. Place in a large bowl.

Chop the hard-boiled egg and add to the potatoes along with the sliced celery and scallion. Add the celery seed, salt and pepper.

Combine the vinegar and the mayonnaise and mix well, then pour the mixture over the potatoes and stir well.

If the potato salad seems too dry, add a little more mayo and vinegar in the same proportions (twice as much mayo as vinegar). Taste, and correct the seasoning if necessary.

Sprinkle the top with paprika to add a dash of color.

Serves 6

Tangy Poppyseed and Pineapple Coleslaw

18 Mar

Pineapple-Poppyseed ColeslawIf you use packaged coleslaw mix, this recipe is very easy.

I don’t like gloppy coleslaw and so I made one recipe of dressing stretch for  a whole cabbage, shredded – the equivalent of two bags of coleslaw mix – and it worked very well. If there’s carrot in your packaged coleslaw mix, you can eliminate the grated carrot, but do add the scallions.

You might want to add a little more than a dash of red pepper flakes – maybe ¼ to ½ tsp. – to give it a little extra zip. If you don’t want to make a lot of coleslaw, use half the dressing ingredients, or make the full amount and save half for another time. It should last several weeks in the fridge.

Ingredients:

1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple with juice (or whiz a quarter of a  fresh pineapple, cut into chunks, in the food processor)
½ tsp. salt
Dash of red pepper flakes
1 tsp. finely minced fresh ginger, optional
⅓ cup cider vinegar
3 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. cornstarch
1 (1-lb.) bag coleslaw greens or 8 cups mixed shredded green and red cabbage
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, grated
1½ tsp. poppy seeds
¼ cup mayonnaise

Directions:

In a small saucepan, combine the crushed pineapple with juice, salt, red pepper flakes, ginger, vinegar, sugar and cornstarch. Whisk together until cornstarch is dissolved. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Cook until dressing is thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Place shredded cabbage, scallions, carrot and poppy seeds in a large bowl. Stir mayonnaise into the cooled dressing mixture. Add dressing to the vegetables, and toss well to coat.

Serves 6

Jerusalem Spinach Salad

3 Dec

Jerusalem spinach saladAfter a weekend of gorging, I thought everyone might be ready for a lighter recipe!

This recipe is adapted (very slightly) from one in Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. It’s easy and delicious.

The book is absolutely gorgeous and would make an excellent gift or look good on a coffee table. Many of the recipes are interesting, although some of the ingredients may be difficult to find in the United States. We’re lucky to live in an area with a large Middle Eastern population, so I had no problem finding pita or sumac powder. I didn’t have any chile flakes (which are easy enough to find) so I used cayenne pepper, about half as much as the recipe calls for.

Ingredients:

1 Tbs. white vinegar
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
¼ lb. pitted dates
¼ cup olive oil
2 small pitas (or one large one) roughly torn into 1½-inch pieces
½ cup unsalted almonds, coarsely chopped
2 tsp. sumac
½ tsp. chile flakes
5 oz. (half a standard-sized package) baby spinach
2 Tbs. lemon juice
Salt

Directions:

Put the vinegar, onions and dates in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and mix well with your hands. Allow to marinate for 20 minutes, then drain out any residual vinegar and discard.

Heat the 3 Tbs. olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the pita and almonds and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, stirring all the time, until the pita is crunchy and golden brown. Remove from the heat and mix in the sumac, chile flakes and ¼ tsp. salt. Set aside to cool.

Just before serving, toss the spinach leaves with the pita mix in a large mixing bowl. Add the dates and red onion, the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil, the lemon juice and another pinch of salt.

Serves 4

Black Bean and Corn Salad With Lime-Cumin Dressing

12 Nov

Black Bean and Corn SaladThe original recipe I adapted this from used beans only. I thought it looked nice — and tasted better too — with beans and corn.

This might seem like an odd time to be promoting a salad, rather than a warming cold-weather dish. But it’s the start of entertainment season, with Thanksgiving, Chanukah and soon enough Christmas and New Year upon us. This salad is a really good one for a potluck, brunch or party. It’s light on the dressing, and you can serve it with a single spoon rather than salad forks or tongs. And it’s quite attractive. If you want even more color, substitute some red or orange pepper for the celery. You can easily double it if you’re serving a crowd.

Ingredients:

1 cup thinly sliced celery
¾ cup vertically sliced red onion
1 (15-oz.) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (thaw if using frozen)
¼ cup fresh lime juice
1 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. olive oil
¼ tsp. cumin
¼ tsp. salt

Directions:

Combine celery, onion, black beans and corn in a bowl and toss well. Combine the lime juice, sugar, oil and cumin in a small bowl, and whisk until blended. Pour over the bean mixture and toss to coat. Allow the salad to sit for at least a few hours in the refrigerator or at room temperature for the flavors to mingle.

Serves 4 to 6

Tuesday Tip: A Bonanza of Basil

10 Sep

Basil freshI bought a pot of basil at the beginning of the summer, separated the three little stalks in the pot and plonked them in my garden. As they grew, I cut off the growing tips so the plants would branch out. They became bushy and lush! But there’s only so much caprese salad* one can eat.  And I already made and froze some pesto — I’ll give you that recipe later.

So what do you do at the end of the season with all that basil?

Here’s a tip that I got from my sister-in-law Rhonda that works for basil and just about any other fresh herb. We’ve done this very successfully with parsley and rosemary as well.

Pick the nicest leaves — avoid any that are bug-eaten or discolored — and put them in a brown paper lunch bag. Don’t fill the bag more than half-full. Roll the top down to close it, but leave as much air space as possible in the bag. Put the bag in the bag of your refrigerator and forget about it — except once a week or so, take it out and give it a shake.

Basil driedAfter about three weeks, the basil will have dried. (If it’s not completely dried, put the bag back in the fridge for another week.) Crumble it up on a piece of wax paper and store it in a plastic or glass spice jar.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of ways you can use fresh basil.

*For a caprese salad, slice a couple of large, ripe, red tomatoes and lay them out nicely on a plate. Slice some fresh mozzarella cheese and place over the tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place several perfect fresh basil leaves on the top. Drizzle with olive oil and enjoy.

Another thing I like to do with fresh basil is serve it with pasta. Boil up some spaghetti, toss it with a bit of olive oil after you drain it, then add some basil leaves cut into thin ribbons, fresh chopped tomatoes, a clove of chopped garlic and cubed or shredded mozzarella.  Season with salt and pepper. I’m not providing quantities because you can really play it by ear .

Massaged Kale Salad

20 Aug

Kale Salad 1We finally had enough kale in the garden to actually make something. I’ve eaten some good kale salads but never actually made one, so I hit the ‘net in search of good recipes. This one was posted by Aarti Sequeira on the Food Network website in 2010. It was easy and delicious!

Ingredients:

1 bunch of kale, stalks removed, leaves thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil (plus extra for drizzling)
Kosher salt
2 tsp. honey
Freshly ground black pepper
1 mango, diced small (about 1 cup)
2 Tbs. toasted pumpkin seeds or pine nuts

Directions:

Place the kale in a large serving bowl. Add half the lemon juice, a drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt and “massage” the salad with your hands until the kale starts to soften and wilt, about 2 to 3 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk the remaining lemon juice with the honey and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Stream in the ¼ cup of olive oil while whisking.

Pour the dressing over the kale, and add the mango and pumpkin seeds or pine nuts. Toss and serve.

Serves 4

Quinoa Salad with Beans and Corn

11 Jun Quinoa Salad with Beans and Corn

Quinoa Salad with Beans and Corn I was a little late jumping on the quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) bandwagon because…well, it was new and peculiar! It’s one thing to try something in a veggie-friendly restaurant, quite another to cook  it — and there were all those dire warnings about rinsing it first so it isn’t bitter. It turns out that quinoa is almost as easy to cook as rice (though you do have to take the added step of rinsing it). In taste and texture it’s somewhere between rice and bulgur, mild but with a little firmness to the bite. I adapted this recipe from epicurious.com. I was looking for something that contained neither gluten nor onion/scallion because we were hosting a guest with allergies. The recipe calls for “chopped fresh coriander,” which I think means cilantro. I didn’t have any, and we don’t particularly care for cilantro anyway, so I added  about a teaspoon of ground coriander to the dressing. I added a little parsley to the salad for the color that fresh cilantro would have provided. But I’m printing the original ingredients. You can make it up to a day ahead of time.

Ingredients:

1½ cups quinoa 1½ cooked black beans (rinse if you use canned) 1½ red wine vinegar 1½ cups cooked fresh or frozen corn ¾ cup chopped bell pepper (any color) 2 pickled jalapeno chilies, seeded and minced (I used bottled sliced jalapenos and chopped them)| ¼ cup finely chopped fresh coriander Tbs. lime juice (or more to taste) 1 tsp. salt 1¼ tsp. ground cumin (or to taste) ⅓ cup olive oil

Directions:

In a large bowl, wash the quinoa in at least 5 changes of cold water, rubbing the grains and letting them settle before pouring off most of the water, until the water runs clear; drain in a large, fine sieve. (I just used the sieve each time I drained the quinoa.) In a saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the quinoa for 10 minutes. Drain in a sieve and rinse under cold water. Set the sieve over a saucepan of boiling water; make sure the quinoa does not touch the water. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and the saucepan lid and steam until fluffy and dry, about 10 minutes (add water to pan if necessary). While quinoa is cooking, toss the black beans with the vinegar. Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl and cool. Add the beans, corn, bell pepper, jalapenos and coriander and mix well. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, salt and cumin and add the oil slowly in a stream, whisking constantly. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and mix well. The salad may be made a day ahead of time and chilled, covered. Serve at room temperature. Serves 8

A Tuesday two-fer: Two sweet-and-sour salad recipes

28 May Carolina Coleslaw
Carolina Coleslaw

Carolina Coleslaw

Today’s blog is a two-fer because if you don’t like cabbage, or you don’t have a cabbage, or you’re sick of cabbage, you can substitute cucumbers and follow the exact same recipe. Use three large cucumbers, peeled and sliced thin, or two English cucumbers, which you can peel or not .

I’ve been making this recipe for years. I adapted it from a recipe I clipped from a magazine. It’s attributed to “Mrs. McCollum.”  I use about half the dressing originally called for, and it’s ample. You can adjust the amounts and use even less if you use less cabbage. You can substitute Splenda for the sugar with no ill effect (unless, like my kids, you think using Splenda in the first place is an ill effect).

This salad will keep for two weeks or more in the refrigerator.

Carolina Coleslaw

Ingredients:

1 large cabbage, about 3 lb., quartered, cored and shredded finely (or cheat and use a bag of coleslaw mix)
1 bell pepper, any color, sliced thinly or diced
1 medium sweet onion, sliced thin
½ cup sugar
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. dry mustard
½ tsp. celery seeds
½ cup vinegar
⅓ cup vegetable or olive oil

Sweet Sweet & Sour Cucumber Salad

Sweet & Sour Cucumber Salad

Directions:

Combine cabbage, pepper and onion in a large bowl. Mix sugar, salt, mustard and celery seeds in a small saucepan. Add vinegar and oil and bring to a boil. Continue to cook a few minutes over low heat until sugar dissolves. (Alternatively, put everything into a large measuring cup and heat to boiling in the microwave. Stir well to make sure the sugar is dissolved.)

Pour the hot dressing over the cabbage and toss well to mix. Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Plan to let it sit at least three hours before you serve it.

Serves about 12

Spinach and Cabbage Salad

7 May

Spinach and Cabbage SaladYikes! I needed a dish for a potluck and didn’t have any time to cook. Solution? This wonderful Spinach and Cabbage Salad, which is soooo easy and soooo yummy!  You can eat mountains of it without worrying about calories too much, because it’s full of fiber and not too heavy on the dressing. The hardest part is picking over the baby spinach to get rid of any really long stems and slimy pieces. If you buy a package of spinach a day or two before you’re making the salad, and it has a good “use by” date, you shouldn’t have to throw away much at all.

If you make this for a potluck and need to drive a long way, or if you have to mix up the ingredients more than an hour before you serve it, add the dressing at the last minute.

Don’t use the entire half-bottle of dressing to start. If you prefer a lightly-dressed salad, you might want to use less. So start with one-quarter or one-third of the bottle and add more if you need to.  Just be sure all the vegetables are coated and the salad seems moist.

You can eat any leftovers the next day, but after that it will be too soggy to enjoy.

Ingredients:

3 cups shredded cabbage or pre-packaged slaw mix (or just use the whole package, which is probably more than 3 cups)
1 bag baby spinach (pick over it to get rid of long stems and slimy bits)
½ cup toasted slivered or sliced almonds
½ cup golden raisins
½ bottle Vidalia onion salad dressing (Westborn Market makes a good one)

Directions:

Combine cabbage, spinach, almonds and raisins. Add dressing just before serving and toss well so that all the ingredients are coated.

Serves 8 to 10