Tag Archives: salad

Italian Eggplant Salad

eggplant salad

I have been fixated on eggplant of late. It doesn’t help that my roommate is also obsessed, so I’ve been buying it more frequently than I would otherwise. I used to not even like it at all—the texture, mostly—but like many childhood aversions, I am quite over it these days.

Over the moon about it, actually (had to throw in a moon pun after yesterday’s activity). Although not everyone is, since it is one of the less nutritious of the vegetables. I suppose on top of an actual salad (well, I made it on a kale salad, so it’s full of good kale nourishment) makes it a double enemy for those seeking nutrition and fooling themselves by eating mostly water. However, it’s far better than chicken nuggets, or whatever else one might be eating, so I am quite content. Plus, eggplant. Delicious.

This is one version of eggplant salad. You could also prepare it similarly but top with an Asian dressing (say, miso, ginger, and rice vinegar, or fish sauce, garlic, brown sugar, and sesame oil) instead of balsamic, basil, and goat cheese. Something to try for next time (better make it quick, eggplant is on its way out).

How long before we can grow food on Mars, now that we’re almost certain there’s water there? Sooner might be better than later—we are becoming dangerously war-torn here on Earth, to the point where seeds had to be extracted from Norway’s seed vault for the first time, due to the Syrian war (yikes), but, we should probably figure out our own problems before messing with another planet.

Maybe the aliens will befriend us if we feed them eggplant.

Italian Eggplant Salad
2 Italian eggplants
Kale
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Basil, or pesto
Goat cheese, in olive oil if you can swing it (Appleton Creamery is the best)

Cut the eggplant in half, prick vigorously with a fork (don’t stab yourself), and place cut side down on a baking sheet. Broil for 20 or so minutes, until the skin is blistered and the inside is very soft—an entered fork should meet no resistance. Remove and let cool.

Meanwhile, wash and chop up the kale. Drizzle with olive oil, then massage with your hands until it softens, achieving a salad consistency.

Take the peel off the eggplant and discard. Separate out the inside and break it apart into chunks with a fork.

Place the kale on a large platter, and top with eggplant, then basil. Drizzle with balsamic, then crumble goat cheese and olive oil on top. Peppercorns (in my goat cheese) are a good plus too, for aesthetic and flavor piquancy.

I made this for a potluck and was having difficulty not stuffing my face before leaving. Easy to eat an abundance.

eggplant salad

It looks pretty, and I love taking pictures of my food. Just don’t forget to enjoy the company, place, and time of your food as well (a beautiful article, written by a college friend of mine).

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Roasted Beet Potato Salad

beet potato salad with toasted pumpkin seeds

Yes, Isabel, I have been enjoying potato salad of late.

There was a time when I hated potato salad, but I kept trying it again, and finally had to remind my dear friend Isabel to tell me not to eat it. Not the case now, I have met a number of potato salads that I rather like (one in particular that is closer to classic than this, but with raw fennel and a light creamy herby dressing. One for another time).

“Let’s cook beets” turned into dinner here through a little cream cheese, a few extra herbs, and some toasted pumpkin seeds. Not bad for an open-the-fridge-and-see-what-we-find meal. Sour cream would also be acceptable.

In other news, fall!

Additionally, I am planning a trip to Germany at the end of November. I imagine I shall be taking a two-week hiatus from Dancing Tree as well, but promise to have plentiful food photos from my travels!

Beet potato salad
5 or 6 medium beets, or fewer large ones
5 or 6 small potatoes
Olive oil
1/2 red onion
1/2 cup cream cheese
Chives and parsley
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted (roast in oven with salt for a few minutes)

Roast the beets first. This may take a while, and can be done in advance. Chop, put in a pan with some oil, and roast at 350-400º for at least 30 minutes. Roast the potatoes the same way, although I recommend a separate pan if you can swing it, since beets have a little more water and it’s nice to let the potatoes get a bit crisp. Once they are soft (stab them with a fork or knife to determine pliability), remove from the oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, chop up the red onion and other herbs. Place the onion in a large bowl and add the semi-warm beets and potatoes; mix. This will take the bite off the onion just enough to add a little kick without being overwhelming. Mix in the cream cheese, allowing it to melt a little in the warmth, and then the rest of the herbs. Taste and salt and pepper as needed. Top with toasted pumpkin seeds, and enjoy with a side of toast (not required but recommended).

Corn Salsa Salad

corn salsa salad

Corn! How exciting. And so many ways to eat it. Raw on the cob, raw off the cob, roasted, grilled, in a tart or pancakes… or in salsa. Or a salad.

I’m calling it a salsa salad because it could be either. I was happy eating it as a meal but it would also make a good potluck dish or topping for tacos or in a burrito. It takes approximately five minutes to throw together so you’re in luck if you’re running late to a party or to your empty stomach.

Corn gets a lot of flak (which, by the way, is different from flack, a person who deflects criticism. Although someone receiving a lot of flak might need a flack) in the media these days for being one of the single crops causing America’s obesity epidemic, either in the form of syrup in everything, as animal feed contributing to suffering, or because it’s often a GMO. There was a fascinating piece about corn wars with China in the New Republic the other day, reflecting the importance of research money, the power of corporations, and the grandness and challenge of trying to feed a political world. You may also be interested in “How corn made its way into just about everything we eat” from the Washington Post. Or checking out the picture in Vox about the evolution of corn (and other crops). Humans are good at making things work for us. Corn also plays a significant role in sustainable ag of the future, especially where it was native and there are still people to uphold its traditional uses and growth patterns.

Most notorious corn is not that which we eat, but whatever is grown for animal feed or biofuel. Sweet corn, the kind we’re used to consuming, is not a large part of the corn production in the U.S. It is instead a happy contribution to summer, and perhaps to your next meal.

Corn Salsa Salad
3 cobs of fresh sweet corn
2 scallions
1 zucchini or summer squash
Olive oil
1/2 lime
1 large tomato
Cheddar
Hot pepper or a dash of chile sauce

Shuck the corn, and cut the kernels from the ears. Chop up the scallions and the zucchini.

Heat up a little oil in a pan over high heat, then add the scallions, zucchini, and corn. Stir frequently until soft, squeezing in a little lime halfway through; the corn should get toasty in the high heat and the scallions will wilt. Chop up the tomato (and pepper if using) in the meantime, and grate the cheddar. Put the corn in a bowl with more lime, the hot sauce/pepper, and the chopped tomato, then add the cheddar and mix it all up. Toss with a little salt too, to taste. Serve over rice, with beans if you like; an avocado would also definitely not be amiss. Good hot or room temperature, but best eaten fresh.

Kohlrabi Apple Matchstick Salad

kohlrabi apple salad with hazelnuts

Crunch, crunch.

Everyone knows that apples and cheese and mustard go together, right? What they may not know is that kohlrabi is adds an important edge to the mix. Just enough zing to tie it all together and a very pleasant crispiness, especially since it’s not apple season and your apples may not have the ideal firmness. (This was my roommate’s idea, by the way)

Cutting up anything into matchsticks makes it more fun, too (besides the bit where it takes dressing more handily). I recommend peeling kohlrabi, cutting in half and then thin slices, then take half of that, flip it sideways (on the flat side) and cut more thin slices. You can kind of do the same thing with apples (don’t peel, but core them), but it’s a little trickier with the core gone. I bet there’s some ridiculous fancy kitchen gadget that will do matchsticks for you, if you really can’t stand cutting them up.

To elucidate some comments I’ve made previously re: farm tech, the problem with technological change is much the same problem as GMOs: copyrights. Farmers end up needing to hack into the systems of tractors and other equipment in order to use them. When you reach the point that the farmers are seeking out old versions of tractors just to avoid this problem, you know there’s something wrong with the system. The same could potentially be applied to seeds—the only reason we get so excited about heirloom (historic) seeds these days is because we haven’t been breeding for the right traits (i.e. flavor), so important qualifiers have been lost over time, and some of the newer interesting seeds have weird patents on them. Harumph.

There are some cool new developments though (well, a combination of new and old, like many of my favorite innovations), like a tree that has been grafted to produce 40 different kinds of fruit! Trees are so neat. I need to get an orchard when I have a real place, whenever that will be.

It’s almost tomato season and I am beyond thrilled. Stay tuned.

Kohlrabi apple matchstick salad
2 kohlrabi bulbs
1 apple
2-4 oz. extra sharp cheddar
Parsley
1 small scallion, or 1/4 red onion
Chives
Nuts, if desired
Dressing: 
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 large spoonful mustard (more than you would put in an ordinary salad)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Lemon
Honey, if desired
Tahini or cream, if desired
Salt and pepper

Cut up the kohlrabi and apples into matchsticks (see above for technique recommendations). Matchstick the cheddar as well. Chop up parsley, green onions, chives, and any other additions you would like. Toast nuts, if using.

Whisk together dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss, making sure cheddar pieces separate from each other.

Serve with toasted nuts on top.

Other variations: More lemon; mint instead of mustard; parmesan instead of cheddar; add radishes for an extra bite or cucumbers to make it milder.

Picnic time!

kohlrabi apple salad

P.S. I added my Instagram to the side of the page! Now you can see all my pretty pictures even without an account. You’re welcome.

Grilled Veggies, Chorizo, and Fiddlehead Lentil Salad

fiddlehead chorizo lentil salad

Grilling, chorizo, and fiddleheads! Doesn’t get too much better than that (unless you add lentils).

Continually looking for more ways to incorporate non-meat proteins into the diets of meat-eaters, I’ve decided that chorizo (much like bacon) is a magic trick. Less meat, after all, does not mean no meat, and a flavored bit of spicy sausage provides an excellent source of protein as well as flavor. Chorizo in particular is a fabulous smoky spicy blend beloved by, well, most (hedging my bets here. There are always those odd ones who don’t like certain foods. So glad I’ve gotten over being a picky eater).

So, why not mix the wonderfully enriching chorizo with our new favorite legume, the lentil? Why not, indeed. Add in a few grilled vegetables of your choice, and maybe a few sautéed ones too, a bit of dressing if you like, and you’ve got yourself a meal (I also recommend some grilled toast on the side). If you don’t have a grill, the additions to this salad can be prepared in the oven or on the stove as well, with only a slight difference in flavor (mostly it’s just fun to grill things). You can add anything to a salad—even random bits of old produce you might ordinarily throw away (reduce food waste!).

Just as easy as a dinner kit, simpler, and evidently easier to source local ingredients.

Fiddleheads are the thing at the moment (well, perhaps their moment is passing by now, it is quite fleeting. Apologies again for the delay). For those of you not from New England (the only place I’ve seen them, anyway), they’re these funny little fern fronds that perhaps taste like a mix between asparagus and a green bean. Most recipes I’ve seen for them recommend lots of butter to counteract their slight astringency (an endorsed suggestion, certainly not limited to fiddleheads).

My new favorite dressing is a variation of Annie’s Woodstock dressing. It’s lovely on green salads, especially with avocado, and good for marinades, grain or legume salads, or as a dipping sauce too. Really what I’m trying to recreate is this fabulous dressing from my hometown, Planet Good Food Store dressing, which is similar to Annie’s except better (at least how I remember it). I haven’t quite got it down yet but I’m working on it—hopefully by the end of the summer. Tangy, flavorful, thick, creamy, but totally vegan (if that matters to you) and so so good. Besides, it’s a beautiful bright orange color.

As usual, I recommend cooking a large pot of lentils at the beginning of the week, and then using them in recipes like this throughout the week. A delicious quick lentil meal (which may warrant its own short post at some point, but I was too hungry to take a picture so I want to tell you about it regardless) for a weeknight when you are rushing home is a lentil taco or tostado—sauté some greens, with onions if you like, or chop up some cabbage or wash some lettuce, and warm up lentils with a good dump of chipotle and a little cumin. Add a little sour cream if you want (although this is not really necessary), and place on top of a tortilla, chips, or toast. Add slices of ripe avocado and a little salsa, if you like (cheese too if you’re feeling it), and you are ready to scarf it down.

Now, on to another no-recipe recipe:

Grilled veggies, chorizo, and fiddlehead lentil salad
Lentils (1 1/2-2 cups cooked)
Chorizo (1/2 lb?)
Veggies! Onions (2), sweet potatoes (1-2 large, or more if smaller), whatever you feel like
Olive oil
Salt
Fiddleheads, spinach, or other greenery
Butter (or more oil)
Dressing of choice 

Tomato-tahini dressing
4-5 Sundried tomatoes, revived in boiled water, and the water
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
5 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
2 tablespoons tahini
3-4 cloves garlic

A note on construction: You can add whatever you like to this salad, but here are my suggestions: I like having a little sweetness (sweet potatoes) to balance the smoky chorizo, definitely like having greenery to change the texture, add color and freshness, and onions make everything meld together. That being said, other combos or additions would be lovely too. More suggestions on salad combinations (in a composed salad) from the NYTimes.

Cook lentils if you have not done so already.

Heat up the grill. Bring the chorizo to room temperature. Chop up veggies for the grill (or however else you are preparing them)—I like slicing fat wide onion rings, and had small sweet potatoes so I just cut them in half. Toss veggies with a little oil and salt. Place on grill, with the chorizo, and cover top.

While the veggies and chorizo are cooking, clean and trim the fiddleheads. Sauté in butter (or oil) until tender but still crisp.

Make dressing: add all ingredients to a blender. Taste, adjust, and blend until emulsified.

Assemble: When chorizo is cooked, onions brown, and sweet potatoes soft, remove from the grill and chop up into small chunks. Place everything in a large bowl (only add dressing as needed, you won’t use the whole batch for this—good thing, because you’ll want it for everything else this week) and toss. Serve (can also be served cold if you’d like to make it ahead, although better room temperature or slightly warm).

Good for a crowd, and good leftovers too—make a large batch.

Ginger Pear Sauce over Roasted Beets and Parsnips

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Oh, and with goat cheese and pomegranate seeds. I don’t want to overwhelm you.

I am hoping to give you pear envy though.

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This is one of those awesome dishes that I made partially one day and then refined the next. The first night I roasted beets and parsnips together, and poached some pear slices in white wine with a bunch of ginger. It was pretty good, and I did add some spices to make it better, but it was still missing something and I spend a good while mulling over what it needed. The next day I had the same thing but added goat cheese (I had been thinking ricotta, actually, but goat cheese was easier to acquire) and pomegranate seeds. Super delicious and not a set of flavors I encounter as an ensemble too often.

The first night, sans cheese and pomegranate
The first night, sans cheese and pomegranate

I talked a little about poaching pears in my last post. This time I made it up—a little white wine, a little honey, and a whole bunch of ginger. The spice of the ginger pairs nicely with the sweetness of the pears, and makes it more pleasing as a main dish (although to be honest I wouldn’t mind eating it for dessert). I also sliced the pears because pears don’t soften in the same way apples do and I wanted to make a sauce out of it. Parsnips and beets each have a distinctive enough flavor to stand their own within the dish, but roasting them together allows flavors to blend (or something. Mostly it’s just way easier to only use one pan). Coriander and cardamom add delicate, floral scents to the dish.

I suggest this as a side (/salad?) to your next fancy dinner party. It’s easy, showy, distinctive, and delicious.

Roasted beets and parsnips, with pear ginger sauce and additions (amounts for 1 person)
3 beets
3 parsnips
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp coriander
3 or so small pears
A piece of ginger, about the length of your thumb from tip of the nail to knuckle
1/2 cup dry white wine
A small spoonful of honey
Maybe 1/4 cup ricotta or fresh goat cheese

Wash, chop, and roast beets and parsnips with a little salt and olive oil until tender but still with a slight crunch. If you’d like, toss the spices in with the veggies as they cook (I added them as an afterthought, but I think they’d be better internalized).

Peel, core, and slice the pears. Peel and slice ginger. Place in a small saucepot with wine and honey. Bring to a boil and simmer gently, covered, for 5 or so minutes, until pears are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated (uncover to evaporate more, as needed).

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Place roasted veggies on a plate (or serving platter), and cover with pear sauce. Crumble/dot chunks of cheese on top, and then strew with pomegranate seeds. Sprinkle lightly with spices if you haven’t added them already, and serve.

Autumn-Summer Salad: Apples and Smoked Cheese

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With all the fine weather this weekend it seemed like a good time for another salad, which will probably be mostly disappearing off of my menu in the near future. So after I came home from tennis and a quick swim in the ocean (again, probably the last time for a while, and yes it was quite cold), I threw this together and was quite pleased with the result.

I often eat apples and cheese together as a quick snack (apples and peanut butter is also great), but putting it on top of a salad, with the addition mustard, makes the combination into more of meal.

You can make this with whatever greens you want; I threw in a little kale to add some oomph but I like having the lightness of the mesclun as well. It may make extra dressing—judge how much you like before mixing it all together.

Apple-cheese salad
1 tbsp mustard
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
4 tsp olive oil
Fresh oregano, and/or parsley
Salt and pepper, as desired
About 4 stalks of kale, leaves only, washes and ripped apart
Mesclun, or other lettuce
1 eating apple, your favorite variety (I recommend similar to gala), cut into pieces
Smoked cheddar, cubed

Mix together mustard and vinegar, then whisk in olive oil (I generally make dressing in whatever bowl I’m eating the salad in, because fewer dishes). Taste and add other seasonings, as you wish. Put kale in the bowl with the dressing and massage it around for a while (if you don’t know about massaging kale for salads yet, do it. It’s important and makes it much more tender). Add the rest of the lettuce and toss, then throw on the apples and cheese.

This would also benefit from some nice smoked sausage. Alternatively, you could serve it as a side next to a nice roast (preferably one with lots of caramelized onions) with some crusty bread.

Enjoy the weather!

Napa Cabbage Peanut Slaw

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Wondering what to do with all that napa (otherwise known as Chinese) cabbage and use up other random veggies in your fridge? Make this now. Recipe here – it would feel pointless re-writing it. I didn’t have carrots, so I used sweet salad turnips instead (delicious), although carrots would be great if you have them. Also I used tahini because I didn’t have sesame oil, and red wine vinegar instead of rice. Otherwise, this is great. And they are very correct, it is best the day-of. Enjoy!

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