Tag Archives: salad

green bean, tomato + potato salad

I love a salad with potatoes that is not really all about the potatoes, know what I’m saying? I also love side dishes that are mostly vegetables, with a little starch—which always mean I am only fixing one side dish instead of two or more. (See examples of rice salad, farro salad, bread salad.) (Not that I don’t love some carbs mind you, and frequently recommend combining several carbs into one dish, such as potatoes and pasta or breadcrumbs and spaghetti.)

This salad is an easy call in late summer, when you can get fresh green beans, fresh potatoes, and fresh tomatoes. There are just a few small potatoes in it—though you could certainly add more!—and loads of green beans, tomatoes, and a little garlic in the dressing. And while perhaps legitimate chefs would frown on the technique, I love just popping the green beans into the boiling water with the potatoes when they’re through cooking, which saves a pot, some time, and a couple of steps along the way.

I like this salad best at room temperature, or even just a little warm, so I let the tomatoes macerate with the dressing and garlic while the potatoes and beans cook. I cut up the potatoes to speed their cooling, but mix everything together while the potatoes are still a little bit warm. For one thing this brings out the scent of the garlic just a little. You could add a little mustard to this, use red onion instead of garlic, capers instead of olives, or toss in a handful of fresh herbs. It’s a fun type of dish to play with when you have potatoes on hand and a mixture of other vegetables—and it will dress up any meal.

Green bean, tomato + potato salad

Serves 4 as a side

  • 4 small potatoes, scrubbed
  • 1/2 lb fresh haricots verts (skinny green beans) or regular green beans, trimmed and washed
  • 1 large slicing tomato or 4 plum tomatoes cut into 1/2-inch pieces or 2 cups cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 10 – 12 kalamata olives
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced or crushed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt or fleur de sel
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. In the salad bowl, combine the tomatoes, olives, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.

2. Place potatoes in a pot large enough to hold them and, ultimately, the green beans. Cover potatoes with cold water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook at a simmer for 25 minutes. Then add the green beans and cook 2 minutes more, until green beans are bright green and tender, but still crisp.

3. Strain potatoes and beans in a colander. Remove potatoes to a cutting board. Rinse green beans in cold water until they cool to room temperature. Cut potatoes into quarters and peel if desired. Let them cool for a bit.

4.  To the tomato mixture, add room temperature green beans and potatoes when slightly warm. Mix well but be careful not to mangle the potatoes. Serve at room temperature.

Leave a Comment

Filed under recipes

greek panzanella

Two years ago when I was in Greece for a couple of weeks, I gained a healthy addiction to Greek salads, which we ordered everywhere we went. As in Greece, here at home we are constantly using bread to sop up every last drop of the oregano-and-tomato infused olive oil left in the bottom of the salad bowl. This salad cures that problem by combining the Italian panzanella concept with the Greek salad. When in Rome, as they say, or something…

Seems there is a constant glut of tomatoes in the house these days (in a good way), though I fear the recent rains will ruin what’s left of the crop, especially if we get a heat wave. (This causes ripe tomatoes to split. You can take the girl off the tomato farm, but she is still always worried about the tomatoes splitting, apparently.) In the meanwhile, I delight in the fortuitous combination of green peppers, fresh herbs, red onions and feta cheese available at our farmers’ market this time of year. This recipe makes the best use of the freshness of those ingredients, and will create a luxury destination for your stale bread, too. (Always a plus, in my opinion.)

Here I toss the tomatoes with the just barely warm bread—which you want to heat in the oven just until the palest gold and not at all crunchy—to draw out their juices and combine the flavors a bit. Then when everything hits room temperature (sooner than you think), toss in the rest of the cold salad ingredients and enjoy the late-summer feast.

Greek panzanella

  • 4 to 5 slices of ciabatta, baguette or Italian bread, cubed (I used a piece of bread just smaller than the pint box the tomatoes came in)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel, divided (if using regular salt use only 1/2 tsp, divided)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley and oregano (not packed)
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (I used mixed cherry and grape tomatoes from the farmers’ market)
  • 1/2 bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup red onion, sliced thinly (this weighed 2 ounces, or about 1/4 medium onion)
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 1/3 cup kalamata olives, halved
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

1. Preheat oven to 325 F.

2. In a large bowl, toss ciabatta, olive oil, half of fleur de sel or salt, herbs and garlic. Toss, toss, toss until cubes of bread are evenly coated. Empty contents of bowl onto a baking sheet and place in oven 5 to 10 minutes, until bread is pale gold, warm and sizzling, but not browned or crisp. (In my oven this took just 7 minutes.)

3. Place tomatoes and the other half of salt in a large serving bowl, and toss. (You can use the bowl you used for tossing the bread mixture.) Remove bread from oven and let it cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Then toss with tomato and salt mixture.

4. When tomatoes and bread mixture have cooled down to just around room temperature, add pepper, onion, cucumber, olives, sherry vinegar and feta. Toss well. Serve.

2 Comments

Filed under recipes

deconstructed fish tacos

Sometimes I look around the kitchen and have Iron Chef moments. They do not always come at opportune times and often result in nightmarish weeknight meals. Luckily when I looked around my kitchen the other evening and connected the dots between ingredients to come to the conclusion that I should make deconstructed Baja-style fish tacos, it happened on a weekend. I could see the connection between all the vegetables I had—cabbage, avocado, tomato, squash—was a deconstructed taco dish. Why deconstructed? Because there were no tortillas in the house, and I did not feel like going out to get them. (Sorry.)

Let me emphasize that nothing in this meal is difficult to make. Far from it! But what with all the chopping and mincing, and slicing, and deep-frying, I think it’s probably best tackled on an evening where you have some breathing room. But it will be worth it! This dish was delicious. The yellow squashes I had on hand were the perfect complement to the rest of the components, and it was nice to have the contrast between all the cold vegetable “salad” components—pico de gallo, avocados with lime, slaw—and the hot and spicy squash dish.

You could also make any part of this meal on its own. The squash is prepared the way I most often ate squash growing up (sauteed with some aromatic, whether it was onion or garlic or scallion), but with hot sauce tossed in at the end. If you use several tomatoes in the pico de gallo, it is a great salad side dish on its own—we often have it as a serious side dish with a weeknight dinner. And the slaw is delicious—it would work with barbecue or anything else for that matter.

But together somehow the whole of these dishes is greater than the sum of their parts. So sometime when you have an extra 45 minutes to make dinner, try the combination. You won’t be disappointed, and you won’t miss the tortillas!

Deconstructed fish tacos

The recipes below make two servings and can be increased proportionally for more diners.

Overall method:

1. Make slaw and pico de gallo as below.

2. Cook squash as below and keep warm.

3. Fry fish as below.

4. On each plate, place a helping of squash, pico de gallo and slaw. Snuggle in a half of an avocado. Place servings of fried fish on top of hot squash. Sprinkle cilantro over all and serve with lime wedges.

For baja slaw:

  • 3 cups finely shredded cabbage
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (or more to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise

1. In a bowl twice as large as the volume of cabbage, combine the last four ingredients with a whisk. Add cabbage, stir well, and let sit for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Stir at least once again before serving.

For the pico de gallo:

  • 1 large fresh tomato, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • juice of 1 lime

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving. Stir before serving.

For garnishes:

  • 1 avocado, ripe
  • fresh lime juice
  • more fresh cilantro

For the squash:

  • 2 small yellow squash, in 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced and cleaned
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt or fleur de sel
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (or more to taste)

1. In a large skillet combine the olive oil, leek and salt. Saute over medium-high heat until leek is softened. Add squash, saute until tender, about 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Scrape into a serving dish and toss with hot sauce. Keep warm until serving time.

For the fish:

  • 12 oz or so of white fish, such as cod
  • 1/2 cup lager beer
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt or fleur de sel
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (or less to your taste)
  • neutral oil for frying, such as canola or peanut

1. Cut fish into 1-inch wide strips about 2 – 3 inches long.

2. Combine next five ingredients in a bowl for battering the fish.

3. Heat at least 2 inches of oil in a Dutch oven until 350 F. To drain the fish after cooking, place a cooling rack over a baking sheet next to the stove. Working in batches and using tongs or a fork, dip fish pieces into batter until fully coated, and carefully place in hot oil. Cook until very brown and crisp, about 3 minutes on first side, then turn them over and cook about 2 minutes on second side.

4. Assemble the meal as above.

Leave a Comment

Filed under recipes

cucumbers + onions

Some recipes aren’t really recipes to me. They are more of a birthright. This is one such recipe. Until I attempted to write this blog post, I never actually measured the ingredients in this dish. From July until Labor Day, this side dish appeared at our supper table every single night. Mom kept a container of it going in the refrigerator, and we’d slice more cucumbers and onions and add to what I now know is a “quick pickle,” but then was just the cucumber and onion container. Ty’s earliest memories of eating at my family’s house are dominated by this dish, and he often requests it.

You can make the brine as strong with vinegar as you like, and by all means add more sugar. I would guess my mom’s proportions for this have nearly twice as much sugar! The key here I think is serving the dish quite cold, perhaps even stirring it up the night before. The flavors meld and the chilling effects of cucumber are amplified by the extremely cold temperature of the dish. You can use purple or white onions with equal success. The purple probably looks more attractive. Some people I know add dill or other flavorings to this, so experiment and enjoy! I hear it´s a heat wave on the east coast (not so here in Portugal), so this is just the thing to cool off your supper preparations–double or triple the recipe depending on how many people you´re serving.

Cucumbers + onions

  • 1 large cucumber, cut into thin half-moon slices
  • 1 small onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup red wine or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

1. In a large mixing bowl or serving bowl, combine the vinegar, water, olive oil, sugar and salt. Taste and adjust salt and sugar levels based on the acidity of your vinegar.

2. To this dressing, add the sliced cucumbers and onions. Combine thoroughly and place in the refrigerator at least a half hour before serving.

2 Comments

Filed under recipes

roasted farro salad with basil

I know, I know. Squash ribbons? Way too precious to be practical. But hear me out. I wanted to “cook” this tender young yellow squash I had gotten from the CitySeed farmers’ market in Wooster Square in an acidic dressing, because it was so small and could really be eaten raw. And I had some extra time and used a vegetable peeler to make the paper-thin strips, which I marinated in a lemon juice and olive oil dressing. So sue me.

But, this salad is terrific without said ribbons. We ate it leftover sans ribbons for a couple of days. Or, if you have really tender squash that you’ve tasted raw and it tastes great, just dice it up and add it to the mix. I do not judge. You can put all sorts of vegetables in here as the season progresses. I would encourage it. I feel like this is one of those dishes where you can hide all manner of vegetables overflowing from your crisper after the farmers’ market. Also note that you could ribbon up a lot of squashes this way and sprinkle some herbs on them and have them on their own as a side dish as well. The citrus and salt tenderize the squash while it marinates. It’s hard to stop eating it once you get started.

Let’s talk about the roasted farro. I know, also a bit of a stretch. Not your normal supermarket fare. I ordered mine from Anson Mills and I…am…in…love. This grain is so rich and toasty and it just tastes healthy. If you cook it the way I outline below it has a gorgeous bounce to it. You have to soak it ahead and you then optimize the texture and shorten the cooking time. I put mine to soak in the morning before work, and then cooked it for 25 minutes when I got home. However, if you don’t have it on hand and don’t want to try it, follow the instructions below with another grain of your choice. Or even couscous. But I can’t promise more farro recipes aren’t going to appear here in the future. I really love this grain and I will make you love it, too.

Roasted farro salad with basil (and optional squash ribbons)

  • 1 cup (6 ounces) roasted farro (substitute cooked quinoa, barley, wheat berries, couscous, brown rice)
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped basil, packed
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes and drained
  • 1 English cucumber (1/4-inch dice)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • freshly shaved parmesan or another hard cheese

1. Soak the farro in advance: Place the roasted farro in the pot you intend to cook it in later. Pour the boiling water over it and let it sit 6 – 8 hours. (I started soaking it in the morning and made the salad for supper.) After soaking, place pot directly onto stove, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn heat down to a bare simmer and cook 25 minutes, until grains are al dente and bouncy. (If using a substitute for farro, cook according to package directions.) Drain and cool to room temperature.

2. In a large bowl, mix the cooled farro and all the rest of the ingredients. Mix well and let stand for 30 minutes. Prepare squash ribbons if using. Serve garnished with squash ribbons. You can also shave strips of parmesan onto the salad if desired.

If doing the ribbons:

  • 1 young yellow squash (about 5″ long and 1″ diameter)
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel or kosher salt

1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the squash into long, thin strips lengthwise.

2. In a bowl, combine the squash strips with the rest of the ingredients. Toss and mix well. Let rest at least 30 minutes, tossing occasionally to redistribute ingredients.

3. Serve on its own or with the salad above.

4 Comments

Filed under recipes

spinach + bacon salad

We just had a weekend trip to Keene, New York, in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks. It was gorgeous. There are some restaurants there—few and far between—trying to do interesting things with food. One restaurant we visited had very simple food but hit the nail on the head in serving a spinach and bacon salad with hot bacon dressing. My mom used to make this pan dressing with bacon drippings, vinegar, and sugar, right in the pan after the cooked bacon came out. The dressing was only used in early spring on small spinach or or Bibb lettuce, sprinkled with spring onions and sometimes hard-boiled egg.

Upon returning home we stopped quickly at Trader Joe’s. I couldn’t hit the farmers’ market until the next day and needed to pull together dinner. I was hoping for something nominally healthy after five days of vacation food. I grabbed a bag of the baby spinach, a lemon, and a red onion, knowing I had honey back home and some bacon in the freezer. I thought we could have a less labor-intensive and lighter version of the salad for dinner, and it turned out great.

I know a lot of people love to buy salad in a bag, and this is a great use for those baby spinach bags—the dressing, added warm, really brings out the flavor in the greens, slightly wilting them, but mostly leaving them crisp and fresh. The lemon juice is really intense, and “cooks” the greens a bit (think ceviche) as well. You have to have the honey drizzled on to balance the acidity of the lemon. It feels decadent just the way I’ve written the recipe here, but you could add goat cheese or feta, as well as hard-boiled egg. White beans might be nice as well!

Spinach + bacon salad

  • 1/2 to 1 lb of baby spinach, cleaned, whole or regular spinach, cleaned and cut into a chiffonade and tough stems removed
  • 2 – 4 strips of bacon
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • kosher salt or fleur de sel and pepper to taste

1. Fry bacon in a skillet over medium heat until very crisp and dark brown.

2. While bacon is cooking, place spinach in the largest salad bowl you have, or add spinach to the bowl until it is halfway full. (You’ll add the rest of the spinach later.) Add onion, lemon juice and salt and pepper to the bowl with the spinach. (Remember, bacon is salty, so you may not need as much as you usually put in your salads.)  Drizzle honey over. Using your hands, toss the salad, thoroughly coating it with juice and dressing.

3. When bacon is cooked, drizzle 2 tablespoons of the drippings, hot, plus the bacon, crumbled, over the salad. Carefully (test to make sure the bacon drippings have cooled a bit upon contact with the salad) toss again with your hands, adding in the rest of the spinach until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Taste for salt and serve.

1 Comment

Filed under recipes

chard+ rice salad with scapes + cilantro

In my head there is a category of salad that screams “summer weekend.” Not the kind of salad I have for my lunch most workdays (mixed greens, chopped radishes, carrots, and a little protein or some berries with vinaigrette…snore) but the kind of salad that combines grains and vegetables for a single side dish. This is the kind of salad that’s always welcome at a cookout, that pairs well with all kinds of proteins for supper.

This kind of salad gets better as it sits. It taste best at room temperature. And the “dressing” is really a pesto of herbs and aromatics. The most recent version at our house involved brown basmati rice, but you could easily substitute quinoa, bulgar, wheat berries or couscous in the recipe below and have equally great results.

When garlic scapes are in season here, I rely on them to flavor all sorts of things: salads, meats, fish, pasta, other vegetables. Now that herbs are coming on, it was simple to grab a big bunch of cilantro at the farmers’ market and throw it in the food processor with garlic scapes from Stone Gardens. I added this paste to burgers and pasta. But this salad might be the best use for it yet.

Later in the season, when the garlic scapes are gone, I’ll use a little red onion, or shallot, or scallion—with other herbs, like basil, or parsley, or dill. But the result will still be delicious. And beans of all kinds would be a welcome addition as well. Play around with it and let us know what you come up with!

Chard+ rice salad with scapes and cilantro

Serves 4

  • 1/2 lb. Swiss chard, washed and sliced into a chiffonade
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup garlic scape and cilantro paste (see recipe below)
  • 2 cups cooked rice (I used brown basmati)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • sea salt, if needed, to taste

1. Pour olive oil into skillet on stove. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add chard. Stirring frequently, saute until greens are wilted and the stems are starting to soften. Remove to cutting board and chop to medium fineness.

2. In a bowl combine scape and cilantro paste, cooked rice, raisins, and cooked chard. Mix well. Taste and correct for salt. Serve at room temperature.

Garlic scape and cilantro paste

  • 2 cups of garlic scapes, chopped and then measured
  • 3/4 cup cilantro, packed into measuring cup
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

1. In the bowl of food processor, combine the first three ingredients. Pulse on and off until finely chopped, scraping down sides twice.

2. Scrape down the sides and add the olive oil with machine running until fully incorporated.

3. Use immediately or refrigerate. Or freeze up to 3 months.

1 Comment

Filed under recipes

snap pea + potato salad with green garlic dressing

Harbingers of summer are appearing at the markets now—all of them gorgeous and green. Last Saturday, I picked up a handful of garlic scapes and green garlic from Button Factory Farm. Garlic scapes are bright green spirals that twist round and round, and they are difficult to corral on the cutting board. Green garlic looks like a scallion, but the bulb is more, well, bulbous; both the green and white parts are edible.

Rose’s Berry Farm had gorgeous sugar snap peas, which I love in all forms, but really love with potatoes. I don’t know why, but peas and potatoes just call to each other in my opinion. (And as I’ve said before, I have a peasant’s love of potatoes. Wish I could put them in everything.) This time of year, the sugar snaps have hardly any strings on them, and they’re easy to prepare. This salad looks like it has lots of steps, but it comes together quite quickly. The recipe for the green garlic scape paste (for the dressing) makes lots of extra, which you can freeze or use throughout the week in many other dishes. I chose a mustardy vinaigrette, because to me potatoes want lots of grainy mustard.

For the sake of convenience, I blanched the peas and while they were dunking in an ice bath to stop the cooking, I used the same water to hard-cook the eggs I served with the salad. (To hard cook eggs, I simply cover the eggs in water, bring the eggs and water to a boil, put a lid on the pan, turn off the burner and leave for 12 minutes. The cooked eggs can be removed from the water and put in an ice bath to stop the cooking.)

While the eggs are completely optional, they do turn this bright green salad into a hearty meal. Drizzled with a bit of the green garlic scape dressing, they are quite heavenly on their own for a sack lunch. So be sure to cook some extra! What is your favorite late springtime meal? Make note of it in the comments if you have a moment.

Snap pea + potato salad with green garlic scape dressing

  • 5 – 6 medium new potatoes
  • 1 pint snap peas
  • 1 head butter lettuce, chopped
  • 5 hard-boiled eggs, quartered 
  • green garlic scape dressing (recipe below)

Green garlic scape dressing

  • 1/2 cup green garlic paste (recipe below)
  • 2 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey

1. Place scrubbed potatoes in a pot of cold, salted water. Bring to a boil and simmer about 20 minutes, until potatoes are cooked through and pierce easily with a sharp paring knife. Set them aside to cool.

2. While the potatoes cook, wash the snap peas and trim off their ends and pull off their strings, if they have any. Bring another pan of salted water to the boil. Place a pan of ice water in the sink. Cook the snap peas for 1 – 2 minutes, and remove them with a slotted skimmer or spoon directly into the ice water to stop the cooking. When peas are completely cold, remove them from the ice water and chop them into 1-inch segments.

3. Wash the lettuce, trim it, and chop it into bite-size pieces.

4. To make the dressing, whisk all ingredients in the salad bowl. (Remove a quarter of a cup to garnish the hard-boiled eggs later.)

5. Quarter the potatoes, add them to the bowl and toss them with the dressing. When completely cold, add the snap peas and the chopped lettuce. Toss again. Add a little more dressing if needed.

6. Place the salad in bowls or on plates with the hard-boiled eggs quartered on each plate. Drizzle the reserved dressing on the eggs and serve.

Green garlic paste

  • 1 cup garlic scapes, chopped
  • 4 – 5 stalks green garlic, white bulbs and green parts, chopped and separated
  • 1/4 cup olive oil + 1 tablespoon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or kosher salt

1. In a small sauté pan, combine the tablespoon of olive oil and the white parts of the green garlic. Turn heat to medium and stir until the garlic bulbs are softened, but not browned. Allow to cool for 15 minutes off the heat.

2. In the bowl of the food processer fitted with the blade, combine the cooked green garlic bulbs, any oil in the pan, and all remaining ingredients. Pulse until chopped and scrape down sides. Pulse again until a smooth paste forms.

3. Use in the recipe above and conserve the extra paste to flavor other salads, pasta, egg dishes, fish or meats. May be frozen if desired.

8 Comments

Filed under recipes

chopped salad with asparagus and beans

Asparagus is one of the true delights of this fleeting season in Connecticut. I always want this time of sunny days and cool nights to last as long as possible, to extend our enjoyment of spring treats like asparagus, Swiss chard, green garlic, and tender greens. Mother Nature has granted my wish this year; even though it has meant a few dreary days, the weather has stayed remarkably cool.

With the fresh asparagus we get at our farmers’ market, I always just blanch it quickly in boiling, salted water and either eat it right away, maybe with vinaigrette, or shock it in an ice bath to preserve its green freshness for mealtime. I am so tempted by recipes for pan-seared, grilled, or broiled asparagus, but at the end I just break down and treat it very gently to get the most from its springy flavors.

Adding blanched and shocked asparagus to a chopped salad is a wonderful way to help it join forces in a more substantial side dish. It’s also good with avocado (I had none on hand on this particular evening), halved grape tomatoes, or any number of other vegetables. With the addition of cooked beans (I used Rancho Gordo’s Eye of the Goat beans here), it’s a complete meal, ready for spring-time prime time!

Chopped salad with asparagus and beans

  • 1 bunch (about 12 spears) fresh asparagus, ends of spears removed, soaked and rinsed in cold water
  • 1 – 2 cups cooked beans (I used Eye of the Goat, or Ojo de Cabra, from Rancho Gordo)
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, halved
  • 3 cups or about 4 ounces mixed salad greens, chopped
  • pepper

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Place a bowl of ice water in the sink for blanching. Chop cleaned and trimmed asparagus spears into 1-inch long segments. When water comes to the boil, add asparagus and cook for 3 – 4 minutes, until bright green and tender. (Taste it to make sure it’s crisp-tender; the timing depends upon the thickness of your asparagus.)

2. When asparagus is tender, strain it from the boiling water and place it in the ice water to stop the cooking immediately.

3. In a salad bowl, combine cooked beans, red onion, kalamata olives, and mixed greens. Grate pepper over to taste.

4. Strain asparagus from cold water. Chop it into inch-long segments and add to the salad mixture in the bowl. Add vinaigrette (below), to taste; you probably won’t need all of it. Toss gently, and serve.

Vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • sea salt (I use about 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel)
  • pepper to taste

1. Combine ingredients in a small jar. (I use a repurposed Maille mustard jar.)

2. Shake to combine well.

3. You can store this in the refrigerator for a week.

Leave a Comment

Filed under recipes

two beet salads

Let me say a word in praise of the humble beet. Love! I love beets! Like all great loves, I do not know how or when it happened. Perhaps I have loved beets my whole life. I can never remember passing them by at the supper table growing up. My mother is rapturous on the topic of beets. She prefers it when they, as she says, “taste like dirt.” We often had beets growing up, and truly, my mother preferred muddy-tasting beets over sweet ones. Generally they were served with vinegar. (Mom eschewed vinegar, however, as it masked the taste of dirt.) I remember pickling many jars of beets when I was little.

But a few years ago, while my dad and I were gardening with students on a couple of acres carved out of the farmland owned by the boarding school where I was working, I discovered the Chioggia. The Chioggia beets were planted that first year were a revelation. Actually, all the varieties of beets we grew there were marvelous. We would thin them when they first sprouted and make stir-fry with the nutritious green sprouts. We would pull the babies and eat them roasted and saute their greens. Then we would eat the beautiful full-grown beets that thrived in that sandy soil, devouring their greens as well.

At the CitySeed farmers’ market this past weekend, the Yale Farm stand had Chioggia beets. Be still, my heart. I grabbed a bunch with their beautiful greens still intact and stuffed them in my bag with some green garlic. I spent much of the rest of the day fantasizing about all my favorite ways to eat beets. I have this triage process upon returning home from the farmers’ market. Everything with edible greens gets separated from its root and I wash and blanch (plunge quickly into boiling water) the greens immediately. This is because the greens take up approximately 98% less space in the refrigerator after they are blanched, and most things I use greens for call for blanching them first, anyway. So the beets were decapitated immediately. I cooked the beets right away as well.

Part of the magic of the Chioggia is that raw, it is a red beet—a light red one, but red nonetheless. When you cook the Chioggia though, it is transformed into a pink-to-yellow, translucent vegetable. It is otherworldly. And the taste is so sweet and marvelous. Chioggias are drier than other beets, and I think this must concentrate their sugar. The name comes from a town in the Veneto. For the first time, I looked in my beloved Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking to see if she had anything to say about beets, Chioggia or otherwise. And indeed! She gives recipes for two of my favorite salads, which I prepared that evening. There are few dishes I believe I could happily eat every night, and these are two. They did not taste like dirt—not at all—but I think these beets would even be up to my mother’s standards.

Beet root salad

Serves 4 as a side dish.

  • 4 – 5 medium-to-large beets, scrubbed but not peeled, greens removed and reserved
  • 2 tablespoons best olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or champagne vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel or kosher salt, or to taste

1. Cook the beets.

Roast: wrap them very tightly in foil and bake at 400 F for 1 hour.

Simmer: place beets in one layer in a pan with water about 1/2 inch deep. Bring to a pert simmer and cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning beets once. In either case, beets are cooked when pierced easily with a sharp knife.

2. Cool the beets completely. (They can be refrigerated now until when you need them.) When cool, use your hands to slip off their skins and any straggling roots. Slice the beets crosswise into 1/4-inch slices.

3. In a bowl, combine the sliced beets, olive oil, and vinegar. Sprinkle with fleur de sel or kosher salt to taste.

Beet greens salad

Serves 4 as a side dish.

  • Greens from 4 – 5 medium-to-large beets, thoroughly washed
  • 2 tablespoons best olive oil
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel or kosher salt, or to taste

1. Bring a pot of water large enough to contain the greens to a rapid boil. Fill a dishpan or bowl with cold water and ice nearby.

2. Plunge the greens into the water and cook just until they turn bright green and become pliable; about 4 – 5 minutes.

3. Using tongs, scoop the greens out of the boiling water and plunge them into the ice water to stop cooking. Remove the greens from the ice water to a colander and drain completely. Squeeze remaining water out of the greens. (At this point you can refrigerate the cooked greens until you are ready to prepare the salad.)

4. Using a sharp knife, slice the bunches of greens quite thinly into a chiffonade. In a bowl, toss the greens with the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt to taste.

1 Comment

Filed under recipes