Skip to content

Archive for

Salads and Beans

My Lunch Salad

The lettuces and other greens that overwintered in my garden don’t seem to mind the cold wet spring. The longer days and occasional rays of sun are enough for them to grow a few inches a day it seems. And as noted in last week’s post, my neighbor’s greens are even more prolific.

Not only are the cultivated greens thriving these days but so are the wild ones. I have never known much about what edibles one can forage but last week I had the pleasure of hosting a local TV news station and Edible Portland in my kitchen. They filmed a segment on wild edibles that had been picked earlier that morning in an urban neighborhood here in Portland by John Kallas, one of the authorities on wild foods. John wrote a comprehensive book on wild edibles including lots of recipes and photos to identify these delicious and nutritious foods. So if you don’t have any lettuces in your garden you  might want to check out the book and then take a walk in your neighborhood and see what you find. The salads and frittatas we sampled during the filming were delicious.

Cooked Pinto Beans, previously frozen

And beans! I love beans and to my great delight I caught a bit of Splendid Table (the NPR weekly food show) on Sunday about some of the healthiest people on earth who live in Turkey and eat lots of beans, olive oil and red wine.

But back to yesterday’s lunch salad–the salad I make in some fashion several times a week for lunch and for dinner has two main components: greens and beans. I always have home-cooked beans in the freezer and usually a quart in the fridge (canned beans work fine for this kind of thing too). And in the winter I almost always have kale around (which works beautifully in this hearty salad in its raw state) and the above mentioned greens. You really can use most any kind of green leafy item from spinach to kale to watercress and arugula to endive to romaine. Same with the beans. . .. red, black, pinto, white, garbanzo are all delicious.

Nice additions to this salad foundation are some of kind of cheese, hard-boiled egg,  some herbs or nuts, thinly sliced onion or minced garlic. . .. You can also play with the ratio of beans to greens. If you want a bean-heavy salad, just chop the greens and herbs a little finer and have the focal point be the beans, eggs, nuts, etc. And finally you need a zippy dressing. My standard is good olive oil (I like Unio by Siurana available locally at Pastaworks), lemon juice or red wine vinegar, salt and pepper and my secret ingredient: reduced apple cider. I take a half-gallon of organic apple cider and bring it to a boil in a big pot and reduce it at a rolling boil until it gets a little syrupy and viscous. I usually get about 1 1/2 cups from half a gallon. I store the syrup in a jar in the fridge and add a couple of teaspoons to my salad dressing.

Lunch Salad with Pinto beans, lettuces, hard-boiled egg, sharp cheddar and onion

With or without a slice of good bread (or maybe a batch of cornbread at dinner time) this is a light but satisfying meal.

And finally, since I promised you two recipes this week, here is a link to a recipe from my current favorite cookbook: Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi from the eponymous restaurant in London. I  made these leek fritters last night and reluctantly sent my husband off to work with the leftovers.

P.S. There are a few spots left in my May classes, including next week’s Spring Market Class.

Greens & Bean Salad

See notes above about how to adapt this kind of salad to your liking and to what you have on hand, and hence the vague quantities below. This is really more of an idea than a formal recipe.

2-4 cups of packed greens of your choice

1-3 cups cooked (or canned) beans of your choice (pinto, black, white, garbanzo. . .)

2 hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped

1/2 shallot or small chunk of red or yellow onion, slivered or diced

1-2 ounces of cheese of your choice (feta, sharp cheddar, fresh goat’s cheese. . . )

handful or two of raw or toasted nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts. . .)

1/4 cup roughly chopped herbs (parsley, basil, chervil, tarragon, cilantro. . .)

Dressing

1/4 cup of good olive oil

2-3 teaspoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons reduced apple cider (see note above) (optional)

salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 clove of garlic, minced

Place all salad ingredients in a large boil. Mix dressing and drizzle over salad and toss well.

Advertisements

Going Out

Egg carton from a recent egg pick up

It is gorgeous today here in Portland. We’ve seen remarkably little of this kind of weather this spring and it’s all I can do to not play hooky and go sit in a park with a book. And as I was sorting through the egg cartons that need to be returned to the place where I pick up eggs every week I found the one pictured above. It certainly sums up my feeling today. . .

And one more photo from this morning, from a neighbors’ front yard. There are still plenty of edible bits on these leggy shoots of kale and arugula and I’ve gotten in the habit of walking down the street mid-morning to pick the greens for my lunch.

Tuscan kale and arugula going to seed.

And now I will go outside, not to a park with a book but still outside!

Happy Spring, once again!

P.S. I promise to post two recipes next week to make up for today’s lack of any.

Silver Linings and a One-Pot Dinner

Wild Rice with Veggies and Sausage

I like to get things done. I usually love working hard, whether it’s prepping for my classes, reviewing budgets, cleaning the bathroom, cooking three meals a day or planting the garden. I think of myself as strong and able, or thought of myself that way until recently, and not often in need of asking for help. But now I have some disk/spine issues that are turning my m.o. on its head. It’s painful physically and challenging emotionally but over the last few weeks, it’s gradually become less so.

As a dear friend said to me recently: “People really like helping out!” And it seems she’s right and come to think of it, I like to help others out too. So I have been asking for a lot of help lately. It’s getting easier to ask and with the additional help some of the physical pain is easing too. I’m definitely not used to my new, physically weaker, self and have my moments of intense frustration, but having people around to help me prep for and assist with classes, do the heavy lifting in the garden, etc. has been fun. I have a fairly solitary job, except for the actual time spent teaching, so having other people around for these  tasks is a joy.

I’m letting go of some of the control I didn’t quite realize I liked and practiced so much and learning as a go. I am doing things more slowly, I’m cutting more corners and not feeling guilty (the back steps did not get swept before my students arrived on Saturday and I didn’t scrub the hood over my stove within an inch of its life). And when it comes to cooking, I’m trying new things too. I’m using my food processor much more since I just plain can’t chop much by hand and have had to slow down.

And now I’m going to ask for your help and comments. Last night I pulled together a somewhat typical cook-with-what-you-have kind of meal. It wasn’t great (yet) but it was certainly fine. And the method was fun and got me thinking about all the possibilities of what I think I might call Dinner Pilaf for now. Pilaf has its roots in Turkey and Persia but there are versions from dozens of countries. Principally it is rice cooked undisturbed in broth or water with seasonings and other additions.

I discovered some wild rice in the back of my pantry yesterday. I had two leeks that needed using, half an onion, a few carrots, half a bunch of parsley and some pork sausage in the freezer. I sautéed the leeks, onions, and carrots; added the sausage cut into half-rounds. After all that was starting to brown I tossed in the rice, some veggie bouillon, covered it and brought it to a boil, then turned it down and walked away–for about an hour.

"Dinner Pilaf"

When I came back I found a beautiful pot of dinner. I had not measured the liquid carefully and it was a little wet for my taste and it was a bit bland. I minced the parsley and added two minced garlic cloves, a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice, some olive oil, salt and pepper (a simplified version of salsa verde) and stirred that in. Now it was good!  It wasn’t really a pilaf but somehow the idea of cooking rice or other grains or a combination of rice and beans with aromatics and veggies or meat with just enough liquid to cook it all seems rather clever. So I’m going to try this with barley and quinoa and other kinds of rice and with different veggies, spices and herbs . . .  And I’d love it if you experimented with this idea/method and reported back what you discover.  Or if you already make something like this tell us what you do.

Happy cooking and eating!

Carrots & Distractions

“Mommy will you fix my truck?! . . . please!. . . .right now!”

“Mommy, come look! Now! Please!”

That’s the typical soundtrack when my four-year-old is home. I love it, most of the time. Sometimes it makes writing a blog post, testing or photographing a dish, or updating my website a wee bit challenging. But I’ve become completely used to this less-than-linear work environment. This morning I was uploading photos for today’s post at the kitchen counter while trying to get Ellis to eat at least a few bites of oatmeal and apple before we headed out the door to pre-school. Did I already crop that photo? Not sure, but it will suffice. . . .

I’ve also been mightily distracted by two cookbooks I just bought. I’ve been staying up too late reading them. . . .been considering teaching new classes entirely inspired be them. . . and I’m going to post a recipe from one of them here today. I’ve seen many references to Breakfast Lunch Tea in the blogosphere lately and the hype seems justified. Rose Carrarini’s book with recipes from her bakery in Paris (Rose Bakery) is full of gorgeous photos and many simple, veggie-and fruit filled recipes.

I’ve been making grated carrot salads for years. I love them especially in the winter and early spring. Dressed with plenty of lemon juice and fresh herbs they are a nice counterpoint to the heavier and sweeter flavors of the season. Carrarini’s version is so simple and so, so good. Her generous addition of salted, toasted sunflower seeds is perfect, if you can keep yourself from eating all of the toasty seeds before they make it onto the salad.

Make extra so you don't skimp on the amount you add to the salad.

I followed her recipe exactly with the exception of not having enough chives but having some green garlic so I finely minced that and added it. I think it would be good with parsley or tarragon or mint too. This recipe makes a lot of salad. I just had some of it for lunch and it was still delicious today. So if you have that many carrots on hand, make the whole batch.

Carrot and Seed Salad

–very slightly adapted from Breakfast Lunch Tea by Rose Carrarini

1 cup sunflower seeds (or pumpkin seeds)

1 tablespoon sunflower or olive oil

2 generous pinches of kosher salt

8 medium carrots, grated

1 handful chopped chives (or whatever you have on hand)

Dressing:

1/2 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus possibly more to taste

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon caster (superfine) sugar or 2 teaspoons honey or agave syrup

about 3 tablespoons sunflower or olive oil (I used a good olive oil)

Preheat oven to 350.

Toss the sunflower seeds with the tablespoon of oil and several pinches of salt and roast on a baking sheet for about 15 minutes, turning frequently, until they are crisp and golden. Set aside to cool.

Place the grated carrots in a serving bowl. To make the dressing whisk together the lemon juice, salt, pepper and oil. Pour the dressing over the carrots and mix well. Sprinkle with the chives (or other herbs) and the seeds, mix again, and adjust seasoning and serve.