Cucumber Grapefruit Salad

Cucumber Grapefruit Salad

So I got my very first box of produce from Imperfect Produce and decided to make something with the cucumber, grapefruit, green onions, and cilantro I ordered. I had this idea…

I took a half of a cucumber and peeled it, cutting it into quarters so I could easily remove the seeds. Then i chopped into 1/2 inch bites.

I supremed one small grapefruit, cutting off the pith and peels and cutting the segments free.

I chopped two green onions and about 8 pieces of cilantro. I mixed this all in a bowl with some salt and pepper, a sprinkling of red pepper flakes (just a few flakes!) and 1 tsp of maple syrup (good maple syrup!). Shake it up a bit and serve. Makes one serving.

I kind of thought the maple syrup would make magic and it did. There’s just the tiniest bit of heat and a hint of sweetness, perfectly tempered by the freshness of the cucumber and the bright zesty grapefruit. This was so good I wish I had made double.

Now about Imperfect Produce. A friend forwarded the site to me on Facebook, knowing that I have to be careful about spending and how I rely heavily on the Oregon Food Bank’sHarvest Share to have enough vegetables since the regular food banks are heavy on carbs. I decided to give it a try because saving money and saving the environment sound like a good plan to me. Below are the results. As you can see, my imperfect produce is not that imperfect, I see a little dent in the cucumber, but nope, not that imperfect. They are incredibly fresh. I ate the first grapefruit just as a fruit and ended up with grapefruit juice everywhere. It was delightfully messy. And look how much I saved!

Imperfect Produce

I saved a lot

 

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Lentils with Curried Rutabaga

Lentils with Curried Rutabaga

In a saucepan, heat 2 TBSP of olive oil over medium heat. Add 1 diced yellow onion and 2 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced, 1 tsp of dried thyme, 2 bay leaves, 2 bags of black tea (Remove the string.), and salt and pepper. Cook until the onions are translucent. Add 1 cup of dried lentils and 4 cups of vegetable broth and bring to a boil before lowering to a simmer and putting the lid on to simmer for about 20 minutes until done. The tea adds a bit of smokiness and umami to the lentils.

Peel and chop one rutabaga into half-inch pieces.

In a cast iron skillet, heat 2 TBSP of olive oil over medium heat. Add 1 TBSP of Jamaica jerk seasoning and 1 TBSP of curry powder to the oil and heat until the aroma blooms. Add the chunks of rutabaga and sauté for about ten minutes so the pieces start to soften and brown a bit. Add about 1/2 cup of water and put the lid on for about 10 minutes or until tender.

Add the rutabaga to the finished lentils. Stir, and add 1 TBSP of balsamic vinegar or more to your taste. The vinegar’s tang will reduce the heat from the Jamaica jerk and curry powder.

Serve with a bit of fresh chopped cilantro on top.

The cool thing is that while the flavors blend beautifully, the constituent parts retain their individual flavors, so the rutabagas have that heat and the lentils that rich smokey heartiness. This is a thirty minute or so dish and serves eight. I know it’s not a single serving, but rutabagas are HUGE! The thing is, it reheats perfectly and only gets more delicious the next day.

Asparagus Wheatberry Salad

Asparagus Wheatberry Salad

I love wheatberries in a salad. They have a toothsome quality that makes a salad substantial and filling. They take a while to cook, but they are cheap, far cheaper than farro, and add a delicious nuttiness to any salad.

To make wheatberries, put one cup of wheatberries in a sauce pan, add 3 cups of water and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and put the lid on the pan. Check back after 30 minutes and then keep checking until they are chewy. It can take up to 50 minutes or so, depending on the specific kind of wheat. Some people like toasting the wheatberries for 10 to 15 minutes in a medium oven (350°) before boiling them to make them more aromatic and nuttier. I am usually too impatient and don’t think it makes a big enough flavor difference.

After the wheatberries are tender, drain in a colander, run cold water over them and let them drain until they are dry and cool. You can store in the fridge if you like.

To make the salad,

Bias cut eight asparagus stalks into 1 inch long pieces. This exposes more of the tender interior so they absorb vinegar dressing.  Add to the wheatberries along with 1/4 cup of dried cranberries. Add 2 TBSP of balsamic vinegar. (You can add more if you like.)Shake, cover, and store in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

This is a tangy salad with plenty of crunch from the asparagus and a tart sweetness from the cranberries. All three ingredients love balsamic vinegar.

I used to attend a board meeting six hours away and to save money, lunch was always potluck. I used to open a bag of frozen asparagus, toss in a 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar and by the time we got there, it was thawed and marinated. Yum! People always asked how I managed to make such delicious asparagus, hah! Vinegar “cooks” veggies so well.

I made two salads with wheatberries today. I just doubled the wheatberry part and divided the cooled wheatberries when they were ready. I figure if I am going to make something that takes nearly an hour, I will make the most of it.

Wheatberry Salad Duo

Rutabaga Wheatberry Salad with Lemon, Caraway, and Maple Dressing

Rutabaga Wheatberry Salad

I got a big bag of huge rutabagas from Harvest Share. Just so you know, in England, they call rutabagas swedes, and this Swedish-American can remember stopping at a roadside vegetable stand on the way to my uncle’s house in the fall and Dad buying some rutabagas, peeling them and cutting them into chunks, and we would eat them raw, the way some people eat apples. I have always loved rutabaga and think it might be in my genes.

Still, I wanted to create something new. I was thinking about Dad and how very Swedish they are and thought it might be interesting to use caraway which anyone who has tasted aquavit knows can be a fabulous, vibrant flavor that Swedes love. This made me think of caraway cake and how much I like adding lemon zest for a brighter flavor and from this came this new recipe, a lemon, caraway, and maple dressing that is a revelation.

Start by making the wheatberries since they take the longest time and must cool before you make the salad.

To make wheatberries, put one cup of wheatberries in a sauce pan, add 3 cups of water and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and put the lid on the pan. Check back after 30 minutes and then keep checking until they are chewy. It can take up to 50 minutes or so, depending on the specific kind of wheat. Some people like toasting the wheatberries for 10 to 15 minutes in a medium oven (350°) before boiling them to make them more aromatic and nuttier. I am usually too impatient and don’t think it makes a big enough flavor difference.

After the wheatberries are tender, drain in a colander, run cold water over them and let them drain until they are dry and cool. You can store in the fridge if you like.

Prepare the vegetables.

Meanwhile, peel and dice one large rutabaga into 1/2 square pieces. Rutabaga is kind of tough, so I cut 1/2 inch slices, stack them and slice into 1/2 wide sticks, and then cut the sticks. Should be about 2 cups.

Peel and dice 1 cup of carrots

Spread on a flat cookie sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes at 450°. Check after 10 minutes because you want them just tender enough without changing color or becoming soft. This is a crunchy salad, not a tender one.

Peel and dice one medium yellow onion. Don’t bake the onion!

Prepare the dressing.

Heat a small pan over medium heat. Add two teaspoons of caraway seed and toast until the aroma permeates the air. Add 1 TBSP of olive oil and continue to heat for about a minute, so the caraway flavors the oil. Squeeze the juice of one small lemon, stir and add 2 TBSP of maple syrup and 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar. Remove from heat, add the zest of the lemon.

Mix everything together.

Add the onions, baked rutabaga and carrot chunks to the wheatberries, stir together and pour the dressing over the salad. Put a lid on the container and shake, distributing the dressing. Store in the fridge for at least two hours before serving.

So this is delicious. The maple-caraway-lemon dressing is everything and goes so well with the rutabaga. There is a brightness to the salad and the caraway has a homey, familiar flavor.

I actually doubled the wheatberry recipe in order to make two salads because anything that takes up to 50 minutes to cook on the stove is a big time investment in my opinion, so I want to make it worth it.

Wheatberry Salad Duo

 

Roasted Cauliflower with Dill Lemon Sour Cream

The best way to cook vegetables is roasting. They retain their flavor and get a bit of flavor emphasis with caramelization. It’s popular to melt a little cheese on top but that seems a bit heavy for lunch. I like the contrast between hot veggies and cool, fresh, and light sour cream.

Preheat oven to 450°

Toss six cauliflower florets, 2 very small onions cut in half, and 3 slices of asparagus cut in half. Toss a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Rub the oil all over the veggies so they are coated.

Roast 20 minutes, turn oven to broil for 5 minutes so the veggies are all browned beautifully.

While roasting, make a sauce with 1/4 cup of sour cream, the juice of half a lemon and some dill weed (to taste), add a bit of salt and pepper.

Roasted vegetables are the best, a light, cool sauce is a delightful contrast. It’s also super easy to make.

Dutch Baby with Pear Sauce and Yogurt

Dutch Baby with Pears and Yogurt

Leave 3 eggs out overnight so they are room temperature when you make this.

Preheat oven to 450° F.

Heat cast iron skillet on stove top. Add 3 TBSP of butter and melt until bubbling, but not browning.

Meanwhile, beat 3 eggs (room temperature) for about a minute, just to get some air in them.

Add 3/4 cups of milk.

Add 1 TBSP sugar

Add 3/4 cups of flour

Add 1/2 tsp of salt.

Mix together and pour into the melted, bubbling butter.

Put in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, turn the oven off and let sit for another 5 minutes.

While it’s baking, melt a TBSP of butter, peel and dice one pear, add to the butter and cook until tender. Add 1 TBSP of brown sugar and let it melt into the butter, coating the pears.

Cut your Dutch Baby into quarters, put a fourth of your pear sauce on top, with a spoonful of plain yogurt.

This is simply delicious, fast and easy. It’s a recipe that is easy to keep in your head, too. Think of the 3s, 3 eggs, 3/4 cups of flour and milk, 3 TBSP of butter. It’s also not too sweet, the yogurt adds a nice tang that balances any sweetness from the sauce.

 

Turnip Cabbage Cole Slaw

The other day I made a delicious salad with turnips and cabbage, but it did not look as delicious as it tasted because it lacked color. I decided to use red onions instead and add some carrot and parsley. Now it’s even more delicious, the carrots and parsley adding flavor as well as visual appeal.

Chop and mix the following in a bowl.

  • 4 cups of shredded cabbage. Salt lightly and let sit in a colander for an hour, squeeze out the liquid and mix in the rest of the vegetables.
  • 1 medium turnip, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1/3 red onion, diced
  • 1 cup chopped parsley

Mix up the dressing and add, coating all the vegetables and refrigerate for at least one hour to allow the dressing to marry with the salad.

  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Salt and pepper

When serving, sprinkle a small handful of sunflower seeds on top.

There is a lovely mix of earthy and bright flavors. The slightly creamy dressing is not too rich, using yogurt makes it slightly lighter than just mayonnaise and adds that tang of yogurt. The earthy flavors of oregano and parsley make the salad extra satisfying.

It is also tasty without the sunflower seeds.

Turnip, Apple & Celery Salad with Pumpkin Seeds

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This makes more than a single serving, but then a good salad is nice to have for snacks and side dishes. The main ingredients all came from Harvest Share. Because marinating is important to its flavor, it’s better the second day.

  • 1 large turnip, peeled and diced into small pieces.
  • 5-6 stalks of celery chopped.

You want equal parts of turnip and celery, so cut enough celery to make as much bulk as the turnip.

  • 2 apples, chopped (You want about half as much apple as turnip by bulk.)

Meanwhile, toast some pumpkin seeds with a bit of oil and salt. Toast until they start popping like popcorn. Put on a towel and pat dry so they don’t have oil on them.

Mix the apples, turnips, and celery together. Add dressing made from

  • 1 fresh lemon, squeezed juice
  • 3 TBSP apple cider vinegar
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Stir together and then add toasted pumpkin seeds. Let sit overnight.

This is a delicious salad with lots of crunch and chew. The turnip adds a bit of tang, the apples add sweetness to balance the turnips and the celery gives us crunch and earthiness. The pumpkin seeds add a bit of meaty, nutty, and salty snappy crunch. I love how the flavors marry together.

Brussels Sprouts and Radish Salad

Continuing my experiments in search of a luscious red and green veggie dish, I tried Brussels sprouts and radishes. This is a delicious, light salad.

  • ½ cup yellow onion
  • 2 cups shredded Brussels sprouts (measure after shredding)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced and chopped radishes
  • Lemon
  • 3 TBSP Asiago Cheese
  • 8 pecans, toasted and chopped

I chopped and mixes the onions, radish, and Brussels sprouts. I squeezed the juice of one fresh lemon, added some salt and pepper and tasted. It was a bit too tart, but I didn’t want to add oil, so I added some cheese which offset the lemon’s tart bite. I added some pecans for texture and a bit of umami.

This was delicious. It’s light and delicate, with just the tiniest bit of cheese to balance the lemon juice and lemons love Asiago cheese and pecans. They are a magical combination that makes any vegetable delicious.

This made four servings since I am experimenting for potluck fixings, not just myself.

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Brussels sprouts are one of my favorite winter vegetables and since they are in season, I thought it might be fun to come up with a red and green dish with them, experimenting in advance of Christmas. Sun-dried tomatoes are such a rich red, with the bright green of the Brussels sprouts, I decided I had to try it.

  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • ½ tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz. Brussels Sprouts, cleaned, ends cut off, and quartered.
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 TBSP Asiago cheese grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat oil with the dried pepper flakes, infusing its heat into the oil.
  2. Add chopped onions and sauté until turning transparent.
  3. Add garlic, stir quickly.
  4. Add Brussels sprouts and sauté, stirring occasionally for 3 to 5 minutes. Add pepper but withhold the salt until after you add the sun-dried tomatoes. (They can get really salty depending on the brand and you will want to taste it with the tomatoes before you add any salt.)
  5. Add juice of 1 lemon and sun-dried tomato strips. Cook until the liquid is absorbed.
  6. Add grated cheese and stir quickly. It will melt right in.

This actually made two generous servings, so I have one to reheat. It’s very umami with the cheese giving it a bit of nutty creaminess. The sun-dried tomatoes add a bit of sweetness and tartness at the same time. It’s a very comforting side dish.

I can imagine it with a bit more of a Mediterranean vibe by adding some black olives. You could also use parmesan instead of Asiago, I just prefer Asiago myself. It’s just a bit nuttier. This is fast and simple, taking less than ten minutes from start to finish.