Pickled Broccoli Stems

Pickled Broccoli Stems

With today’s food prices, there’s no reason to waste anything. When I cut off the florets for broccoli salads and was left with the stems, I decided to make pickled broccoli stems. I make a variation on this recipe by Martha Rose Shulman for The New York Times.

I trimmed and peeled the broccoli when I removed the florets. I cut the stems into 1/4 wide rectangular sticks and put them in a bowl, sprinkled about 1 TSP of kosher salt on them and put the cover on it and shook it to distribute the salt evenly. I stuck it in the fridge and left it there until the next day.

I drained the water off and added 2 cloves of chopped garlic, 1 TBSP of balsamic vinegar and 1 TBSP of olive oil. I almost always use a much higher vinegar to oil ratio than dressing recipes call for. I also up the garlic because I really like that bite. I covered it up again and left it in the fridge overnight. Now it is rich with garlicky flavor accented by the lovely rich flavor of balsamic. It’s incredibly flavorful and aromatic, making it a delightful, satisfying snack.

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Grapefruit & Broccoli Salad

Grapefruit & Broccoli Salad

The salad in a mixing bowl before serving.

My best friend dropped over this morning and stayed for lunch, so I wanted to make something that did not take a lot of effort. I had trimmed broccoli florets off the heads last night when I made the Charred Tomato Broccoli Salad and had a little less than 2 cups left. I brought water to a boil and cooked the florets for 3 minutes until just tender and then cooled them in cold, running water for a couple minutes.

Meanwhile I cut up a grapefruit. I happened to have a white grapefruit so the flesh is lighter than you usually see, but I think any grapefruit will do. I trimmed away all the pith and skin and cut the segments in half and tossed it all in a bowl with the grapefruit. I diced up two fresh shallots and added them as well. Then I chopped up one sweet & sour pickled pimento and mixed it in.

After stirring everything together, I added a dash of cayenne, a splash of balsamic vinegar, about 1 tsbp of walnut oil and a bit of salt and pepper to taste. It was delicious. This made 3 servings.

The flavors were bright and fresh with a lovely blend of sweet, sour, sharp and hearty with a bit of heat. We had a couple pieces of breaded chicken tenderloin on the side and loved the taste of the dressing on the chicken. Even better, there was some left over and after marinating together for a few hours, the flavor was even richer and more multi-dimensional.

Charred Tomato Salad with Chicken and Broccoli

Charred Tomato, Broccoli and Chicken Salad

I served this salad two ways, with and without the chicken breast.  I had it without the chicken as a side dish for my Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms and then ate the other half for dinner with a braised chicken breast cut up and added to it. Both ways were delicious.

First I put my cast iron skillet on the stove and heated it to medium high. While it heated, I cut a large heirloom tomato (it happened to be about half yellow and half red)  in half and gave it a soft squeeze to get some of the wateriest tomato juice out. I rubbed a bit of olive oil on all sides and put the two pieces of tomato cut side down into the skillet and let it cook until it charred before turning it over and charring it on the other side.

Meanwhile, I took a stalk of broccoli and trimmed the stem away, leaving about 2 cups of broccoli florets. I heated water to a boil with a tsp of salt and added the broccoli cooking about 3 to 4 minutes until just tender. I removed from heat and cooled.

After removing the tomatoes from the skillet, I added the juice of one lemon and 1/4 cup of vinegar to the skillet and deglazed the skillet, adding a bit of salt and pepper. Removing from the heat, I added 2 chopped scallions and 1 clove of minced garlic. This is the vinaigrette, using the oil and tomato char from cooking to add a bit of smokey flavor.

I chopped up the cooked tomato, added it to the cooked broccoli and dressed with the tomato vinaigrette and let cool in the fridge while the flavors married. This made a tasty side salad. This made enough for two salads. The first was a delicious vegan salad and the second a salad entree.

For dinner I wanted to add some protein, so I braised a chicken breast  and cut it up and tossed it in with the salad.

Portobellos Stuffed with Lamb Sausage and Zucchini

Portobellos stuffed with Zucchini and Lamb Sausage

So there’s a bit of a cheat in this recipe. The butcher at New Seasons had Gyros seasoned lamb sausage on sale. It comes with onions, garlic and spices already in the sausage – all ready to cook. It was on sale for 5.99/pound.

I turned the oven on to 400 Fahrenheit.

I used a single 1/4 pound patty for this recipe. I diced up 1/2 of a small zucchini and mixed it together with the lamb sausage.

I cleaned two portobello tops, removing the gills and the stem which I reserved for an omelet tomorrow. I rubbed a bit of olive oil on the top, and spread the zucchini/sausage mix into the caps. I put them in a pan and put them in the preheated oven and let cook about 20 minutes.

They were not quite done, but it was time to put a bit of provolone on top. I sliced about 1/2 ounce of provolone and spread the very thin slices across the top and let cook until the cheese browned and served with a Charred Tomato Salad.

It was delicious, hearty and satsifying with that wonderful earthiness of mushroom and the aromatic flavor of seasoned lamb.

Tomato Salad with Lebanon Bologna

Tomato - Lebanon Bologna Salad

I picked up some gorgeous heirloom tomatoes at New Seasons this week as they were just $2.49 a pound. I had a yen for an Italian sub and was picking up some dry salami at the deli and saw some Lebanon Bologna and had to try it out. It had such a tangy flavor and it’s semi-dry texture was so perfect, that I picked up a quarter pound for sandwiches. But after making four sandwiches, I still had a few slices left so I thought I might try it out in a salad. IF you don’t have it, I would suggest a nice Genoa salami.

I cut  3 slices of tomato (about 1/4 inch thick or so) and diced them up. Then I sliced 2 scallions and chopped up the Lebanon bologna. I added about 1/2 ounce of crumbled feta and 3 pepperoncini. The tomato was so juicy, I did not add any oil, but did squeeze some lemon to help break down the tomato proteins a bit. I added a bit of chopped cilantro and salt and pepper. Next time, I think I will try basil. I served it on three leaves of lettuce that I had nuked in the microwave about 10 seconds – just enough to make them fold without cracking but not enough to wilt them. I used the salad leaves like a sandwich wrap. It was delicious but very, very messy. In the end, I took a knife and sliced up the lettuce and just ate it like a normal salad.

Grape & Tarragon Salad

Grape Tarragon Salad

This delicious salad will make you drunk with it rich aroma of fresh tarragon. It’s shockingly easy to make and such a treat for your taste buds. So this is it:

Rinse about 1.5 pounds of small Red Flame seedless grapes. Don’t get the big ones at the supermarker as they are too watery, their flesh is more green than the deep purplish red of the small Red Flames that you can get from an organic market. Rinse and remove from the stems and cut them in half.

Take about 1 oz or so of fresh tarragon and pick the leaves of the stems. Don’t cut the leaves, put just pull them.

Dice two fresh or one dry shallot into small pieces (about 1/2 cm square)

Mix in a bowl. Crumble about 1 inch by 1 inch of a creamy feta. Add 3 TBSP of apple cider vinegar, but fill the TBSP over the bowl so you can be messy and end up with about 3.5 TBSP of apple cider vinegar. Add about 1/4 tsp of salt (or less) and toss lightly and set in the fridge for an hour or so to let the flavors marry. It’s insanely delicious with the sweet grapes and the creamy feta challenged by the mellow scallions and the tangy tarragon. It smells so amazing and looks beautiful on a plate.

I served it with a cold meats sandwich made with a baguette, a slice of heirloom tomatoes, provolone, sweet-pickled pimento, pepperoncini, Lebanon Bologna, Genoa Salami and Black Forest Hame. The olives on the side are Castelvetranos.