I made a larger than usual batch of salad yesterday, wanting to use my brussels sprouts before they turned. I used about 4 cups of brussels spouts, cutting off the ends and cleaning them before slicing them thinly and stirring them up so they break apart into thin shreds.
To that, I added 1 cup of chopped red onion and the segments of 2 grapefruits I supremed. I also squeezed the juice of 1 lemon into the salad. Then I added some salt and a couple dashes of cayenne. The cool thing about cayenne is though it can be dangerously hot, with citrus it can develop a wonderful sweet heat that is pure magic. Normally I would add a TBSP of walnut oil or olive oil to help the citrus and cayenne dressing cling to the veggies better, but I opted to leave it out for a sharper flavor. If you want the salad to be a little more mellow, just add a bit of oil.
This made about 10 servings, so I will have some luscious salad for a while.
I made another salad using yesterday’s Caramelized Onion Vinaigrette. This was super simple. I peeled a carrot and a parsnip. Then using the peeler, I continued to strip thin strips off until I made strips of all of the carrot and parsnip. I then chopped the strips so they were less than an inch in length. I cleaned and chopped some red mustard greens. This is a rich dark salad green with deep red veins. It’s pepper and pungent and the sweetness of the carrot and the lemony tang of the parsnip balance it nicely. I tossed with the vinaigrette and had a delicious lunchtime salad.
Spring is the season for tender, delicate salad greens like the lovely mizuna. Mizuna is a delicate, feathery salad green with a peppery flavor – though not so strong in flavor as arugula. For all its light and delicate shape and texture, it can stand up to a dressing with intense flavor. So, I decided to make a caramelized onion vinaigrette.
Using a mandoline, I sliced two onions as thinly as possible. I heated about 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron skillet and put the onions in to sauté. After they softened, I added 1 tsp of sugar and let it caramelize and blend in to the onions. It was just enough to potentiate the rich sweetness of the onions. I let the onions continue cooking until thoroughly caramelized.
Meanwhile, in my blender (Magic Bullet) I added 1 tsp of oregano, 3 TBSP of balsamic vinegar, 1 TBSP of dijon mustard and 1 TBSP of buckwheat honey (I think it’s not as sweet and much richer in flavor than regular honey, though it is also much, much darker.) I put about half to two-thirds of the onions in with this and pureed until smooth. Scraping it into a bowl, I whisked in about 1 cup of olive oil. I still had the rest of the onions on the stove, getting darker and richer in caramelization. I added the pieces of onion and whisked them in and then added about 1/4 cup of white vinegar to the skillet to deglaze and poured the rich, flavorful vinegar into the salad mix. I whisked it all together and served on the Mizuna.
This makes a sweet and tangy dressing with bright elements from the onions and vinegar and sweetness from the honey and also the onions. The mustard adds some heat. It’s delicious and makes enough for about a dozen salads or so. You can also use it on pork chops, steak or cooked veggies.
Does everything taste better with kale? I don’t know, but the evidence is piling up.
I made an easy chicken and dumpling soup. I had the broth reserved in the fridge from a chicken I cooked a couple weeks ago. You could use canned broth, too, probably, but it’s easy enough to make your own broth and make it rich and flavorful with lots of vegetables and herbs. I just strain it twice and save it in containers.
I put the broth in a sauce pan, added 1 14.5 ounce can of canned tomatoes to heat and began to mix up the dumplings. I made a big batch because you can cook up some dumplings, serve them and then add more dumplings back to the soup broth. To make the dumplings I mixed 3 eggs, 1/2 cup of water, 1/4 tsp of baking powder and 1 cup of flour. The batter was soft, but hung together on the spoon. I dipped a soup spoon in the boiling water and then into the batter to spoon it into the broth. By dipping my spoon into the hot broth, I ensured that the batter didn’t stick to the spoon and slid easily off into the broth. I let them boil until the floated on top of the broth. While they cooked, I clean two ribs of kale, removing the ribs and chopping the kale leaves. I added them to the soup and served when done.
After I had two bowls of soup, I cooked up the rest of the dumplings and put the soup in the fridge for later. This made 8-12 servings of soup, depending on your bowl. It’s a rich, flavorful soup with a bit of heat from the jalapeños in the canned tomatoes. I frankly love those particular canned tomatoes and will use them in soups a lot.
From start to finish was about 25 minutes.
I seldom make lasagna. How seldom was brought home to me when I was washing out my food storage bins and discovered that my lasagna was past its expiration date. I had not realized pasta had an expiration date, so there you have it. That poor box of lasagna has been dragged through two moves and I still had not emptied it, so I decided to finish it off and actually make a pan of lasagna. Now, I didn’t happen to have ricotta or mozzarella on hand since I seldom buy specialty cheese as I don’t use them quickly enough and they spoil. So, I made do with substitutes that made a tasty but totally inauthentic lasagna.
But let’s work through it. First I started water boiling. When it began a rolling boil I added eight pieces of lasagna pasta. I also added 3 pieces of Italian Sausage right out of the freezer. I figured why dirty two pans…and if anything the sausage might add some flavor to the pasta.
I got out a rectangular baking dish that was about as wide as 2.5 pieces of lasagna and just a bit shorter than the pasta. I laid down three pieces of lasagna, the middle one overlapping the two outer pieces. I then thinly sliced one of the pieces of Italian sausage and laid it down over the pasta. Taking about 1/2 cup of cream cheese, I dotted cream cheese in the spaces between the sausage. I then layered finely chopped kale on top. I used one full stalk, removed the ribs, and then chopped the kale.
Then I laid down two more strips of lasagna for another layer. I took the other two Italian sausages and removing the skins, I chopped them up in a bowl and added 1 14.5 oz can of chopped tomatoes with jalapeños. I would have used fresh but didn’t happen to have any on hand. I mixed the sausage and tomatoes together and layered them on the pasta. On top of that I added a layer of black beans from a can, thoroughly rinsed in cold water.On top of that I added some sour cream which made a nice bed for the next layer of kale – using one more more stalk of kale finely chopped. I added a final layer of pasta and baked until done in a 350° oven. When it was done, I sprinkled some parmesan and some pepper jack cheese on top and broiled for just a few minutes to brown the cheese.
So, this made 12 servings which is why I don’t make lasagna very much. Luckily my friend came over and had some, too. It was delicious and easy to make and really did a good job of cleaning out some remnants in my fridge (cream cheese and sour cream). It was not too spicy, rich and flavorful.
This was a simple sauté made to go with a small pork loin chop. I put a 1/2 tbsp of olive oil in a non-stick pan and heated to medium. I then added just a pinch of anise seed and let it heat until the perfume filled the air. I added 1/2 of a small leek, sliced thinly and chopped in half. I sliced 2 mushrooms, 1/2 a jalapeño and 1/4 of a red pepper and also added them. Lastly I added about 6 brussels sprouts sliced and chopped. I stirred the veggies together and when it was nearly done squeezed half a lemon on top. I served with a 2 oz piece of pork loin fried in another pan. The veggie sauté would work well with anything or on its own for a vegan meal.
This made one serving. It’s very flavorful with heat from the chili pepper, sweetness from the red pepper, umami from the mushrooms and tang from the lemon. The anise seed give it a rich aromatic flavor and the brussels sprouts add their hearty magic. If you don’t have leeks, just use onions.
For a fulfilling, but easy, breakfast bagel, I fried one slice of bacon. When it was nicely crisped, I removed it and let it rest. While it cooked, I chopped 2 tbsp of yellow onion, 2 tbsp of fresh red pepper and 2 stalks of fresh kale. I chopped everything to about 1.4 inch size. After I removed the bacon slice, I tossed the onions in the bacon fat along with a pinch of anise seed. I let the onions get tender and added the red pepper. When the red peppers softened just a bit, I tossed in the kale.
As soon as I added the kale, I put an Everything bagel in the toaster to toast. When it popped up, I spread some cream cheese on each half. I then spread the kale and red peppers on top of the cream cheese. I sliced the bacon into 4 pieces and put two pieces on bagel half. This made two servings, or two half bagels.
You could make a vegetarian version without the bacon because the kale was delicious with the cream cheese and bagel on its own.