Grilled Pear Sandwich with Caramelized Onion Jam & Tomato Jerk Jam

Grilled Pear Sandwich

Who doesn’t love a grilled sandwich? I discovered that pears are delicious on a grilled rye sandwich. I don’t have a grill nor a yard for grilling, but if you turn your stove fan on high and pay attention you can grill thinly sliced pears on the electric burner. Just don’t try to do more than three slices at a time.

To make this sandwich, I heated my griddle to medium heat and buttered two slices of rye bread. I spread some caramelized onion jam on one side and some tomato jerk jam on the other. I layered 1/2 of a pear thinly sliced and grilled on top of both slices of bread and let them cook on the griddle until toasted, putting the sandwich together after it’s done.

Grilled Pear Sandwich

The char on the pear gives it such a delicious flavor, sort of sweet and smoky. The onion jam is deep and herbaceous with the flavor of bay and thyme lifted by balsamic vinegar. The tomato jerk jam is bright, sweet and earthy. Together they all come together into a burst of flavor that is bright, fresh, and satisfying. If you spread the rye bread with olive oil instead of butter, you could make a vegan version.

 

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Fennel, Cucumber, and Grapefruit Salad

A bold and fresh-tastic salad for summer made with the tasty vegetables and fruit from Imperfect Produce.

  • 1/3 of a cucumber, quartered, seeds removed, and sliced
  •  1 grapefruit, supremed. (Cut away peeling, and slice the segments into wedges.) Cut over the bowl, squeeze out all the juice you can into the bowl to dress the salad.
  • 1/2 small fennel bulb, sliced thinly on a mandoline.
  • 3 asparagus spears, sliced thinly using a vegetable peeler
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • Handful of Roast Almonds
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 tsp of maple syrup and 2 tsp of seasoned rice vinegar

I just made this right in the bowl. Mixing things together as I cut them. I blended the maple syrup and vinegar before adding it to the salad and stirring it all in.

The bit of syrup is the perfect complement to the grapefruit. The salad is fresh, vibrant, and full of flavor. Fennel is a flexible vegetable that really needs to be used far more often. Makes one salad entree.

Strawberry Balsamic Dressing

This is a light, fresh dressing for a delicious salad. This makes enough dressing for a large dinner salad or four side salads.

The salad in the picture has romaine, feta, cucumbers, and grapefruit with a few almonds on top. To make the dressing, I used a magic bullet to blend

  • 3 fresh strawberries
  • 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TBSP diced onion
  • 2 tsp of olive oil
  • salt and pepper

The salad is a lovely mix of sweet and sour, the balsamic adds a deep richness that makes any salad a treat.

Jerk Pork, Rhubarb Nectarine Chutney, and Cabbage Salad Sandwich

There’s nothing like a delicious sandwich for lunch. The trick is to get a good blend of flavor and texture and this sandwich brings everything. There are three ingredients in this sandwich, roast pork, cabbage, and chutney.

Roast Pork

I like to buy the cheapest pork roast, the shoulder or picnic roasts which run about $1.50 per pound. I spread Jamaica Jerk seasoning over the outside of the roast, top, bottom and sides. I roasted for about 40 minutes at 450° F. Roasting time depends on the size of the roast, so I always use a meat thermometer, removing the roast from the oven to rest when the thermometer reaches 140°.

Nectarine-Rhubarb Chutney

Chutneys are the easiest thing to make. All you do is toss some fruit in with sugar, spices, lots of ginger, and some vinegar or citrus juice, in this case, lime juice. Chop everything up, bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for about one to two hours so all the substance is cooked down to a thick liquid. These are ingredients in this chutney.  This makes about a cup of chutney.

  • 3 stalks of rhubarb
  • 4 small or 2 large nectarines
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 small lime, use zest and juice
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Cabbage Sandwich Slaw

Just about any slaw will work, a mix of crunchy cabbage with a dressing of vinegar is all you need.

  • 1 cup finely chopped cabbage
  • 2 TBSP chopped cilantro
  • 2 TBSP diced yellow onion
  • 1 TBSP rice vinegar (more or less)
  • Lime zest from one lime

For this, I finely chopped one cup of cabbage, added cilantro and yellow onion. I added some salt and pepper to taste. I then added rice vinegar, just enough to dress the salad (about 1 TBSP). Mix it up and let it rest for an hour or more so the cabbage absorbs the vinegar. (This makes enough slaw for two sandwiches)

Rye Bread

I suppose you can use any bread, but I am partial to rye. I spread chutney on one slice and mayonnaise on the other. On the side with mayo, I put the cabbage slaw and I put the pork on the chutney side. I spread a bit more chutney over the pork. This helped hold it all together when I put the pieces together and cut it in half.

This is a delicious sandwich with the crunchy freshness of the cabbage with the bit of tang of vinegar and lime. The chutney adds the unctuous sweet and sour. The rye lays down this hearty foundation for the meat and slaw. It’s perfection.

 

Tomato Jam

Tomato Jam

Ever since I read the words tomato jam in some book about the South, I have been thinking I need to try it. When there were two freah tomatoes in my Imperfect box this week, I knew its time had come.

  • 2 tomatoes, remove the core and chop
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 small lime, use zest and juice
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Put all the ingredients in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil while stirring steadily. Turn the heat down to low and let simmer for about 90 minutes, checking and stirring every 15 minutes or so until reduced to a thick jam texture. Store in a covered container in the fridge. It will keep for a couple weeks, but it won’t last that long as it’s so good. This makes about 1 cup of jam.

So wow! This is so good. It’s got this amazing sweet and sour flavor that would be good on just about anything. There’s some great heat from the ginger and red pepper flakes, there’s this aromatic oomph from the cloves and cinnamon and truly, my house smelled like tomato heaven.

Tomato Jam Sandwiches

Here are a few sandwich options. I toasted and yes! those are heels because I like how crispy they get when toasted. It makes me think this may be really delicious on knäckebröd and makes me want to go to Ikea. On the left, toast, tomato jam, sliced cucumber, and grapefruit. On the right, tomato jam, feta cheese, and a sprig of fennel.

Tomato Jam

Here I used knackebröd with tomato jam. On the left, I added feta and on the right, I used sauteed kale, fennel, and onions from the grilled cheese.

Kale Salad with Rutabagas, Apples, and Carrots

Kale, Rutabaga, Carrot, and Apple Salad

I went to Harvest Share at the Ortiz Center yesterday and took home a huge bag of kale, sacks of carrots, rutabagas, and onions and thought this sounds like salad.

I stripped the kale leaves off the stems and chiffonaded the leaves. I put a big plastic container on my scale to set the tare weight to zero and added the chopped kale until I had a half pound of prepared, chopped leaves. It was sort of heaping over the top of the container, but that’s okay. Kale is one of those duplicitous vegetables that lose their volume when you cook with it…even if all you do is massage oil, vinegar, and salt into it. That heaping over the top kale will be just over half full in no time.

So, once I measured the kale, I added 1 TBSP of olive oil, 1 TSBP of apple cider vinegar, and 1/2 tsp of salt. Using my fingers, I worked this into the kale, massaging it toward tenderness. It lost about 1/3 of its volume. I covered the container and set it aside, unrefrigerated, to continue “cooking”.

While it “cooked”, I made the dressing and chopped my veggies and fruit.

In a bowl, I zested one lemon before juicing it, To the zest and juice of one lemon, I added 1 TBSP of soy sauce and 1 TBSP of maple syrup, and some pepper. I stirred and set aside. There’s no oil in this dressing because it will get plenty from the kale.

I peeled an apple and diced it into pieces about 1/3 inch squares.

I peeled and chopped a medium-sized carrot – 1/3 inch squares.

1 diced 1/2 a yellow onion.

I peeled a rutabaga and chopped it into 1/3 inch squares. Peel deeply into the rutabaga, not just the outer skin, but also that heavy, woody rind. It’s usually just easier to cut it away.

All the pieces should be about the same size, as though making a chopped salad.

Add the vegetables to the kale. Toss with the dressing. I put the lid on and shook and shook and shook to distribute it evenly. Ideally, the salad will be fully dressed, but there won’t be any liquid gathering in the bottom.

The kale has that earthiness that makes for a great foundation for salad. The carrots add sweetness and the rutabagas and lemons add a bright tang. You get just a bit of sweet and sharp from the onions. The maple syrup does not make this sweet but instead add this wonderful note for the aftertaste.

 

 

Curried Rutabaga Salad

Curried Rutabaga Salad

I had planned to make a “potato” salad substituting rutabaga for the potatoes. I cooked the rutabaga and boiled the eggs and then thought I really was not in the mood for such a heavy salad after all. So what to do when I was in the middle of making something else. Well, I repurposed the eggs for egg salad and set my mind to coming up with a new rutabaga salad. To go lighter I decided to use plain yogurt rather than mayonnaise.

  • 1 rutabaga, peeled, chopped, and cooked.
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 springs of parsley, chopped

Peel and dice one rutabaga into chunks. Put in a saucepan and boil until tender but not mushy. These have substance and toothiness but no crunch. Removed from the heat, put in colander to drain away hot water and rinse in cold water so they quit cooking. Let cool in the fridge for half an hour or so.

Add chopped onions, celery, and parsley. Mix together lightly.

For the dressing I mixed

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 TBSP curry powder
  • salt and pepper

Mix the yogurt, vinegar, curry powder, and salt and pepper well. Stir into salad and toss lightly. Put in the fridge for an hour or more to let the rutabaga begin absorbing the flavor. Use your own judgment on curry powder, lots of people like things spicier than I do and some like it less spicy. The dressing is light and does not overdress the salad. You don’t want a pool of liquid in the bottom of the bowl.

This is a delicious salad, the curry adds heat, the vinegar some brightness and the texture is wonderful, with just the right amount of bite.

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

 

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.

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.