Chop Salad

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This is a simple salad that is fast, easy, crunchy and delicious.

Strain a can of chickpeas and rinse in cold water. Let drip dry a bit before tossing in a bowl.

Chop up the following veggies to add:

  • Dice 1/4 red onion
  • Slice 2 radishes
  • Chop one celery stalk
  • Chop one Carrot
  • Chop some fresh cilantro

Mix together 1 TBSP of seasoned rice vinegar with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. The usual ration of vinegar is 1 to 4 to emulsify, but I like it a bit more vinegary. I do it about one to one, then add some salt and pepper.

It’s better the next day. Makes two servings.

 

Rocket & Chickpea Salad with Cantaloupe Dressing

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I made the salad dressing earlier and let it refrigerate so the flavors were mellowed and blended. I used a Magic Bullet™ but a blender or food processor would work even better.  My inspiration was a Linguini al Melone I had several years back at Martinelli’s, a wonderful local deli that closed last year. The linguine has a melon cream sauce. It was as delicious as it was weird, so every taste, I was thinking this is so weird, it tastes so good.

I thought melon might be just sweet and creamy enough to pair very well with rocket – which I have a lot of thanks to the Oregon Food Bank Harvest Share. Rocket is peppery and its bold flavor takes some thought to balance.

Melon Vinaigrette

  • 1 cup of melon
  • 1/4 small yellow onion
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add everything together and pulse until smooth. You may adjust ingredients to your taste, but remember it is a dressing so you want the flavor more intense than what you would eat plain. It should be tart and sweet. Honey might be a good substitute for sugar, but I don’t have any except buckwheat honey and that is too smokey a flavor for this.

Toasted Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans

Open a can of chickpeas, drain and rinse thoroughly. Drain so they are dry. You can pat them dry with a paper towel if you are in a hurry. Heat a cast iron pan on the stove a medium high heat, about 7 out of 10 on an electric stove. Add the chickpeas without oil and toast them, shaking the pan frequently so they do not burn. When they first begin to pop in the pan (just a little pop, not like popcorn) shake some salt and paprika on them and keep shaking and roasting until they are browned and slightly toasted. I would normally roast them in the oven but it’s over 90°.

Rocket Salad

Cut a very small yellow onion in half length-wise, cut off the ends and then slice thinly length-wise for small strips of onion. Then chop two stalks of celery on the diagonal for nice thin, but longish pieces. Then add about 4 cups of rocket. You can see that about half the salad volume is rocket.

Toss the chickpeas on top and stir. Add the dressing when you serve so the dressing does not make the chickpeas mushy.

This is a delicious salad. There is the bite of the onion, the earthy celery, the peppery rocket and the smoky, salty paprika of the chickpeas and blended and worked together with the sweet and tangy cantaloupe dressing.

This makes 4 servings, though you could make it in smaller batches and save the toasted chickpeas for something else.

 

Farro with Sausage & Dried Plums

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This is one of those recipes that begin with one ingredient and then just come about by thinking what would be good with it, then what would work with two ingredients, with the third, the fourth and so on until you know it’s done.

So, I had about 1/2 cup of farro and decided to use it up. I had an open container of vegetable broth, too, so I decided to cook the farro in the broth for extra flavor. I used about 2 cups of broth for the 1/2 cup of farro even though I only needed 1 cup because I would simply drain the extra off and use to make some couscous for a salad.

Farro: Add 1/2 cup of farro to 1 cup of vegetable broth and bring to a boil, lowering to a simmer for 30 minutes or so. Strain (I used an extra cup and reserved it to cook some couscous because doubling up is smart cooking.)

Meanwhile, I cooked 4 breakfast links in a cast iron skillet on medium heat. When the sausage was half done, I added 1/2 can of chickpeas (rinsed and drained). I wanted to use cannellini beans but I didn’t have any. No matter, chickpeas worked great. I added some salt and pepper and added about 1 cup of chopped spinach and just a splash of water, covered with a lid and let the sausage, beans and spinach steam a bit.

Meanwhile, I sliced 5 dried plums into strips, added them to the mixture and put the lid back on for a minute. Stirred and mixed everything together.

I put the farro in the bottom of my bowl and then spooned the sausage, spinach, beans and dried plums mixture on top. I sprinkled a bit of feta over it and served. Makes a great one-dish single serving meal.

The flavors are so wonderful together. The pork sausage and the dried plums are perfect together. The feta and spinach were made for each other, the farro and beans add a great foundation for these flavors. Cooking the farro in broth gave it a rich flavor to begin crafting the dish. The spiciness of the sausage and the sweetness of the plums meant there was no need for anything other than salt and pepper.

 

Broccoli, Asparagus, and Mushroom Pilaf with Roasted Chickpeas and Feta

Broccoli Asparagus Mushroom Pilaf with Roasted Chickpeas and Feta

This recipe took a few extra steps to prepare some of the ingredients in advance. To be fair, the pilaf I made in advance was for a different meal. I just made extra so I could use it for another meal. However, I did roast chickpeas in the morning to use for this meal in the evening.

Pilaf:

1//2 TBSP of olive oil, salt and pepper. I heated the olive oil to a low medium heat and added 1/2 yellow onion, chopped. I let that cook until it turned translucent. I also diced up 1 clove of garlic and added that about the same time as I added 1 cup of basmati rice that I rinsed thoroughly to remove all the starch. I stirred the rice and garlic into the olive oil and let it all cook about 3 to 4 minutes. The heat was low enough the would not burn, but just toast a bit. I then added 2 cups of cold water and turned the heat up to high, bringing it to a boil. Then I put a lid on it, removed it from the heat and let it steam cook. It was done perfectly in 15 minutes.

Roasted Chickpeas.

I pre-heated the oven to 325° Fahrenheit. While it heated, I opened a can of chickpeas and rinsed them thoroughly. i spread them on paper towels and dried them before putting them in cast iron pan. I sprinkled them with some olive oil and roasted for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to let them cook evenly. When they were crispy and brown, I removed them from the oven, sprinkled them with some salt and a dash of Jamaica  Jerk seasoning. I patted them with paper towel again to remove any oil and let them cool.

Veggies:

I put 1 TBSP of olive oil in a sauté pan with about 1/3 tsp of anise seen, 1/2 tsp of cumin, salt and pepper and let it heat on a low medium burner. Meanwhile I chopped up a small yellow onion and added it to the oil and let them cook until tender. I diced 2 cloves of garlic and added to the onions when they were nearly done. (Burned garlic ruins everything it touches.)

While the onions sautéed, I cut down a small head of broccoli, separating the florets and peeling the stems. I added them to the onions and then chopped up 4 stalks of asparagus, cutting off the tops and adding them and cutting the long stems in half before cutting them into 2 inch long pieces. I added the asparagus next since they cook a little faster than broccoli. Then I cleaned and sliced 4 mushrooms and added them and let them all cook for a bit, adding about 1/4 cup of water after about 3 minutes of sautéeing. I let them cook until the broccoli was nearly tender, squeezed the juice of one large fresh lemon into the mix and let it simmer a bit so the veggies absorbed the juice. Then, I added the pilaf and stirred it in, cooking just until heated.

To serve, I put the pilaf and veggie mixture in a bowl, sprinkled some feta cheese on it and topped with a few roasted chickpeas.

The flavor blend is amazing. Anise seed really brings out the best in veggies and, of course, works beautifully with feta. The flavors of lemon, feta, anise and veggies were extraordinary and the addition of the crispy, crunchy and spice roasted chickpeas made it blissful.

For a vegan option, just don’t add the feta at the end. It is still delicious.

This made four servings. I imagine that my lunch tomorrow will be even more delicious!

Red Chard, Couscous with Dried Cranberries and Feta

Red Chard Couscous

This was a fast and easy supper dish that is incredibly flavorful, filling and delicious with just minutes of cooking. Of course, anything with couscous is pretty quick and easy to make.

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, dice
  • 3/4 cup couscous
  • 10 0z can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 sm can chickpeas, drained
  • 6 red chard, stems and leaves chopped separately
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • salt and pepper
  • feta cheese

So, first I heated a tbsp of olive oil in a small kettle with a lid while I chopped 1/2 of a yellow onion and diced 1 clove of garlic. I added the onion and garlic to the oil with some salt and pepper, sautéed for a minute then added 3/4 cup of uncooked couscous and salt and pepper. I used the three-color couscous that has been colored with spinach and tomato. I toasted to couscous for about three minutes. Remember to add salt and pepper at each stage of cooking. Adding small amounts incrementally will use less in the long run and develop deeper flavors.

While the couscous was toasting, I heated 1 TBSP of olive oil  while I chopped up another clove of garlic and the stems of 6 red chard. I added the stems and garlic and salt and pepper and let them sauté while I opened and drained a small can of chick peas (garbanzo beans). After a minute or two, I added the beans. It’s now time to go back to the kettle of couscous.

Then I opened a 10 oz can of diced tomatoes with green chiles and added it to couscous along with 1/2 cup of water. I turned the heat up and as soon as the liquid began to simmer, I put the lid on and removed from the heat. I left the lid on for a few minutes until the liquid absorbed (3 minutes or so). By then the chard was done, but if you’re cooking a bit more slowly, just remove the lid and fork the couscous a bit to lift it so it doesn’t get soggy.

Turning back the the sauce pan with the stems and garbanzo beans. I chopped the red chard leaves very fine and added them to the stems. I added 1/2 cup of dried cranberries and let everything cook until tender. As soon as the chard stems and leaves were tender, I added the couscous and stirred it all together. This made four large servings or eight small ones. The nice thing is that this is delicious hot or cold.

When I served it, I sprinkled feta on top to add a bit of richness, but it is delicious without the feta, too. Without the feta, it is a nice vegan main dish. The chard gives it an earthy depth that is offset by the heat of the diced tomatoes and chiles and the sweet cranberries. The couscous is light and airy while the chickpeas add substance. The feta adds a nice bit of salt and fat that make it more filling and satisfying.

Red Chard & Chickpea Salad

Chickpea and Chard salad
I made a quick salad using the stems from red chard the other day. I had a bunch of red chard and had removed the leaves and washed them for a soup I was planning to make and though tossing the stems would be a complete waste, so I chopped them up, chopped up 2 radishes, 1 carrot, half an onion, 3 dill pickles and added a can of chickpeas (strained). I adde dome salt, pepper and about 1/2 cup of the pickle juice and then let it marinate in the pickle juice overnight. It was easy and delicious.

Red chard can be very earthy – sort of like beets, but unlike beets they still taste good – and the pickling brine from the dill pickles made a huge difference in mellowing the flavor of the stems. The whole salad was fresh, lovely and crispy. This made about 4 servings.

Chickpea Chop Salad

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So this makes a big salad, closer to a dozen servings than a single one, but it needs to marinate and gets better with time, so that’s okay.

Chop one yellow onion. Mince three cloves of garlic and salt the minced garlic to bring out a mellower, sweeter flavor. Let it sit for 10 minutes with the salt before mixing with the onion in a large storage bowl. It will get nice and juicy and blend in better. Chop 3 carrots and 4 celery into small pieces about the size of a chickpea. Add 2 cups of cooked chickpeas (2 cans rinsed and strained). Add 1 cup of chopped parsley. Mix well.

For the dressing, mix 2 TBSP of olive oil, 1 TBSP of tahini, 1/2 tsp of thyme, 1/4 tsp of cumin, 1/2 tsp of oregano. Stir well so tahini breaks down completely into the olive oil. Squeeze the juice of 1 fresh lemon and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. You want it to be intense because it will dress the entire salad. You might need to add 1 TBSP or so of cold water, depending on how thick your tahini is. Mix the dressing well, pour into the bowl of veggies and stir. Cover and shake and marinate overnight.

This is a delicious mix of mellow and bright flavors, some heat from the garlic, sweetness from the carrots, tang from the onions and lemon, earthiness from the celery and cumin and all held together by the chickpeas. There’s lots of crunch and chewy toothsomeness.  It’s better every time you serve it.

Red Chard, Potato and Chickpea Soup

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I had a bunch of new potatoes that were getting eyes all over and really needed to be cooked up into something. They were quite small, so cut up small pieces, they came to about 4 cups or so of potatoes. Thinking of what to make, I considered making the Potato & Kale Chicken soup I made a few months ago, but I had some red chard and decided to go with that and the vague memory of a stew served by my host family in Spain back when I was in high school.

I heated 2 TBSP of olive oil in my 4 quart pot. I chopped up one small yellow onion (about 1 cup of diced onions) and once the oil was hot, I added the 1 cup of diced onions and 4 cups of chopped potatoes and sautéed until the potatoes began to brown. Once they browned I added 3 minced small garlic cloves (I would have used 2 but they were tiny.) I then added 1/8 tsp of cayenne, 1 tsp of turmeric and 1/2 tsp of paprika and 1/2 tsp of salt. I let them heat just until they perfumed the air.

Then I added 4 cups of chicken broth. I made the broth by boiling the carcass and drippings from a roast chicken I made. The chicken rests on a bed of onions while it roasts and the onions become saturated with flavor making an amazing broth. If you want to make a vegan version, you can use vegetable broth. The original recipe fried up lots of shoulder bacon, using the bacon grease instead of olive oil and adding water for a bacon-flavored broth.

I let the broth heat and drained one can of cooked chickpeas, rinsing the canning fluid off them I tossed the chickpeas in with the potatoes. I took 3 stalks of red chard and cleaned them, removing the leaves from the red stems. I chopped up the leaves and added them (about 4 cups of chopped red chard) and let everything simmer with the lid on until the potatoes were tender.

The flavor is subtly spicy. It’s fairly hearty for a summer soup, but delicious and flavorful with some smokiness from the paprika, some heat from the cayenne and a subtle perfume from the turmeric that gives it a earthy background flavor that rounds out the blend of chard, potato and chickpeas.

This made about 2 quarts of soup.

Kale Chickpea Salad

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I cleaned and chopped 3 leaves of kale, removing the ribs by folding the leaf in half and running my knife down the edge of the rib. Chopping the kale, I added 1 tsp of walnut oil, 1 tsp of kosher salt and 1 minced clove of garlic. I massaged the oil, salt and garlic thoroughly into the kale, softening it up.

I then opened a can of chickpeas, straining and rinsing them thoroughly. I added 1/4 of the chickpeas to the salad and stores the rest in a container in the fridge.

I chopped 1/3 carrot into small pieces and added 2 TBSP of feta cheese. Mixing it all together, I added about 2 tsps of balsamic vinegar. This made a single bowl of salad.

The kale is a sturdy enough salad green that the chickpeas won’t completely dominate the salad. It’s nice and garlicky and the balsamic adds a bit of sweet richness. I think it would be great with the juice of half a lemon, too.

Chicken Melt Sandwich & Cuban Bean Salad

Chicken Melt Sandwich and Cuban Bean Salad

This is a slightly modified version of the vegan Cuban Bean Salad I make quite often. First I opened a can of black beans, kidney beans and chickpeas and rinsed and drained them. I then chopped up a yellow onion, two red peppers, three roma tomatoes, three stalks of celery, a bunch of cilantro and about 10 small baby dill pickles and mixed them altogether. In another bowl, I mixed a small can of diced jalapeños (I usually use 2 fresh ones but forgot to buy them when I went grocery shopping) with juice from 3 squeezed lemons, and 1/4 cup of olive oil, 2 tsp of cumin, 1 tsp of oregano and salt and pepper. I mixed all that together and dressed the salad and let marinate for a day before serving.

For the sandwich, I heated 2 tsp of olive oil in a small saute pan. I cut off a 1/4 inch slice from a medium onion and chopped it fine and minced on small garlic clove and sauteed them until brown. I cut off 1/4 of a red pepper and 1/2 of a large crimini mushroom and chopped them up and added them and let them cook until nearly done. Then I added some cold chicken that I had reserved from making chicken soup, chopped into small pieces (about 4 oz) and about 2 oz of pepper jack cheese shredded up. I just heated them long enough for the cheese to melt. Meanwhile I toasted a ciabatta bun and spread it with a little sandwich spread I make ahead that is 2 parts mayo, 1 part, mustard and 1 part chopped dill with a dash of garlic powder, salt and pepper all mixed together.

The sandwich was rich with a hearty umami flavor that was beautifully balanced with heat from the pepper jack and garlic.  The salad is a luscious, fresh tasting mix of tart, spice and veggie freshness.