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!
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.
I love slaw on my sandwiches. I love the freshness it brings, the crunch, the tang of vinegar. It is what really makes a sandwich. I generally just throw a few things together without hard and fast rules. There is no wrong way to make a slaw, but this slaw is kind of perfect. I use seasoned rice vinegar which is one of my favorite things.
I cut about 1/3 of a small head of cabbage into thin strips and then chopped the opposite direction for a finely shredded chop. This gave me four cups of cabbage that I put in a big colander. I sprinkled with a teaspoon of salt and let it sit, the salt bringing out the liquid, for several hours. (Actually, I left it overnight.)
The next day, I squeezed the liquid out of the cabbage, put it in a bowl and added
- 1 cup of chopped yellow onions
- 2 carrots, peeled and grated
- 2 cups of chopped cilantro
- zest from 1 lemon
I mixed these together. Then I squeezed the lemon and added the juice with an equal amount of seasoned rice vinegar, some pepper, and 1 TBSP of olive oil. It should have enough salt from the salting the night before. Season it to your taste.
I know the usual ratio in dressing is 2:1 oil to vinegar and this is the opposite, but this makes it tangy. It doesn’t exactly pickle the slaw, but it gives it a light, bright, zing that I want.
This makes enough for six sandwiches, more or less, depending on how much you like to use. I use this with bacon, sausage, or in this example, pulled pork. It makes a perfect sandwich or on a tostada shell, a delightful, fresh tostada.
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.
I was passing the radishes at WinCo and saw how big and beautiful they were, unblemished and at their peak. I could not resist grabbing a bunch. I also got two big heads of cabbage and about a pound of cilantro at the Oregon Food Bank’s Harvest Share so I really needed to figure out something to use them. I remembered how La Sirenita would add slices of radish as a garnish and got this crazy idea of making a Mexican cole slaw. I looked at a few recites for ensalada de repollo, but didn’t find anything that appealed to me.
- 1/2 head of cabbage sliced thin, salted and rested in a colander for 20 minutes. Squeeze out liquid.
- 1/2 red onion sliced thin and chopped
- 4 large radishes sliced horizontal, as thinly as possible
- 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
- Zest from 1 lime (get all the zest you can)
Mix well using blender or Magic Bullet.
- 1 fresh lime, juiced
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- 1 TBSP rice vinegar
- 1 tsp chile powder
- Salt and pepper
So, the traditional ratio for a vinaigrette is 3:1 oil and acid (vinegar) and this is closer to 1:1 with the lime juice. But that’s how I like it, I am happy with just vinegar, but it really needs the oil to make the vinegar adhere to the veggies and suspend all the spices, so I never do 3:1 even if that is the proper ratio. Cooking is about personal preferences and I will use a Magic Bullet to help these emulsify even though the ratio is out of balance. It is what I like. For a more traditional dressing, 3 TBSP of olive oil to 1 TBSP of vinegar.
This is not a single serving because this salad tastes better the second, third and fourth days. It makes 8 to 10 servings. I love this on a tostada with some broiled carne asada.
- 1 pear, sliced and grilled
- small handful of chopped cilantro
- 2 slices of multi-grain bread
- cream cheese
I went to Harvest Share, an Oregon Food Bank project, at Impact NW on Friday morning. it takes place the fourth Friday of the month and Harvest Share programs are more likely to have fresh fruits and vegetables. This month there were sacks of potatoes, onions and pears. I think my sack of Bosc pears is about 10 pounds. They aren’t quite ripe, but you know pears, once they ripen, your window of perfection is short.
I thought cooking the pears would be a good option for using them while I wait for them to ripen, so I experimented with grilling the pears for a sandwich. I heated my cast iron griddle on medium heat, put no oil or butter on it, leaving it completely dry. I sliced the pears and let them heat. They were softening, but I wanted a caramelized pear, so I turned up one of the electric burners on the stove up to high. I turned on the fan and opened the door and windows. When the pears were nearly done on the griddle, I laid them directly on the hot burner for a few seconds to give them the charred look and caramelized flavor I wanted. Just a few second, because you don’t wan them to catch fire. My fire alarm still went off for a bit, so it’s a good thing I didn’t make these when I woke up at 6 a.m.
I set them back on the griddle to stay warm while i toasted two slices of multigrain bread (also from Food Bank) and chopped a handful of cilantro. I spread the bread with cream cheese, laid the cilantro on top and then added the pear slices.
This makes one serving. It was delicious, the cream cheese and cilantro complement the sweetness of the pears beautifully. I can’t think of anything to make it more delicious except maybe chèvre or crème fraîche instead of cream cheese. Cream cheese fits my budget better, though.
I experiment a lot with cooking. Not everything works and when it doesn’t, it does not make it to this blog. The other day I mixed some cut up grapes with pomegranate and chèvre. It did not work. It was too sweet and needed more contrast. I thought I was on the right track though and decided to try feta because it is more sour, but still nice and creamy. Just went I started to make the salad, though, I veered off in a new direction and ended up with a great salad that explodes with flavors.
I started with about 1/2 cup of pomegranate. It is 1/2 the seeds from one pomegranate. I pulled out some green grapes from the fridge and noticed I had 1/3 of a cucumber in a plastic storage container, left over from a cucumber on rye sandwich and the side salad with my fish the other day. I thought I had better use that cucumber soon so, I put the grapes back in the fridge for another time and peeled and cut the cucumber into small pieces. I cut it lengthwise into quarters and then cut the juicy seeds out and just snacked on them. I did not want them in the salad because they would make it watery. Then I cut the long strips in half again and lined them up and sliced horizontally, giving me pieces similar in size to the pomegranate seeds.
I took a small handful of cilantro and chopped it and tossed it in. Use anywhere from 2 TBSP to 1/4 cup depending on how much you love cilantro. I sprinkled a couple TBSP of feta on top and then added a dash of salt and pepper. I tossed with 2 tsp of red wine vinegar and let rest for about 5 minutes.
Here’s why this worked, the cucumber has a mellow, spring flavor that offsets the intense sweet-sour tang of the pomegranate. The cilantro adds a bit of earthiness and the feta adds a creamy flavor with some fat, which really helps the flavors blend and the acid in the vinegar brings out all the flavors to their fullest.
I made some bulgur while I made my morning tea, adding two cups of boiling water to 1 cup of bulgur and leaving it io absorb the liquid. It was tender and ready for salad later in the day when I was making lunch.
I started by cutting the flesh from a grapefruit. To supreme a grapefruit, cut away the peel and then slice the wedges. I cut this on cutting board to capture all the grapefruit juice that gets squeezed out in the process no matter how hard you try to avoid it. I cut the wedges to avoid any skin and pith and then tossed the juice on the cutting board and the skin and grapefruit left on the skin when cutting wedges into a sauce pan to flavor a vinaigrette. I added about 3 TBSP of chopped onions and cooked them with a bit of olive oil and the grapefruit remnants. I added about 2 tsp of sugar and some white wine vinegar. The vinaigrette was tart and sweet and delicious. I removed the grapefruit bits and left the onions.
I added the grapefruit segments from the grapefruit plus thinly sliced pieces from two stalks of celery, about 1/4 cup of pomegranate, 2 cups of chopped spinach, 1 cup of chopped cilantro, 6 toasted and chopped almonds and 1/4 cup of feta. I then added the bulgur and the vinaigrette and let the flavors marry for about an hour before serving.
The bulgur have it a hearty foundation and the grapefruit and pomegranate added a nice light sourness. The vinaigrette was slightly sweet. The salad was a rich combination of flavors. The next time I make it, though, I might try added some dried cherries, too. Makes 4 servings.
This was very fast and easy to make.
First I boiled some water for couscous. I put 1/4 cup of couscous with 1/2 cup of boiling water in a bowl and put a lid on it to soak up the water while I cooked the rest.
Then I put 2 tsps of olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. I added 2 TBSP of chopped onion and a small sliver of fresh ginger, some salt and pepper and cooked until tender. I cut a 3 oz. piece of boneless pork loin steak into small pieces and added them to the onions. Meanwhile, I pitted 6 fresh cherries and cut them in half and chopped up about 1/2 of fresh cilantro.
When the pork was done, I added the cherries and the couscous. I added two packets of sweet and sour sauce I had saved from a takeout from Panda Express. I don’t use many condiments except mayo and mustard. I don’t like ketchup and buying any condiments is just a waste, so I save a few from when I eat out. They come in handy as I didn’t want to make a batch of sweet and sour this size and probably won’t make something using sweet and sour sauce for months. So, I mixed in the two packets and added the cilantro at the end. This made one serving. It was flavorful, with sweetness from the cherries and tang from the ginger and onions and a nice freshness from the cilantro. The sweet and sour sauce could have been left out, it would still be good, but I liked how it married the flavors.
This was another easy to prepare and flavorful salad I made ahead for some company coming over for brunch.
In the morning, I added 1 cup of boiling water to 2/3 cup of bulgur in a one quart plastic bowl with a lid. I sealed the lid and left for later. In a few minutes the wheat absorbed all the water and it was ready. I stuck it in the fridge for later when I would mix up the salad.
I drained a 15 oz can of black beans, rinsing all the liquid off and let them drain in a strainer while I chopped up the veggies.
I chopped 3 green onions, 1/2 of a red pepper and a bunch of cilantro. I also quartered 8 cherry tomatoes. I mixed them all in with the bulgur, added the beans and 1 cup of corn salsa. I squeeze 2 fresh limes, added a dash of salt and pepper and 1/2 tsp of cumin and it was ready for prime time.
It’s a flavor fiesta – spicy, sweet, crunchy and toothsome. The corn salsa adds just the right amount of heat. This made one quart of salad – all in the original container – so it also meant very little cleanup – a strainer and a knife.