Yam Salad with Lemon Dressing

Yam Salad with Lemon Dressing

So, I had a hankering for potato salad last month, but had no potatoes. No problem, I decided to use yams instead. But then, I had no celery and no pickles either. I did have broccoli, so I thought why not? Well, it turned out so delicious I made it again, even buying broccoli for the purpose of making the salad. So here it is.

Peel and cube 4 medium yams. Makes about 6 cups of yams. Add to salted boiling water and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, so they are fork tender. Rinse in cool water so they stop cooking. Drain and refrigerate until completely cooled.

Peel and dice one large red onion.

Peel the stem of a broccoli top. Chop the stem and florets into small pieces.

Mix together and dress with your preferred dressing.

My dressing is a light lemony one with a hint of mustard.

I zested one lemon into the salad.

In a bowl, I mixed the juice of one lemon (2 TBSP) with 2 TBSP of apple cider vinegar and 2 TBSP of olive oil. I then added 1 tsp of mustard, salt, and pepper and mixed together. Then I tossed it with the salad. This makes about 8 cups of salad.

It’s very light and fresh in flavor, allowing the yams to be the star.

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Caramelized Onions, Pear, and Pecan “Pizza”

Caramelized Onions, Pear, & Pecan Pizza

  • 2 tsp butter
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 pear, peeled, and sliced
  • 2 TBSP pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • Bread dough

In a saucepan on low heat, melt the butter. Add the thinly sliced onion, carefully separating all the rings. Stir and add a bit of salt and continue to cook on low heat for a long time, checking occasionally and stirring. Be patient and go read a book. You can cook it on higher heat, but the goal is not one single bit onion getting charred, so I slow cook it for two to three hours. You could also bake it in the oven at 350° but it stains the sides of the pan above the onions and is hard to clean.

While the onions are cooking you could make the bread dough using this recipe a friend gave me. This makes enough dough for eight pizzas or four artisanal boules. I make it and just keep it in a plastic container in the fridge to use when I need some dough. I use it for boules, for pizzas, for fry bread, and for wraping around cocktail sauces or cheese for snacks. Anyway, the two hours the onions take is plenty of time for the first rise of the dough. 

Turn the oven on at 400°

Roll the dough out as thin as you can and the roll the edge to the center, just one roll so you have a bit of an edge to keep anything from going on the baking sheet.

Spread the caramelized onions on the dough and spread to the edges.

Place the pear slices evenly over the “pizza.”

Sprinkle the mozzarella and pecans over the top.

Bake for 20 minutes.  Makes two services of two slices each.

Let cool for about 10 minutes and cut into four pieces. Letting it cool makes it easier to eat and the flavors are more intense when they aren’t too hot. Also, when it’s hot out of the oven, everything will slide right off the bread.

This is delicious, caramelized onions and pears are pure magic. I’ve made this with blue cheese too and it is delicious as well.

Wild Rice & Brussels Sprout Salad

Wild Rice & Brussels Sprout Salad

In a saucepan, bring 3 cups of salted water to a boil, add 1 cup of rinsed wild rice. Let cook on a low boil for 40 minutes or until rice is tender. Check frequently and stir so it does not boil dry. Pour into a colander when done and let drain until completely dry. I left it in the fridge overnight. I added salt and pepper to taste in the morning. Seasoning during each step makes for a richer flavor without over-seasoning.

Clean 1 pound of Brussels sprouts, cut the bottoms and any damaged leaves, then slice into thin strips that you can break up into individual pieces. After I finished cutting all the sprouts I broke the slices up by working with my fingers.

Chop one small red onion

Heat a skillet on medium, grate fresh nutmeg into the pan and toast until the aroma rises. Add a few handfuls of sprouts and saute until just warmed through. Repeat until all the Brussels sprouts have been sauteed.

.In same pan, toast 1/4 cup of slivered almonds.

Mix onion, Brussels sprouts, and wild rice in a large bowl. You can either add the almonds or set to the side and add when serving (It keeps them crunchier.)

Make mustard vinaigrette to dress the salad.

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil.
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup.
  • Juice from 1 fresh-squeezed lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.

Stir this into the salad and let rest. It really takes a couple hours minimum to reach its best flavor, so make ahead and let rest. I made this for Thanksgiving Dinner. It makes 8 servings. It was a hit, there’s a nice toothiness from the rice, a nutty flavor, and a bit of crunch. It’s also colorful with the brown, bright green, and the purple of the onions, looking lovely on the table.

 

 

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.

Grilled Cheese with Fennel and Kale

Grilled Cheese with Fennel and Kale

My Imperfect box came yesterday and I got a fennel bulb. I love fennel and want people to cook with it a lot more so it becomes more common and less expensive. This time I made a grilled cheese sandwich using some of the 5 pounds of kale I got from the Oregon Food Bank’s Harvest Share.

So what did I do?

Fennel, Onions, and Kale
I put a cast iron skillet on the stove over medium heat and added 1 tbsp of olive oil. While it heated, I used a mandoline to thin slice a medium-sized yellow onion and the small fennel bulb. I tossed the thin slices in the skillet, added a bit of salt, and sauteed until tender. Meanwhile, I chopped up about 2 cups of raw kale. I pulled the leaves off the stems, rolled to chiffonade. When the onions and fennel began to caramelize, tossed in the kale and covered to let it cook for about 5 minutes.

I removed the veggies from the skillet and dropped some butter, putting down one slice of whole wheat bread, I added thinly sliced sharp cheddar cheese and then forked some of the veggies on top of the cheese. When it was toasted and ready to flip, I added some more cheese on top of the veggies and added the second slice of bread and flipped the sandwich. In a few minutes, it was beautifully toasted.

So, this has an unctuous kind of savory deliciousness. People think of fennel as sweet, but it’s not and when it’s cooked it mellows even more. Kale is best with strong contrasts and fennel is ideal.

 

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

 

Lentils with Curried Rutabaga

Lentils with Curried Rutabaga

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.