Category Archives: Vegetarian

Grapefruit Sesame Salad

Last night after dinner, my boyfriend came home and the first thing he says to me is “what’s so sticky all over the counter?” Oops. My grapefruit got away from me. I’ll admit to getting getting a little wild while segmenting my grapefruit all fancy like you’d see on Chopped. After that,  the the salad looked so good I just forgot about all the flying drops and dove right in. And why wouldn’t I? This thing is a sweet and savory masterpiece.

Salad season is upon us, as evidenced by the wonderful spring lettuces now available at most farmer’s markets. I picked up a giant head of butter lettuce last week and some of it found its way into this salad. For variety (and because it was there) I also added some baby spinach. You can use whatever kind of greens you like or have lying around. If you are short on time or energy for taking apart messy grapefruit, you can buy segments in a jar in the produce section of most grocery stores. Look for one that doesn’t have added sugar.

I don’t remember which magazine I was reading when I found this dressing. It sounds so simple but the combo of grapefruit juice and sesame oil is just wonderful. All it needs is a little salt and pepper to give it a little punch. The goat cheese adds some creaminess and tang and oh my, it’s all so good. I know it sounds weird, but next time you have a pile of greens staring at you, give this one a go. So simple. So yummy.

Grapefruit Sesame Salad

Grapefruit Sesame Salad

Grapefruit Sesame Salad

3-4 cups mixed salad greens (I used half spinach and half butter lettuce)
1 pink grapefruit (or grapefruit segments in a jar if you prefer)
2 oz. goat cheese
1 cup chickpeas, rinsed
1 tsp. sesame oil
Salt & pepper

Place greens and chickpeas in a bowl.

Over a small bowl, segment grapefruit, reserving liquid. I do this by cutting the peel off and then using a knife to get the segments out. Squeeze the leftover membranes over the bowl to get the rest of the juice out. You’ll probably have at least 2-3 tablespoons. Add the grapefruit segments to the greens. Add sesame oil and a pinch of salt and pepper to the small bowl of grapefruit juice. Whisk to combine.

Toss the greens and chickpeas with the dressing. Top plates of salad with crumbled goat cheese. This makes enough for 2 people, or one super hungry salad machine.

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Polenta Stuffed Portobellos

In anticipation of the upcoming season, I signed up for the same CSA I used last year. For those of you who haven’t heard of CSA, it stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and basically means you sign up with a local farm and receive a share of whatever they happen to pull out of the ground every week during the growing season. My family and I loved doing this last year. Not only did we have enough food for $25/week that we had to work to eat it all, but we got to try a lot of new things that we may not have otherwise purchased, and everything was just about as fresh and delicious as it could possibly be without going out and picking it yourself. I am not a talented gardener, and I don’t have room to do it even if I was so this is the perfect way for us to have local, farm fresh veggies all through the summer and fall.

Shortly after signing up, I happened upon this gorgeous cookbook, The Forest Feast, by Erin Gleeson, and it was just bursting with simple and gorgeous vegetable dishes. I couldn’t resist. For those who know me, you know I have a tragic cookbook addiction and it had been a while since I had fed the beast. I needed it. Really, I did.

This is the first recipe I made out of my new little treasure. I made a few minor changes based on the contents of my fridge, but I have to say, these are deceptively simple. For a vegetarian dish I found it to be filling and complex, and the mushrooms add a nice “meaty” texture that was quite satisfying. Her photo shows a beautiful portobello with a dainty scoop of polenta and a sprinkle of veggies. Mine were less pretty since I just piled everything on there (who are we kidding, the creamy polenta is the best part!), but they were every bit as delicious. I’m guessing after she took that photo she piled some more stuff on hers too.

Don’t like mushrooms? I would make this same recipe with sweet bell peppers or a slab of grilled eggplant (and probably will!)

Polenta Stuffed Portobellos (yeah, I went a little nuts with the polenta, so sue me)

Polenta Stuffed Portobellos (yeah, I went a little nuts with the polenta, so sue me)

Polenta Stuffed Portobellos
(from The Forest Feast)

4 portbello mushrooms
1 cup polenta
1/2 cup grated parmesan
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 pound brussels sprouts
1 red onion
Olive oil or butter
Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 375˚. Put portobellos on a baking sheet. Remove stems and discard. Drizzle each with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes, until tender.

While portobellos are cooking, thinly slice brussels sprouts and red onion. Heat a skillet to medium, add a drizzle of olive oil and/or a tbsp. of butter and cook slowly to caramelize, about 15 minutes (turn down to medium low if veggies are browning too quickly, you want them nice and soft, not scorched).

Meanwhile, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add a dash of salt. Add polenta and stir. Turn heat down and simmer for 10-15 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat. Add 2 tbsp. butter and parmesan cheese. Stir well until everything is melted. Add salt and pepper to taste (I always wait until after I’ve added the cheese since it can sometimes be very salty on its own).

Assemble mushrooms. Start with the mushroom, add a big spoonful or two of polenta and top with vegetables. Finish with a sprinkle of cheese if desired.

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CSA Week 18: Baby Beets and Greens with Creamy Polenta

Last week I picked up my last CSA box of the season. I will miss them! The best (and sometimes the most challenging) thing about these weekly farm boxes has been getting some unusual things that I would not normally buy. Like these baby beets with their greens. Baby beets? Greens? What the heck do I do with those? Luckily my farmer is great at offering suggestions for some of the more seldom seen ingredients. She suggested I cook them more like hardy greens such as rainbow chard, which is exactly what I did. I sliced the little beets, chopped the greens and stems and gave them a nice sauté in a bit of butter and olive oil. If you can’t find baby beets, you can use the regular ones. Try to find them with some fresh looking greens, chop them up and sauté along with the beets. Or if you’re not a beet fan, substitute some rainbow chard instead.

One of the things I love best with greens is polenta. It soaks up all the nice juices and adds a richness that balances the greens so nicely. I topped mine with some feta and olives and a few shakes of date balsamic. This stuff is wonderful. If you can’t find date balsamic (I bought mine at ilovedatelady.com), just use any balsamic glaze instead. The little touch of sweetness at the end is just lovely.

Creamy Polenta with Baby Beets & Greens

Creamy Polenta with Baby Beets & Greens

Baby Beets and Greens with Creamy Polenta

One bunch baby beets with greens
3 tbsp. butter, divided
1 tsp. olive oil
Salt & pepper
1 cup polenta
1/2 cup castelvetrano olives (green Italian olives)
Feta cheese
Balsamic glaze

In a medium saucepan, heat three cups of water with a pinch of salt to a boil. Add the polenta and stir. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 10 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and polenta is tender. Stir in 2 tbsp. butter, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix until butter is melted and polenta is creamy.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium heat. Melt one tbsp. of butter with the teaspoon of olive oil. Chop beets and their greens and add to the skillet. Sauté, stirring occasionally until beets are tender, about 5-7 minutes. If you like them a little softer, let them go a couple more minutes.

Start with a scoop of creamy polenta. Top with beets and greens, olives and a few crumbles of feta. Drizzle with balsamic and finish with a bit of sea salt if desired.

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Roasted Veggie Salsa

Salsa is my favorite condiment. It goes way beyond chips for me. It goes in omelets and frittatas, it goes in salads, it lands on top of chicken and fried potatoes. It gets eggs poached in it like this. I almost always have a batch of it in my fridge. You never know when you’ll need some.

It may be the first week of fall, but the weather is still nice and farmer’s market (at least here in Oregon) still has beautiful tomatoes. All of the ingredients for this showed up in one of my weekly farm boxes and on the grill and into the fridge it went immediately. This is a great way to use up ripe tomatoes if you have a bunch. After you turn them into salsa they last for weeks. If you don’t happen to have fresh tomatoes, or if you read this in the middle of winter when there are no good ones available, just use a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes instead. It works like a charm, and best of all, you can always have one hiding in your pantry for when the salsa monster rears its head.

This recipe is very similar to my normal, un-roasted veggie version, but kissing those veggies with a little heat and getting that char flavor in there does add more depth and oomph. Take the extra few minutes and give it a shot!

I need more chip to dip.

I need more chip to dip.

Roasted Veggie Salsa

1/3 – 1/2 red onion, cut in big wedges
1 jalapeno (or less if you don’t like it spicy)
4-5 tomatillos, peel husks and wash
3-4 tomatoes (or you can use a can of fire-roasted tomatoes)
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
A handful of fresh cilantro (1/3-1/2 cup or so)
1-2 tbsp. fresh lime juice

Veggies on the grill pan. You could also do them on an actual grill, or under the broiler.

Veggies on the grill pan. You could also do them on an actual grill, or under the broiler.

Heat a grill pan (or grill, or broiler) and coat with cooking spray. Lay out all your vegetables. Let them grill until they are starting to turn black. Turn once or twice to cook on other sides. Your onion may stay in a wedge or it might fall apart. It will be fine either way. Put everything in a blender. Add seasonings, lime juice and cilantro. Blend until everything is chopped and combined. If you prefer a coarser salsa, pulse in a food processor instead of using the blender.

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Marinated Veggie Pasta Salad

The potluck is big in my family. At every family gathering there is a tasty spread, sometimes more varied than others. There was the year of six potato salads. All very similar since we all use my grandma’s recipe with our own little twists. But that’s another story. While I love potato salad, I usually opt to bring something for potlucks that is a little more temperature friendly. Call me paranoid, but mayonnaise-based food sitting out in the sun or at room temperature for hours makes me nervous.

This pasta salad is the answer to all of your potluck questions (or what to eat for your midnight snack questions). It tastes great hot cold or in between. It can be made ahead. As the veggies and noodles marinate in the beautiful vinaigrette, they just improve with time. And you get to use up all the extra veggies in your fridge. There is no downside here. Make this. Make it today. Don’t wait for the next potluck. You will love having this in your fridge.

Marinated Veggie Pasta Salad

Marinated Veggie Pasta Salad

Marinated Veggie Pasta Salad

1 or 2 summer squash or zucchini, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup sliced red onion
1/2 cup olives, halved
1 tbsp. capers
1-2 banana peppers or sweet peppers, sliced or diced
2 tbsp. pesto
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 package rotini

In a large bowl combine pesto, olive oil, red wine vinegar and capers. Add salt & pepper to taste. Add all veggies, stir to coat and let sit for at least an hour.

The veggies. Marinate at least an hour for the most flavor.

The veggies. Marinate at least an hour for the most flavor.

Cook pasta until al dente. Rinse with cool water to stop cooking. Add to bowl with veggies and cheese, toss to combine. Check seasoning and adjust if necessary. Eat!

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CSA Week 8: Spiralized Cucumber and Beet Salad

Week eight brought many goodies, including corn, zucchini, summer squash, green beans (including a weird flat variety that was a little fuzzy), tomatoes, tomatillos, basil, potatoes, eggplant, and lemon cucumbers.

In addition to this I still have a ton of cucumbers and beets from the previous week. In a stroke of serendipity, as I was pondering this dilemma, I came across this recipe from Skinny Taste. I used it more for inspiration than anything else, but it was a great idea, with a little Greek flair, and it gave me a reason to pull out my seldom-used spiralizer.

My spiralizer. A strange little contraption that is pretty simple. Stick the veggie on the little peg, crank the handle and end up with curly veggie ribbons.

My spiralizer. A strange little contraption that is pretty simple. Stick the veggie on the little peg, crank the handle and end up with curly veggie ribbons.

A spiralizer is a fun little machine that turns veggies into curly little ribbons. If you don’t have one, this recipe works just fine if you just dice the veggies or cut into julienne strips instead. I enjoy using this thing, although looking at Gina’s photos made me think perhaps I should have bought the kind she has instead. Mine is not bad, but it works much better on firmer veggies. My beets made perfect little ribbons, but since my cucumbers were a week old, they were a little soft, so I struggled a bit getting good spirals, but in the end it worked fine.

Spiralized salad, before mixing.

Spiralized salad, before mixing.

Spiralized Cucumber and Beet Salad

2-3 cucumbers
2-3 beets
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup kalamata olives, halved
Juice of half a big lemon or a whole small one
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper
Pinch of dry or fresh oregano
1/2 cup feta cheese

Trip ends from cucumbers and beets and spiralize, dice or julienne. I peeled the beets but not the cucumbers. Add to salad bowl. Keep in mind that once you mix this all together it will all turn pink because of the beets so for a pretty presentation, you can keep the elements separate in the bowl and then mix right before serving.

Add tomatoes and olives. Squeeze lemon juice and drizzle olive oil over the veggies. Add seasonings and give it all a quick toss. Top with feta if desired.

And now it's all pink! But delicious!

And now it’s all pink! But delicious!

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CSA Week 7: Mexican New Potato and Summer Squash Sauté

Summer of squash continues at our house. To be honest, I’ve learned to enjoy it. But to keep it interesting, I keep finding new ways to cook it. This one was pretty good. I made it as a side dish for taco night and it was even eaten by my lovely little squash hater. Most summer types of squash are so mild that they take on whatever flavors you cook them with. The mexican spices and cheese in this gave it a great zip, while the squash added crunch and texture. And you know me, if you add potatoes to anything, it just makes it better!

Feel free to twist this one to fit the contents of your fridge or your particular preferences. Add hotter peppers, more lime, more seasoning as you see fit, or switch up the veggies to your tastes. Forgive my lame measurements in the recipe. For dishes like these, I tend to just throw things in without much notice to how much. I used about the same amounts of squash and potatoes and started with a little seasoning and added more to taste. Feel free to adjust as you like.

The leftovers from this made their way into breakfast tacos the following day, after being scrambled with a couple of eggs. Or pile onto an impromptu taco salad with a scoop of salsa on top for lunch. So versatile and good!

 

Mexican New Potato and Summer Squash Sauté

Mexican New Potato and Summer Squash Sauté

Mexican New Potato and Summer Squash Sauté

A handful of new potatoes, diced (about the same amount as squash)
2-3 pattypan squash, yellow summer squash or zucchini, diced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 jalapeno, minced (optional, adjust to your heat preference)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Juice from half a lime
1/2 – 1 tsp. cumin
1/2 – 1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 cup queso fresco, crumbled
Salt & pepper

Heat large skillet over medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil. Add potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally for abut 10 minutes. Add onion, jalapeno and garlic, cook another 2-3 minutes. Add squash and tomatoes. Cook another couple of minutes until squash is tender (I like mine on the crunchier side so if you like it softer keep cooking for another minute or two). Add cilantro, lime, seasonings. Stir to blend and cook for another minute or so to let the flavors meld. Top with crumbled cheese and serve hot.

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CSA Week 6: Kale and Eggs Breakfast Skillet

My farm box this week included lettuce, green beans, Japanese eggplant, cucumbers, pattypan squash, new potatoes, sweet peppers, blueberries, broccoli, beets and basil. I don’t even want to think about all the stuff still left from last week. You can bet on one thing though. There’s still some kale.

Out of all the kale recipes I have tried over the last couple of months – and there’s quite a few – this is actually my favorite way to make it. Which is a little odd considering that instead of hiding it, blending it, or otherwise disguising it, it is actually the star of this dish. I use a tiny bit of olive oil, but not much, making this more like a dry sauté. You get a little char on the edges and the texture, instead of wilted and limp, is almost a little crispy. When the yolky egg breaks and blends with it, well, it’s just pretty darn good. I make this a couple of times a week (not always for breakfast), sometimes tossing in a few mushrooms or other veggies, and sometimes just by itself.

I have the hardest time cooking sunny side up eggs, and I think it all comes down to being impatient, a quality that is especially present when I’m hungry. The key (I do learn eventually) is to turn down the heat and allow them to cook slowly. This way the bottoms don’t burn or overcook before the tops get done. It will also keep your veggies from burning or needing to be stirred as well. If you are having trouble getting those tops to set, or if it’s just taking too dang long, simply stick a lid on it for a minute or two and you’ll be good to go.

Kale and Eggs Breakfast Skillet

Kale and Eggs Breakfast Skillet

Kale & Egg Breakfast Skillet

2 cups kale, coarsely chopped
4-5 button mushrooms
4 eggs
Olive oil
1 small clove garlic
Salt & pepper

Heat skillet over medium heat. Drizzle with just a bit of olive oil (1-2 teaspoons). Add kale, mushrooms and garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5-7 minutes, until veggies are tender. Turn down heat to low. Make little wells in the vegetables. Break eggs into wells. Cook on low for about 4-5 minutes or until tops of eggs are set. You can cover if you want them to cook a little faster, but resist the temptation to turn up the heat, you’ll just overcook the bottoms of the eggs and veggies. Take it slow you’ll be happy you did.

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CSA Week 5: Cannolicchi alla Caprese

Lately I’ve been trying and trying to use all my CSA ingredients before I use the next batch. And overall I’ve been really successful. In fact, I don’t think I’ve had to toss anything that went bad before I could use it, although I’ll admit to taking a couple of weeks to get to some items. I don’t blog about everything I use since some of it just gets snacked on (I’m looking at you blueberries) and so much of it gets tossed into side salads or breakfast scrambles. That being said, I was afraid if I tossed kale and/or squash into one more recipe this week, there would be a revolt in my household.

The first three or four farm boxes included an herb plant, which has contributed to quite a nice little herb garden in my backyard. My basil in particular has been doing great and was absolutely delicious in this. Later in the summer when I’m trying to figure out what to do with an overload of tomatoes, this recipe will definitely be making another appearance. For the best flavor, use an assortment of vine-ripened tomatoes, or cherry tomatoes (I used a combo). With so few ingredients, quality really does matter!

This recipe combines my favorite flavors of all time in symphony of simplicity and deliciousness. I love basil, tomato and mozzarella together. Give it to me in salads, sandwiches, pizza, or just sliced up together on a plate and I am a happy camper. I’ve made a few different versions of this from time to time, but this one really was nice. The big difference with this recipe is combining the ingredients ahead of time and letting them marinate for several hours before tossing with the pasta. Mmmm. Perfect.

Cannolicchi alla Caprese. Use whatever noodle your heart desires, but these twirly ones were a great choice!

Cannolicchi alla Caprese. Use whatever noodle your heart desires, but these twirly ones were a great choice!

Cannolicchi alla Caprese
(from The Pollan Family Table – the original recipe is Conchiglie alla caprese, I just used a different noodle)

2-3 cups chopped vine-ripened tomatoes, or cherry tomatoes (I used a combo of roma and cherry tomatoes)
1 1/2 cups diced fresh mozzarella (or buy the little balls, which I had on hand)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade (little ribbons)
2 cloves garlic, minced
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper
1 pound pasta, either shells or a spiral shape to catch all the little bits and flavors

In a large mixing bowl, combine the tomatoes, mozzarella, oil, basil, garlic, red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and black pepper to taste. Cover with plastic wrap and let the sauce marinate at room temperature while you prepare the pasta, or for up to three hours to enhance the flavors. I highly recommend letting it sit a while, it did make a big difference.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente, about 1 minute less than the directions on the package. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, the drain the pasta.

Add pasta to the tomato mixture. Add 2 tablespoons of reserved pasta water, or as desired, to moisten the sauce. Season with sea salt and pepper as needed. Sere hot or at room temperature.

 

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CSA Week 5: A Kale Salad I Actually Like

Kale is not my favorite. Unfortunately, it has shown up every week so far in my CSA box. But the good news is we’ve been talking a lot lately, and we’re starting to build a rapport. I’ve found I really like it sautéed with a little garlic and olive oil and scrambled eggs for breakfast. It’s not bad sliced into ribbons and mixed with salads or pasta or thrown into a veggie medley. I have hidden it here and there in various fritters and patties and smoothies. It’s a good one to hide since other people in the household are even less enamored with it than I am.

But this salad. Kale is the star and lo, and behold! I actually really liked it. No, really! Bright, chewy, salty and sour and creamy. Good stuff. I’m not even kidding. I topped mine with a little parmesan, but if you leave that off this salad is not only tasty, it’s dairy free, gluten-free and sugar-free. The creamy texture all comes from the lovely marriage of avocado with lemon and olive oil, scrunched through the crunchy kale with your hands to coat every little ribbon.

I paired this with a couple of pan-fried slices of polenta, left over from the previous night’s herbed polenta. A little fresh tomato rounded out the plate nicely.

Lemony Avocado and Kale Salad

Lemony Avocado and Kale Salad

Lemony Avocado and Kale Salad

4 cups of kale, sliced into ribbons
A drizzle of olive oil, about a tablespoon
1 avocado
Juice of 1 lemon
Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
Parmesan cheese for garnish, if desired

Put kale in a large bowl. Drizzle a bit of olive oil, add the avocado, lemon juice and salt & pepper to taste. Using your hands, scrunch everything together until all leaves are evenly coated. Top with cheese if desired.

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