Smoked Salmon Cobb Salad

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It is still, literally, freezing outside. Regardless of the bitter cold, I am craving spring salads like crazy because it is March–usually springtime here in North Carolina. Not this year, though. We don’t have the feet and feet of snow that the northern and midwestern states have, but we do have a stubborn, persistent cold that will not yield to spring. So despite the cold temperatures, we’ve been making salads using local hothouse greens, tomatoes and even strawberries! We are pushing it, I realize, but I just have to get my fresh salads back into our menu rotation.

This salad is springy in its ingredients list, but pretty satisfying as a meal. Try to buy hot smoked salmon if you can manage to fit it into your budget. It is meatier and somehow more filling that the cold smoked, think sliced salmon. Either are good though! This recipe originally came from Martha Stewart. I changed it up just a little bit, adding more salmon and decreasing the onion. The original recipe had way too much shallot in the dressing–it was like a disgusting onion fest. The version below reflects a more delicate version of the dressing.

If you are craving spring and spring foods, jack up the thermostat for a couple of hours, make this salad and pretend it’s spring!

Smoked Salmon Cobb Salad (serves 2 as an entree salad)

  • 3/4 cup fresh buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup organic mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 4 sprigs fresh dill
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large head organic butter lettuce
  • 6 ounces smoked salmon
  • 4 hard boiled eggs
  • 2 strips smoked bacon
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 ripe avocado
  1. Add the first 6 ingredients to a small bowl and using an immersion blender, blend for about 10 seconds. Taste for seasoning and correct. Cover the bowl and put it in the refrigerator until you are ready.
  2. Cook the bacon until crisp, drain on paper towels and reserve.
  3. Wash, spin dry and chop the lettuce.
  4. Assemble the salad by dividing the lettuce between two large plates.
  5. Chop the hard boiled eggs and bacon and add to the lettuce.
  6. Flake the salmon with a fork, remove any bones and add to the salads.
  7. Wash and chop the tomato. Add to the salads.
  8. Peel and dice the ripe avocado, discarding the pit. Add the avocado to the salads.
  9. Top with the reserved buttermilk dressing and serve immediately.

Turkish Style Pizza

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My daughter and her dad like to frequent a local Turkish restaurant that makes terrific food. My favorite dish is a wonderful, boat shaped pizza made with ground lamb and topped with an egg. The combination is delicious! This is my homemade version using a whole wheat crust, roasted red peppers and store bought Harissa sauce. It isn’t quite the same as the restaurant, but it is darn good and very satisfying!

Turkish Style Pizza (makes three small pizzas)

  • 2 tablespoons organic coconut oil
  • 1 organic yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 large cloves organic garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1lb. grass fed ground lamb
  • 2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup spicy Harissa sauce
  • Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 3 fresh farm eggs
  • 1 whole wheat pizza dough
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium high heat.
  3. Add onions and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute.
  4. Add the ground lamb and cook until the lamb is no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Break up any large chunks of meat with the back of a spoon. Stir frequently.
  5. Add the chopped roasted peppers and the Harissa sauce. Stir well and cook until most of the moisture is gone from the pan, about 10 minutes more.
  6. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper, if needed.
  7. Set a colander over a small bowl. Add the lamb mixture to the colander and let drain.
  8. Divide the pizza dough into three equal parts. Shape each part into a long rectangle or boat shape.
  9. Put the dough boats on a greased baking sheet (or a heated pizza stone). Bake the dough for 5 minutes.
  10. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and top each boat with equal amounts of the lamb mixture. Make a small indention in the lamb on each pizza. Crack an egg into each indentation.
  11. Return the baking sheet immediately to the oven and cook for about 12 minutes, or until the pizzas are heated and the eggs are done to your liking.
  12. You can also run the pizzas under the broiler for a minute or two.
  13. Serve immediately.

Pasta con Sarde

Sardines

I am still perplexed as to why Eat Italian Food Day is not Eat Italian Food Month. We are not, however, beholden to whoever makes those decisions. So in open rebellion of the “food of the day” policy makers, here is another recipe that we will be making this weekend. It takes advantage of Italy’s coastal waters as well as its love of the tomato. I am planning to buy fresh pasta at the farmer’s market tomorrow and I’m excited about that, but when left to my own devices, I like whole wheat angel hair pasta for this dish. Pasta con sarde is high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids and relatively low in fat. Basically, this is a fast, healthy and very inexpensive dish that is perfect for weeknights when you really don’t feel like cooking.

What? You don’t like sardines? My suggestion would be to have an open mind and try sardines that are packaged boneless and skinless as they have a milder taste to them. Trader Joes carries these for about $2 a can. And indeed, this dish would be better with fresh sardines rather than canned, but until global warming really kicks in, I don’t know that sardines will be swimming off the shores of North Carolina. If you are (like my child) absolutely resolute in your dislike of sardines, you could use cooked salmon or tuna and you would need very little (6 oz), just increase the amount of olive oil you use or the sauce will be dry. This is a great dish for stretching out what you have. And who doesn’t want to do that these days?

  • 1 package whole wheat angel hair pasta (16 oz.)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 (4 oz) cans sardines packed in olive oil
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (about 3-5 slices bread toasted and run through food processor)
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lemon, juiced + 1 Tbsp. grated zest
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook according to directions for al dente pasta.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook about 2 minutes until soft. Add the minced garlic and cook about 1 minute more.
  3. Stir in sardines with their olive oil and tomato sauce and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. When sardines are heated through, add bread crumbs and stir. Remove from heat.
  5. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water for the sauce.
  6. Add drained pasta to the sauce in the skillet and combine. If the sauce is too dry, add pasta water 1/2 cup at a time until you get the consistency you like. The sauce should cling to the pasta.
  7. Add lemon juice and lemon zest to the pasta, stir and serve with parmesan cheese.

Buon appetito!

Hummus and Kale Salad

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We love kale, that super trendy green. We love it cooked in soups, stews and casseroles, but we also love it raw. Once trimmed of its thick stems, the leaves can be chopped and used to make a flavorful salad that is much more satisfying than lettuce. And in the fall when we are increasing our running mileage, we need a salad that keeps us full and sustained.

This salad is awesome! Chock full of antioxidants and protein, it is filling, delicious and fresh. This recipe is based on a recipe posted by Giada DiLaurentis in her weekly newsletter. We decreased the amount of oil and added some cooked chicken breast, but you could leave out the chicken for a vegetarian dish.

Hummus and Kale Salad (makes 3-4 servings)

  • 1 large organic clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons tahini
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1 large lemon)
  • 5 cups raw, organic kale, washed, trimmed of stems and chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 4-6 sundried tomatoes, rehydrated or packed in oil, each sliced in half
  • 1 can organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups chopped, cooked chicken (optional)
  1. In a small sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook 1-2 minutes, or until garlic is just fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together tahini, pepper and lemon juice. Slowly add the cooled olive oil and garlic, whisking constantly.
  3. Add the chopped kale, sundried tomatoes, chickpeas and chicken. Toss well to coat everything with the dressing.
  4. Serve immediately or keep chilled for up to 4 hours.

Mango Lassi Ice Pops

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Hello, Bollywood? You need to roll out the red carpet for these Mango Lassi Ice Pops. They are big stars, I tell you.

Have you ever had a mango lassi? Mango lassi is an incredibly refreshing Indian beverage, very similar to an American milk shake or smoothie, but without the heavy dairy fat and sugar. When Ellie was little, the owner of a local Indian restaurant we frequented usually offered her a mango lassi. She could never finish it, so I finished them for her (you know, a mother’s sacrifices are endless). Mango lassis use fresh mango, yogurt and cardamom, resulting in a sweet and spicy combination that is delicious, especially in the heat of summer. Why they aren’t a popular drink in North Carolina–where it gets about as hot as India–is beyond me.

These Mango Lassi Ice Pops are cool, creamy and delicious. They are also gluten-free and sugar free. Spiced with cardamom, they are just a teensy bit spicy in that lovely floral way that cardamom infuses everything. You can leave the cardamom out, but I encourage you to give it a try–it really makes something good, extraordinary.

A word about mango: I use frozen organic mango from Trader Joes, but you could also use fresh mango if you have ripe mangoes available. If you have an Indian grocery nearby, buy your mangoes there–they will have a greater variety of mangoes than the typical American grocery store.

This recipe makes about 1/2 cup more than you need for the ice pops, so the chef gets a treat at the end 🙂

I am listing this recipe under “breakfast as well because if you serve what comes from the blender, it would be a nice lassi smoothie!

Mango Lassi Ice Pops (makes 10, 3 ounce ice pops)
Each ice pop has 51 calories and .9 grams of fat and 2.6 grams of protein

* 4 cups peeled and chopped ripe mango or organic frozen mango
* 6 ounces organic Greek yogurt
* 2 cups organic almond milk or soy milk
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
* 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Put all ingredients in a good quality blender (I use my trusty Vitamix). Blend until smooth.
2. Fill your ice pop mold and freeze several hours or overnight.
3. Unmold ice pops and enjoy!

Roasted Vegetable Tarts with Fig and Goat Cheese

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This roasted vegetable tart is a wonderful, light dinner that makes the most of seasonal, fresh vegetables. This could easily be brunch as well! We used zucchini, squash and onions from our Produce Box this week along with organic broccoli from the farmer’s market and some cherry tomatoes from last summer that we stashed in the freezer. The base is our very own Sticky Fig Jam and the tarts were topped with local goat cheese from Hillsborough Cheese Company. A very locavore dish!

These tarts are very light and if you have hungry family, double this recipe!

Roasted Vegetable Tarts with Fig and Goat Cheese (makes 4 tarts or two servings)

  • 1 sheet puff pastry (1/2 package)
  • 1 beaten egg white
  • 4 cups chopped vegetables (we used 1 yellow squash, 1 zucchini, 1 spring onion, 12 cherry tomatoes and 1/2 lb. fresh broccoli)
  • 4 ounces fig preserves
  • 3 ounces goat cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Unfold the puff pastry onto a parchment lined baking sheet and cut into four equal squares.
  3. Brush the squares with the egg white and use a fork to crimp the edges of each square.
  4. Bake pastry for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and gently press each square with a spatula so it is slightly flattened. Let cooling the baking sheet.
  6. While pastry is cooling, cut up vegetables into small pieces, toss with olive oil and roast on a foil lined baking sheet for 30 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes or so.
  7. Vegetables are done when lightly browned and no liquid remains on the baking sheet.
  8. Assemble your lovely tarts–spoon about 2 tablespoons fig preserves onto each puff pastry square. Top with about 1 cup of the roasted vegetables. Divide your goat cheese among the four tarts and sprinkle on top.
  9. Set your broiler to low and broil put the baking sheet with the tarts under the broiler for about 30-45 seconds, just until the cheese is soft and the pastry is crispy (mine here is a little too crispy, but still delicious!).

Chunky Monkey Ice Pops

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Well, my experiments with vegan, dairy-free ice cream were ok, but I have found greater success making creamy ice pops in interesting flavors! These pops are sugar-free, gluten-free, raw and vegan. And magically tasty! Like a fudgesicle that actually has loads of flavor instead of just sugar. I also like that we have individual servings all ready to go–no scooping needed, although I do need to tap the mold on the counter a few times to get rid of those pesky air pockets 🙂

The real secret to these ice pops is bananas. They give the popsicles a lovely, creamy, thick texture without any dairy (I’ve also used soaked and drained cashews–this works well, too). You do need to freeze the bananas ahead of time, but we always seem to have bananas on the brink of disaster, so freezing them before they turn too mushy is a regular habit. I take ripe bananas, peel them, cut them into slices and freeze them on a parchment lined baking sheet. When they are frozen, I pop the slices into storage bags and keep them in the freezer until I need them. They are terrific in smoothies!

Since ripe bananas are pretty sweet on their own, I didn’t add any sweetener, but you could add some raw honey if you wanted to (this would change the nutritional profile). As is, these are cool, creamy, and have a great banana/peanut butter/chocolate flavor.

Many thanks to fellow blogger, The Midnight Baker for sharing her success with the Norpro Ice Pop Maker. Check out her recipes–they look amazing. The Norpro mold makes 10, 3 ounce ice pops, is BPA free and is very affordable. Click HERE for more information.

Chunky Monkey Ice Pops (makes 10, 3 ounce ice pops)
Each ice pop has 100 calories, 5 grams of fat and 3 grams of protein

  • 2 organic bananas, peeled, cut up and frozen
  • 1/4 cup raw, unsalted peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1 cup organic almond or soy milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Put all ingredients into a Vitamix or Magic Bullet blender and blend until very smooth.
  2. Pour mixture into the ice pop molds. Tap the mold on the counter a few times to release air bubbles.
  3. Freeze several hours or overnight.
  4. Unmold the pops and enjoy!

Grilled Swordfish with Bacon Onion Marmalade

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Yes, yes, we are putting bacon onion marmalade on everything these days. It’s so darn good and we have plenty from the batch we made last week, so we are trying it out on all kinds of food. Not dessert. Well, not yet, anyway 🙂

I love any kind of fish or seafood, but this fresh, line-caught swordfish from our North Carolina coast was hands down the best fish I have ever had. EVER. Thanks to Locals Seafood for providing impeccably fresh, local fish, clams, scallops, shrimp and crabs. They have truly revolutionized how we buy and eat our seafood. These swordfish steaks were thick, which kept them from getting dried out on the grill, plus the grilled skin added a wonderful crunchiness that was to die for.

This recipe is unbelievably simple. It showcases fresh fish at it’s best. When you have something beautiful and fresh, why muck it up with a lot of unnecessary ingredients? Keep it simple and let the star be on stage.

Grilled Swordfish with Bacon Onion Marmalade (serves 3-4)

  • 2 large swordfish steaks, about 1 1/2″ thick
  • 1 or 1 1/2 cups Balsamic vinaigrette dressing (see below or use your favorite)
  • 1/2 cup Bacon Onion Marmalade
  • Kosher or sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
  1. Put the swordfish steaks in a glass pan or in a large zip loc bag. Add the vinaigrette, turn steaks to coat, and let marinate for about 20 minutes. I put my pan on the counter so the fish comes almost to room temperature (I find food grills better that way), but if that makes you nervous, pop the fish into the refrigerator to marinate.
  2. Preheat your grill.
  3. When grill is hot, remove fish from the marinade and wipe off excess with a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired.
  4. Cook fish at medium high on the grill for 4-4.5 minutes per side. Let rest for about 2 minutes.
  5. In a pan or in the microwave oven, heat the bacon onion marmalade and set aside.
  6. Top each fish steak with a few tablespoons of bacon onion marmalade and serve immediately.
  7. Lick your plate.

Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

  • 1 cup good quality olive oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (I used peach flavored white balsamic)
  • 1 teaspoon dried mustard powder
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  1. Blend all ingredients together with a whisk or an immersion blender.

Not sure about grilling fish? Here are 4 easy grilling tips:

  1. Keep your grill hot. Starting with a hot grill will help your food from sticking.
  2. Dry your protein before grilling. Marinades are great, but pat your meat or fish dry before grilling. Why? Because if your protein has a lot of liquid (like a marinade) on it, you will spend your grilling time steaming your food as the liquid evaporates instead of grilling your food. Cooking will take longer and your food will not have that wonderful seared exterior. A light brush of olive oil is ok, but nothing more than that.
  3. Add sauces at the end. If you are using a barbecue sauce, add it in the last few minutes of grilling so the sugars caramelize, but don’t scorch.
  4. Let your protein rest. Letting your meat or fish rest after grilling gives the protein time to redistribute moisture and relax. The end result is a moister, more tender meal.

 

Stir Fried Baby Squash and Sugar Snaps

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Do you ever come home from the farmer’s market and wonder how in the world you will ever eat everything you bought? Stir frying is one of the quickest and healthiest ways to cook up a mess of fresh vegetables. The combinations are endless and fit vegetables from every season. Spring and early summer vegetables are my favorites though-they are tender and sweet and sometimes even cute! I was delighted to find these organic baby summer squash at the farmer’s market and they were just too cute to chop up (as I do with their bigger variety). You can’t tell from the photo, but they are only as long as my thumb and they are so tender, they only needed a couple of minutes to cook.

Since we had received spring garlic and sugar snap peas in our Produce Box this week, I decided to make a spring stir fry along with some organic baby carrots and fresh ginger. If you haven’t tried spring garlic, look for it at your farmer’s market. It looks very similar to spring onions and is prepared the same way. The flavor is very mild and it is really delicious in light dishes like this. The result was so light and flavorful, we didn’t need any extra seasoning, although you could add a dash of salt or a squeeze of lemon. A great pairing with our grilled fish (recipe coming).

What are your favorite vegetables to stir fry?

Stir Fried Baby Squash and Sugar Snaps (serves 4)

  • 1 lb. organic baby yellow squash
  • 2 bulbs spring garlic
  • 1 pint sugar snap peas
  • 2 organic young carrots
  • 1″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon organic coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt (optional)
  1. Prepare all your vegetables first. Wash and trim the squash and cut in half lengthwise. Wash and trim the carrots and cut into rough chunks. Set both aside in a bowl.
  2. Wash, peel and chop the spring garlic. Set aside.
  3. Wash and trim the sugar snaps. Set aside with the ginger.
  4. In a wok or large sauté pan, heat the coconut oil over high heat.
  5. When oil is hot, add the garlic and toss, cooking for about 1 minute. Add the squash and carrots, toss and cook over high heat for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the sugar snaps and ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
  7. Sprinkle with salt, if you like, and serve immediately.

Summer Egg Salad

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Egg salad. Oh yes, summer is here.

When the days are warm and no one feels like cooking (well, not me anyway) and the thought of something cool and creamy for dinner makes everybody happy, it is time for egg salad. This is one of those dishes that is quick, easy, delicious and very budget-friendly–even if you buy farm fresh eggs like we do.

Any dish where eggs are the star deserves farm fresh eggs. We buy our eggs from farmers who pasture raise their chickens–not only do the egg yolks look healthier in color, but the eggs themselves taste noticeably better than grocery store eggs. They are also healthier for you, providing more omega-3 fatty acids than factory eggs and packing more protein as well.

I know people who don’t like to make this dish because they have a hard time peeling their hard boiled eggs. The recipe below details my system and I have never had this go wrong. Yet.

You can make this cold salad up to 24 hours ahead. Keep in the refrigerator with a slightly damp paper towel or piece of plastic wrap covering (touching) the surface of the egg salad to prevent any discoloration. Egg yolks, like avocados or bananas, react quickly to oxygen in the air and can turn brown. This doesn’t mean it’s bad, but it won’t be as appetizing.

We serve our egg salad with locally made sourdough from La Farm bakery or honey whole wheat from Great Harvest Bread Company. Pumpernickle is good, too, if you can persuade your children to eat it (if you can, please send tips). It is also delicious served on a bed of greens. Good sides for egg salad include homemade pickles or pickled okra, celery sticks, carrot sticks or even kale chips!

Egg Salad (makes about 3 cups)

  • 6 farm fresh eggs
  • 2 stalks organic celery, trimmed and diced (optional)
  • 1/3 cup good quality mayonnaise (we used Dukes)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  1. Gently put the eggs in a stock pot or large saucepan. Add water to cover eggs by 1″ and cover pot with lid.
  2. Heat pot over medium high heat until water starts to boil. Remove from heat, and let sit for 12 minutes.
  3. Unocover pot and remove eggs to a colander. Run cold water over the eggs to stop the cooking process.
  4. One at a time, take each egg and gently tap it all over its surface so that the surface of the egg has small cracks all over it.
  5. Holding the egg under a stream of cold water, gently peel the shell from the egg. The running water helps a lot. If some of the white sticks to the shell, that’s ok. You’re going to mash them up anyway. Put the peeled egg in a medium sized mixing bowl.
  6. Continue with all your eggs until they are all peeled and in the mixing bowl. With the back of a fork, mash the eggs so you have a rough mixture of egg whites and yolks.
  7. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix together with the fork until you have a thick, yellow mixture. Add more mayonnaise if your mixture seems too dry. Taste for seasoning and correct as needed.
  8. Serve on bread, toast or on a bed of greens!
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