Roasted Root Vegetable Salad

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roasted-root-vegetables-from-slim-palateHere’s another great way to highlight your fancy salt!  It’s a nice variation on your typical Turkey-Day fare. (I get sick of the same ol’ same ol’.)  This dish is typically though of as a side dish, but I like to call it a salad, because I can easily eat just this for lunch–or breakfast for that matter.   I really like it at room temperature, slightly al dente, with a tangy dressing and a bit of a crunch. Of course, you can use it as a side dish if you want. It’s your kitchen.

Ingredients

1 butternut squash

1 sweet potato

1 red or yellow beet

1 parsnip

1 yellow onion

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon unrefined salt – try Bavarian rock salt, Portuguese sel gris, Peruvian pink, smoked salt, or a salt infused with rosemary or red wine

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 cup apple juice

½ cup toasted pecans, chopped

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.   Dice squash, potato, beet, parsnip, and onion into 1-2 inch chunks.   Quarter the onion, leaving the root in tact. Toss them all in olive oil and spread onto a baking sheet. Roast until tender and crisp on the outside. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt, then set aside at room temperature.
  1. Meanwhile heat the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until translucent, about 30-60 seconds. Stir in honey, vinegar, and apple juice. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until the liquid is reduced to syrup consistency, about 3-5 minutes. Keep your eye on this. It will happen fast!
  1. Combine the glaze, roasted roots, and pecans in a large bowl and toss to coat. Season with more salt as needed and serve.

Variations

Bacon – If you’re a bacon fan, use two slices of raw diced bacon instead of butter here. Render the fat and crisp it up in the pan, then add the garlic, and continue with the recipe as written.   It’s great with pancetta too!

Cheesy – Garnish this dish with a crumble of feta, goat, or sharp blue cheese. The salty tang is a great contrast to the sweetness of these roots and the apple juice.

Burst Cherry Tomatoes

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burst_tomato_salad

This recipe is great as a side dish, but I also like it poured on top of pasta or polenta, stirred into risotto, spread warm over toast, or chilled and spread onto your hamburgers. It’s best if the tomatoes come from your garden, but if you have a black thumb (like me) good quality, perfectly ripe market tomatoes work just as well.

Ingredients

¼ cup olive oil

4 cups cherry tomatoes (choose assorted colors if you can)

1 teaspoon unrefined salt – try Halen Mon, Cyprus flake, fiore de sal, Black Diamond, smoked salt, or a salt infused with fennel seed, basil, or chipotle

2 cloves of garlic, sliced

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Method

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add a third of the tomatoes, and cook, shaking gently, until they start to break their skin, about 5 minutes.   Reduce heat to medium and add another third of the tomatoes and the ½ teaspoon of the salt. Continue to cook, shaking and stirring for another 3-4 minutes, until tomatoes are deflated. Remove tomatoes from the pan to a dish, and return the pan to the heat.
  1. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan, then add the garlic. Cook, stirring, until the garlic softens, about 1 minute. Add the remaining raw tomatoes, the reserved cooked tomatoes, then cook, stirring, until the last batch of tomatoes begins to deflate. The mixture should be juicy and thick, and have a variety of tomato texture. Remove from heat and season with lemon juice and another pinch of salt Serve warm, room temperature, or cold.

Variations

Balsamic Tomatoes – Finish this dish with ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar instead of the lemon juice, add handful of basil leaves, cut in chiffonade, and finish with a grating of fresh Parmesan or some diced buffalo mozzarella.

Fennel Tomatoes – Before you burst the tomatoes, sauté a sliced fennel bulb in the olive oil with a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of toasted and crushed fennel seeds. Remove it from the pan, then stir it back into the mix when the tomatoes are done. Garnish with some reserved fennel fronds.

 

 

Purple Potatoes with Lavender

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lavA member of the mint family, lavender is a common perennial shrub that grows in any Mediterranean-like climate. Lavender has thin, woody stalks, with thin silvery gray leaves that are bushy at the base of the stem. At the top sits the skinny purple flowers, loaded with aromatic oil.

An ancient cure for headaches, lavender’s restorative powers are still extolled by aroma therapists. The flavor is floral, although some consider it soapy. In fact lavender has been used in wash water since ancient times. The name comes from the Latin lavare, meaning “to wash,” and is the root of the word lavatory (wash room) and the Spanish lavanderia (laundry).

Lavender is an integral part of the French seasoning blend Herbes de Provençe (my favorite blend ever!), but on its own it enhances all kinds of foods, just like its cousins rosemary, oregano, and sage. On the sweet side of the kitchen lavender has become popular as a dessert flavor, used in combination with fruits, chocolate, and vanilla. Here, I am harnessing its earthier characteristics.

Look for lavender in Latin American markets, health food stores, and specialty grocers. Or plant your own!

Purple Potatoes with Lavender

crazy-purple-spuds
If you’ve never seen a purple potato, don’t be afraid! Their dark skin conceals a beautifully vibrate purple flesh that tastes like a sweeter version of any average potato. It is a waxy potato, so if you have trouble locating it use red or white new potatoes instead.

INGREDIENTS

8 to 10 small purple Peruvian potatoes
Water
1 tsp. kosher salt
6 TB. unsalted butter
1/4 cup lavender buds, crushed
1 tsp. sea salt

METHOD

  1. In a large saucepan cover potatoes with water, add kosher salt, and boil until potatoes are tender. Strain water off potatoes and set aside to cool. When cool, slice potatoes into medallions.
  2. In a large sauté pan melt butter over medium heat. Add lavender and cook until butter solids turn dark brown. (Don’t be alarmed if they turn a little black. That just adds to the flavor.) Add potatoes and sea salt, and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

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Quinoa Herb Salad

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qunoaI have been inundated with vegans lately.  I don’t know why, but so many of my friends have gone animal free lately.  I have no problem with it, and I would join them, if it wasn’t for all the delicious meats.  But never fear – there are plenty of filling vegetable based dishes in my repertoire, including this one from my salad book.

Pronounced KEEN-WAH, this tiny grain was first cultivated and cherished by the Incas and Aztecs. It is extremely high in protein and has a light, delicate, almost nutty flavor that pairs easily with all sorts of ingredients. When it cooks, the grain opens up slightly, producing a texture that is slightly crunchy, but not at all tough.

Quinoa is a nice change of pace from rice, served plain as an accompaniment to braised meats and stews. Or it can be made into a warm, flavorful pilaf, with onions, herbs, nuts, and dried fruits. Here we let it cool, then mix it with a flavorful dressing. The herbs are the perfect complement adding a fresh profile while still letting the grain’s flavor shine.

Quinoa can be found today in health food stores and most large supermarkets. If you buy it in bulk, be sure to rinse it well. The grain has a natural, soapy film that serves as its own natural insect repellant. Rinsing through a colander with cold water for 30-60 seconds will suffice.
keen wah

Quinoa Herb Salad

INGREDIENTS

4 cups water
1-1/2 cup quinoa
1 large shallot, minced
1/4 cup fresh thyme, minced
1/4 cup fresh sage, minced
1/4 cup fresh tarragon, minced
juice and zest of 1 lemon
3 TB. olive oil
1/2 small red onion
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber, diced
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup sliced almonds

METHOD

  1. Bring water to a boil over high heat. Add quinoa, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes, until tender. Drain and spread onto a baking sheet to cool and dry. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl mix together shallot, thyme, sage, tarragon, lemon zest and juice, and oil. Add onion, tomato, cucumber, and cooled quinoa. Stir thoroughly to coat, and chill at least 30 minutes. Toss in basil, parsley, and almonds just before serving.
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