May – Wild Rice and Black Bean Salad

May – Wild Rice and Black Bean Salad

Black bean and wild rice salad is a flexible dish, it even doesn’t have to be a salad. You could serve it warm as well. Modify this very versatile recipe for the occasion and your taste. Add some shredded cheddar or crumbled goat cheese and it could be the center of a vegetarian feast. It is a perfect side dish for a BBQ or pot luck. Best of all it can be made a few hours ahead, it doesn’t require any last minute attention other than a sprinkling of chopped cilantro. The flavors will improve by sitting for a few hours. If made ahead, refrigerate the salad and bring it up to cool room temperature, sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

I know that wild rice can be pricy. Modify by using leftover cooked brown rice, it would work as a substitute. When I cook any kind of rice I always prepare more than I will use. Day old rice makes the best fried rice, and cooked rice freezes well in heavy duty freezer bags. Portion as much as you will need for a meal. label it, and pop it in the freezer. When you want to use it, add a few drops of water to the bag and reheat in the microwave.

Wild Rice and Black Bean Salad

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 – 6)

  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained (or 1 1/2 cups of cooked and drained black beans)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked wild rice (about 1 cup uncooked)
  • 1 bunch of spring onions or scallions, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 English or thin skinned cucumber, chopped into cubes (if using a regular cuke, peel and seed it first)
  • 1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 avocado chopped
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp red pepper (depending on desired heat)
  • Salt to taste
  • Lemon and/or lime juice, about 1/4 cup
  • Olive oil, about 1/4-1/2 cup
  • Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

METHOD

  1. Prepare the wild rice according to package directions, drain and cool.
  2. In a large bowl mix the black beans, onions, garlic, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red pepper together.
  3. Add the chili powder, cumin, red pepper and salt. Taste and see if it needs any additional seasoning.
  4. Toss with the juice of a lemon or 2 limes, then add the olive oil. I start with the smallest amount and taste, adding more if needed.
  5. Serve, or chill until serving time. Garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley.

    Wild Rice and Black Bean Salad

 

I am taking this salad to Fiesta Friday #171. It will be a perfect balance to the array of dishes brought by other bloggers. Click here to read the posts, please add your own to the party.

 

 

August – Fruit and Cucumber Salsa

August – Fruit and Cucumber Salsa

I don’t think summer is the season for fancy cooking. It is the time for salads of all kinds, melon and prosciutto, yogurt with fresh fruit and berries, juicy sliced tomatoes, BBQ, veggies on the grill, and chilled wine. The spotlight should be on highlighting the glory of the best local and seasonal ingredients, cooked (or not cooked) with a few fresh herbs and a drizzle of olive oil.

That being said, sometimes the food needs a little embellishing. Maybe you are expecting company or it is a special holiday weekend. I want to introduce the idea of a fruit salsa to go with those amazing grilled dishes. We are all familiar with a tomato based salsa but peaches, nectarines, watermelon, and mangos all make excellent salsas. If you live in Hawaii or the tropics, pineapples are also a good choice (I don’t think they are worth eating elsewhere…sorry Dole).

fruit salsa

fruit salsa

Use whatever is freshest and perfectly ripe but not mushy. This is a very loose recipe but I will give some general directions. I think the essentials are sweet, crisp, spicy heat, sharpness, acid, and salt. In the salsa shown above the peaches provide sweet, the cucumber is crisp, the chilis are heat, the onion sharp, and lime juice acid.

Ingredients

  • Fresh fruit, cut into cubes – I used 4 peaches
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled if necessary and cubed to the same size
  • 1 – 2 hot chilis – seeded and cut into small cubes, I used 1 jalapeno and 1 small red chili
  • 1/2 red onion – chopped finely
  • squeeze of lime juice
  • salt to taste

Again this is a very flexible list. If you have a ripe avocado, add it. What about a mix of fruit? Watermelon with tomatoes is a winner. Apples would be good in the fall. Have some fresh basil on hand? Wonderful! Cilantro? Yum! Mint? Oh my! See what I mean?

Notice that there is no oil in this salsa? None is needed. It is a good way to get an extra serving of fruits and vegetables deliciously without any additional fat.

Peach and Cucumber Salsa

Peach and Cucumber Salsa

I am taking this to share at Fiesta Friday #131, hosted by Angie. This weeks co-hosts are Su @ Su’s Healthy Living and Laura @ Feast Wisely. Click on the link to read the posts and join the party.

June – Summer Detox Salad

June – Summer Detox Salad

Detox salads are all the rage on the internet and Pinterest. And with good reason. It is summer vacation time, yes? And who doesn’t need an occasional detox after too much summer fun. In fact these salads are a good idea anytime you need to boost your daily dose of fruits and vegetables. There are at least 3 servings of vegetables, plus protein, and fiber…all in a single bowl. Use whatever produce is in season, add some nuts, healthy fat as in avocado, and protein. For this salad I used fresh salmon since it is currently in season, but shrimp or chicken would also work. There is a detox salad for every season. This is a hearty lunch or dinner in a single bowl, you don’t need to be “detoxing” to enjoy it.

A big dose of Southern hospitality has driven me to this summer detox salad. I spent a week catching up with family. It was a week filled with love, wonderful conversation, great food, and celebration. I have two brand new beautiful grandnieces, so we have a lot to be grateful for. My extended family is getting bigger…

And so is my waist.

What did me in? If you are curious here are a few of the highlights:

Southern Biscuits and Plum Conserve

Southern Biscuits and Plum Conserve

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Pickles

Fried Pickles

And, of course, delicious wine.

French Rose

French Rose

So, detox salad for a few days seems like a very good idea. I don’t have a “real” recipe for this. It’s a variation of my “everything but the kitchen sink salad“, and a summer version of the “clean out the fridge soup” I make in the winter. Be creative. Use the freshest produce you can find at the store or farmer’s market. Feel free to substitute, the only rule is to use ingredients that are in season. If you can find organic produce, all the better. I harvested the first summer tomatoes and cucumbers from my garden, and added some wild arugula that has become a weed. For a sweet touch and some heft I added the first summer corn, then some sharpness from thinly sliced red onion, crunch from a small handful of nuts, and healthy fat from avocado.

The first garden tomatoes

The first garden tomatoes

Tomato, Cucumber, Red Pepper, and Onion

Tomato, Cucumber, Red Pepper, and Onion

Add some corn.

Summer Detox Salad

Summer Detox Salad

For protein I used salmon, but shrimp or chicken or even cubed feta would be a delicious substitute.

Cubed Salmon, Sauteed, and Drained

Cubed Salmon, Sauteed, and Drained

Let your creative juices run wild, I even tossed in a lonely apricot that needed to be eaten.

Summer Detox Salad

  • 3 tomatoes, cubed
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled if necessary and cubed
  • 2 ears of corn, cooked – they would be delicious grilled, kernels cut from the cob
  • 1 red pepper, cubed
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound of fresh salmon, cubed and browned, then drained on paper towels
  • 1 avocado, peeled and sliced
  • 2-3 handfuls of fresh arugula, romaine, or baby spinach1 avocado, peeled and sliced
  • Small handful of toasted nuts – pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts or pecans

Dressing

Use a version of my basic vinaigrette, substituting lemon juice for the vinegar in the original recipe.

  • 4 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt to taste, a good pinch
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

Mix the lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper together in a small jar. Shake well to blend. Add the olive oil and shake again to emulsify. The vinaigrette will keep for a week in the refrigerator.

Or, for a dose of fermented food and probiotics, whirl a few tablespoons of fermented lemon pickle with some olive oil and a tablespoon of mayonnaise. A few parsley leaves added a touch of green.

Fermented Lemon Pickle

Fermented Lemon Pickle

Fermented Lemon Pickle, olive oil and mayonnaise

Fermented Lemon Pickle, olive oil and mayonnaise

Summer Detox Salad

Summer Detox Salad

IMG_4619

Summer Detox Salad

Summer Detox Salad

Summer Detox Salad

Summer Detox Salad

I am taking this to share with the partying group at Angie’s for Fiesta Friday. Come visit Fiesta Friday #125 by clicking on the link. This week’s co-hosts are Quinn @ dadwhats4dinner and Elaine @ Foodbod.

April – Fermented Lemon Pickle with Indian 5-Spices

April – Fermented Lemon Pickle with Indian 5-Spices

You will find recipes for fermenting vegetables (and sometimes fruit) in every culture. it is a way to preserve seasonal vegetables, increase their nutritional potency, and add a ton of flavor as well. In its simplest form, fermenting vegetables just involves submerging vegetables in salty liquid and leaving them alone to let the wild bacteria do its work.

Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Moroccan preserved lemons, Chinese pickles, Indian pickles, Japanese umeboshi are all examples of fermented vegetables and fruits. In his book, The Art of Fermentation, Sandor Ellix Katz explains that although you can call fermented vegetables pickled, all pickles are not fermented. The “Dill pickles” found in grocery stores are vegetables preserved in vinegar and are not fermented. It is important to know this difference as eating fermented foods has a lot of health benefits.  

Katz in his book observes correctly that Indian pickling is not an unified tradition – each state, each region, each sub-culture, and even each family has its prized pickling method.  Most will add heated mustard or sesame oil, but some may not.  Some will leave it out in the sun, but some will just leave it in a cool place inside.  Some will add lemon juice, some will not. But throughout India you will find fermented lemon pickle served with rice and yogurt. It is a pantry staple.

This fermented lemon pickle is definitely out of my usual comfort zone, but it was so intriguing. I love the mix of spices, and I just happened to have them all on hand having recently visited the Oaktown Spice Shop. I thought, why not? Go for it! I’m posting  the recipe, even though it has to cure for another month, because there are many of us right now with a glut of Meyer lemons, you may want to try it.

I found this recipe on the blog hungry tigress. There are two parts to the blog, tigress in a pickle and tigress in a jam. Check out this blog for wonderful recipes on preserving, pickling and fermenting. I made the recipe exactly how it was written on her blog, you can read the original here.

Meyer Lemon Pickle with Indian 5-Spices

makes 1/2 gallon or two quart jars

Ingredients

  • 13 organic Meyer lemons, washed and wiped dry
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon nigella seeds
  • scant 1/2 cup fine sea salt
  • scant 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of cayenne powder or ground chili of choice
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
  • optional: 1/4 teaspoon of asafoetida powder

Method

  1. Wash and wipe the lemons with a dry cloth. Slice 12 of them in quarters lengthwise, slice each quarter through its width into three pieces. Remove the seeds as you go. Put the lemons into a large bowl and try to catch as much juice as possible, adding it to the bowl as you go.
  2. In a heavy dry skillet toast the 5 whole spices on medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally. As soon as you smell a wonderful aroma and the fenugreek seeds have turned a shade darker, they are ready. If you are using the asafoetida powder, add it the last few seconds before turning everything out onto a plate to cool.IMG_4333
  3. Once cool, grind them in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Add them to the lemons along with the salt, sugar, cayenne, and turmeric. Stir until all is combined.
  4. Scoop all into a immaculately dry half gallon (or into two quart jars) glass jar with a tight fitting lid. The recipe warns that the jar and all utensils that touch the pickle must be dry because even a little water could lead to spoilage of the lemons.
  5. Place the jar in a sunny windowsill. Give the jar a shake every day or so, or keep in right side up one day and upside down the next.
  6. Every few days open the cap, carefully, as there will be fermentation going on inside and it will sizzle a bit when you open the lid. The pickle should be done in about 3 weeks, taste it to see if the flavor and texture is to your liking. You want some firmness to remain.
  7. Store in the refrigerator and it will easily last for a year or more. Be sure to use a clean dry spoon each time.
    Meyer Lemon Fermented Pickle with Indian 5-Spices

    Meyer Lemon Fermented Pickle with Indian 5-Spices

    I love this pickle with plain brown rice or another grain, with a dollop of yogurt on the side to cut the heat. But, my husband prefers it whirled in a blender with some mayonnaise. It it a wonderful sauce for roasted vegetables, fish, or chicken. It also makes a wonderful salad dressing, whirled to a smooth consistency in a food processor (I use my mini one) and thinned with a little olive oil.

Fermented Lemon Pickle, olive oil and mayonnaise

Fermented Lemon Pickle, olive oil and mayonnaise

Summer Detox Salad

Summer Detox Salad

November – Harvest Salad

November – Harvest Salad

This salad takes full advantage of the wonderful and colorful autumn produce available right now. You combine roast sweet potato and cauliflower, apple, toasted nuts, a grain (your choice), with a lemony dressing full of fresh parsley. Serve it warm, room temperature, or cold. The dish is both vegetarian and vegan, gluten free if you use brown rice as the grain. I served it as a side with a roast chicken, and it would be delicious as a one bowl vegetarian meal, poached eggs optional.

I mixed leftovers into scrambled eggs the next morning in a delicious scramble for brunch.

Harvest Salad

Harvest Salad

It’s pretty enough to serve as a side for Thanksgiving. Make it ahead, bring to room temperature and toss with the dressing just before serving. This recipe will serve 4-6 but can be easily doubled or tripled.

Harvest Salad

  • 1 cup of brown rice, farro, or another whole grain
  • 1 head of cauliflower, broken into small florets
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • A sprinkle of dried spices, or a few sprigs of fresh thyme or oregano or rosemary
  • 1 large apple
  • A handful of toasted nuts, pecans or walnuts

Lemon/Parsley Dressing

  • 1 bunch of parsley, minced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • juice of 1-2 lemons
  • 1 teaspoon of pure maple syrup or agave
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  1. Rinse your grain of choice (I used farro) and cook with the appropriate amount of water or broth. Refer to the cooking directions on the package as each is different. Once cooked drain, if appropriate, and cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place the cauliflower and sweet potato on separate large baking sheets, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with herbs and salt. Roast for 20 minutes, then turn the pieces to brown the other side and roast for an additional 15-20 minutes until golden brown and soft. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  3. Spread the nuts out on a small roasting sheet and toast for about 5 minutes. Watch carefully so they don’t burn, remove and cool.
  4. Combine the dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight lid and shake to combine.
  5. Chop the apple (you do not need to peel), and set aside.
  6. When the vegetables and grains are done, combine together with the apple in a large bowl. Toss with the dressing and nuts just before serving. Taste for salt and pepper.

Serve.

Autumn salad

Autumn salad

Roast sweet potato and cauliflower salad

Roast sweet potato and cauliflower salad

 

I’m taking this to Fiesta Friday #95, hosted by Angie of the Novice Gardener. This week it is co-hosted by Loretta @ Safari of the Mind and Petra @ Food Eat Love. Come and visit with us to see all the wonderful dishes being brought by the fabulous cooks at the party.

 

 

The basic recipe came from the blog Pinch of Yum where it is called “Autumn Glow Salad with Lemon Dressing”.