August – Corn Cob Pasta Salad

August – Corn Cob Pasta Salad

Did your neighborhood participate in National Night Out on August 1st? National Night Out happens across the U.S. and is intended to bring neighbors together and promote relationships with local fire and police. Our own had a block party, it was easy to block the street since we live on a cul-de-sac. We roped off the street at 6 pm and let the kids roller skate and play basketball. It was a wonderful party, a chance to catch up with our neighbors, share some good food and wine. Our elected officials, local police and firemen took the opportunity to come around to introduce themselves and update us on civic events and trainings.

My contribution to the party was this vegetarian pasta salad. This is a perfect make ahead salad for warm days, I was able to make it in the cool of the morning and let the flavors mingle. Leftovers were even better for lunch the next day. There is no mayonnaise so you don’t have to worry about spoilage. It would be a great side for a summer BBQ.

Why do I call it corn cob pasta salad? Because the first step is to make a “broth” from the leftover cobs. I’ve read about this technique when making corn chowders, the cobs (once the kernels are removed) flavor the stock and give an extra flavor boost to the soup. Start by cooking the ears of corn in boiling water, then remove them after 4 or 5 minutes (when the corn is cooked to your liking), cut the kernels from the cobs, and return the ’empty’ cobs to the boiling water for another 30 minutes. The result is a mild corn flavored broth in which you cook the pasta. A corny stock.

You could use any shape of pasta, I used rotelle (wagon wheels) because I thought it would be fun for the kids and easy to eat off a paper plate.

Once the pasta is cooked and drained, I mixed it with the corn kernels, halved cherry tomatoes, chopped red onion, black beans, halved pitted black olives, shredded mozzarella, and lots of chopped parsley. The seasonings are light and simple, some red pepper, salt, vinegar, and olive oil. Since there is no mayonnaise, you don’t have to worry about food poisoning if it sits out for a couple of hours on a picnic table.

Corn Cob Pasta Salad

This makes a lot of salad, suitable for sharing at a large gathering for a 8 – 12. You could add fresh spinach to stretch it even further.

Ingredients:

  • 4 ears of fresh corn, cleaned
  • 1 lb box of dried pasta, your choice of shape
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 large red onion, chopped
  • 12 black olives, halved or sliced
  • 2 cups of shredded mozzarella
  • 1 bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar depending on strength
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper

Method:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Add the corn to the pot, turn down the heat when it comes back to a boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes until it is cooked to your liking.
  3. Use tongs or another utensil to remove the corn from the pot.
  4. Cool the corn until you can handle it and cut the kernels from the cob, reserve.
  5. Salt the boiling water well and add the cobs back to the pot, simmer for 30 minutes on low heat.
  6. Remove the cobs from the water and skim any silk that might be floating in your corn broth. Bring the water back to the boil.
  7. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook as per the package directions.
  8. Meanwhile combine the corn kernels, tomatoes, drained black beans, red onion, and olives in a large bowl.
  9. Drain the cooked pasta, cool slightly (don’t rinse, I add a tablespoon of olive oil to keep it from sticking together) and add to the bowl with the other ingredients and add the pinch of red pepper.
  10. Add the olive oil and vinegar, toss together, taste for salt.
  11. Mix in the chopped parsley and mozzarella once completely cool.
  12. Taste again and add any additional seasonings that might be needed.

Also nice in the salad would be chopped red or orange pepper, I actually forgot to add them but think the pepper would be a flavorful and colorful addition. Finely minced garlic would also be good if you are serving only adults. What about hominy? Then it would be a triple corn salad…broth, fresh kernels, and hominy. This recipe is only a basic template for a world of flavors and your imagination.

This is a great dish to share at Fiesta Friday #185. You can add your own link or stay to read about all the wonderful party food. The buffet is hosted by Angie and cohosted by Suzanne @ apuginthekitchen and Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes.

June – Tomato and Roasted Lemon Salad

June – Tomato and Roasted Lemon Salad

This scrumptious salad was inspired and came together by combining two recipes, the Tomato Chickpea Salad from the blog kitchn, and one for Tomato and Roasted Lemon Salad from the cookbook Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi. Are you familiar with Yotam Ottolenghi? He is the inspiration behind the London restaurants Ottolenghi and NOPI, and has written several vegetarian cook books. They include Plenty and Jerusalem, in addition to Plenty More. His recipes have a wonderful mix of new spices, exotic ingredients, and methods (at least to me), many of them coming from the middle east. I changed some of the spices (I adore cumin, allspice not so much) and added the stir fried chickpeas from the kitchn recipe to make it a heartier dish.

Roasted Lemon and Tomato Salad

The new method in this salad is the addition of roasted lemons. I love the way lemons become caramelized and sweet when roasted, sheet pan roasted chicken and citrus is a favorite at our house. But, I had never thought of adding them to a salad. They add a wonderful citrusy scent and mellow lemon flavor sweetened by the roasting. Take a deep breath when you open the oven to check on them, the aroma is incredible. I had a sudden craving for lemon meringue.

Roasted Lemons – before

Roasted Lemons – after

This salad will be even better at the height of tomato season, unfortunately it’s still a few weeks away for us and I missed the farmer’s market last weekend. Use the best cherry tomatoes you can find (a variety is colorful), the rest of the ingredients will certainly ramp things up.

This is a salad I will be making multiple times this summer, it is a perfect side for a BBQ or potluck. In fact it is my addition to a friends party on the 4th of July. It has the benefit of also being both vegan and vegetarian, so can be served to a variety of guests without worry about dietary restrictions. You could bulk it up even further by increasing the amount of herbs or adding some arugula. It is even hearty enough to serve as a main dish with the addition of some crisp bread.

Roasted Lemon and Tomato Salad

The recipe will serve 4 but it is easily doubled or even tripled. Make the roasted lemons and chickpeas earlier in the day, all you have to do later is assemble.

Tomato and Roasted Lemon Salad

  • 2 medium lemons, unwaxed and organic preferred
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar
  • 8 sage leaves, finely shredded
  • 2 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (it is nice to have a mixture of colors)
  • 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • Salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F (or 325 degrees C) and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Slice the lemons in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Thinly slice the half lemons into half rounds (paper fine if possible).
  3. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil.
  4. Add the lemon slices to the boiling water, and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain well, place the lemon slices in a small bowl and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and the shredded sage leaves. Mix well.  Spread the lemon slices out in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake the lemon slices for about 20 minutes until the edges have browned and they have dried out a bit. Remove and set aside to cool.
  6. Meanwhile prepare the chickpeas. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the chickpeas and spread out in a single layer. Cook without stirring until browned on the bottom (about 4-5 minutes). Salt and stir them, spread them out again to brown the other side. Cook for another 2-3 minutes until golden brown and blistered on all sides. Remove from the heat, add the cumin and red pepper flakes. Toss to coat on all sides with the spices, taste them and add some salt if needed, set aside to cool.
  7. To assemble the salad combine the tomatoes, chickpeas, parsley, mint, pomegranate seeds, pomegranate molasses, onion, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper.Lastly add the lemon slices and stir gently.

    Roasted Lemon and Tomato Salad

    Roasted Lemon and Tomato Salad

    This salad was a hit on the 4th of July, I bet the folks at Fiesta Friday will also enjoy it. This week it is Fiesta Friday #179 hosted by Angie and cohosted by Petra @ Food Eat Love and Laura @ Feast Wisely. 

Join the party by adding your own link and come visit all the lovely food that contributors               are bringing along.

 

June – Roasted Carrots and Beets with Curried Lentils

June – Roasted Carrots and Beets with Curried Lentils

The title for this could be even longer, Roasted Carrots & Beets with Curried Lentils, Feta and Yogurt Salad. There is a little something in there for everyone. I’ve adapted the recipe slightly from one I found in a book I mentioned a few posts ago. The same book gave the inspiration for cauliflower hummus. Take a look at Dishing Up the Dirt by Andrea Bemis, it is a keeper.

Dishing Up the Dirt

Serve this dish as a salad at room temperature, or warm. It makes a wonderful stand alone vegetarian entree, or a side dish for roast chicken or fish. It would be perfect as part of a large buffet. I found that leftovers are even more flavorful the next day.

The original recipe did not call for curry, but I love the warming influence it has on lentils. I also left out the dill and substituted fresh parsley. Adapt this recipe to your own taste.

Roasted Beet & Carrot Lentil Salad with Feta and Yogurt Sauce

Ingredients for Roasted Carrot & Beet Curried Lentil Salad (serves 4)

Lentils

  • 1 1/2 cups of French green lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 small yellow onion, quartered
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
  • Sea or kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Roasted Beets and Carrots

  • 1 bunch of small beets, any color or a combination, scrubbed, trimmed and cut into eighths
  • 1 large bunch of carrots, scrubbed, trimmed and halved lengthwise if small, or cut into 1/2 inch lengths
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil, more if needed
  • Sea or kosher salt

Sauce and garnish

  • 1 cup of full fat yogurt
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds, briefly toasted
  • Feta cheese, crumbled for serving
  • 1/4 cup of parsley, coarsely chopped

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F (218 C)
  2. Place the lentils in a medium saucepan, cover with 3 inches of cool water, add the onion and by leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat, turn the heat to low and simmer 20 to 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender but still holding their shape. Add 1 teaspoon of salt towards the end of cooking. Add more water if needed.
  3. Drain the lentils, discard the onion and bay leaf. While still warm, toss with a drizzle of olive oil and the curry powder. Taste for salt and add freshly ground pepper, squeeze on the lemon.
  4. Meanwhile toss the beets and carrots with the olive oil and spread out on a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Roast until browned and tender, 25 to 30 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, salt and olive oil.
  6. When ready to serve, spread the lentils on a platter, top with the beets and carrots, drizzle with the yogurt sauce. Top with the chopped parsley, feta and almonds. Serve remaining yogurt sauce on the side.

    Roasted Carrots and Beets with Curried Lentils

    Curried Lentils with Roasted Carrots and Beets

    Note: the original title included May, which is when I served this dish to my book club. I am a bit late in the posting.

    Note 2: I am taking this to Fiesta Friday #176 to share with the rest of the party goers, it will be a great addition to the buffet. Click here to see the dishes brought by other members and to add your own link. Fiesta Friday #176 hosted by Angie and co-hosted by by Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

May – Roasted Cauliflower Hummus

May – Roasted Cauliflower Hummus

When is hummus not really hummus? For the sake of total accuracy, when should you no longer call it hummus?

Here is the official definition in the dictionary:

noun:
Middle Eastern Cookery. a paste or dip made of chickpeas mashed with oil, garlic, lemon juice, and tahini and usually eaten with pita.
Origin of hummus:
From the dialectal Arabic word ḥummuṣ, ḥəmmoṣ chickpeas
 
So, technically speaking, if it doesn’t contain chickpeas, it should not be called hummus. But recipes without chickpeas and still calling themselves hummus are everywhere. And they are delicious even though they are incorrectly named. I especially adore the ones made with roasted vegetables such as the one on the Chef Mimi Blog for Roasted Carrot Hummus or the delightful variety on the blog Foodbod by Elaine. Sometimes vegetables are also added to a regular hummus (made with chickpeas) to increase the nutritional value and flavor (I guess those can be officially called hummus). Including cooked mashed sweet potatoes or winter squash is a wonderful and colorful idea during the holidays. Keep a bowl of these vegetable spreads in your fridge for snacking or adding to sandwiches. A hummus and avocado sandwich with thinly sliced onion and cucumber on whole grain bread is a quick powerhouse lunch.
So, I am going to defy technical and other accuracies and call this rendition with roasted cauliflower hummus. After all, it is a wonderful dip for pita bread or raw veggies, and it looks like hummus. It contains all the other ingredients of hummus, but no chickpeas. Instead you use one of my favorite vegetables, roasted cauliflower. I recently served this at my bookclub when it was my turn to host, no one was able to identify the secret ingredient. The guessing game was great fun.

The recipe comes from the cookbook Dishing Up the Dirt by Andrea Bemis, the subtitle says it all, simple recipes for cooking through the seasons. This is a cookbook that will see regular use, becoming stained with grease spots and filled with notations. The book is filled with healthy and delicious recipes, simple but often with a clever twist. It is mostly vegetarian but not entirely. Ms. Bemis and her husband own and run tumblewood farm in Oregon and the book features seasonal produce from their fields. I found this book inspirational even for a “farm” that consists of a few raised beds. I wish I lived close enough to Portland to join their CSA group.

Roasted Cauliflower Hummus

Here is the recipe for the mystery ingredient.
Ingredients:
  • 1 medium-sized cauliflower head, broken into small florets
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, peels left on
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cumin, toasted if you have time (the recipe calls for 1/8 teaspoon but I love cumin)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher or sea salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F (218 degrees C)
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment or baking paper. Toss the cauliflower and garlic cloves with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and spread out in one layer on the sheet.
  3. Roast until the cauliflower is tender and brown on the edges, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. Let the vegetables cool slightly, then gently squeeze the garlic from their skins into the bowl of a food processor.
  5. Into the same bowl, combine the cauliflower, remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, cayenne and the garlic cloves squeezed from the skin.
  6. Process until the mixture is smooth, stopping to scrape the sides and push the mixture back down as needed. Add warm tap water 1 tablespoon at a time to thin for a creamier texture.
  7. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt and pepper. Repulse to mix.

This will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for 3 to 5 days. It is nice to give it a few hours of chilling time for the flavors to mellow.

When I make it next time I will probably add a little more garlic and olive oil to the processor.

When chilled spread on crisp crackers or pita bread,

or my favorite, sliced cucumber.

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.

 

 

March – 3 Pepper Pasta with Garlic

March – 3 Pepper Pasta with Garlic

Sometimes the best recipes come out of necessity, this time the need for a quick dinner with minimal ingredients (the fridge was almost bare). We were away over the weekend, arriving home on Sunday night hungry from a long drive. Something was required almost instantly before true bad humor hit. This recipe will do it for you…it literally took only 15 minutes from the time the pasta water came to a boil. Apart from pantry staples (a box of dried pasta, garlic, olive oil, parmesan, black pepper, salt, and red pepper flakes) only 2 sweet fresh red peppers are required. Don’t have red peppers in the fridge? Use Brussels sprouts or cabbage or winter squash (you will need to peel and cut them into quite small cubes) or red onion or fresh tomatoes in summer. If you have fresh herbs on hand or in the garden, toss them in at the end. What about basil with tomatoes, mint with carrots or peas, cilantro with frozen corn? Be inventive! It’s nice to have a color contrast but certainly not required.

3 Pepper Pasta

The 3 types of pepper in this recipe come from red peppers, a good pinch of red pepper flakes, and a generous grinding of black pepper.

You will have dinner on the table faster than it would take you to run to the deli for takeout.

3 Pepper Pasta with Garlic – serves 4 to 6 generously

Ingredients:

  • Dried pasta of your choice, I used a 1 lb. box of fusilli
  • 2 fresh red peppers, cored and seeded, then cut into julienne sticks
  • 4 – 5 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • kosher salt
  • Pinch or about 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (more if you want spicy)
  • Generous grind of black pepper, or about 1/2 teaspoon
  • Chopped parsley or other herb (optional), about 1/2 cup
  • Freshly ground parmesan or other hard cheese

Method:

  1. First bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a couple of teaspoons of salt. Pasta water should taste like the sea.
  2. While the water is coming to a boil, slice the red peppers and mince the garlic.
  3. Once the water comes to a boil, add your pasta and set a timer. The fusilli required 13 minutes for al dente. Since I planned to cook it with the red peppers at the end, I wanted a little bite left in it.
  4. Put a saucepan, large enough to hold the cooked pasta, over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and heat until it starts to shimmer.
  5. Add the fresh red pepper and pepper flakes, saute until it begins to soften (about 5 minutes)
  6. Add the garlic, turn down the heat as you want the garlic to soften but not brown.
  7. When the pasta is cooked, reserve about 1 cup of cooking liquid and drain the rest.
  8. Add the pasta to the saucepan with the peppers and garlic. Turn up the heat a bit and stir, add the reserved cooking water by tablespoons until the pasta softens a bit more and glistens. (You will probably not need the full cup.)
  9. Drizzle with more olive oil, grind the black pepper over the top, add the parsley and grated parmesan.

Dinner is served!

Add the red peppers to the hot pan along with the red pepper flakes

Softened Red Peppers

Add the pasta to the red peppers

Chopped Parsley

Pasta with red peppers, black pepper, garlic and parsley

Finish with freshly grated cheese

This recipe is similar to one of my very first posts for pasta with peas, another pantry staple this time from the freezer.

I am taking this to share with fellow bloggers at Fiesta Friday, over at Angie’s. Can you believe it is #163! Click on the link to see what everyone else is bringing 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.