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Beet, Sweet Potato and Fried Goat Cheese Salad

31 Jan

This colorful salad takes from many inspirations– the good fork (restaurant in red hook), barefoot contessa, and my friend who had great idea to throw roast sweet potatoes into a salad. The fried goat cheese- obviously the main attraction- is also versatile- and seems very dinner party appropriate. For the purpose of this picture, I wanted to try what I had seen in a magazine- using cookie cutters (or as I did tracing around a mason jar lid w. a knife)- to make a stack (cookie cutters would have been way easier and prettier). But in real life, what I didn’t use of the beets and potato for the picture- I ended up chopping– and adding to arugula one night and for lunch the rest of the week- I mixed it with lentils, kale and wheatberries. Topped w. a disc of fried goat cheese.

If I could add a note about dark greens- Kale, spinach, broccoli rabe, chard- whatever. However you cook them- when you are done- along w. sprinkle of sea salt at the end– squeeze fresh lemon juice over it.  Makes such a difference in bringing out the flavor- it’s almost absurd.

For my salad I used:
3 beets- medium sized
1 sweet potato
half cup lentils- i use the french green- lentils de puy
half cup wheatberries
1 bunch lacinato kale. W. lemon, olive oil, salt and stock- if handy (if not, don’t worry)

Goat cheese:
1 log goat cheese (or less depending on how many disks you want to make- i only made 1/8 of a log- can scale ingredients below down accordingly)
fresh bread crumbs or panko (1 cup) (i used panko)
2 eggs
fresh parsley- if have on hand

olive oil
spring of fresh rosemary
clove of garlic
salt & pepper
lemon zest

Beets. To roast: Preheat oven to 375. Lightly coat in oil and wrap in foil. Put them in a pan– depending on the size they take about 45-min to an hour to cook. When done, you can stick a fork in and then will come back out easily. The monster pain in the ass thing I hate about beets is the peeling. The way I do it– is using paper towels, hold the beets and rub off the outside skin. (if anyone has any other tricks tho- please share!)
Sweet potato- don’t wrap in foil. Can just place on cookie sheet or directly onto rack. Also took about 45 mins. Test done same way.
Wheatberries- Rinse. 1 1/2 cups water to add 1/2 cup wheatberries. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer, uncovered cook about 30 mins.
Lentils- Rinse. 1 1/2 cups water to 1/2 cup lentils. Bring to a boil. Lower and simmer, uncovered 15-20 mins.
Kale– rinse thoroughly. Can rip up and take ribs out (not necessary but some prefer). Heat a large pan over medium heat. W. some excess water still on it, throw kale into hot pain. Cover and cook for a few minutes to cook. I have actually found- if you have it handy- a little bit of stock adds much flavor. Keep cooking until soft. When done, drizzle w. a little olive oil, ream a fresh lemon into it, salt and pepper.

Goat cheese. I tried this two ways— w. flour, eggs and panko. And with just panko and eggs. The flour holds their shape a little more- so good for if you were doing some sort of dinner party and had to pick them up w. your hands? But w. just panko and eggs was a bit more delicate– melty and delicious- so I would recommend that.
Contrary to my initial thought- goat cheese is actually easier to cut while very cold– not soft. So pop in the freezer while prepping everything else. Slice goat cheese into thin disks w. sharp knife or unflavored dental floss. If this is giving you trouble, you can always take off a bit–  roll into a ball- and then press w. palms to flatten. My discs were about 2 1/2 inches wide (to match the size of my cookie cutter vegetables) and maybe 1/2  inch thick.
Lay out two flat bowls, one w. egg lightly beaten and the other with panko and chopped fresh parsley, if using.
Heat olive oil in stainless steel skillet until very hot.
Dip goat cheese in egg, letting excess drip off. Then roll around in the panko mixture.
Cook until golden brown– takes only about a minute on each side.

Dressing (which was vaguely inspired by something Reed concocted to dip bread in at an Oscar’s party some time ago.) I used my fancy new mortar and pestle. Combining a good glug of olive oil– and rest of the ingredients in bowl. And give it a few good smashes to combine and awaken the flavors.


Arugula Pesto Salad

23 Aug

I made this for a picnic at the beach. For a fresh light flavor, I decided to go for an arugula pesto instead of traditional basil.  My issue with making pesto- is that it always makes way too much.  To combat this, you can half the recipe below. Or you can freeze the leftovers in ice cube trays and defrost later (I’ve seen Giada do this.)  For the beach I made this with whole wheat spiral pasta. For lunch this week, I made w. wheatberries, which I find more filling and flavorful- cribbing the idea from 101 cookbooks.  Another thing about pasta salad- which I learned from Ina- is that you should add the dressing while the pasta is hot- to absorb the flavors.

This pesto recipe- is based off a Marcella Hazan- I just used arugula instead of basil. Feel free to make w. either. Or try another green. I’ve made kale pesto- seen recipes for cilantro pesto- and have even had celery pesto. The interesting thing about Marcella’s method, is that she adds oil in the beginning– instead of gradually as mixer is running. Then she hand mixes in the cheese. I approve.

*I forgot to read the fine print on this before- but if you are freezing- do so before adding the cheese & butter. Then add those once defrosted.

2 cups arugula tightly packed (use the good stuff, fresh on stems, much more flavor than those lose greens in a box- this was 2 small bunches) or basil
1/2 cup olive oil [i definitely used less- I think 1/3 cup]
3 tablespoons pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, chop before putting in food processor
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan
3 tablespoons fresh grated romano [i didn’t have any, so left out]
3 tablespoons softened butter [I probably used 1 tablespoon]
[I added fresh lemon juice- probably half a lemon]

Put arugula, olive oil, pine nuts in a food processor. Mix briefly until a consistent consistency. Put in bowl. Fold in cheese. Add salt & pepper to taste. Mix in butter. Squeeze w. fresh lemon juice.

1 cup wheatberries
3 cups water
heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved*
pepper (i used a “yellowish” one- it was actually labeled that way at co-op which i thought was pretty funny)
fresh mozzarella- i like the mini balls (twss), bocconcini

To make wheatberries.  Boil 3 cups salted water. Add wheatberries. Simmer uncovered. I had before posted 45 mins- but this was done in maybe 30 mins. So I’d say start checking at 25 mins. Wheatberries get al dente and chewy. Just try it.  Drain wheatberries- while hot- add a few heaping spoons of pesto. Mix up. Add chopped tomatoes, peppers, olives. When cooled a bit, add cheese. Squeeze w. fresh lemon juice. Additional salt & pepper to taste.

*Cooking channel viewers (different from Food Network) know-  Chuck, of the show Chuck’s Day Off– from Montreal, very easy on the eyes. Anyway… he has a trick for cutting cherry tomatoes. It wasn’t as easy as it looked on TV- but with some practice, it could be. Take one plate, turn it upside down, place on counter. Spread the tomatoes on top (helps if the plates have that little rim underneath). Put another plate, right side up, on top of the tomatoes. Hold top plate down– take a serrated knife- and go right through all the tomatoes.

Summer Salads

11 Aug

Featuring fresh summer ingredients with minimal cooking. Love this zucchini ribbon salad- very light and refreshing. Paired w. goat cheese- delicious. There is an abundance of zucchini in the summer and i’ll tell you that the flavor in your dish- is largely dependent on quality of your zucchini- so pick out a good one, medium size and firm is your best. And the joy of summer corn. I love fresh corn, off the cob, quickly sauteed.

Raw Zucchini Ribbon Salad
2 medium zucchini
1 Lemon
Fresh basil, a handful
Parmesan & goat cheese
Olive oil

Shave zucchini into ribbons w. vegetable peeler. Drizzle w. olive oil and juice of lemon. Chop a handful of basil. Sprinkle w. sea salt & pepper. Mix up. Top w. cheese.

Corn Basil Salad– from Bon Appetit
6 husks of corn
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup (packed) basil
5 plum tomatoes (seeded- taking out middle oozy part- this makes the salad less watery)
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Husk the corn. Take a serrated knife and cut raw kernels off over a big bowl. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in skillet over medium high heat.  Add garlic, saute 1 minute. Add corn and cook another 5 minutes. Take off heat, add half the basil.Transfer back to big bowl, cooling slightly. Add rest of tomatoes, basil, vinegar and rest of basil. Season w. salt & pepper.

Watermelon Feta Salad with a Balsamic Fig Crostini

12 Jul

This was an off-the-cuff experiment with my dear friend, and park slope neighbor for the summer, Miss beezy burgess. I started to make a balsamic glaze, originally intended for the watermelon salad.  On whim, I threw in some fresh figs I had just bought at the co-op. To my delight, this turned into a lovely balsamic fig compote. Spread with some goat cheese on a crostini (aka  little piece of bread toasted w. olive oil) this lovely hors d’oeuvre would be best enjoyed with a chilled glass of wine, on a porch, in the summertime [or as it was- on my fire escape – beer in hand.]

Watermelon Feta Salad
big bowl of watermelon- cut into chunks
fresh mint
lime (i subbed w. lemon once- but lime works way better)
splash of balsamic vinegar
sea salt
red chili flakes or maybe a serrano pepper (optional)
Take big bowl of watermelon. Squeeze fresh lime juice over. Sprinkle with some feta.  Chop a couple sprigs of fresh mint add (a little mint goes a long way with flavor.)  Add a splash of balsamic and a grinding of sea salt. Add hot pepper if you like. Mix up. Let sit for a minute for the flavors to combine.

Balsamic Fig Crostini
Fresh figs (dried might work too)
balsamic vinegar
goat cheese
Take a frying pan, add enough balsamic vinegar to cover bottom of the pan. Bring to boil on high heat [beware this lets off a very strong vinegar scent- keep your oven fan on]. Keep cooking down. After a few minutes, this  will thicken into a glaze. Add a few chopped fresh figs. Continue stirring to cook until thickens slightly more- coming together like a jam. Take off heat.  Preheat oven to broil. Cut baguette into slice 1/2 in thick. Lay on cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Broil for about 2 mins- keep an eye- as they go from toasty to burnt fast.  Spread goat cheese on toast. Spread compote.

Wheatberry Salad- 2 ways

19 Apr

The other day, I was in the elevator at work– and one of my co-workers, who also belongs to the co-op, made some comment about how filling wheat berries are.  I chuckled and took it as typical co-op talk– but something about it stuck– and within the week I bought a huge bag of wheatberries (costing 83 cents, yup).  Pretty soon, i’m that co-op hippie in the elevator- talking about the delicious and substantive qualities of wheatberries, surely deserving to be mocked.  This salad is not too different from the Everything But The Salad– and is equally infinitely modifiable.  I made this two ways- a meat and a veg version. Ingredients might seem a little random- but it is basically whatever I have in the cabinet/freezer.  The veg features a chipotle baked tofu, spinach and black beans. The meat has duck, chorizo and kidney beans.  I sort of winged it on these recipes- so forgive me for the imprecise manner- and just ask me if you need anything clarified.

How to prepare wheatberries: A lot of people talk about soaking these overnight, but this does not really prove to be necessary.
Rinse wheatberries thoroughly in a colander. Boil 3 cups of salted water.  Add 1 cup of wheatberries.  Lower heat, and simmer for 45 mins uncovered until they are tender- and they will start to split. Drain. *now i only usually cook them for like 25 mins– maybe I just like them w. a bit more bite- but that’s what i do

Veg version
1 package firm tofu
Can of chipotle in adobo
14 oz can of black beans
10 oz bag of fresh spinach
Cumin- and I think I added a minuscule pinch of cayanne
Lime (or lemon if you don’t have it)
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
Take firm tofu and place on a plate. Put another plate on top of it- and put a very heavy book on it. Leave for 30 mins. This will drain out some of the water. It is not an altogether necessary step- but if you have the time- it does make a difference.  Cook wheatberries. Cut tofu into 1 inch cubes and place in an 8×8 inch baking dish. Mix some olive oil, half a lemon or lime, salt and pepper in a little bowl.  Pour over tofu.  Take a spoon of the chipotle sauce- pour over the tofu and mix up. This stuff is pretty spicy- so use more or less accordingly.  Bake at 400 for 30 mins.  Best Baked Tofu would work here too.
Drain beans in colander.  Sprinkle w salt & pepper and a pinch of cumin- tiny pinch cayanne. Mix up.
Wash spinach. Put wet spinach into a big pot. Add some water- maybe half a cup. Turn on the heat, put on a lid, and stir occassionally and the spinach will wilt in a couple minutes. Drain spinach.
Add beans, and wheat berries to spinach. Season with lime or lemon, salt and pepper.  Add tofu. I think a red pepper would work really nicely in here too, if you have it.

Meat-tastic version (not pictured, sorry)
1 chorizo link
1 duck breast
1 14oz can of kidney beans
salt & pepper
balsamic vinegar
Cook the cup of wheatberries per instructions above.  Drain, then add salt, pepper, a splash of balsamic vinegar and a touch of olive oil.  Later, I am going to add some duck fat- but if you are not into that- add little more olive oil here.  Drain can of kidney beans.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika.  Slice up chorizo and fry in dry pan. Take out of pan and set aside.
To cook a duck breast:
Wash and pat dry.  It will have a massive layer of fat on top. Make knife cuts into this fat, diagonal, quarter inch apart.  Make another set in the other direction, like a crosshatch.  Salt & pepper. Heat dry skillet on low. Don’t add oil (but because I am indulgent, I left the chorizo fat in this time). Put fat side down in skillet.  Will begin to brown and fat seep out, 10-15 mins.  Flip over and cook another 5 minutes. That’s medium rare.  Pretty interesting, apparently duck is a red meat- so you cook it medium rare etc- instead of like poultry which you cook through.  Want it more well done, cook on the longer side of the 10-15 mins.  Take out of pan, wrap in foil and let rest for 15 mins.  To eat, I usually cut off the massive fat layer- though one might consider this poor practice- then slice the breast on the diagnoal.  I have had crispy bits of duck fat on a salad before- and it was delicious- can’t remember the proper name for it.
Add beans, duck and chorizo to wheatberry salad.  Here is where I got a bit decadent again- and drizzled a spoonful of duck/chorizo fat that remained in the pan out over the salad.

Squash, Kale & Lentil Salad

15 Nov

Healthy, delicious and full of flavor.  Black kale [aka Lacinato, Tuscan or dinosaur kale] is so hot right now- according to nymag, that is.  Amount you use totally depends on your mood- if you want a more kale or squash base. But I’m really loving raw kale– will continue as a salad base- in fact, I saw a raw kale caesar on a menu at a restaurant the other day- doesn’t that sound good?  Anyway, if you read other food blogs, then you probably read Smitten Kitchen.  This recipe is originally from Bon Apetit– adapted by Smitten Kitchen– and then again, by me.

3/4 cup black or green lentils [if you can find them, the french Lentils de puy are the best]
2 pound squash- peeled, seeded and cubed
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika [i used regular]
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
4 cups arugula [I used a couple cups of kale- probably half of the bunch]
1 cup soft crumbled goat cheese [I didn’t have so grated some Pecorino]
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, plus additional to taste [I didn’t have- so used a splash of white wine vinegar and a splash of balsamic vinegar]
Roasted seeds (about 1/2 cup) from your butternut squash [I wish I had done this but was too lazy]

Preheat oven to 400. Line baking sheet w. foil.  Toss squash in 2 tablespoons olive oil, cumin, paprika and salt.  Spread on sheet in single layer. Roast for 20 mins, flipping after 10.  [I kept roasting it an extra 15/20 mins- to get it a little sweeter- next time I think I’d set my oven to 425- like in the butternut squash soup recipe]

Meanwhile, soak the lentils in water for 10 mins.  Then, in a small saucepan, cook lentils in [1 cup] of boiling salted water until tender but firm [interesting note, the salt actually helps it keep its bite].  Smitten Kitchen says this takes 30 minutes- but I took another route.  Boil on med/high heat for 3-5 minutes.  Lower and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Start tasting at after the 10- mine only took that long- you want them pretty firm.

Combine lentils, squash and kale.  Add the last 1 tablespoon of oil and vinegar.  If using goat cheese, add half now- and serve w. the other half on the side.  Season w. salt, pepper and extra vinegar to taste.

everything but the salad

16 Sep

What to bring for lunch? Ah, the eternal question.  There are two things that make this salad so especially great.  First, is that it has a grain base instead of greens, which makes it much more filling.  Second, it tastes good with pretty much anything.  Consider the ingredients I listed as a starting off point.  Mine is a bit southwestern themed… but italian (sun-dried tomatoes, mozz, salami, balsamic vinegar, spinach etc) or greek themed (olives, cucumber, feta), all work well.  But no theme required… go wild.

p.s. this makes a couple days worth of lunch

1 cup bulgar wheat (can also use couscous, qunioa, barley etc)
2 cups water
1 pepper (red, green or yellow)
black beans (or chickpeas, kidney beans etc)
Smoked gouda (or feta, cheddar etc)
raisins (or dried cranberries, cherries etc)
nuts (if you like, i don’t)
baked tofu (can buy packaged baked tofu- my recipe coming soon- or can use regular tofu- i prefer the vacuum packed to the kind sitting in water)
1 lime
red pepper flakes

Cook your grain of choice according to its instructions. For bulgar wheat, put 1 cup bulgar and 2 cups water in a small saucepan and cover.  Bring to boil, then lower heat.  Simmer for 15-20 mins.  Take off heat (don’t uncover) and let stand for 10 mins .  Fluff w. a fork.

Add chopped pepper, cheese, tofu, rinsed beans.  Sprinkle w. red pepper flakes and juice from lime.

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