Archive for the ‘Vegetables’ Category

Fresh from the Farm

May 19, 2013

During a recent visit to my favorite place, I stopped by the Valley Shepherd Creamery to try some cheese and drool over the yummy goodness they stock. A hand-written sign in their cheese display case caught my eye: fresh goat cheese. My taste for chèvre was ruined in France where cheese is not pasteurized and therefore tastes rich beyond belief. By contrast, much of the cheese here just tastes bland and boring and sad.

When I see cheese that is "raw" or fresh or otherwise not normally bland American cheese, I get excited. When I asked Valley Shepherd Creamery what made the goat cheese with the handwritten sign "fresh", the response made the cheese impossible to resist: it was milked just 4 days ago!

Goat Cheese Tomato Sandwich

a bruscetta style sandwich made with goat cheese, tomato, and crispy kale

The pressure was on though: what to do with the tasty, fresh, lovely hunk of goat cheese? Besides the obvious answer of eating it all straight away. Nearly any combination of food would taste well from dates to figs to melon to grapes… After stopping at my favorite stand in my favorite place and getting some gorgeous tomatoes, this snack just came together naturally.

Goat Cheese Tomato Sandwich

created on-the-fly by Sarah Johnson

Note: measurements are not included and are entirely up to your discretion and tastes.

  • fresh goat cheese
  • tomato
  • kale
  • 1-2T olive oil
  • 1-2T balsamic vinegar
  • toast
  1. Chop kale into bite-size pieces and toss with olive oil.
  2. Spread the kale on a baking sheet, avoiding as much overlap as possible.
  3. Bake at 400F for about 5 minutes, until the kale becomes crispy.
  4. Slice the tomato into wedges.
  5. Slice the cheese into small rectangles.
  6. Layer as follows: toast, cheese, tomato, kale.
  7. Top with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Notes and Variations

I had enough goat cheese to try this a few different ways with toast, without toast, with basil instead of kale, with microgreens, and all of them were good. This is a recipe that cannot go wrong unless your ingredients go bad. I ate it as a sandwich, like bruscetta, but it can be served in pieces as large or small as you like. Have fun with it!

Goat Cheese Tomato and Greens

a bruscetta style sandwich made with fresh goat cheese, microgreens, and tomatoes on toast


Pretty and Pink

May 13, 2013

Happy Mother’s Day!

I was inspired yesterday while watching a baseball game, seeing all the players wearing pink attire in honor of mothers. Also, because my mother asked for it, I’m finally posting this recipe for her. Happy Mother’s Day!

Beet and Walnut Purée

beet and walnut purée on toast

This is a recipe I came across in the book Spain: A Culinary Road Trip. The book is one of the influences that has put Spain at the top of my travel list as a culinary destination. I highly recommend taking a look at it for the recipes, exploration of Spanish culture, and beautiful pictures. I borrowed the book from the library and went straight to Quince, a Spanish food market where I shared my interest in Spanish cuisine with the owner, who grew up in Spain. As we went through the book, she pointed out where she was from, her favorite dishes, and items she sold that were mentioned in the book.

I spent weeks trying all kinds of recipes from the book and settled on a few favorites. The beet and walnut purée is a nice, quick, and easy recipe from Southern Spain, drawing on the Middle Eastern influence in the country using tahini paste. The beauty of this recipe is that you can make it from canned ingredients and it still tastes good. It’s now a year-round staple of my kitchen and a fun substitute for hummus. Plus it’s a ridiculous pink color which is just fun!

Beet and Walnut Purée

from Spain: A Culinary Road Trip

  • 1lb beets
  • 1c walnuts
  • ½c olive oil
  • 2T tahini
  • 1-2T lemon juice
  • ¼c water
  • salt
  1. Roast the beets at 400-450F for 40-60min, until they can be easily poked with a fork.
  2. Peel the beets and cut into large pieces.
  3. Chop walnuts in a food processor until very fine.
  4. Add beets and process until blended.
  5. Add olive oil (while food processor is on if possible).
  6. Add tahini paste, lemon juice, and water and continue to process until completely blended.
  7. Add a dash of salt to taste.

Notes and Variations

The beauty of simple recipes is the possibilities for variations. As I mentioned, this can be made with canned beets instead of roasting them yourself. This is particularly useful if beets are not available or so that you can make it with items from the pantry. My strategy is generally to roast a beet and store it whole in the fridge until I am ready to make the purée, up to 3 days later. If I make a lot of dip, I freeze it for another time, but usually I just eat it all!

Salt is called for to taste but I like adding paprika, a favorite Spanish spice. It adds a nice bite to the dip and intensifies its color. Other spices I’ve used are black pepper and cumin. Some cilantro or parsley would be a fun addition and, especially as garnish, adding a nice contrasting color.

For eating and serving, toast is simply perfect. I bring a jar to work and spread it on toast when I want a snack. I have definitely attacked it with a spoon before (as the website suggests!). For a great presentation, serve it in a pumpernickel bread bowl garnished with parsley or cilantro.

Surprise! Lunch tastes good

May 7, 2013

15 mintues before I have to leave for work… do I have time to make a salad? Do I have anything good to make a salad with?

Cucumber Seaweed Salad

Cucumber Seaweed Salad with tofu, turnips, and a spicy citrus soy sauce dressing

Given this typical morning routine and my general aversion to salads (lettuce), I’ve been resorting to rice with a vegetable on top recently. But I need to fill up on vegetables. Need to learn to like salads. Well that’s not true, I really enjoy a large salad at restaurants. So why don’t I like ones that I make? Why don’t I like making salads?

Two reasons are the dressing and washing lettuce. Dressing is fat (which tastes pretty darn good!) but pouring that much oil on top of vegetables seems to defeat the purpose of having a pile of vegetables. And washing lettuce? And storing it just long enough that it doesn’t go bad and you don’t have to buy it every other day? What a pain! So I generally avoid salads.

Today, however, I surprised myself! Threw a salad together with just a few ingredients and it even tasted good. The key to this one was the dressing which amazingly contained no oil. As with most salads, this is a very flexible recipe and includes what just happened to be in my fridge. It reminds me of the classic cucumber salad which consists of cucumbers covered with vinegar but influenced by a Malaysian dipping sauce and Japanese ingredients.

Cucumber Seaweed Salad

created on-the-fly by Sarah Johnson

  • lettuce
  • cucumber
  • turnip (chopped)
  • tofu (diced)
  • scallions
  • seaweed (dried and shredded)
  • ¼c sweet soy sauce
  • 2T lime juice
  • ½t sriracha
  1. Clean and chop all the vegetables and tofu to your liking.
  2. Layer the ingredients in a dish: lettuce, tofu, cucumbers, turnips.
  3. Sprinkle seaweed and scallions over the salad.
  4. Combine the soy sauce, lime juice, and sriracha and mix well.
  5. Pour the dressing over the salad and enjoy!

Notes and Variations

The variations are endless. I just grabbed things from the fridge that were already chopped to make my life easy. I think most things will go well with this. I stopped myself from adding sesame seeds (I add them to everything!) and mushrooms because I had another dish for lunch that had them in it.

The most significant part of these instructions is the lack of measurements. It is entirely up to your tastes, preferences, and what’s available. Only have radishes? Great! Pickled radishes? That sounds delicious! Making salad for 10 people? Pile the veggies on and quadruple the dressing amounts. Don’t like spice? Leave out the sriracha. Like spice? Add more sriracha! Red pepper flakes work well in this dressing too, but you should let it sit overnight for the flavors to blend properly.

I’m interested to hear what experimentations and combinations work well.