Bulgur Salad with Spring Herbs

I grow a number of herbs in my garden.  They are not only great to have for cooking, they are also pretty, easy-going members of my garden plant communities.  While tabouleh is often made with parsley, I’m highlighting three mild fresh green herbs in this version:  mint, lemon balm, and fennel fronds.  They’re like good friends, and play well together on the palate.  And, just for fun, I added some primrose petals for a bit of color.  (Yes!  some flowers are edible)

lemon, primrose, mint, fennel fronds, and lemon balm

Bulgur Salad with Spring Herbs

Lemon balm is a delightful, easy to grow herb, and smells of lemon.  I grow a couple different types of mint.  In this recipe I use my favorite for cooking – Kentucky Colonel.  I lightly dressed the bulgur and herbs with olive oil and fresh lemon juice, seasoning with sea salt to taste.  Simple, easy, fresh and satisfying.  Enjoy!

Bulgur Salad with Spring Herbs

1 cup wheat bulgur
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 cups boiling water
fresh squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
3 TB olive oil
2 – 3 sprigs mint
2 – 3 sprigs lemon balm
fennel fronds

In a medium bowl, pour boiling water over bulgur and salt.  Cover and let sit for 20 minutes.  Remove cover, fluff the bulgur, and cool in the fridge for another 20 minutes.

Chop herbs fine, then mix into the prepared bulgur with the olive oil and lemon juice.  Add more salt to taste if needed, then serve.  Garnish with edible flowers if desired.

Cabbage Salad with Roasted Garbanzos and Spicy Tahini dressing

Crunchy, subtly sweet, mild, savory, and a tasty nutrient powerhouse.  I’m talking about cabbage, of course!  This stalwart vegetable deserves some love, especially in the winter when quality salad greens can be scarce.  But cabbage — it’s there for you!

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I paired mine with a zingy, savory tahini dressing and added roasted garbanzos and pepitas for awesome crunch and a punch of protein.  The spicy tahini dressing is really creamy and zingy — but relatively low in fat, for a dressing.  The secret?  Tahini — which is just finely ground roasted sesame seeds.  Water, an unusual ingredient in most dressings, is important for proper texture in this dressing.

Spicy Tahini Dressing, after a quick blend with immersion blender

Spicy Tahini Dressing, after a quick blend with immersion blender

Using an immersion blender makes the Spicy Tahini dressing super easy to make — but you can use a whisk or regular blender if that’s what you have.  (Consider purchasing an immersion blender.  I use mine regularly for puréed soups and dressings)

Garbanzos, roasted with oil and salt

Garbanzos, roasted with oil and salt

Roasting canned garbanzos transforms these tasty beans into crunchy/chewy nuggets. This is a vegan main dish, full flavored, and easy on the budget.  And I consider it a pantry meal — because cabbage is such a long keeper in the fridge and the other ingredients are pantry basics.  Enjoy!

Cabbage Salad with Roasted Garbanzos and Spicy Tahini Dressing

for the Spicy Tahini dressing:
1/4 cup tahini
2 TB olive oil
3 TB fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 clove crushed garlic
1/4 cup water
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Blend until creamy.  May add more or less cayenne as desired.  The amount I included makes a mildly spicy dressing.

for the Roasted Garbanzos
1 can garbanzos
1 TB olive oil
sprinkle of sea salt

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Drain garbanzos, and pat dry with paper towel.  Drizzle with oil and toss lightly, then arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt.  Bake for 30 – 40 minutes in the oven, until they are browned and crunchy.

To serve the salad:
Cabbage, finely shredded
Roasted Garbanzos (see above)
Spicy Tahini Dressing (see above)Pepitas
cherry tomato quarters

Quantity of cabbage, pepitas and cherry tomatoes depends on number of servings desired.  The dressing and garbanzo recipes double easily for more servings.  Toss the all ingredients together, and enjoy!

Double Persimmon Napa Cabbage Salad

It’s persimmon month, at least in my house.  I’ve got my first batch of dried Hachiya persimmons ready, and fresh mellow Fuyu persimmons on my counter.  I put the two of them together in a salad with savory, slightly bitter napa cabbage and it was a great combo.

Napa cabbage, bright orange Fuyu persimmons, and dried Hachiya persimmons

Napa cabbage, bright orange Fuyu persimmons, and dried Hachiya persimmons

Persimmon Napa Cabbage Salad

Double Persimmon Napa Cabbage Salad

I lightly dressed the greens and persimmons with a sherry vinegar/olive oil dressing and topped with toasted almonds for a rich crunch.  This salad would work well with finely shredded brussels sprouts instead of napa cabbage.  Savory, sweet, fresh, and crunchy — this is a nice Fall salad for the persimmon lover. Enjoy!

Double Persimmon Napa Cabbage Salad
(serves 4 – 6 for a side dish)

1/2 head Napa Cabbage, sliced thin
2 Fuyu persimmons, peeled and sliced into bite size pieces
2 dried Hachiya persimmons*, diced small
1/2 cup toasted almonds, coarse chop

Dressing:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 TB sherry vinegar
sea salt to taste
fresh ground black pepper

Assemble the salad ingredients in a shallow, wide bowl.  Just before serving, mix together the sherry vinegar and olive oil with about 1/4 tsp sea salt.  Drizzle over the salad, top with fresh ground black pepper, and serve.

* If you can’t locate dried persimmons, you may substitute golden raisins

Smoky Quinoa and Lentils

Earthy red quinoa and french green lentils taste amazing with sweet ripe tomatoes and a smoky lemon dressing.

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Smoky Quinoa and Lentils

The magic making these simple foods extra delicious is smoked paprika.  I developed this recipe to inspire a friend looking for good lunch ideas.  This one works nicely — it’s best at room temp, protein packed, super tasty, and portable.  It also is an easy make-ahead dish.

simple lemon dressing featuring smoked paprika

simple lemon dressing featuring smoked paprika

french green lentils, tomatoes, red quinoa, and lemon

french green lentils, tomatoes, red quinoa, and lemon

Add a piece of fruit and lunch is served!  Also fabulous over a bed of greens for a dinner entree.  Enjoy!  (for Barbara)

Smoky Quinoa and Lentils
(makes 4-5 generous servings)

1 cup french green lentils
1 cup red quinoa
3 medium ripe red tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup toasted pepitas

For the Smoky Lemon Dressing:
6 TB extra virgin olive oil
3 TB fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
3/4 tsp. fine sea salt

Make the smoky lemon dressing by combining the olive oil, lemon juice, smoked paprika, and sea salt.  Set aside.

Cook the green lentils:  rinse the lentils, then place in medium covered sauce pan with 3  cups water.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender but still firm.  Drain and place in a bowl.

Cook the red quinoa:  First, rinse the quinoa.  It is important to wash off the bitter saponins that are a natural part of the seed coat.  I place the dry quinoa in a bowl, cover with cool water, swish around a couple of times, then drain in to a fine mesh colander.  Place rinsed quinoa into a sauce pan, add 1 1/3 cups fresh water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 8 – 10 minutes, or until the quinoa is tender but still has bite, and the water has been absorbed.

When the cooked lentils and quinoa are cooled to room temp, combine with the tomatoes and smoky lemon dressing.  Just before serving, add the pepitas.

 

Simple Asparagus Salad

This uber simple salad honors the fleeting perfection of one of the gifts of the Spring:  fresh local asparagus.

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Asparagus Salad

Raw asparagus has a tender crunch and grassy fresh flavor.  I combined it with complementary flavors:  parmesean cheese shreds, grassy olive oil, lemon juice, and black pepper.  This recipe relies on the quality and freshness of two key ingredients:  asparagus, and cheese.  Buy a wedge of real Parmigiano-Reggiano, and shave or grate it only as you use it.  The flavor is much, much better than pre-shredded cheese.

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Asparagus

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Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

This simple recipe is a great example of my favorite way to cook:  get wonderful quality ingredients, pair with complementary flavors, and don’t over-do it.   That’s one reason why I seldom make salad dressings.  No need!  I like to let the main ingredients speak rather than hiding them with complicated dressings.  One of my go-to resources for developing new recipes is  The Flavor Bible.  It’s really fun for me to look up a key ingredient and get inspired by flavor combos.
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Here’s to making the most of our seasonal harbinger of Spring:  asparagus.  Enjoy!

Asparagus Salad with Parmesean
(serves 4)

1 big bunch thick stemmed, fresh asparagus
1/2 cup freshly cut Parmigiano-Reggiano curls
2 TB best quality extra virgin olive oil
1 TB fresh squeezed lemon juice
sea salt
fresh ground black pepper
optional:  2 TB minced fresh oregano

Using a sharp chef’s knife, slice the asparagus steeply on the bias in thin slices.  Just before serving combine with cheese curls, olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt (to taste), and fresh ground black pepper.  Garnish with minced fresh oregano if desired.

 

Purslane

There is a special ingredient that my CSA grows, and I have grown fond of it’s special crunch — beautiful, green purslane

purslane

purslane

Purslane Salad

Purslane Salad

It makes a powerful addition to a chopped summer salad.  I mixed together fresh tomato, purslane, cucumber and basil with a simple lemon and olive oil dressing for a crunchy cool summer salad.  Enjoy!

Purslane Salad

purslane, rinsed and chopped (about 4 cups)
ripe fresh tomato, chopped (about 2 cups)
cucumber, chopped (about 2 cups)
3 TB olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
3 TB fresh basil, chiffonade (optional)

Mix all ingredients together and enjoy.

Watermelon, Mint, and Feta Salad

Here’s a refreshing, flavor-packed salad –  particularly delicious on a warm day.

Watermelon, Mint, and Feta Salad

Watermelon, Mint, and Feta Salad

Sweet juicy watermelon, fresh mint, salty feta, and a hit of red chili makes this salad a four part flavor blast: sweet, salty, savory, and fresh.  Enjoy!

Watermelon, Mint and Feta Salad
(amounts depend on servings needed)

Watermelon cubes, chilled and seeded – aim for about 1 cup cubes per serving
fresh mint, chiffonade cut
feta cheese, crumbled – about 1 1/2 TB per serving
extra virgin olive oil, best quality – about 1 tsp. per serving
red chili flakes (optional)
sea salt

Arrange watermelon cubes on a platter.  Top with feta cheese and mint .  Sprinkle with just a little salt and chili flakes, to taste.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Serve and enjoy!

Vegan/Dairy free option:  substitute toasted pumpkin seeds for the feta cheese