Niçoise Salad Platter

Here’s my take on a simple classic Salade Niçoise – perfect for warm summer nights.  A bed of fresh greens, green beans, potatoes, tuna, and smoky niçoise olives are brought together with the simplest of dressings — a squeeze of lemon, sea salt, and your best olive oil.

Niçoise Salad Platter

I scattered chopped fresh oregano on top to add savory highlights to the beans and potatoes.  Using a wide platter instead of a bowl allows guests to select the parts they like best (and looks cool, too).  I used high quality oil packed tuna, but sliced seared fresh tuna steak would be even better.  Gluten and dairy free, and full of flavor, this salad is a summer dinner star.  Enjoy!

Niçoise Salad Platter
(serves 4, generously)

2 cans oil-packed tuna
6 – 7 cups greens, washed and torn
1/2 cup niçoise olives, pitted and halved
4 potatoes, cooked just until tender, cubed
8 oz green beans, cooked just until tender
1/2 lemon
1/4 cup best quality olive oil
sea salt
2 TB fresh oregano, chopped

Arrange all ingredients except oil, lemon and salt on a platter.  Just before serving, squeeze the lemon over the salad, drizzle the oil over the platter, and sprinkle with salt.

Southwest Summer Salad

Here is a spicy, savory meal that makes great use of prime summer produce — corn, tomatoes, lettuce, and avocados — in one delicious salad.  This is a crowd pleasing superstar, as it’s dairy and gluten free, vegan, deliciously nutritious, and easy to do much of the prep in advance.

Southwest Summer Salad

This salad uses one of my prior recipes, Spicy Tofu Crumbles.  If you would prefer, you may substitute grilled chicken breast for the tofu crumbles.  The quick to make dressing can be adjusted for spiciness depending on your preference.  (for Hannah & Caleb) Enjoy!

Southwest Summer Salad
(all quantities are dependent on number of servings needed)

romaine lettuce, washed and cut
tomatoes, rough chop large tomatoes, or halve cherry tomatoes
fresh sweet corn – kernels cut off cobs, sauteed briefly in a little olive oil, then cooled to room temp.
avocado, peeled and diced
bell pepper, chopped
fresh cilantro, chopped
pinto beans, cooked and cooled
toasted pepitas
Spicy Tofu Crumbles
Chipotle Lime Dressing (recipe below)

Assemble all ingredients in a large shallow bowl.  Dress the salad just before serving.  Add tortilla chips for extra crunch.

Chipotle Lime Dressing
3 TB fresh squeezed lime juice
6 TB extra virgin olive oil
1/2 to 1 tsp. chipotle powder (depending on how spicy your like dressing)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 cloves fresh garlic, pressed

Carrot Salad with Lavender & Thyme

My CSA box* often includes carrots — and last week they were special.  Deep, rich purple on the outside with a bright orange core, these beauties deserved a starring role.

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purple carrots, lavender, and thyme

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Carrot Salad with Lavender & Thyme

Their flavor profile is a little duskier than a bright orange carrot, and so I paired them with the lovely lavender and thyme growing in my garden.  A simple dressing of olive oil, sherry vinegar and a touch of honey make it sing.  All together, this is a hearty, sweet/savory salad that would add sparkle to most meals.  And a bonus — this salad keeps for a couple days in the fridge — perfect for make ahead meals.  Enjoy!

Carrot Salad with Lavender & Thyme

6 – 8 purple carrots, rinsed and grated
3 TB olive oil
1 TB fruity sherry vinegar
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp sea salt, fine
3 sprigs fresh lavender, buds removed and chopped (or 1 tsp dried lavender)
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried thyme)

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, taste for salt and adjust if needed.

* I often feature vegetables from my Full Belly Farms CSA Veggie box.  Have you considered joining a CSA?  This stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  There are many in my neck of the woods, Northern California, but I know that they exist all over the country, and perhaps the world.  It is an excellent way to taste the best produce grown locally, grown in a way that respects workers and the land upon which they labor.  Here’s a link to Local Harvest, a site that helps connect you with the best CSA box for you and your family.

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!

Carrot Coconut Soup

I love the sweet, delectable carrots I get in my CSA box, and had a big bunch as they are plentiful this time of the year.  I combined the carrots with fresh turmeric and creamy coconut milk for a warming, aromatic, lightly spiced soup.

Carrot Coconut Soup

Carrot Coconut Soup

I enhanced the natural sweetness and aromatic qualities of carrot and turmeric with a hefty dose of black pepper, rounding out the flavor with a quality curry blend and balancing the soup’s flavor with fresh lime juice.

Fresh turmeric and whole black pepper

Fresh turmeric and whole black pepper

Topped with fresh cilantro for a green burst, this is a savory and tasty soup.  It’s also vegan – so is a fabulous for all eaters.  Enjoy!

Carrot Coconut Soup

1 1/2 LB carrots, rinsed and cut into 1 inch chunks
1 yellow onion, diced
3 TB oil
1 can coconut milk
2 small rhizomes of fresh turmeric, diced (or 1 TB ground dried)
sea salt
water
2 tsp. quality curry blend, spiced to your liking
1 lime, juiced
black pepper, freshly ground, 1/2 to 1 tsp

Heat large sauce pan over high flame until medium hot.  Add oil and onions.  Sauté for 4 minutes, then add the carrots and fresh turmeric, then add enough water to not quite cover the carrots.  Cover, bring to a simmer, and allow to simmer, covered, until the carrots are quite tender.

Add the coconut mill, salt, curry blend, and black pepper.  Blend in a blender or use an immersion blender to create a smooth, even texture in the soup.  Adjust salt, then add the juice of 1/2 to 1 lime — enough just to add balance and brightness to the soup.  Serve with chopped fresh cilantro, if desired.

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.

 

Coconut Green Curry

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Coconut Green Curry with green beans and tofu

Here’s a versatile, flavorful green curry to try.  Rich with coconut milk, fragrant with kaffir lime, and spicy with green curry paste, this simmer sauce adapts beautifully to many vegetables.

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clockwise from top: green beans, green curry paste, onion, red bell pepper, kaffir lime leaves, lime, coconut milk

Which vegetables to choose is personal taste — just remember to adjust simmering time based on what you’re cooking.  Some ideas: green beans, bell pepper, cauliflower, carrot, eggplant, snap peas, summer squash, anything fresh and delicious will work.  Add chicken breast, mild white fish, or firm tofu as you please.  Serve with brown rice for a deeply flavored, nutritious meal.  Enjoy!

A special thank you to my husband, John, for a new camera for Valentine’ Day.

Coconut Green Curry

1 can coconut milk
1 – 2 TB green curry paste
one lime, juiced
one onion, diced
2 TB vegetable oil
3 kaffir lime leaves
salt to taste
2 cups of fresh prepped vegetables, cut into bite sized pieces
1 1/2 cups chicken breast, tofu chunks, or fresh white fish
fresh cilantro, for garnish
(note:  if you’re using fish for your protein, add some fish sauce to build the flavor of the sauce)

Heat medium saute pan over high heat until hot.  Add oil and onion.  Saute for a few minutes.  Begin layering in the remainder of your vegetables and meat/tofu pieces based on how long they will take to cook through.

Add coconut milk, green curry paste, kaffir lime leaves, and some salt.  Simmer with vegetables for just the right amount of time for everything to cook through to tender perfection.  Add the chicken, fish or tofu chunks. The goal is to have everything cooked to the right temperature and texture at the same time.  For example, in this dish, using fresh green beans and a bit of red pepper I added the beans three minutes after the onion and waited to add the tofu until just 3 minutes before serving.

Adjust seasoning to taste — adding more salt and lime juice for a balanced flavor.  Remove kaffir lime leaves before serving.  Garnish with chopped cilantro.