Thursday, July 17, 2014

Lemon-Cashew Dressing

The heat of summer can drive me away from using the oven and stove.  

I always appreciate this kitchen vacation. It frees up time for more reading.  And writing.  That's why I'm late posting again this week.  

I'm working on an article about honeybees.  The subject fascinates me.  Here are a couple things I found: this movie, this Australian honey beekeepers blog, this leaked document from the EPA, and this article about pesticides killing Canadian bees.  The pesticide industry and its supporters (see Forbes magazine)  seem to continually point to Canada and Australia, saying these countries didn't have colony collapse disorder and their bees are healthy.

Somebody didn't check the Canadians about the health of their bees.   I digress.   Back to the recipe.  It's all about the salad when it's too hot in the kitchen to cook. 

My Cooking Assistant has loved lettuce since he was a puppy.

Add anything in season.

My favorite English shelling peas.

Add a few edible flowers.  Yikes, it looks like someone was already eating them.  You can tell we never spray anything in our garden.  It's a feast for all.

This is the farm store at Gathering Together Farm in Corvallis, Oregon

A shameless plug.  I included lots of salad tips in my book.

This is what you need for this versatile dressing.

Here's the recipe:

Lemon Cashew Dressing
(Makes about 1 cup)

1/2 cup cashews

1/2 cup apple cider

2 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon chia seeds

1 or 2 cloves garlic, pressed

1 tablespoon minced sweet onions

1 teaspoon fresh dill

Sea salt and pepper

Water as needed to thin

Soak cashews in apple cider for a few hours or overnight.  Place cashews, cider, lemon juice, chia seeds, pressed garlic, onions and dill in a blender and puree until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  

Refrigerate for a few hours.  Add water to thin.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

3-Bean Salad

It's bean season, and at the market the lines might not be as long for beans as they are for berries or even Japanese cucumbers, but seriously, who doesn't love green beans?

I can always think of something to do with a handful of them.

As market shoppers loaded up big bags of beans, I was tempted to ask what other shoppers were making, but as I filled my my bag, a simple 3-bean salad came to mind. In a soup, tbe mild tones of green beans could get lost. In a stir fry, another vegetable like peppers would grab the lead role, but a 3 bean salad is a harmony of textures and flavors, with each bean a supporting actor.

3-Bean Salad is just one of those dishes, I've just got to have at least once during green bean season season.

Those green beans salads with the dull-colored canned green beans may be okay for some people, but at our house, canned just won't do. The green beans have to be fresh. Try fresh yellow beans or romano beans, but fresh is the key. 

At the market, green beans seem to come all at once.  Romano beans might last a little longer, but the season seems fleeting, so get them while farmers have big baskets of them. 

How can you resist the names of some beans?

Rockridge Orchards cider vinegar needs no introduction.  This past weekend farmer Wade Bennett was selling marionberry apple cider vinegar.

I got green beans at Willie Green's Organic Farm.   In case you don't know by now, I love this Seattle farmers market in the summer!

This is the easiest main dish salad ever! 

Cut the green beans into one-inch pieces and blanch the beans for a few minutes.  Run them under icy cold water to set the color.

You can use any fresh beans you like.  You don't need to get fancy, just go for tender varieites.  Younger means more tender. These purple beans are pretty but when cooked, they lose their color.

It's hard to keep green beans from the market a secret around here.

The berry vinegar gives this salad a tangy berry flavor.  After I made it, I contemplated using cashew cream instead of aioli spread.  Maybe next week.    

Who doesn't love all the great salad experiments of summer!

I'm sharing this one at Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday.  Also check out this recipe that Miz Helen Shared.

3-Bean Salad with Sweet Onions
(Serves 4)

3/4  pound fresh green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
1 15-ounce can  kidney beans, drained
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans or chick peas, draned
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Wildwood aioli or vegan mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon agave nectar
2 tablespoons berry or apple cider vinegar
1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon zest 
1/2 cup small dice fresh sweet onion
1/2 cup small dice fresh red pepper
Smoked sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Blanch green beans for 2 minutes. They should be tender-crisp, slightly underdone.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Combine with kidney and garbanzo beans.

Combine mustard, aioli, agave nectar, vinegar, olive oil, garlic and lemon zest.  Mix well.  Gently stir into green beans.  Mix in onions and red peppers.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve with crusty bread or bagels. 

Vinegar saps the color of green beans, so if you want them really green, eat this salad right away.  I don't mind a bit of color missing.  I like to save some for the next day.

My Cooking Assistant doesn't appreciate being left out of the final photo shoot.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Easy salads: Quinoa, Greens and Toasted Cashews

It's salad season.  Who doesn't love that?  The Northwest is the best place to be in the summer--not too hot, mostly sunny and loads of fruit with new varieties appearing every week at a farmers market near you. Thirsty for water?  Take a ferry to the San Juan Islands, spend a day on Whidbey or Vashon, or take a trip to the rain forest on the Penninsula.  It's silly for Seattlites to take a vacation now, when the Northwest has so much to offer in the summer.

Cheers to those who love salads!  Virtually anything can be made into a main dish salad.  The essential ingredient is an acidic ingredient--citrus juice or vinegar.   I asked friends what appealed to them in main dish salads and I got a lot of interesting answers.  Red quinoa was the most intriguing addition.

Vegan cheese and cashews were in so why not add red quinoa?  (Scandalous confession: I found some for a great price at the Grocery Outlet. Check it out.)  Feta cheese would be a good choice if you eat dairy. Salads can be anything you want!

I added red pepper for color. Market and organic peppers are always at a premium price, so I use less. Make them go farther--that's the tightwad in me.  I've been keeping myself on a tighter leash around food this year.  It feels good not waste a thing these days.  I highly recommend budget plans, even if you don't need on, it's helpful to curb kitchen waste.

Lettuce is lower in price during the summer and it seems like everyone has some to spare.  I remember one year signing up for a CSA where I got four bunches of lettuce one week.  I felt like I was going to turn into a turtle with all those greens.  

Whatever kind of lettuce you have, use it.  Except maybe head lettuce--those cannon ball specimens that could hurt someone if tossed in the wrong direction.  

We've got an overload  of lettuce now.

It's not the first time.  This is my Cooking Assistant when he was just a baby learning that good things come from the garden.

Rockridge Orchards has a corner on the market on berry infused apple cider vinegar and wine.

Easy Salads: Quinoa, Greens and Toasted Cashews
(Serves 4 to 6)
Get out of the kitchen with this cool salad--a meal in one bowl, and all it really needs is some crusty bread.

1 cup shiitaki mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, small dice
1/4 cup minced fresh red pepper
1 tablespoon Mama Lil's, chopped
2 cups cooked quinoa
3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon smoked sea salt
1 cup minced celery
4 cups fresh lettuce, torn
1/4 cup diced vegan cheddar cheese
1/2 cup toasted cashews

Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add shiitaki mushrooms, stir and cook until the mushroom sofen.

Pour in olive oil and shallot.  Stir and cook until shallots begin to brown.  Add Mama Lil's.  Cook for a few minutes, then add quinoa and heat for a few minutes. Stir in balsamic vinegar and smoked sea salt.

Combine celery and lettuce and gently mix with mushrooms and quinoa.  Top with cheese and cashews.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad

Recently I got a request asking if I might be interested in writing an article about main dish summer salads, easy to put together recipes, I thought, what fabulous luck.  I love being creative and recipe articles keep me experimenting in the kitchen. 

This timely request arrived at almost the exact moment that I'd started thinking what a rut we were in at dinner.  I was wonding how to add some variety.  It was a great invitation to be more creative with dinner, in fact, if I hadn't gotten this request, I would have done it anyway.  

What a great way to perk up our home cuisine.

I asked a few friends for ideas for this article. One friend likes to toast chunks of gluten-free focaccia as croutons for green salads.  She adds chickpeas, sunflower seeds and sweet cherry tomatoes.  Another friend adds edamame and quinoa.  Quinoa?  

On that bit of inspiration I made a simple quinoa salad with red quinoa, balsamic vinegar, sauted shallots and peppers.  I added chopped parsley and topped it with toasted cashews. Salads are so easy you can whip them up in minutes and they are different all the time.

Salads should be a staple in everyones' menu.  One day we'll even have salads for breakfast.

This one is all about potatoes.  Who doesn't love potato salad?

New potatoes are the best because they're so sweet and tender, but you can choose everyday white or red potatoes from the grocery store, if you want.  The potatoes from the farmers market tend to cost more, but the flavor makes all the difference.

The same goes for vinegar.  Rockridge Orchards is always my first choice.

My Cooking Assistant has other ideas.  He's too distracted by strawberries this season.  I think he can sniff them a block away.

He's quick. You might want to go check your berries.

He's quick with the photo op, too.  One minute he is sound asleep.  The next, he's got his nose in the picture and won't remove it until he gets a sample.

Too spoiled, I think.

Sorry this was a bit late this week.  I've been too busy enjoying spring.  Hope you like this salad as much as we did.

Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad
(Serves 6)

2 pounds red, white and blue (purple) potatoes, small dice
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained
2 cherry peppers, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup fresh sweet onions, small dice
3 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons aioli spread, or vegan mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon agave nectar (optional)
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives (optional) 
1/2 cup chopped curly parsley

Steam potatoes until tender, 7 to 10 minutes.  Rinse under cold water. Drain.  In a medium mixing bowl, add drained potatoes, kidney beans, peppers, and onions.

Combine raspberry vinegar, mustard, olive oil, aioli spread, agave nectar and white pepper.  Blend until creamy. Combine dressing and potatoes, peppers and onions. Blend in olives, if desired, and parsley.