Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mock Tuna Salad

While I like a lot of my meals to be vegetarian, I'm often not a big fan of things pretending to be meat. I like beans, tofu, and tempeh, but they are absolutely not a substitute for a big, juicy burger or steak when I'm in the mood for meat. That being said, I love this mock tuna salad for its flavor and texture, not because it is anything like real tuna salad. I first had this mock tuna salad when I was picking up a quick dinner for myself out of the Whole Foods deli case while my husband was out with the boys. I've seen (and enjoyed) myriad of vegetarian meat substitutes, but I had never seen fake fish before. A quick look at the label revealed a promising list of ingredients, though I couldn't imagine how this was going to imitate tuna salad. Although it most definitely did not resemble tuna salad in any way, it was delicious nonetheless, and I was happy to find that Whole Foods had the recipe on their website.

Freshly prepared at home, this salad is even more delicious that out of the deli case at the store. The fresh dill is the flavor highlight of this dish, balanced by the richness and nuttiness of the almonds and sunflower seeds and acidic notes from the lemon juice and pickles. This salad is fantastic rolled up in a tortilla with some veggies or on top of a big plate of greens. This recipe makes a large batch, and can obviously be halved, but I plan on freezing the extra for an easy salad topping and wrap filling anytime. In the heat of summer, I'm happy to add another delicious meal that doesn't require turning on the oven or stove to my culinary repertoire.

Mock Tuna Salad
from Whole Foods
makes approximately 3.5 cups

1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup raw almonds
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
1/3 cup finely chopped pickles
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons maple syrup or agave nectar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon kelp granules
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1. Put sunflower seeds and almonds into a large bowl, cover by 2 inches with water, cover and set aside at room temperature to let soak for 10 to 12 hours; drain well.

2. Pulse sunflower seeds and almonds in a food processor until very finely chopped, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in celery, pickles, onions, dill, maple syrup, lemon juice, kelp, pepper and salt. Serve immediately, or cover and chill until ready to serve.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wasabi Tuna Salad Sandwiches

I've had one of my longest breaks from cooking in a long, long time, as I just spent six glorious days in beautiful San Francisco, consuming vast quantities of delicious food, including lots of exquisite seafood. I make sure to eat fish at least once per week and after this trip, I'm sure my consumption is going to increase, and I also plan on increasing the complexity and variety of the fish recipes in my repertoire. That being said, I came up with this jazzed-up tuna salad recipe before I left for my trip, and it's still worth sharing. There isn't always the time or money for intricate seafood dishes, and this is a great way to perk up your average tuna salad. I adore the assertive taste of wasabi, often applying it liberally when I eat sushi, and paired it with other frequently-used ingredients (cucumber, avocado, and scallions) for this sushi-inspired tuna salad. This definitely is no sushi substitute, but it is a delicious and interesting twist on regular tuna salad for sushi fans and a good way to start introducing people who fear sushi to some of the typical ingredients.

Wasabi Tuna Salad Sandwiches
serves 2

1 tablespoon wasabi powder
1/4 cup mayonnaise
One 5-ounce can tuna, drained
1/4 cup chopped scallions
4 slices whole grain bread
Sliced cucumber and/or avocado, optional

1. Add wasabi powder to a small bowl and add enough water to make a paste. Allow the paste to sit for 10 minutes for flavor to develop, then mix together thoroughly with the mayonnaise.

2. Add tuna, scallions, and wasabi mayo to a large bowl and mix well to combine. Divide evenly between two slices of bread, top with sliced cucumber and/or avocado, if desired and place second slice of bread on top. Cut sandwiches in half and serve.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Zucchini, Corn, and Goat Cheese Frittata

Frittatas make frequent appearances on my dinner table because they're quick and easy to make, can be healthy or indulgent, are suitable for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and can use a huge variety of ingredients. I'm leaving for vacation early tomorrow morning, so using up ingredients and getting some healthy eating before the bacchanalia I'm sure to indulge in on vacation is a must. Fresh sweet corn is just starting to appear at the farmers' market and beautiful zucchini is cheap and plentiful, so I immediately thought of throwing this happy pair together in a frittata. Along with sweet and smoky roasted red peppers and wonderfully creamy goat cheese, this frittata is a gorgeous taste of summer. It is filling without being too dense, and is rounded out perfectly with a side salad or side vegetable and crusty piece of bread or a roll for a complete meal. Summer will undoubtedly offer countless delicious combinations for frittatas, so let the season inspire you to get creative in the kitchen!

Zucchini, Corn, and Goat Cheese Frittata
serves 4

8 eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup green and/or yellow zucchini or other summer squash, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup diced roasted red peppers
1/2 cup fresh corn or frozen corn, thawed
2 oz. crumbled goat cheese

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with rack set in top third. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, add vegetables and mix well, and season with salt and pepper. Preheat a medium cast-iron or nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Add the egg mixture to the pan and distribute the goat cheese evenly over the frittata. Using a spatula scrape the edges and bottom of the pan for the first few minutes of cooking to allow more raw egg to come in contact with the bottom and sides of the pan. Cook until the edges are set and but the very center of the frittata is still runny, 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Transfer skillet to oven. Bake until frittata is set in the center, about 4 to 6 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, release frittata onto a cutting board; let rest 5 minutes. Cut into wedges, and serve.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cannellini Bean Quesadillas with Garlic Scape Pesto

Traditional pesto is composed of basil and pine nuts, but it can be so much more than that, especially with the wonderful options available at the farmer's market right now. Starting from this recipe from Whole Foods, I created a pesto from beautiful garlic scapes that are plentiful at the farmer's market. Pesto most often finds a home as a pasta sauce, but also makes an excellent spread for sandwiches, or these quesadillas I created to find a use for this beautiful pesto (and, to be honest, to use up a few odds and ends in the fridge). I made these quesadillas with beans, but if you're cooking for a carnivore (like my husband), turkey or chicken are also great choices. I love beans because they're delicious, filling, and although prepared dried beans are better, are ready to use right out of the can after a quick rinse, so dinner can be ready in no time at all. The sharp pesto pairs well with the mild and creamy cannellini beans and rich, melty cheese, creating a delicious dish equally suitable for an appetizer or main dish. If you enjoy these quesadillas, try them out with different pestos, beans, and cheeses-the possibilities are endless!

Cannellini Bean Quesadillas with Garlic Scape Pesto
serves 1 to 2

2 tablespoons chopped, toasted walnuts
1 cup chopped garlic scapes
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or walnut oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons water (optional)

2 whole wheat tortillas
1 cup cooked cannellini beans
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella or provolone cheese (or 2 oz. goat cheese)

1. First, make the Garlic Scape Pesto. Pulse together all ingredients (except water) in a food processor, scraping the sides down frequently. If desired, add water, half a tablespoon at a time to achieve desired texture.

2. Meanwhile, heat a panini or sandwich press according to manufacturer's instructions until hot. (Alternatively, heat a well-seasoned ridged grill pan over moderate heat.)

3. Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons garlic scape-walnut pesto on one half of each of the whole wheat tortillas, reserving the rest for another use. Top with half of the cannellini beans and half of the shredded cheese and fold each tortilla in half.

4. Once preheated, spray panini press with olive or canola oil cooking spray. Put quesadillas on press, then pull down top and cook until quesadillas are browned and crisp, cheese is melted, and filling is hot, 3 to 6 minutes. (If using grill pan, put a heavy pan on top of quesadillas and cook, flipping once.) Remove from heat, slice into 2 or 4 wedges and serve warm. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Miso Soup with Garlic and Ginger

I'm up for sushi pretty much any time, and although I'm not quite brave enough to attempt making my own at home yet, I thought I'd try making one of the most common sides at sushi/Japanese restaurants, miso soup. Every time I walk past the miso at Whole Foods or Willy St. Co-op I'm tempted to buy some to experiment with, but it took having an actual recipe in hand to get me take the plunge. Miso soup is usually served as a first course, but I found this recipe with more substance than your typical miso soup and served it as a main course (serves 4) for a lovely, light summer dinner. I'm the first to admit its not traditional, especially with a side salad and roll, but it is a wonderful way to use plentiful summer produce and enjoy the unique flavor of miso. This soup is mild and refreshing, thought you may want to increase the amount of miso for a more assertive flavor. 

Now that I have a big container of miso, I anticipate making miso soup on a regular basis as well as encorporating it into all manner of sauces, marinades, and salad dressings. I'm always game for experimenting with new ingredients and opening up my culinary landscape and I can't wait to dive into the world of Japanese food, from miso soup and sushi to teriyaki and hibachi. Food is one of the most fundamental ways to learn about a culture and I look forward to what I'll learn on this new culinary path.

Miso Soup with Garlic and Ginger
from Whole Foods
serves 8

1 tablespoon unrefined sesame oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
6 cups vegetable broth or water
2 baby bok choy, trimmed and roughly chopped
1/2 pound carrots, thinly sliced
1 (8-ounce) package baked tofu, preferably Asian- flavored, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons red miso
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add yellow onion, ginger and garlic and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add broth, bok choy, carrots and tofu and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, 5 to 10 minutes more. Remove soup from heat.

2. Ladle about 1 cup of the hot broth into a small bowl. Add miso and stir until dissolved, then transfer mixture back to pot and stir well. Stir in vinegar, ladle soup into bowls and garnish with green onions.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Strawberry Balsamic Grilled Chicken Salad

Who wouldn't welcome this waiting at their desk for lunch?
I eat salads at least four times a week during a summer, ranging from simple vegetable-only side salads to more elaborate main course salads. Although it does mean I spend quite a bit of time chopping vegetables, I find the time and energy well worth it, especially when I make a special salad for lunch at work. When the work day is long and hectic, having a lunch that is filling, healthy, and delicious goes a long way towards helping me power through the afternoon until I get to go home. Although my lunch salads are often vegetarian, when I'm grilling up some chicken or steak for dinner, I'll often make extra for lunch the next day, particularly when I've gone to the trouble of firing up the grill.

This salad is packed with flavor from a harmonious combination of creamy goat cheese, toasty almonds, and sweet, ripe strawberries, all accented with a light balsamic vinaigrette. The chicken makes the salad a bit more filling and hearty, so if you're going to vegetarian route, I recommend doubling up on the goat cheese and almonds. As summer progresses, trying swapping out the strawberries for raspberries and the balsamic vinaigrette for a raspberry vinaigrette for a delicious late-summer variation on this salad. Go ahead and take a little extra time to make your lunch a little more special-you deserve it!

Strawberry Balsamic Grilled Chicken Salad
serves 1

4 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces mixed salad greens
2 ounces baby spinach
1 cup halved strawberries
1/2 ounce toasted sliced almonds
1 oz. crumbled goat cheese
Balsamic vinaigrette, for serving (I like Newman's Own)

1. Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium heat. Season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Cook chicken breast until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F, remove from heat, and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slice evenly into thin slices.

2. Meanwhile, wash and dry greens and spinach and chop, if necessary. Add greens and spinach to a large plate or bowl and top with the strawberries, almonds, goat cheese, and sliced chicken. Drizzle with vinaigrette and enjoy!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Icebox Strawberry Jam

Although strawberry season is drawing to a close for most of Wisconsin, a bumper crop of strawberries is just starting to appear from Door County at the farmer's market. Door County is consistently a few weeks behind in their growing season compared to most of the state, extending the bounty of summer fruit, much to my delight. I've been scarfing down strawberries by the quart for the past month or so, but have neglected to turn them into jam until now. I don't have a pressure canner, so I make icebox jams/preserves instead. It's true that they don't last as long as pressure-canned preserves, but fresh fruit jam is so delicious that we don't have to worry about its longevity in my house. I love this recipe not only for how simple it is to make, but the how the limited ingredients optimally showcase the fruit instead of burying it.

The sweetness here comes from honey instead of sugar, which gives a subtle bit of flavor in addition to sweetness and blends beautifully with the strawberries. I recommend a mild honey like clover or wildflower honey, so as not to overwhelm the strawberries. As always, taste your fruit to evaluate its sweetness, add only half of the sweetener to start, taste again and then add more sweetener to taste. By the same token, tastes also vary widely in how sweet preserves should be-I tend to like mine a bit more tart than a lot of people, so I may add a bit more lemon juice and hold back on the honey or sugar. The sweetness of fruit varies widely, from the white-centered tasteless, but highly transportable, supermarket strawberries, to the pure red, juicy, wonderfully sweet farmer's market strawberries, so tasting as you go is extremely important.

For tips on how to test the consistency of your jam, see my post on Concord Grape Jam from last summer. It's hard to know exactly how thick the jam should be when hot to translate to the appropriate cooled consistency and this post details a great method for testing the hot jam. This jam is great on toast, bagels, English muffins, waffles, pancakes, PB&Js, and makes a fantastic ice cream topping. Although there are plenty of good commercially-available jams and preserves, nothing quite compares to fresh jam from local fruit, prepared with your own two hands.

Icebox Strawberry Jam
adapted from Food and Wine
makes about 2 cups

1 quart strawberries, thickly sliced (4 cups) 
1/2 cup honey 
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch kosher salt

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the strawberries with the honey, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt. Bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 40 to 60 minutes. Let cool, then refrigerate until chilled.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Orzo Salad with Whole Wheat Orzo, Broccoli Pesto, Lemon, Avocado, and Creme Fraiche

I was beyond pleased to see big, green heads of broccoli at the farmer's market this past weekend as it has been one of my favorite vegetables my entire life (yes, I was a kid who not only tolerated, but actually requested broccoli). I'll scarf it down steamed, roasted, or raw, but also love it in stir-fries and pasta dishes, like this one. In this orzo salad you not only get to bite into big, crunchy mouthfuls of fresh broccoli florets, but get to enjoy the flavor blended into every bite in the rich and creamy broccoli pesto. While traditional pesto is made with basil, it can be adapted to use a wide variety of herbs and vegetables, including broccoli, a fresh and delightful change of pace. If pine nuts are too expensive, you don't like them, or get pine mouth, walnuts are also a great choice, but you can pretty much use any nut or seed that you like with broccoli. If you can't find any creme fraiche, plain Greek or regular yogurt would make a fine substitute, though sour cream might also be used in a pinch. This salad packs a ton of energy and nutrition and makes a great lunch, light dinner, and is a great dish to bring on a picnic.

Orzo Salad
with Whole Wheat Orzo, Broccoli Pesto, Lemon, Avocado, and Creme Fraiche
from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson
serves 6

Fine-grained sea salt
1 1/2 cups/9 oz/255 g whole wheat orzo
5 cups/11 oz/310 g raw broccoli cut into small florets and stems
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2/3 cup/3.5 oz/100 g pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup/0.5 oz/15 g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup/60 mL extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup/2 oz/60 g creme fraiche
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 small ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously, add the orzo, and cook according to package instructions. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain well again.

2. In the meantime, cook the broccoli. Bring 3/4 cup/180 mL water to a boil in a large pot. Add a big pinch of salt and stir in the broccoli. Cover and cook for 1 minute, just long enough to take off the raw edge. Quickly drain the broccoli in a strainer and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well and set aside.

3. To make the pesto, combing 2 cups /7 oz/200g of the cooked broccoli, the garlic, most of the pine nuts, the Parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice in a food processor. Drizzle in the olive oil and creme fraiche and pulse until smooth.

4. Just before serving, toss the orzo and remaining cooked broccoli florets with about two-thirds of the broccoli pesto and lemon zest. Thin with a bit of warm water if you like, then taste and adjust if needed. You might want to add a bit more salt or an added drizzle of lemon juice, or more pesto. Gently fold in the avocado. Turn out into a bowl or onto a platter and top with the remaining pine nuts.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Broccoli Rabe and Sausage Pizza

It's been quite some time since I created any new pizza recipes, and although I didn't get broccoli rabe with the intention of using it in a pizza, this recipe fell into place organically when I was looking in my cabinets and refrigerator for inspiration. Broccoli rabe isn't for everyone since not everyone likes bitter greens, but this pizza will be right up your alley if you do. The bitterness of the greens is cut by the richness of the sausage, saltiness of the cheese, and sweetness of the pizza sauce, but if the broccoli rabe is the only component that doesn't appeal to you, try spinach instead. This pizza is a great balance of richness, saltiness, bitterness, and freshness and although it isn't too far off the beaten path, is a nice change from your typical sausage pizza. Like paninis and pasta, pizza can utilize nearly any ingredient you love, so don't be afraid to experiment and make the most of the farmer's market bounty available in the prime of summer.

Broccoli Rabe and Sausage Pizza
serves 3 to 4

1 bunch broccoli rabe
4 ounces ground Italian sausage
1 to 3 teaspoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
One 12-inch whole grain pizza crust
One 8-ounce can pizza sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Cook broccoli rabe in a 4-quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain well in a colander, then chop.

2. Meanwhile, cook Italian sausage in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until cooked through. Remove sausage from the pan and drain on paper towels, reserving rendered fat in the pan and adding olive oil to bring the total amount to approximately one tablespoon. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic just begins to turn golden, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the sliced onions and cook until golden and caramelized, 20 to 30 minutes. Add broccoli rabe and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees or according to pizza crust directions. Spread pizza sauce evenly over crust, top with the vegetable mixture, and sprinkle cheese over the top. Cook until cheese is melted and just starting to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Let rest for a couple minutes, then slice into 8 wedges and serve.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Edamame, Corn, and Feta Salad

Even though the holiday weekend isn't even half over, you may already looking ahead to atone for the dietary sins committed over the long weekend and for that I offer up this salad recipe. I always indulge on the weekends and holidays, but I find that I need to revert back to my normal healthy habits during most of the week to keep up my energy and mood. But even though I like to eat healthfully most of the time, I'm not willing to give up flavor to do it. I've been making a lot of salads lately using beans for the protein, this being the first new recipe I came up with, inspiring a flurry of creativity. The edamame makes the salad filling, the corn is fresh and summer-y, the radishes are sharp and crisp, and the feta cheese is light, but still gives the salad a richness. An light, Asian-inspired vinaigrette is the best dressing choice for this salad, but if those aren't your taste, I say use any dressing you love. So indulge this weekend without any regrets, and get back on track this week with this fresh, delicious salad.

Edamame, Corn, and Feta Salad
serves 1

4 oz. mixed baby greens, lettuce, spinach, or arugula
1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1/2 cup fresh corn or frozen corn, thawed
1/4 cup chopped scallions
4 radishes, sliced
1 oz. crumbled feta cheese
Salad dressing, for serving (I like Newman's Own Orange Ginger dressing)

1. Wash and dry greens, if necessary, and spread evenly over a plate or place in a large bowl. Top with edamame, corn, scallions, radishes, and feta cheese. Drizzle with salad dressing, toss well, and enjoy!