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black bean and couscous salad

black bean and couscous salad

Ohnoes. A pantry meal — in June!

It may be spring — almost summer — but the garden’s getting a slow start around here. A very wet spring kept us from planting until late May. We’ve already burned past the asparagus and rhubarb, and strawberries are due any day now, but normally at this time we’d have lettuce and radishes at the very least.

But it was not to be. The radishes are just about big enough to snack on, but there just isn’t a lot going on yet. I’m not in the mood for hot, heavy, stick-to-your ribs food now, though, so I turned to a main-course salad and dug out this black bean and couscous salad recipe.

Couscous is one of my favorite pastas/grains. I like whole-wheat couscous (obviously!) and it’s one of the whole-grain products that doesn’t seem any different from non-whole-grain variety. It isn’t even prepared differently; perhaps a touch more water or broth when making it, but it turns out fine without such watchfulness. Couscous also pairs amazingly with beans, and I’m partial to black beans. A lot of which goes to explain why I enjoy this salad so much. Read more on black bean and couscous salad…

March 2, 2010 in gluten-free, salad, vegan, vegetarian5 comments

indonesian tofu, bean sprout, and cucumber salad with spicy peanut dressing

Indonesian tofu, bean sprout, and cucumber salad with spicy peanut dressing

This recipe featured on Wanderfood Wednesday and Real Food Wednesday!

This is the time of year when we write posts about how tired we are of winter. But I’m not. I’m totally over being tired of winter. I already gave in a few weeks ago to the allure of fresh produce, abandoning the frozen corn, green beans, and zucchini in favor of bean sprouts, cucumbers, and oh my lord grape tomatoes as big as your thumb.

There’s still part of a cabbage in the fridge — my cabbages grow to gigantic proportions, I don’t know why — but the last of fall’s carrots was gone over a month ago and yes, I tired of the old. I wanted the crunch of nutrients I hadn’t had fresh in months.

I abandoned locavore eating. Just until spring, and just once in a while. There’s something about fresh sprouts. They’re a promise. They’re potentiality. They could have become beans, but instead they’re going into my tummy. They’re earthy and new and taste of beginnings.

And this salad. Oh, this salad is Read more on indonesian tofu, bean sprout, and cucumber salad with spicy peanut dressing…

August 3, 2009 in gluten-free, how to, salad9 comments

kohlrabi and apple salad with honey yogurt dressing

kohlrabi and apple salad

I know, I know, you’re just antsy for that currant chiffon pie. Because there are no recipes for currant chiffon pie in existence (Google tells me so) I had to tweak from recipes for inferior fruits like lemon and orange. As a result, the first pie (yesterday) was good, but I decided it could be better, and I just shoved the adjusted-recipe version into the fridge.

In the meantime, comfort yourself with a nice, healthy salad. Ha ha.

There’s this gigantic, wizened old apple tree in the front yard. This tree is so ancient no one remembers what kind of apples grow on it, only that they’re tart, ripen really early, get soft quickly, and make good applesauce. As a result, not much usually gets done with them.

At the same time, the second planting of kohlrabi is coming ripe. You know what kohlrabi is, don’t you? Here’s my lovely aunt Linda holding one up for professional photography. You know it’s professional because the wind was blowing so hard this was the only place the leaves weren’t being twisted into even more alien shapes I put the gas tanks and grain bins distractingly behind the kohlrabi on purpose. *nods* (Also, she cherishes her anonymity on the Internet, but she never gets to read this, so let’s not tell her, shall we?)

run for the hills! the kohlrabi are invading!

Everyone seems to think it’s some mystery vegetable. I always had it growing up, so that surprised me. What? Your life experiences differ from mine?

Kohlrabi likes cool temperatures, produces 1 bulb and 1 bulb only, and that above ground. That’s it. It blows its wad making this one not-very-big chunk of vegetation that tastes a bit like cabbage and jicama, and a bit (only a bit) sweet.

what do i do with this green-tentacled space alien?

To prepare kohlrabi, pull off the stems and cut off the root, leaving the bulb. I’m told the leaves may be cooked like other greens but I’ve never tried it.

how a kohlrabi looks as it's being peeled

Now peel off the green outside. It’s soft and not very deep. The end of the kohlrabi near the root tends to get woody, especially near the outside, and especially on kohlrabi that have been neglected and allowed to grow a tad too big, like this one. See the area in the bottom of the pic where the kohlrabi flesh looks stripey and a bit yellower? That’s going to be tough and woody, and you may as well cut it off unless you’re really hurting for fiber.

slicing kohlrabi

One the kohlrabi is peeled, you can cut it up however you want. I like to cube it for straight up snacking, but for this recipe I sliced it thin and then cut it into matchsticks.

Kohlrabi, in matchsticks. Don't they look like those salty potato snacks? Boy are you in for a surprise!

You know, I like how coleslaw kind of mushes up the cabbage a bit when it’s been made for a day or two. I decided I don’t like that mushing effect with this salad, though. If you like your apples and kohlrabi to have a nice crunch, plan on eating this the same day.

The black pepper, of all things, brings out the apple flavor in this salad. I don’t know why, but that bit of spice in the creamy honey yogurt makes it swoon-worthy. Read more on kohlrabi and apple salad with honey yogurt dressing…

July 28, 2009 in main course, salad2 comments

spring tuna wraps

spring tuna wraps

ohnoes, shrinkage!Shrinkage. It’s not just for George Costanza anymore. Thanks to rising costs and a disinclination towards outwardly raising prices, food manufacturers are selling less for the same price. Everything comes in a smaller package these days, and not all of it is due to chilly swimming pools.

And in the process, mucking up loads and loads of recipes. Jerks.

But I’ve got a present for you. Spring tuna wraps uses 5 ounce cans of tuna, yay! Well, that’s because I sort of just wrote down the precise measurements today, but you didn’t read that, did you?

But it’s not spring anymore, I hear you complaining. Too bad. Up here in Michigan, it’s been a cruel cool cool summer, and peas, lettuce, radishes, and green onions are still going strong in the garden. Confession: my peas are sugar snaps, so I use frozen in this recipe, shh. Don’t tell anyone!

gah, someone get this cat off my countertop

Oh, wait. Hold up. My dad’s cat, who likes to come in my house at night, keeps jumping up on the counter to lick the measuring cup that had mayonnaise in it.

So annoying. I hate getting hints that it’s time to wash the damn dishes.

Okay, tossed the cat outside, now back to the wraps. I’ve always liked canned tuna, and missed it when I eschewed fish in the strict vegetarian phase. Even as a kid, a tuna sandwich was always a special treat and change from the normal peanut butter and jelly sack lunch. I would have had it in every lunch if I could. As a grownup, I finally found out how tuna is supposed to taste, via tuna steaks in good restaurants, but canned tuna still holds a special place. I don’t know why, because it bears about as much resemblance to tuna the fish as canned salmon does to salmon the fish, and I hate canned salmon.

gresh parsley and chopped green onion

Now, updated for grownups: brighten up tuna salad with tangy lemon, sweet peas, and crunchy bits of radish. Toss in some toasted almonds, splash on a bit of Thai chili sauce, tuck it all into whole wheat tortillas with leafy lettuce. Yes, there’s still mayo in here, and celery, and some green onions and…you get the point. A melange of springy vegetables ready for sandwich noshing.

Oh wow. Even at six servings, each tuna wrap is 242 calories apiece! Sounds pretty good to me. Read more on spring tuna wraps…

July 4, 2009 in salad8 comments

strawberry and feta salad

strawberry feta salad

Update: strawberry and feta salad is now entered in this week’s ZOE Secret Ingredient Challenge. Psst: the secret ingredient is feta.

With strawberry vinaigrette!

You know. I’ve really got to begin paying attention to presentation when I snap these photos. I’ve been just putting something on a plate or bowl the way I’d eat it and sometimes it’s not quite so…attractive.

Like this strawberry and feta salad. I shouldn’t have mixed it up first. I should have put the lettuce in the bowl, artfully arranged the strawberry slices on top, rakishly sprinkled the toasted slivered almonds atop that, and strategically placed feta crumbles throughout. Then I should have drizzled the strawberry vinaigrette on the lettuce only, magically avoiding the strawberries, almonds, and feta.

But noooooo.

It’s all mixed together, feta tinted pink by rogue strawberry juices, lettuce with messy-looking bits of cheese and strawberry clinging to it, almonds haphazardly fallen to the bottom of the bowl.

It’s a pictorial Hindenberg.

/end rant

This is the last of the strawberries. Everybody heave a big sad sigh here. Don’t tell sis; these are the ones I got from her last week. They’ve been languishing in the fridge covered in plastic wrap, crying out in their tiny high little voices. Needless to say, some of them had to go. But they were in decent shape; a few soft spots here and there; a few too soft to use.

bibb, curly, and oak leaf lettuce from the garden

The lettuce in the garden is still going strong, which is really weird for July. It made it through last week’s hot spell without bolting, and these cooler days are making it happy face.

If you have rabbit food and some strawberries in the fridge, try out this salad. The tang of the feta is a neat counterpoint to the strawberries, and who can resist crunchy almonds?

Try the strawberry vinaigrette on a spinach salad, too. What do you like to do with fruity vinaigrettes? Read more on strawberry and feta salad…

December 6, 2009 in salad, vegetarian10 comments

the best coleslaw

coleslaw

Two things, and then the recipe for the best basic coleslaw you’ve ever had.

cabbage, to be sacrificed to the food processor gods

First, we went to Hello Sushi tonight. You may recall that I became a bit cranky on my last visit. Tonight, however, was delightful. Just like last time we were coming off a day working at my aunt’s house, but this time I was with my aunt, Linda, instead of my cousin, and this time we’d changed clothes and cleaned up a bit. We had futo maki and Alaskan soup to begin with. The Alaskan soup was a fishy broth with crab and fluffy cooked egg floating around. Next we had one of the specials, mushrooms stuffed with spicy tuna and deep fried. This one had a lot of flavor and texture going on: salty, umami, creamy, chewy, and then little teeny pops from the roe that was sprinkled on top. To finish Linda ordered a spider roll and I ordered a yellowtail nigiri, both also awesome of course, and she had ginger ice cream (ick) for dessert.

And I didn’t take a single picture. Yeah, I bet reading all that was real exciting. Apparently food writing needs pictures. Read more on the best coleslaw…

what to do with fresh blueberries

What *I* like to do with fresh blueberries!

I have a confession to make.

I cannot bring myself to bake or cook with fresh berries.

Why not? Their season is so short, it seems such a waste to transform them with heat, when frozen berries will do the job just as well. And you can whip out frozen blueberries in the dead of winter, anytime.

But fresh berries in the dead of winter? You know they’re out of season, so they’re being shipped thousands of miles, and hey! *snaps fingers* we’re trying to eat more local here. In that process of being shipped across continents, they’re losing freshness and flavor, and won’t be worth much fresh anyway, in my opinion.

Why not practice a more seasonally-aware cuisine? Gorge on fresh when it’s available, and freeze or preserve once you’ve gotten sick on fresh blueberries. (Tomorrow I’ll be freezing blueberries, and show you how, which is hardly necessary, as it’s so damn easy you’ll wonder why you haven’t done it before.)

In the spirit of practicing a more seasonally-aware cuisine, we’re now eating 99% blueberries and sweet corn. Ha ha.

13 ways of looking at a blueberry

Simple, as usual, is better. There are approximately 3 general ways to go with fresh blueberries. First is sweet, and mixed with dairy and/or grains. Second and third are savory, in salads or salsa.

We’ll get the obvious out of the way first. Read more on what to do with fresh blueberries…