Supposedly, summer bade us farewell several days ago.
The signs are all there: the sun dips lower in the sky, shadows lengthen, and the occasional nip in the air gently reminds me that summer is winding down and autumn is nudging its way in.
However, all around me, nature is playing tricks on me. Blackberries still peek out from their brambly bushes. The Seattle sky remains clear and blue, with daytime temps lingering in the 70s. And the tomatoes in my dad’s garden continue to grow plump and heavy on the vine, their green hue merging into red.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I’m relishing each day I can still bare my legs and zip out the door without a coat on. And with every satay stick I grill on the barbecue, I’m hoping it won’t be my last just yet.
This past Saturday, we took a ferry across the Puget Sound and spent a sunny day in Poulsbo where we ate fish and chips al fresco and my son chased seagulls around the marina. The next day, I turned my dad’s ripe tomatoes into a refreshing Burmese-style salad. It was a lovely way to commit the last flavors of summer to my taste memory.
Truth be told, I’m not ready to say goodbye.
And you, how are you stocking up on summery memories?
Burmese-Style Tomato Salad
This tomato salad is loosely based on a Burmese salad Alvina Mangrai once made for me. She is one of those amazing women. Alvina is my friend Manda’s mom. She migrated from Burma in 1972 and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her salad comprised shredded cabbage, chopped tomatoes, lime juice, dried shrimp powder, fried garlic, and the fragrant oil leftover from frying the garlic. I took a few liberties, borrowing some ideas from this recipe on Pranee’s blog. Because I already had store-bought fried garlic bits in my pantry (and yes, because I’m lazy) that’s what I used. But I can vouch for the deliciousness of frying your own..
Time: 10 minutes
Makes: 4 to 6 servings
2 tablespoons lemongrass vinegar
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 teaspoon fish sauce
3 medium tomatoes, cut into crescents
1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 small sweet onion, cut into thin crescents, soaked in water for 30 minutes to tame its bite
1 tablespoon fried garlic, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon fried onions, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon roasted pistachios (preferably unsalted), crushed, plus more for garnish
Chopped cilantro for garnish
In a large salad bowl, whisk the lemongrass vinegar, canola oil, and fish sauce together vigorously. Add the remaining ingredients and toss gently. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Sprinkle with fried garlic, fried onions, pistachios, and cilantro, with or without abandon. Serve.
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Some days, prepping food for the week feels like so much work.
I’m standing in the kitchen, roasting beets, peeling and roasting squash, processing pepper, toasting squash seeds for a healthy snack or salads, making beans, toasting raw cashews, blah blah blah. When it’s all done, I don’t even have a meal! I hate feeling unproductive. I feel unproductive if I’ve cooked and have no meal.
But we can’t be productive all of the time.
As a friend once told me, to “be” human is to BE. Or was it, we are human “beings” and I need to work on the “being.” What ever the verbiage she used, she said it much more eloquently than that. But you get the point.
That being said, after all that cooking, I realize how grateful I am in the end. When I go to put dinner together it takes almost no time at all. It took around 8 minutes and was less than zero on the stress scale.
Then I remember why I prep for the week. It means that the rest of the week I can put meals on the table super fast and spend a little more time “being.”
This cumin spiced squash recipe is one of those meals. Sure it requires roasting squash and cooking beans, but that doesn’t have to happen on a prep day. In all honesty it can be done on any evening that you’re sitting around watching TV or cleaning the house.
I hope you decide to give this a try. It’s super flavorful and comes together easily. It can be served on lettuce wraps (like we did), but if you do this, cut the squash in smaller cubes, it will be easier to eat that way. Or serve it on a bed of brown rice, that would be super yummy.
Cumin spiced squash with white beans and scallions
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups roasted squash (any variety)
1/2 cup cooked white beans
2 scallions or green onions cut on the diagonal
1 red chili (or other hot pepper) thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium frying pan, toast the cumin seeds on high heat for about one minute or until fragrant. Add the oil, squash, beans, scallions and sliced chili to the pan. Heat until warmed through, approximately 5 minutes.
Serve with the avocado yogurt sauce in lettuce wraps or over rice, sprouted beans, or couscous.
Avocado yogurt sauce
1/3 cup plain full fat yogurt (use coconut cream for vegan substitution)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper
Slice the avocado in half and remove the pit and skin. Place the avocado, yogurt and lemon juice in a blender. Process until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Roasting squash: Peel the squash using a knife or carrot peeler. Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds and cut into cubes. Toss them with 2 tablespoons of oil, and two crushed garlic cloves (optional) and salt and pepper. Roast at 375 degrees F., for 45 minutes to an hour, or until tender.
Cooking white beans: Place 1/2 cup of dry white beans with 3 cups of water and 3 tablespoons of vinegar. Let soak for eight to 24 hours. I let them soak overnight. Rinse the beans very well to remove the vinegar. Place the beans in a pot with three cups of water. Bring the beans to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 40 minutes to an hour or until tender. Depending on how long the beans soak will determine how long the beans take to cook, along with how old the beans are.
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The problem with tortilla chips is that they come in a giant bag. A giant bag of greasy, salty goodness. And I’m just one person, but I will eat the entire bag if given half a chance. I’ve often wished that tortilla chips came in little snack-sized bags, but if they do, I’ve yet to find them.
Admittedly, there are worse problems in life. But the good news is that this is a problem with a quick, cheap, and easy solution that involves oil and salt. The best kind of problem and solution, really.
I have mentioned before that I worked doing prep in a Mexican restaurant for a few years while I was in college.
I spent mornings back then at my prep table, drinking Mountain Dew while rock music rattled the stereo speakers and cool morning air wafted in the open back door. I cut up a lot of things, including corn tortillas for chips. I would take a thick stack of tortillas, cut through it quickly four times like a pizza, shove the triangular pieces off my table into a giant tub, then grab another stack and repeat this process until the tub was full. This wasn’t precision work, so my mind wandered or I shouted insults back and forth with the guys at the grill while my hands hustled. Throughout the day, the fry cook took handfuls of those tortilla triangles and plunged them into the fryer, poked them around a bit with a long set of tongs, then at the perfect moment, turned them out of their basket, all hot and crispy, into another tub.
Even if you don’t own a deep-fryer, this is an incredibly easy process to replicate at home. It only takes about ten minutes, and the chips are so much better than anything you can buy in a bag.
Here’s how: A wok is ideal for this, but you could also use a largish heavy-bottomed saucepan in a pinch. Either way, just keep a close eye on your oil during the process and don’t walk away.
Pour about two inches of vegetable oil into the wok, and turn heat to high (or more like medium high on a gas range). Place a stack of six or so corn tortillas on your cutting board, and cut them in half, then in fourths, then eighths. You should now have a pile of tortilla triangles. Continue to cut as many tortillas as you want.
Check your oil by tossing a drop of water in. When it sizzles hard, try a tortilla triangle. It should fry madly, but if the oil is starting to smoke, it’s too hot—turn it down a little. Gently toss in a handful of tortilla triangles. The sizzling and boiling should really escalate. Agitate them around a bit with a slotted spoon or a spider, if you have one.
Chips only take a few minutes to cook. Fish one out when they look crispy but not yet brown and try it. If it’s crunchy they’re done. If it’s leathery, give them another 30 seconds. If they start turning brown, you’ve gone a little too far but they are probably still pretty edible.
Scoop cooked chips from the oil–this is where the spider is especially handy. Put chips in a bowl, salt lightly, and toss another handful of triangles into the oil. Continue this process until you have enough chips—or a little more than enough. Because you’ll be amazed at how delicious they taste. You may not decide to make your own tortilla chips every time, but they are well worth the effort every now and then.
IN PICTURES: Fun fried foods
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In my working class family, meat was strictly the cheap cuts. When I was growing up, beef was chuck turned into burgers or meatloaf or spaghetti sauce – or the occasional pot roast, slow cooked so the fat melted into it and the toughness cooked out of it (as much as it does). Chicken was chicken, all of it relatively inexpensive back then, cooked and consumed with the skin on. And pork was most often chops, well marbled with fat before that was even a term used in households. Which probably explains why I like meat so much.
The cheap cuts are where the flavor is, in every juicy, chewy, sometimes stringy bite. Home cooks have known this pretty much forever and have developed techniques to bring out that flavor while taming the toughness that often accompanies these cuts – is indeed built into their muscle fiber.
Some of that big flavor and most of the juiciness comes from fat. And that’s a problem when it comes to pork chops. Pork producers have worked hard at slimming down their pigs in an effort to make pork “the other white meat,” closer to chicken in fat content than to beef. And they have succeeded. Some cuts are as low or even lower in fat than chicken. But the success comes at a cost, particularly when it comes to pork chops. With so much less fat marbled through the meat, chops often cook up dry and tough. Braising chops in liquid sometimes helps, but not always.
Brining chops – soaking them in a salt water solution for several hours before cooking – is a more reliable way to restore juiciness and tenderness. Brining is something of a balancing act, though. Besides the salt, sugar is required for the process. Too much of either or both can make chops taste like ham. So can brining meat for too long.
For this recipe, I took a conservative approach, both with ingredients and timing. The resulting chops were tender and juicy, with no hint of hamminess.
Which brings me to the plums. Pork loves fruit, more than any other meat. There’s an underlying sweetness to its savory flavor that makes pairing it with fruit a natural. We’ve made the most of this fact over the years, teaming various forms of pork with peaches, apples, cherries, mango and pears (twice). So it seemed like a good time to try plums.
Italian plums are one of those rare truly seasonal fruits that show up in markets for a short time late in the summer. They’re also called Italian prune plums, because that’s their primary use, being dried into prunes to be enjoyed year ’round. They’re smaller, firmer and less juicy than other plum varieties. This makes them less popular for eating out of hand, but perfect for baking. Marion’s always popular Plum Cake is a luscious example of that use.
And then there’s grilling. Halved and tossed with a little olive oil, they cook up quickly and take on a sweet, smokey taste. Since I was working with Italian plums, I took the chops in the same direction, adding tarragon and garlic to the brine. The result was subtle, letting the meat’s flavor shine through. As grilling season begins to wind down, the combination of the seasonal plums and flavorful chops tasted like the end of summer.
Grilled Pork Chops and Italian Plums
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 generous tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon (or 1 teaspoon dry)
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine (see Kitchen Notes for substitutions)
4 bone-in pork chops, about 3/4 to 1 inch thick (about 1/2 pound each)
freshly ground black pepper
12 Italian prune plums
Brine the chops. Combine salt, brown sugar, tarragon and garlic in a saucepan or heatproof bowl. Add one cup of boiling water. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Let sit for five minutes for flavors to steep. Stir in wine and one cup of iced water. Cool completely.
Place chops in a large zippered plastic bag. Add brine to bag and seal, forcing out as much air as possible. Work brine around the chops and refrigerate, occasionally turning the bag and working the brine around the chops, for at least five hours and up to 12 hours. The brine won’t keep the chops totally immersed in the bag; you can either increase the brine ingredients proportionally or turn the bag as I did.
Grill the chops and plums. Prepare your grill for direct grilling. About half an hour before you’re ready to grill, remove the chops from the fridge and let them come to room temperature. Meanwhile, prepare the plums. Rinse them and pat them dry with a clean dish towel. Halve the plums, removing the pits, and place them in a large bowl. Drizzle with a little olive oil and toss gently with a wooden spoon.
When the grill is almost ready, remove the chops from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Multiple paper towels. They will have taken on a lot of moisture and are now ready to exude it. Season generously with ground black pepper. Oil the grill grate and place chops directly over the coals. Cook uncovered for a couple of minutes and then close the grill. After five or six minutes of total cooking time for the first side, turn the chops, cover the grill and cook for another five minutes or so. By now, they will probably cooked through (a quick read thermometer should register 145 degrees F). Mine were still a little blond looking, so I turned them and cooked them for another minute. Don’t overcook them, though – it’s not needed, and you’ll undo all the juiciness you brined into them.
Transfer to a large plate and tent with foil (kind of stack them – they lose less heat as they rest). Give the plums another gentle stir to coat with oil, then place them on the grill cut side down. Let them grill for 2 to 3 minutes, then start turning them, using tongs and a spatula. If they haven’t taken on grill marks yet, let them cook another minute or so. They won’t all take on those beautiful grill marks, despite your best efforts. Move on. After you turn them, they only need to cook for a minute more. Transfer to a plate. The skins will want to slip off them; try to keep most of the skins with their original owners.
Transfer the chops to a serving platter. Arrange the plums around them, gently pushing skins back into place as needed. Serve.
Experiment. Play with the aromatics, trying different herbs or adding onions. Substitute apple cider or a little vinegar for the wine. Just keep the salt and sugar in balance. You’ll find lots of helpful brining basics and some additional recipe ideas here at About.com.
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The collages and paintings by Maz Dixon featuring “The Big Things of Australia,” will be featured in the upcoming curated exhibition “Art + Food: Beyond the Still Life” at Brenda May Gallery in Sydney. Beginning in the early 1960s, monumental objects ranging from giant fruit to prawns and pelicans began to litter the landscape of Australia.
Personally, the first “Big Thing” I encountered after moving to Australia was The Big Prawn in Ballina, which was constructed in 1989. In reality, the bubblegum pink crustacean emerges on the horizon of the roadside much in the same way it pokes out of the surf of Dixon’s "Monument (Prawn)." Here the vintage feel of the artwork is echoed in the recipe with the retro-classic, prawn cocktail.
In her artist statement about the work, Maz Dixon writes, “Our view of the landscape is heavily mediated by mass-produced travel ephemera such as maps, souvenirs and postcards.” The small series of paintings and collages in “Art + Food” explore the “gap between a traveller’s expectations and the reality of a place. Using the language of postcards and souvenirs, [Dixon is] going through a process of re-exploration, mapping the many layers of cultural detritus burying the destination.”
"Monument (Prawn)" can be viewed at Brenda May Gallery starting on Tuesday, Oct. 2, as part of the curated exhibition “Art + Food: Beyond the Still Life.”
Retro Prawn Cocktail
Yield: 3/4 cup of sauce suitable for around 500 grams (about 1 lb.) of prawns
1/4 cup tomato ketchup
1/4 cup chili sauce
2 tablespoons horseradish purée
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Dash of Tabasco sauce
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
500 grams (about 1lb.) cooked prawns
In a small bowl, mix all of the ingredients well. Serve with cooked prawns. Sauce will keep for up to two weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
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Megan Fizell is the curator of the exhibit “Art + Food: Beyond the Still Life.”
I was introduced to this delicious substance by my husband's Aunt Maggie who gave us a half-pint jar she'd made from her own small stash during our Thanksgiving canned goods swap last fall. It collided with a log of fresh goat cheese and some herb-covered crackers and lasted all of half an hour.
This stuff is seriously delicious. It's amazingly tasty with cream cheese and lox on a bagel, as a spread on a salami sandwich, with goat cheese and crackers, or lots of other ways.
The good news is that it is not very hard to make (whether or not you end up canning it). But you really need to make it now before sweet pepper season ends. You do not have to use red peppers though the color of the jam will be prettier if you do. So go buy a boatload of sweet peppers (or harvest your own if you've got 'em). Then get jamming.
The steps are pretty simple – you blend or cuisinart (yes, I use that as a verb) the peppers, then salt and let drain for a few hours.
Then add sugar and vinegar and simmer down to a thick, jammy consistency.
Then can it (or if you prefer to make a really small batch, just store it in an airtight container once it's cooled down). But I suggest you make enough to can at least a few jars – once you've tasted this stuff, you're going to want them. They also make great gifts.
Red Pepper Jam
Makes roughly 2 pints (or 4 half-pints)
12-15 large, sweet red peppers, rinsed and with the stems, ribs and seeds removed
2 cups apple cider or white vinegar (I used apple cider)
3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons salt
1. Chop or blend the peppers in a Cuisinart or blender. Remove to a bowl, sprinkle the chopped peppers with the salt and let stand for three to four hours then drain.
2. Place the peppers in a pot, add the sugar and vinegar and simmer gently until thick and jammy, about 40 minutes to one hour.
3. If you plan to can any of this delicious stuff, use this time while the jam is simmering to sterilize your canning jars and lids and get your canner pot ready to go. If you don't want to preserve any, just kick back.
4. Once the jam has reached the desired consistency (it should thicken a little when it cools, mind you), if you're canning, ladle the jam into the sterilized jars, wipe the rims clean of any drips, apply the sterilized lids and bands and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Let cool in a draft-free place then test the seals. If good, you can store for up to a year. Any that have not sealed properly should go into the fridge and get used within a week or two. If you're not canning it, let it cool a bit, then pour it into an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to two weeks.
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Can you say yummy goodness? I can after this lava cookie experiment. I have to credit my sister with this idea, or rather the onset of her visit. My sister's favorite dessert is molten chocolate cake or lava cake. I've tried various recipes in the past and usually am thwarted in finding the recipe for lava cake goodness that I aspire to. My sister was coming up to visit one of her daughters (my niece who now goes to college in the area) and wanted "something chocolate." Rather than making another attempt at a lava cake, I decided to try and make a lava cookie instead. I'd wanted to try this brown butter chocolate chip cookie from Alli-n-Son's blog so it seemed like a good time to try out both.
First of all, I love just about anything with browned butter. The fragrant smell alone could bring me to my knees. And the super-deliciousness of its taste? Uber goodness. Second, instead of chocolate chips, I chopped up one of the blocks of milk chocolate I had brought back from Switzerland in July, thereby almost guaranteeing this was going to turn out well. You simply can't go wrong with Swiss chocolate. After I made this cookie dough, it smelled so good I almost ate the dough. And I never eat cookie dough, much preferring the baked version. So for me to consider snitching cookie dough because it smelled and looked so good is almost unheard of. If you're a cookie dough lover, make a pact with yourself that you will reserve some dough to actually bake. Otherwise, you're going to miss out on a really good lava cookie.
I used Nutella as the lava portion for the middle of the cookie but if Nutella isn't your thing, you can also use caramel, biscoff spread, or even melt some chocolate chips and add a little butter to keep it liquid for a pure chocolate center. The Nutella worked stupendously well in this cookie (I'm bringing out all the superlatives for this recipe because it was just that good). You can serve this with ice cream but I found it doesn't need it because it's a good standalone dessert even without ice cream. I may try a different version with a white chocolate chip cookie and biscoff spread next time.
These cookies are a two-step process, since you’ll need to chill the Nutella-stuffed dough at least overnight.
Nutella-stuffed chocolate chip lava cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon slices
2-1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt (I used fleur de sel but you can also use regular salt)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1-1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups milk chocolate chunks
In a small pot melt the butter over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Once melted, the butter will foam up, and then subside. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until light brown specks form at the bottom of the pot and the butter has a nutty aroma. Careful not to let it burn. Remove from heat and pour into a glass bowl. Set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, sift together the bread flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
In a small bowl whisk together the milk, egg, egg yolk and vanilla extract, and set aside.
Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, on medium speed cream together the cooled browned butter and sugars for 2 minutes.
On low speed, add in the egg mixture, mixing until well combined, about 30 seconds.
Slowly stir in the flour mixture, mixing until well combined, scraping down the sides as needed.
Stir in the chocolate chunks. Form into dough balls, dropping a spoonful of Nutella in the middle and wrapping the dough around to cover the filling completely. Alternatively you can drop a spoonful of dough in a ramekin, drop a dollop of Nutella over it then cover with another spoonful of dough, filling the ramekin 2/3 full.
Chill the dough balls (or ramekins) in the fridge overnight or up to 48 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Line two cookie sheets parchment paper.
Place dough balls about 2 inches apart on each pan. Flatten balls slightly. If using ramekins, place on unlined baking sheet.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the pans half way through for evening browning.
Cool slightly before moving to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve warm.
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During the change of seasons, it isn’t just my wardrobe that straddles the two. One day I’m thrilled to wear boots for the first time in months, the next day I’m thankful that my flip flops are taking one last tour of the back yard.
I’ve already baked my first pumpkin treat, filling the house with the aroma of autumn spices. Yet, we are still hunting through the thick foliage along our fence and discovering large, crisp cucumbers. This summer, I put my new mandolin to use a number of times turning our freshly harvested cucumbers into this thinly sliced salad.
This typical, simple cucumber salad is a favorite. The bite of the vinegar and the aromatic dill are held together in creamy, Greek yogurt. During my August dieting days, I heaped piles of these green discs on my plate – it is low calorie and high flavor. Ever since I read that the skin holds all the vitamins, I stopped peeling cucumbers to boost the nutritional value.
If you don’t mind a little less crunch, this cucumber dill salad will last a number of days in the refrigerator. If you can find fresh dill, use it. Otherwise, good dried dill will do.
Dill Cucumber Salad with Greek Yogurt
2 large cucumbers
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (or dried)
1 teaspoon white sugar
Wash cucumbers and slice them into thin disks. In a bowl, combine yogurt, vinegar, dill, sugar and salt. Taste and adjust to your liking. Pour over cucumbers and mix to coat the cucumbers. For best flavor, let the salad sit for 30 minutes before eating
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Today's post is written by Terry Boyd's wife, Marion.
Summer is drawing to a close – we have a real blanket on the bed, we are wearing sweaters in the evening, and we are casting around for ways to use the bits and bobs that we harvest here from our apartment garden. The nation’s corn crop may have suffered this year, but our tomato crop is record-breaking. Outside, we have just a tiny scrap of ground under cultivation, but it is giving us a quart of cherry tomatoes every day, on bad days – and that is to ignore the big tomatoes, which are coming in with a vengeance.
And friends, I have also figured out how to beat the local squirrels. It’s been years of frustration, featuring comical shots of me, in various inappropriate garments, yelling even more inappropriate things at squirrels as they frisk up ahead with fat ripe red tomatoes in their clever jaws. But, because every year I rotate a different tomato variety into the mix, I stumbled on an answer: yellow. In our neighborhood, the squirrels do not recognize yellow tomatoes as food. Red tomatoes, yes. Peppers, berries, French fries, apples, yes. But yellow tomatoes, for no reason I understand, are safe. This year I planted only yellow varieties, and now we have a bumper crop, small and large, pear-shaped and round, all of them luscious, well-balanced explosions of acid and sweet, and not one meddling squirrel has touched them. Not. One.
We thought of this recipe on the fly as part of a recent weekend barbecue. We’ve got tomatoes! We’ve got potatoes! We’ve got 30 minutes! It’s one of those dishes that is so simple, it is almost not a recipe, but a description.
Potato and Cherry Tomato Salad
Serves 4 to 6
30 fingerling potatoes, mixed red and white
A pint of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
For the vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
Wash the little tomatoes and cut them in half. Our version uses Sun Gold tomatoes, our favorite, but use the ones you like best. A mix of little heirlooms, red, yellow, purple, would be very handsome.
Make the vinaigrette by whisking all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Set it aside.
Choose fingerling potatoes that are all about the same size, nice unbruised ones without eyes. Don’t peel them. Put them in a pan, cover generously with cold water, bring to a boil, and simmer for five to seven minutes, depending on the size, until they are just tender.
When they are cooked, drain them and plunge into cold water for a minute so you can handle them. Cut each in half lengthwise and place in a medium bowl.
Pour the dressing over the potatoes – use just enough to coat the potatoes, not so much that it pools in the bottom of the bowl. Save any extra dressing for another salad.
Set aside a few tomato halves for garnish. Carefully pour the rest into the potato salad bowl, and very gently fold everything together.
Garnish with the remaining tomatoes, snip some chives over the salad and serve. That’s it.
This is also really wonderful the next day, cold from the fridge.
Up until a couple years ago, quinoa was relatively unheard of. It certainly wasn’t something my family ate when I was growing up and I rarely ran across it on restaurant menus, cookbooks or online. And then, seemingly out of nowhere, quinoa seemed to explode onto the food scene. Suddenly, quinoa is everywhere. It’s actually been on a gradual rise in popularity over the past several years and now this trendy pseudograin has found a place with the cool kids, right next to cupcakes and macarons.
Despite it’s relatively new popularity, there’s actually nothing new about quinoa. On the contrary, it was once considered a sacred food source of the ancient Incas. And with good reason. Quinoa is high in protein and unique in the realm of vegetable proteins for its notable lysine content. Containing all eight essential amino acids, quinoa is considered to be a complete protein, which is especially attractive for people looking to get their protein from non-meat sources. It’s also high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, gluten-free, wheat-free, and easily digestible. It’s truly a nutritional superfood.
A few years ago, after reading an article touting the awesomeness of quinoa, I ran to the store, bought myself a bag and prepared it with dried fruits and a bit of honey for breakfast. To be honest, I was less than thrilled with the result and hadn’t prepared it since; until yesterday, that is.
Inspired by the request of a friend, I decided to give it another try. This time, I went with a savory preparation, incorporating some of my favorite flavors; sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and goat cheese. I stuffed all of this delicious goodness into a baby eggplant and the result was phenomenal. Seriously delicious! Have it for lunch or make it as a side dish for dinner. You’ll be happy you did.
Now, be careful to pronounce it correctly when talking to your friends about your new favorite quinoa recipe. Though, by appearance and common convention, you may assume it’s pronounced Kin-O-ah, the correct pronunciation is actually KEEN-wah. It takes me a forced effort to remember this fact. My mind thinks Kin-O-ah, while I force my mouth to say KEEN-wah. In fact, if someone started talking to me about KEEN-wah, it would probably take me a good minute before I figured out what they were talking about. It goes against my natural instincts, but KEEN-wah it is.
2 baby eggplants
3/4 cup quinoa
1-1/2 cups vegetable stock
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place quinoa and vegetable stock in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and gently simmer for 15 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat. Keep covered and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Gently fluff with a fork.
Meanwhile, cut the eggplants in half lengthwise. Use a knife to cut around the edges being careful not to cut through the skin. Leave about a 1/4 inch remaining around the edges. Use a spoon to scoop out the middle.
Chop the scooped eggplant into small pieces. Drizzle with olive oil. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, parsley, salt, crushed red pepper, and about 2/3 of the goat cheese crumbles. (Reserve the remaining 1/3 of goat cheese crumbles for topping the stuffed eggplants.)
Once the quinoa is cooked, gently toss it with the eggplant mixture. Rub the outside of the eggplant skins with a small amount of olive oil, then place on a baking sheet. Generously stuff each skin with the quinoa mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining goat cheese crumbles on top of each eggplant during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
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