Kale Greek Salad

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I love a classic Greek salad – so many different textures and the all the salty goodness from olives and feta. If you, like me, have a garden full of kale, or maybe you’re just interested in upping the nutritional content in your salad bowl, you can easily substitute raw or massage kale for the traditional Romain.

If you choose to keep the kale raw, just strip the leaves from the stalks, roll them (like a burrito!) and slice them very thinly. For a slightly softer kale, just add your dressing – olive oil, lemon, and a splash of red wine vinegar along with a pinch of coarse salt to the greens, and massage them with your hands until the leaves turn dark, and soft.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset If you like, you can toss your individual salad additions with additional dressing, or just leave them as is, put them in the bowl, grind on some black pepper, and enjoy!

Tomato, CousCous and Herb Salad

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This easy, cold salad comes together quickly, and makes great use of late Augusts juicy tomatoes and plentiful herbs. My salad, above, is a slightly simpler version of Ottolenghi’s “Tomato Party” from his cookbook Plenty. A simple mix of regular and larger, Israeli couscous, which cooks and cool quickly. As many tomatoes as you wish (the more the better) yellow, green, orange, red, zebra – the more the merrier. And then handfuls of chopped herbs – basil, mint, oregano. Finish is with a glug of good olive oil (I’ve been loving a lemon olive oil from Olive Pressee), a good splash of balsamic vinegar (I used a black current balsamic, also from Presse) course sale, plenty of black pepper, and a well-crushed and minced clove of garlic. Viola! A perfect August salad. 

 

Pea Sprouts and Shoots

pea shoots

I’ve been trying to grow peas for for years, and Philadelphia’s relatively brief Spring has always thwarted me. Not this year! I was able to grow some wonderful peas, and they are actually still producing! I doubt that they’ll make it through a hot August, so I’m picking my pea sprouts and shoots and curls now, and enjoying them while I can. 

One of the easiest ways to prepare pea shoots is to not prepare them at all – just chop them and toss them into a salad! You can also quick pickle them, throw them into a stir fry, blend them with herbs into a pesto, or toss them into a summer soup. 

Do you have other ways to enjoy pea shoots and spouts? 

Pickled Cauliflower

pickled cauliflower
It’s been hot in Philly, and very humid. It’s about this time in the summer where the idea of cooking anything is completely unappealing. I had a nice head of organic cauliflower in the refrigerator, no intention of roasting or cooking it, but I don’t really enjoy it raw. What to do? Pickle!

It’s easy to make quick, refrigerator pickles out of almost any produce. I like my pickles garlic and spicy, so I added a clove of fresh garlic and some red pepper flakes to the basic quick-pickle formula, but you could skip it, or add lemon zest, herbs, whatever floats your boat.

Start will clean, trimmed, fresh produce pre-cut into your pickle size and placed in a large, non-reactive bowl. Bring 1 cup of white vinegar to boil with 1/2 cup of water, and sugar to taste (I like my sugar content lsaladow, so I go with 1/4 cup, but you could use up to 1/2 cup). When the sugar has dissolved, pour the boiling liquid over the vegetables, which acts like a “quick cook.” When the vegetables and liquid have cooled, pour into a jar or other refrigerator-happy container and chill for at least 12 hours.

Result – quick pickles! You can serve them as a classy appetizer, or pile them onto salads, like I’ve done (to the left). Enjoy!

 

Fava Bean, Pea, and Jersey Tomato Salad

fava bean salad

We’ve reached that wonderful part of summer when we still have access to spring crops, but the later summer crops, like vine-ripened tomatoes, are starting to appear in farmers markets and Co-Ops. Here in Philadelphia, most of our earliest tomatoes come from New Jersey, which is famous for their juicy fruits. Combining spring and summer produce, I put together this very simple, and very delicious, salad with fresh fava beans, snap peas, tomatoes, and red onion. You could also add fresh herbs with abandoned! It’s perfect for these days when the weather really begins to heat up.

Fava Bean, Pea, and Jersey Tomato Salad

fresh fava beans, steamed in their shells, and then pealed.

sugar spap peas, ends trimmed and strings pulled

some big juicy tomatoes, of any type, vine ripened and chopped

a large red onion, finely diced

Toss the vegetables together – only the favas will need to be cooked. To avoid refrigerating the tomato (which destroys its flavor and texture) you can put this salad together ahead of time, adding the tomatoes before eating.

Whisk together a vinaigrette of good quality olive oil, white wine vinegar, sea salt and fresh ground pepper, and the zest and juice of one lemon. I like to balance my vinaigrettes 1/3 oil to 2/3 acid (the vinegar and lemon juice) but some people prefer to reverse those proportions.

Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables, add any chopped herbs that you enjoy (I suggest mint, parsley, basil, oregano, tarragon and/or sage) and toss. Let marinate at least 15 minutes before serving.

Steamed Eggplant with Miso-Tomato Sauce

steamed eggplant with miso-tomato sauce

I bought some adorable little asian eggplants, and there they lay, lingering in my fridge, waiting for me to make myself a dinner. I love asian varieties of eggplant, as they tend to be more tender, and less bitter than their larger, Italian cousins. With not much time or desire to put together a large meal for just myself, and even less desire to spend time over the stove on a sweltering 98 degree Philadelphia day, I pulled a recipe from Joe Yohan’s very fun cookbook, “Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook.” All recipes in this cookbook are vegetable-based, and intended for solo meals.  Not too many ingredients, not to much time, but a whole lot of flavor.

I altered the recipe a bit to use what I had available – some homemade Coconut Vinegar that my friend Joel gave me (and warned me to open quickly, as the yeast was still alive!) and some roasted almonds instead of peanuts. I also used the same pan and boiling water which I used to steam the eggplant for boiling the udon noodles. Less time – less mess! Altogether, about 6 minutes of total hands-on cooking, and a great, quick dinner.

A brief recipe summary, with my alterations:

 

Steamed Eggplant with Miso-Tomato Sauce 

One small eggplant, or a few tiny asian eggplants. Slice into rounds, salt, and steam until soft (about 20 minutes)

A nice hunk of ginger, diced, and cooked in 2 teaspoons of sesame oil until soft

2 Tbs. of miso, whisked with 1 Tbs. of vinegar (I used homemade coconut vinegar). Add the miso sauce to the ginger, stir.

A big diced tomato, or 3/4 cup organic crushed tomatoes, or tomato sauce. Added to the sauce.

1 serving of cooked udon noodles (or soba). Top the noodles with the eggplants and the sauce, and then garnish with chopped almonds (or peanuts, or roasted sesame seeds) and diced scallion.

Rose Hibiscus Lime Cooler

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I love keeping jars of interesting drinks, mixers, tonics, and concoctions – especially in the summer. This ayurvedic beverage (to cool the acid and heat of Pitta constitutions) is delicious, very easy to make, and full of vitamin C. Boil 6 cups of water, add a handful of dried rose petals* and a handful of dried hibiscus flowers** and simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain, cool in a large glass container, and then add the juice (and zest, if you like) of two limes. Beautiful, delicious, and fancy, this rose hibiscus lime “cooler” is great over ice, and has such a strong flavor that you can easily cut 50/50 with seltzer water, as I did above, or use it as a summertime mixer. Garnish with fresh mint or a lime wedge for extra pizzaz!

* Did you find some local, organic rose petals? If you did, the easiest way to preserve them for the year is to dry them. I lay mine out on a sheet pan and leave them in my oven for a few  hours. If your oven is electric, instead of gas, you will need to heat it to about 100 degrees. Of course, you can always spread the petals and leave them on the counter to dry.

**You can find dried hibiscus flowers in the bulk food or herb sections of your local natural foods store or Co-Op. Alternatively, you can often find them packaged and sold with herbs in the “Mexican” or “Latino” section of grocery stores, under their Spanish name, “Rosa de Jamaica.”