Monthly Archives: July 2012

Still Life With Roast Vegetables and Romesco Sauce

Welcome to week 27 of the Food Matters Project!  When I read we would be making romesco sauce for this week’s project I was filled with nostalgia.  Flashback to 2004.  A younger version of me (a waitress by day, student of sociology by night, writing about the construction of masculinity in boxing and bodybuilding…oh the days when all passions, no matter how random were pursued…!) on a break from serving up huge plates of healthy eats at Gaia Cafe, picked up the NY Times Dining In section.  The cover article was “The Chef:  Peter Hoffman; Still Life With Roast Vegetables.”  It was the first time I read a food article that struck me as so romantic and appealing that I wanted to make the dish right then and there.  The article follows Peter Hoffman on his visit to the Union Square Farmer’s Market.  He carefully selects what’s good at the market and creates a gorgeous pile of roasted veggies served with a piquant romesco sauce.  I tucked the article in my purse and made it soon thereafter.  It became my go-to dish for quite a while.  I would pile veggies on a platter and serve it with generous amounts of romesco, crusty bread, and a dry white wine.  It felt so rustic and romantic (as a couple of ex-boyfriends can attest!).  When the Food Matters Project schedule said “romesco” I was thrilled to return to this long-lost favorite.  The recipe below is the version provided by the NY Times.  For Mark Bittman’s recipe, check out Mireya’s blog, My Healthy Eating Habits.  She is living in Spain right now and shares some information on the origins of the sauce.  Older posts take readers on a tour of Spain–a great way to get a close-up view of one foodie’s experience!  For everyone else’s take on the recipe, head to the Food Matter Project site or to the Food Matters Project Pinterest board for a visual of all of the great stuff we FMP bloggers cooked up (note that it will take 2-3 days for all photos to be posted on the Pinterest board).

Feel free to use any vegetables you have in the house that can be roasted–don’t feel limited by the suggestions below!  Romesco keeps for up to a month (and freezes well) so this sauce will get some mileage–definitely worth the time to make it!

Summer Salad with Romesco; adaptedfrom Chef Peter Hoffman in the NY Times, June 16, 2004

Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

For the salad:

  • 1 bunch (about 5) medium beets (I used candy striped, red, and yellow beets), tops trimmed leaving 1 inch of stem
  • 4 or 5 small lita and/or golden zucchini squashes, trimmed and halved lengthwise or sliced into 1-inch rounds
  • 1 bunch green garlic
  • 1 pound red potatoes (1 to 2 inches in diameter)
  • 1/2 pound green and wax beans, lightly steamed
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • 4 hard-cooked eggs, shelled and halved lengthwise.
  1. Prepare Romesco (recipe below).  Cover and refrigerate.
  2. Prepare vegetables for salad: heat oven to 450 degrees. Place beets in a small roasting pan with a lid. Place squash in another small roasting pan. Trim firm green leaves from garlic, and slice stalk into 1-inch pieces, and halve or quarter bulb. Place in a third pan, with potatoes. Drizzle all pans with olive oil, season with salt, and toss to coat. Cover pan of beets, and place pans in oven.
  3. Cook all vegetables until they are tender, transferring them to a platter as they are ready. Vegetables are tender when a knife passes easily through center. Squash should take 12 to 15 minutes; potatoes and garlic about 20 minutes. Beets will be tender in 45 minutes to one hour. Allow roasted vegetables to come to room temperature, but do not refrigerate. When beets are cool, peel and cut in two or in quarters.
  4. To assemble salad:  arrange potatoes, squash, beets beans, green garlic, and eggs on platter. Serve romesco on the side for dipping.  Serve with crusty bread and a salad of arugula or another spicy green.

Yield: 4 servings.

ROMESCO SAUCE

Time: 45 minutes

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 1/2-inch-thick slices day-old sourdough bread
  • 3 dried ancho chilies (find at grocery store or if you have a Hispanic market, even better)
  • 1 cup blanched almonds, toasted
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 cups (after juices are drained) canned plum tomatoes
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup vinegar (I used mostly Sherry vinegar with some apple cider vinegar splashed in–you can use red wine vinegar if that is what you have on hand)
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • Salt
  1. Place a medium skillet over medium-low heat, and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. When oil is hot, add bread and fry until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes a side. Transfer to a plate to cool and dry.
  2. Return skillet to medium heat, and add chilies, pressing them into pan with a spatula so they soften. Flip chilies, and continue cooking until all sides are pliable. Transfer to a plate to cool, then remove stems and seeds (wear gloves or put baggies over your hands while handling the chilies!) Bring a small pan of water to a boil, and add chilies. Simmer until rehydrated, about 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  3. In bowl of a food processor, combine almonds, fried bread and garlic. Process into a thick paste. Add chilies, tomatoes, lemon juice, vinegar and paprika. Process, adding 1/2 cup olive oil in a thin stream. Season to taste with salt. Transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 1 month. Serve with grilled meat, fish or roasted vegetables.  Yield: 1 1/2 quarts.

On The Subject of Tomatoes and Roses

I always get it in my head that I don’t like tomatoes.  While I eat my fair share of tomato based soups and pasta sauces in the winter months, I steer clear of tomatoes on salads, sandwiches, and the like.  I’m perpetually disappointed by the tomato when it comes to me as a bland, acidic filler on the plate.  But then, summer rolls around and I hem and haw about whether I actually want to try the tomatoes I see at the farmer’s market–by the time this point has rolled around each year, I have forgotten their powerful punchy flavor, their intense juiciness.  And how could I forget?  This year I had my eye-opening tomatoey reminder in a little urban garden.  My long-lost friend, Rose, picked one and handed it to me.  It was like a bright candy pop–so delicious and surprising.  I took home a handful and promptly purchased some heirloom tomatoes the following morning at the market.  Welcome back into my life, tomatoes!  For the fleeting time you are here, I will enjoy you!  And I’ll try ever so hard not to forget who you really are, in the middle of summer, at your peak.

Also, a big happy welcome back into my life to my dear friend, Rose!  Like the tomato, seeing her again has been a bright and happy reminder to stay connected.  The first time I saw Rose, she was about 12 years old and was walking on a chain link fence like a professional tight rope walker.  She had a quiet calm about her and an intense curiosity.  I quickly became friends with her–we would go on great adventures around Grand Rapids and developed a close bond.  Her wonderfully artistic family (her mom and dad are both gifted artists along with her siblings who are artists in their own right) moved to Brooklyn the year I moved to NY and I was able to visit with them there on one great occasion.  At her young age, Rose was already a successful entrepreneur, selling sock monsters to an upscale children’s boutique in Brooklyn.  We fell out of touch for some time and although both of us have lived in Grand Rapids again for several years again, we haven’t reconnected beyond random bump-ins.  The other day, Rose and I had lunch at Uncle Cheetah’s Soup Shop (GO THERE–trust me) and got caught up.  Rose is an impressive and perpetually creative young woman who continues to create art in so many forms which she sells at her popular Etsy Shop.  She also has her own blog, filled with the delightful musings of a 21-year-old woman.  She passes along her creativity, and most importantly, her messages of strength and growth, to her readers.  I urge you to check it out–if you are anything like me, you’ll be touched and inspired.

A toast to remembering, reconnecting, and enjoying the simple joys of summer with tomatoes and long-lost friends!

Chickpea and Bitter Greens Curry with Quinoa

This week I was in the Mohave Desert in CA and in Baton Rouge, LA for work. I don’t know about everyone else…but when I travel I end up eating.  A lot.  And not healthy foods.  I sure try…I pack instant oatmeal packets (not the gluey stuff–the good stuff brought to you by the folks at Better Oats), granola bars, and nuts.  I buy bananas to get me through the day.  But I always end up getting so hungry by the end of the day that I stuff my face at dinner.  Ugh.  Anyway, this meal was what I was craving when I came home from my trip this week…a perfect way to get back on track.  Quick and easy, flavor-packed, and so pretty I could cry.

Chickpea and Greens Curry with Black and White Quinoa

  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 and 1/2 cups canned or (cooked dried chickpeas), drained and rinsed
  • Sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 4 cups bitter greens (I used kale and lambs quarters), cut into 1/2 inch ribbons
  • 1/4 cup chopped herbs (cilantro works great if you have it)
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa (I used 2/3 white and 1/3 black)
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
  1. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of water and tumeric to a boil.  Add chickpeas and a pinch of salt and simmer for 5 minutes.  Tuen off heat and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook onion, stirring until softened, about 4 minutes.  Add pepper, garlic, cumin, coriander, and ginger and cook, stirring, about 5 minutes more.  Stir in all the greens and chicpea mixture and cook until greens are just wilted.  Season with salt.  Remove from heat and mix in chopped herbs.
  3. Divide quinoa among four bowls and top with vegetable curry and toasted seeds.

Chocolate Tofu Pudding with Coconut Whipped Cream

Okay, if you are reading this now, I am going to say you are one of the following:  1) someone who isn’t afraid of tofu…you may even really like it, love it, or have spent your whole life eating it 2) a friend of mine who reads all of my blogs because you are so supportive and did I mention…awesome?  Go friends!  3)  Someone who is courageously trying new things, trying to be healthier and looking out for the perfect recipe that is healthy….but wait for it…..also amazingly delicious!  Whichever bucket you fell into, you are in the right place, my friends.  Because this tofu pudding is pretty tasty.  Serve it to your family and friends–they will have no idea that they are eating tofu pudding.  Yes, it’s that good.

I grew up eating tofu pudding.  My dear mom blended and poured many tofu pudding variations in her day–vanilla, chocolate, and raspberry were all household favorites.  So this tofu pudding thing is not outside of my realm of thinking.  But I wanted to find a recipe that really, really tasted just like chocolate pudding and this is it.  This recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman’s Mexican Chocolate Pudding recipe.  I left out the spices because I wanted a classic pudding.  I made one other tweak and added a little bit of corn starch because I needed it to set relatively quickly.  Lastly, I added coconut whipped cream to the top for a nice vegan topping.  You can surely make this recipe vegan–just add vegan chocolate instead and you are good to go!

For those of you who are not yet familiar with Mark Bittman (his cookbook is the foundation of the Food Matters Project), check him out.  He is your friend.  He is the least pretentious cook I have come across.  He makes cooking really, really easy and wants everyone to make delicious and healthy dishes–not just fancy foodies.

Chocolate Tofu Pudding adapted from MARK BITTMAN

Time: 10 minutes, plus 30 minutes’ chilling; Yields 4-6 servings

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 pound silken tofu
  • 8 ounces high-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Chocolate shavings (optional).

1. In a small pot, combine sugar with  3/4 cup water; bring to a boil and cook until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly.

  • 2. Put all ingredients except for chocolate shavings  in a blender and purée until completely smooth, stopping machine to scrape down its sides if necessary. Divide among 4 to 6 ramekins and chill for at least 30 minutes. If you like, garnish with chocolate shavings before serving.

Coconut Milk “Whipped Cream”

This ‘recipe’ is as simple as they come.  Buy one full-fat can of coconut (Lite doesn’t really work here).  Put in fridge for a few hours.  Open can.  Scoop the coconut cream off of the top and mix with a dash of vanilla and a little bit of agave or sugar to taste.  Whisk together and top your dessert!

Bruschetta with Pistachio Goat Cheese, Apricot, and Honey

Take two on the pistachio goat cheese.  I made this delicious spread a week ago and served it on top of roasted beet and sweet potato medallions.  I was so enamored that I wanted to try it again, on a different platform.  Enter bruschetta.  I’ve discussed this before, but bruschetta is simply toasted or grilled bread drizzled with olive oil.  You can top it with anything you see fit.  This weekend I topped it with pistachio goat cheese, apricots, and honey.

Bruschetta with Pistachio Goat Cheese, Apricot, and Honey

  • 1/2 loaf of french bread, sliced about 1/2 inch thick
  • olive oil in a bottle for drizzling
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 1 cup shelled pistachios
  • 2 apricots, pit removed and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  1. Combine the goat cheese and pistachios in a food processor. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and, with the machine running, drizzle in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. If the mixture doesn’t come together, add more oil until the filling is smooth and fluffy. Taste and adjust with seasoning, then cover and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the bruschetta.
  2. Heat a grill or a broiler.  Drizzle slices of bread with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place on grill or under broiler until just toasted.  Turn, and toast second side.  Remove from oven.
  3. Transfer the goat cheese mixture to a pastry bag or a zip-lock bag with the corner cut off (or you can just use a teaspoon for this). Squeeze or spoon dabs of the filling onto the bruschetta.  Repeat until either the bruschetta or the filling runs out, top with two slices of apricot per toast and a light drizzle of honey, then serve straight away.

Tomato Tuesday: Grilled Caprese Flatbread Pizza

This week, I’m joining a call to action:  Food Bloggers for Slave Free Tomatoes.  First, I’ll fill you in on what this is all about.  Once you’ve read all about this great initiative (and perhaps even taken a moment to sign the letter requesting that your supermarkets carry slave-free tomatoes), your reward will be a simple and delicious recipe for Grilled Caprese Flatbread, using slave-free farmer’s market tomatoes from a Michigan farm.

A big thanks to Nicole from The Giving Table for pulling all of us food bloggers together to effect social change!  Head on over to her FABULOUS blog to check out her own slave-free tomato recipe and all of the many other wonderful recipes and thoughts on food philanthropy she so beautifully offers to her readers.

Food philanthropy never tasted so good

On Tuesday, July 24th, “Tomato Tuesday”, bloggers from around the country are donating their posts to the fight for slave-free tomatoes.

About Recipe for Change

This summer, International Justice Mission has partnered with The Coalition of Immokalee Workers and The Fair Food Standards Council (FFSC) to create Recipe for Change, a campaign to raise awareness about injustices in U.S. tomato fields and ask the CEOs of major supermarket chains Publix, Ahold (owners of Stop & Shop, Giant and Martin’s) and Kroger to endorse the Fair Food Program, ensuring the tomatoes you buy are slave-free.

Where to Purchase Slave-Free Tomatoes

Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, your local Farmer’s Market, or your CSA box.

The Problem

Slavery is not just happening overseas. Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Molloy once called Florida’s tomato fields “ground zero” for modern-day slavery in the United States. In the past 15 years, over 1,000 people have been freed from slavery in U.S. tomato fields.

The Solution

Recipe for Change–a campaign led by International Justice Mission in partnership with the Fair Food Standards Council and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers–is targeting three major supermarket chains this summer (Ahold, Publix and Kroger’s), and asking its CEOs to support the Fair Food Program. Corporations that join agree to pay a small price increase for fairly harvested tomatoes (1.5 cents more per pound), and promise to shift purchases to the Florida tomato growers who abide by these higher standards–and away from those who won’t.

Major fast food companies, like McDonalds and Subway, have already endorsed the Fair Food Program, but the largest U.S. supermarket chains have yet to support this collaborative effort to eradicate modern-day slavery.

Call to Action

Supermarkets can help eliminate slavery and other serious abuses from the tomato supply chain when they join the Fair Food Program. But in order to change its policies, CEOs need pressure from consumers.  Take 30 seconds, raise your voice, and sign your name to help ensure that supermarket tomatoes are slave-free!

And NOW…your reward!

Grilled Caprese Flatbread Pizza

  • One 3/4-1 lb ball of prepared dough, either from local bakery or homemade (for homemade no-knead dough recipe click here)
  • Big handful of arugula
  • 2 slave-free tomatoes (heirloom if you can find them!), sliced
  • 3 oz of goat cheese
  • 3-4 tablespoons of homemade pesto
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • cracked pepper

Prepare your grill to a piping hot temp (charcoal is best–no gas taste–blech!).  Arrange coals so they are evenly distributed around the grill.  Lightly flour your dough and roll it out.  Don’t worry about the shape–slightly misshapen actually looks best for flatbread pizzas.  Once your grill is hot, clean off the grate with a wire brush.  Oil a piece of paper towel and using tongs, rub the oiled towel on the grill grate.  Toss the dough directly onto the grill.  After about 1 minute, take your tongs and gently lift the dough to check the bottom.  Depending on the heat of your grill, the flatbread should cook about 1-3 minutes on each side.  Some light charring is nice but don’t burn it!  Once the flatbread is browned and lightly charred in spots on both sides, remove from the grill and top.  Spread pesto on flatbread.  Arrange arugula, goat cheese, and tomatoes on the top.  Generously drizzle good quality olive oil on top.  Sprinkle some sea salt flakes and freshly cracked pepper on top.  Enjoy your amazingly simple grilled caprese flatbread.  Mmmmmmmm.

Vanilla Yogurt with Cherries, Pistachio, and Balsamic-Honey Glaze

Alright, I know what you are thinking…I’ve met many a balsamic/fruit doubter in my day.  I thought the same thing when I saw this recipe from Kate, which was featured in the summer issue of Foodie Crush magazine.  I encourage everyone to check it out-it is a free online magazine featuring some of the best food bloggers out there.  I’ve had a lot of fun cooking along with Kate through The Food Matters Project.  I always look forward to seeing her variations and excellent photography so was thrilled to see her featured in the Whole Foodies section of the magazine.

Because I have faith in Kate’s food choices, because it just looked so pretty in Foodie Crush, and because I had just made homemade yogurt the night before, I simply had to make this dish.  And I’m so glad I did.  This was like a party in my mouth.  Crazy good.  And I made extra balsamic-honey glaze and have already used it on grilled flatbread with peaches, arugula, and goat cheese.  Can’t wait to come up with a zillion other uses for it!  See below for my variation on the recipe and head over to Kate’s page for the original!

Vanilla Yogurt with Cherries, Pistachio, and Balsamic-Honey Glaze

Adapted from Cookie + Kate; serves 4

  • 2 and 1/2 cups homemade plain yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cup cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar (I used sucanat but you can use turbinado), optional
  • 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar (I used cherry infused balsamic vinegar from Cherry Republic)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup shelled pistachios, crumbled
  1. Strain yogurt:  Line a fine mesh sieve or colander with cheese cloth.  Spoon yogurt into it and let sit for 1 hour to drain.  The consistency will be thicker and creamier.  If the yogurt is too thin for your liking, you may strain longer until the consistency is what you like.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the yogurt and the vanilla extract.  In another bowl sprinkle cherries with sugar (optional).
  3. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the balsamic vinegar and honey.  Simmer, stirring constantly, until the liquid is reduced by half.  Pour the liquid into a small bowl and allow it to cool.
  4. Spoon yogurt into individual serving bowls, swirl in a spoonful of sauce, and top with cherries and crumbled pistachios.

Corn, Avocado, and Radish Salad with Queso Fresco

Week 24 of The Food Matters Project had perfect timing.  It is hot, hot, hot out and I’ve got corn on my mind.  Every year at this time I eat ear after ear of fresh Michigan corn spun heavy handedly in a stick of butter and generously salted and peppered.  Normally at this time of year the grocery stores have huge bins of corn.  It’s always a fun people-watching experience seeing everyone pull back the husks of corn to examine the topmost corn kernels for freshness.  Roadside stands spill over with corn and ears can be bought for 10 cents.  My grandma would pick up corn from a pair of brothers in China Township who reportedly had the best peaches and cream corn in the area–the corn was so plump and juicy it could almost be dessert!  Michigan corn season has always been a favorite of mine but this year the severe drought in Michigan (and elsewhere of course) has jeopardized the corn crops, adding to an already tough year for Michigan agriculture after the cherry crops were nearly all lost to extreme heat in March (!) followed by a hard frost in April.

So it was with some sadness that I bought corn trucked in from outside of the state.  But it was with sheer delight that I dove into this salad today.  If you don’t already know this, I love simple salads in the summer.  And this one didn’t disappoint.  All of the other Food Matters Project folks are busy at work making or posting their fabulous versions of Mark Bittman’s Corn Avocado Salad With a Little Something Seared on Top.  To see what everyone else came up with, head over here.  This week’s host who chose the recipe is Jenn.  She has a lovely blog called Vanilla Lemon and a lovely little family to boot!  If you have a moment, check out her blog and be sure to check out her Peach-Marscapone Sandwiches.  Yum!

Corn, Avocado, and Radish Salad with Queso Fresco

This is another one of my non-recipe recipes and is for 1 person…..here goes….this is what I did!

  • 1 ear of corn with kernels cut off
  • 1/8 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 scallion, greens and whites finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp finely chipped cilantro
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 red radish
  • 1 white radish
  • Handful of arugula, mizuna, spinach, or any other green
  • 2 tbsp queso fresco or another crumbling cheese if you prefer
  1. Heat 1 tsp oil in skillet over medium-high heat.  Toss scallions and bell pepper into the pan and cook for 1 minute.  Add corn kernels and cook for 3-4 minutes until bright and lightly cooked but still having some freshness to them.  Add cilantro and season with salt and pepper.  Let cook for 10 minutes.
  2. Arrange greens, radishes, and avocado on a plate and top with some of the corn salad.  Add some queso fresco, feta, or any crumbling cheese if you like.  Dress with your favorite dressing (I used my light dijon vinaigrette from last night).  Enjoy!

Black Rice Salad with Mango and Peanuts

Raise your hands–who knew about black rice?  I sure didn’t until trying this salad.  Okay, that’s not entirely true because I bought this black rice about 3 months ago and it has sat in my pantry.  I’m sure it was thinking that I obviously had no idea how good it was, snickering as I passed it over for brown rice time and again.  What foolishness!  What ignorance!  I just tried black rice for the first time and it was such a pleasant surprise–I am hooked.  Dear black rice, I’m so sorry I underestimated your awesomeness.  Now it is time to SHINE!

As if I needed to sell this grain any more…did you know that this beautiful rice has anti-inflammatory properties, a higher antioxidant level than blueberries, and loads of fiber?  Check out all of the amazing properties of black rice here.

Black Rice Salad with Mango and Peanuts; adapted from Bon Appetit June 2012

Serves 6-8 as a side

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup(or more) fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam; optional)
  • 2 cups black rice
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 just-ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup finely chopped red onion (about 1/2 large onion)
  • ½ cup unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded, minced

Preparation

  1. Add 1/4 cup lime juice, 3 tablespoons orange juice, oil, and fish sauce (if using) to bowl; whisk to blend. Set dressing aside.
  2. Bring rice and 2 3/4 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Season lightly with salt. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let stand, covered, for 15 minutes. Spread out rice on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with dressing, and season lightly with salt; let cool.
  3. Place mangoes and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add rice and toss gently to combine. Season lightly with salt and more lime juice, if desired.

Still Life With Vegetables–An Ode to My New Mandolin Slicer

Hold the phones, people.  I just got a Benriner Japanese Mandolin Slicer and no vegetable in this house is safe.  Here is how things have been going the last few days…hmmm…I wonder what carrots look like sliced paper thin…I wonder what potatoes look like…I wonder what beets look like…..radishes, zucchini, green beans (seriously), cucumber, even garlic scapes have all faced the merciless mandolin.  So effortless!  Such beautiful results!  Every dish has become a masterpiece since this tool entered my home.  In my fictional future interview with Bon Appetit magazine, they will ask me what my favorite kitchen tool is and I will reply that it is a tie between my beloved immersion blender and my Benriner mandolin.  I will tell them how a vegetable has never been so beautiful until you can see the intricacies at a nearly paper-thin level.  I will tell them that I use it nearly every day.  Call me, Bon Appetit!  I am waiting….

So, I’m not really going to give a recipe per se…just going to kind of tell you what I did.

Directions:

  1. Slice any vegetable that can be eaten raw as thin as you can get it (adjust mandolin to the highest setting).  A food processor will work great but you won’t get the slices as thin as with a mandolin.  Suggestions:  zucchini, summer squash, cucumber, bell pepper, carrot, and radish.
  2. Arrange on their own or atop a bed of greens (arugula, mizuna, mixed greens).
  3. Drizzle with a light homemade vinaigrette.  Here is how I made mine:  whisk a teaspoon of Dijon mustard with a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Put into a pour-bottle with a top (you’ll want to shake this later).  Add 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/3-1/2 cup vinegar (I used cherry balsamic but I also love pear infused white balsamic, rice wine vinegar, cider vinegar, or red wine vinegar) and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper.  Screw the lid on and shake it to the east, shake it to the west, shake it to the one that you love the best!  If you have time on your hands, I recommend finely dicing a shallot and sauteing it lightly in some olive oil until fragrant and adding it to the dressing.  Delicious!  For a sweeter dressing, I like to add a tablespoon of maple syrup or honey.