Category Archives: Salads

Pea Shoot, Sunflower Sprout, and Yellow Beet Salad with Goat Cheese

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“The time has come, the Walrus said, to talk of many things:  of shoes and ships and sealing-wax.  Of cabbages and kings.  And why the sea is boiling hot.  And whether pigs have wings.” –Lewis Carroll

I’ve had this quote stuck in my head all day because I keep thinking, “the time has come, the time has come!”  The farmer’s market has returned and along with it, the excitement of seeing the produce parade, unfolding week by week.  Last week the most exciting finds at the market (for me) were pea shoots and sunflower sprouts.  This week, asparagus.  I wait all year for asparagus and am giddy when I see it make its brief appearance, standing at attention all down the rows of the market.  Alas, I am in Denver this week (well, not alas–I get to learn fly fishing in the mountains–can’t beat that!) and am missing out on the first appearance of asparagus at the market.  But lest I get ahead of myself…let’s talk about pea shoots.  And sunflower sprouts.  And last but not least, for a tour of my local farmer’s market, click here and I’ll show you around my beloved Fulton Street Farmer’s Market.

Sunflower Sprouts

Sunflower Sprouts

Before we went to the farmer’s market on opening day, May 4, I was imagining what we might find.  It was a cold and long winter so our produce in Michigan got a slow start.  Radishes, asparagus, pea shoots, leeks…all popped into my head.  We didn’t find radishes or asparagus last week but found pea shoots!  And sunflower sprouts!  I knew exactly what to do with these two wonderful spring vegetables.  This salad seemed the perfect thing to make and it allowed me to experiment with sauteing pea shoots.  This salad has both raw and sautéed pea shoots, some sunflower sprouts, yellow beets, radishes, and crumbled goat cheese.  Finished with a light honey-mustard vinaigrette, this salad was the essence of spring.

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Spring Pea Shoot Salad with Sunflower Sprouts, Yellow Beets, and Goat Cheese; serves 1

  • 1 medium yellow beet, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2-3 oz bag of pea shoots
  • 1/3 cup sunflower sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Peel the beet and slice from top to bottom into thin wedges.  Place in a saucepan with water to cover and a dash of sea salt.  Bring to boil then turn heat down to simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until beets have softened but are not mushy.  They should still have a little bite to them.  Drain in a colander and let cool.
  2. Split pea shoots in half.  Arrange half of the pea shoots in a salad bowl—I like to use a shallow bowl to showcase the salad…much prettier that way!  Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet or wok.  Add the other half of the pea shoots to the pan and saute briefly, just until wilted.  Add the wilted pea shoots to the raw pea shoots in your salad bowl.  Add the sunflower sprouts to the pea shoots and toss.  Arrange the beet wedges amongst the greens and sprinkle the goat cheese on top of the salad. 
  3. Mix the mustard and honey together in a small bowl until combined.  Slowly drizzle the oil into the honey-mustard mixture.  Add the vinegar slowly then whisk to combine.  Season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle a little vinaigrette over the salad (there will still be vinaigrette left over for more salads).  Sit down and welcome spring with this simple salad.

Chickpea and Quinoa Salad with Cashew Chutney

Chickpea and Quinoa Salad with Cashew Chutney

Well, it’s been a little while!  I’ve been busy, busy, busy.  This past weekend I had a Dinner With Aura booth at the Grand Rapids Public Library’s Green Market Expo.  It was so much fun!  I sold some granola and biscotti, raffled off Super Natural Everyday, and met so many awesome people who were interested in eating healthier.  Several folks mentioned that they were simply trying to reduce the amount of meat they ate, replacing a few meals a week with vegetarian options.  That got me so excited.  I truly believe that small changes add up.  It can be really intimidating to be expected to change everything about your eating habits.  Eating is such a personal and habitual experience so I believe that tackling one change at a time is the key to long-lasting change.  I met a lovely woman who wanted to start by eating vegan three days a week.  I’m so excited to hear how that goes for her and excited to see what new foods she will discover in the process.

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I’ve also been busy moving my honey into my house.  Having lived alone for three and a half years, this has been a big change!  We are in the process of merging our things and getting into a routine.  I’m excited to see what the future holds for us.

This weekend was so busy that I just ate really simple dishes.  I was cooking for myself this weekend so things were back to my usual one person meals, quinoa with sauteed kale, zucchini, carrots, etc.  I really don’t mind eating like that most of the time but it is fun to have someone to cook for and I tend to make more substantial meals when I’m not on my own.

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Today, I was so happy that at about 7:00 I finally had time to cook up the recipe for the Food Matters Project.  I was even more happy that it is finally spring and we have daylight at 7:00!  This dish was so easy to put together and so tasty.  All I can say is thank you for the awesome pick, Jess!  Once again, I had a hard time imagining what this salad would end up looking and tasting like.  The result was such a pleasant surprise.  It had so many flavors I love all in one bowl.  I modified the dish somewhat, adding quinoa, radishes, and peanut to the mix.  The chickpeas and quinoa provide protein and the nuts provide healthy fats.  This salad is a great main dish meal.  If you are looking for something a little different and very, very easy, try this!  You won’t be disappointed.  If you want the original recipe, head over to Jess’s site.  And to see the variations everyone came up with, head over to the FMP website.

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Chickpea and Quinoa Salad with Cashew Chutney;adapted from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Project

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 small dried hot red chile or ¼ tsp of red chili flakes
  • 1/3 cup cashews (raw are fine)
  • ¼ cup peanuts
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 3 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, drained
  • 1 and ½ cups quinoa
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mangoes (can also use apricots)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Olive oil as needed
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 radishes, cut into matchsticks
  1. To make chutney:  In a small, dry skillet, combine cumin seeds, chili, cashews, and peanuts. Heat over medium heat, shaking pan frequently for 3 to 5 minutes or until everything colors slightly and becomes fragrant.
  2. Transfer to blender or food processor. Add garlic and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Process, stopping machine to scrape down sides if necessary, until finely ground but not as smooth as peanut butter.
  3. To assemble salad: In a salad bowl, toss chickpeas, quinoa, and fruit with chutney. Add lime juice and a little oil if needed to help bring everything together. Stir in cilantro and radishes. Taste. Adjust seasoning. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.  Enjoy!!!

How To Make Homemade Croutons

Simple Herbed Croutons

You know the saying “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime?”  Well, this week I’m going to show you how to make your own croutons.  You’ll never want to buy a box of croutons again once you know how easy this is and how much better homemade croutons taste!

This is one of those very non-fussy cooking projects, where just about anything goes.  All you will need is some bread, olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs.

Ingredients for croutons

A note about the bread:  you can use just about any bread that you like to make these.  I prefer a whole wheat bread but the preferences end there.  You can start with a rustic loaf with, a light loaf, a dense loaf.  Even stale bread works beautifully here.  You should never have to throw stale bread out again–this is a perfect use for it.  Although I prefer whole wheat for everyday croutons, you can also use a rustic white bread, roughly torn into pieces.  It will make for a slightly less-healthy but really tasty version, great for panzanella (a bread salads).  For this batch, I used Stone House Bread’s Honey Wheat Sandwich Bread.  You can pick it up at Meijer for $3.39, a steal!  And this bread is what bread should be, made simply and locally with a few, high quality organic ingredients.

Bread for croutons

Just cut the bread into strips, turn the other way, and cube it!  You can also roughly tear it into pieces.  Either way the results will be great.

Strips of bread

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For the herbs, I prefer fresh parsley or basil but in a pinch, you can use dried if need be.  You will mix the herbs with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Mix:

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Put the bread cubes into a large bowl and pour the olive oil, herb, salt, and pepper mixture over the croutons.  Spread onto a large baking sheet, making sure to avoid overcrowding:

Bake in a 300° oven for about 15 minutes.  Check to see if they are browned and crispy.  If not, bake for another 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let sit until cool.  This will also harden the croutons further so they are nice and crispy.  Once they are completely cool, place in an airtight container.  They will keep for a couple of weeks at room temperature.

Simple Herbed Croutons

Simple Homemade Croutons

  • 6 slices of whole wheat bread
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley, basil, or other fresh herb
  • generous pinch of salt
  • generous pinch of pepper
  • Optional:  1 minced clove of garlic or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Optional:  2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 300°
  2. Cube bread or tear into pieces.  Place into a large bowl.
  3. Mix together the olive oil, herbs, salt, and pepper, and garlic or cheese if you are using them.
  4. Pour the olive oil mixture over the bread and stir to coat well.
  5. Scatter the coated bread pieces onto a large baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes and check for browning and crispness.  If needed, put back into the oven until done.  Mine usually take about 20 minutes.
  7. Let cool completely, then store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
  8. Enjoy on salads, soups, or right out of the jar!

Rainbow Salad with Roasted Squash, Broccoli and a Tahini Sauce

As I just got done blabbing about in my last post, in which I shared a recipe for Indian-Spiced Roasted Butternut Squash Apple Soup, I am on a clean eating kick.  It’s not that I don’t eat healthy most of the time and I’m sure I have a higher vegetable to other stuff ratio at the checkout than most.  But lately I just keep wanting to eat sweets.  And then I do.  And then I feel icky.  And tired.  And bigger than I really am.  And I know that it just means that I need to reset my diet and my body a bit to get rid of those intense cravings for sugar.  Hence my plan.  Want to know my plan?  Well I’m going to tell you anyway…

Squash ready to get popped into the oven

My plan is to eat only whole foods for a week.  And cut out dairy.  And no meat (I only eat meat about once a month anyway).  And no refined sugars, flours, etc.  Just good food.  And then when my plan commences in a week or so I’m going to see how I feel and try to carry on with said plan until the holiday goodies call my name…and then I hope to not want them so badly, so often, and in such amounts! We’ll see if my sinister plan to ruin Christmas cookies powerful and dramatic effects works.  I’ll let you know…

Squash, all roasted up and ready for salad and leftovers!

In the meantime, I am not missing any of the aforementioned foods right now.  I have had gorgeous meal after gorgeous meal the last few days and I’m trying to get around to sharing a  few gems with you now.

These mixed greens and micro greens from two local farmers were so pretty I almost didn’t want to add anything to them!

This salad has been a favorite so far.  Can you see why?  It seems like the more colorful the dish, the better it tastes and the better I feel.  Recipes like this, adapted from Whole Living’s Steamed Broccoli and Squash with Tahini Sauce make eating well a breeze and a joy.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

Salad with Roasted Dumpling Squash, Broccoli, and a Tahini Vinaigrette;

Adapted from Whole Living Steamed Broccoli and Squash with Tahini Sauce

  • 1/2 head broccoli florets
  • 1 Dumpling or Delicata squash, sliced and seeded
  • 1 cup mixed tender greens such as mizuna, pea shoots, or arugula
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons diced red onion
  • 2 radishes, thinly sliced
  • Coarse salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup Tahini Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon raw pumpkin seeds

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400°.  Lightly spray or drizzle a baking pan with olive oil and lay squash onto the baking sheet, taking care not to overlap.  Sprinkle with some salt and pepper and roast, about 20-30 minutes, flipping each piece halfway through.
  2. In the meantime, steam broccoli florets until bright green and tender, about 4 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  3. In a bowl, toss greens, cabbage, radishes, and red onion. Top with steamed and roasted vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with tahini sauce and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.

Serves 3-4

Indian-Spiced Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Did anyone else have a delicious Thanksgiving?  You, you, and you?  Well, I did too.  And I am so thankful for the friendship I enjoyed over meals and the classic Thanksgiving dishes (cranberry sauce recipe to post soon) as well as some new favorites (hello, sweet potato and coconut milk puree!).  But now that that Butter Fest 2012 is over and done with I am craving some good clean foods, some hot yoga, some brisk walks, and a push to get back to some good whole foods eating.

This year started out on a great foot.  I was eating only whole foods and shying away from refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats.  After the holiday season my body was begging for vegetables, spices, and whole grains.  But alas!  Somehow, somewhere along the way I fell into a vat of whipped cream veered somewhat off of the path…(was it when I discovered this spring that I loved baking and became semi-addicted to sugar?) and now, at the beginning of this holiday season I have decided to get back on the wagon with my eating.  It feels necessary.  And happily, it feels so good.  This weekend, I went back to January and dug up the healthy living recipes I had so carefully selected, many from Sarah B. at My New Roots (love, love, love this blog).  One of the recipes was a butternut squash soup.  Imagine my delight when I realized that this week’s host of the Food Matters Project, Jen from Prairie Summers, chose a roasted butternut squash soup as this weeks recipe for all of us project participants to cook up.  Using elements of each recipe, I created my own vegetarian version, adding Indian spices and celeriac for a simple soup chock-full of flavor.

I paired my soup with a beautiful salad with mixed greens and microgreens, radishes, broccoli, and roasted acorn squash drizzled with a simple tahini vinaigrette.

And how goes hopping on the clean food wagon again?  Not too shabby, I say.   With food this colorful and flavorful, Thanksgiving is a distant memory and I’m not in any rush to get to the sugar cookies just around the bend in December.

I will be posting many more colorful whole food recipes this month–please join me and try one out.  I recommend starting with this one!

Indian-Spiced Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup; adapted from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook (original recipe was Roasted Butternut Chowder with Apples and Bacon, (page 120)

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 large apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 bulb of celeriac, peeled and chopped (optional)
  • 2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  1. Heat the oven to 400F. Spread the squash, onion, apples, celeriac (if using), and garlic on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil. Roast until veggies are tender and slightly browned, approx. 45 min.
  2. Remove sheet from the oven and transfer the roasted vegetables to a dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat.
  3. Add the stock and the seasonings and simmer until the squash, onion and apples become very soft and begin to break apart.  You may either leave the soup chunky at this point or puree partially or fully with an immersion blender.  I pureed my soup partially to leave some chunks of apple, squash, and celeriac.
  4. Top with some shredded cabbage, cilantro, some raw pumpkin seeds, a drizzle of olive oil, or some yogurt–whatever you like!  I would recommend this with a salad and some naan, hot from the oven.  Mmmmm!

Autumn Wheat Berry Salad With Roasted Vegetables

I would be hard pressed to find ten things I like about November weather.  But if you asked my favorite thing about November weather, it would be root vegetables.  I was just thinking how I am now at the opposite end of the spectrum from this post when it was 95 degrees in my house and the last thing I wanted to do was turn on the oven.  Well, it’s November in Michigan so I am loving turning on my oven any chance I get and roasting veggies or whipping up a big pot of warming root vegetable stew.

This week’s Food Matters Project recipe, chosen by Camilla, was Wheat Berries with Braised Beef and Parsnips.  Being that about 95% or more of my meals are vegetarian I decided to go a veggie route with my version, instead opting for one of my go-to salads.  I typically make this salad with farro because it is quick and I enjoy the texture, but because wheat berries were the foundation of this week’s FMP recipe I started there.

I roasted onion, beets, carrots, leeks, and butternut squash, all from my brother’s wonderful organic farm (I’ll need to create a post just to tell you all about my weekend at home on my brother’s farm and at the Marquette Farmer’s Market).  The wheat berries were cooked in vegetable broth and tossed with the vegetables.  Then comes the fun part..adding whatever else you think will taste good!  I like to add some crumbled feta to cut through the sweet tastes in the salad but if you omit the feta, this salad is vegan.  This time I also added some pepitas, some arugula, a random heart of palm I had in the fridge, and a drizzle of honey-mustard vinaigrette.  Perfect for my cold November day.

For the recipe for wheat berries with braised beef and parsnips, head over to Camilla’s blog, Culinary Adventures With Cam.  For everyone else’s take, check out our Pinterest Board!

Autumn Wheat Berry Salad With Roasted Vegetables

  • 1 cup dried wheat berries
  • 2 cups water or vegetable broth/stock
  • 2 cups vegetables such as beets, carrots, winter squash, onions, brussels sprouts, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.  I used leeks, beets, carrots, red onion, and butternut squash.
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 Tbsp feta cheese, crumbled (optional–vegan if omitted)
  • 2 Tbsp pepitas (optional)
  • 1 cup arugula (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons honey mustard vinaigrette (below)
  • Anything else you think would taste yummy in this salad

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey (use maple syrup or agave if you are vegan)
  • Fine sea salt
  1. Put the wheat berries and water or broth/stock into a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Turn down to low heat and simmer for 1 hour until soft.
  2. Meanwhile, turn your oven to 350° and start chopping your vegetables.  Whatever vegetables you choose, be sure to cut them into relatively uniform shapes, I chopped mine into about 1/2 inch cubes.  Place all veggies in a large bowl when done and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and toss.  Pour veggies onto sheet pans and cover with tin foil.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes and check for softness. When soft but not mushy, remove foil and turn oven to 450° for about 5-10 minutes to crisp the veggies slightly.  Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Mix vegetables, wheat berries, arugula, cheese, pepitas, and vinaigrette in a large bowl.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  I highly recommend wearing a cozy sweater and leaving the oven door open (now that the oven is shut off).  Stand in front of the oven warmth and enjoy!

Raw Butternut Squash Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

Welcome to week 38 of the Food Matters Project.  I know I’ve mentioned this before, but this project has been really fulfilling to me.  It’s been really great to be part of a cooking community.  It’s also been really inspiring to see what all of the other Food Matters Project bloggers create each week.  I’m not always the most creative, especially when I start with a recipe so it’s been fun to watch the ways in which everyone steps out of the box to create unique dishes from the launch-point of a Mark Bittman recipe.  I think he would be proud.  I’ve also been encouraged through this project to try new recipes I would normally skip over in the cookbook (fig and brussel sprout casserole, I’m looking at you).

At this point, I want to encourage anyone who is reading this to participate in the Food Matters Project.  If you have a food blog, and want to cook along with us, please send an email to Lexi and Erin at this email address and let them know you want to hop on board!  We have several more yummy dishes coming up in the next couple of months and would love you to join us on this great cooking adventure!  If you want to know more, head over to the Food Matters Project website and have a look.  You can also browse each week’s project photos on the FMP Pinterest board–be prepared to have your mouth water!

This week was one of those weeks where we made a recipe I completely would have skipped over in The Food Matters Cookbook.  I have never eaten raw butternut squash despite loving raw zucchini and summer squashes in my salads.  This salad was pretty good.  Good enough that a bunch of 9 to 11 year olds actually ate it up at a Harry Potter birthday party on Saturday (but I have to say they were a group of some pretty cool, adventurous kids so this may not be representative of all of kid-land).  I say pretty good because I personally like the salad better with roasted butternut squash.  This salad also tastes good tossed into a wok and sauteed (spinach, squash, cranberries and all) and that is how I will serve it going forward.  I modified my recipe slightly because I didn’t have fresh cranberries or orange juice.  For the original recipe, check out Erin’s gorgeous blog, The Goodness Life, for whole foods inspiration and mouth-watering photography.

Raw Butternut Squash Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette; adapted from the Food Matters Cookbook

  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1 butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and seeded
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Pepitas to serve (optional)
  • Feta, crumbled, to serve (optional)
  • Spinach to serve (optional)
  1. Combine the cranberries, water, and ginger in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries soften, 10 minutes or so. Remove the cranberries from the heat and add the oil, honey, lemon and some salt and pepper. Stir until well combined.

2. Meanwhile, grate the butternut squash by hand or in a food processor. Transfer the squash to a large bowl, add the warm cranberry dressing, and toss to combine everything. Serve warm or at room temperature on a bed of spinach with pepitas and feta, if you like. (Or cover and refrigerate the salad for up to several hours; bring to room temperature before serving.)

Greek Salad With Feta Drizzle

If my calculations are correct, this is week 30 of the Food Matters Project!  This week, Megan chose Greek “Nachos” with Feta Drizzle.  An interesting choice!  And a good one for me, since I have been waiting for a new range to replace my old one.  It will be delivered at the end of this week and I can hardly wait to have my cooking capabilities restored.  In the meantime, recipes like this are holding me over.  I had everything I needed for this recipe other than an oven to make the pita chips.  I made a few small tweaks–see below for the recipe.

I made my recipe as just a salad with feta drizzle and served a few wedges of pita on the side.  I packed it up and headed out to the park for a picnic and some disc golf….and then the rain came…!  It ended up being a picnic in the car listening to old country songs that took me back to my school bus days.  The rain cleared, the sun came out, and bellies full, we headed out to the disc golf course to close the gorgeous Michigan summer weekend!

To see what everyone else conjured up this week, head on over to the Food Matters Project website.  To get the original recipe, check out Megan’s blog.  While you are there, I’m sure you’ll stay a while to check out her musings, creative ideas, ramblings, travel, daydreams, and paintings–very entertaining!

Greek Salad With Feta Drizzle

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt
  • 4 oz feta cheese (I buy it in a block rather than crumbled)
  • 1/2 cup yogurt, preferably Greek or whole milk
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • Grated zest and juice of one lemon
  • Black Pepper
  • 2 or 3 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1/2 cup mixed olives, pitted and halved
  • 1 small red onion, thinly shaved or sliced
  • Note:  I also added caramelized onion leftover from the previous night’s dinner and 1/2 of a red bell pepper, seeded and chopped.  This recipe is so versatile–add what you have on hand that sounds good!
  1. Combine the feta, yogurt, 1/4 cup olive oil, oregano, and lemon zest and juice in a food processor (or use an immersion blender), sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Process until smooth.  If you don’t have a blender or food processor, just mash all of the ingredients with a spoon.
  2. Drizzle the feta dressing on the top of the salad.  Serve the salad with some mixed greens and pita bread.

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.