“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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
I don’t know what the weather is like in your part of the world but here it is the Winter-That-Never-Ends or the Spring-That-Never-Comes (there are still 3 feet of snow where my poor mom lives in the Upper Peninsula so I’ll hush now). Today was dark and rainy, so dark that I had to turn on the lights in my house as though it was nighttime. I needed a pick-me-up. Pronto. So I made this lively and lovely fajita recipe, courtesy of Mark Bittman. Thanks to the darling Margarita at Let’s Cook and Be Friends for choosing this recipe as the Food Matters Project recipe of the week. The original recipe is called “Not Your Usual Steak Fajitas” and can be found on Margarita’s blog by clicking here. This being a vegetarian blog, I ended up making mine with seitan (seasoned wheat gluten) instead of steak. But if you prefer, you can substitute meat or any meat substitute in this recipe and it will still be delicious. If you want to check out what the other FMP bloggers came up with, head to the Food Matters Project website for more.
This recipe uses jicama, an often forgotten vegetable in my cooking repertoire. Jicama tastes a little bit like a green apple when it is uncooked. Cooked, it retains a pleasant crunch and light sweetness. The pineapple and limes in this recipe really bring out the tropical flavors of this dish.
Radishes, Jicama, Onions, Bell Peppers, and Limes ready to go in the skillet.
I tried these in taco-form initially but really ended up coming to the conclusion that this is just as good as a stand-alone or served over a bed of rice.
Each bite is a reminder of the summer that I know will eventually come. It was a great pick-me-up today and along with my chaser of hot yoga, by the end of the day I was sitting pretty. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!
Tropical Fajitas With Jicama and Pineapple-Lime Glaze
Adapted from “Not Your Usual Steak Fajitas”; Mark Bittman, The Food Matters Cookbook Makes: 4 servings Time: 40 minutes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 ounces of seitan, thinly sliced (don’t feel limited by this–if you prefer you can use steak, chicken, tofu, or any other protein you want–this dish would also be great with veggies alone if you don’t have protein on hand)
Salt and black pepper
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 or 2 fresh hot chiles (like jalapeno or Thai), seeded and minced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
8 ounces jicama, peeled and cut into matchsticks
3 radishes, cut into matchsticks
2 large carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 cup cubed fresh pineapple
¼ cup lime juice
½ cup water
Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
Warm corn or whole wheat tortillas, for serving, optional
Put a large skillet over high heat until it smokes, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and, a few seconds later, the seitan/protein. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir immediately. Cook, stirring every 20 seconds or so for just a minute or 2 until it has some nice charring on it. Transfer to a plate.
Add 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil to the skillet and reduce the heat to medium-high. Add the onion, bell peppers, chile, and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the plate with the seitan/protein.
Raise the heat to high again and add the jicama, radishes, and carrots. Stir immediately, then cook, stirring every 30 seconds or so, until the vegetables soften and begin to char slightly, 3-5 minutes. Transfer everything to the plate with the seitan/protein.
Add the pineapple, lime juice, and water to the skillet. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring to scrape any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, until the glaze thickens a little. Return all the vegetables and seitan/protein to the pan and toss to coat with the lime and pineapple mixture. Garnish with cilantro and serve with warm tortillas.
Welcome to another Meatless Monday with the Food Matters project! I say that half-joking because everything on my blog is meatless, Monday or not. This week Lexi from Lexi’s Kitchen chose “Reverse Fondue” for the Food Matters pick of the week. If you have a minute, check out Lexi’s blog. She grows her own vegetables and has tons of tasty recipes. I have been meaning to try her baby spinach salad with dates and almonds for a couple of weeks. It looks amazing and I can’t wait to try it.
I had such a busy, busy day today and had about 30 minutes to whip together lunch (and exactly 7 minutes to eat it!). This no-fuss recipe was easily done in that span of time. All I had to do was rough-chop some veggies, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast for a short time. While that was happening, I mixed together the cheese sauce, which was a five-minute-max project and pretty impossible to screw up. Slice up a few pieces of bread from a baguette and toast a moment, and voila! Roasted Vegetables with Cheese Sauce and Toasts.
Feel free to experiment. This recipe is hard to go wrong with. Use any veggies good for roasting, use any cheese you want, any kind of bread you want (or skip the bread if you want). Piece of cake. I couldn’t help thinking when I made this that this trick is how parents get their kids to eat veggies (broccoli with cheese sauce, anyone?). I felt a little childlike digging into this dish myself. Not a bad thing in the middle of a hectic workday.
Roasted Veggies With Cheese Sauce and Toasts, adapted from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Project Cookbook
1 cup broccoli florets
Stem of broccoli, shaved then sliced on the diagonal
2 carrots, sliced diagonally in about ½ inch pieces
1 turnip, cut into wedges
½ medium onion, cut into wedges
2 tbsp olive oil
4 oz vegetable broth or chicken broth if you aren’t vegetarian
1 tsp cornstarch
4 oz cheese (I used a combination of Swiss and goat cheese)
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oven to 450°. Cut all of the veggies roughly—they don’t need to be perfect. Spread on a large, rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper and toss to coat. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until crisp-tender and beginning to brown.
Meanwhile, cut a few ½ inch thick slices of baguette and place in the oven on another sheet or move the veggies over to make room for the bread if you only have a few slices. Toast until browned but still soft in the middle. This should take less time than the veggies, about 10 minutes.
While the veggies and bread are in the oven, mix cornstarch with broth in a small saucepan. Bring to a soft boil and add cheeses. Stir continuously until all of the cheese has melted. Pour into a small bowl and put a pinch of pepper on the top if you like.
Serve the cheese sauce with the roasted veggies and the bread on the side.
Welcome to another Food Matters Project/Meatless Monday! Today, Anita from Cooking Poetry chose Dal With Lots of Vegetables from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Project Cookbook. I love making a quick and easy dal and have been meaning for some time to show everyone what I typically do for a quick and easy weeknight supper. You can add whatever vegetables you want. Today I kept it simple, adding just carrots and onions. Cauliflower, eggplant, tomato, potato all work well in this dish also. You can fiddle with the combination of spices to find something that you like and that works with your current pantry contents. I served mine with whole wheat naan and basmati rice. This dish is hard to mess up so have fun with it and enjoy!
Put the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, ginger, garlic, and carrots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the cardamom, cumin, mustard seeds, garam masala, cinnamon, and chilis and stir until the spices are fragrant but not burning, just a minute.
Add the lentils and cover with water by about 1 inches. Cook until lentils and vegetables are tender and the mixture is thick, about 35-45 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and serve.
Alright, the secret’s out. I love polenta. I’ll take a big gob of polenta any day over a bed of pasta or rice. And so many dishes taste fantastic spooned over polenta that it is hard to go wrong. Some of my favorite ways to eat polenta are: with marinara and goat cheese, with roasted vegetables, with Provencal vegetables en papillote, with fried eggs and spinach, with fried eggs and avocado, with a tomato-vegetable stew…the list goes on. Polenta is also gluten-free. And really beautiful, if you ask me. It makes for a quick meal that is impressive enough to serve for guests.
The recipe I’m adding to my polenta-files today is Parmesan polenta with Roasted Root Vegetables and Pistachio Goat Cheese. This is a simple meal to make but the results are creamy, filling, and decadent.
Parmesan Polenta with Honey-Roasted Root Vegetables and Pistachio Goat Cheese
For the root veggies:
1 large beet
1/2 celery root
1 leek, white part only, sliced 1/4 of an inch thick
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
generous pinch of sea salt
Heat oven to 400°. Put veggies in a covered baking dish and drizzle with olive oil, honey, and a generous pinch of salt. Bake for 30 minutes and test for doneness. The veggies should be silky but still hold their shape. Pop back in the oven for 10 minutes if the veggies need more time.
For the polenta:
4 cups water
Salt to taste
1 cup medium-grain yellow polenta
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
pepper to taste
Heat water to a boil over high heat. Have a whisk ready and quickly whisk in the polenta. Whisk for a moment to discourage clumping.
Lower heat to a simmer, add the butter, a large pinch of salt, and a small pinch of pepper.
Cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, for 25 to 30 minutes.
Taste the polenta and add salt or pepper to your preference. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.
For the pistachio goat cheese:
6 ounces fresh goat cheese
1 cup shelled pistachios
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 the salt and pepper if needed.
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 roasted root veggies.