Green Bean and Tomato Salad

I bemoaned on Facebook this morning that, “I will be SO glad when school is back in session so I can eat like an adult again.”

Having The G Man so often this summer has required a lot of kid-friendly meals.  Which suits The Young One just fine – he’s never outgrown his love of chicken nuggets, spaghetti, pizza and meatballs in barbecue sauce over mashed potatoes (last night’s dinner).  Beloved, Darling Daughter and I, on the other hand, are going through quinoa, lamb curry and liver paté withdrawal.

In fact, once the adult palates are all that’s left in the house, liver paté is going to be one of the first things I’m going to make.

At any rate, this past Saturday it was just me and Beloved for dinner.  (Of course it was just me and Beloved for dinner – there was a bushel of green beans to clean and can; do you honestly think there would be a kid anywhere in sight??)  While I was busy with the green beans, Beloved cut up and vacuum sealed three of the four chickens we’d picked up from our poultry farmer a couple of days before.  The fourth chicken was duly spatchcocked, seasoned with s&p and slipped into a Ziploc bag with some buttermilk and fresh tarragon to marinate.

Later that evening, after the beans had (mostly) been dispensed with, Beloved fired up the grill and roasted the chicken along with a couple of ears of fresh sweet corn, and I made this, for a dinner that was so locally sourced I could barely eat it, I was feeling so smug.

Oh, I kid.  I wolfed it down.

Along with the absurd amount of green beans we picked up last week, we also have been getting some lovely cherry tomatoes and red onions from the CSA.  Inspired by a recipe that came with our CSA share last week, I decided to combine the 3 with some fresh rosemary from our garden, although you could use any fresh herb you like (I know at least one of my readers is allergic to rosemary).  One quick balsamic vinaigrette later, we had a wonderfully refreshing, delicious and seasonal salad.

Please let the salad marinate in the fridge for at least an hour before eating to allow the flavors to marry – in fact, if you can remember to make it ahead, this is even better the next day.  I ate the leftovers for 3 days straight, it’s just so yummy.  And this is not only paleo-friendly, if you leave out the honey, which is completely optional, it’s Whole30 compliant, as well as vegan-friendly.

Green Bean and Tomato Salad. A fantastic summer side dish for when fresh green beans and tomatoes are at their best.

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Green Bean and Tomato Salad
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut in half
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey (optional)
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Bring 3 quarts of salted water to a boil in a stock pot; drop in the green beans and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain and plunge into a large bowl of ice water until completely cooled.
  2. Drain the beans again and pat dry with paper towels. Place in a large bowl with the tomatoes, onion and rosemary; toss to combine.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar and honey (if using). Add the olive oil, pouring in a thin stream, whisking continually until well-combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Pour the dressing over the green bean mixture and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before tossing again and serving.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 142 calories, 12.2g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 6.4mg sodium, 151.5mg potassium, 8g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 2.7g sugar, 1.3g protein

Quinoa and Asparagus Salad with Poached Eggs

I’ve really been too busy lately to do much blogworthy cooking, but when we got spring onions, asparagus and mint in our first CSA box of the year, I immediately began to think about what I could do with it.  After a brief perusal of my pantry and fridge, it didn’t take much thought to come up with salad.  Quinoa salad.

Unbelievably, fantabulously delicious quinoa salad.

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I loved this.  So fresh, so wonderfully tasty.  We had it for Sunday brunch, topped with poached eggs, but it would be great as a salad on its own, with all of the vinaigrette and the green onions tossed in (this is how I ate the leftovers I hogged for myself) and perhaps topped with some thinly sliced steak or grilled chicken breast.

The vinaigrette may sound weird, but it’s actually really, really good, and would work quite well on any green salad.

Make this. Eat this.  Love this.

Quinoa and Asparagus Salad with Poached Eggs. Make this. Eat this. Love this.

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Quinoa and Asparagus Salad with Poached Eggs
Serves: 5
Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled to room temperature
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and thinly sliced on the bias, tips left intact
  • 1 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed mint, roughly chopped
  • 2 large hard-boiled eggs, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon mild honey
  • 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 5 green onions, white and pale green parts, thinly sliced
  • 5 large [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/poached-eggs/” target=”_blank”]poached eggs[/url]
Instructions
  1. Blanch the asparagus for 1 minute in boiling salted water; drain and place in ice water to halt the cooking. Drain again and gently pat dry.
  2. Whisk together the honey and white wine vinegar until smooth. Continue whisking while adding the olive oil in a thin, steady stream, until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir in the grated eggs. Set aside 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together the quinoa, asparagus, parsley, cilantro, mint and all but the reserved 1/4 cup of vinaigrette. Taste; season as needed with additional salt and pepper.
  4. Divide the salad between 5 plates. Top each with a poached egg; sprinkle with the sliced scallions and drizzle with the reserved vinaigrette.
  5. Serve immediately.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 438 calories, 30.5g total fat, 259.6mg cholesterol, 194.7mg sodium, 597.1mg potassium, 28.2g carbohydrates, 5.6g fiber, 3.7g sugar, 15.7g protein

Quinoa Salad with Salmon and Apples

Before I get into how I’m not torturing poverty-stricken Bolivian farmers by eating quinoa, let’s talk a little bit about why I’m eating it after more than 3 years of largely avoiding grains.

Aside from the fact that it’s freaking delicious, reasonably nutritious when properly prepared and not really a grain.

Grains are the seeds from grasses; quinoa is the seed from a broadleaf plant that is closely related to spinach and beets.  This makes it what is called a pseudograin – it looks like a grain and cooks like a grain but botanically isn’t a grain.  Which is all fine and dandy, but it still contains all those awful lectins and phytates plus an added bonus of saponins – a bitter-tasting coating on the outside of the seed that makes for one nasty meal if not completely rinsed away.

Most commercially available quinoas (which, like lentils, come in a variety of colors) are pre-rinsed, but you should always rinse them again before cooking just to make sure.  And, like most grains, you’ll get a lot more out of them if you soak or sprout it beforehand.  Quinoa sprouts pretty easily – unlike most grains and legumes, soaking it in warm, filtered water for as little as 12 hours will cause it to sprout, which also reduces the cooking time by as much as 1/3.

Unfortunately, quinoa has gotten a bad rap lately.  It’s traditionally grown in South America and has been a dietary staple there for thousands of years.  Its growing popularity worldwide in recent years has caused concerns about the sustainability of the crops there, as well as diminishing quinoa’s status as a staple – it’s far more profitable for farmers to sell than consume.  Now, having said that, some varieties are pretty hardy and can be grown in other climates – there is widespread farming of quinoa in Europe, the US and Canada.  The quinoa I purchase comes from the bulk bins at our local natural food store (making it cheaper than the packaged stuff) and is grown in Canada.

Beloved and I also love the stuff, which is the main reason we’re eating it.  But after 3 years of forcing foods that aren’t rice or pasta or wheat or whatever isn’t “allowed” in a paleo diet into behaving like foods that are rice or pasta or wheat or whatever, I started to wonder why I don’t just go ahead and eat them from time to time?  Muffins, cakes, breads, ice creams, cookies, candies and all those other delicious treats that people work so hard to recreate – yes, myself included – really shouldn’t be eaten every day no matter what they’re made from (the one exception being “noodles” made from vegetables.  But it still isn’t the same).  I still make all of these things from scratch from the best quality ingredients I can find, I still don’t eat industrial seed oils or prepackaged crap and we still don’t eat out nearly as often as the average American.  If I eat something and it makes me feel bad or sick, I don’t eat it again and so far, a slice of sourdough bread and a serving of quinoa, beans or soaked brown rice a couple of times a week, homemade pasta once or twice a month and a dessert once in a blue moon isn’t killing me.  In fact, I’m feeling pretty okay these days, and after the menopausal hell of the last 5 years or so, that’s not a bad thing.  Not bad at all.

Anyhoo – quinoa. My favorite way to prepare it is in homemade chicken broth with diced onion and garlic that’s been sauteed in ghee – it is just delicious.

This salad was made with leftover quinoa cooked in just that manner, as well as some leftover salmon that I’d attempted to prepare (at too high a temperature – oops) in the sous vide.  It may not have been the best entree I’ve ever cooked, but chilled and flaked into this salad the salmon was great.  Throw in a little diced apple, finely chopped herbs, a light vinaigrette and some salad greens, and this was a marvelous light lunch – just what my body has been craving after this absurdly long, harsh winter.

Quinoa Salad with Salmon and Apple - quick, simple and incredibly good for you.

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Quinoa Salad with Salmon and Apples
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 4 ounces cooked salmon, flaked
  • 1 small apple, peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 4 cups salad greens
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the vinegar, honey and olive oil in a small bowl until well-blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the quinoa, salmon, apple, mint and parsley. Drizzle with the dressing and toss again until evenly coated. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
  3. Divide the greens between two plates and top with the quinoa salad.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 393 calories, 20.2g total fat, 40.3mg cholesterol, 51.4mg sodium, 791.2mg potassium, 34.2g carbohydrates, 5.3g fiber, 9.6g sugar, 20g protein

Jalapenos en Escabeche

Oh, look – another ferment.  What can I say?  I’ve come to love them and tend to have one in the fridge at all times.  Right now, I have three:  the small remains of our last batch of sauerkraut, the rapidly diminishing dilly beans, and now this.

The reason I made this is because in the comments of the dilly bean recipe, Lisa – one of the most stylish style bloggers you will ever find, to say nothing of being an incredibly beautiful,  intelligent and gracious woman – said, “The Mexican restaurants around here do a pickled jalapeno carrot that’s INCREDIBLE. Want to backwards engineer a recipe for me?”

Oh, that all requests should be so easy.

Those jalapeno carrots fall into a broad category of pickled vegetables known as escabeche (which literally translates to “pickle”), a common condiment in many Mexican kitchens and restaurants (meat-based escabeche – usually fish, poached or fried, and marinated in an acidic mixture before serving – is popular in many Mediterranean cuisines, particularly Spanish).  Almost all recipes include jalapenos or other hot chilies, carrots, onions and garlic, and many contain other vegetables; cauliflower is the most common.

The vast majority of commercially available escabeche is preserved in vinegar, making it shelf stable.  Not necessarily a bad route to go – I still have many, many jars of cucumber and watermelon pickles safely tucked away in my basement from last year’s canning frenzy.  However, this method cooks the vegetables, leaving them rather limp and, if you wish to make it at home, is a bit of a production.

Lacto-fermentation results in a tangy, fiery escabeche that is fresh, crisp, delicious and easy – not to mention oh, so good for you.

Note:  I did not seed the jalapenos at all; I simply sliced them.  This is quite spicy (10 jalapenos, after all) and will become more so as it continues to ferment.  If you or members of your family have a tender palate, you may want to halve the chilies lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and veins before adding them to the carrots and onions.  Also, according to most sources I’ve found, this will last many months in cold storage (one account cited it as still being good a year later), but I’d still probably eat this within 3 or 4 months.

Jalapenos en Escabeche. This classic Mexican condiment is naturally fermented and full of probiotic goodness.

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Jalapenos en Escabeche
[i]It’s important that the vegetables be completely submerged beneath the liquid to avoid mold and promote the proliferation of the good bacteria. Pouring olive or coconut oil on top after adding the liquid is helpful, or Pickl-It sells [url href=”http://www.pickl-it.com/products/94/pickl-it-dunk-r-3-pack/” target=”_blank”]handy glass weights[/url] that fit inside the mouth of the jar. Makes one quart[/i]
Ingredients
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on the bias
  • 10 jalapeno peppers, sliced
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced into half rounds and separated
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • filtered water
Instructions
  1. Combine all of the ingredients, except the water, in a large bowl and toss to distribute the salt. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Pack the vegetables into a clean, wide-mouth quart jar. Add the water until the jar is filled to 1 inch below the rim.
  3. Cap the jar, not too tightly, and keep at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for 2 to 3 days or until the liquid in the jar beings to bubble. Transfer to the refrigerator.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 37 calories, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 886.4mg sodium, 258.9mg potassium, 8.6g carbohydrates, 2.6g fiber, 3.7g sugar, 1g protein

Russian Beet Salad

This is an interesting little dish that I made last week as a way to use up some baby beets I’d roasted and peeled a day or two before, but hadn’t eaten.

Thursday, before we caught our flight to Sin City, I made us lunch.  One of the lunch items was something we’d never experienced before – leftover Slow Cooker Pot Roast (we NEVER had leftover beef of any sort before The Young One went away to college); we also scarfed down some of those delicious Dilly Beans.   I spied the beets in the fridge, and knew that if I didn’t do something with them that I’d just end up throwing them away.  But what to do with them?

I’ll tell you what:  make this salad.  It. Is. WONDERFUL.

I don’t know about you, but I rarely think of Russia as having it’s own cuisine.  Of course it does, and beets play a prominent part in it.  This is a lovely, simple salad of cooked beets, walnuts, garlic and mayonnaise and it really couldn’t be more delicious.

It helps to cook, peel and chill the beets ahead of time; once they’ve been shredded or grated, the salad comes together in a snap.  I used Better Than Miracle Whip to dress it and added raisins because that’s what I had on hand, but plain mayonnaise and chopped prunes are traditional.  Beloved, who adores beets, couldn’t get enough of it and I quite happily ate the leftovers when I returned home from Vegas.

Russian Beet Salad. This lovely, vibrant salad is one of the easiest and most delicious ways to eat beets you'll ever find.

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Russian Beet Salad
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 pounds beets, roasted, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine all of the ingredients, except the salt and pepper, in a bowl, stirring until well mixed. Season to taste with salt and pepper; cover and refrigerate for half an hour before serving.
  2. Nutrition (per serving): 227 calories, 14.8g total fat, 11.3mg cholesterol, 116mg sodium, 499.1mg potassium, 23.1g carbohydrates, 3.5g fiber, 16.8g sugar, 4.1g protein