A Cheery Citrus Salad

When the dark days of winter come around, I love to supplement my braise-heavy diet with liberal amounts of citrus, but sometimes straight fruit can be a little too sugary. This is certainly the case now that I’ve cut extraneous sugar from my diet. These days, fruit feels like an indulgence, a treat for a job well done. So I’ve been hooked on savory citrus salads, like the one pictured above. There isn’t even a real recipe because I use what’s available at my local grocery store, but here you see baby spinach leaves, sliced clementines, thinly sliced fennel and pomegranate arils with a light ponzu dressing, which is nothing more than one part tamari, two parts ponzu sauce and three parts olive oil. It’s excellent with grapefruit or pomelo instead of clementines, or with oil-cured black olives, avocado, and/or thinly sliced red onion added to the mix. Honestly, it’s hard to go wrong with this basic format: Citrus + salad greens + savory/salty element. Give it a try!

What are your favorite ways to dress up citrus?

Leave a comment below so I can expand my lunch choices!


One of my goals for this year is to diversify my photography offerings. In hopes of doing just that, I recently entered a contest sponsored by Minted in conjunction with West Elm to find a new generation of photo prints to sell in stores and online. Voting opened yesterday and will end next Wednesday, February 11th at 1pm ET. I’d love it if you could pop over and vote for any (or all) of my submissions if you like what you see. Clicking on the images below will take you to their corresponding pages at the Minted website, where you’ll have to register before voting. And have a look around while you’re there: you may find other submissions you’d love to see for sale at West Elm!

art prints - Assorted Peppercorns
art prints – Assorted Peppercorns

art prints - Spooning Peppercorns
art prints – Spooning Peppercorns

art prints - Three Cheers for Chilies
art prints – Three Cheers for Chilies

art prints - Wall of Citrus
art prints – Wall of Citrus

art prints - Eat Your Beets
art prints – Eat Your Beets

art prints - Rustic Eggs
art prints – Rustic Eggs

art prints - The Nosy Greyhound
art prints – The Nosy Greyhound

Grain-Free Tabbouleh Salad

Things have been moving a little slow at the junction this weekend, though not from any laziness on my part. See, my ass is broken. Not broke — though the money situation could always be better — but brokEN. I had the bright idea of taking a 5 1/2-mile hike with Gil and the boys last Friday morning to take advantage of the wonderful hiking trails and lakes we have around here. And it was a perfect day, honestly; a cool breeze was blowing, the sky was clear and blue and we only passed a few people and their dogs in the two hours we were out. Otis was a very good boy throughout, barely paying attention to the first three dogs we passed, but then (dunh, dunh, DUNNNNHHH!) along came number four. We’d just passed him without incident and I was praising Otis for being such a gooood boooy, when the other dog barked and Otis just lost it, as he tends to do when that happens. Being a big, slinky greyhound, he managed to trip me and I came down hard on my back and bruised my tailbone in the process. Ouch. So now I have a preview of what it’ll be like in 40 years when I’m puttering around the house and groaning whenever I bend over or get up from a seated position. Oh, the indignity!

He’s SO lucky he’s cute.

Otis B. Driftwood | Amy Roth Photo

Ru was fine, being a pretty chill dog until someone approaches our house or thunder/fireworks disturb him.

Rufus T. Firefly | Amy Roth Photo

But back to food. I’m sure you can imagine that I haven’t really felt like cooking much all weekend. But I do have this new weekly posting schedule and a variation of tabbouleh salad has been worming its way into my mind lately, so I decided to suck it up and do some chopping!

Gluten-Free Tabbouleh | Minimally Invasive

We’ve gotten tabbouleh so wrong for so long here in the U.S. that it may seem odd when you proportion things correctly. It’s supposed to be a parsley salad with a little bit of bulgur wheat instead of the other way around. And even though the bulgur wheat is barely there, it’s still wheat, so I started brainstorming gluten-free substitutions. Quinoa was the first thing to come to mind, but I knew it wouldn’t have the right texture, so I let my mind roam and came up with the idea of using chopped, roasted chickpeas. They’re one of my favorite snacks — crunchy yet chewy, and I figured they’d hold up pretty well, even sitting overnight in leftovers.

While I won’t know how the leftovers held up until tomorrow, I have to tell you that it was so good for dinner tonight, I’m surprised there was anything to pack into the refrigerator.

Gluten-Free Tabbouleh Salad

Dietary Diabetic, Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Main Dish, Salad
Misc Serve Cold
Roasted chickpeas make a delicious substitute for bulgur wheat in this gluten-free version of tabbouleh salad.

Ingredients

Roasted Chickpeas

  • 1 can chickpeas (drained, rinsed and patted dry with dish towel)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoon sumac
  • 1-2 teaspoon aleppo pepper
  • 2 pinches kosher salt

Tabbouleh

  • 1/4 cup roasted chickpeas (finely chopped)
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes (quartered lengthwise and chopped into small dice)
  • 1 Medium cucumber (peeled, seeded and chopped into small dice)
  • 5 green onions or scallions (trimmed and very thinly sliced)
  • 3 bunches flat leaf parsley (large stems removed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds (toasted, then ground)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (finely ground)
  • 1 lemon (juiced)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt (to taste)
  • sumac (to taste)
  • aleppo pepper (to taste)

Note

Adapted from Anissa Helou's recipe at David Lebovitz.com and Paula Wolfert's Mediterranean Grains and Greens.

Sumac is a spice with a tart flavor that can be used in place of lemon. It goes well with meat, fish, and hummus, so don't be shy about picking up a big bag. If you have trouble finding it locally, you can order from Kalustyan's or World Spice Merchants.

Directions

ROASTED CHICKPEAS
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a small baking pan, combine chickpeas, olive oil and seasonings, and toss to combine.
Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
Cool to room temperature, then finely chop 1/4 cup of the chickpeas for the salad. Reserve the rest for another use.
TABBOULEH
Put diced tomatoes and cucumbers in a mesh strainer set over a bowl to drain away some of the excess liquid.
Gather as much parsley as you can in your hand, and slice it into thin ribbons with a very sharp knife. Place sliced parsley in a large bowl.
Add sliced green onion, drained tomatoes and cucumbers, and chopped roasted chickpeas to the sliced parsley. Season with cumin and black pepper and drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. Toss gently until well mixed.
Taste the salad and adjust seasonings by adding more sumac, aleppo pepper, salt and/or pepper, if you like.

Field to Feast: Eat Your Beets

Good advice, I’d say, but it does reinforce the air of obligation beets already have about them; we’re admonished to eat them because they’re good for you, rarely because they’re delicious. Despite that crushing sense of duty, flavor is a great reason to chow down on beets, and now that local crops are veering toward root vegetables, there couldn’t be a more perfect time to sample them.

I think a lot of people have negative associations with beets after some childhood dining trauma, but they weren’t on my radar when I was young. In fact, I’m pretty sure I never tasted a beet until they started popping up in salads with goat cheese and frisée sometime in the ’90s. But that only takes care of the root — what about the greens, which also deserve a chance to shine? When Gil and I first moved in together (long before the dogs came to live with us), I exercised on the treadmill pretty regularly. Most of that treadmill time was spent watching Lidia Bastianich’s show where I learned, well, all sorts of things, one of which was that preparing beet greens is pretty simple. Her roasted beet salad stuck with me through the years and it’s always on the menu when I come home with some beautiful beets from the market.

Roasted Beet Salad | Minimally Invasive

I used golden beets this time instead of the deeper red ones because those were already spoken for. If you hate worrying about stained hands from preparing beets, you can wear gloves or just buy these golden beauties. They’re not quite as earthy as their darker cousins, but I love them just the same.

Veselka Borscht | Minimally Invasive

Of course, I can’t let a post about beets go by without pushing borscht on you. But this wasn’t just any borscht! No, I broke out my Veselka Cookbook and got to work on the lengthy process of cooking their most famous dish. Making it involved cooking three stocks — beef, pork and beet — along with much straining and simmering and work. So Much Work! The end product was satisfying and rich with a depth of flavor my regular borscht doesn’t have, but was it worth the extra five hours and four pots to make? For me at least, the answer is no because I can make it to the restaurant any time I want. But I did love their suggestion to use the strained beets from the stock in a salad composed of nothing more than beets, prepared horseradish and salt. I was skeptical, but found the combination addictive and kept nibbling away at tiny portions until I’d consumed an entire meal’s worth.

Veselka Borscht | Minimally Invasive

I somehow managed not to stain my newly white walls with any drips from the process of cooking, which we all should consider a miracle. All in all, it was a very successful beet week!

Update: I’m starting a new feature over at Amy Roth Photo called (provisionally, anyway) How I Got the Shot. I’m discussing the opening shot of this post for my very first entry. Take a look and let me know what you think! 

Field to Feast: Homemade Tomato Paste

Happy Friday, everyone! Has this week felt terribly long to you? Maybe you just want to put your feet up this weekend, relax and enjoy some sun, and who could blame you if you do? But if you’re looking for a project, something that sounds impressive yet requires minimal effort — the best kind of project for lazy summer weekends — here’s a great one: homemade tomato paste. You may be wondering exactly why you should bother when little cans of the stuff are already so very, very cheap and so very, very convenient, but you’ll just have to believe me when I tell you that homemade is so much better than canned that it’s like a completely different animal. Or fruit. (You know what I mean. Don’t make me turn this car around.) It has a bright, zingy, concentrated (duh) tomato flavor without any of that tinny aftertaste we’ve all grown accustomed to after years of eating the canned variety. It’s a treat anytime you use it, but in midwinter when hot sun and bountiful produce couldn’t be farther away, it’s damn near a revelation.

But before you start, fortify yourself with a light salad because the kitchen will get hot while the paste is cooking and you won’t want to spend much time in there. And while you’re up to your elbows in tomatoes anyway, why not make them into your meal? I reworked the Roman Summer Salad with more of an emphasis on fresh tomatoes while they’re as perfect as possible. I started with a base layer of assorted, sliced tomatoes from Bialas Farms and drizzled them with olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Sliced Tomatoes | Minimally Invasive

Then I mashed together some anchovies and garlic in a mortar and pestle to make a paste. I scattered the paste across the tomatoes along with chopped capers, black olives, basil, parsley and goat’s milk ricotta, and devoured half the salad in one sitting.

Roman Salad Reprise | Minimally Invasive

But let’s get moving; you’re here for tomato paste! It’s a time-consuming process, but really very easy. You cook the tomatoes briefly, use a food mill to get rid of skins and seeds, then leave a sheet pan filled with the tomato purée in the oven until the water has evaporated and you’re left with a pan of brick-red loveliness. Just freeze the cooled paste in a thin layer in a Ziploc bag until you need a hit of summer.

I used bacon fat on the sheet pans instead of olive oil to give my tomato paste a smokey flavor, but it really isn’t necessary, just indulgent.

Tomato Paste | Minimally Invasive

I hope to get at least a couple more batches of paste put up for the winter. Rationing my one bag from last summer got me through April, but I’d like to put away enough this year to keep me going until next year’s tomatoes are in market.

Get the recipe for homemade tomato paste at Saveur. And have a great weekend!

Field to Feast: Red Komatsuna

Red komatsuna is perhaps my favorite leafy green of Spring. This spinach-mustard hybrid is delicious with a mildly peppery bite and pretty versatile, too — good cooked down with garlic and red pepper flakes, sturdy enough for a stir fry, and truly excellent in a salad. In fact, most mornings I eat a “breakfast salad” with a base of finely chopped red komatsuna (including stems) topped with cubed avocado and cherry tomatoes with chipotle chili powder, lime juice, a spritz of fish sauce and one of my homemade flavored salts sprinkled over. It’s a great way to start the morning.

But red komatsuna plays so well with other salad greens, it’d be a shame to keep them apart. It adds such a pleasant crunch and depth of flavor to any green salad, I freely add it whenever I have some on hand. The salad above made use of the contents of my fridge, but experiment and throw together a free-form salad of your own.

I thought a tangy buttermilk dressing would complement this salad, but buttermilk dressings alone can be a little watery. To beef it up a bit, I added half of an avocado and was pretty pleased with the results. It’s substantial, but also light enough on the tongue to douse your salad liberally with it if that’s your thing.

Coincidentally, Kasha posted a recipe this week for an amazing dill and garlic scape dip with buttermilk at The FarmGirl Cooks. Be sure to check it out, and ogle her gorgeous photos!

Buttermilk-Avocado Dressing

1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup ripe avocado, cubed
1/8 teaspoon grated garlic
1 teaspoon each chopped dill, chives, thyme
big pinch salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
a few grinds of black pepper

Add all ingredients to a blender jar and process to combine. Alternately, use an immersion blender in a quart-sized mason jar — my preferred method, as it makes storage and cleanup that much simpler. The dressing is fine to use right away, but really benefits from an overnight stay in the refrigerator.

From the Pinterest Files: Roman Summer Salad

I can’t promise that From the Pinterest Files will become a weekly feature, but I do plan to cook from my Pinterest board more often, so who knows? Whenever I do, though, I promise to let you know what I think, good or bad.

This Roman Summer Salad by Giada De Laurentiis is perfect for me, and you too, if big, bold flavors are your thing. It’s basically a salad version of pasta puttanesca, with tomatoes, olives, capers and garlic swimming around with olive oil and reduced balsamic vinegar. To make it a touch more salad-y, I added chopped spinach and red komatsuna, both from Bialas Farms. Granted, it’s nowhere near tomato season here yet, but this recipe really made its presence known, and I just couldn’t wait a month to give it a try. And now that you know about it, you’ll be ready when tomato season comes your way, if it hasn’t already!

Roman Salad | Minimally Invasive

 

A Good Start

Gluten-Free, Paleo

After my month of excess for the Advent Calendar, January seemed downright penitential. Spending a chunk of it shooting a new vegan cookbook certainly helped to keep me on the straight and narrow, though the gums in the store-bought cheeses kept me away from sampling many of those creations. Still, I was inspired to get back to a healthier way of eating, one that’s light on grains, heavy on vegetables and homemade yogurt, and features grass-fed/pastured meats.

What I’m saying is salads are back in vogue in my kitchen after a long absence, and the best ones hit a lot of notes for me — colorful, tart, crunchy, sweet, earthy. The Sideshow Bob you see above was inspired by the Endive-Apple Salad in Poulet, a cookbook I bought for the pictures, but find myself cracking open more and more for cooking inspiration. I changed it up a bit, adding a honeyed lemon-Dijon vinaigrette and crunchy toasted pecans to the endive-radicchio-apple-parmesan base. But this is a great starting point for any number of salads because you can change up the ingredients depending on what you’re serving with it. Just a few ideas:

  • Add fennel and celery for more crunch and take the salad in a very different direction.
  • Swap out the pecans for toasted walnuts, pistachios, or even almond, if you want something less assertive.
  • Make it vegan by dropping the parmesan and honey and sweetening the vinaigrette with brown sugar or maple syrup.
  • Add a handful of dried fruit like currants, cranberries or raisins to offset the bitterness of the radicchio even more.

As always, just play with it and enjoy your creation. Eating your vegetables doesn’t have to be a dour exercise of willpower, you know.

Gluten-Free

Day 3, A Winter Salad

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 3

A salad? What? I’ll admit it’s not sexy, but with all of the indulgences of the season, I welcome this homely little vegetable plate. And it’s a simple thing to throw together, unlike, say, mini apple pies or a gumbo. It’s just the thing to have in your arsenal when you’re rushing out the door in half an hour.

Simply julienne some kohlrabi and tart apples for crunch, add some finely chopped greens for depth, then toss with your favorite vinaigrette. I made this one with spinach, arugula and parsley, and tossed it with a vinaigrette of olive oil, champagne vinegar, grainy Dijon mustard and finely chopped shallots. I feel healthier just looking at it.

Note: I’m planning to open an Etsy store in the new year to sell prints, cards, etc. Tell me: would you like to see these Advent Calendar posts collected into a set of cards with the recipes? Anything else your hearts desire?

From the Market: Stone Fruit Edition

Stone Fruit Edition

“You’re gonna get the shits.”

It was the late 70s and I was maybe 10 years old — 10 being my default age for somewhat indistinct childhood memories — and the wind was whipping my hair into a rat’s nest. It was summer and I was riding in the back of a pickup truck with a group of kids, heading back to our meeting place after an afternoon of picking peaches. Oh, there was an adult riding with us who was there in a supervisory capacity, because there has to be ONE responsible grown-up around when you’re transporting a bunch of kids IN THE BACK OF A PICKUP TRUCK. No, we weren’t day laborers or or migrant peach-pickers, but a group of Mennonites gathered for a weekend pig roast in Mississippi to celebrate the dedication of a new church building. I suppose the adults wanted to get us out of the way and thought we’d burn off some energy gathering fruit.

I don’t remember the activity of picking itself, but the trip home is firmly planted in my memory. As I rode IN THE BACK OF THE PICKUP TRUCK, feeling the exhilaration of flying down the road while smiling with my mouth closed to prevent accidental bug ingestion, I saw those sacks of peaches before me and was overcome with a powerful peach-lust, the likes of which I’d never felt before. The scent was overwhelming, the skins so soft! I almost could imagine how Roberto Benigni felt about those pumpkins in Night on Earth! So I did what any kid would do; I devoured many peaches and started a full-scale peach-eating frenzy among my compatriots, complete with pit-spitting from the truck. I can only imagine the extent of the chromosomal damage done by eating so many unwashed fruits sprayed with who-knows-what insecticide was popular back then. After seeing me pluck one peach after another from the sack, the lone adult interjected that I miiiight possibly be concerned about my bowels later on if I continued (not a word about chromosomal damage, though). Lucky for me, there was no grand shitting incident then or later at the pig roast, but that experience did inaugurate my life-long love of peaches and, by extension, all stone fruits.

So when I saw the bounty of organic stone fruits at the Orchards of Concklin booth at the Ringwood Farmers’ Market, I got a little giddy. But my eyes are bigger than my stomach, and I came home with far too many fruits to eat on their own before they spoiled. Good thing there’s no shortage of recipes for such a problem at this time of year. I remembered saving this grilled kale salad from Bon Appetit to one of my Pinterest boards, and it turned out to be a perfect lunch. Grilling kale is nothing new, but the tartsweet plums, the creamy goat’s milk ricotta from Edgwick Farm, and honeyed balsamic vinaigrette shone against the background of smoky kale and set this apart from a standard salad preparation.

gluten-free

While I was grilling the kale, I cut the rest of the fruit in half, oiled it lightly, then tossed it on the grate to cook so it would last through the week. It made a great, simple dessert right away — an assortment of grilled fruit with more of that luscious goat’s milk ricotta drizzled with a little aged balsamic vinegar (the sweet stuff, not the grocery-store variety), fresh thyme and truffle honey.

gluten-free

Need. More. Of. This. Better add it to the list for this weekend.

gluten-free

With the rest of the grilled fruit, I made a mixed-fruit butter. The skins slipped off after grilling, so I threw the fruit halves in a saucepan with a little sugar and a splash of brandy, then cooked them down till the sauce was thick. To get it velvety smooth, I puréed it in my food processor for a bit. I’m not too proud to admit it’s pretty satisfying just spooned from the jar, but if you make this, save a little, because it’s stellar with pork chops. And eat to your heart’s content — I’m sure you won’t have any, er, troubles.

From the Market — Week 2

This weekend’s farmers’ market was a great example of the early bird getting the worm. We lazed around Saturday morning instead of hitting the market when it opened and by the time I got to the vegetable booth (15 minutes before closing), the only produce available was potatoes and spring garlic. Good thing I overloaded last week and have a crisper drawer that really works; I was still set for a couple of meals this weekend.

Yes indeed, what you see up there is more pizza, but in my defense, I’ve been looking for the definitive gluten-free pizza crust and now have two in my arsenal. The batch from last weekend was featured on Shooting the Kitchen, a blog well worth your time if you’re into gorgeous food photography. The crust had a rich depth and could fool just about anyone into believing it’s the real thing, but it requires a two-hour initial rise and it’s best after spending a full day in the fridge. It’s great for the weekend, but maybe not so practical on weeknights (unless you get home far earlier than I do).

This week’s crust was from Jules Gluten-Free, and took less than an hour to make, but relies on a starchier flour combination and the taste is a little one-note. Still, if you need to turn your pie around right away, it’s a great option.

The toppings were cobbled together from last week’s market haul with minimal grocery store supplementation — sautéed broccoli rabe with garlic and red pepper powder, paper-thin lemon slices (which turned sweet under the high heat of the oven), drained ricotta, grated parmesan and the remaining garlic confit that needed to be used up this weekend. I just love throwing together lunch with whatever’s on hand.

with bacon/cider vinaigrette and toasted slivered almonds

Speaking of, that’s how Sunday’s lunch came about, too. The spinach was robust, but already a week old, so I tossed it together with the juiciest strawberries you can imagine, some toasted slivered almonds and a bit of minced shallot. For the dressing, I heated some of the rendered bacon fat from the bacon jam weekend, added a little neutral oil, cider and sherry vinegars and a few drops of Worcestershire sauce. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but it’s a perfectly delicious and light salad that really lets the seasonal produce shine.