Not Quite Potato Salad with Fresh Turmeric Root and Mustard Seeds

Well, this is a doozy of a photo, but I took it quickly and then ate this salad before I could realize that it was out of focus. Oh well, you get the, um, picture.

I finally got around to purchasing Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Plenty, which is one that I know I will be cooking out of for some time to come. The cookbook focuses on vegetables, and every single of one of the recipes looks amazing. This recipe is not from the cookbook, but it is certainly inspired by it. It was a clean-out-the-fridge kind of salad that really worked well, and as such, I haven’t included precise measurements but guidelines below.

Not Quite Potato Salad (1)

Not Quite Potato Salad with Fresh Turmeric Root and Mustard Seeds

inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Plenty

baby potatoes, thinly sliced
fresh turmeric root, thinly sliced
green beans
zest of lemon
juice of fresh lemon
mustard seeds
cloves crushed garlic
serrano or other pepper
extra virgin olive oil
fresh chives

Preheat oven to 400. Bring a pot of water large enough to fit all the potatoes to a boil and slice the potatoes and turmeric thinly. Boil the potatoes and turmeric for about 2 minutes – since they’re thinly sliced, they’ll cook quickly. Drain the water and let the potatoes and turmeric dry in a strainer. Coat the potatoes and turmeric in a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper, then spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until they are golden brown and crispy.

Bring a separate pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the asparagus and green beans for 1 minute. Drain and cool in ice water.

In a mixing bowl, combine the potatoes, turmeric, green beans, and asparagus. Add the lemon zest and juice.

In a mortar and pestle, smash the garlic and serrano pepper with a bit of kosher salt. Use as much garlic as you like. Heat a pan over medium heat and toss in the garlic/serrano mixture, mustard seeds, and olive oil. Sauté until fragrant and the mustard seeds start to pop. Pour this mixture over the vegetables and stir it all together. Taste and add salt if necessary. Top with fresh chives.


Tropical Breakfast Bowl

think winter is almost over. I’ve almost permanently switched over to a spring coat, and I have worn capri tights more often than my winter leggings when running lately. And speaking of running, I have been running outside! I think the last time I stepped on the treadmill was two full weeks ago. Most importantly, champagne mangos are showing up at the grocery store.

So, with signs of spring and thoughts of warmer places, I made this 2-grain, 3-seed tropical breakfast bowl on Saturday. Eric said it reminded him of mango and sticky rice that we gobbled up in Thailand, and while it wasn’t inspired by that treat, it did certainly hit those notes.
Tropical Breakfast Bowl

Eric and I took the time to plan a year of trips while we still have the Southwest Companion Pass, which expires at the end of this year. We have some fun stuff coming up, including a weekend in the Florida Keys, camping in the Sawtooths in Idaho, and a week-long trip to Austin (Eric has a conference there) and San Antonio. We’ve decided to put off all international trips (except trips to Mexico on Southwest) until next year. My feet are seriously itching for something exotic, but we must take advantage of 2-for-1 domestic plane tickets while we can.

Tropical Breakfast Bowl (2)

Anyway, back to breakfast.

Tropical Breakfast Bowl (1)

Tropical Breakfast Bowl

The mention of two grains and three seeds above may be confusing, but buckwheat is actually a seed, not a grain. As for the coconut cream, often times a can of coconut milk will be separated into a thick cream on one end of the can and a watery milk on the other. If your can is not separated, just use the combined milk and add it to taste.

*Serves 3-4

1/2 cup steel cut oats
1/2 cup bulgar wheat
1/2 cup buckwheat groats

2 tablespoons coconut cream
1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 mango, cut into cubes
1/2 pink or ruby red grapefruit, peeled and cut into cubes
1/2 orange, peeled and cut into cubes
1 banana, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon flax seed powder (or whole flax seeds are fine also)
1 tablespoon chia seeds

Cook each of the grains separately in double the amount of water (ie, for 1/2 cup steel cut oats, cook them in 1 cup water) until all the water is soaked up and the grains are tender. Mix all the cooked grains in a bowl and, while still warm, add the coconut cream and maple syrup. Stir around until the coconut cream is melted and thoroughly combined. Taste and add more sweetener if you prefer.

Top with fruit, flax, and chia seeds.

Asparagus, Butternut Squash, and Blood Orange with Spicy Za’atar Vinaigrette

A friend of mine posted this article on Facebook the other day about how hard it is to eat healthy, in part because of all the conflicting information that exists about what exactly is considered healthy. This article is a year and a half old by now, but the message still rings true, and I laughed the entire time while reading it. When I was in college, and the Atkin’s diet was the fad of the moment, my roommate told me she was trying to cut back on carbs and then proceeded to order a bagel for breakfast. Now, many fad diets say it’s not necessarily the carbs that are killing us, but the gluten. There is so much conflicting and constantly changing information out there. How is the healthy eater to cope?

I tend to follow an eating doctrine that falls somewhere between those touted by Michael Pollan and Michael Ruhlman. Pollan says to “eat food, mostly plants, not too much”, and Ruhlman, from what I gather, would say something like “eat what feels good, all in moderation”. For us, that means eating largely vegetarian at home (in large part because good, ethical meat is expensive) and allowing ourselves to indulge once in a while without guilt. That indulgence can be meat in the form of a giant burger, sugar in the form of a giant cake, or beer in the form of, well, a giant glass of well-crafted brew. These things taste good for a reason! And when did eating become so political?

Anyway, one thing that I tend to eat a lot is cucumbers. Most of the time, I just sprinkle it with some apple cider vinegar and salt and call it a day, but sometimes, when I’m feeling fancy, this happens:

2014 MARCH 17

Sliced cucumbers, a drizzle of nice olive oil, greek yogurt, a sprinkle of za’atar, and some additional ground sumac. So that happened this morning, and since I had the za’atar out and was feeling frisky, I made a spicy za’atar vinaigrette with a serrano pepper and shallot. And then this happened:

2014 MARCH 17 (2)

Ever since reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I feel pangs of guilt when eating asparagus out of season, but this winter has been so long that I have been splurging lately. As for the za’atar, you can make your own following Heidi’s recipe, or sometimes you can find a mix in a spice store.

2014 MARCH 17 (3)

Asparagus, Butternut Squash, and Blood Orange with Spicy Za’atar Vinaigrette

1 bunch asparagus
1/2 small butternut squash, sliced into sticks
1 blood orange

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 teaspoons za’atar
1 serrano pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 small shallot, finely diced
1 teaspoon whole grain or dijon mustard

Steam the asparagus and butternut squash until tender. The asparagus should only take a few minutes, and the butternut squash just slightly longer. I steamed them separately so as not to overcook the asparagus. Slice the blood orange into supremes, or just peel and section if you’re not into all that work. Arrange the asparagus, butternut squash, and oranges on a plate.

In a small mason jar, combine the olive oil, vinegar, za’atar, pepper, shallot, and mustard. Shake well and pour over the vegetables. You’ll have extra dressing – save it for a salad or other use. Sprinkle sea salt over the whole thing before serving.