Tuna Cups with Quick-Pickled Swiss Chard Stems

This is a quick little lunch that I whip up sometimes. Tuna salad is often a kitchen-sink dish for me, and this one became a way to use up some quick-pickled swiss chard stems left over from a salad last week.

I read a great tip on Food52 a while ago about keeping a bag of vegetable food scraps in the freezer. When the bag is full, pull it out and make vegetable broth. You can improve the flavor of tons of things with broth – cook rice, or lentils, or beans in the broth instead of water.

I’ve been tossing in kale stems and leek tops, but chard stems are too pretty for the freezer. Instead, I quick pickled them and waited for an opportunity to use them.

Tuna Cups with Pickled Swiss Chard Stems

Tuna Cups with Pickled Swiss Chard Stems (1)

Tuna Cups with Quick-Pickled Swiss Chard Stems

leftover swiss chard stems, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 cup vinegar of your choosing
1 cup water
2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons curry powder

1 can tuna
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1 teaspoon whole-grain or dijon mustard
1/2 red onion, finely diced

parley, cilantro, or other chopped herbs

1 bunch butter lettuce

To make the quick pickles, put the chopped stems in a jar. Combine the vinegar (I used distilled white vinegar), water, salt, and curry powder in a pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, poor the pickling brine into the jar. Cover with a lid and put in the fridge to cool.

In a mixing bowl, combine tuna, greek yogurt, mustard, onion, and herbs. Finely dice the pickled chard stems and combine with the tuna.

Peel leaves of the lettuce head off and fill with the tuna salad.

Chickpea Pancakes + Oven-Roasted Tomatoes + Caramelized Onions

I sat on the stoop this morning drinking coffee, catching up on emails, and doing a bit of work. It was chilly – around 50 degrees – but the sun was shining and I was determined to get some rays on my face. Nothing like the morning sun to set your mood for the day.

Chickpea Pancakes (5)

This recipe comes mostly from Yotam Ottolenghi’s book Plenty. I added a few tweaks but the pancakes, the layering of flavors, the techniques – all Yotam’s genius at work. In subsequent servings I sprinkled roasted pumpkin seeds and Aleppo pepper on top. Smoked paprika would be lovely as well. The original recipe calls for a dollop of crème fraîche, which we happened to have on hand (homemade, in fact, by Eric!), but greek yogurt would work equally well.

Chickpea Pancakes (1)

So with this spring weather we’ve been enjoying lately, I am more and more excited about summer fun. I recently picked up a new sleeping bag for summer camping adventures. We’ve been borrowing Eric’s brother’s bag for a while now, so it was time to finally invest in our own. It is the coolest sleeping bag I have ever seen, and I’m so, SO excited to use it. I’m really trying hard to not wish away these beautiful spring days until our first camping trip of the season.

Chickpea Pancakes (2)

Chickpea Pancakes (8)

Chickpea Pancakes + Oven-Roasted Tomatoes + Caramelized Onions
adapted, slightly, from Plenty

2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
drizzle of olive oil
pinch of salt, crackle of pepper

2 medium white onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon za’atar or roasted thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil
pinch of salt, crackle of pepper

1 3/4 cups chickpea flour
2 cups water

1 tablespoon olive oil
pinch of salt, crackle of pepper
2 egg whites

arugula leaves, to serve
crème fraîche or greek yogurt, to serve

Preheat the oven to 275. Arrange the cherry tomatoes skin side down on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper over the top. Bake for 30 minutes.

In a large pan, heat the olive oil over high heat and add the onions, za’atar, and salt and pepper. After a minute, turn the heat to medium and slowly cook the onions until lightly caramelized, around 20-30 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, combine the chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt, and pepper and whisk to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then combine with pancake batter. Heat a pan over medium heat and oil generously – enough so the pancakes don’t stick. Pour a small amount of the batter in the pan to form 6-8″ cakes. When holes and bubbles start to form, about 2 minutes, flip the cake and cook for another minute more. Continue until all the batter is gone.

To serve, layer the onions and tomatoes on top of the chickpea pancake. Top with arugula and crème fraîche as well as any other finishes you like – nuts, seeds, etc.

Spring Pea Salad with Kale, Black Barley, and Burrata

If I had to choose a favorite cheese, which would be a very hard task, I might have to choose burrata. Creamy, fresh, salty – it’s the perfect compliment to a bright green spring salad. Served with lightly steamed sugar snap peas, asparagus, and french green beans layered on top of an earthy kale and black barley salad, sprinkled with fresh tarragon and lemon, and drizzled with a grassy olive oil—-these are the makings of dinner last night.

Spring Pea Salad

I snapped these photos around 6:30pm. Yes, natural light at 6:30pm! There is nothing like a sunny, 60-degree spring day to remind you that sometimes it is worth it to suffer through winter. I’m pretty sure these feelings of euphoria that one experiences after running outside in a tank top for the first time in months do not occur in places that have steady year-round temperatures.

Spring Pea Salad (2)

I like to make big pots of grains and beans or lentils at the beginning of the week to bulk up salads. It’s usually a cup to a cup and a half of something like this black barley or wheat berries or quinoa and another cup of lentils or chickpeas or white beans. This little trick turns simple salads into full-on meals and really helps you use up veggies when you’re craving something big and hearty.

Spring Pea Salad (3)

Spring Pea Salad with Kale, Black Barley, and Burrata

Like many of my “recipes” now, there are no measurements. Use whatever quantities you get at the grocery store or farmer’s market and adjust seasonings to taste.

bunch asparagus, woody stems snapped off and sliced into thirds
bunch french green beans, sliced in half
bunch sugar snap peas, ends sapped off and sliced in half
bunch baby kale, thinly sliced

1/2 cup cooked black barley or other grain
1 piece of burrata per serving

a few sprigs fresh tarragon, roughly chopped
olive oil
juice of one lemon

Steam the asparagus, snap peas, and french beans for a couple minutes, until you can easily slip a fork into the veggies.

Meanwhile, drizzle olive oil over the sliced kale and massage it into the leaves. Mix in black barley and season the salad with a bit of salt.

To serve, layer the steamed veggies over individual portions of kale and black barley salad. Top with the burrata and tarragon, then drizzle olive oil and lemon juice on top. Add a sprinkle of flaky sea salt and serve.

Beer Vinegar

I was going to post this yesterday, but since is was April 1, I figured you’d all think I was pranking your or something. I mean, seriously, beer vinegar? Yes, beer vinegar!

Beer Vinegar

I suppose I have been on this make-everything-at-home hobby for a few years now. I’ve made mustard and crème fraiche from scratch, so it was only a matter of time before we at the Schneiderbach household would start dabbling in home brewing. To be fair, Eric has brewed before and even applied to several big-name breweries straight out of undergrad. When he didn’t land the dream job, though, he went to grad school for what we all affectionately refer to as poop engineering. So far, this has turned out to be rather lucrative since no one else wants to engineer poop, quickly making him the only rising star in his industry. I kid, I kid.

Beer Vinegar (5)

Anyway, our first single-gallon batch of honey lager turned out tasting pretty great, but we messed up the bottling and it came out rather flat. If you’re ever faced with the problem of having an undrinkable gallon of beer hanging around, I say convert that alcohol to acetic acid, which is exactly what I did. The process is super easy and we’ve been splashing our honey lager vinegar on our salads all week long.

Beer Vinegar (4)

Beer Vinegar

There are no exact measurements here. You could use any kind of beer – preferably one that tastes good to you. This also works for wine. You’ll notice a thin layer of sludge growing at the bottom of your homemade vinegar, but don’t worry, this is just the bacteria that is doing all the work for you. You can use this to seed your next batch of vinegar, or just toss it out when your vinegar is ready.

1) Find a clean jar or other glass vessel (you could also use any other non-reactive container) and clean and sanitize it.

2) Pour a small amount of a raw, unfiltered vinegar (like Bragg’s apple cider vinegar) and swirl it around to coat the surfaces of the container.

3) Fill the container with your beer and top it off with a bit more raw, unfiltered vinegar.

4) If using a jar, put the lid on and shake lightly to combine everything. Or you could use a sterilized spoon to stir it all around.

5) Cover with cheese cloth or a towel and let it sit for about a month and a half. If you have a vessel with a narrow opening at the top, you might want to periodically lightly stir the contents to allow proper airflow. A warmer environment and lots of air flow will produce vinegar faster than something cool and stagnant.

6) After a month and a half, check it. If it smells like vinegar, take a sip. If it tastes good, use it! If it isn’t acidic enough, let it sit a bit longer. Mine seemed to be perfect after about two months.