Stone Fruit Salad

I’ve been keeping a mental list of the millions of things I love about summer. Besides the weather, happy people everywhere, and endless activities, one thing I have been appreciating lately is the changing availability of fruits and vegetables. After a long winter of squash and potatoes, a new fruit or vegetable comes into season each week during the summer! One week we have asparagus, the next I’m buying cherries by the bushel. It’s pretty neat and the limitless variety keeps me both inspired and eager to eat.

Stone Fruit Salad

So here we are in stone fruit season with yet another salad. I mean, who cooks in the summer? Mostly I crave big bowls of lettuce simply dressed with olive oil and lemon juice, but every once in a while, I’ll get fancy and make my salad something special.

Stone Fruit Salad (5)

Now, I don’t usually eat salads with balsamic vinegar. Maybe it was over done in the early aughts, but I just do not care much for it. With stone fruits, however, this yogurt balsamic works perfectly over their acidic sweetness. Top it with sweet corn and jicama, and you have the perfect mid-summer salad.

Stone Fruit Salad (1)

 

Stone Fruit Salad with Sweet Corn, Jicama, and Yogurt-Balsamic

*Vary the amounts of each based on your preference. The dressing recipe yields a big batch; store leftover in the fridge if needed.

arugula
nectarine, sliced thinly

peach, sliced thinly
plum, sliced thinly
cherries, halved
jicama, peeled and julienned
sweet corn, shucked

1/2 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon maple syrup
juice of half a lemon
1 garlic clove, smashed in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt
salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the sweet corn using your favorite method. I just boil the cobs for about 5 minutes. Let them cool, then cut the corn off the cob. Layer the vegetables and fruit in a salad bowl or on a plate.

For the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a large mason jar or bowl. Shake/whisk to combine. Pour over the salad and eat!

 

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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.

Citrus Salad

I recently discovered that I like grapefruit. No, love grapefruit. The pink variety, specifically. All these years I thought that I didn’t like grapefruit mostly because I loathed grapefruit juice, but I should know better than to judge a fruit by its concentrated juice counterpart.

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These bright pinks ones are my favorite. So juicy and mildly sweet. I’ve mainly been eating them in two iterations: on their own as breakfast or in a salad for lunch or dinner. This version is my most basic one – the one that I make when I don’t have much time – but I often jazz it up with avocados, sesame or pumpkin seeds, or some lightly blanched green beans or asparagus. With a simple vinaigrette, the salad makes for a nice contrast to the cold, snowy scenery outside.

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We went on a couple fun trips within the last couple months. I piggy-backed on a work trip of Eric’s to El Paso to visit White Sands National Monument and Carlsbad Caverns, and for Eric’s birthday, we paid a visit to his birthplace – Puerto Rico. In Carlsbad, we went on a fun wild cave tour that had us crawling through crevices and rappelling down underground cliffs. We were also planning on camping at nearby Guadalupe Mountains National Park, but unseasonably cold weather forced us indoors. We still had a weekend’s worth of camping food, though, so we still cooked our meals on the camp stove inside the hotel – and only set the smoke alarm off once!

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Puerto Rico was a week-long adventure. We flew to nearby island Vieques and drove around stopping off at whichever secluded beach we wanted. Back on mainland PR, we drove around the island the rest of the week, stopping in Ponce, Boqueron, Rincon, Arecibo, and of course, San Juan. Oddly enough, we barely stepped foot on a beach once we left Vieques – too much other fun stuff to do!

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Citrus Salad

*As mentioned above, there are many ways to spruce up this salad to make it heartier. Add sliced avocado, blanched asparagus or green beans, and cashews or seeds.

1/2 pink grapefruit, peels removed and segmented with no membranes
1 blood orange, peels removed and sliced into rounds
1 head butter lettuce
1 tablespoon red wine or champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon good extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt

Wash and dry the butter lettuce, then tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Prepare the fruit and arrange them atop the lettuce. Mix the vinegar, oil, and salt together and pour over the salad.

Kale, Tomato, and Cheese Curd Salad

[Please excuse the poorly-lit iPhone photos.]

I stopped by the farmer’s market this weekend to pick up some peppers for our Sunday afternoon of pickling and canning. In the process, I came across these cute little cherry tomatoes. And kale. And in my search for some type of cheese to throw into this evolving salad, I bought some cheese curds.

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It may seem like a strange combo, but it was really tasty. Be careful when adding the salt because cheese curds are pretty salty already. Eric and I ate this, walked around the neighborhood a bit, then came back and canned 13 jars worth of pickles and pickled peppers. If they turn out like I think they will, I’ll share the recipe on here.

Eric also got his first lesson in mandolin technique when slicing the cucumbers. About two minutes after I showed him how to use it and warned him to be very careful not to chop his finger off – you guessed it – he sliced the top of his finger off. The cukes were fine, though, and so was he. As for me, my eyes burned putting my contacts in this morning from the pepper oils that are still on my fingers, but I think it will be worth it.

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Kale, Tomato, and Cheese Curd Salad

1 bunch Lacinato kale, finely shredded
1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1 cup squeaky cheese curds, chopped into small chunks
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 fresh cayenne pepper or other spicy pepper, minced
juice of 1 lemon
salt to taste

In a large bowl, toss together the tomatoes, kale, and cheese curds. In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, pepper, and lemon. Dress the salad to your liking and season to taste with salt.

Green Bean + Garlic Scape Salad

I’ve been using my mortar and pestle almost daily lately. I’ve been making loads of tasty salad dressings with it and last night I made fresh basil pesto. What I love most about using the m&p is the way the garlic forms this liquid-y, flavorful paste when you smash it with a little salt. I’ve been getting this mild variety of garlic from the farmer’s market that works perfect in its raw form in a salad dressing.

Green Bean Salad 2

We went backpacking in the Cucamonga Wilderness outside of LA a couple weeks ago, which was pretty fun. It was my first time backpacking and it was pretty brilliant. Now that we have some gear, Eric and I will be doing more camping trips since they’re pretty inexpensive and fun.

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We have a little weekend trip to Portland coming up, also, which will include copious amounts of micro-brewed beer and tasty PNW food. I feel like I should be an advertisement for Southwest since that is who we have been and will be flying for all these trips. This view from my seat was too good, so I turned on my phone below 10,000 feet to take this picture while we were landing. Gasp!

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Green Bean Salad 1

Green Bean + Garlic Scape Salad with Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

1 pound fresh green beans
garlic scapes, optional
1/2 medium-sized red onion
1/4 cup slivered almonds

1 small clove raw garlic
2 cloves roasted garlic
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil

Start by bringing a pot of water – large enough to fit all the beans and garlic scapes in – to a boil. Prepare an ice water bath while the water is warming up. When the water starts to boil, add the green beans and garlic scapes and let sit for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the water and immediately put in the ice bath. Strain and set aside.

Slice the onion into thin slivers. Quick-pickling them by soaking in vinegar or lime juice while you’re preparing the recipe is great. I forgot to do this here, but feel free. Otherwise, set aside. Toast the almonds for a few minutes in a dry pan.

For the dressing, smash the raw garlic in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt until it forms a paste. Add the roasted garlic. I like to pan-roast my garlic these days – just throw a couple cloves in a dry pan and move them around until the skins start to darken. Should take 5-8 minutes. Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan and then add those and the black peppercorns to the mortar and pestle. Crush the whole mixture together and add a splash of olive oil. Remove the mixture into a jar and add the lemon and olive oil. Shake to combine.

To serve, combine the beans and garlic scapes, onion, and almonds with the salad dressing.

Kale and Black Lentil Salad

I’m back in the US of A and enjoying every moment of it! I’ve been getting in lots of cuddle time with my kitties and Eric in between all the activities – Lollapalooza, pickling and canning (!), farmer’s markets, and workouts. Eric got my bike tuned up over the summer so we’ve been biking everywhere! Biking = freedom, and it’s been awesome.

I’m working on sorting the 2000+ photos and videos that I took over the past month. We spent two weeks in Ethiopia, one week in Uganda, and then one week on the Kenyan coast. Every part of the trip was different and incredible. What a blissful month.

Kale and Black Lentil Salad 1

One thing I love about being home, though, is the ability to cook the way I like to cook. In the past week I’ve been to the farmer’s market twice and am so in love with the variety of veg we get here in the summer. I bought about 10lbs of heirloom tomatoes that I plan on making bloody mary’s with, and I pickled loads of different varieties of chiles today. The kale in this salad also comes from the market, and while I do enjoy the kale you find all over Kenya – sukuma wiki – I still prefer dino kale in my salads.

Kale and Black Lentil Salad 4

Kale and Black Lentil Salad with Black Pepper + Avocado Dressing

The ripeness of the avocado for the dressing is important – if it’s not soft enough, it won’t mash nicely. You could alternatively use a food processor, but it’s much simpler to just make it in a mason jar. I like it still kind of chunky.

I actually bought the black lentils at a health food store in Nairobi. If you can’t find them, you can substitute with other sturdy lentils.

1 bunch dino kale
1/2 cup dried black lentils, rinsed and cooked 
1 cup cooked chickpeas
3 carrots, shredded on a grater
1 big heirloom tomato, diced

2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon kosher salt or flaky sea salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon dried coriander seeds
1/2 very ripe avocado, finely diced
2 lemons, juiced
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon olive oil

Remove kale from the stems and cut it into fine ribbons. Combine in a large bowl with the lentils, chickpeas, carrots, and tomato.

In a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic with salt to make a paste. Add the black peppercorns and coriander seeds and process until the seeds are crushed and everything is combined. Scoop the paste into a jar and add the avocado and liquid ingredients. Use a fork to mash up the avocado in the jar. Put the lid on the jar and shake vigorously.

Toss salad with dressing and add salt to taste.

 

Big Green Dinner Salad

This big green salad is hearty enough for lunch or dinner. It’s loaded with all kinds of things that you can’t really make out in the picture: olives, blanched broccoli, blanched asparagus, cabbage, arugula, and chickpeas. Blanched broccoli is a recently rediscovered favorite of mine; sometimes I make a dinner out of just that drizzled with some salad dressing. It soaks up the dressing perfectly. I have been making huge batches of this salad in the beginning of the week so that I can grab some easily for lunch or dinner without much hassle.

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I have also been making various versions of a yogurt dressing. It’s so easy: dump yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, and an add-in or two into a jar and shake, shake, shake. This past week, my add-in was a 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric and a 1/2 teaspoon of coriander. But you could add chopped herbs, crushed garlic (raw or roasted), crushed scallions, sesame seeds, etc. Measurements here are approximate – get creative with it.

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Big Green Dinner Salad

Romaine lettuce, finely shredded
Arugula, finely shredded
Red, green, or savoy cabbage, finely shredded
1 cup cooked (or canned) chickpeas, drained
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 head broccoli, finely chopped
1 bunch asparagus, finely chopped
1/2 cup sliced olives of your choosing (I’ve been using “fresh cured” olives lately, which are in the black olive section of the grocery store)

1/2 cup yogurt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 raw garlic clove
add-ins of your choosing (for example, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil while you begin chopping all the veggies. Put the romaine, arugula, cabbage, chickpeas, quinoa, and olives in a large bowl. When the water starts to boil, put in the broccoli and asparagus. Let boil for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then immediately strain and place in an ice bath. Let the broccoli and asparagus drain completely. When drained, add to the bowl. Toss the entire salad together.

Make the dressing by combining yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, and any spices in a jar. Crush the garlic in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of flaky sea salt until it is the consistency of a paste. Add the garlic to a jar, put on the lid, and shake until combined. Dress the salad on a per serving basis. The salad itself will last a few days (really, up to a week, though it will begin to wilt a bit) in the fridge undressed.

*Other options to add to this salad: chopped hard boiled eggs, shaved brussels sprouts, finely shredded kale, other grains like farro or bulgar wheat, blanched and chopped cauliflower, fresh roasted sweet corn, mushrooms, etc, etc.

Veggie Lentil Bowls

Three weeks guys. Three. Weeks. That’s when the semester is officially over! It’s been a good run, but I’m pretty ready to be done.

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And I have a pretty rad summer lined up, so that just makes everything better! You guessed it – I’ll be traveling. I’m headed back to Nairobi this summer to work with KDI again, this time with the help of AECOM. Eric will once again have a summer filled with frozen turkey burgers and weekend nights on which he stays up past 9pm. Lucky guy! This time around, I have one month for work, and one month for fun and travel through Kenya and Uganda.

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And when I get back – besides looking for a job – we’ll hopefully be traveling some more. Eric and I are about two weeks away from getting our hands on a Southwest Companion Pass, so we have lots of weekend trips planned. Portland, Utah, Atlanta, Charleston, Puerto Rico, Key West, Philly, and Carlsbad Caverns are all on the list. When the Air Trans/Southwest merger takes full effect, we’ll be adding Mexico City. Sooo many places. Since we have the companion pass until the end of 2014, we’ll hopefully be able to squeeze all these and more into our schedule!

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I’ve been making veggie bowls a lot lately. And salad bowls. Basically just a lot of big bowls of vegetables. The varieties are endless, but I really liked this one that I concocted the other day using walnut and sun-dried tomato pesto courtesy of Licking the Plate. I like all my veggies chopped into small, bite-sized pieces. Makes it easier to dig into with a spoon.

Veggie Lentil Bowl with Strained Yogurt and Walnut-Sun-Dried-Tomato Pesto

1 cup green or French lentils
1 crown broccoli, finely chopped
1 bunch asparagus, finely chopped
1-2 large handfuls of arugula
1/2 red onion, finely sliced and soaked in cold water
walnut and sun-dried tomato pesto
strained plain yogurt

The day before, empty a large container of plain yogurt into a cheese cloth and let strain for 24 hours. Refrigerate and set aside.

Put the lentils in a sauce pan with 2 cups of water. Bring water to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook uncovered for approximately 20 minutes, or until tender. If there is any liquid still in the pan, strain the lentils and stir with salt to taste.

Meanwhile, bring another pot of water to a boil. Add the broccoli and asparagus and cook for one minute. Remove from heat and strain, immediately putting the veggies into a cold water bath. Set aside.

When all the prep has been completed, combine everything into a bowl – the asparagus and broccoli, the lentils, arugula, and onions. Top with the pesto and yogurt, Add a bit more salt to taste.

*There are many variations you could take with this recipe. Regular pesto would work well, as would harissa. Feeling lazy? Just drizzle olive oil and balsamic over the mixture. Want some grains? Add farro or buckwheat. Don’t want to take the time to strain the yogurt? Fine, just dollop regular plain yogurt on top. Try roasting the veggies instead of blanching them. Top it with a poached or soft-boiled egg. Add some olives. Sprinkle on some roasted kale. Once the farmer’s market opens, I’ll be making this with whatever is available there. Yum.

Detox Week: Kale, Carrot, and Fennel Salad

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but after the holidays or other big trips that involve a lot of eating, Eric and I go into detox mode and try to eat a lot of salads. I, for one, ate my weight in Buckeyes this past weekend. We decided some heavy-duty detox was needed, which is when we brought in the kale.

Kale, Carrot, & Fennel Salad (6)

I received some fun new kitchen toys for Christmas, including a cast iron pan and a mandolin. I also received a huge box full of fancy olive oils and vinegars. Yesterday I went to work making three different vinaigrettes for salads throughout the week as well as a homemade chili powder from Rick Bayless, which I saw on Mexico, One Plate at a Time before we left for Christmas. The vinaigrettes include a saffron + red wine vinegar + olive oil, chervil + sorrel + blood orange vinegar + lemon juice + olive oil, and basil + apple + chili powder + elderberry balsamic vinegar + olive oil. I just toss stuff in the food processor with an almost 1:1 acid to oil ratio. I use just a touch more oil than acid, but this produces a pretty acidic dressing. If you’re vinegar averse, add more oil. I prefer my salads vinegary.

Kale, Carrot, & Fennel Salad (3)

We dressed this kale salad with the chervil + sorrel + blood orange vinegar + lemon juice + olive oil salad dressing. I like the strong citrus flavor on kale. I also tossed in some farro to make this a bit more substantial for dinner. Oh, and the carrots and fennel were very finely sliced using my new mandolin – fun!

Kale, Carrot, & Fennel Salad

Kale, Carrot, & Fennel Salad

adapted from 101 Cookbooks

2 bunches lacinato kale
1 large carrot, very finely sliced
1/2 bulb fennel, very finely sliced
1 cup farro, cooked
handful of sunflower seeds and shaved almonds

De-stem the kale and role the leaves up, then finely slice the leaves so you have long, noodle-like shreds. I used a mandolin to shave the fennel and carrots so they were just paper thin and super easy to eat. Toss everything together in a large bowl

For the dressing, I put 5-6 sorrel leaves, 1 small bunch of chervil, 1/2 cup of blood orange vinegar (or use apple cider vinegar), juice of half a lemon, and 1/2 cup of olive oil in the food processor along with some salt and pepper. Process until emulsified.

Cucamelon & Radish Salad

Well it has certainly been a busy few months. I arrived home from Kenya to be thrust right into the second week of school, already behind on readings.

I also was happy to come home to the farmer’s market full of tomatoes and other weird things like these cucamelons. They’re tiny – the size of my thumbprint – and taste more like cucumber than melon, with a hint of sour, pickle-like flavor.

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When combined with thinly sliced radish, olive oil, salt, pepper, and a splash of red wine vinegar, they’re perfect.

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