Shaved Carrot Salad

I don’t have too much to say this week. Things are busy as usual. This is a nice little Jamie Oliver recipe adapted to be a simple carrot salad (the original included lamb). Pretty tasty!


adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie at Home cookbook

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

1 pound carrots

Start by toasting the cumin seeds in a pan over medium heat. They’ll toast quickly, so the minute you start to smell them, pull them off.

In the meantime, start peeling carrots. I shaved mine with a vegetable peeler, but you could also grate them on a box grater. Since the carrots are raw, you want a finer cut so that the carrot doesn’t overwhelm the dressing.

Crush the seeds in a mortar and pestle, then add the garlic and ginger. Smash a little more, then add a glug of olive oil. In a separate bowl, pour in the mixture from the mortar and pestle in with the rest of the olive oil, garam masala, and vinegar. Stir well to combine. Pour over carrots.

Shaved Asparagus and Potato Salad

Tonight is my last night of scuba diving class. It has been fun spending my Tuesdays and Thursdays for the last two and a half weeks taking quizzes and breathing underwater, but I’m glad it is almost over. The classes extend a half hour beyond my designated bed time, you see, preventing me from getting my required 9 hours of sleep each night. Nonetheless, it’s pretty cool that I now feel comfortable with the act of breathing through a regulator underwater.

I have been meaning to obtain my Open Water Diver certificate ever since I studied abroad in Australia in 2006. As a student, it was too expensive, though I did do a “resort dive” in the Great Barrier Reef, which allowed me to go underwater with a scuba unit for around 20 minutes, albeit holding on to an instructor’s hand.

Before Eric and I went on our honeymoon, I thought of taking classes also, but Eric had some anxiety about it. So we held off, promising that we’d do another “resort dive” when we were staying on Pom Pom Island off the coast of Borneo – off some of the very best dive sites in the world. It’s true – the diving and even the snorkeling is amazing there. Better than any snorkeling I’ve done elsewhere, including the Great Barrier Reef. Eric happened to catch a cold when we were there, and after watching the video that shows your lung exploding, he didn’t want to risk it. I dove, again holding on to my smarmy Italian instructor’s hand, and thought it was awesome. With that, I decided to take the plunge and invest in Open Water courses and my very own snorkeling gear.

bye bye water bungalow
Water bungalows at Pom Pom Island

lion fish!
Lion fish in Borneo

It’s nemo

eric "making the snorkel"
Eric “makes the snorkel”, as our Italian dive master would say

Anyway, what does this have to do with potato salad? Nothing, really, but it is a fun little intro. This potato salad is full of all kinds of springy, healthy goodies. Nearly all my ingredients came from the market – including the Russian fingerling potatoes, asparagus, stinging nettles, and green garlic. It’s a versatile recipe, though, so if nettles and green garlic aren’t available or don’t float your boat, a simple vinaigrette would work nicely as well.


Shaved Asparagus and Potato Salad with Stinging Nettle and Green Garlic Vinaigrette

1 pound fingerling potatoes
1 pound fresh asparagus
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
3-4 stalks stinging nettles, leaves only
1-2 stalks green garlic, chopped into 1-inch pieces
salt and pepper
1 can tuna packed in olive oil
1/4 cup capers

Start by boiling the potatoes. Fill a pot with cool or room temperature water. Plop in the potatoes and bring to a boil. Boil them until they are al dente or just underdone. Strain out the water and put the potatoes in an ice bath to stop them from cooking further. Slice the potatoes into thin discs and set aside.

Using a mandolin or vegetable peeler, shred the asparagus into this strips, keeping the heads in tact. Bring another pot of salted water to a boil. Drop the shaved asparagus in for 1 minute, then remove. Mix with the potatoes.

To make the vinaigrette, mix the lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, honey, nettles, and green garlic in a food processor. Process until the oil is emulsified and the solids are nicely ground. Taste and add salt/pepper to taste, as well as some additional lemon juice or vinegar if needed.

Finally, strain and rinse the can of tuna. Combine the potatoes, asparagus, capers, and tuna, then toss with the dressing.

Spelt Berry Salad

Would you believe that I have never done yoga before? I should say, rather, I had never done yoga before – until this week when my friend Tracy dragged me to a hot yoga class. And then I went to the sculpt yoga class – hot, humid yoga with weights. If you know me, and you know my propensity for fainting, then it should not surprise you that I almost passed out. The cool breeze that blew into the studio when the doors opened smacked me in the face and pulled me out of that haze.

Unfortunately, I did not come home to eat this salad – it was eaten up weeks ago. It would have been the perfect post-hot-yoga dinner, though, so maybe next time I’ll be more prepared. If you don’t have spelt berries, any other grain would do – wheat berries, brown rice, barley, etc etc.


Spelt Berry Salad

1 cup spelt berries or wheat berries
1/2 English cucumber, diced
couple handfuls of arugula
juice of 1 lemon
splash or more of white wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 shallots, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper

Cook the spelt berries similar to the way you would cook rice. I just tossed mine in the rice cooker with 3 cups of water.

Prepare the dressing by combing the shallots, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and white wine vinegar. If the dressing is too oily, add more vinegar. Season it with salt and pepper and set aside.

When the spelt berries are cooked, combine with the arugula and cucumbers. Chop some parsley and mint – to taste. I probably used about 1/4 cup of each, but that can be reduced. Mix the herbs with the other components, then stir in the dressing. Serve cold or room temperature.

This would also be great with the addition of kalamata olives, avocado, or a different combination of herbs, so play with it.

Brussels Sprouts Salad

I wanted to post just a quick recipe that I made tonight. A few weeks ago, my friend Evan and I went to a Locavore Dinner, where we had this amazing and simple brussels sprouts salad. I’ve been dying to recreate it. How can finely shredded brussels sprouts taste so good? Just trust me.

Brussels Sprouts Salad

Inspired by MK The Restaurant

1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts (on the stalk, if you can find it) (for me, this was between 10 and 15 sprouts)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
heaping teaspoon fresh pepper
salt to taste
1/4 cup fresh grated Pecorino Romano cheese

To start, slice the brussels sprouts in half, then finely slice into super thin shreds. Think coleslaw, only thinner. In a bowl, combine the shreds of sprouts with olive oil, lemon juice, grated cheese, salt, and fresh ground pepper. Toss to combine and eat! That’s it!

Roasted Pumpkin and Cauliflower Salad

Last week was a great week. Wednesday I managed to snag a steal of a deal for dinner using Foodie the App (I think this is just a Chicago thing) – 2 tickets to a Locavore Dinner at MK restaurant for the price of one! And how much was one ticket? $85! Yes, $85 off our bill, basically. It was awesome, and dinner was awesome, and the service was awesome, and the beer pairings (yes, beer pairings included!) were awesome. What a fun night. Since Eric was in class, I brought my second husband Evan. We laughed and complained about work and sat in our food-snob corner devouring every last bite… when I finally looked at the clock, I realized it was way past my bedtime! That’s a good thing.


It was also a productive week – booking flights in Colombia, finalizing bookings in Borneo, and even getting discounts for these bookings! We decided to splurge a bit on our accommodation in Borneo, but I was still feeling guilty about it when hostels are so cheap there. I decided to ask for a discount at the expensive places – and they all gave us one! Just like that. “Can I have a discount?” “Why yes, you can.” I mean, how great is that?


Anyway, I made this salad Friday night. We received a bunch of squash and pumpkin in our CSA box; I have been bombarded by squash soups, so the last thing I wanted to do was puree these pretty orange veggies with my immersion blender. A shopping trip to Trader Joe’s inspired this salad – pomegranates, apple cider, and cauliflower all lent themselves to a nice late fall salad. Smoky pancetta, diced and crisped, and a sweet and tangy apple cider vinaigrette rounded it out and made it a pretty filling meal. It was so seasonal tasting and the pomegranate seeds added the perfect bit of sweetness and freshness.


Roasted Pumpkin and Cauliflower Salad

a Wanderlust and Foodstuff original

1 pie pumpkin
1 head cauliflower
1/4 cup apple cider
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup olive oil
1/8 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp granulated garlic
few sprinkles of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
1 pomegranate
pancetta, diced, as much as you like!
3-4 sage leaves
handful or more of spinach

Begin by roasting the veggies. Cut the pumpkin in half, remove the seeds (but save them! roast them!), and roast the pumpkin halves for 30-40 minutes in a 450° oven. Meanwhile, prepare the cauliflower by chopping it up and coating it in olive oil and salt and pepper. Pop it in the oven for 25-30 minutes with the pumpkin.


While those are roasting, prepare the dressing. Whisk together the apple cider, vinegars, olive oil, yogurt, cayenne pepper, granulated garlic, and salt and pepper. Crisp up the pancetta. About halfway through that process, toss in the sage leaves to crisp in the bacon fat.


When the pumpkin is soft and you can pierce it with a fork, cut it into cubes. To assemble the salad, layer of a bed of spinach, pumpkin cubes, and cauliflower. Top with pancetta, pomegranate seeds, and crispy sage. Pour dressing over the entire salad.