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Archive for the 'Salads' Category

Reinvented Broccoli Waldorf

I imagine I can’t be the only one of you who looks back on childhood and recalls massive family potlucks at holidays.  These potlucks were a staple in my tender, formative years.  As a matter of course, they involved a mind-boggling array of foods.  You know how when you’re a kid, the family dog seems to be roughly the size of a woolly mammoth, or how the small strip of sand on the lake where you took your swimming lessons seems to rival the shoreline of Mexico in its vastness?  And then, of course, you grow up.  In doing so, you inevitably grow bigger, and you realize neither the dog nor the beach possess quite the massive proportions you had imagined.

When it comes to my family’s potlucks, such is not the case.

The Unicyclist and I attended one just last Thanksgiving, and my 30-year-old eyeballs boggled at what was still an insane amount of food.

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Dark Days Challenge Recipe: Sunchoke and Mesquite-Candied Squash Salad

Laura over at Urban Hennery decided to make this week a theme week in the ongoing Dark Days of Winter local eating challenge.  Specifically, she told us all to seek out some type of local produce we had either never cooked or never eaten before, figure out what we were going to do with it, cook it up all proper-like, and devour.

I was a little nervous about the challenge.  See, as members of a CSA, farmers’ market fiends, and foragers, the Unicyclist and I have eaten dandelion greens, rapini, turnips and turnip greens, squashes of all shapes and sizes, purple spinach, purple potatoes, golden beets, watermelon radishes, cactus fruit, cactus pads, mesquite pods, daikon, burdock, zucchini flowers, pansies, purple beans, teparies, tat soi, I’itois onions, bok choy, kohlrabi, and a whooooole lot more.  Frankly, although there are probably edible things growing in the Phoenix area that we haven’t yet eaten, finding them might prove to be quite a task.

Fortunately, the fates smiled on us in our CSA share this week, and we got a tiny basket of sunchokes from the farm. While I’ve eaten sunchokes before, the Unicyclist hasn’t.  Best of all, neither of us had cooked them before. Serendipitous much?  I apparently have some good karma stockpiled somewhere.  I just hope I don’t use it all up on produce.

Anywho, I’m sure at least some of you are wondering what the heck a sunchoke is.

Those are sunchokes.

For starters, they’re dirty.

And knobbly.

And just plain weird-looking.

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Healthy Christmas Dinner–Success!

The Challenge: Pull off Christmas dinner for seven in a one-butt kitchen without tripping over any one of the five dogs underfoot

The Menu: Lentil soup, roasted root veggies, green bean casserole, fresh bread, stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes, mixed greens salad with goat cheese, cranberries, and pecans, pumpkin and pecan pies, and the requisite turkey and gravy for the omnivores in the group

Mom and I had a pretty elaborate choreography going on in the kitchen.  As mentioned, it’s a one-butt kitchen, and there were two to three human butts in it at most times, never mind the doggie butts…or the extremely hopeful doggie faces.  Despite the occasional butt bump, everything went extremely well.  So, ready for the skinny on a couple of the dishes?  After the jump, find out how I modified some classics for vegetarians and those concerned about blood sugar.

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Holiday Recipes: Pomegranate Sunset Salad

The holiday season is here.  Cue the food!

Let’s face facts.  The colder months can be great inspiration for some delicious dishes, but they can also be a shortcut to a pie-and-gravy-strewn path of personal destruction.  Specifically, the chill and the short days somehow inspire carbohydrate hoarding, at least for some of us.  (I speak from a purely observational perspective, of course.  You’d be surprised how much you can see from behind the delicious fort of bread I’ve built.) While carbs–especially those slathered in butter–taste great, I always find that a heavy rotation of too many bready or sweet items makes me tired and kind of cranky.  Nobody likes that.

Still, it is a good time to enjoy delicious food, particularly when you can share it with friends and family.  Over the next few weeks, I will be posting some holiday-themed recipes you can use for the myriad shindigs and goings-on that inevitably pop up this time of year.  Some of these recipes will be meant to balance the richer fare found at holiday dinners, while others will be more self-indulgent.  I hope you enjoy them all.

First up is a salad inspired by one my friend Rachel mentioned when I was in Philadelphia.  Apparently, her aunt used to toss melon and pomegranate seeds together into a lovely and delicious treat, one Rachel describes with considerable enthusiasm years later. I decided to see if I could dress up this recipe into something gala-worthy, seeing as how I had gotten a canary melon from our farm CSA last week and some pomegranates from the nearby farmers’ market.  Pomegranates are everywhere here this time of year, growing fat and red and nigh-to-bursting on the neighbors’ trees.  (Pomegranates are, in fact, classified as an exploding fruit, one that bursts to release its seeds.) It’s a good time of year to make friends and beg for fruit.

Anyhow, the cooking gods smiled on me; my experiment turned out to be both tasty and beautiful to look at.  I am confident your guests will be über-impressed by the splash of color on the dinner table.

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The Marjoram Saga Continues

Remember this little plantling?

Due to some inconclusive results on the Marjoram Management Survey, I have decided to tackle the glut of marjoram head-on with every weapon in my arsenal. To kick things off today, the Unicyclist and I enjoyed a marjoram-themed lunch: grilled garlic focaccia with marjoram; Colorado River bean soup with mushrooms, herbs, and sundried tomatoes; and a salad of autumn greens, Asian pears, and toasted walnuts tossed with a French Dijon vinaigrette.

Oh, baby.

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