Posts tagged healthy
Wednesday, August 4, 2010

kohlrabi salad

kohlrabi salad

This recipe makes enough salad for two people. However, if you’re smart, you will make double that amount if you are planning on having a plus one for dinner. I promise you you won’t want to share it. With anyone. No matter how much you like them. Sure, you might just have to play nice and slump some of this salad on their plates, but you’ll do it begrudgingly, and in the back or your head, you’ll kind of wish that it was just you and this salad. Alone. Together. Make just the amount below, and you’ll find yourself remembering my words here, regretting that you didn’t heed my warning. And eating should never be about regret.

kohlrabi from the market

Which is why I am so glad to say (guiltily, of course!) that this salad, made for two, was mine – all mine. Each and every crunchy sliver. My solitary dinner never tasted so good. I was thinking, all the while ferociously chewing on a second helping, my goodness, what would I have done if I had to share it? And I’m actually really good at sharing. Especially food. But this, this one is tough. As I’m writing this, I sort of wish for a plateful at my side, but truthfully, I’d be too distracted to write.

hello, gorgeous!

This is my perfect kind of salad, crunchy, spicy, and cold, made this during our July-long heatwave, when temperatures exceeded 100 degrees. I wanted something that would make for a great dinner side. When I saw Luisa wax poetic about kohlrabi, a little light went off in my head. I was thinking, I’ve eaten this before – kohlrabi – in Russia. And yet I couldn’t remember what specifically it was in. Or how it was cooked. My mother was of little help. When I asked her about us eating kohlrabi in the old country, she sent me a wikipedia article on what kohlrabi was. No mom, I emailed back, what is it that you made with it? She couldn’t remember either. And so it goes, a taste and a name so familiar, but foreign too, almost as if in a dream.

kohlrabi salad

So when I was peeling and cutting my kohlrabi, I decided to try a little bit on its own. It tasted just like the center part of the cabbage, which, growing up, was one of my favorite snacks. (It’s not lost on me that my favorite childhood snacks were vegetables – which officially makes me weird.) It’s hearty, firm, crunchy, and tastes a little of moist soil. It’s great in the summer raw, and, I imagine, in the colder months – braised in stews. Cutting it into matchsticks is a little tricky, so be sure to use a sharp knife, else you might be putting your fingers in danger. Or, if your matchstick skills could be improved upon, and you’re a tad lazy, like me, use a mandolin, if you have one.

kohlrabi salad

I sort of made this salad up as I went along. I was channeling green papaya salad, which is my favorite and something I can eat every day and not grow tired of, but there isn’t a single Thai place in my neighborhood that gets it just right, so I never wind up ordering it. I thought I’d make something similar, but with the ingredients on hand. And what a delicious experiment this was! I ate each tiny morsel, each fleck of the herbs.

kohlrabi salad

While the heat wave is over, for now, it will, undoubtedly, return in full force. We’ve quite a bit of the summer still left for us. The tomato season is arriving, the stone fruit is piled high at my farmers market; both are seductively fragrant. There’s still so much produce to cook and savor. So for the days when it’s scorching out again, this will be your antidote. Turn your a/c on and make this salad, doubling the amount, as instructed. Sit on your couch with your plus one, knees touching, or at your kitchen table, and pour yourself (and them) a chilled Riesling. This is summer at its best. Come to think of it, sharing is kind of nice.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

carrot and chickpea salad

spicy carrot and chickpea salad

My mother recently said to me that she isn’t the least bit surprised that cooking is such a big part of my life. She said she could see it when I was a wee little thing getting overly excited to go to the market, or picking berries, or foraging for mushrooms. She recalled that she didn’t know any kids my age who would have rather been digging in the garden for vegetables than playing with other kids. I have a hazy recollection of accompanying my grandmother to the market where I could walk among farmers and booths and be seduced by all the smells and sights. My favorite find was a stand with the red currants in hand-made newspaper cones. So much for playing with dolls and a game of tag. My heart belong to fruit and vegetables, and summer reigned as king of all seasons in my six-year-old brain.

stacked
golden brown

When I was even younger, I once ate so many carrots that I turned slightly orange. I remember looking at my palms thinking I should do the same with blueberries (unfortunately it didn’t work!). Mom likes to remember how the first thing I’d eat in chicken soup were pieces of cooked carrot, and how excited I would get to eat a fresh carrot from the farmers market, freshly dug up and cleaned. Growing up, a carrot was my favorite go-to snack, and my grandmother would hand-press for me carrot juice – a very special treat. It’s no wonder that my father used to affectionately refer to me as “rabbit”. I am, unabashedly, a fan of this humble root vegetable, and it is amazing to me that something that grows underground, sees no sunlight, and turns into something so lovely and festive-looking. You know well by now that I have quite a soft-spot for root vegetables in general. They’re totally under-appreciated and I’m on a mission to give them some love. When you pull a turnip or a carrot out of the ground, you get a rather dirty and downright unattractive vegetable, it is what’s hiding underneath, however, that is truly glorious and delicious. If you’ve never pulled out a carrot from the ground, washed it and eaten it right away, you really should – it’s quite an experience. And it’ll be the best-tasting carrot you’ve ever eaten!

the magical mix that made this salad so good

There’s been some carrot salad love shown lately when Deb of Smitten Kitchen posted a salad that made me want to get up from my office chair and immediately go home to make it. Luisa also waxed poetic about it, and I was all, “What’s taking me so long!” And then, right as I was about to make it, finally, I came upon this recipe and decided that since Deb’s salad deserved an honorable mention all its own, I wanted to give a bit of a spotlight to this one. There’s cumin, paprika and cayenne pepper in it. There’s cilantro, which I cannot resist (but those who loathe it can always sub in mint!). And because there are chickpeas and almonds in here, you have a meal in and of itself if you so desire. Or a side-dish, as I served it (though I managed to have the leftovers for breakfast (I know, right?) the very next morning.) Which brings me to a question, is it some kind of a grammar violation to have parenthesis inside a parenthesis?

spicy carrot and chickpea salad

This salad here packs some serious heat, so if you’re sensitive to it, dial down the cayenne, m’kay? Because I don’t want some of you to burn the roof of your mouth and then tell me I didn’t warn you! This is spicy, but I love my spice, so I kept the proportions the same. Also, this salad is very considerate of your time, which means this is a rather well-brought-up salad, if you ask me. If you have a picnic to attend, you can make this (even the day before) ahead of time and chill it, needing only to remember to bring this along. Translation: you should have as many picnics as this season allows, as you will miss them in the winter when you’re wearing fleece head to toe and eating tomato soup. This salad with its lemon and cilantro got this fantastic summer vibe to it, and is bound to please everyone, including your gluten-free, vegan, or low-carb friends. With a salad like this, I know that your next trip to the farmers market might be packed with as much excitement as mine are to this day. Who knew that something that has the word “salad” in it could be so exciting?

spicy carrot and chickpea salad

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

dandelion greens with shaved fennel, celery and parsley

dandelion salad with shaved fennel, celery and parsley

There was a time when fennel made me gag. In fact, I can’t believe the 180 I’ve done here, going from unadulterated hatred of all things fennel, to actually craving it. I’ve been told these things are not uncommon, that your palate does a shift every seven years or so, and I thank mine for letting me enjoy fresh fennel, shaved thinly in salads.

The salad is deceptively simple and yet it is a bit genius – everything in it works and does so beautifully. Sometimes, I fall deeply in love with a dish and can’t stop making it. I become a bit like a broken record as I cook the same thing over and over. Such is the case with this salad. I’ve had versions of it in a few places, most recently over glasses of wine at Lela Bar in the West Village, but their version didn’t offer dandelion greens or celery. Generously doused with olive oil, lemon juice and sprinkled with sea salt, shaved fennel mixed with parsley. Elsewhere, and quite some time ago, I had something that was shaved celery and parsley with sea salt and olive oil and lemon juice. The salad was celestial, but it disappeared off the menu after a week and I never saw it again. I kept thinking about making it at home, but of course, with so many things in the Sassy Radish kitchen, we’re on a bit of a time delay. The comforting glow of office fluorescent lighting has a particular allure.

shaved fennel

I know I blame everything on work and am afraid must use my my-work-ate-all-my-free-time-and-is-keeping-me-busier-than-imaginable excuse again. I love you, dear readers, and love that you come in this little space to read my somewhat fragmented thoughts, but work, being that it allows me to pay rent and have a roof over my head and have this wee site for you and me to congregate around, takes precedence over time in the kitchen. Or writing. Le sigh.

In any case, this salad. Run, don’t walk to make it. Unless you think fennel is vile. In which case, maybe try it without fennel? But if you do like fennel, this salad is for you. Also – a word about dandelion greens. Have you ever had them? I’ve been eating them since I was a child, but they haven’t caught on in the US until fairly recently. Please try them – they’re like a chewier and more exciting version of spinach. No, I’m lying – they’re nothing like spinach – they are way, way better. I wouldn’t think of using anything else here to offset the fennel and the celery.

dandelion greens

I made a very generous portion of this for my Sunday supper, which was the same night that this cake and this chicken made an appearance. The whole dinner was a home run. It all worked. And this salad – disappeared in minutes. Nothing left. Second plates for all. I mean, who does that with salad and gets into a tizzy over a bit of green on your plate? Right? It’s got to be good to have this kind of appeal. And it is.

Now, I won’t tell you how much olive oil and lemon juice to add. That is between you and your taste buds, my lovelies. I think that more dressing is lovely, but a restrained amount can work too. Personally, I use one lemon and juice it, but you might find that too acidic and opt for half a lemon. That’s okay too. I also just pour my olive oil over it for a few seconds, add lemon juice, sprinkle some salt and then toss. The trick is to use the best olive oil you can get your hands on. And that stuff can get expensive. While normally I wouldn’t tell you to go and spend lots of money on such things, here’s where it’ll really make a difference. Good olive oil will transform your salad into something totally different so you might want to use more of it. You might want it to coat your salad a bit thicker, or not. Either way, you can’t screw this up. Unless you use bad oil. In which case, you might wonder why I’m jabbering about a plateful of greens for six paragraphs.

dandelion salad with shaved fennel, celery and parsley

I was only sad I didn’t make more of it. I mean (suppressed sob!) I only got one (one!!!) plate and let my guests have seconds. But secretly, in my own head, what I really wanted to do was grab the salad bowl and steal away into the bedroom and eat the whole thing by myself. So much for fennel and gagging.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

citrus salad with cilantro and mint

citrus salad

Ok, there’s no way of getting around this. This post. Well, it’s just sitting down, looking me squarely in the face and refusing to budge. It’s taunting me, taking its time, making me carefully search for each word. I hate writing like this: arduous, painful, unnatural. There are days when these posts practically write themselves; my excitement is usually so hard to contain. But today, I’m just out of my element. Which is quite opposite of how I feel about this salad. I think my ardor for this salad is inversely proportional to my ability to convey it.

the suspect line-up

This salad is officially my cure for winter doldrums. Gray skies and snow banks, you’ve got nothing on me as long as I’m armed with this little burst of sunshine on my plate. It brings a smile to my face even as I type this because this salad is so delightfully happy, you can’t possibly be in a bad mood once you bring a forkful of it to your mouth. The fragrance alone is sparkling, giddy and invigorating. And to say I’ve become obsessed, would be a slight understatement. Minutes after I served this at book club, it was gone, second helpings and all. And pretty looks aside, this salad’s got looks and “brains” so to speak. It delivers on flavor even more than it delivers on looks. And just look at it – isn’t it a stunner?

citrus salad

I should also confess that had I not fallen for this salad hook, line and sinker, I would still have been forced to make it given that I’ve about twenty pounds or citrus sitting at home, on the account of getting a wee bit overzealous in ordering citrus for my grocery delivery. I sort of lost track being so excited to have some in-season fruit, and when grocery boxes arrived and half of them were oranges, lemons, grapefruit and clementines, I initially thought of starting my own juice bar. Vitamin C and I are such BFFs right now – we’re tight like you wouldn’t believe.

My zeal for all things citrus can be easily explained – what other fruit, besides bananas, looks good right now? None! The apples and pears are looking sad and taste uninspiring. Our local grocery store is carrying cherries at a price that made me gasp and price aside, they weren’t looking so great either. Berries are bland, as are melons and stone fruit. This leaves citrus looking quite attractive. And pretty too. My dining room table looks so much brighter with these orange and yellow orbs sitting pretty in a bowl. If nothing else, they cheer me up visually. But as these citrus guys are at their peak right now, they taste amazing as well.

citrus salad

All this salad needs is a little shallot, some slivered mint and cilantro, and a light vinaigrette sweetened with maple syrup to highlight the sweetness of the citrus. What you get is bright, clean, uplifting flavors full of sunshine. I eat this salad and I can’t help but grin from ear to ear; it makes me downright giddy and inspired. Much unlike this post.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

roasted beet salad with oranges and beet greens

beet salad with oranges and beet greens

I think I need a superhero power. You know, something that will enable me to perform extra-human things in the limited time we’re dealt. Like wiggling my nose to clean the apartment. Or teleporting myself to work, and, at the same time, instantly transforming myself from flannel pajamas to office attire, complete with perfect make-up and hair. Or time travel. Like being able to go back to Monday and save some wilting vegetables from a pointless death by rotting. And maybe even tell you about beet salad while I’m at it.

beet salad with oranges and beet greensbeet salad with oranges and beet greens

You see, another week gone by, and I was supposed to tell you about this salad on Monday. So much for executing against the plan. Though, in my defense, I was derailed by the elements, and not of the weather variety. I got served with the world’s longest cold, followed by what looked food poisoning or the stomach bug. Either way, it wasn’t fun. And the thing about the latter is that even though it passes in about 48 hours, it really zaps your energy levels. I’d come home from work and within a couple of hours would be completely and totally wiped out. I couldn’t even think about food, never mind write about it.

blood orange, ever so festive

Even today, I still haven’t gotten my appetite back. In fact, most food just doesn’t seem appetizing to me still. I’ve been eating a lot of citrus and drinking a lot of Gatorade. Yesterday, I had a papaya salad for lunch and then forced myself to eat two oranges for dinner – crazy, I know. And honestly, this food apathy sucks! I can’t wait to be hungry again. I miss my daily cravings of totally random things like lime pickle, or herring, or bahn mi sandwiches. This life of being unexcited by food – it’s not for me, it downright makes me sad. And I hope it goes away soon. I was made for cravings.

beet salad with oranges and beet greens

I also find that not being hungry in February is just plain weird. We’re smack in the middle of winter. Cold, snowy, desolate winter. A time for soups and stews and eating hearty meals. My local farmer’s market is rich with root vegetables: turnips, onions, carrots and beets. I know it sounds kind of minimal and sad, but I quite like the spartan selection. This kind of simplicity is a great opportunity for these unfairly maligned guys to step up to the plate (poor pun, totally unintended!). I know – root vegetables aren’t winning any beauty contests any time soon – they’re not exactly lookers. They’re more like Cinderellas of the vegetable world: grayish, dull in color, covered in dirt. But, oh, but, with the help of a fairy godmother, or a loving hand, they are easily transformed into something glorious and beautiful – something that will turn heads, or, at the very least, inspire second helpings.

beet salad with oranges and beet greens

Beets, perhaps, are my favorite of the bunch. Not only do I love their deep red hue, and their sweetness, but I really get a kick out of using the whole vegetable, root and the greens. I sometimes like imagine myself as one of those ingenious, practical cooks that lets nothing go to waste (oh, if only that were true!) – and it makes me beam with pride, even if I am deluding myself a bit. I know my grandmother would be proud. Or maybe she’s expecting that of me. That woman never wastes anything. It’s like she’s got an internal timer of expiration dates of things in her crisper, and manages to cook everything on time. I want that timer, I wonder where she got hers and whether there are more where hers came from. And if it’s a gene that’s inherited, then I certainly hope that mine blossoms soon. Like a superhero power. I’m even willing to forgo the cape.

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

tomato soup

tomato soup

All right, all of you with canned tomato soup in the pantry. You know who I’m talking to and if it’s you, step forward. Don’t be afraid; we’re just going to have a little chat. I promise I won’t single you out, but I want to show you something that might just change your tomato-soup-eating ways. It’ll take just a few more minutes than reheating that sad, thinned-down, canned version, and instead, you will luxuriate in quite possibly the most tomatoey tomato soup ever. And I don’t throw such superlatives lightly.

tomato soup

I owe this soup to my friends Jane and Geoff, mainly Geoff, for the soup is his creation. I tried this soup first when Jane and I were getting ready for a girls’ movie night, and soup was a nice, warm meal to carry us into the chilly evening. We had just had our first snowfall of the season, and it left behind tall snow banks as well as a few icy patches here and there. Soup was the prudent, practical dinner choice before heading out into the cold. But, you know, tomato soup isn’t exactly a dish one loses his mind over. It’s well-loved and is comforting, but doesn’t exactly command a mad legion of obsessed fans, unlike, say a good New England clam chowder does. So I was happy to eat this soup, but I had no idea what was in store for me.

tomato soup

Let’s just say my taste buds did a serious double-take. The clean, intense, undiluted taste of tomato was not what I was expecting. With the first spoon, I was hooked. And by hooked, I mean obsessed. And when I say “obsessed”, I mean I’ve been craving this soup nearly daily for a few months now, but kept forgetting to ask for the recipe. It took getting sick last week and being miserable and grumpy to ask Jane and Geoff for the recipe – I had to have this soup, or else. Grumpiness would ensue for days. Because I don’t get sick often, I turn into a total baby when it actually happens. All I want to do is like on the couch with a blanket and reruns of Law & Order on the television, pout and eat tomato soup. In that order. Normally, I settle for take-out because when I’m sick, I don’t exactly miss cooking. But this time was different. This time, my craving was stronger than my laziness. Besides, this so easy to make, I had no excuses, even with my Rudolph-red nose.

tomato soup

I know – we are busy bunch, especially during the weekdays. Work, family, social events – our lives are planned weeks in advance; we are hungry, run-down, and desperate for more daylight. We want to be warm, we want to be comforted, and some of us (ahem) are still trying to whittle away that tart we indulged in not-so-long ago that has mysteriously glued itself to our thighs and just plain refuses to leave (the nerve!). This is, and I can’t believe I’m actually writing this because this is so not what this site is about, also quite healthy. And delicious. And simple. And comes together in a pinch (a half-hour pinch, to be exact!) with the ingredients that are most likely already stocked in your pantry. While the soup is simmering, you’ve plenty of time to change into your favorite fleece pants (what, no one else besides me has a love affair with those?), pour yourself a glass of wine and settle into your evening.

tomato soup

Once the soup cooks a bit, quick whir of the immersion blender (seriously folks, far be it for me to tell you what a must-have item is, but really, if there is such one thing in the kitchen, the immersion blender it the it-gadget to have, promise!) and you have a velvety smooth, hearty, filling soup, perfect on its own. But, since I’m a girl who loves her accessories, I like to dress mine up with some good ricotta and swirl (or as the picture shows, a lump) of pesto. It look so festive and wintry and pretty in your bowl – kind of like Christmas all over again. But in February. So much the better.

tomato soup

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