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Green Vegetable Salad

5 Oct

The book Veganomicon had a hold of my heart this summer, but I think the fall might belong to my latest addition, Home Made.  I heard the author interviewed on Edible Radio, and this book sounded right up my alley.

I like this recipe because it ties together the end of summer: an abundance of herbs in the garden (literally) dying to be used, and the last of some of my favorite green  things from the farmers market.

The green veggies in their cooling water bath

The authors suggest serving this with some crumbled goat cheese which would be a nice addition, I think. The dressing is really a perfect, creamy match for the greens all on its own, though.

I’m sad to see the end of summer, but I do so love the fall. I’m heading back to France in just under 2 weeks, and fall is my favorite time to be there. Can’t wait to visit the cider makes and fromagers in Normandy, and I just love the air this time of year no matter where I am.

Green Vegetable Salad
From Home Made
Serves 4

3 cups of mixed green vegetables: fava beans, peas, snow peas, asparagus or a mixture thereof
2 ribs celery
1 cup mixed herbs like parsley, tarragon, mint, dill or any mixture of those

Dressing:
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 scallion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbs finely chopped dill
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup hazelnut oil

Cut the long vegetables, such as asparagus or green beans, in half. Blanch all veg for 2 mins, in turn, in a pan with plenty of boiling water. Finish with the fava beans since they will color the water purple. Rinse everything immediately under cold running water. Mix the vegetables, stir in the herbs (reserve some for garnish) and toss with the dressing.

To make the dressing, thoroughly blend all ingredients except the oil. Lastly, beat in the oil in a think trickle.

Tri Color Bean Salad with Lemon, Mint & Parsley

27 May

I know I talk a lot here about my love of France, and really what isn’t there to love about that place?  But my husband and I also fell in love with a place closer to home: a small town in Eastern Washington called Walla Walla.  Now, if you know anything about wine you have probably at least heard of Walla Walla, and many of the best wines from this state are grown there.  It also happens to be an adorable town with a charming main street, dry weather (something that is a wonderful reprieve from the wet weather we have here in Seattle), and it happens to be perched at the foot of the Blue Mountains, which makes for stunning scenery all around you.

The vineyards at Abeja Cellars in Walla Walla

Needless to say, we spend a lot of time in this town.  We know the area well, love the restaurants, and just plain enjoy the slow pace of small town life.  One of our favorite things to do while visiting is head over to the Farmer’s Market that happens weekend mornings.  On a recent trip with some friends we ended up trying some new things at the market, and my husband went crazy for a bean salad we had.  While eating it I tried to decipher the ingredients so that I could make it for him again at home, and it seemed to me most like tabbouleh with beans instead of couscous.

And so, here is my re-creation, inspired by the woman from Walla Walla.  It is the perfect accompaniment to summer grilling, or just alongside a sandwich.  Beans are super healthy, and so are herbs (which happen to be little antioxidant powerhouses).   I like my tabbouleh the traditional way, which is heavy on the herbs. These are a nice reprieve from the same old potato salad or coleslaw that show up at every summer event.

The version in the picture below is one I made with basil instead of the Tabbouleh dressing, so it is less green and herby than it usually looks. It tasted great, though, so feel free to experiment with whatever you have on hand.

Tri Color Bean Salad with Lemon, Mint & Parsley
LaFemmeCooks

15 oz can each: black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, cannellini beans
1 tomato, diced
3-5 green onions, diced
2 cups finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint
Juice from one large lemon
3 tbs olive oil
2 tbs red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mix thoroughly.  Will last in the refrigerator for about a week.

Curried Lentils with Coconut Milk

9 Mar

I just returned from a weekend in northern California, where I visited my friend Jen (the same lovely woman who accompanied me to Paris, in October).  We had quite the time wine tasting, shopping, and just hanging out and catching up, and I am hopeful that we can plan another European adventure in the near future.  The weather there was fine and warm, and now that I am back in Seattle I just can’t seem to heat up in this chill.  The only solution I can think of is good, warming comfort food like dal.

My favorite dal recipe comes from Deborah Madison. Her Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone is probably my most used cookbook, and I recently lent it to a friend who has decided to become vegetarian. There are so many recipes, which are simple and lovely, and is a great entreé into the world of meat-free eating.  Madison has two different recipes for dal, and I love them both. The recipe below is adapted from hers, but I have added a few more spices that I love with lentils.  This dish is warming and hearty and super easy to make, and is healthy too.

Curried Lentils with Coconut Milk
Adapted From Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

1 cup red lentils
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and chopped
1 tbs freshly grated ginger
3 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter (I use organic virgin coconut oil instead)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tbs garam masala
1 15-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
Salt
2 shallots, sliced
1 dried red chile, broken into pieces, or 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
cilantro for garnish

Wash the lentils in several changes of water. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, saute the onion, ginger, garlic, spices and chile in 2 tablespoons of the ghee for 1 minute. Add the lentils and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Add the coconut milk and simmer for 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Taste for salt and remove from the heat.

Heat the remaining ghee in a small skillet over high heat. Add the shallots, red chile, bay, and mustard. Fry until the mustard seeds begin to turn grayish, about 1 minute. Stir this into the lentils and serve.

It’s delicious served with basmati rice. Makes about 2 cups.

Charred Fava Bean Salad with Lemon and Tarragon

20 Aug

I do love beans.  Any kind of bean, really.  I could eat beans every single day of my life, and practically do.  Because we eat a mostly vegetarian diet, beans are the stars of many of our home-cooked meals.  Fava beans happen to be my favorite of them all, and I never can wait until they are in season.  When they are, I am always looking for recipes that are different and creative like this one.

Be warned that it takes some time to prepare fresh fava beans, but they are well worth the wait.  First, you must remove the beans from their exterior pods.  Then, each bean is encased in a white-ish, secondary pod that should be removed.  This is most easily accomplished by boiling the beans and slipping them out of their secondary casing.  Then voila!  Perfect bright green beans that are incredibly versatile.

This recipe comes from chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, via Food and Wine Magazine.  I make several variations of it, depending on what I have on hand (this time I used mint and basil because I have so much of both in the garden), but it tastes best when made exactly how Vongerichten describes.

If you have never tried fava beans, I highly suggest trying out this recipe the next time you come across some fresh ones.  My local grocer has been long out of them, but my farm share delivered them to me just last week.  I have never used frozen ones, but if that is all you have, experiment and let me know how they turn out.

Charred Fava Bean Salad with Lemon and Tarragon
From Food and Wine

3 lbs fresh fava beans shelled (2 1/2 cups)
2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
salt
2 tbs unsalted butter
1 medium shallot, minced
1/2 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tbs finely grated parmigiano-reggiano
1 tbs chopped tarragon

Fill a large bowl with ice water. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, blanch the fava beans for 1 minute. Transfer to the ice water, drain, then peel them.

In a small saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over low heat until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the jalapeño and cook for 1 minute longer. Season with salt.

In a large skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil until shimmering. Add the fava beans and cook over moderately high heat, without stirring, until blackened, about 1 minute. Transfer to a serving bowl and season with salt.

Add the butter to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat until it just starts to brown, about 30 seconds. Add the shallot and cook over low heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and remove from the heat.

Add the garlic-jalapeno mixture and warm shallot vinaigrette to the beans along with the cheese and tarragon and toss well to coat. Season the salad with salt and serve.

Fresh Garbanzos with Lemon and Pecorino

18 Jul

Today was our first day to pick up our CSA shipment from Nash’s Organics.  We did so at the Ballard Farmer’s Market, which is my favorite place to spend a Sunday morning.  We got the most incredibly candy-sweet little strawberries from Nash and ate them one by one right out of their blue container.  We bought fresh chevre with herbes de provence, perfectly ripe peachy-pink apricots, and, for the first time ever, fresh garbanzo beans still in their pods.

Fresh garbanzo beans on the vine

Before today, I had never even seen garbanzo beans in their nascent form.  I didn’t even know that they are really green and not beige.  Their leaves are so pretty that I would easily consider buying a bunch of them just to display in vases around the house.  In fact, I did put them in a vase in the kitchen.  But my desire to eat them was even stronger than my desire to look at them, and so they didn’t last long on our counter.

There have been posts about garbanzos on my favorite blogs, like this one or this one, and Dana sold me recently on the idea of using them fresh.  The only problem was… where to find them that way?  I was completely surprised to find them at the market today, and they were so amazingly good I will be looking for them again next week.

The gist is that simple flavors work best with these lovely little beans, and they are well worth the time it takes to shell them.  They take about as long to shell as peas, but feel a little more like fava beans do in their pods.  They taste about a million times better than the ones in a  can.  Raw, they taste more like fresh peas with a pleasant green, grassy note.  In this recipe, they are perfectly married to some lemon and pecorino, and you could easily toss any kind of fresh herb in the mix as well.  Fried sage would knock these out of the ball park.

Garbanzo Beans with Lemon and Pecorino
From Danatreat and Orangette

2 cups fresh garbanzo beans
1½ tbsp. olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
¾ tsp. kosher salt
Lots of coarsely ground black pepper
¼ cup ground Pecorino Romano

Shell the beans and blanch them in boiling water.  In a medium skillet, heat olive oil and add garbanzos.  Saute lightly 3-4 minutes until color just begins to change.  Juice the lemon over the beans, add the cheese, salt and pepper, and toss to combine.  Serve warm.

Vegetarian Cassoulet

26 May

When the weather is cold and wet like it is today in Seattle, I always crave cassoulet.  Rich and hearty, it is the perfect antidote to gray skies and cold hands.  And 9 times out of 10, I make vegetarian cassoulet.  Sometimes I add sausage or throw a ham shank in with the beans,  but more often than not what I really want is the beans themselves, nestled in that fragrant red broth and studded with fresh herbs from my garden.

Cassoulet is the most famous dish from the South West of France.  Last April we spent 3 weeks in the South of France celebrating my husband’s “Big Birthday.”  We ate coq au vin, lots of steak frites, huge salads with chevre chaud, and of course cassoulet.  Named for the dish it is served in, the kind we had in France came with fat garlic sausages, duck confit and lots of pork.  I don’t think they have ever heard of vegetarian cassoulet in France.

Vegetarian cassoulet is tres simple to make.  It begins with a mirepoix, some garlic, and I might add leeks if I have them.  I never use canned beans, though you could do so if you are pressed for time.  I often start it in the crock pot before work and it is perfect by the time I get home.  Other times I throw everything into my dutch oven and set it low to simmer for a few hours.  The real key to the dish is the simmering, which allows all of the flavors to assimilate, so it’s best not to rush the dish if you can help it. The other key ingredients for the vegetarian version are fresh herbs which are essential for flavoring the broth.  I always add rosemary and thyme, which are a natural pair for the white beans and tomatoes, and I sometimes throw in a bay leaf if I have it.  I grow all of these in my garden, so they are always on hand when I need them (more about that in a future post).

Vegetarian Cassoulet
Adapted from Gourmet March 2008
Serves 4-6

3 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only) or 1 red onion, diced
4 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch-wide pieces
3 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch-wide pieces
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
4 thyme sprigs
2 tbs rosemary
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 lb cannellini or Great Northern beans, soaked 8+ hours

Cook leeks (or onion), carrots, celery, and garlic in oil with herb sprigs, bay leaf, cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 15 minutes. Stir in beans, tomatoes and water, and simmer on low, partially covered, for 2-3 hours.  Alternatively, transfer ingredients to slow cooker and set to low to simmer away all day. Dish is ready when beans are tender.  Enjoy!

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