Vegan

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Tomatillo salsa. Salsa verde. Green salsa. Call it whatever you like. It’s amazing stuff. I wait anxiously each year to see tomatillos appear at the markets. These tomatillos are from Northridge Organic, and I was thrilled when I saw them.

I’ve tried many recipes over the past few summers, many of which have added lots of various peppers, and I’ve discovered that I like the salsa as simple and pure as possible. I like to highlight the tomatillo flavor, not the other ingredients.

And so to begin:

Remove any smoke detectors near your kitchen and turn your kitchen fan on high. Things are about to get smokey.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Start by gathering:

about 20 tomatillos 

tomatillos 2

tomatillos 3

Remove the husks from the tomatillos and rinse them in a colander. If using more, adjust the other ingredients accordingly.

Spread the tomatillos on a baking sheet. Also add:

one large, or two small, jalapenos, halved twice and seeds/membrane removed. 

I only used one because it was huge. They ones I currently have are from my dad’s garden and are the size of my palm. If you want your salsa to be extra spicy, don’t remove the seeds and membrane from the jalapeno.

Also add:

One clove of garlic, peel still on

The peel allows the garlic to roast without burning. Sprinkle all of the ingredients with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Stick the baking sheet in the oven and roast for at least 15 minutes. They will start to burst and the pan will start to smoke. Don’t panic. That’s normal. You want them to char slightly for flavor. When they’re done, they will look like this:

roasting pan

Let cool on the pan for a minute. In the meantime, get out your food processor. Add:

1/4 cup of yellow onion, roughly chopped

1 hand full of cilantro

Also carefully add the tomatillos, jalapeno, and garlic (don’t forget to remove the peel!). Be sure to scrap in any juices from the pan. Give the mixture a few pulses and then puree until smooth.

Pour into a bowl. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed. Also a few drops of lime juice. Add a little at a time and taste until it’s at your liking. I have found that it doesn’t need much.

salsa

This salsa is wonderful warm.

Serve with my homemade chips or poor on top of enchiladas (recipe coming soon!).

 

Read More

Warm Potato Salad with Mustard and Dill

I love potato salad in all of its glorious forms. I grew up eating two different kinds of potato salads: the typical midwest version that’s covered in mayo and has hard boiled eggs mixed in (and sometimes bacon), and also my great-grandmother’s Italian version, which has an olive oil-based dressing, bacon, and chives.  Though I love both, in recent years, I discovered another one that I love just as well. The one I will describe below I consider to be more of a French-style potato salad. It’s wonderful warm but can be served chilled as well. And the farmers’ market has wonderful red-skinned potatoes right now, so it’s a perfect time to make this salad.

Potato

Start by boiling:

1 pound of red skinned potatoes, scrubbed clean and quartered

Boil them in enough water so that they’re covered by about an inch of water. Don’t boil them in too much water, for they’ll loose their flavor. And don’t forget to salt the water.

In the meantime, select a bowl large enough to not only hold all of the potatoes, but also one that has room enough for you to stir the potatoes without making a mess all over the counter. In the bottom of the bowl, whisk together:

1 heaping tablespoon of Dijon mustard
about 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
a handful of fresh dill, chopped*
a dash of paprika
salt and pepper

Once the potatoes are fork tender, drain them and then add them directly to the bowl with the mustard dressing. Toss the potatoes with the dressing. Since they are steaming hot, the potatoes will absorb the mustard and create a wonderful fragrance. While they are still steaming hot, add:

a few splashes of vinegar (champagne, red-wine, and apple cider all work well)

Also add more olive oil, if need be, and taste to see if they need more salt, pepper or mustard.

Serve while it’s still warm.

*The dill in the above photo is from my little apartment balcony herb garden. That’s the wonderful thing about herbs. You don’t need a lot of space to grow them, and one plant will give you wonderful herbs all summer.

 

Read More

Green Beans with a Mustard Dressing

When I was 14 years old, I visited New Orleans. It was a trip that probably started my obsession with food. One of the restaurants we went to was Court of Two Sisters, where I had asparagus with some sort of a mustard sauce. That mustard sauce has stuck with me during all of these years, and countless times I’ve tried to copy it. At this point, I have no idea what it originally tasted like or what was in it, but this dressing strongly reminds me of the dish, nonetheless.

green beans

Start with a large enough bowl to hold all of the green beans (in this case, about 3/4 of a pound). In the bottom of the bowl, whisk together:

2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
1 clove of garlic, minced or finely grated
about 1 teaspoon of lemon juice (it’s strong, so start with a little. It’s easier to add than to take away). 
salt and pepper

Once it’s all whisked together, add enough extra virgin olive oil to thin out the mustard.

Next cook the green beans. Either steam them or boil them. Either way, cook them just for a couple minutes so that they still have a nice crunch to them and a nice bright green color. (If you boil them, use just enough water to cover them.)

Once the green beans are done, give the mustard dressing a quick whisk and then add the green beans right into the bowl. Add:

1/2 cup of slithered almonds (optional)

Toss it all together. Taste the green beans and adjust the salt. If the dressing is too strong, add more olive oil.

Top with freshly ground pepper and serve.

green beans2

This dish pairs well with Fettuccine with Mushrooms and Mascarpone.

 

Read More

Spicy Summer Squash Soup

You may have noticed by now that I love making soups. There’s just so much you can do with broth, a few vegetables and some spices. This particular soup I tried for the first time this week, and I’m in love with it.

squash soup

The recipe below is adapted from Alice Waters’ cookbook The Art of Simple Food. I, as usual, took the liberty of making some adjustments. One major change: she uses mint in her version, and I’ve never been a huge fan of mint. If you’re a fan, give it a try.

Begin by heating olive oil over medium heat in a large pot or stock pot. Add:

1 large yellow onion, sliced

Let it cook for about 10 minutes. Turn the heat down if they start to brown. Then add:

Salt
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon paprika
about 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
about 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
about 1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

(The above spice measurements are approximate. You know me; I often don’t measure spices. Go by taste.) Cook for another few minutes. Stir often so the spices don’t burn. Add:

3 green or yellow summer squash, sliced about 3/4 inch thick

Cook for a couple minutes, then add:

6 cups of homemade vegetable broth

squash soup2

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for at least 15 minutes, or until squash is tender. Once tender, puree the soup.

Serve with freshly ground pepper and Greek yogurt, squeeze lime juice on top, and serve, as always, with crusty bread.

 

 

Read More

Leek and Potato Soup

The key to any soup is simplicity. Just a few ingredients and homemade broth can make an amazing bowl of comfort. This soup is a perfect example.

Potato soup has always been one of my favorite comfort foods. Leeks are more of a winter/fall vegetable, but I found some late spring ones at the market, so why not use them?

**Please note that this particular recipe doesn’t make a lot of soup, just enough for about 2 servings. Double it if you are cooking for more than two people.

leek soup

The recipe:

Start by heating olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Then add:
2-3 leeks, sliced
1 small yellow onion, sliced
A splash of vegetable broth
Salt

Let cook for about 15 minutes, until onions are nice and tender. Then add:
4-5 small gold potatoes or 2 large white potatoes, quartered.
(I love the texture of the gold potatoes. They make the soup silky, but use whatever you have.)

Let cook for a minute or two, then add:
4 cups of homemade vegetable broth

Let simmer for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Add:
a few sprigs of fresh dill (optional, but you should do it. It’s wonderful!)
a splash or two of cream or half and half (also optional)

Puree the soup and serve with chives, fresh ground pepper and croutons or crusty bread on top.

leek soup2

**Another note: My soup has a slight orange tinge this time because I used a homemade broth that had tomato in it. Depending on the type of broth you use, it may appear white-ish, so don’t panic if your soup doesn’t look like mine!

Read More

Peanut Thai Noodles

noodles

This is a recipe I’ve done for a few years now. It’s always changing and evolving. It’s one of my go to recipes for when I have a fridge full of veggies I need to use. And the best part? So many different veggies work well in this dish that you can use it throughout the year.

What you find below is not an exact recipe, by any means. I change it all the time and expect anyone else to make it their own. This is just meant to serve as a starting point.

Here’s a list of the various veggies I’ve found work best:

Spring:
Asparagus
Peas (especially snow)
Spinach
Green Onions

Summer:
Squash (Yellow and Zucchini)
Green Beans
Bell Peppers
Onions
Carrots

Fall and Winter:
Carrots
Onions
Cauliflower
Frozen Vegetables

Protein:
I have added eggs before, but have yet to try chicken or shrimp (both of which I think would be very good with this sauce.)

As for the method, start by cooking pad thai style rice noodles according the the package instructions. (The kind I usually use says to let them soak in hot water until tender, about 8-10 minutes).  In the meantime, sauté whichever veggies you’re using with olive oil over medium heat.

For the Peanut Thai Sauce (which is really not authentic Thai food in any way.):
1 heaping tablespoon of unsalted peanut butter (heat in the microwave for a minute to soften it. And feel free to add more if you love peanut butter)
1/4-1/2 soy sauce
about 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
about 1 tablespoon of mirin cooking wine
1-2 teaspoons of chili paste, or your favorite hot sauce
1 clove of garlic, minced or grated
about 1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger
about 2 teaspoons of cornstarch

Mix the sauce well. Once the veggies are tender, add the sauce to the pan, along with 1-2 laddles of the hot water that you used to soak the noodles. This will help thin out the sauce and bind it to the noodles. Give the sauce a couple of minutes to cook, and then add the noodles. Using tongs, combine the noodles and sauce and add more water, if necessary.

To serve, top the noodles with chopped nuts (almonds, peanuts, and cashews all work well) and drizzle  Sriracha on top. Enjoy!

Read More