Simple Vibrant Summer Salads: Cold Peanut Noodles and Beet Slaw with Lime Dressing

Here are two easy and colorful salads. Maximum flavor. Minimum effort. Just what the doctor ordered for hot days.

Peanut Noodles with Veggies: 

Ingredients:

1/2 lb soba noodles or your favorite long pasta ( spaghetti or linguini work well)

2 large zucchini, cut into bite sized pieces

1 large head broccoli, cut into bite sized florets

2 large carrots, cut into small rounds

1 package firm tofu, cut into small cubes

4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 Tbs. grape seed oil

4 Tbs. natural creamy salted peanut butter

1 1/2 Tbs. less sodium soy sauce

2 tsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. honey

1 Tbs. lime juice

1-2 Tbs. water

1/2 tsp. chili flakes or however much sriracha you can handle (optional)

 

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Boil a large pot of water with salt and a drizzle of oil. Cook pasta or soba noodles until al dente. Drain and set aside. In the same pot, heat 1 Tbs. grape seed oil over medium high heat. You’ll want to use grape seed instead of olive oil here because an olive oil flavor doesn’t go so well with soy sauce and peanut butter and because grape seed oil has a higher smoke point, and is therefor better for cooking over a flame at high heat. Add in chopped garlic and sauté until it starts to brown. Turn the heat down to medium low and stir in the peanut butter with a wooden spoon. Once it starts to come together with the garlic, add the soy sauce to begin to thin it out. Stir well. Stir in the brown sugar and honey and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the lime juice and the spiciness if you so desire. The mixture should be the consistency of a custard or pudding–thick, but not so thick that you can’t stir it. If it’s too thick, add a bit of water. Remove the sauce from the pot and set aside in a small bowl.

Add a splash more oil into the pot and sauté zucchini, broccoli, carrots and tofu over medium high until tofu starts to brown. You’ll be picking up all the remnants of garlic and sauce from the pot and that is definitely not a bad thing. Add about 1/4 cup water to the bottom of the pot, cover, turn flame down to low, and let veggies cook through for about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat. Let cool slightly 5 minutes.

Add the noodles to the veggies and tofu in the pot. Stir in the peanut sauce. The bit of water from the veggies and the moisture from the noodles will help distribute the thick sauce throughout the dish. Once everything has been mixed together, arrange the noodles on a serving platter or in a large bowl, cover, and let chill in the fridge for an hour before serving.

Serves 6-8.

Beet Cabbage Slaw with Lime Dressing:

Ingredients:

1/2 large head of your favorite cabbage

1 large beet

3 large carrots

the juice of one lime

1 Tbs. honey

2 Tbs. rice vinegar

2 tsp. soy sauce

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Finely chop your cabbage into small strips. Place in a large bowl. Wash your beet and peel it if it’s not organic (but try to get organic because it will taste so much better, not to mention be so much better for your body). Cut off the ends. Use the largest holes of a box grated to shred the beet, being extra careful not to shred your fingers. Add the beet to the bowl with the cabbage. Shred your carrots in the same way. Mix your veggies together. Your beets will stain everything else red. This is part of the fun of it!.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together lime juice, honey, rice vinegar and soy sauce. Taste to see if you like the balance of salty to sweet to acidic. Adjust by adding more honey, vinegar or soy sauce to your taste. Pour over the slaw and mix well.

Serves 4-6.

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Fava Bean Lemon Garlic Pasta

Nothing says spring like favas!

My friend Clarissa works for Out of the Box Collective, a farm to home grocery delivery service, and gets to bring buckets of organic produce and other farm delicacies home with her. Last night she invited me over to create several dishes with her goodies from this week. Drawing inspiration from a collection of seasonal ingredients is my favorite way to design recipes. I learned while selling veggies at markets in Seattle that food speaks for itself when it’s grown in the right soil and makes it to your table not long after harvesting. These bright, fresh flavors were no exception.

Here’s one of our creations:

Ingredients:

1 lb. pasta of your choice (we used brown rice pasta but you can use any type and shape you want–it would work well with spaghetti)

4 large cloves garlic

1/2 lemon

1 Tbs. butter

1 tsp. red chili flakes

3 Tbs. olive oil

2 cups shelled fava beans (approx. 1 lb. of favas in the shell)

freshly grated parmesan (or other hard cheese)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 eggs (optional)

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Bring a medium pot of salted water to boil. Dump in your shelled fava beans. Favas come in a big pod and then each bean is covered by a membrane. Leave these membranes on as they are much easier to remove after boiling. Boil your favas for 15 minutes. Drain, let cool and remove each individual skin. This is painstaking, but worth it. I promise.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for your pasta. Cook until al dente. Drain.

Melt butter and 1 Tbs. olive oil in a large frying pan. Add garlic and sauté until it begins to turn golden. Add chili flakes. Add fava beans and sauté another minute. Salt and pepper to taste before adding your pasta. Turn heat to low and add in pasta. Stir well. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the pasta. Add the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil. Stir well. Taste and salt and pepper if it needs it. Add more olive oil if you find it too acidic. Turn off heat. Pour pasta into a serving dish and top with grated cheese.

I like to then fry up an egg for each person in the garlicky oil that remains in the frying pan and then pop the egg on top of each individual serving. The yolk mixes with the cheese and creates a carbonara-like effect.

Serves 4.

 

Monday Greens: Salad and Kale Chips

I figure Monday is a good time to promote veggie recipes. Maybe you drank a bit too much on Saturday night or you had a bunch of pastries on Sunday. I personally always seem to find myself feeling that Sunday is just a pastry kind of day. So Monday is a good time to lighten up–give your system a little rest with some super simple, bright, and flavorful recipes that highlight market vegetables. First, my tried and true recipe for any green salad. I like tomatoes and avocados in my salad this time of year in California, but try anything! Last week at the Altadena Farmer’s Market, I did sliced raw beets and blood oranges in a green salad and used market lemons and honey in my dressing. I’m including my dressing recipe here. I’ve been perfecting it over the years and I got plenty of positive feedback at the market so I want everyone to know just how simple it is! I’m also including my kale chip recipe because it takes no time at all and is a great way to get everyone to eat kale–even people who swear they don’t like kale! Baking transforms it.

Early Summer Green Salad with Honey Lemon Dijon Dressing:

Ingredients to serve 4-6:

1 head lettuce of your choice or 1/2 lb mixed baby greens

1 large ripe avocado, halved, pitted, and cut into cubes

1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

*really anything else you want in a salad should go in here

1 tsp. honey

1 tsp. dijon mustard

1 Tbs. lemon juice

1 1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

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Summer’s Bounty

Prepare lettuce in your favorite bowl with your favorite fixings. Lightly salt the salad before dressing it. For dressing, combine mustard, hone, lemon juice and balsamic in a medium bowl and whisk until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste and see if you like the balance of sweet to spicy to sour. Adjust accordingly. Gradually whisk in the oil to emulsify. Pour over salad. Toss and enjoy!!

World’s Easiest Kale Chips:

1 head curly green or purple kale (don’t use Lacinato (Tuscan) or Red Russian kale–results are a bit odd)

1.5 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

garlic powder (optional)

Preheat oven to 400. Wash and dry kale. Rip leaves off stems and break into bite-sized pieces (about 2 inches in diameter). Arrange leaves onto a baking sheet (you’ll want to make sure your baking sheet has a rim). Drizzle oil over the kale and turn the kale over with your hands, moving it around until each piece has a thin coating of olive oil. Salt and pepper kale to your liking and add garlic powder if you want. Pop into the oven for no more than 15 minutes on the middle rack. You’ll want to check on it every two minutes after the first five minutes because it can burn quickly. But, if you catch it before it burns, the end result is perfectly crispy, salty and barely oily chips that hardly resemble the leafy green bundle they were twenty minutes early.

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Veg done right

 

Whole Wheat Pear Tart

This recipe was happily born of a bit of laziness. I didn’t have white flour and I had just been to the store and really didn’t want to go again, so I decided to make my tart crust out of whole wheat flour. I often use whole wheat flour for more savory pies and pastries, but wasn’t sure how it would work for a dessert. It turned out to be the perfect balance to the sweet pear and custard inside, resulting in a finished product that is equally good served topped with a dollop of fresh whipped cream after a summer dinner or enjoyed with a cup of strong coffee as an indulgent breakfast.

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Ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat flour

10 Tbs. cold unsalted butter

pinch of salt

5 Tbs. ice water

2 Tbs. cold milk

3 large D’anjou pears, cut in half, cored, and sliced very thin

4 large eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup whole milk

1 tsp. vanilla

cinnamon for sprinkling

To make the crust, pulse flour, butter, salt, water and milk together in a food processor or mix in a kitchen aid (or work together with your hands). Bring dough together in a ball. Flatten, and press into a tart pan. Chill for at least 20 minutes.

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Preheat oven to 350. Beat together eggs, sugar, milk and vanilla. Remove tart shell from fridge. Arrange thin pear slices in concentric circles around bottom of tart pan. Pour custard over pears. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Turn down to 325 and continue to bake until custard in set (about 20-25 more minutes.)

Sprinkle with cinnamon if you like. Let cool. Serve chilled.

 

Strawberry Port Ice Cream

It’s been forever since I’ve recorded a recipe here! Time has really gotten away from me. My energy has turned to other tasks in the past few weeks, but I’m getting back on the cooking train. This ice cream seemed the perfect fit for a day like today in Southern California– it’s 90 degrees and feels like summer is officially here (not that it ever really left). If you have an ice cream maker, homemade ice cream is not a terribly time consuming project, and the results are beyond worth it. I just have a hand crank machine and I freeze the inner canister the night before and make the custard a few hours before spinning the ice cream. This is a recipe I’ve been playing around with a few months. I’ve found that cooking fresh strawberries down with a little port wine really brings out the sweetness and adds a level of complexity to the flavor.

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Ingredients:

1 pint fresh, ripe strawberries (preferably organic), sliced

3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided

2 Tbs. water

3 Tbs. Port (don’t break the bank on this–Trader Joe’s has some good, inexpensive ones)

2 tsp. vanilla extract, divided

1 1/2 cups 2 % milk

1 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided

the tiniest pinch of salt

5 egg yolks

In a small sauce pan, heat sliced strawberries with water and 1/4 cup sugar. Let the mixture come to a light boil, then turn down a bit and simmer 6-7 minutes until strawberries have started to break down and liquid has started to reduce. Add Port and 1 tsp. vanilla. Let simmer another 5 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside.

Separate eggs. Have eggs ready in a medium bowl. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl and place a smaller bowl inside the ice bath. Pour 1 cup of the cream in the small bowl. Save whites and use them for something! In a medium sauce pan, combine milk and 1/2 cup of the cream with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and pinch of salt. Heat over medium heat until the milk begins to steam. Stir in 1 tsp. vanilla, turn off the heat, and let sit for a minute. Beat the egg yolks and add a bit of the hot milk mixture to the eggs, beating well to incorporate. Add in a bit more, stir and then a bit more. Adding a bit of the hot liquid at a time prevents the eggs from scrambling. Once you’ve added about half of the milk mixture to the eggs, pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk mixture and turn the heat on to medium. Using a heatproof spatula, slowly stir the custard until it begins to thicken (about 7-8 minutes).

Place a strainer over the bowl of cream sitting in the ice bath and pour the hot custard through the strainer to remove any lumps that may have developed. Stir the custard into the cream and let cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the strawberry mixture. Pour the finished custard into a pitcher or container and place in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours. Freeze according to your machine’s directions.

 

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