vegetarian

Purslane Salsa

Purslane Salsa

This time of year, a lot of gardeners are talking about weeds. Tired of pulling them, tired of fighting them. You might not know it, but you can eat some of them.

Purslane is a very edible “weed” and is growing like crazy right now. It is tolerant of hot, dry weather. The thick, fleshy leaves and stems are pretty hard to miss.

Purslane tastes good raw or cooked. The flavor is a little lemony. Quite pleasant. I like to use the leaves raw, in a type of salsa or relish.

So if you are tired of pulling weeds, look and see if you have purslane. Then you can think of it as harvesting, not weeding.

 

Purslane Salsa

2-3 cups purslane leaves and small stems, broken or cut into bite-sized pieces
½ c. chopped sweet onion
½ c. chopped sweet pepper
½ c. cider vinegar
½ c. oil
¼ c. chopped cilantro or parsley, optional
Salt and hot pepper sauce to taste

Wash purslane and place in a medium bowl. Add vegetables and stir. Combine vinegar, oil and seasonings in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake well. Pour over purslane mixture and mix well. Cover and chill. Serve with tortilla chips or with grilled meats or veggies.

 

purslane

 

Corn and Barley Salad with Basil

Corn and Barley Salad with Basil

Local sweet corn is at the markets now, and I am loving it. I always stock up, and freeze some to use throughout the year. This salad is a great way to use some of that wonderful corn on a hot day.

I also used barley in this salad.  I think most people think of soup, when they think of barley. This versatile grain can also be a nice ingredient in a salad.

This salad  can be served as a side dish, but I also enjoy it for lunch or dinner all on it’s own. The combination of corn and barley makes it pretty hearty, but still not heavy. Nice on a hot day, when you want a lighter meal.

I had grilled some corn and had some leftover, so that is what I used. I think the smokiness of the grilled corn added a nice touch. I had some fresh basil so I used that, too.

Corn and Barley Salad with Basil

½ c. pearl barley
salt
3 T. cider or white wine vinegar
1 t. Dijon mustard
fresh ground pepper
3 T. olive oil
3 T. fresh basil, cut into thin strips
3 c. cooked corn, from six ears
1 c. diced sweet onion
1 c. diced sweet pepper, any color
¼ c. sliced green onions

Combine barley, 2 cups water and ½ t. salt in saucepan and simmer, covered until barley is tender, about 50 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Combine remaining ingredients in medium bowl. Add barley and stir to combine well.  Chill until ready to serve. Serves 6.

Martha’s Beets

Martha’s Beets

I had picked up some beets from a local farmer the other day. I have made this dish many times and it seemed like a good time to make it again.

This is a recipe that my friend, Martha, made for us one chilly autumn afternoon. The amounts are random for a reason. Just use what you have- more or less – and let the flavors blend together gently.

I have been lucky enough to spend some time with Martha this week . She has been my best friend forever. She is one of the best people I have ever known. I feel truly blessed to have her in my life.

Full of earthiness and great fresh flavors it is always a favorite of mine. I always think of her, with great affection, when I make it. Love you, Martha. So glad we got together.

 

 

Martha’s Beets

Oil

2 Onions, chopped

Potatoes, cut in big chunks, peeled, if desired

1 bunch beets, with greens*

Chicken or vegetable  stock

Parsley

Salt and pepper

Cook beets in boiling water for 20 minutes. Cool and slip off skins. Cut up larger beets, if desired. In large pot cook onions in oil until tender. Add potatoes and prepared beets with just enough stock to keep them from sticking. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until vegetables are tender. Meanwhile chop up the beet greens. Add them to the pot and stir in. Cover and continue cooking until greens are tender. Toss in fresh parsley and cook 5 minutes longer.

* If you can’t find beets with greens, or if you like more greens, you can also add red Swiss chard in place of the beet greens.

A Trio of Potato Salads

Just in Thyme Potato Salad

If you are looking for a side dish for the 4th, why not bring a potato salad? Everybody loves potato salad.  I love potato salad.

Actually, I love potatoes pretty much any way they are prepared. With so many cookouts and picnics, you can never have enough potato salad recipes, right? I am sharing three of my favorite potato salad recipes. The first one is really simple, enhanced with fresh thyme leaves. Thyme really pairs well with the potatoes. The second one uses some of my fresh basil in a pesto sauce that is tossed with the potatoes. Who says pesto is just for pasta? The third salad is the way I remember my Mom making potato salad. She never wrote down her recipe, but I think I got it right.

Just in Thyme Potato Salad

With my herb garden growing like crazy right now I thought this was the perfect dish to make. This salad can be served warm or cold and goes well with so many dishes. I find when I have leftovers, I’ll even brown it in a skillet and serve it like hash browns with eggs for breakfast.

2 lbs. boiling potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces*
½ c. olive oil
¼ c. red wine vinegar
1 T. fresh lemon juice
2 t. fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook potatoes until tender. Drain and toss with the rest of the ingredients and serve right away or chill to serve later. Serves 6-8.

* You can really use any potato you like. I often bake the potatoes whole and then peel and cut up. Cook them any way you prefer.

Pesto Potato Salad

This salad always makes me think of a warm summer day. I think it’s because of the basil. During the summer, my driveway is lined with pots of basil. I cook with it almost every day. Pesto can be used in a lot of different dishes beyond pasta. Here I’ve paired it up with potatoes. The combination works great together. I always freeze extra basil so I can enjoy it year round.

2 lbs. Boiling potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
1 c. basil leaves
3 T. pine nuts
3 T. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 c. Parmesan cheese
Salt to taste

Cook potatoes until tender. Cool. In blender combine remaining ingredients, except 1 tablespoon of the pine nuts. Pour blended mixture over potatoes and sprinkle with the reserved nuts. Chill. Serves 6-8.

 

 

Mom’s Mustard Potato Salad

When I was a kid I did not like the taste of mustard- except in this recipe. It adds such a wonderful flavor.

4 lbs. potatoes- I used Klondike Rose and I did not peel them

4 hard cooked eggs, peeled and chopped

1 sweet pepper, seeded and chopped, optional

1 c. mayo- maybe a little less

1/4 c. prepared mustard- I like a grainy brown mustard

salt and pepper to taste

dash of hot sauce

Bake whole potatoes until tender and allow to cool. Cube potatoes into large bowl and combine with remaining ingredients. Chill until ready to serve. Serves 8.

Pesto Potato Salad

Mustard Potato Salad

 

 

Red “Chimichurri” Salsa

Red “Chimichurri” Salsa

I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what to call this dish. I decided to call it a salsa, rather than a chimichurri.

Chimichurri sauce is a lovely marinade for meats or it can be spooned over cooked meats or seafood. I like to spoon some over grilled foods.

Chimichurri is a mix of herbs, spices, garlic and vinegar. It can be red or green. I like both, but really love the red version.

Red versions often contain red peppers, but not tomatoes. I took a little liberty with the original recipe. I added a ripe tomato. So, salsa it is, with inspiration from chimichurri.

Whatever you call it- it is really good. I nice balance of flavors and a great topper for all sorts of dishes.

 

 

Red Chimichurri Salsa

 

1 chopped sweet red pepper

1 chopped, skinned and seeded tomato

1 chopped onion

2 peeled and chopped garlic cloves

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1/2 cup oil- I like avocado oil

1 cup vinegar- red wine vinegar preferred

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns

1 teaspoon oregano

red pepper flakes to taste

Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Cover and chill for 12 hours before using. It will keep for a for a week or two in the refrigerator. Remove bay leaves before serving. Use as a marinade for meats, poultry and seafood, or serve as a sauce with cooked meats. I like to spoon some over scrambled eggs, too.

 

 

Garlic Scapes Recipes

Garlic Scapes Potato Salad

If you have never had garlic scapes, you don’t know what you are missing. Garlic scapes are the green shoots removed from hard-neck varieties of garlic. By removing the shoots, the bulbs will get bigger. So farmers remove them.  They curl as they grow, and are good served raw, or barely cooked. They are showing up at farm markets around here right now.

When cooked, the flavor mellows a lot. I love to steam garlic scapes for about 5 minutes, then just eat like fresh green beans, with butter and salt. I steamed a bunch of scapes the other day- then chopped them up and added to potato salad. So tasty!!

They have a rich, garlic flavor that is all the sweeter because of the short time they are around. Enjoy them when you can- they will be gone soon.

I sometimes use scapes in place of basil, in my pesto recipe, or combine them with parsley in a garlic scape-parsley pesto. You can also combine the garlic scapes with cottage cheese in the blender- add a little lemon juice and hot sauce for a tasty dip. Here are some more recipes for cooking with garlic scapes.

Garlic Scapes Potato Salad

4-5  garlic scapes

2 lbs. red skinned potatoes*

½ cup minced sweet pepper

½ c. olive oil

½ c. apple cider vinegar

2 T. sugar

2 T. chopped parsley

2 t. fresh dill weed

Salt and pepper to taste

Hot sauce to taste

 

Steam the scapes for 5 minutes. Cool a little, and cut into ¾ -inch slices. You should end up with about 1½ of sliced scapes when done. Place in a medium bowl. Cook potatoes until tender. I baked mine in a microwave until tender and then cut into cubes. Baking them is also a nice way to cook the potatoes. You can also opt to cut into cubes first and boil the potatoes. Whatever method to cook the potatoes is fine with me. Take the potatoes, while still warm, and place in the bowl with the scapes. Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a small bowl and stir until sugar dissolves. Pour over warm potato mix, tossing to coat evenly. Adjust seasonings. Chill and serve. Serves 6-8.

* You can really use any potato you like.

Garlic Scape Pesto Sauce

1 c. chopped scapes – you can also use half scapes, half parsley
1/4 c. olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic
Salt to taste
1/2 c. pine nuts, sunflower seeds, pecans or walnuts
1 c. fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients, except the cheese, in a blender and mix until smooth. Stir in the cheese and toss over hot, cooked pasta or use as a sauce on meat and poultry. Sauce will keep a few days in the fridge and makes about 1 1/2 cups, enough for 1 lb. of cooked pasta.

 

Lebanese Garlic Sauce

1/2 c. chopped garlic scapes

1 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups olive oil

In the container of a blender, combine the garlic scapes, lemon juice and salt. Blend at medium speed until smooth. Continue blending while pouring olive oil into the blender in a thin stream. The mixture should become thick and white almost like mayo. Store refrigerated in a glass container.  Nice on hot pasta, cooked rice or grains or brushed on meats while cooking. It also is a great salad dressing.

Garlic Scapes with  Broccoli

1 c. chopped garlic scapes

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets, steamed 5 minutes, cooled

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, or to taste

Place garlic scapes in a food processor with the salt and blend into a paste. Add olive oil, vinegar, and mustard.  Pulse until smooth.  Place garlic scapes mixture in a bowl and add the broccoli.  Stir to coat. Chill for 3 hours to marinate, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before serving. Tastes even better the next day!!!

Garlic Scapes

 

Cold Beet and Watermelon Soup

Beet and Watermelon Soup

I really love this soup. On a hot day, it makes a great first course. I love salads, but sometimes I just want something else.

It couldn’t be easier. You just blend up equal parts of watermelon and beets. Thin the mixture down with some stock. Add a bit of mint, and you are good to go.

I got this recipe from a friend of a friend. I tweaked it a little from the original, but it is pretty much the same. It is so simple and a great soup for a hot day.

The sweetness of the watermelon pairs nicely with the earthy flavor of the beets. The mint also adds a nice little pop of flavor. The color is pretty cool, too.

I shared this recipe with a friend and she said she just drinks it like a smoothie. I find it a refreshing start to any meal, especially on a hot day.

 

Cold Beet and Watermelon Soup

1 part diced beet (cooked)

1 part diced seedless watermelon

a spring of mint

Put in blender

Add Chicken or Vegetable stock to taste/consistency

Add salt if desired

Dollop with Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream or even Greek Yogurt, if desired.

Garnish with fresh mint.

With any cold soup- chill well after you make it. You might even want to chill the bowls and spoons.

Sunny Spring Salad

Sunny Spring Salad

Today’s recipe is a tasty vegetarian salad that is as satisfying as it is pretty.  The color is bright, just perfect after several days of rainy/snowy/grey weather. If it doesn’t feel like Spring outside, it can feel like Spring inside.

When I say split peas, what comes to mind? Split pea soup? GREEN split pea soup?  Years ago my dear friend, Dale Gallis, turned me on to yellow split peas.  I started making soup from them, but also use them in salads.

The yellow split peas are combined with carrots, sweet onion, sweet peppers and fresh herbs,  then tossed with a simple combination of apple cider vinegar and olive oil. You can serve it right away, or let the flavors blend in the fridge for a bit. I served my salad over a mix of Spring greens.

Yellow  (or green) split peas cook to al dente in about 20 minutes, so they are a quick option, too. Much shorter cooking times than other legumes.

 

Sunny Spring Salad

1- 1 1/2 c. raw yellow split peas

salt

1 carrot, peeled and shredded

1/2 c. chopped sweet onion

1/2 c. chopped sweet pepper

1/2 c. chopped parsley

1/2 c. snipped chives

1/4 c. olive oil

1/4 c. cider vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

6 c. mixed Spring greens

Rinse peas and place in a saucepan. Cover with water and add a little salt. Bring to a boil and simmer until peas are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Combine peas with carrots, peppers and onion and toss well. Add parsley, chives, oil, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Chill until ready to use.  Serve on greens.  Serves 3-4.

Cook in simmering water until tender

Cook in simmering water until tender

Rinse in cold water after cooking

Rinse in cold water after cooking

Combine peas with other veggies

Combine peas with other veggies

Baked Eggplant

Baked Eggplant

I love eggplant prepared in a lot of different ways. I must say, this preparation is one of my favorites. I think it is because it reminds me of my parents.

My mother used to bread and bake eggplant this way. My dad loved it- and he was not a big eggplant fan. I guess pretty much anything tastes better when breaded. She would top the eggplant with some cheese and sometimes with some marinara sauce.

I cut the eggplant in slices, but you could also cut them in strips and serve like French fries, if you prefer.

One of the problems  with eggplant is about how much oil it will absorb when cooking. If you fry these slices in a skillet- they will soak up the oil like a sponge. I prefer to bake the eggplant, with a drizzle of oil. They come out crispy, but not greasy.

They make a nice side dish or even main dish. I topped mine with fresh tomato sauce and Asiago cheese.   Mozzarella was what my mom used. I often use Parmesan cheese or a Pecorino Romano.

Baked Eggplant

1 large eggplant or 2 medium

salt

1 egg

1/2 c. milk or half and half

pepper

1 T. Tuscan seasoning* recipe follows or use another blend of Italian herbs

1 t. garlic powder

about 1 cup of bread crumbs

1/2 c. oil

1/2 c. Asiago cheese, or more

Peel and slice eggplant. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle generously with salt. Let sit for 20 minutes. Drain, rinse and pat dry. Prepare egg wash by mixing the egg with the milk or half and half, pepper, a little more salt, Tuscan seasoning and garlic powder. Place in a shallow bowl. Place bread crumbs in another shallow bowl. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. One slice at a time, dip eggplant in egg wash, then in the bread crumbs, turning to coat evenly. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining eggplant. Drizzle with the oil and bake for about 25 minutes. Turn slices after 15 minutes and continue baking until eggplant slices are golden brown and tender. Sprinkle with cheese and return to oven for 5 minutes longer. Serve as is, or with a marinara sauce. Serves 3-4.

 

*Tuscan Seasoning

½ c. dried basil

½ c. dried oregano

½ c. dried marjoram

3 T. dried minced onion

2 T. dried minced garlic

2 T. dried rosemary

2 T. dried parsley

1 t. crushed red pepper

 

 

Carrot Pasta Sauce

Carrot Pasta Sauce

This pasta sauce is one of my favorites. Most people don’t think of carrots when they think of pasta sauce, but maybe they should.

It’s a simple sauce that packs a lot of flavor.

The process is easy. Just cook carrots, and few other ingredients in stock, until the carrots are really tender. Most of the liquid  cooks off. Puree, then toss the sauce with pasta, rice, or even with veggies or meats.

It is a pretty color, too. You might even get kids to eat carrots, this way.

Here is the recipe.

 

Carrot Pasta Sauce

1 T. oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 lb. carrots, peeled and sliced
2 c. chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. cream, half and half or evaporated milk
1T. fresh dill or 1 t. dried

Hot cooked pasta

Sauté onion in oil until tender. Add garlic, carrots and stack and cook until carrots are very tender. Much of the liquid should have evaporated by then. Place mixture in blender and add cream or milk, mixing until smooth. Add dill and adjust seasonings, tossing over hot pasta to serve. I sometimes top with some shredded Parmesan cheese, too.
Variations: Use sweet potatoes, pumpkin, winter squash or even peas for different tastes.