For Father’s Day we decided to all meet at Mom & Dad’s lake house and bring lunch to them instead of going out to a restaurant. The CompostMaster did a most excellent job of grilling Angoori Shrimp (Glazed Shrimp & Grape Kebobs), Asian-flavored chicken kebabs (declared by Nephew #1 to be “the best chicken I’ve ever tasted”), zucchini and pineapple. In addition, we had a pasta salad, Spinach Salad with Macerated Blueberries and Nectarines (recipe below) and, Dad’s favorite, pineapple upside down cake. I guess we’re a fruity family.
This salad travels well. Basically, you can mix up the dressing and add the fruit ahead of time. Then, just before you’re ready to eat, add the spinach and nuts. In fact, I often macerate the fruit, store it in the refrigerator and then we have an instant, no-fuss salad quickly ready for lunch or dinner.
As with the Garden Fresh Vegetable Soup, the recipe below is a specific example of a more general technique. To make a green salad with macerated fruit and nuts:
- Mix up the dressing with any type of balsamic or wine-based vinegar you have. This is a great time to experiment with those vinegars you picked up at the specialty shop. Fruity vinegars work very well.
- Add 1-1/2 pounds of whatever fruit is in season. Blueberries have just arrived at the farmers’ markets here in North Carolina, so I used them (and, boy, were they good). Try apples and pears in the fall or oranges and mangoes in the winter. You can also use frozen fruit in a pinch.
- Mix in some salad greens.
- Add your favorite nuts. Walnuts, almonds and pecans all work well.
If you come up with a particularly good combination of vinegar, fruit, greens and nuts, I’d love to hear about it.
Spinach Salad with Macerated Blueberries and Nectarines
Adapted from VB6 by Mark Bittman
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I used blackberry ginger)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, cut in half lengthwise and then thinly sliced
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound fresh blueberries
3/4 pound fresh nectarines, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
10 cups baby spinach
1 cup slivered almonds
In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, shallot, salt and pepper. Add blueberries and nectarines plus any juice that accumulated while you were chopping the nectarines. Toss to coat and let sit for at least 10 minutes.
Add spinach and almonds and toss until leaves are evenly coated with dressing. Serve immediately.
Makes 6 servings
Per serving: 223 calories, 15g fat (2g sat), 0mg cholesterol, 360mg sodium, 20g carb, 5g fiber, 12g sugar, 6g protein
Nutritional Analysis: If you want to reduce the amount of Fat in this salad, use fewer almonds. If you want to cut back on the amount of Sodium, use less of the added salt.
Since I’m experimenting more and more with vegan and gluten-free foods and I love all types of ethnic cuisines, I was delighted to receive a copy of Dahlia Abraham-Klein’s new book Silk Road Vegetarian.
Sharing the “secrets of healthy and sustainable eating as practiced along the trade routes of Asia for centuries,” this book is perfect for mindful cooks who want to eat a healthy diet filled with locally-sourced ingredients. All recipes are vegetarian; some are also vegan, dairy-free and/or gluten-free. Each recipe is labeled so there is no confusion, but I do wish nutritional information had been included.
A staple of North Indian cuisine, traditional Palak Paneer is made with lots of ghee (clarified butter) and paneer (fresh Indian cheese). In this healthier vegan version, Dahlia uses coconut oil instead of ghee and she substitutes tofu for the paneer. The result is a fresh dish that isn’t swimming in fat. This recipe is similar to one of my favorite vegan breakfast dishes – Tofu Scramble with Swiss Chard. The Indian Spinach Curry recipe below adds tomatoes, a wider variety of spices and seems to be more appropriate for dinner.
If you can afford the carbs, serve this with some steamed brown rice that was cooked with fragrant cardamom pods.
Time-saving tip: Use a 10-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach instead of fresh or use pre-washed baby spinach and don’t bother chopping it.
If you like this recipe, some of my Virtual Potluck pals will be sharing others from Silk Road Vegetarian this week. Check out Fennel & Orange Salad from Food Hunter’s Guide to Cuisine and Middle Eastern Lemon Potato Salad from Cookistry.
I’m giving away a copy of Silk Road Vegetarian by Dahlia Abraham-Klein. To enter, leave a comment and tell me your favorite cuisine and/or dish to eat along the Silk Road (trade routes through Asia, Africa, Europe and India) – Asian, Indian, Mediterranean, North African, etc. The contest will run through Tuesday, June 17, 2014. The winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday, June 18, 2014. You must be at least 18 years of age with a U.S. mailing address to win. No purchase is necessary; void where prohibited. The winner will be notified by email and must respond within 24 hours or another winner may be selected. (Please make sure email from email@example.com doesn’t end up in your spam folder.)
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Silk Road Vegetarian by Dahlia Abraham-Klein from Tuttle Publishing plus a second copy to give away. All opinions are my own.
Indian Spinach Curry (Palak Paneer)
Adapted from Silk Road Vegetarian by Dahlia Abraham-Klein
16-ounce block of firm tofu
1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
3/4 cup crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
4 cups finely chopped fresh spinach (large stems removed before chopping)
Place two paper towels on a cutting board and set the tofu on top. Put two more paper towels on top of the tofu and place something heavy on the stack (I use a bacon press or cast iron skillet). Let it sit for at least 5 minutes to remove some of the moisture from the tofu. Discard paper towels and slice tofu into 1/2-inch cubes.
Melt 1 teaspoon of coconut oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Arrange tofu in single layer and cook for about 4 minutes per side, until browned all over. Set aside.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté onion for about 7 minutes, stirring often, until translucent.
Add coriander, cumin and turmeric to saucepan; stir until fragrant. Add ginger, chili powder and crushed red pepper, if using. Cook, stirring often, for about 4 minutes.
Add crushed tomatoes and salt to saucepan, then bring the mixture to a boil. Stir in the spinach. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 7 minutes or until the spinach is bright green.
Gently stir in the tofu and combine well. Simmer, covered, for another 5 minutes to allow the tofu to absorb the flavors of the curry.
Makes 4 servings
Per serving: 142 calories, 8g fat (4g sat), 0mg cholesterol, 531mg sodium, 9g carb, 3g fiber, 3g sugar, 10g protein
Nutritional Analysis: If you are watching your Sodium intake, eliminate or reduce the amount of coarse kosher salt. If you’d like to cut back on the amount of Saturated Fat, use olive oil instead of coconut oil.
Last week, when the thermometer on our deck registered 90°F, I craved soup. It didn’t make any sense, but I wanted a warm tomato-based soup loaded with vegetables. The fact that I needed to use up some farmers’ market finds that were just a tiny bit past their prime was only a bonus.
The recipe below is a specific instance of a more general soup-making technique:
- Sauté aromatic vegetables like onions, garlic and celery in olive oil.
- Add seasonings like salt and pepper.
- Add crushed tomatoes and vegetable or chicken stock.
- Add firm vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and/or root vegetables.
- Add softer vegetables such as yellow squash, zucchini, bell peppers, string beans and leafy greens.
- Garnish with fresh herbs.
I’m trying to stay away from starchy vegetables and beans at the moment, but feel free to throw in peas, corn or drained and rinsed canned beans when you add the softer vegetables.
I like my vegetables to be on the crunchy side; if you prefer yours to be softer, cook each stage for 5 or 10 minutes more than indicated below. You really can’t screw up this recipe.
The result will be a delicious, nutritious, satisfying bowl of soup. Even if it’s ridiculously hot outside.
Garden Fresh Vegetable Soup
Adapted from VB6 by Mark Bittman
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
28 ounces crushed tomatoes
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock (add more if you want a thinner soup)
1 small head cauliflower, separated into florets
2 large carrots, sliced
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
2 yellow squash, halved lengthwise, then sliced into half moons
4 stalks of kale, stems removed and leaves finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to look translucent, about 5 minutes. Add salt and garlic pepper. Stir.
Add tomatoes and stock. Stir to incorporate well. Add the cauliflower and carrots, bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the bell pepper, squash and kale. Bring the mixture back to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
When vegetables are as soft as you like them, the soup is done. Spoon into bowls and garnish with basil.
Makes 4 servings
Per serving: 153 calories, 3g fat (1g sat), 0mg cholesterol, 594mg sodium, 31g carb, 10g fiber, 16g sugar, 8g protein