Grain bowls are a weeknight staple around here. Steam a grain (quinoa, brown rice, barley), toss a veggie in a hot skillet (greens, broccoli, really just anything), add a protein (tofu, chickpeas, egg). Basic. Boring, until you get to the fun part—the sauce.
I’m always on the lookout for interesting-sounding sauces, especially ones that use ingredients I always have on hand. This ginger-miso dressing just about fit that bill, with a substitution or two, and I streamlined the preparation so it came together in the time the vegetables spent in the pan.
Then we tasted it.
“I’d eat this every week. It’d be really good with tempeh or tofu,” I said.
“Or as a dipping sauce for dumplings,” Austin said.
“Or spring rolls. Or even a salad dressing.”
“I’d just drink shots of it.”
“It would be good if this came out of our shower instead of water.”
Austin drew the line at my suggestion that my job pay me in this sauce instead of with money, I think because he loves saving for retirement and worried it wouldn’t keep. He did say he’d breathe it instead of oxygen if he could, so that’s saying…something. Something like, “Everyone please try this. Tonight.”
FARRO BOWLS WITH MISO-GINGER SAUCE
1 cup farro
4 bulbs green garlic, sliced thinly
8 cups greens, destemmed (I used spinach & turnip greens)
1/4 cup olive oil (plus more for cooking veggies)
1/3 cup water
3 tbsp miso
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tbsp roughly chopped ginger
1 tsp Sriracha sauce
Cook your farro. Meanwhile, heat a little olive oil in a cast-iron skillet; add green garlic. Saute for a few minutes until softened. Add greens in batches and stir until wilted, but still bright green.
Make the sauce: Combine olive oil, water, miso, rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and Sriracha in the vessel that belongs to the immersion blender; blend away until smooth.
Serve by layering grain, greens, and sauce in bowls. This really would be perfect with tofu; we were out.
It’s market season at last! Finally Thursdays are useful for something other than getting in the way of Friday’s approach, and all the spring vegetables have me feeling excited about food that’s not pizza again. (NB: I am still excited about pizza. Especially that traveling wood-fired gypsy pizza at the market, which frankly is just exceptional.)
I am so excited about spring vegetables that I am even excited about radishes, which typically don’t overly enthuse me. Lately, though, the minute radishes appear in our fridge I’m itching to quick-pickle them with rosemary and eat them up—on salads, on sandwiches, or right out of the jar.
I cut back on the sugar usually called for in quick-pickle recipes, and found that the results were still subtly sweet—just right for our tastes.
This salad comes together so easily. Boil the eggs, mixing the brine in the meantime. While the radishes marinate, tear & wash the lettuces, slice the avocado, peel & slice the eggs. After pulling the pickled radishes from the brine, add olive oil and cracked pepper to the jar, and shake to make a perfect vinaigrette.
SPRING LETTUCES WITH QUICK-PICKLED RADISHES, EGG, AND AVOCADO
3 ounces red wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
3 ounces (or about 7) radishes, sliced thinly
2 tbsp olive oil
Cracked black pepper to taste
6 cups mixed spring lettuces
1 avocado, sliced
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
In a glass jar, combine red wine vinegar, sugar, salt, and rosemary. Shake until sugar & salt have dissolved. Add radishes, give the jar one more shake, and set aside for 30 minutes.
When ready, remove radishes with a fork and discard all but 3 tablespoons or so of the brine (don’t you dare measure; I certainly didn’t). Add olive oil & pepper to the jar and shake enthusiastically. Toss lettuces with dressing and top with avocado, egg, and radishes.
Oops, long time no blog, right? Well, the only thing more boring than a blog without posts is one with posts about not blogging, so I’m not going to carry on and on but I will say this: you haven’t been missing anything. Hand-in-hand with No Time To Blog walks No Time To Cook, and I’ve been plagued with both since school started. It’s been a struggle to stick to my one-take-out-bahn-mi-per-week-is-really-plenty rule and last week I fed us frozen pizza and boxed mac & cheese on consecutive nights. (Both organic, and both with added fresh vegetables, BUT STILL.)
While tonight’s meal is, finally, something of a departure from that, it didn’t take any more time or energy, which made it just about perfect. The recipe is from Smitten Kitchen, who seemed to feel like it should be an appetizer rather than a meal but hey, she wasn’t looking and I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t judge anyway. I served ours with fresh bread and made just a couple of other changes—lots more tomatoes, basil instead of parsley, triple the garlic and no olives.
I can personally vouch for its suitability as a rushed, weeknight meal, but it’s true it would also make a perfect quick starter. I’ll keep it in mind for both—we’ll definitely repeat this one soon.
This idea—to bake an egg in the hollow of an avocado half—was floating around the internet a month or two ago, looking all amazing, but my feelings about avocados are so strong that anytime one was in my fridge I just could never bring myself to subject it to the questionable practice of BAKING it. Cooked avocado? Who wants that? Not anybody, I worried, and so I stuck to my lime and my salt and eating them raw, as nature intended.
The research I did when I finally thought I might give it a shot was, at first, not very reassuring. The first link I clicked took me to a blog post that totally panned it. (LOL, panned, get it?) Reading through, though, I realized that the writer disliked runny egg (WTH?!) and so had baked the poor avocado until the egg yolk was completely solid, which must have taken at least 20 minutes. At 450 degrees. Right. He also made no mention at all of salt. His complaint that it was bland and tasted like “baked clay” suddenly held a lot less weight, and given everyone else’s raves, I decided to go for it anyway.
In a surprise twist, it tasted amazing! The avocado was warm and creamy, the texture not having suffered a bit, and the baked egg was perfect for scooping up with toast soldiers. (I mostly wrote this post just so I could say “toast soldiers”.)
AVOCADO BAKED EGGS
One avocado, halved & pitted
Two small eggs
Salt & pepper to taste
Sriracha wouldn’t be a bad idea
Place a cast iron skillet in the oven and heat to 450 degrees. Scoop out some of the avocado, leaving just about half an inch or so of flesh inside the skin. Sprinkle with salt. Crack an egg in each half (I used the tiniest eggs in the dozen, and still they spilled over a little). Salt some more. Carefully place avocado halves in hot skillet, and bake 10 minutes.
Top with cracked black pepper, and that sriracha, if you like, and serve with toast soldiers (there I go again) and fresh slices of tomato.
These simple quesadillas were an odds-and-ends meal, conceived by way of a fridge-doors-open assessment of bits I had no other use for. It’s always especially satisfying when one of those meals is this delicious. I’d usually use a milder cheese for a quesadilla, but the last of a hunk of very sharp white cheddar elevated these in a way I did not anticipate, especially combined with the creamy avocado. If there’s a more perfect food than avocado tossed with lime juice & salt, don’t tell me about it. It’ll just confuse me.
ZUCCHINI BLACK BEAN QUESADILLAS WITH AVOCADO & LIME
1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for cooking quesadillas
1 medium zucchini, diced
1/4 cup diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
1/2 cup cooked black beans
4 six-inch flour tortillas
1/2 cup grated sharp white cheddar
1 small avocado, diced
Juice of 1/4 lime
Heat olive oil in a skillet and add zucchini, onion, and garlic. Cook a few minutes, then stir in chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and salt. Continue to cook until tender and add black beans, stirring until heated through. Remove from heat. Add a little olive oil to a second skillet (a sprayer comes in handy here, or a pastry brush), and heat. Build the quesadilla directly in the pan—first a tortilla, then a sprinkle of cheese, then as much filling as you can possibly pile on, another sprinkle of cheese, and the final tortilla. Cook until bottom is lightly browned, then spray/brush oil on the top tortilla and flip. When that side is browned, remove to a plate and make the second quesadilla. Toss avocado with lime juice & salt, and top quesadillas to serve.
This method of cooking eggs + hash browns is so quick and easy, it could even be weekday breakfast, were you the type willing to get up a touch earlier (I am not). Rounded out with some green—speedy skillet chard, in this case—and some sweet roasted summer squash, for us it was a near-effortless weeknight dinner, which is sometimes just as necessary.
Austin tasted this thinly-sliced, quickly-roasted squash and called it candy, which I think is pretty apt. Try it—you’ll never believe there’s not a speck of added sugar otherwise.
EGG-TOPPED HASH BROWNS
1 medium potato, grated
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Wrap grated potato in a tea towel and wring out most of the excess liquid—no need to go after every drop, you just want to avoid sogginess (and too much spatter in the pan). Heat olive oil in a cast-iron skillet, then press potato into the bottom of the pan. Add salt & pepper. Allow to cook 4-5 minutes, then flip—if it’s adequately browned, it should stay in one piece. Crack eggs right onto the surface of the hash browns, season with salt & pepper, and cover the pan. Cook about another 4-5 minutes, until the whites are just set and the yolks still runny.
SUMMER SQUASH CANDY
3 medium summer squash, sliced very thinly—about 1/8” thick
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste
Heat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss squash with olive oil & salt, then arrange in a single layer (really—no overlapping!) on the prepared pan and roast for 15 minutes, or until soft and browned in places.
Once upon a time, a few years back, we had sweet corn ice cream at Shaun’s, that since-closed Inman Park restaurant owned by the Yeah Burger guy? Yes, that one. I doubt we were served just a scoop of ice cream—probably it accompanied a tart or pie or cake or something—but all I remember is the novelty of creamy, sweet ice cream that tasted unmistakeably of corn.
I’ve been thinking about it ever since, clearly, and last week when we had a few ears of sweet corn in our CSA bag I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. I read a few recipes, some of which recommended simmering the corn in the cream and then straining the mixture, others which suggested adding whole kernels towards the end of churning time. Then I found this one from Sunset magazine instructing you to grate the kernels off the cobs using a box grater. I wasn’t entirely sure about it, but it worked so well! The resulting creamy pulp blended smoothly into the ice cream, yielding big corn flavor but no icy bits of frozen kernel. Delightful.
So often when I’m at Dekalb Farmer’s Market, I’m powering through with my head down with eyes only for whatever’s on my list. This is because it’s bonkers in there, of course, and most people are wandering pretty aimlessly, abandoning their carts or children or grandparents dead center in the narrow aisles effectively rendering them impassable. So my method makes the shopping trip bearable, but it means sometimes I miss things. Like that they’ve started carrying whole-wheat Israeli couscous.
There are benefits to wandering aimlessly now and again. Combined with crumbled Cojita, ripe tomatoes, and creamy limas, the chewy texture of the couscous was terrific in this summery pasta salad. I served ours with very mustardy deviled eggs, topped with a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper.
TOMATO & LIMA BEAN ISRAELI COUSCOUS SALAD
1 cup dry Israeli couscous
2 cups shelled lima beans
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste
3 cups tomato chunks
1/2 cup crumbled Cojita cheese (feta would work too, and would make more sense with the other, vaguely-Mediterranean ingredients)
1/4 cup chopped basil
Bring two pots of salted water to boil. Add couscous to one; cook 10 minutes, or until tender. Add lima beans to the other; cook 15 minutes. When ready, drain both & allow to cool.
Meanwhile, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add tomatoes, Cojita, and basil. Stir in couscous & lima beans. Refrigerate until cold; serve chilled.
If you can get your hands on a couple of good-sized pattypan squash, you probably won’t be able to help hollowing them out and stuffing them. Their unusual shape generates adorable, fluted bowls that are the perfect vessel for whatever you’ve got on hand. Our highly-flavorful mixture of quinoa, spring onions, sharp cheddar, and basil was pretty divine, but I can imagine a version with tomatoes, rice, and mozzarella, or one with black beans, cumin, and salsa (topped after baking with avocado & lime juice? Obviously).
Apparently I’ll be making these again.
QUINOA-STUFFED PATTYPAN SQUASH
1/2 cup dry quinoa
2 large pattypan squash
Olive oil as needed (a sprayer comes in handy here)
1 tsp butter, or Earth Balance
1/2 cup spring onions, white parts only, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt & pepper to taste
2 oz. very sharp white cheddar, crumbled
2 tbsp minced fresh basil
Heat oven (or toaster oven—I use ours whenever possible to avoid wasting energy & heating up the kitchen) to 425 degrees. Slice off the stem end of each squash to get a flat bottom, then cut a circle on the blossom end & hollow it out. Dice the removed squash & set aside. Spray (or otherwise coat) each squash bowl with olive oil, and roast 30 minutes or so, until tender. Meanwhile, start your quinoa simmering.
Heat butter in a skillet and add onions. Cook a few minutes, then toss in the reserved squash & the garlic. Season with salt & pepper. When that’s all cooked to your satisfaction, combine with cooked quinoa and stir in the cheddar & basil. Mound the quinoa mixture into the roasted squash, and return to the oven, just for 5 minutes or so to make sure everything’s heated through.
Last night this guy & I decided to walk down to our neighborhood park for a picnic supper. (This picture of Austin & Thurston is so adorable I figured no one would notice Rosie’s distinctly unladylike behavior in the background. So I pointed it out! Obviously.)
Each of these three summery salads came together so easily, and any one of them would make a perfect take-along dish for the myriad 4th of July barbeques you’re probably invited to, you social butterfly, you. The miso-sesame grated beet salad was one I came up with during the Great Beet Salad Binge of April 2012, and the pasta salad was very compatibly tossed with this miso-tahini dressing (a great way to make a wonderfully creamy pasta salad without mayonnaise or other animal fats).
Fruit salads don’t necessarily demand dressing, I know, but this orange-juice-based ginger-basil dressing truly elevated a simple combination of diced peaches and blackberries. It was a delicious side, and would definitely hold its own as a dessert—perhaps sandwiched between a slice of pound cake and a dollop of fresh whipped cream. (And suddenly, I know what I’M bringing for the 4th.)
ROASTED VEGGIE PASTA SALAD
3 cups sliced pattypan squash
3 cups green beans (in bite-sized pieces)
Olive oil to taste
3 cups cooked pasta
1/4 cup sliced scallions (green bits only)
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Toss pattypan squash with a little oil, and roast for 10 minutes, or until just tender. Switch on the broiler, toss green beans with oil, and broil for 5 minutes. Combine squash, green beans, pasta, and scallions in a large bowl, and toss with dressing until evenly coated. Pop in the refrigerator for a few hours; serve chilled.
PEACH-BLACKBERRY SALAD WITH GINGER-BASIL DRESSING
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp champagne vinegar
1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp chiffonaded basil
3 medium peaches, diced
1 cup blackberries
Whisk together orange juice, oil, vinegar, ginger, and basil in a large bowl. Add peaches & blackberries; toss to combine.