Posts Tagged ‘salad’

Simple sandwich of Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado and Tomato with Pesto and a side of Mixed Greens Salad.  Simple is good.  Very good.

BLAT with Pesto

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Skirt Steak Salad with Arugula, Heirloom Tomatoes, Garbanzo Beans and Bruschetta Toasts, Garnished with slivers of Parmesan

Skirt Steak with arugula salad mix, heirloom tomatoes and bruschetta 1

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A simple yet impressive dinner: Butternut Squash Lasagna with Fresh Mixed Greens from our garden and homegrown roasted beets with a gorgonzola-toasted walnut dressing.

butternut squash lasagna

No need for fireworks.

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Delicately seasoned balsamic chicken breast, sliced thinly and arranged over a fresh half of romaine lettuce with heirloom tomatoes and a homemade blue cheese dressing.  It’s an entrée, a light lunch or just a great picnic lunch.  Portable, delicious and healthy.

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Quinoa is such a versatile ingredient.  Serve it warm, serve it hot or serve it chilled and the results are pleasing.  I love my old tried-and-true Quinoa Tabbouleh that I serve over the summer months.  True too, that I love my winter Quinoa Vegetable Salad with pumpkin and winter squash.  It only makes sense that I needed a Springtime Quinoa.  So here we are!

The early crops are coming up strong in our gardens so they dictated the ingredients for my new Springtime Quinoa Salad.  It’s so simple that writing a recipe isn’t necessary.  I’m going to tell it as my grandmother would have said it.


Make a batch of quinoa.  While it’s cooking, rinse about two cups of black beans.  I make mine from dried beans but canned will work if you rinse them well and drain off the water.  Chop about a palm-full of red onion.  Chop another palm-full of red bell pepper.  Grab a bunch of cilantro and chop well.  Grab some flat leaf parsley and chop it well too.  One large garden scallion from our garden is enough but if you use store-bought, chop at least 3.  Chop one large seeded tomato into small dice sized pieces.

Season it all with a good couple of grinds of sea salt and black pepper.  Combine lemon and olive oil at a ratio of 1:3.  Whisk until it is emulsified and toss with the salad ingredients.  You can also enhance this with a garnish of Feta Cheese or some toasted almond slivers.  Serve at room temperature, warmed or chilled.  It’s up to you!  Any which way, it’s good.

Unfortunately our quinoa crop was destroyed by local construction so I purchased the quinoa.  However, the onion, scallion, parsley, cilantro and lemon all came from our garden. Soon I will be able to use the tomatoes too.  Homegrown makes it better if you can do it.

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A traditional Indian Kheema, literally ground meat, made in our kitchens is only an imitation of an authentic kheema. American cooks cannot achieve the same Indian flavors primarily because of the difference in meats.

In India drier cuts of meat, usually mutton or lamb or venison, are used and typically cooked on the bone using neck parts or shoulders. One reason for cooking the meat on the bone is the cultural difference of eating with their hands.

Additionally in India, most meals are served with breads (roti, chapati or paratha) which are used as utensils in place of forks and knives. When the meat is cooked on the bone, it is also easier to pick upand the bones filled with marrow are highly sought after delicacies.

In spite of those things, we can still make wonderful tasting kheemas from our own kitchens as I’ve done here. I’ve altered the traditional kheema recipe to suit the way I cook and according to the availability of ingredients in America. It’s also twisted away from tradition and served as a salad.

My mentor was initially appalled, especially when she noticed the orzo replacing the traditional rice, and then she tasted the finished dish.  She grinned and nodded her approval and I began to breathe again.  So here we go!

Many recipes for kheema instruct the cook to meld the aromatics and spices into a smooth paste in a food processor or spice grinder.  I do that when I’m using chicken*(see below) which necessitates marinating over night to achieve the level of flavor that I prefer.

For beef, I like to leave the ingredients in pieces that augment the texture in the finished dish and give it a particular “pop” of flavor when a cardamom seed or peppercorn crushes between your teeth.

Before cooking, assemble the following ingredients:

2 pounds fresh chuck or top round, fat and gristle removed, ground once

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, NOT olive oil

1 medium sized onion, chopped

3 tablespoons garlic, minced

3 tablespoons fresh, peeled gingerroot, minced

1 jalapeno pepper with seeds, (stem removed), chopped

3 generous teaspoons coriander powder

2 teaspoons cardamom seeds

1 tablespoon Madras curry powder or more to taste

(Do not use Asian or Oriental curry powder)

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

2-3 teaspoons red pepper powder

(I use Reshampatti but Cayenne is a good substitute)

1 teaspoon white pepper powder

(You can find this at any Indian market or substitute fine grind

black pepper)

8 ounces Orzo pasta (trust me on this one)

*For a Gluten Free option, substitute pre-cooked Basmati rice or Quinoa for the Orzo.

2 cups beef broth, skimmed of all fat if homemade


4 scallions, chopped into small pieces

2 chopped, seeded tomatoes

Paper-thin slices of cucumber, about ½ of a medium cucumber

½ cup cilantro

1 cup Greek yogurt

Hot mango chutney

Spinach to line the plates or bowls

Add salt to taste, if necessary

This recipe works best if all the ingredients, including the beef, are at room temperature.

Cooking Instructions:

Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the beef and sauté just until cooked and no pink appears, approximately 5 minutes.  Remove the meat to a bowl and set aside.

Reheat the same skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, ginger, jalapeno, and sauté until aromatic, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the coriander, cardamom, curry powder, black peppercorns, red and white pepper powders and the orzo to the pan.  Stir briskly until combined and heated, about 1 minute or until the aromatics make you swoon.

Add the beef broth, stirring to combine, and bring the mixture just to a boil. It is important to bring it just to the boiling point without actually boiling the mixture. As soon as the bubbles begin, reduce the heat to medium low and cover the skillet.

Cook until the orzo is tender and most of the beef broth is absorbed.  Stir the mixture occasionally to keep it from sticking in the pan.  The cooking should take about 20-25 minutes depending on your equipment.

When the broth is absorbed, return the beef to the skillet and stir until the mixture is completely combined.  Taste and adjust your seasonings.

To plate this dish, line a plate or bowl with fresh spinach leaves.  Mound the kheema in the middle of the dish.  Arrange your condiments (cucumber slices, chopped tomato, scallion and cilantro) decoratively in rows over the kheema.

Add a dollop of yogurt with a dollop of chutney on the side of the dish.

Serve and enjoy!  Your tastebuds will dance!

* You can easily alter this recipe for chicken, if you wish.  The difference is that you would add the yogurt to the paste, and then add the chicken.  It should marinate, refrigerated, overnight.  The chicken can then be ground or cut into chunks after marinating.  At this point, cooking can proceed accordingly in the recipe above.  For vegetarians, firm tofu works very well here but sauté the tofu to a golden brown for added flavor.

NOTE:  Variations that I’ve tried and recommend are the addition of small chunks of potatoes, peas, sautéed mushrooms or cooked spinach.  Serving the kheema over lentils is also very nice.

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Few starters are simpler than this one!

Simply chill a plate.

Next, top it with some mixed greens.  Any salad greens will work but an assortment is desirable for an interesting mingling of flavors.

Slice a Fuyu persimmon and decorate the greens with those brightly colored slim slices.

Dot the persimmon with crumbles (or globs as we call them in my kitchen) of chevre (goat cheese).

Lastly, sprinkle the plate with some homemade (or store bought, if you must) candied pecans.

The result is an inviting and colorful first course, filled with flavor and good nutrition.  At the last minute, before serving, drizzle any type of citrus vinaigrette (or for New Years, use a high quality champagne vinaigrette) over the top and serve chilled!

Happy Holidays!

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