Bean, Green & Grain Salad

We’ve talked about cooking with grains in the past. If you don’t recall, here is a chart of how to cook 10 common grains for your reference.

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And cooking dried beans was another past topic in the post on RAFL’s Everyday Cehf titled A Beginner’s Guide to Dried Beans.

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What I love about this recipe is that everything is interchangeable. Use the grains, beans and type of greens that you like most or have on hand – it doesn’t matter.

Serve it hot or cold, as a side or main dish, vegetarian or chock full of bacon. (If you go the bacon route try a maple smoked variety – adds some amazing flavor.) It’s all up to what you like and want to do. And in the end, you can even top it with your preferred dressing.

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Bean, Green & Grain Salad

Serves 4 as a side or 2 as a main dish

  • 2 slices bacon, chopped (optional)
  • 1 tbsp butter or oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces of spinach or other spring greens
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans or your favorite bean variety
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa or your favorite grain variety

If using bacon: Heat a skillet on medium heat and add chopped bacon. Fry until golden brown, then remove bacon with a slotted spoon and let drain on a paper towel, keeping the bacon drippings in the pan.

If not using bacon: Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat.

Add onions and mushrooms to the pan and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and
spinach and stir for 2-3 minutes, until spinach is wilted down.

Add in beans and quinoa. Turn off heat and stir in bacon (if used). Serve as a main entree or side dish. Dress with your favorite dressing for extra flavor, if desired.

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Summer Herb Salad

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I don’t know about you, but I’m not quite sure what happened to July, or this week, for that matter. I think I’ve had too much fun eating and cooking all of the great foods from my garden and the market lately that the days slipped by without my noticing. As I force myself to accept that it’s August, and prepare for the new theme of tacos here at Everyday Chef, check out this summer herb salad that I made last Friday for sampling at Friday Night Live. Though July is gone, you can still find the corn, beans, herbs, and lettuce tomorrow at the market. And maybe in a few years we’ll have avocados growing in Vermont as well.

SUMMER HERB SALAD

  • 2 ears sweet corn, husked
  • 1 big handful lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 big handfuls green beans, blanched for 20 seconds in boiling salted water, cooled completely under cold water
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch of chives, finely chopped
  • 1 handful cilantro, loosely chopped
  • 1 small handful of small/medium basil leaves
  • 1 handful of pepitas, toasted
  • fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 medium avocado

Cut each ear of corn in half and carefully cut kernels from cobs. Combine the corn, lettuce, green beans, red onion, herbs, and pumpkin seeds in a large bowl.

Make the avocado dressing by sprinkling a big pinch of salt on the garlic clove. Chop and crush it into a paste with the back of a knife. Place the garlic in a medium bowl along with the yogurt, lemon juice, and avocado. Puree with a hand blender or put everything into a traditional blender. Taste, add salt one pinch at a time until properly seasoned. If you aren’t dressing the salad immediately, cover with plastic, pressing into the top of the dressing to prevent browning.

Gently toss the ingredients with a couple big dollops of the avocado dressing. Taste, add a bit of salt and/or more dressing if needed.

Recipe from: 101cookbooks.com

Salad Greens: Pick Dark and Loose

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As you set out to form the perfect dinner salad this summer, consider what greens you choose for your base. Though they’re all some shade of green, they’re not all equal, or even comparable, in nutritional value. In fact, the differences between iceberg lettuce and spinach, for instance, are astonishing. But you don’t need to have nutritional data memorized to make wise choices. A simple rule of thumb is to go for the darker and looser varieties. Not to pick on iceberg, or put any iceberg farmers out of business, but iceberg lettuce has some of the fewest vitamins and antioxidants out of all of your salad green options. It’s no coincidence that it also happens to be a very light green color and the leaves form a tight head – the exact opposite of what you should look for. Iceberg’s low nutrient count is due to its high water content, which equates to roughly 96%. Yet, for some reason it still remains one of our country’s most popular lettuces. Romaine, on the other hand, with darker leaves and a looser form, has much more to offer. And if you care about taste or texture, I’d say it beats out iceberg in those departments as well.

What is it that makes darker greens more worth your while? Vitamin K is at the top of the list – the vitamin that helps your blood clot, protects your bones and can even help prevent certain cancers. Then, there is folic acid (folate), a type of B vitamin that is necessary for healthy cell formation and is especially important for pregnant women. Vitamin A is another prevalent nutrient found in many greens. It helps improve eyesight and strengthens the immune system.

If you’re stuck on iceberg, all is not lost. The pale green does contain some nutritional value, just not much when considering the alternatives. Instead, try a mix of greens, whether you’re an iceberg fan or an all around green lover. It will allow you to experience a variety of nutrients, as well as tastes and textures. You can often find bags of mixed greens at the market, or buy a few different ones and experiment. I was pick a variety of greens from my garden when putting together a salad and it never gets boring.

 

Grilled Romaine

With the Fourth of July holiday weekend(s) kicking off in just a day, you’re probably dreaming of all the grilled foods you’ll soon be enjoying. And believe it or not, salad can be one of them. Briefly grilling halved Romaine heads adds a nice charred flavor that just tastes like summer. Red onion, soft blue cheese and crispy bacon bring a variety of flavors and textures – a quality you should strive for when assembling any salad. Then, a balsamic reduction drizzled over it all adds an amazing level of tangy sweetness. With a little imagination, you could even stretch this to fulfill your red, white and blue quota. Have a delicious Fourth!

GRILLED ROMAINE WITH BALSAMIC AND BLUE CHEESE

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 lb diced bacon (optional)
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 heads romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
  1. Preheat the grill to high.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the onion and bacon and cook until the bacon is crispy. If not using bacon, go ahead and cook the onions until they start to become translucent.
  3. Remove the onion and bacon from the pan and add the balsamic vinegar and 1 tbsp olive oil. Reduce for 2 –3 minutes then remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Brush the Romaine with the remaining olive oil. Place on the grill cut side down until grill marks are visible, about 2 minutes.
  5. For each serving, place half a Romaine head grilled-side up on a plate and drizzle over the balsamic. Sprinkle with blue cheese, bacon and onions, and garnish with cracked black pepper.

Serves 6

Adapted from Food Network Magazine, June 2011

Greens 101

We’ve been talking about greens all month here on the blog. And you’re probably seeing greens everywhere at the market and in your farm shares. But maybe you aren’t so sure the difference between chard and collards or mesclun and romaine. So here is a visual guide to a few of our favorite greens and some info to get you started.

Name: Arugula Season: spring – summer Taste: bitter Cooking Methods: braise, raw (salads), saute, soups, wilt Pairs well with: balsamic vinegar, cheese: goat and Parmesan, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, tomatoesTry:arugula + balsamic + lemon + olive oil + Parmesan OR raw arugula + pears + prosciutto

 

Name: Bok choy
Season: year-round

Taste: bitter Cooking Methods: boil, braise, raw, stir-fry Pairs well with: ginger, rice, sesame oil, soy sauce Try:bok choy + oyster sauce + mushrooms (stir-fried) OR bok choy + sesame oil + vinegar + scallions (raw)

 

Name: Collard Greens Season: winter – spring Taste: bitter Cooking Methods: boil, braise, steam, stir-fry Pairs well with: bacon, black-eyed peas, cider vinegar, onions, salt pork,

Try: steamed collard greens + brown rice + black-eyed peas

 

 

Name: Dandelion greens

Season: late spring – early autumn Taste: bitter Cooking Methods: raw, saute, steam Pairs well with: anchovies, bacon, Dijon mustard, garlic, onionsTry:steamed dandelion greens + garlic + onion + Parmesan

Name: Kale Season: spring- autumn  Taste: bitter, sweet Cooking Methods: blanch, boil, braise, saute, steam, stir-fry Pairs well with: chicken stock, garlic, nutmeg, olive oil, onions, pasta, red pepper flakes, roasted meats, thyme, tomatoes Try:kale + garlic + olive oil + red wine vinegar OR kale + onions + salt + smoked sausage

Name: Loose leaf lettuce (lettuces in general)

Season: spring- autumn Cooking Methods: raw Pairs well with: apples, bacon, basil, cheese, dill, eggs, mint, nuts, olive oil, parsley, pears, raisins, raw vegetables, sprouts, tarragon, vinegar Try: limitless options here

 

Name: Mesclun (mixed baby lettuces)

Season: spring       Taste: bitter, sweet Cooking Methods: raw Pairs well with: basil, goat cheese, chives, lemon, olive oil, pecans, shallots, tarragon, vinaigrette Try:mesclun + goat cheese + hazelnuts or pecans

Name: Romaine (Head lettuce)

Season: spring- autumn Taste: bitter, sweet Cooking Methods: grill, rawPairs well with: anchovies, avocados, Dijon mustard, eggs, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, red onions, shallots, vinegar, walnuts

 

 

Try:romaine + anchovies + Parmesan cheese OR romaine + capers + garlic + Parmesan cheese + red onions

Name: Swiss chard
Season: year-round    Taste: bitter

Cooking Methods: boil, braise, sauté, steam, stir-fry

Pairs well with: bacon, garlic, lemon, onions, mushrooms, pasta, potatoes, red pepper flakes, thyme, vinegar

 

Try: chard + bell peppers + Parmesan cheese + eggplant OR chard + red pepper flakes + lemon juice

Arugula Stuffed Baked Potatoes

IMG_2783I love arugula. But sometimes I want something a little more substantial than a salad. Here’s a simple recipe combining arugula with another one of my favorites – potatoes.  It’s really just a well dressed arugula salad squeezed right inside of a potato. I find that the spiciness of the arugula pairs well with the lemon and tarragon flavors of the creamy dressing, as well as the contrasting softness of the warm potato. And it really beats the unhealthy, traditional loaded baked potato. Two of these made a satisfying dinner with some extra arugula and dressing on the side.  Crumbling some crispy turkey bacon on top would add a healthy source of protein. Can’t wait to make this again with potatoes from my garden later this summer!

Short on time? Microwave two potatoes for 12 minutes then bake until crispy. Too hot for the oven? Wrap seasoned and slightly oiled potatoes in foil and grill for 40 minutes. 

Ingredients

  •  2 medium to large baking potatoes
  • sea salt
  • olive oil or butter
  • 2 large handfuls of arugula

dressing:

  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • a couple leaves of tarragon, chopped
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Scrub the potatoes and then prick all over with a fork. Sprinkle with sea salt. A light coating of olive oil helps the salt stick, but better yet, creates a crisper skin. Bake until tender – about 45 minutes.

While the potatoes bake, make the dressing by whisking all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning.

When done cooking, slice the potatoes open. Toss the arugula with the dressing. You can scoop some of the potato flesh out to make room for the dressed arugula, but I just kind of pile it right on top and dig in.

Adapted from 101cookbooks.com

The Dirt On Salad Spinners

I have a very small kitchen and no room to waste on unnecessary appliances and gadgets – not even a toaster. So there are only a select few items that I consider worthy of taking up my precious kitchen space. A salad spinner is one of them. Deemed unnecessary or extravagant by some, if you grow your own greens, or buy them from a farm, it is well worth the investment. I actually enjoy finding dirt, and sometimes even insects, clinging to my greens. It reminds me of where they came from – real soil and real people. Nevertheless, I want my greens clean before eating. The best way to make that happen is to immediately submerge the freshly picked or purchased greens in a bowl of cold water. Then, give them a shake to release any particles to the bottom of the bowl. Cold water is important here because it helps the greens maintain their crispness.

After rinsing is when the salad spinner comes into play. If need be, I tear the greens into smaller pieces. This is certainly required with head lettuces, like Romaine, which are not going to fit into a spinner while intact. Tearing greens by hand is the ideal method, as chopping with a knife can cause bruising. Once the greens are in the spinner, put the lid on and spin. Sometimes this is achieved by turning a crank and other times it requires pulling a string. Either way, I find it kind of fun. Several spins are probably going to be necessary to get the greens sufficiently dry. In some cases, you might find you need to repeat the rinse and spin process a couple of times.

What I also like about a spinner is that when I’m done drying my greens, I empty out the water, place a paper towel right inside, and store the whole container in the fridge until using. Of course, a plastic bag with a paper towel inside also works. But if you’re still not sold on a spinner, here’s one additional use: perfectly dressing a salad. Adding the dressing right to the spinner (after drying) makes it easy to get the greens coated and prevents a pool of dressing in the bottom of your salad bowl. Or, you could evenly coat pieces of kale with olive oil when makingKale Chips.

The bottom line is that if greens are properly rinsed, dried, and stored, they will remain at their prime for as long as possible – giving you the most for your money. Sure, this could all be completed without a spinner. You could shake the greens dry in between paper towels or clean kitchen cloths, but I find that leads to unnecessary waste or laundry and simply does not do as good of a job. I don’t know about you, but I eat greens all summer long and know that the spinner will be in use throughout the season – much more than that dust accumulating slow cooker. A decent spinner can be found for about fifteen dollars. I actually found one for just a dollar at a yard sale a few weeks ago. By no means should you consider this a luxury item, but rather, the most useful kitchen tool of the summer.

Braising Greens

Braising is a cooking method that involves both dry and moist heat and can be achieved in a pan on top of the stove. What’s great about braising greens is that it’s the same technique for whichever green you chose to use: kale, escarole, collards and Swiss chard are all good options. You can even mix different greens together. This makes a great side dish any night of the week.

Braised GreensServes 4 Ingredients

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water, broth, or white wine
  • 1 large bunch of rinsed and roughly torn greens  (6 – 8 cups)

Preparation

  1. In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat.
  2. Add garlic, red pepper, and greens.
  3. Cook until greens just begin to wilt.
  4. Add in the liquid and salt.
  5. Simmer until liquid has reduced in half and greens are tender.

In The Mood For Salad?

I am. It’s been a long, pretend winter this year, and Everyday Chefs all over may want to break up the soup schedule with some interesting new flavors. And, it’s great timing. Word around town is that greens have resurfaced at the weekly farmers’ market.

This healthy winter salad is the perfect way to marry basement butternut squash with these lovely green gems from the market.

Butternut Squash and Smoky Black Bean Salad Adapted from Cooking Light

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
  • 7 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups cooked black beans
  • 1 bag of winter greens
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese

PREPARATION

1. Preheat oven to 425°.

2. Combine squash and 1 tablespoon oil; toss to coat. Arrange squash on baking sheet. Bake at 425° for 25 minutes or until tender.

3. Arrange walnuts on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle 1/8 teaspoon salt over nuts; toss. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes or until toasted, stirring a couple of times.  Watch them carefully–toasted becomes burnt rather quickly.

4. Combine 1 tablespoon olive oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, paprika and oregano in a bowl; stir with a whisk.

5. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add squash, remaining 3/8 teaspoon salt, pepper, and beans; cook 3 minutes or until heated through. Remove from heat; stir in 3 tablespoons dressing; toss to coat.

6. Combine remaining dressing and arugula; toss to coat. Divide arugula mixture evenly among 4 plates; top with bean mixture. Sprinkle evenly with nuts and cheese.

Frittata with Spring Greens

A frittata is a tasty combination of eggs, vegetables, and cheese cooked on the stove and then finished in the oven. This is a basic recipe that can be widely adapted.

Frittata with Spring Greens

Ingredients • One large sweet or yellow onion, diced • One clove of garlic, minced (if desired) • 2 tbs of butter or olive oil • One bunch of green vegetables: chose one or more: spinach, asparagus, swiss chard, kale, arugula, scallions, leeks, etc., rough chopped • 3/4 to full cup of your favorite cheese: shredded cheddar, ricotta, goat chevre, feta–just about anything works! • 1/4 cup grated parmesan for the top • 8-10 eggs • ½ cup cream, half and half, or milk • salt and pepper to tastePreparation Melt butter or warm oil in a heavy, ovenproof, non-stick or cast iron skillet (approximately 10 inch). Saute onion and garlic in the butter or oil until translucent. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk eggs, milk, and cheese with salt and pepper. Add chopped vegetables to the skillet and saute briefly (longer for thicker veg like asparagus). Add egg mixture to skillet; fold gently to combine. Cook until almost set. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top. Broil until frittata is puffed and cheese begins to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

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