Carrot Zucchini Slaw

When I was growing up, I didn’t know or understand much about coleslaw. Except that you got it from KFC. And that it had an odd milky texture, which turned me off, and a delightful combination of sweet and crunch, which I enjoyed. So I was an unenlightened and confused child in terms of coleslaw. Its rare presence was just about right for how much I both enjoyed and disliked it.

At some point, something changed. I couldn’t tell you what it was, except that “they” say taste buds change every 7 years. I don’t know who “they” are, and I don’t know if this is actually true. Let’s say it is. I can remember a moment driving down the road, just about a year ago, and NEEDING to eat some coleslaw. I didn’t know why. I only knew that I had to figure out how to create that sweet and strange crunch. So I did.

I can tell you what actually changed was that I began to really enjoy cabbage in a way I never had before. When I put two and two together, it made sense that all of a sudden I was creating all sorts of coleslaws just based on what I had in my fridge. This time, I had some carrots and zucchini and a desire to make a slaw that looked kind of elegant. I think it may have worked. You tell me.

Carrot Zucchini Slaw

1 Large Carrot

1 Small Zucchini or 1/3 Large Zucchini

1/3 Head Cabbage

1/3 Red Onion

2 Egg Yolks

1/4 C. Olive Oil

2 T. White Wine Vinegar or TT

1 Clove Garlic

1/8 t. Horseradish

1/4 t. Salt or TT

TT Fresh Ground Pepper

Dill Springs to Garnish

1. Peel the outer layer of the carrot and zucchini. I tend to peel things like cucumber and zucchini only partially (in stripes) so as to leave a little color. But that is up to you.

2. Using your peeler, create long strips of carrot and zucchini. If you have an especially long vegetable, cut it in half or peel starting halfway and then flip it over (that’s what I did; it gives you something to hold on to). Your strips will stop being elegant and start being an annoyance at around 4 inches.

3. Do your best with the cabbage and onion to replicate the strips of carrot and zucchini by slicing them thin. Toss it all in a bowl and set aside while you make the dressing.

4. As for the remaining ingredients, you will need to create a nice dressing with the emulsion method. Start with the yolks. Beat them well and SLOWLY pour in your olive oil until the consistency is quite thick. If you need further guidance or examples, go here.

5. You can add the rest of the ingredients to the dressing at this point. Start with a splash here and there of WW Vinegar and the rest of the ingredients and taste test your way into deliciousness.*

6. Toss the dressing over the vegetables, chill if you’d like, and garnish with dill springs. This makes 2 side salads.

*I’m a true believer that no two people have the same flavor palate. Make food according to what tastes good to you (and the people you will be feeding it to, if that is the case). Just remember that recipes are usually just guidelines, not hard and fast rules. That is, unless you are trying to replicate a classic…

Happy eating!

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Sweet & Sour Cucumber Salad

It has been far too long since I have posted anything. There is essentially no excuse. Except that I’m moving soon and getting trapped under a to-do list. Today, however, I’m trying to remember there are more things than our to-do lists that drive us. We are meant to live lives that mean something. Lives that help us and others to see the light. To encourage and create and entrust each other with ourselves. I feel that I am not doing so well on this lately. So, today I remember that this blog is one small way I influence the world positively, with both my food and my words. And although there is a recipe as the primary focus of the post, hopefully those of you reading this will be a little bit encouraged and inspired to live your life to the fullest today. Every day should be a meaningful day for you. We all fail some of the time, but the fact that we are striving for more says something profound about each of us. Be brilliant today in whatever way you are brilliant. You have something unique to give to the world that no one else does.

Sweet & Sour Cucumber Salad

1/2 Cucumber

Handful Green Beans, Snapped and blanched

1/3 Fennel Bulb

1 Baby Onion

1 T. Chives, chopped

1 Mint leaf, torn

Juice of 1/2 lime

1 t. Sugar

Pinch Salt & Pepper

2 T. Dill, chopped

This is a “throw it together” kind of salad. nothing extremely fancy, except how the flavors co-mingle. Cut it all up in whatever way you find most attractive. But I would try to make it all a little uniform because we eat with our eyes first. The measurements are for one salad but as you can see, it would be extremely easy to multiply this and bring to a friendly gathering.

It does well to chill this salad before diving in, although you could do that, too. The lime juice will act to marinate the vegetables a little bit and the flavor will be more intense.

Happy eating!

Christmas in July Salad

Who doesn’t like the thought of gifts? Pretty much no one. Especially at Christmas. But there is a whole different kind of gift we are given in the summer. That gift is produce. Fruits and veggies burst forth from the earth like a descriptor I feel a little uncomfortable describing… Anyway. This is the best gift I could be given. Those who know me are pretty well acquainted with the fact that I don’t really like giving or receiving gifts. I feel a little awkward about the exchange. It’s never really even at Christmas, and unexpected gifts just make me feel confused and awkward, albeit thankful and loved. The only gifts I enjoy without stigma is the birthday gift. Except that people remember what they got for you and then you are expected to reciprocate…. Oy, all of this is giving me a headache.

Let’s leave it to the simple fact that produce is my favorite gift. Without exception. So, every summer, every farmer’s market, every trip to the fresh section of the grocery store feels like a holiday to me. I’m not really exaggerating, either.

Today, in my quest for food, I stumbled upon making this. It is what I will call Christmas in July Salad. Partially for its beautiful color, partially for the joy that comes from finally digging into this gift of produce.

Christmas in July Salad

1/2 head Romaine lettuce, torn

1/3 C. Long Grain Rice + 2/3 C. Water to prepare

1 Roma Tomato, diced

2 Strawberries, hulled and diced

1 Lemon, zest and juice

1 T. Chives, minced

1 T. Rosemary, minced

2 T. Olive Oil

1 t. Sesame Oil

Salt and Pepper

1. Heat a saucepan with a little olive oil and the sesame oil. Pour in the rice and stir until all the grains are coated. Add water, boil, reduce heat, cover, cook until fluffy. When rice is finished, salt and pepper to taste and put in refrigerator to take the steam off. Cool until whatever temperature you desire. I like my rice still a touch warm. It wilts the lettuce just enough to be silky.

2. Prepare a bed of lettuce by tearing the lettuce into manageable pieces. Toss with some olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and some salt and pepper.

3. Toss together tomato, strawberries, lemon zest, rosemary, and chives in a bowl.

4. Put it all together by layering the rice atop the lettuce. Make a well in the center of the rice for the red fruits to rest in. Slice a lemon to garnish. Enjoy.

Happy eating!

Potato Corn Salad

We have briefly spoken about my love for all things pasta salad. Potato salad is a different story for me, though. I love a simple food. For some reason, I have this idea that potato salad looks simple in form, but is indeed very difficult in compilation. Too many moving parts and pieces. BUT. That’s not really true. It’s just a cop-out.

Truth is, I only partially like it. Potatoes are fine, but not usually my starch of choice. The problem for me lies in the dressing.

Yes, I know. Most potato salad lovers could bathe in the dressing. It’s what they love most. I just can’t get behind it, however. I generally find it to be too bland or too tangy or too thick or…. you get the idea.

Earlier today I planted my herb garden and did some trimming back to ensure greater success. So, I had some lovely herbs to use right away. And one potato. And an ear of corn that needed to find a dish before it found the trash. I sucked up my slight potato salad diversion and did something so completely different that I may never feel wishy-washy about potato salad again. Here are the goods from the garden:

I began by formulating a dressing I would love. I enjoy a mustard-based dressing. I’m not so wild about a mayonnaise-based one. I find it to have a strange mouth feel and generally boring flavor. However, I know that mustard dressing can have its own flaws. It can be too sharp and tangy and kill the salad. The beauty of any salad is that it is many flavors layered atop each other. These layered flavors should complement each other with ease and grace and leave you wanting more. And you can eat more. Because it is salad. And usually good for you.

Potato Corn Salad

1-2 Potatoes depending upon size and how many you want to feed

1 Ear of Corn

2-3 T. Chives, chopped

2-3 T. Basil, torn

2-3 T. Cilantro, torn

Handful of lettuce, use something light. I used butter lettuce.

Dressing:

3 T. Yellow mustard

1 T. Honey

1 T. Deli/brown mustard

3 T-1/4 C. Olive Oil

1 Small clove of garlic, minced into paste

Pinch of salt, pepper, cumin

1. Cut potatoes into even sized pieces, whatever you desire. Cook them until soft, with a bite. This is not as far as you want to cook them for mashed potatoes. Or that is what you will have. Drain potatoes and put in freezer or fridge to cool.

2. Boil ear of corn just until color starts to brighten. Raw corn is perfectly fine to eat and you want a bit of bite and a bit of sweetness simultaneously. This is achieved by not cooking corn to doneness. Cut the corn off the ear and toss with the cooled potatoes.

3. The dressing is easy. Mostly. If you have ever tried to make hollandaise, mayonnaise or vinaigrette, you have come to compete with the laws of nature. These kinds of dressings are known as Emulsions. There are a few different types. They are easy to “break”. Some do not come back from the broken state, like hollandaise. The key is to whisk quickly while pouring slowly. In this case, start with the yellow mustard and pour the olive oil into it while whisking. This mixture will be your base. Once it has come together and added a bit of volume, you are free to add any other ingredients and begin to season. Any ratio of mustard to oil works, as long as you like the flavor and follow the rules of emulsifying.

The left is obviously broken. But the one on the right is lovely. I saved some because it will be a lovely honey mustard dipping sauce in the future.

4. Toss the potato and corn with the dressing. Taste and season for salt. Add the herbs and toss. Taste once more for a balanced palate. Serve atop the lovely bed of greens you prepared earlier.

Happy creating!

Green & White Pasta Salad

I am a bit of an odd duck. I’m okay with this. I know this. It does not surprise me when I do something others find to be…different. To this end, it is also why I am brilliant. (I’m not that brilliant, but for the sake of blogging and the fact that you don’t know me, let’s pretend I am.) So, I constantly find myself in the kitchen saying “what can I do with…?” and naming off anywhere between 3-17 random ingredients, which is how this all began…

Today I was the recipient of some very fresh, wonderfully delightful mint. I also grow basil at home. I was trying to think of how to use my herbs to the best of their ability when I remembered I had an untouched cucumber in the fridge. 10 minutes later, I was thinking, whisking, concocting, seasoning, and in the end, enjoying a lovely new summer salad.

I imagine this would be great with dill instead of mint, or fennel instead of onion, or lemon instead of lime juice, etc. That is THE THING I love most about pasta salad. It’s simplicity and versatility keeps me coming back.

Green & White Pasta Salad

2 C. Pasta – my preference was a basic egg noodle

1 Cucumber

1/4 C. Onion

For the dressing:

3 T. Lime Juice

1/4 C. Olive Oil

2-3 T. Mint, minced

2-3 T. Basil, minced

1 t. Honey

Pinch of salt and pepper

Optional: a few drops/dollops of… (I added all 3)

  • Green Tabasco
  • Sesame Oil
  • Horseradish

1. Cook your pasta properly. That means bringing your water all the way up to a boil before you drop in your pasta and using a healthy amount of salt (about  1 T per cup of pasta…yes, that much).

2. Peel, de-seed, and halve the cucumber. Slice both cucumber and onion paper-thin. Toss with the pasta and refrigerate.

3. For the dressing, combine everything in a mortar and pestle. My measurements are guesstimates since I just made it up. Season to taste, toss with pasta mixture and refrigerate.

Remember, if it’s “missing something”, chances are, you need to up the salt content. There’s no need to go overboard with salt, but it is also easy to forego, thinking that it’s not important. However, salt balances the palate and brings flavors to life.

Happy eating!