Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Dirt to Table Experience: Moroccan Raw Carrot Salad

Did you know that the Moroccans brought carrot salad to Israel in the 1940's?   This dish became so popular that it is now a common dish served in Israel to celebrate the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah. This salad is served to symbolize a sweet and fruitful year to come.

A blend of oil, lemon juice, garlic, parsley or cilantro, cumin, salt, sweet paprika, cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne makes for an easy to prepare, unique and flavorful carrot salad that is absolutely delicious.

Moroccan Raw Carrot Salad
Serves 4-6
Recipe from Epicurious

1-lb. carrots coarsely grated (about 4 cups)
1/4 cup vegetable oil or extra-virgin olive oil
3-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped
2-4 cloves garlic, mashed or minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
Pinch of salt
About 1/2 teaspoon harissa (Northwestern African Chili Paste) 1 tablespoon minced green chiles or 1/4- 1/2  teaspoon of cayenne.

In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients.  Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator  for at least 2-hours or up to 2-days to allow the flavors to meld and permeate the carrots.  Serve chilled or at room temperature.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Discovering Ancient Grains: Farro Salad with Peas, Asparagus, and Feta

Several years ago while traveling in New York City we ate at a local contemporary Italian restaurant in the East Village (the name of the restaurant escapes me) but the farro salad that I enjoyed does not escape me.  The mild nutty taste of the grain, the flavors and textures of the salad stayed with me.  Naturally, I assumed that this was a "trendy" grain as it was not easily located when I returned home.  I had forgotten about this fantatsic grain until I saw a huge size bag ( 3-lbs.)  at Costco for a reasonable price.  My memory came rushing back and the farro was scooped up and thrown in my cart.

Move over quinoa!  You have nothing on farro! You have been tossed aside!   Farro is my new go to grain.

This farro salad is loaded with spring asparagus, sugar snap peas, onion, tomatoes, feta and dill.  It is lightly tossed in an olive oil and sherry vinaigrette. A perfect vegetarian option or for those days when you just want to eat and feel healthier.

Farro Salad with Peas, Asparagus, and Feta
Makes 4 main-dish servings
Recipe from Epicurious

1-1/2 cups semi-pearled farro
12 ounces asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1-1/2-inch lengths
1 8-ounce package sugar snap peas
12 ounces grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup chopped red onion
6 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sherry wine vinegar
1 7-ounce package feta cheese, crumbled

Cook farro in large saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender, about 25 minutes.  Drain.  Transfer to large bowl.

Meanwhile, cook asparagus and sugar snap peas in another saucepan of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.  Drain.  Add to farro with tomatoes, onion, and dill.  Whisk oil and vinegar in small bowl.  Season dressing with salt and pepper.  Add dressing and feta to salad; toss to coat and serve.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Discovering the Virtues of Squash: Spaghetti Squash Fritters with Sriracha Mayonnaise

"Simplify Velva!"  It is the story of my life.   It is my main challenge, it is what I strive for, and I remind myself everyday to slow down, I am moving too fast, take a breath.

I find that I am most successful at keeping things simple is in the kitchen.  This is the space that centers my world (Placing my hands in my garden soil that is a whole other experience) but my kitchen is where it all begins for me.

Lately I have developed an interest in spaghetti squash and I have tried my hand at using the squash as the focus of my meal.  This squash is versatile and buttery and when prepared properly can also be an excellent alternative to pasta.

I came across this spaghetti squash fritters recipe in Cooking Light magazine and it immediately caught my eye.  Served up with a Sriracha mayonnaise makes for a light meal that is delicious and healthy.

Spaghetti Squash Fritters with Sriracha Mayonnaise
Recipe from Cooking Light

1 (2 pound) spaghetti squash
1 (8-ounce) package baby spinach
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 large egg whites
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
5 teaspoons canola mayonnaise
2 teaspoons 2% reduced fat milk
1 teaspoon Sriracha (hot chile sauce)
1 teaspoon cider vinegar

1.  Cut squash in half lengthwise.  Scoop out seeds: discard.  Place squash halves, cut sides up, in a microwave-safe bowl.  Cover with a damp paper towel.  Microwave at HIGH 20 minutes or until tender.  Let stand 10 minutes.  Scrape inside of squash with a fork to remove spaghetti like strands to measure 4 cups.

2.  Heat large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add spinach to pan;cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Place squash and spinach on clean dish towel: squeeze until barely moist.  Coarsely chop squash mixture, and place in a large bowl.  Add panko and next 4 ingredients (through baking powder), and toss well to combine.  Place egg whites in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form.  Gently fold egg whites into squash mixture.

3.  Fill a 1/4 cup dry measuring cup with squash mixture.  Invert onto work surface; gently pat into a 1/4-inch thick patty.  Repeat procedure with remaining squash mixture, forming 10 patties total.  Heat a large non stick skillet over medium heat.  Add 1-1/2 teaspoons oil to pan, and swirl to coat.  Add 5 patties to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned.  Remove patties from pan; keep warm.  Repeat the procedure with remaining 1-1/2 teaspoons oil and squash patties.

4.  Combine mayonnaise and remaining ingredients in a small bowl.  Serve with fritters.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Garlicky Shrimp with Olive Oil

Let's keep it simple…Life happens.

A cold beer or a glass of wine….And a  loaf of crusty bread to soak up the garlicky oil is all that you need to make this easy to prepare shrimp dish perfect.

Garlicky Shrimp with Olive Oil
Serves 8 (first course Servings)
Recipe from Food and Wine

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 whole dried chiles
1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
2 pounds shelled and deveined medium shrimp
Crusty bread for serving

In a very large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering.  Add the garlic, chiles and parsley and cook over moderately high heat for 10 seconds, stirring.  Add the shrimp and cook over high heat, stirring once, until they are pink and curled, 3 to 4 minutes.  Season with salt and transfer to small bowls.  Serve with crusty bread.

Note: Sprinkle the shrimp after they're cooked with a crunchy sea salt.