Sesame Ginger Zucchini Salad

This is an easy no-cook summer salad.

Ingredients
2 cups zucchini, grated or cut into small match-stick sized pieces
1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil
1/2-1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
salt and pepper to taste

Method
-Lightly salt the grated or cut zucchini and let drain for about 20 minutes
-Mix all ingredients (yes, it is that simple).
Enjoy!

Kale Salad…yes it IS delicious!

Last year, I bought kale seedlings for our garden. The kale that I was familiar with had large, medium green leaves with ruffled edges. The kale I was growing had very narrow, dark green leaves. I thought maybe I had mixed up my seedlings.

My friend Ellen tipped me off to the fact that I was growing the trendy Lacinato kale, also known as Tuscan kale, dinosaur kale or cavolo nero (black kale, since the leaves are such a dark green they are almost black). It’s slightly sweeter than curly leafed kale and has a more delicate flavor. It’s now my favorite type of kale.

I rarely see Lacinato at the grocery store, but often see it at farmers’ markets, so keep an eye out for it.

No question about it, kale is a nutritional superstar. One cup of cooked kale has almost 200 percent of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin A 88 percent of your vitamin C and is off the charts with vitamin K (1,327.62 percent to be exact). Vitamin K is needed for blood clotting and building bones.

Kale also contains many phytonutrients, a fancy word for a class of nutrients, other than vitamins, that is obtained from eating plants. Carotenoids, flavonoids, sulfides and a bunch of other things of which I’ve never heard (saponins for one) are phytonutrients. They are much touted for their health benefits and kale contains a boatload of them. Its organosulfur compounds are of particular note, as they are purported to lessen the occurrence of a variety of cancers.

The spring and the fall are the best times to get kale. Its leaves are a little sweeter in cooler weather. Kale is ninth on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen,” which is a list of the most pesticide contaminated fruits and vegetables. So talk to your farmer about his/her pesticide practices or pick up an organic bunch.

Jan’s Kale Salad
This is adapted from my friend Jan’s recipe. And she got it from a friend. No telling where the friend got it, but I’m guessing each person adjusted it a bit.

Ingredients
1 small bunch of kale (lacinato preferred)
1 cup bread crumbs (to make your own, crumble a piece of very dry toast)
1/4 cup sliced almonds (Jan uses pine nuts)
1/4 chopped dried figs
1/2 cup or more crumbled feta cheese

Dressing:
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons shallot, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Method

  • Wash kale and discard stems. (Toss them in your compost!)
  • Cut the kale into thin ribbons (chiffonade). Stack the leaves, roll them into a long tube, then slice into thin strips. If this sounds too fussy for you, just chop it.
  • For the dressing, whisk together the olive oil, shallots, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  • In a large bowl, toss kale with dressing to coat. Add the feta, figs, bread crumbs and almonds and toss. Salt and pepper to taste.

Dress that Salad

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Excerpts from my column in the Register Star and Daily Mail:
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The salad days are here. The garden is young, green and hopeful. Our salad bed is quite jubilant. We’ve been harvesting our dinner salad almost everyday. Though I rarely get tired of freshly plucked greens, it helps to have an extensive salad dressing repertoire to ward off potential boredom.

I usually quickly whip up a salad dressing fresh for each salad. Most of the recipes listed are just enough to dress a salad for four. A couple of the recipes will make enough extra to keep on hand.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
Everyone should have a solid vinaigrette recipe in his or her arsenal. This is a nice one from my friend Dori. You can substitute other herbs for the thyme. Rosemary and basil both make excellent substitutions.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1-2 garlic cloves
1 – 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Squeeze of fresh lemon (about 1/2 tablespoon)
Fresh thyme – 3 fresh sprigs, stripped (or 1/2 palm dried)
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Method:
Place all ingredients it in a mini-prep or blender. Blend until it creates a nice emulsion and let sit for at least 1 hour.

Makes enough for several salads. Keep refrigerated for up to two weeks. Bring to room temperature before using.

Simple Lemon Dressing
I’m particularly excited about our arugula crop. The peppery leaf is by far my favorite salad green. To dress it, I like to keep it very simple, allowing the flavor of the leaf to shine through.

Ingredients
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1-2 teaspoons sugar or honey
Salt/pepper to taste.

Method
Mix all ingredients well and toss with salad.

Yogurt Blue Cheese Dressing
This is a good one to make on the fly. It’s a nice creamy change from the vinaigrettes we usually have.

Ingredients
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Dash or two of cayenne pepper
Salt, pepper to taste.

Method
-Mash the blue cheese with a fork. Mix all ingredients until the consistency is creamy. Toss with salad.

Lemon Vinaigrette
My friend Jan made this one day last summer. We are both from Virginia but now she lives in California and I live in New York. We met at Bonnie and Earl’s farm in Wake, Virginia. I’m not sure if it was the idyllic setting or the toasted cumin that made this dressing so delightful.

This goes traditionally on a Fattoush salad but toss it with any fresh greens and vegetables, throw in some feta cheese and you have a winner.

Ingredients
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic (about 1-2 cloves)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon white rice vinegar
3/4 teaspoon toasted ground cumin
5 ounces extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method
-Toast cumin in heavy small skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. You can toast the ground cumin, or toast whole cumin seeds and then grind them.
– Whisk the remaining ingredients together and toss in salad.

Lemon Tahini Dressing
I love this simple dressing on a spinach salad tossed with chic peas.

Ingredients
2 tablespoon Tahini
2-3 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
1 tablespoon water
Salt/pepper to taste

Method
-Mix all ingredients well and toss with salad.

Vanilla-Pear Vinaigrette
My friend Sydney first made this vinaigrette for me a couple years ago. I was hooked at first bite. Luckily she gave me a bottle of it and the recipe so I could eat it to my hearts content. This dressing is great tossed with mixed field greens, thinly sliced red onions, walnuts and goat cheese.

Ingredients
1- 15 oz can pear halves in natural juice, undrained
1/3 c. white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash ground red pepper

Method
-Drain pears, reserving 1/3 cup juice
-Combine pears, juice, vinegar, and remaining ingredients in a blender, process until smooth
-Makes two cups and will keep for a couple months refrigerated.

Kimchi

Kimchi is a powerhouse of nutrition, packing tons of vitamins and beneficial bacteria. The kimchi I make isn’t what I think of as traditional kimchi. I recently learned that Kimchi varies greatly from different regions and different seasons. The one I’m going to show you is a version called baek kimchi or literally “white kimchi.” It doesn’t call for fish sauce, fermented shrimp or the red powder that usually gives kimchi its characteristic color. It is a crisp, fresh version.

I have continued to experiment with different vegetables. I’ve used Napa cabbage and regular cabbage. I sometimes use daikon radishes and sometimes use regular radishes. Regular radishes add a nice color. Today, I am lucky to have a hot pepper from Bonnie and Earl’s garden in Virginia. This will add a nice spice. The two important things to include are grated ginger and garlic. Add grated ginger and garlic and whatever vegetables you want and you’ll have a nice fresh kimchi.

You will need whey for this recipe. If you made the cream cheese from yogurt from the previous post, you should have the whey. If you didn’t make the cream cheese, go do that now (click here for the recipe). I’ve seen recipes that substitute more salt for whey, but I think it makes the kimchi too salty, and I love salt so that’s saying something.

Whey is a magical ingredient. It has enzymes that ferment food. There has been a lot written about the health benefits of fermented food. I just like the zing.

Click here for the recipe.

After you have the kimchi in a jar with a tight lid, you leave it out on the counter for three days. Be careful when you open it! It spews like a shaken soda on a hot day. Once fermented, the kimchi will last in your fridge forever or there abouts. I’ve actually never tested that… We go through ours rather quickly. Use it like hamburger helper– add it to some ground-beef and rice and you have an instant Korean meal.

Boo, my kitchen helper

Boo, my little helper