Israeli Salad – 23/67

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This salad encompasses many of my favorite things. 

1. My CSA. Yes yes, I know, I have waxed not-so-eloquently on here before about the joy I get from receiving a local fruit and veggie haul each week. This year’s CSA, in our new neighborhood, is even more bountiful than previous versions. We have been loving their tomato varieties, pepper assortments, greens, corn, beans, squashes, herbs, melons, and more all summer. This salad, though this time around not fully comprised of CSA goodies, is indicative of the type of salads I’ve been loving all summer. (team #nolettuceinsalads) If you let me ramble about vegetables, I will.

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2. My obsession with Yotam Ottolenghi. I have also droned on on here ad nauseam about my adoration of celebrity chef Ottolenghi. I have 3 of his cookbooks, which I regularly look through and which often end up open in the middle of our living room. I follow him and his hashtag on Instagram. We saw him talk a year ago-ish, which was a highlight of the year. He has a basic chopped tomato salad recipe in Simple, where he says “The addition of tahini paste to a familiar tomato and cucumber salad is a revelation.” Okay, hyperbolic much, Mr. Ottolenghi? But, uh, he’s right. It’s so good. I added tahini to this one and don’t regret a thing.

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3. New shiny technology. This if my first post written on my shiny new computer! I haven’t had my own new computer since at least 2012, and that one unfortunately met a quick demise a year or so later by cup of water 😦 Since then, I’ve been cycling through Daniel’s hand-me-downs. It feels so nice to have my own, brand new computer to set up and get to know. Hopefully it lasts for a good long while because apple has enough money. (I also just got a new phone, so I’m enjoying fast internet connection and RAM speeds (am I using that word right?) all over the place.)

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4. My grandma! Love you! Truly one of my favorite cooks, who always knows how to bring community together through food and care. I have had this salad, or a variation, at a hundred casual dinners and gatherings. It’s so homey, yet the dressing is bracing and assertive. I wouldn’t have expected it’s a mixture of lemon juice and regular old white vinegar. But it’s going to be a go-to from here on out. Glad to have this version in my repertoire. 

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one and two years ago: nothing of note, but I made this cheesy zucchini orzo from half baked harvest for dinner the other night and dang that was a great dinner
three years ago:
chopped summer salad with feta, mint, and lime (made this for dinner a couple nights ago)
four years ago: roasted green pepper and smoked gouda pasta
five years ago: roasted radish and pepper pizza and caramelized fennel with dill and goat cheese (another Ottolenghi-inspired dish!) 

Israeli Salad

A la my grandma, plus Ottolenghi 

Salad
2 cucumbers, peeled, quartered the long way, some seeds removed, and chopped small
3 tomatoes, chopped (I added extra baby tomatoes because yum they’re my favorite)
1 red onion, diced (Vidalia would also be good)
1 bell pepper, chopped (red is sweeter than green, and looks pretty!)

Dressing
⅓ cup olive oil
⅓ cup white vinegar
juice from 1½ lemons (¼ cup)
generous portions of salt and pepper and dried oregano
Small handful freshly chopped parsley,
1 ground up large garlic clove (or garlic powder)

Put all salad veggies in a big bowl.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine all dressing ingredients thoroughly with a whisk. Taste and adjust as needed.

Add dressing to salad veggies and toss toss toss. Now this is a perfect side dish! To bulk it up a bit:

To make it extra
Add feta. Top with za’atar and a swirl of tahini.
OR boil up about a cup of orzo. Add to veggies. Lemony Israeli Pasta Salad!
OR both! 

Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Hamantashen – 8/67

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Thanks, Mom, for including a hamantashen recipe in my bridal shower recipe book. Always keeping my Jewish education thriving, thanks 🙂 Although I have not been to a Purim celebration in well over a decade, when I recently saw photos on social media of others’ celebrations, I paid a bit extra attention. If I’m going to make hamantashen this year (and I HAVE to, as they’re in the book!), this was the week to do it. So, despite some pesky other life things happening (aftermath of getting married, prepping to go to Russia for 5 weeks, first explorations of our instant pot…), I made cookies.

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These cookies are so much quicker to make that I remember. I whipped the dough together (only a fork necessary!), put it in the fridge for an hour while we ate dinner, and then baked them off before meeting friends for a drink. Boom boom done. Phew.

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Daniel almost never eats sweets lying around. For example, I have been eating leftover wedding cake from the cake stand with a fork every day for the past week, and Daniel will only take a bite if I literally stick the fork in his face. He is much more interested in the jars of pickles he’s been stockpiling. And yet! These hament-ocean (as he says, to rhyme with the scotch brand Auchentoshan) keep disappearing! I should know him well enough by now to know that fruity sweets will always win him over, but I’m still wrapping my head around this concept.

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I even made a savory variety, hoping that would save me from the duty of finishing the full batch. Alas, I do love a good savory pastry (shout out to Bakeri’s savory galettes and kale rolls that I miss dearly), so this technique supremely backfired. I think I ate all the savory ones, oops. I highly recommend you experiment with this. It was a little weird, because the dough is on the sweet side, but I’ve decided it worked. 

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one year ago: nothing of note, but did you know you can make black bean soup from UNSOAKED BEANS FROM A BAG in an instant pot in less than an hour?? this SK recipe was our magical dinner last night.
two years ago: italian egg drop soup
three years ago: roasted chickpeas and kale stuffed sweet potatoes with tahini sauce
four years ago: pasta with smoked scamorza and tomatoes

(Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese) Hamantashen

I halved my mom’s recipe and it was plenty of cookies for the two of us plus a friend or two. Probably 15-20 cookies. To make more, just double the recipe and create two ovals of dough to chill in the fridge. I did two fillings — plum jam (thanks Aunt Beth B!) and the savory one roughly outlined below.

1 ¼ cups flour
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 pinches salt
¼ cup oil
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon orange juice

FILLING: jams, caramelized onions + goat cheese, butterscotch chips if you have them leftover from your fancy challah toast, etc

In a big bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt with a fork. In a liquid measuring cup, measure out the oil. Add egg, vanilla, OJ, and mix to beat up egg a bit. Make a well in the center of flour mixture and pour in liquid mixture. Mix with the fork until a soft dough comes together. You can use your hands to knead a couple times at the end. Form into a rough oval. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Flour your countertop lightly. Unwrap dough and roll out to about ¼ inch thickness. Dip the rim of 3-inch drinking glass in flour, then use it to cut circles from the dough. Place ½-1 teaspoon of filling in each circle. Draw up three sides to make a triangle and pinch the ends firmly together. They may look wobbly or blob-like but they will still be delicious. Gather up dough, re-roll out, cut out new circles, repeat as necessary.

Place triangles on ungreased baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. If they slump and lose definition and become even more blobular, don’t despair, a) they will still be delicious and b) try to knead the dough a bit before your next batch. It helped me. 

I kept the onion/goat cheese cookies in the fridge and the others in Tupperware on the counter.

Onion Goat cheese filling approximation – Melt a knob of butter in a small pan. Add a pinch each of cumin seeds and mustard seeds. After they splutter, add thinly sliced onion. (I had half a red onion in the fridge so used that). Cook down for about 30-40 minutes on very low heat. Add a small spoonful to each dough round, and top with goat cheese. I sprinkled nigella seeds on a couple before baking, which never hurt anyone. Next time, might try with less sugar in the dough, and adding some thyme. 

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A Very Good Lentil Salad – 2/67

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Daniel decided very last-minute to make something for his “Lyftsgiving” celebration. (Update! He works at Lyft!) I was 100% sure he was going to swirl some harissa into store bought hummus, give a drizzle of olive oil, and call it a day (my recent favorite party trick), but instead he wanted to do a recipe from the binder (awww). He woke me up to ask if we had cardamom for the lentil salad he was making. (We did.) I love you, honey, but I never expected to be woken up by you telling me you’re making lentil salad.

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It turned out great! Daniel added a couple extra things to Nina’s base recipe to bulk it up a bit. Good riddance, last batch of CSA radishes. Until next year! 

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Update: I was looking forward to eating leftovers of this salad all weekend but someone had to leave them at work on Thursday, then stayed home sick on Friday, so here we are on Saturday and we’re still sans lentil salad. Hmph.

one year ago: nothing of note – but last week I made the most amazing broccoli by steaming it, then stir frying in a bit of sesame oil and a lot of ginger. Mmm.
two years ago: soy-dashi simmered kabocha squash 
three years ago: sweet/spicy Chinese peppers and eggplant stir-fry
four years ago: Indian spiced cabbage and onions

A Very Good Lentil Salad 

(Originally called “The Best Lentil Salad, Ever”. I mean, it was delicious, but I just don’t know if I’ve had enough lentil salads to deem this one the BEST.)

From Nina, from the blog My New Roots

Cook up 2 ¼ cups Du Puy lentils (known for their ability to stay intact even after a long simmer) in 4 ½ cups of boiling water. (This took about 15 minutes – Daniel just followed the cooking instructions on the bag, being sure to keep them al dente.) When done, rinse in cool water.

Meanwhile, prep the salad mix-ins. He added one diced red onion, ⅓ cup capers, ½ cup raisins (chopped a bit), a handful of diced radishes, one diced and seeded jalapeño, some crumbled feta, and a couple handfuls of torn baby spinach. Meant to add some basil, but whoops, that’ll have to be for leftovers. Put everything in a big bowl.

To make dressing (seems like a lot of ingredients, but it comes together quickly and is mostly just spices), combine in a jar and shake: ⅓ cup olive oil, ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 tablespoon mustard, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, ½ teaspoon turmeric, ½ teaspoon ground coriander, ¼ teaspoon cayenne, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg (actually he forgot this and it was still great), salt and pepper, plus a bit of ground cloves and cardamom (we only have whole seeds for those, so Daniel ground a bit up in the molcajete and I’m not sure about quantities. The dressing ended up very floral, a little cardamom heavy.)

Combine everything in the big bowl and season to taste! Lunch for dayyysss (or Lyftsgiving side for a night.)

 

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Kasha Bowl with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

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It’s always the small things you miss most when traveling. Mealtime independence (and people always respond “poor you, having to eat out three times a day”. But REALLY people, I like scrambling my own eggs and eating cold leftovers for breakfast sometimes!). Having reliable wifi in the bathroom so I can check Facebook while…brushing my teeth. Being able to flush toilet paper directly down the pipes instead of depositing it in the trashcan next to you. Cheese.

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I came home craving every trendy healthy thing in New York, aka things in bowls. Healthy grain bowls, veggie soup bowls, fruit-adorned breakfasts in bowls, tahini-y mushy eggplant in a bowl, lots of brown rice and Asian flavors and roasted veggies and toasted seeds and crunchy raw vegetables and pickled things, preferably in bowls. I am a walking stereotype of instagrammable food culture. #sorrynotsorry.

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Since my NYC return, I’ve met up with many friends who have greeted me with, “Looks like you ate so well on your trip!” I look at them, confused, wondering where they gleaned this information. Because, yes, I literally don’t know how to Not eat well (and by well right now I really just mean plentifully), but I wouldn’t say my time in Guatemala was the epitome of this. They respond that my Instagram food pictures looked amazing (which I just attribute to the beautiful woven tablecloths that adorned every table), what great vegetarian options there were, etc. What they don’t know is that Every Meal I Didn’t Post on Instagram consisted of corn tortillas, overscrambled eggs, mayo-y boiled vegetables, and bean mush. Hence my excitement in returning to the world of Extreme Bowl Culture.

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And hence this very simple lunch I’ve been dreaming about since approximately one week into my trip, or you know, since before Thanksgiving. This meal riffs on a snack I used to assemble for lunch during long shifts at Bakeri, comprised of easy ingredients we always had prepped. I bought my kasha at a Polish deli for very cheap, but I’m sure you can find it in the bulk section at any health store. Kasha is a fancy name for toasted buckwheat, which it’s a bit nuttier than the untoasted variety. Kasha is brown; if it hasn’t been toasted yet it will be green. You can assemble everything beforehand; the salad is just as good warm as it is at room temp. Feel free to add parmesan or feta to de-veganize this. A handful of baby salad greens would also be a nice addition.

one year ago: hot honey pizza with roasted broccoli and red onion and bengali egg curry 

Kasha Bowl with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

a Swanky original
serves 1 hungry person at lunch

scant 1 c kasha, uncooked (this will make more than you need; cooked kasha keeps well when covered in the fridge)
2 cups water
1 cup cherry tomatoes
3ish tablespoons olive oil, separated
1 onion, sliced thin
handful of kalamata olives
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
hot sauce if you’re feeling it
s&p

To make buckwheat: Bring water to a boil. Add kasha. Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until tender. Strain.

To roast tomatoes: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place tomatoes on a baking pan and cover with a healthy drizzle of olive oil, plus s&p. Roast for 12 minutes, stirring halfway through. Tomatoes will be crinkly, puckered, juicy, and blistered when done. Mmm.

To “caramelize” onion: I am no expert on this, as I always get impatient and try to turn up the heat. But do as I say, not as I do: Heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a large skillet on medium heat. Add onions and a big pinch of salt. Cook on medium-low at the highest, stirring occasionally, for EVER, or until tender and sweet. Or don’t, turn the heat up, and embrace the charred onion bits, just like me. 🙂

To assemble: Mix together about ½ cup cooked kasha (or more) (or less), cooked tomatoes, caramelized onions, and olives in a BOWL (or a platter first cause it’s pretty). Mix together about 1 tablespoon olive oil and the balsamic vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Pour dressing over salad. Add hot sauce if you want a kick. Commence eating.

 

Kabocha and Caramelized Onion Toasts with Ricotta and Mint

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…or how I managed to totally slut up an innocent and slightly aging squash.

…or How To Make You Kitchen Smell, like, the BEST it ever has (note to self: caramelized onions + apple cider vinegar + maple syrup = oniony jam kitchentime nirvana).

….or the post where we use up all the CSA veggies accumulating in the fridge. Side note: I didn’t even try to take pictures of the, shall we say, creative and somewhat gelatinous side of golden beet-tiny potato-peas-pickle-parsley salad. Trust me on this one, tastes about a zillion times better than it looks, and it looks like something you may feed someone named, say, Fido.

…or the “Daniel went salsa dancing and I have no camera so I took a million sucky iphone pictures” post. Feel free to skip the blurry awkward food pictures and RUN to the grocery store. I don’t blame you. Food heaven.

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Kabocha and Caramelized Onion Toasts with Ricotta and Mint

greedily and happily borrowed from Chez Catey Lou 

1 1/2 (or 2 if you don’t happen to have a half lying around) sweet yellow onions, sliced thin
½ c olive oil, divided
3 t salt, divided
¼ c REAL maple syrup
⅔ c apple cider vinegar
1 medium kabocha squash, peeled and cut into ½-inch slices (easier said than done–just use those arm muscles, friends)
pinch red pepper flakes
½ c ricotta cheese
4 T fresh mint, chopped
4 slices hearty bread (I used thick slices of Bakeri multigrain)

Preheat oven to 450F.

In a medium pan, heat ¼ cup olive oil on medium-high heat. Add onions and 1 t salt and saute over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes or until tender, browned, and amazing-smelling. Then, add maple syrup and apple cider vinegar. Continue cooking, stirring intermitently, until thickened and jammy, about another 25 minutes. Turn off heat.

Meanwhile, mix squash, ¼ c olive oil, 2 t salt, and red pepper flakes on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip squash and cook for another 10 minutes or so. Squash is done with it’s soft, lightly browned, and sweet.

Add squash to onion pan and mash with a wooden spoon. Leave some larger chunks; you don’t want a puree but more a coarse mash.

Toast bread slices. Slather with ricotta and top with squash/onion mixture. Drizzle olive oil, sprinkle with coarse sea salt, and finally add chopped mint. Rejoice and praise the onion jam gods.

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The cutey on the right is the kabocha

(For a delicious and unphotogenic side dish, mix chopped boiled potatoes, chopped roasted golden beets, chopped dill pickles, minced red onion, 1 small can green peas, and parsley with red wine vinegar, olive oil, and a dollop of mayo. Or don’t, and eat another toast!)