Here is a perfect summer mushroom plate. It is light & healthy and travels very well for lunch al fresco. It starts with a tangy marinade of olive oil, white wine vinegar, maple syrup and lemons whisked and poured over a mix of button mushrooms and beech (or shimeji) mushrooms. I love the use of white button mushrooms here, since their simplicity is often over looked. Whip up a tahini yogurt with greek yogurt, tahini paste, and garlic and set it aside. Finally, give a quick boil to some bright fava beans (skin them if you like afterwards, which I do), chop some walnuts, fresh dill and fresh oregano and it’s simply assembly time. Add the beans, walnuts & cumin to the mushrooms, stir well, check for seasonings. Then add a dollop of tahini yogurt and sprinkle with fresh herbs. A welcome addition to summer picnics or a park bench lunch.
Marinated Mushrooms with walnut and tahini yogurt
Plenty p. 58, by Yotam Ottolenghi
Fava beans are my favorite beans, hands down. They have a short spring season and take a few minutes of extra work to make ready, but there is nothing better than their nutty, sweet, earthy flavor. I’ve always enjoyed them simply handled: quickly boiled for a minute or two, skinned, with a touch of butter and salt, but then I came across a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe for Fava Bean Burgers…Fava beans pods are roughly six inches long and once you snap them open, you will find three to five fava beans in a soft, furry lining. Apparently you can boil the beans and eat as is, but each bean does have an additional protective sheath, and I prefer skinning them after boiling (as is also called for in this particular recipe).
Recipe calls for mashing these bright green beauties with cumin, coriander, fennel, spinach, jalapeño, boiled potatoes, garlic, cilantro, breadcrumbs, egg (are you excited yet?).
Shape into burgers and refrigerate briefly…
Finally, a quick sear in a hot pan with safflower oil, and you’ve got a powerhouse lunch, smooth and nutty from the beans, a little crunchy with the seared potatoes, and bursting with spice from the cumin, coriander and fennel.
This is one of my favorite, quick salads: crunchy endive and creamy avocado, stirred with tangy & peppery french vinaigrette. Endive is so super versatile, it’s terrific either fresh or braised, and avocado is such a super food, I love them together. My favorite french vinaigrette unites them beautifully, but I also use it on shredded carrots, steamed green beans, or adding a touch to egg salad.
2T dijon mustard
2T champagne vinegar (white wine vinegar is also fine)
6T extra virgin olive oil
Squeeze fresh lemon
Salt & freshly cracked Pepper to taste
So the official sign of Spring happens today in Boston: the Red Sox home opener! The sound of a baseball game on the TV prompts a pavlovian response where I see open doors to the deck and feel a soft, warm breeze blowing in. The reality though is that it’s still quite cool here and I’m not quite ready to risk a vest instead of jacket, and a fuzzy hat stuffed in the pocket remains wise insurance. But I must be yearning for a teensy taste of summer because before I knew it, I had flagged a Rick Bayless recipe for creamy corn soup with roasted poblano, sauteed onion & garlic, pressed through a sieve to make a silky smooth texture. I bought a few ears of corn at the store, and yes, I know they are coming all the way from Florida, a long road trip to Boston, but please forgive me. I try to make it a point to never wish time by, to cherish each day, but maybe just for a moment, we can let our thoughts drift to summertime and taste it…call it a soup of hope…a soup of warm nights and sun burned shoulders.
Yes, delicious. Thanks for the quick departure. Now, back to the present, to each brisk, bright morning, checking on the daffodil greens sprouting up through the soil and welcoming the littlest sparks of green on the branches. Spring is here. Let’s play ball!
Something about Mardi Gras – or the fact that I received an enormous ham steak in my meat CSA – and I had jambalaya on my brain this week. A little New Orleans trinity of onions, celery and green peppers sauteeing on the stove, and I was on my way to making a big batch. Add to the trinity: your favorite cajun seasoning (usually a concoction of paprika, salt, garlic, sugar, oregano, cayenne and thyme), some diced tomatoes, rice, stock and cook away for about 15 minutes (or until rice is tender); finish with a little chopped ham, spicy sausage, and shrimp, if you’ve got ’em, and you’re in business!
As we are perhaps nearing the final cold days of winter, it was actually quite exciting to stumble upon a recipe that could still make squash feel new & fresh. Leave it to Mr Ottolenghi again. So simple and yet so interesting: roasting the squash and onions until they are browned actually brings the sweetness to the table, and then adding tahini (sesame paste) mixed with lemon and garlic, and sprinkling with za’atar makes for a simply wonderful mix of textures and flavors. It’s warm and familiar, and yet also, spicy and fresh. An gentle awakening for the senses…just in time for Spring…which must eventually arrive, right?
This is jam packed with red peppers, butternut squash, parsnip, zucchini and eggplant, and feels healthy and filling and cozy. I’m continuing to work through the Yotam Ottolenghi cookbook Plenty and am filled with inspiration and ideas! Let me make this for you soon.
What a lovely little dish, thanks to Mr. Yotam Ottolenghi once again. Lightly browned fennel slices, removed from the pan briefly in order to add coarse sugar and fennel seeds, then returned to the pan to caramelize gently. Remove from heat, mix carefully with a touch of garlic and chopped dill, then plate and add goat cheese (excluded here), lemon zest and fennel fronds. It is sweet and salty, tender and crunchy and start to finish took about 20 minutes: an A+ in my book.
These fritters are officially in my rotation! Full of sweet, oniony flavor and light, light texture from various incorporations of baking powder (making the batter fluffy) and warm, lovely spices thanks to the coriander, cumin, turmeric and cinnamon. I altered slightly from the Plenty cookbook but you can find the original recipe here: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2008/feb/02/recipe.vegetarian Make them soon, or I will make them for you!
This soup offers the neatest tricks: it is good for you, is easy to make, and has a short ingredient list: butter, celery stalks, onions, apples, celery root, bay leaf, thyme, stock. And if that weren’t enough, when I tasted it for the first time, I thought : ‘oh yes, celery, so lovely and familiar’, but the flavors swirl and show a few more layers and I wanted another spoonful, and then cleaned my bowl, lapped my spoon and proceeded to share samples with a few friends. I am now making another batch this week. Thank you my favorite Dorie Greenspan for this! Here is a 2009 link to her recipe: http://doriegreenspan.com/2009/01/snow-again-soup-again.html