Grilled Eggplant Salad

eggplant salad

Perfect for a summer day when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen. Barbecue the eggplant and chop up the tomato and basil. Let the flavors meld awhile and serve room temperature.

Ingredients:

1 globe eggplant

3 Tb EVOO

1 Tb garlic infused olive oil

1 medium tomato, chopped

about 8 pitted Kalamata olives

8 basil leaves, julienned

2 mint leaves, julienned

1/2 tsp dried oregano

Juice of half a small lemon – about 1 Tb

1/4 tsp balsamic vinegar

salt to taste

a few shakes pepper

Directions:

Heat a grill to medium-low

Cut eggplant crosswise in 3/4 inch slices.  Combine oils and brush both sides of eggplant, then salt and pepper it. Grill until both sides are lightly browned with grill marks and are very soft. When eggplant cools, cut into small pieces. Mix with chopped tomato, olives, julienned basil and mint, and oregano. Whisk lemon juice and balsamic vinegar into the leftover olive oil and stir into the eggplant salad. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. Salt to taste. Serve at room temperature for best flavor.

 

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Crab salad with Autumn Fruit

crab-salad-with-legsIn November, the SF Bay Area celebrates the opening of Dungeness Crab season. These sweet crustaceans are all they’re cracked up to be. Paired with bright pomegranate seeds, tangy tangerines, and sweet, crunchy Fuyu persimmons atop a bed of lettuce, and sprinkled simply with lemon juice, they make a perfect late autumn meal.

I’m a bit squeamish about cooking the live crab, and clueless about cracking and cleaning it, so I took the easy way out when my fishmonger asked me if I’d like to have him crack the cooked crab.  You can look that part up on the internet. I got the 2.3 lb crab for $9.70 at Berkeley Bowl. It was enough for my husband and me. The next time I made it for a crowd as part of a potluck and shredded the crab.

fruit-and-crabIngredients: (serves 2)

2.3 lb crab (or thereabouts, depending on how hungry you are)

1 pomegranate

2 large seedless tangerines

3 medium Fuyu persimmons (the hard, flat-bottomed persimmons)

3 heads of Romaine lettuce, outer leaves removed (or substitute the lettuce of your choice)

1 tsp lemon juice, plus more to squeeze.

Rinse all produce. Tear lettuce into bite sized pieces and place on a plate. Seed the pomegranate, discarding the bitter white portion. Peel tangerines and separate into sections. Cut persimmons into bite sized pieces, removing large seeds if present (some have seeds, others are seedless). No need to peel them. Arrange the fruit on the lettuce and squeeze lemon juice on it.

You can serve the crab legs atop the salad for a meal. For a side salad, remove the meat from legs and center of crab and shred it on the salad. If desired, squeeze more lemon juice on the crab.

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Heirloom Tomato and Watermelon Salad

watermelon heirloom tomato wholeNothing says summer like watermelon and heirloom tomatoes, those oddly-shaped multicolored orbs, bursting with flavor. Cut them up and you have a veritable painting on your plate. Mix with sweet watermelon and sprinkle a little salt, maybe a few drops of extra virgin olive oil on the tomatoes. Simple. That’s it!

watermelon heirloom tomato salad

Quinoa Tabouli

quinoa tabouliA dressed up tabouli made with protein rich quinoa instead of the traditional Bulgar wheat makes a delicious low-carb summer meal. I based my recipe on Mollie Katzen’s Bulgar wheat one in the classic moosewood cookbook  and added lots of extras like artichoke hearts, pine nuts and feta cheese.

Make the quinoa ahead of time and stir in the olive oil and lemon. Then refrigerate until cold. I used a food processor to mince the green onions, mint, parsley and artichoke hearts.  I learned the hard way not to use it for the cucumbers or red peppers (it got mushy) Just take out the sharp knife and chop chop!

Makes 10 cups

Ingredients

Tabouli ingredients

1 cup dry quinoa. You can use white or red

2 cups water

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 large or 2 medium lemons)

3 Tb high quality extra virgin olive oil

1 Tb garlic infused olive oil

 

1 bunch parsley -approximately 4 cups leaves makes 1 cup minced leaves

4 scallions, both white and green parts

3 sprigs fresh mint leaves (about 15 leaves)

3 medium tomatoes. I used dry-farmed tomatoes for outstanding flavor

1 red bell pepper

3 pickling cucumbers, peeled and seeds removed

1 avocado

14 ounce can artichoke hearts in water, drained and rinsed

15 ounce can garbanzo beans (chick peas), drained and rinsed

1/3 cup pine nuts

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

Rinse quinoa well under cold water, rubbing the seeds between your hands. Drain quinoa for a few minutes, then add water and bring to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat, cover and cook for about 25 minutes. It will make 3 cups cooked quinoa. You can also make it in a rice cooker using the white rice setting.

Transfer quinoa to a large bowl. Whisk together lemon juice, salt, and olive oils in a small bowl, then stir into the quinoa. Let it cool and refrigerate until cold.

Using the blade in the food processor, mince green onions, mint, parsley and artichoke hearts until feathery. Stir into cooled quinoa.

Dice red bell pepper, cucumbers, tomatoes and avocado and stir into quinoa along with garbanzo beans.

Serve cold, sprinkled with feta cheese and pine nuts.

tabouli with quinoa

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn Salad with Pomegranate, Fuji Persimmon, Strawberries and Nuts

early autumn salad

I make this salad in early Autumn, when Pomegranates and Fuji Persimmons are appearing and there are a few decent strawberries left. As the season progresses, you may not find the strawberries, but the sweetness and fall colors of the persimmons and Pomegranate seeds still brighten this salad. I added a handful of raw shelled pistachios and sliced raw almonds for delicious flavor, texture and protein. Throw them together with mesclun (mixed lettuce greens) or baby spinach. It’s fine undressed or with a bit of blue cheese dressing.

Summer Rolls Gỏi Cuốn

DSC00905

Now that summer is officially here and we finally had a nice hot summer’s day, it’s time to make Summer Rolls. They are sometimes called Spring Rolls, although the Spring Rolls are often fried. Summer rolls are made with fresh, raw vegetables, with or without boiled shrimp. Gỏi Cuốn translates literally as salad rolls, which is pretty much what they are: a shrimp salad in a roll. I’ve always loved these for their burst of flavor from the fresh herbs inside heightened by the sweet spiciness of Hoisin (WHO-zjen) sauce and sweet chili sauce.

Cindy with shrimp rollMany thanks to chefs Cindy Hay (pictured above), Wyn Ha and Jenny Inpraseuth; my Southeast Asian colleagues who cheerfully and patiently taught me to make these.

Ingredients:

Asian ingredients are available at most Asian markets and Berkeley Bowl

You can make these Vegetarian/ Vegan with just the salad ingredients (skip the shrimp and just use Hoisin Sauce with a bit of lime juice and peanuts).

Shrimp:

About 2 1/2 cups of medium shrimp. If you buy shrimp in their shells, they make a lovely broth.

3 cups water

1 slice of fresh ginger

3 cloves garlic

1 tsp salt

Hoisin dipping Sauce

Cindy told me that the sauce needs to have sweet, sour and salty flavors:

1 cup bottled Hoisin sauce (tương ăn phở)

1 Tb chopped peanuts

juice from 1/2 lime

Wrap:

1 package rice paper rounds

I shallow bowl or pie pan with warm water

Filling:

You can vary the salad ingredients, but always include mint and basil leaves and rice noodles.

Rice vermicelli noodles (rice sticks)  size medium Jiang Xi Bún Giang Tây.

1 large peeled carrot (or about 8 peeled baby carrots)

3 Persian cucumbers (no need to peel)

1/4 jicama

1 red bell pepper

½ cup cilantro leaves

½ cup mint leaves

¼ cup Thai basil (you can substitute regular basil if you can’t find the more aromatic Thai basil)

4- 6 green leaf leaves lettuce. Use the upper part of the leaves.

1 cup bean sprouts, rinsed and cut in half

chunks of 1 avocado

You can make the shrimp and Hoisin dipping sauce ahead of time.

Defrost shrimp in a colander under cold running water for 7 minutes. While shrimp is defrosting, fill a medium pot with 3 cups water and add 1 tsp of salt, ginger and garlic, and bring to a boil. Bring shrimp to boil over high heat, then boil for 3 minutes. Drain shrimp into a salad spinner or over a sieve into a bowl, reserving cooking liquid. Pour the liquid back into the pot. Cool shrimp until you are able to handle them. Peel the shrimp and cut in half lengthwise. Return the shells into the reserved liquid. Boil the shrimp shells, garlic and ginger uncovered for 10 minutes until reduced. Pour over a sieve and set aside to cool.

Making the Hoisin dipping sauce:

DSC00591Combine ¼ cup reserved shrimp broth with Hoisin sauce. Top with crushed peanuts.

Prepare the noodles:

Boil 12 cups water in a a saucepan. Break off about 4 oz  rice vermicelli noodles, also called rice sticks – Jiang Xi Bún Giang Tây (about 1/4 of a 14 oz package). Be sure they are size medium, not the very thin vermicelli.

rice sticks bun giang tay

Cook the noodles for 6 -8 minutes in boiling water, stirring occasionally.

DSC00596Cool them by rinsing them in a sieve under cold water for one minute. Stir and separate the noodles with a fork or chopstick so that they don’t clump up. Let them drain over a bowl.

Salad Filling:

DSC00894Cut the vegetables very thin and small, especially hard veggies like carrots and jicama.

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I use a special Asian vegetable shaver to shave thin slices of carrots, cucumber and jicama. Halve the bean sprouts so they don’t poke through the rice paper. Tear herbs into small leaves.

Assembly:

Summer rolls are not too hard to make, but the trick is in rolling the sticky rice paper. It comes in a hard, almost plastic-like wafer.

3 ladies rice paperI couldn’t believe it was the same thing as the soft wrapper. Magically it transforms when dipped in warm water. It softens and becomes thinner and pliable. If you dip it flat, it wants to curl up.

The trick is to hold it by the edges and rotate it through the water, then give it a quick dip in the water to wet the middle.  The whole process should take about 5 seconds. If it stays too long in the water it will become too thin and tear easily, and stick to itself.

dipping rice paper

Place the rice paper on a dry plate. It will soften within seconds.

DSC00601Put a lettuce leaf and a tablespoon of noodles first to add a cushion for the vegetables.

DSC00625Then add a few vegetables, and a few mint, basil and cilantro leaves. Avoid over-stuffing the roll. I got excited by all the wonderful ingredients and wanted to add it all in as much as possible. My rolls became bulky and torn. Moderation in all things I remind myself.

rollingRoll wrapper halfway, and then fold left and right sides over the filling. Lay 3 shrimp halves, cut side down, with several cilantro and mint leaves along the edge of the cylinder.  Finish rolling up the summer roll.

shirmp on roll

Dip your summer roll in Hoisin Sauce or sweet chili sauce.

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Chopped Salad

This easy side dish uses some of the parsley left over after you’ve taken a few sprigs to dip in salt water at the Seder. Mix ingredients close to serving time. We actually serve this before the Seder ceremony to stave off our appetites.

½ cup parsley leaves

2 large round tomatoes

2 large cucumbers

¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives

¼ cup olive oil

juice of one large lemon

kosher salt and pepper to taste

Peel cucumbers, slice lengthwise in quarters, then chop crosswise into thick slices. Chop tomatoes into thick pieces, and mix in parsley leaves and olives.

Sprinkle in olive oil and lemon, salt and pepper just prior to serving and toss.