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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Chunky Kabocha Soup with Appeal

chunky-kabocha-soup-with-appeal

Kabocha squash has a delicious green peel.  My friend Randi turned me on to kabocha soup with chunks of squash with the peel. We cut it up and roasted it with the peel immersed in a 1/2 inch water bath until it was tender. This recipe can be made vegan with vegetable stock.

Makes about 1 gallon.

Ingredients:

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1 medium kabocha squash

1 small piece of ginger root, grated to make 2 tsp (more if you really like it gingery)

2 teaspoons coconut oil, divided

14 oz. can coconut milk

1 quart (4 cups) broth (chicken or vegetable stock)

a few grinds black pepper

1 tsp salt to taste

about 1/4 cup of roasted green pumpkin seeds (pepitas) for garnish

Preheat oven to 350′

cutting-stem-off-kabochaRinse off Kabocha and dry with paper towel. Cut off the stem.

Cut the squash in half and remove seeds. Cut squash into about 16 pieces. cut-kabocha-in-water-bathPlace in 8″ x 11″ x 2″ pan and fill pan with 1/2 inch water.

Sprinkle with 1 tsp melted coconut oil.

Roast for 45 minutes until squash is tender.

Let cool, then cut into bite-sized pieces.

While squash is cooling, grate ginger, discarding fibrous part. Saute it in 1 tsp coconut oil in a gallon size heavy pot.

After a minute, add broth and coconut milk and bring to a boil.

bite-sized-pieces-of-squashAdd the small pieces of squash to the broth. Stir in pepper.

Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up the softened squash into the broth. Add salt to taste.

Serve topped with roasted pepitas.

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 1 1/2 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

 

 

 

 

 

Kabocha Squash Coconut Soup

kabocha squash coconut soup with pepitasThis smooth rich soup is made with nutty kabocha squash, leeks and carrots and seasoned with a hint of ginger. It is rich and creamy from coconut milk. Brandy Giggey, my student in the Episcopal Community Services CHEFS program, http://www.ecs-sf.org/programs/chefs.html, helped me develop this recipe, and critiqued each batch. After a particularly gingery batch, she suggested that I saute the ginger to mellow out the flavor.

I’ve tried this recipe with both regular and light coconut milk. The regular milk gives a more pronounced coconut flavor, but the light is lower in calories. I’ll let you choose what’s right for you.

You can roast the squash and vegetables and/or make the vegetable broth ahead of time. You can cook the vegetables in the broth ahead of time, and then blend and heat before serving.

makes 3 1/2 quarts (15 cups)

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Ingredients

6 cups vegetable broth (recipe below) or chicken broth

1 small kabocha squash

14 oz can coconut milk

2 cups 1% milk (To make this vegan, use milk substitute)

3 large carrots, peeled

3 large leeks, split lengthwise and rinsed well.

1 tsp minced ginger

1/2 tsp coconut oil

1 Tb olive oil

1 tsp sea salt (to taste)

a few grinds pepper

¼ cup pepitas

Preheat oven to 350◦ Stab whole kabocha several times and roast for 30 minutes. Toss white part of  leeks and peeled carrots with olive oil on a foil-lined heavy pan. Leave squash in the oven and roast all the vegetables for another 30 minutes.???????????????????????????????While vegetables are roasting and cooling, prepare vegetable broth: Heat about 5 cups of water to boiling. Soak green parts of leeks in salad spinner and rinse at least 3 times, making sure to remove all the dirt. Roughly chop them and 4 celery sticks, and put in boiling water. Season with 1 tsp celery seeds, 1 tsp dried thyme, 2 bay leaves and 1 tsp salt, simmering 1 hour. Pull out green leeks and celery with a slotted spoon and discard. Strain broth into a large bowl, then pour back into pot to boil. (If you prefer, you can use chicken broth instead of vegetable broth.)

Cut top off roasted squash then let cool. Scoop out and discard stringy seed pod. Cut flesh from peel and into 1 inch chunks and slice carrots.  Saute the minced ginger in coconut oil for a few minutes, but don’t let it brown.

Heat broth and coconut milk and then add roasted squash, carrots, white part of leeks, and ginger. Simmer vegetables for about 30 minutes, and then  cool enough to blend.

Pour soup and milk into a large bowl. Fill blender half-way with liquid and then add vegetables. Liquefy and return to the pot. It took me about 3 batches to blend.  If you have an immersion blender, use that instead.

Add a few grinds of pepper, Stir in about 1 tsp sea salt, to taste, then simmer for another 15 minutes and serve.

Toast pepitas (green shelled pumpkin seeds) on a comal or heavy skillet at medium heat and toss on top of soup to garnish

Kale Kalamata Salad

curly kale

Curly kale fresh from the farmer’s market pairs wonderfully with Kalamata olives. Massage the raw kale with vinaigrette to break down the cell walls and toss in some carrots and Parmesan for sweetness. Sprinkle with pine nuts and cherry tomatoes and you have a pretty, Mediterranean-themed salad. (Vegans can omit the Parmesan and still enjoy!)

kale salad

1 head of curly kale

Dressing: 2 Tb olive oil
1 ½ tsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tb brine from olives
¼ tsp dried oregano
a few grinds black pepper

10 pitted Kalamata olives
2 Tb freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
4 tsp pine nuts
12 cherry tomatoes, halved

Tear kale off of stems and into bite size pieces. Rinse several times, and spin dry in salad spinner. Whisk dressing together and massage kale with dressing and olives until it turns dark and is roughly 1/3 the original size. Add Parmesan and massage into kale. You can let it sit a few hours to let the flavor develop.
Just before serving, mix in grated carrot. Place on plates. Sprinkle with pine nuts and cherry tomatoes halves.

Strawberry-Bacon Salad for a Cheating Vegetarian

salad with dressing

“I am a vegetarian. But I also love bacon. And the only thing more satisfying than being a vegetarian is being a cheating vegetarian!” Sonia Mena, 2011.

Strawberries and bacon are the perfect complement to each other, sweet and salty, juicy and crunchy. I throw in some raw pecans and sprinkle everything over a bowlful of salad greens. Then I toss them with a strawberry-balsamic dressing flavored with black pepper and rosemary. A cheating vegetarian couldn’t ask for more!

For healthiest results, use organic or non-pesticide strawberries and greens and nitrate-free bacon (I found some at Trader Joe’s)

This makes 2 dinner salads or one large salad for lunch.

strawberries, bacon and pecans

Ingredients:

Salad:
1 slice bacon
3 ripe strawberries
¼ cup (or one handful) whole raw pecans
2 heaping cups of salad greens

Salad dressing:
2 small soft very ripe strawberries
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp water

a few few grinds of black pepper

a few needles rosemary, minced
1 Tb extra virgin olive oil

Directions:
salad without dressing

Salad:Fry bacon over medium heat until well done. Drain on paper towels. Crumble when cool enough to handle.
Rinse greens and strawberries. Put greens in bowls; either one large or two smaller bowls. Sprinkle pecans and crumbled bacon over greens. Slice strawberries over salad.

Dressing: Slice over-ripe strawberries into a blender bowl and add rosemary, black pepper, and balsamic vinegar and water. Run on liquefy until strawberries are mostly liquefied. Add olive oil and run on liquefy until oil emulsifies. Pour over salad and toss so that it coats the greens.