Summer Quinoa and Zucchini Salad with Herbs and Lemon

zuke saladIt’s the greatest time of the year – local produce is here! Well, it’s always around to some extent but farmer’s markets are reopening and the bounty is flowing through the doors. This year I’m writing recipes for Potter Hill Farm’s CSA, so in addition to the great produce members receive each week they will get some ideas of what to cook with them. I’ve been buying excellent produce from Paul for years, and I’m so excited to be both a member of his CSA and an added value for his other customers. If you were not able to sign up for the CSA, you can still get Paul’s produce through the Grafton Farmers Market and order directly from him for Monday pickups at the farm in Grafton, MA.

This is the first of many weeks of recipes, and I think an introduction is in order for all those who are new here. Hi! My name is Tori. I’ve been writing this blog for about five years, focusing mainly on my love of vegetables and accessible home cooking, but also dabbling in books, beer, and travel. I contribute to Yankee Brew News as a columnist for our region and feature writer. By day, I’m an education coordinator at a non-profit farm where I run nutrition and agriculture programming, including cooking classes for kids (more on that here).

I live in and love Worcester. Since returning to my home state of Massachusetts five years ago after a stint in Seattle, I’ve spent a lot of time exploring the nooks and crannies of New England. My husband, Will, is my primary adventure partner and recipe taster (He’s the main instigator behind the Will It Buffalo? series). Eggplant is my favorite vegetable, and I’m determined to convince the masses to love it too.

If you want to search my blog, or see all the posts in a single category, open up any post and scroll to the bottom. Click the tags at the bottom of the post to see other posts with a similar ingredient, click on a category to see all my posts on a single subject like books or travel, or use the search bar to find a specific post. I’ll be tagging all CSA recipes under Potter Hill.  You can find me on Instagram here. I’d love to hear more about you, what you’d like to see more of with your CSA recipes, and any questions you may have in the comments. Let’s get cooking!

zuke salad 2Summer Quinoa and Zucchini Salad with Herbs and Lemon

There is a lot of flexibility in this kind of recipe. Not into quinoa? Try couscous, farro, or barley. Can’t bear to turn on the oven? Slice the zucchini into planks, toss with the oil/zest/salt/pepper, throw it on the grill, and chop it after cooking. Out of chickpeas? Try cannellini beans or green lentils. Still trying to use up a head of lettuce? Put the whole mess (mixed or not) on top of greens dressed with lemon and olive oil. Vegan? Leave out the feta.

Serve 6 as a main, or 12 as a side.

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as olive oil (not extra virgin) or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs zucchini (I used 3)
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced (2 tablespoons total)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (about 1 3/4 cups total)
  • 1/2 cup minced parsley leaves (half a small bunch)
  • 1/2 cup minced scallions (2 giant scallions)

Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the quinoa and a pinch of salt. Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes. Removed from the heat, fluff with a fork, and let cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 425F. Chop the zucchini into 1/2 inch pieces, then toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon zest, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and ground pepper. Spread zucchini pieces on 2 baking sheets (if they are too close together they will steam and not roast), and roast for 15 minutes. Toss the zucchini on both pans, and return them to the oven on the opposite racks. Roast for another 15 minutes, until they are slightly charred.

In a jar or the bottom of the bowl the salad will be in, mix/whisk the lemon juice and olive oil. Combine the quinoa, zucchini, chickpeas, feta, parsley, scallions, and dressing in a large bowl., toss with the dressing and serve.

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Broccoli Stem and Kale Salad with Lemon Miso Dressing

kale and broccoli stem saladLast week, Will and I were on our way back from visiting friends in Philly. Last time we visited we spent the entire weekend eating excellent food, and this trip was equally delicious. We had incredible Lebanese food at Suraya (the fatteh with eggplant, chickpeas, and tehina yogurt was divine), hummus at Dizengoff, falafel, shwarma spice fries, and a Turkish coffee tahina shake at Goldie, ice cream at Weckerly’s twice, the best pour over I’ve ever had at Menagerie, a giant wedge salad at North Third, incredibly varied beer and great food at Tired Hands, and a cheesesteak on our way out at Dalessandro’s.
(Thanks again for having us Jesse and Brian – we’ll be back!!!)

But anyways, back to that journey home. We started off a little late, and hit rush hour traffic in Connecticut. We decided to stop and have dinner, and Will picked out Stanziato’s. It was surprisingly busy on a Monday night (a good sign), had an excellent beer list, and a creative take on Italian food that didn’t shy away from ingredients from other cultures. The pizzas were good, but the salad is what left the real impression. The only vegetable it contained was very thinly sliced broccoli stems that were coated in a lemon miso dressing and almost matched in volume by the toppings, which were parmesan cheese, toasted pine nuts, and capers. It was a delightful umami bomb and variety of textures that turned a normally trashed part of the vegetable into something you might buy on purpose.

I’ve been thinking about that salad since, and while I loved the flavor profile it seemed unbalanced. Afterwards I felt like I ate a bunch of salty cheese and nuts (which, I had) instead of a refreshing bowl of vegetables. The great joy of cooking at home is I can take what I loved about that salad and right the other wrongs. What results is definitely a salad, with a piquant dressing, buttery pine nuts, and a dusting of salty cheese. It feels like the best possible way to eat your vegetables.

Broccoli Stem and Kale Salad with Lemon Miso Dressing

Serve 4

This can easily become vegan by leaving out the parm, but in that case I would urge you to take the extra step of making Laura’s pine nut parm for salad perfection. I made roasted broccoli to go with dinner earlier in the week and saved the stems for this salad.

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (I used 1 smaller lemon)
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon white miso paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 small bunch of kale, de-stemmed (mine was 4.5 ounces)
  • 3 small broccoli stems (or 2 medium or 1 large, mine totaled 8.5 ounces)
  • 1 stalk (2 ounces) celery
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped

In a large bowl whisk the lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, miso, mustard, and the pinch of salt until combined.

Chop the kale, and very thinly slice the broccoli stems and celery (I used a mandoline, but careful knife work will also do the job). If you are working with a single large broccoli stem, you may want to peel it first. Test it by trying a slice to see how tough the outer bits are.

Add the kale, broccoli stems, and celery to the bowl and toss with your hands to combine. Work the dressing into the kale leaves so they are totally coated and shiny. Let the salad sit for a few minutes if you have time, so the dressing can soften the kale a bit (at least 10 minutes would be great). When you;re ready to serve top with the parmesan, pine nuts, and capers, and toss once more to combine.

The pine nuts will soften a bit as the salad sits, but its still great the next day.

*I did forget to add in the capers when I took this photo, but I put them in before we ate and they are definitely vital.

Vegan Favorites

DSC01879After last month’s vegan puddle debacle, I felt that vegan food needed to be redeemed. Despite what my disappointing soup suggested, vegan food should not be bland and boring. It should be a celebration of flavors and textures in the most nourishing way. To remind myself how great vegan food can be, I returned to some old favorites and tried out a few new ones that have become fast favorites.

Curried Lentils with Coconut Milk – When made with red lentils this becomes much looser than the curry shown made with brown lentils, but it is no less delightful. The coconut milk makes for a rich dish that is heavily flavored (but not overpowered) with cumin, coriander, and turmeric. I like to serve this with some roasted or sauteed veg to mix in as well and give a bit more texture to the dish, like cauliflower or cabbage. The curry and a veg can be made in the time it takes you to make brown rice, so dinner is on the table in 45 minutes. (I’ve been cooking through Small Victories bit by bit and I am liking it so far. Julia’s lasagna is a revelation.)

Goodness Wrap – This is everything I look for in a vegan wrap: various textures, the bright acidity of a pickle, and a sauce to tie it all together. I made this in the same week that I made the curried lentils and just made some extra rice to include, but honestly I didn’t feel it added that much to the wrap. I also added in some chickpeas for extra heft, which felt necessary to power more active bodies. These were so, so good.

Thai Chopped Salad with Tofu – This salad is the most refreshing thing to eat a lunch on a hot day. The crunchy veg and slightly sour dressing are spot on, and the tofu marinade with curry paste is so flavorful you might forget you’re eating tofu.

Thai-ish Cauliflower Rice Salad – Sprouted Kitchen again with a wonderful mix of colorful vegetables in a Thai slaw. The cauliflower rice was a bit weird to me, and didn’t go with the texture of the rest of the dish (it just coated the other things in mush). Next time I would just roast the cauliflower to include, as there will definitely be a next time. I made the same roasted tofu as in the salad above to bulk it up and the flavors went really well together. The crunchy vegetables were nicely coated in the peanut sauce. This is definitely an indulgent dish as it calls for a lot of ingredients that are not always easily found, but so worth the time.

Summer rolls with peanut sauce (pictured at top) – Now seems like a good time to remind everyone that peanut sauce freezes super well so you make make a big batch on a colder day and then have it at the ready for those nights when turning on the oven would be torture. I just picked up some brown rice wrappers at Whole Foods that I am pumped to try with rolls this summer.  I use any mixture of chopped raw veg (collard, kale, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, beets, summer squash, etc, etc), herbs (mint, cilantro), and leftover protein in my rolls on hot nights to make the best cold dinner.