Salads

Farro, White Bean, Roasted Broccoli and Lemon Salad

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The branches of my neighbor’s tree are weighed with bright-skinned, juicy globes, and my farm box has seductive, creamy-green colored broccoli. I am in love with Trader Joe’s chewy, nutty 10-Minute Farro and the idea of salvaging any fresh herbs I have tucked away from previous dishes, as this salad benefits from any combination. Dinner with the hope of leftovers is in progress.

Farro, White Bean, Roasted Broccoli and Lemon Salad

Serve this dish alone, topped with poached eggs, rotisserie chicken or grilled meat. Serves about 4 as a main dish and 8 as a side.

Ingredients:

1 shallot, sliced

1 bay leaf

1 garlic clove

8 ounces of quick cooking farro

1 head of broccoli, cut into equal-sized florets

Olive oil, salt and pepper

1 can of organic white beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup chopped mixed herbs: parsley, thyme, dill, basil, cilantro, chervil, tarragon

2-3 fresh lemons

Instructions:

Heat a heavy bottomed saute or sauce pan and drizzle with olive oil. Add the shallot, bay leaf, garlic clove and farro, and stir until the shallot and garlic soften and the farro toasts slightly. Add water to cover plus 1/2 inch. Add a pinch of salt and cook for 10 minutes, until the farro is tender but still slightly chewy. Drain the excess water in a colander if it has not all been absorbed. Place the farro in a large mixing bowl.

While the farro is cooking, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and place the broccoli on it, tossing with olive oil, salt and pepper, then spreading out evenly on the pan. Put in the oven, turning the broccoli after about 5 minutes, until charred and softened, but still crisp and bright green, about 10-12 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and add to the farro.

Add the white beans, chopped herbs and the zest of one lemon to the farro and broccoli. Squeeze in the juice of two lemons, season the farro mixture with salt and pepper, and fold all of the ingredients together. Taste the mixture and add more lemon juice, salt and pepper, and olive oil if needed. Chill the salad or serve it at room temperature.

Green Cabbage, Carrots, Kohlrabi

Little Shop of Horrors

Did your farm box have a “Little Shop of Horrors” head of cabbage in it? I managed to fit this huge beauty into three dishes. I served this slaw with Beef Stew in Red Wine with Root Vegetables.

Winter Slaw with Lemon Fennel Dressing

2 cups shredded cabbage, green or red

2 beets, grated

2 carrots, grated

1/2 cup of seasonal vegetables such as red onion, shallots, fennel, radish, turnip or kohlrabi

A handful of fresh soft herbs (use mint, fennel, dill, parsley and chervil), leaves picked and chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced

1 tablespoon of stone-ground mustard

1 teaspoon of fennel seeds, crushed in a mortar

2 tablespoons Greek yogurt

Extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper

Mix the vegetables together with the fresh herbs. In a separate bowl, whisk together lemon zest and juice, mustard, fennel, yogurt, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour enough dressing over the slaw to coat the vegetables, then taste for seasoning. Adjust with additional lemon juice, salt, or pepper as needed.

Meyer Lemons

I found these Meyers at the farmers market, and I couldn’t resist buying far more than I needed…the word for that is greed, right? I did, however, resist the urge to tie a feedbag around my nose, drop a lemon in it, and walk around the market inhaling their floral sweetness. Just barely.

Chicken Provencal with Tomatoes, Green Beans, Roasted Meyer Lemons and Olives

Serves 6

Olive oil

1 pint of green beans, stems removed

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs

2 tablespoons flour

Salt and pepper

1 shallot, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup white wine

3 sprigs of fresh thyme

2 large, fresh tomatoes diced, or 1 15-ounce can of whole tomatoes with juices

1 cup of homemade chicken stock or good quality boxed chicken broth

1/4 cup black cured olives, such as kalamata or nicoise

2 Meyer lemons (or regular lemons), ends trimmed, cut into thin slices

Heat a Dutch oven over medium high, and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat olive oil and add green beans to the pan, allowing them to sear, then stir to turn. Season with salt and pepper, then cook for an additional 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the green beans from the pan and hold.

Add another splash of olive oil, then add chicken thighs to the pan.  Sprinkle the chicken with flour, salt and pepper, and sear until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken and brown, another 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and hold. Add the shallot and garlic to the pan, stirring and cooking until softened and slightly browned, then add the wine to the pan and stir, scraping the bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook wine until it is reduced by half and slightly syrupy. Add the thyme springs, tomatoes and chicken stock, then add the chicken back into the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, then cover with a lid slightly cracked, and cook for another 20 minutes, until liquid is thickened. Remove the thyme sprigs.

Heat oven to 350 degrees, and place lemon slices on a parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes, until lemons are soft, juicy and have slightly browned edges. Lemons can be roasted 3 days in advance.

Stir green beans, roasted lemons and olives into the chicken and season with salt and pepper, then serve.

 

Meyer Lemon Stone Ground Mustard Dressing

1/2 shallot, minced very fine

Zest and juice of one Meyer lemon (or a standard lemon)

1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar (Champagne, white balsamic, rice wine will all be fine here)

2 teaspoons of stone ground mustard

1 teaspoon of honey

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt & pepper

In a large bowl, add the shallot, lemon zest and juice, vinegar, mustard and honey. Whisk together to incorporate, and then drizzle in the olive oil slowly while continuing to whisk. Season with salt and pepper.

Alternately, put all of the ingredients in a container with a lid that seals tight. Shake the dressing until it has thickened and season. Store dressing in the refrigerator for up to a week, stirring before use.

CSA Day at Tanaka Farms

One of the benefits of our box from Tanaka Farms is CSA Day at the Farm, which is truly my happy place. I bring a carload of kids down to Irvine, and we get to take a wagon ride around to see what the season brings. This time of year, it’s the pumpkin tour, with a neverending field of pumpkins of all shapes, variety and size.

For the harvest season, they have a petting zoo with goats, micro pigs, sheep and a llama, plus a wagon tour complete with a pumpkin cannon blast off. Then kids weave their way around the corn maze while they lug the perfect pumpkins that they expertly selected despite our warnings that they wait until the end of the day. Of course, the adults end up hauling the pumpkin booty around the farm, or wheeling them around in a wheel barrow, which is much harder than it seems.

The farmers also put out a delicious and thoughtful spread of field fresh food, with slices of watermelon, grilled summer squash and onions, strawberry tomatoes (a hybird cherry tomato shaped like a strawberry and almost as sweet) and an amazing kale salad.

Kale, Apple, Cranberry and Pinenut Salad

Serves 6

This salad gets better when it has some time to hang out in the acidic dressing, as the kale softens and takes on a sweet flavor. The woman at the farm who made the salad said her forearms felt like Popeye’s because she tossed it with her bare hands to make it tender.

1 bunch of kale, ribs and stems removed, torn into small, bite-sized pieces

juice of one lemon

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons agave nectar

salt & pepper

1 Fuji apple, cored, cut into a small dice

1/4 cup dried cranberries

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

Toss kale with lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar and agave, until leaves are well coated and become slightly softened. Season with salt and pepper, then chill in a fridge for 10-20 minutes. Toss in apples, cranberries and pinenuts to serve.

Radishes

Shortly after meeting the man who would become my husband, we went for a skiing holiday in Colorado. Staying with friends in a cabin, we all had dinner duty. Felipe and I, still as awkward in the kitchen as we were in the intimacy department, shopped in the unflattering flourescent lights of the nearby convenience market, and let’s just say that the slope’s powder was much fresher than the local produce. We danced around a menu that would impress but still be made in our cabin’s tiny kitchen. Felipe found some  promising trout and packaged, sliced almonds. I spotted the green tops of some firm, vibrant radishes above the bags of pre-washed lettuces, and grabbed a waxed lemon. Our first collaborative meal was born.

I’d love to say that it turned out perfect, but there were some burnt almonds, torn trout’s skin, brown butter turned black. Yet the simplicity of the radish salad, with the greens torn and dressed, the roots sliced thin, a crank of black pepper, a smatter of salt, a shot of fresh lemon, rescued the tortured fish. Twelve years later, we share the kitchen as adeptly as Argentinian tango dancers, making it hard to believe that I once felt embarrassed about things like taking my shoes off at airport security, horrified that my new boyfriend would see my bright orange ski socks. Making this tilapia and radish salad reminded me of those shy, bumbling early days and the grace of a perfect match. 

Crispy Lemon Tilapia with Brown Butter Dressed Radish Salad

Serves 4

4 tilapia fillets

Olive oil, salt and pepper, as needed

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1 garlic clove, finely grated

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 shallot, minced

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 bunch fresh radishes, leaves washed, dried and torn into bite-sized pieces, bulbs trimmed and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons toasted almonds

Using a mandolin will guarantee your radish slices are paper-thin.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Coat the tilapia fillets with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. In a flat dish, mix together bread crumbs, lemon zest, garlic and parsley. Stir to combine, then dredge fish in the breadcrumb mixture, thoroughly coating. Place fish on the baking sheet and into the oven. Cook for 15-20 minutes, checking for doneness when fish is opaque and firm to the touch.

Prepare the brown butter dressing. Using a small skillet, melt the butter over medium high heat. When butter solids turn light brown, add the shallots, then cook for another 30 seconds. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, and stir in lemon juice. Whisk in the olive oil in a slow stream until dressing is thick and emulsified. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Gently toss the dressing with the sliced radishes, greens and almonds. Arrange on a plate, then top with the tilapia. Serve and devour.

Golden Beets, Leeks, Navel Oranges and Kale

This is a sweet and clever collaboration of several ingredients in the farm box this week, which could accompany grilled salmon or chicken breasts, or simply be savored it on its own.  I can’t wait to eat it again.

Brown Rice Salad with Leeks, Roasted Golden Beets, Kale and Orange Maple Dressing

I use  a rice blend from Trader Joes that has brown rice, black barley and radish seeds, but you could use a blend of wild rice and brown rice as well.

Serves 6-8

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

3 leeks, white and light greens sections, cut into rings, well washed

4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

1 cup brown rice, or brown rice mixture (wild rice, red quinoa, barley)

2 1/2 cups chicken stock

teaspoon salt, plus salt and black pepper to taste

1 head kale, tough ribs removed, leaves cut into small pieces

3 golden beets, washed and trimmed, roasted in foil packet, cut into slices

Dressing:

1 orange, zested and juiced

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/4 cup olive oil

Cook the kale until it turns a vivid green, then remove from heat so the color remains.

In a saucepan, heat olive oil to a shimmer over medium-high heat. Cook leeks and garlic until tender while stirring, about 5 minutes. Add rice and stir with oil and leek mixture, allowing to slightly toast the rice, for about 2 minutes. Add chicken stock and salt, stir, then cover and cook for 30 minutes, or until rice is cooked but slightly firm. Cool and fluff with a fork.

In a skillet, heat another tablespoon of olive oil, and cook kale until bright green. Remove from heat and place in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine orange zest and juice, vinegar, maple syrup, Dijon mustard and olive oil. Whisk to combine. Mix the kale with the rice, beets and dressing. Season with salt and pepper, serve or hold in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Carrots and Snap Peas

My daughter loves to eat carrots and snap peas raw, especially with ranch dressing to dip them in, but store-bought has over 30 ingredients in it, including MSG and other preservatives. So we make a homemade version, which I think is even more delicious. I keep it light by using Greek yogurt, and make the flavor extra bright by using fresh herbs. You can use half the amount of dried herbs if fresh are not available.

Homemade Ranch Dressing

1/2 cup light mayonnaise

1/2 cup low fat greek yogurt

1/2 cup low fat buttermilk

1 teaspoon minced fresh dill

1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon lemon juice, or to taste

salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together and season. Chill for 3o minutes or store in refrigerator for up to a week. Use as a salad dressing or veggie dip.