jicama-lime slaw

Summer seems to be upon us here in Arizona, even though I think spring only officially got started a couple of weeks ago.  So, with temps in the 90s, and our grill performing its usual work-horse duties, I wanted a side that could herald summer.  Spring is fleeting.  Summer, well that just seems to go on forever.

I have my faithful stand-by recipes, but I like to experiment early in the season to find out if there’s anything worth making for upcoming picnics, get-togethers with friends, etc.  And I’m always enticed by oft-overlooked veggies.  Like the jicama, for instance.  You can find them in pretty much any grocery store, but it’s rare you see recipes calling for this uber-nutritious, fibrous root veggie.  And I’m surprised it took me this long to think of it as perfect for cole slaw.  The flavor and texture are spot on – crisp and sweet, somewhere between a water chestnut and a pear.  The jicama’s flavor is enhanced by the lime and doesn’t give way to sogginess when the dressing is applied.

If you’ve looking for a change of pace from a traditional mayo-based slaw, this one is perfect.  It’s tangy, zesty, and perfectly fresh for summer.  Enjoy!

 

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Jicama-Lime Slaw (recipe adapted from Cooking Light Superfast Suppers)

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium jicama, peeled and shredded
  • 1 c green cabbage, shredded
  • 1/4 c red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 c fresh lime juice (about 4 limes)
  • 2 tsp EVOO
  • 1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Combine first three ingredients in a medium bowl, tossing well.  Set aside. t
  2. Whisk together lime juice, EVOO, sugar, salt, and black pepper.
  3. Pour dressing over slaw mixture and toss well to coat.
  4. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

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***Cook’s Notes:  I was in time-saving mode, so I grabbed a bag of pre-shredded cabbage in the produce aisle.  Turns out it was the angel hair variety, so a bit too flimsy for my taste, but worked fine.  Next time I’ll either shred my own or make sure I buy a thicker shred.

 

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cucumber peanut salad

Labor Day weekend is fast approaching and we’re having guests for dinner, so I’m experimenting with some new salads.  This one hit the spot.  It’s picnic or barbecue  perfect, has great flavor, texture, appearance, and goes together super fast.  The original recipe called for an English Cucumber, but the ones in the store were so enormous I opted for a package of mini cucumbers, instead.  I actually think they were more colorful, too; the green being brighter and more cheerful.  Because a cheerful salad is a delicious salad, right?

Adapt as you please.  With the exception of the delicious dressing (lime juice and a little brown sugar) this isn’t one of those stuffy recipes where a minor change will make any difference in the finished product.  Enjoy…and have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day weekend.

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Cucumber Peanut Salad (recipe courtesy Cooking Light, July 2013)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups thinly sliced English cucumber
  • 1/2 cup vertically sliced red onion
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts

Directions:

  1. Combine cucumber, onion, lime juice, brown sugar, and salt in a medium bowl; toss to coat. Sprinkle evenly with peanuts.
  2. Step 2?  There is no Step 2.  So easy.  Serve and enjoy!

Serves four.

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***Cook’s Notes:  The peanuts make this a salad you either have to finish the day you make it, or eat any leftovers within a day.  They don’t hold up well refrigerated and stored in the dressing.  So eat it all up, or make sure you eat the remaining salad within 24 hours.

balsamic marinated tomato and mozzarella salad

I know there are a lot of food purists out there who will say this is a travesty; the bastardization of the Caprese Salad.  Yes, there is balsamic vinegar which some say you would never find on a Caprese Salad in Italy.   And yes, I served it as a side dish as opposed to a starter as they would in, you guessed it…Italy.

Alas, we are not in Italy.  We are in the United States of America and here?  Here, I put balsamic on my Caprese Salad and serve it as a side dish.  Except there’s one, minor detail.  This isn’t really Caprese salad.  Because it also has minced garlic and chopped onion.  So, there.  Take that, Italy.  It’s a side salad!

Don’t get me wrong.  I love me some Caprese Salad.  It’s the most tantalizing starter at any summer meal.  But this version is basically a balsamic marinade, and the added onion and garlic gives you an added kick in the taste buds.  It really was very, very good.  Lots of robust flavor with the same summer freshness of the purist’s Caprese Salad.  Keep this recipe on hand for summer weekends where you’re not hosting a formal sit down meal with several courses.  This has summer picnics and barbecues written all over it, especially if you’re invited to a summer meal where you’re asked to bring a dish to pass.  Make it ahead and let the flavors mingle.  It’s all good.  Enjoy!

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Balsamic Marinated Tomato and Mozzarella Salad (recipe courtesy Food.com)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, cubes
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes or 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

Directions:

In medium bowl, combine cheese pearls and tomatoes.  In separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, and chopped basil.  Stir to blend evenly.   When dressing is evenly mixed, toss over cheese and tomatoes, stirring gently to coat.

Chill until ready to serve.

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Cook’s Notes:  Especially where dressings and marinades are involved, always use the best quality balsamic vinegar and olive oil you can afford.

couscous with carrots and golden raisins

Couscous is a blank canvas.  You can paint it with whatever flavor palate you choose:  savory, hot and spicy, warm and mellow, sweet, salty, or pretty much anything you can imagine.  This is one of the many ways I prepare couscous, and probably one of my favorites.  I love the combination of flavors: warm spices combine beautifully with the sweetness of the carrots and golden raisins.  It’s a super easy way to dress up couscous for entertaining or a holiday meal.  It’s also good cold the next day.  Enjoy!

Couscous with Carrots and Golden Raisins

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced about 1/4-inch thick (1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups couscous

Directions:

Put the carrots olive oil, butter, salt, cinnamon, ginger, in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the water and raisins to the carrots and bring to a boil. Stir in the couscous, pull the saucepan off the heat, cover, and set aside until the liquid is absorbed and the couscous is plump and tender (about 10 minutes).

Fluff couscous with a fork and serve.

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Cook’s Notes:  This makes a ton of couscous, so feed a crowd or count on leftovers if you don’t reduce the recipe.

roasted cabbage rounds

I love cabbage.  There are people out there who need to be convinced, cajoled, tricked into eating cabbage.  I’m not one of those people.  On any given day, I probably have cabbage in my veggie crisper.  In the summer it morphs into slaws and salads.  In the fall it takes the form of soups and stews.  But the other day I was looking for a vegetable side dish and came across this recipe (which seems to be making the rounds on Pinterest).  If you’re so inclined, you can follow my pin boards there, too.

But, I digress.  Anyway, I saw this recipe and had to give it a try.  It originated at MarthaStewart.com and, despite my eye-rolling at all things Martha Stewart, I do concede she employs a lot of really talented and inspired people (No, Martha, I don’t believe you come up with all these amazing things on your own).  I used the remnants of a head of Napa cabbage I’d used for a salad recently and, admittedly, I don’t think it held together as well as green cabbage might have.  But it was simple and delicious and made for what I thought to be a perfect vegetable for a cool, fall evening dinner.  Roasting veggies mellows their flavor so nicely, and that held true for the cabbage.  The caraway seeds were the perfect burst of savory flavor, too.

The original recipe says to roast for 40 to 45 minutes, but the Napa cabbage may be a more delicate cabbage.  I pulled it at about 37 minutes and it was quite done.  It might even have come out a handful of minutes earlier, so watch it closely at the end of your cook time.  Enjoy!

Roasted Cabbage Rounds

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp plus 2 more Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium head green cabbage, cut into 1-inch thick rounds (I used Napa)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp caraway or fennel seeds

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Brush a rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Place 1-inch-thick rounds in a single layer on sheet and brush with olive oil.
  3. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon caraway or fennel seeds.
  4. Roast until cabbage is tender and edges are golden, 40 to 45 minutes.

This recipe is also linked up over at Rattlebridge Farm for Foodie Friday.  Click over and I guarantee you’ll find something good to eat!!

sweet restaurant-style slaw (otherwise known as the-best-ever coleslaw)

I’m not a huge fan of coleslaw drenched in mayonnaise, preferring something a little lighter with a vinegar base.  Throw in some Granny Smith apple slices and I believe that might be the perfect slaw.  But uber-healthy coleslaw just doesn’t fit the bill when it comes to pulled pork or shredded beef sandwiches.  You really need something more traditional – roadside diner-ish traditional.
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Honestly, there are hundreds of good slaw recipes out there, so it’s not that hard to find something to please everyone.  But my husband thought this one was The. Best. Ever.  It’s the perfect combination of sweet and tangy, with slightly fewer calories and fat because it uses Miracle Whip as a base rather than mayo.  If you use the “Light” option, you can trim a few more calories and fat grams from the finished product.  And, even though I’m a true-blue healthy coleslaw lover, sometimes you just gotta live a little.
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We use this on hot dogs, brats, pulled pork, and most recently the slow-cooker shredded beef.  While it’s a great topping, it’s perfect for a summer picnic side dish, as well.  Enjoy!
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Sweet Restaurant-Style Slaw
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Ingredients:
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  • 1 (16 ounce) bag coleslaw mix
  • 2 tablespoons diced sweet onion
  • 2/3 cup creamy salad dressing (I used Miracle Whip Light)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
Directions:
  1. Combine the coleslaw mix and onion in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together the salad dressing, vegetable oil, sugar, vinegar, salt, and poppy seeds in a medium bowl; blend thoroughly. Pour dressing mixture over coleslaw mix and toss to coat. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.

tabbouleh with watermelon

The first thing I usually do when we get to my mom’s for our summer vacation is gather all the Martha Stewart Living magazines I haven’t seen since our last visit.  I’ve never been a Martha Stewart fan.  She irks me in more ways than one.  But when my mom subscribed to her magazine, I figured I’d flip through an issue if, for no other reason, to confirm how much I’m irked by Martha Stewart.

And I still am.  But dang if that woman doesn’t conjure up with some incredible recipes!

This one came out of the July issue and is included in the “Fit to Eat” recipes; recipes geared toward healthy food choices and healthful living.  What tempted me most was the combination of watermelon and goat cheese.  The watermelon definitely provides a lovely sweetness to the palate, while the goat cheese adds a wonderful creaminess.  Bulgur is another one of those fabulous grains with lots of fiber, is more nutritious than rice, and is also a low glycemic index food (meaning it won’t play all sorts of nasty games with your blood sugar and insulin levels like rice and potatoes).  It sticks with you…in a good way.

Everyone really enjoyed this salad and it was even better the next day after the flavors had a chance to mingle…or, whatever it is flavors do together in the fridge when the light’s off.  I’ll definitely be making it again.  Enjoy!

Tabbouleh Salad with Watermelon

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • Coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup bulgur wheat
  • 8 ounces watermelon (about 1/2 small), peeled and coarsely chopped (1 1/2  cups)
  • 2/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon  juice
  • 2 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled

Directions:

  • Bring water and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir  in bulgur, and remove from heat. Let stand, covered, for 15 minutes. Fluff with  a fork, and let stand, uncovered, until cooled, 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Transfer bulgur to a bowl, and toss with watermelon, parsley, scallions, oil, lemon zest and juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Gently fold in goat  cheese.

black bean and tomato quinoa

As much as I love to cook, cooking a hot meal every night for my family can be…mundane?  A pain in the rear?  Maddening?  Not that I would ever succumb to the Fast Food Voice in my head…”Just swing through Chik-fil-a,” but preparing and plating a healthy, well-balanced meal every night of the week sometimes leaves me longing for something easier.

Especially the side dishes.  That’s probably where I’m most likely go get bogged down.  I mean, really…how much rice and pasta can you consume before you long for a twice baked potato, heavy on the sour cream?  I love couscous because it’s really just a blank canvas waiting for a flavor infusion, but I vacuum dried couscous off the floor for two days after I’ve served it.  So, I continue my quest for interesting and healthy sides.

The other day I was scanning recipes and it dawned on my I  had a box of pre-washed quinoa in the pantry.  Talk about a blank canvas…and really healthy, too.  Although the following recipe presumes you’re working with raw quinoa, I subbed in the pre-washed and simply followed the cooking directions on the box.  If you want more depth of flavor in your cooked quinoa, sub in chicken or veggie stock for the water.  Also, while the recipe is basically cook and serve, I think this was even better the next day.  So make it ahead if you’re going to be tight for time at dinner.  The flavors will have a chance to blend and mingle and do whatever it is flavors do in the fridge while you’re busy doing other things.  Enjoy! Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons grated lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 (14- to 15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

  • Whisk together lime zest and juice, butter, oil, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.
  • If you’re working withpre-washed quinoa, cook according to directions on box, otherwise wash the quinoa in 3 changes of cold water in a bowl, draining in a sieve each time.
  • Cook quinoa in a medium pot of boiling salted water (1 tablespoon salt for 2 quarts water), uncovered, until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Drain in sieve, then set sieve in same pot with 1 inch of simmering water (water should not touch bottom of sieve). Cover quinoa with a folded kitchen towel, then cover sieve with a lid (don’t worry if lid doesn’t fit tightly) and steam over medium heat until tender, fluffy, and dry, about 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat and remove lid. Let stand, still covered with towel, 5 minutes.
  • Add quinoa to dressing and toss until dressing is absorbed, then stir in remaining ingredients and salt and pepper to taste.