It’s Not Over Yet! Another Farmers Market Summer Salad

Summer Salad: Israeli Couscous, Wilted Kale, Grilled Corn, Nectarine, Pickled Red Onion, Mozzarella, Toasted PecansAnother Farmers Market Summer Salad
Israeli Couscous, Wilted Kale, Grilled Corn, Nectarines
Pickled Red Onion, Fresh Mozzarella, Toasted Pecans

Labor Day has come and gone… it was the official end of summer you say? Not so fast! We still have a bounty of lovely summer produce at our Farmers Market; juicy sweet aromatic nectarines and corn that is at its best just-picked, when it is high in sugar and low in starch. These beauties are the inspiration for this colorful fruit & vegetable summer salad.

Israeli couscous is airy, toasty, and kind of fun. Perfect for summer. This roasted pasta is shaped like little balls, it makes a pasta salad that’s light and not too pasta-y. Fruit and vegetables are the stars, but the couscous makes it into a pleasingly varied and balanced meal. A vibrant healthy meal for summer’s waning hot days…

Farmers Market Summer Salad Recipe

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Mighty Satisfying Meatless Meal

Bulgur and Burrata with Grilled Okra and Roasted Tomatoes

Bulgur and Burrata with Grilled Okra and Roasted Tomatoes
Basil, Oregano, Mint, Lemon
Garlic Ginger Olive Oil, Aged Balsamic Vinegar
Grilled Lodge Bread

The fresh crisp okra was surprisingly popular at the farmers market last weekend, I just had to join in the frenzy. If you like the taste but are not a fan of the mucilaginous properties of okra, this preparation will be for you. Okra brushed with olive oil and cooked over high heat for a short amount of time results in a very tasty charred veggie with only the tiniest hint of its unappealing characteristic.

Bulgur is an ancient whole grain that makes a nice addition to our rotation of favorite grains like farro,  quinoa, buckwheat, and oats. Red bulgur is hard red wheat that has been parboiled and cracked. Its chewy texture and nutty flavor adds to the satisfying qualities of this meatless meal. The “hard red wheat” is also the type used in the Lodge Bread. Hard red wheat has more protein than its white counterpart.

The tomatoes were plentiful and popular as always. I roast the cherry tomatoes in a 375°F oven with olive oil and balsamic for a half hour to really concentrate their sweetness.

And who can resist burrata cheese…a mix of mozzarella and cream, it’s simply heavenly.  It was super-fresh, made the day before, also a product of the Torrance Farmers’ Market where they feature top quality products from over 60 California farms.

More market items – lemon, basil, oregano, and mint add the tangy and herbaceous qualities to the meal. The addition of finely minced garlic and ginger add a pop to the olive oil, while aged balsamic vinegar brings sweet mellow notes.

And it’s very difficult to leave the Farmers Market without a loaf of fabulous Lodge Bread. Here I brush slices of Seeded Country Loaf with olive oil and grill until semi-burnt. That burnt charcoal flavor inspired the wine, a Zinfandel.

Mighty Satisfying Meatless Meal

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Dandelion Greens Pesto

Dandelion Greens Pesto

Dandelion Greens Pesto with Fettuccine

The organic red-stemmed dandelion greens (pissenlit rouge) at the farmers market looked so perky and pretty, I couldn’t pass them up, but had no idea what I would do with them.

Turns out there was fresh fettuccine in the fridge and there seemed to be some affinity…

Dandelion greens are bitter and peppery. I paired the edgy greens in a pesto with a 3:1 ratio of slightly sweet and soft baby spinach to tone them down, but not too much. Parmesan and fruity olive oil balance the bitter flavors. Lemon juice adds bright notes. It is an intriguing yet tasty departure from our beloved basil pesto.

And apparently dandelion greens are a top source of prebiotics, a specific carbohydrate that feeds probiotics. Prebiotics are high in an indigestible fiber called inulin, which enhances the gut’s production of friendly bacteria. (Source: Cooking Light)

Dandelion Greens Pesto Recipe

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Winter Radish Salad

Winter Radish Salad

Winter Radish Salad
Feta, Kalamata Olive, Frisée, Baby Celery, Upland Cress
Dressed with Fresh Lime Juice & Olive Oil

It was difficult to resist all those colorful heirloom radishes…and the frilly heads of frisée, hydroponically grown long thin stalks of baby celery and the delicate lime green leaves of upland cress too. While strolling the outdoor aisles of the Torrance Farmers Market – a crunchy, peppery, chromatic winter salad began to take shape.

Watermelon radish – an heirloom Chinese daikon – is a stunner with its white and green shoulders and vibrant fuchsia interior. The taste is mild with almond-sweet notes. Purple radishes – a Korean radish hybrid – are small and plump with a gorgeous violet ring around striated white flesh. They are far more peppery than the watermelon variety. I chose watermelon and purple radishes for their visual appeal and different flavor profiles.

Frisée, baby celery, upland cress, and chives make up the green elements of this winter salad.  With a bittersweet flavor and unique frizzy texture, frisée adds character. Upland cress has pretty leaves with a pungent spicy flavor. The baby celery has an intense celery flavor concentrated in the leaves. Chives bring that mild classic onion flavor.

Winter Radish Salad Recipe

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Eat Flowers, Be Happy (Edible Flower Salad)

Edible Flower Salad with Wild Strawberries and Grape Tomatoes

Edible Flower Salad
Wild Strawberries, Grape Tomatoes, Chrysanthemum Greens
Texas Tarragon, Borage, Marigold, Lemon Thyme, Chive Blossoms

In honor of the first days of summer and the unveiling of a new category to my website menu, I present this EDIBLE FLOWER salad. A trip to one of our best local Farmers Markets, plus a stop at my favorite Korean supermarket, and a bit of foraging in my own garden resulted in a one-of-a-kind salad that just screams summer. Every ingredient has a purpose in the flavor/texture/color profile.

Wild strawberries and sweet little grape tomatoes have a particularly delightful affinity for each other. Their red color contrasts with the exotic greens. Radish brings peppery flavors while roasted sunflower seeds add salty flavors – eliminating the need for additional salt and pepper. Kimjaban, crunchy roasted seaweed takes the place of croutons while adding sweet and salty notes.

Dressing is not tossed with the salad mix, so the flower petals look fresh-picked and the seaweed retains its crisp texture. The dressing consists of three distinct high-quality oils – fruity olive oil, toasted sesame oil, and fiery chili oil that are balanced by aged balsamic vinegar. Using chopsticks, diners can coat the salad ingredients with the oils and vinegar. And they just may want to reserve a bit of the syrupy balsamic vinegar to pair with that last wild strawberry for a grand finale.

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A Celebration of Green: Herbed Fettuccine, Spinach-Poached Egg

herbed fettuccine spinach-poached egg
A Celebration of Green

Herbed Fettuccine, Spinach-Poached Egg, Artichoke Heart
Asparagus, Baby Heirloom Tomato, Shredded Parmesan, Raw Pepitas
Tarragon, Marjoram, Thyme, Chervil

I simply cannot go to the Farmers Market without bringing home load of …everything green. Yesterday’s haul included tomatillos, asparagus, artichokes, raw pepitas, spinach, chervil, jalapeños, chervil, chives, little green tomatoes, sage, basil, tarragon, summer squash, thyme, marjoram. And probably more.

green pasta concept

What shall I do with all this GREEN stuff? Pairing with pasta sounds good…but not all the produce can end up in the final dish. It has to be balanced, the herbs and other ingredients have to harmonize. Alas the tomatillos, summer squash & jalapeños will be saved for another day. Asparagus stays. I’ll use marjoram for pretty floral and subtle lemony notes, tarragon for its sweet anise-like spice, thyme for pungency and earthiness, and chervil for its bright green color and lacy texture.

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