Archive for category Grains
Corn made its debut at the farmer’s market this week. While it’s not yet at its best, I love fresh corn so I couldn’t resist buying a few ears. Corn, while not that beneficial from a nutrition perspective (low fat, but high carb), is a great summer vegetable for a busy person to have on hand. You can give it a quick boil for a simple corn on the cob. You can get a little fancier by spreading on an herb butter, wrapping it in foil and roasting it; or you can get more labor intensive by shaving it off the cob and incorporating it into a pasta salad. The next few posts will provide recipes illustrating some of these options.
Let’s start with the most involved, but most interesting option – a fresh corn salad. This recipe calls for a bit of prep work, but, in the end, you have a light but filling salad. The sweetness of the corn is tempered by the intense flavors of cilantro and garlic. With the inclusion of black beans, peppers, and feta, this salad takes relatively low nutrition corn and marries it with protein, dairy and antioxidants. I eat this salad as a main course since it covers so much nutritional ground and is filling. However, it would make an excellent companion to any grilled meat.
Orzo and Corn Summer Salad
(serves 4-6 as a side dish).
For the Pesto
1 bunch Cilantro
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1-2 cloves Garlic
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
1-2 dashes fresh Lime Juice
For the Salad
1 cup Orzo
1 ear fresh Corn on the cob
1/2 -1 large Red Bell Pepper
1/2-1 large Orange Bell Pepper
1/2-1 cup Tomatoes (preferably Cherry tomatoes), diced
1 can (15 oz.) Black Beans, unsalted
1-2 Tbsp. Cilantro Pesto
1 Tbsp. Fresh Basil, chopped (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Crumbled Feta or Grated Cheddar Cheese to taste (optional)
1. To make the cilantro pesto, separate the cilantro leaves from the stems and place oil, garlic, and cilantro leaves in a blender or food processor. Blend until the mixture reaches the consistency of a rough paste. Add a dash or two of fresh lime juice, to taste. Add salt and Pepper to taste. Cover pesto and set aside. Pesto can be stored in refrigerator for about a week.
2. To make the Orzo, heat a pot of water (about 3 cups) to a boil. Add 1 tbsp salt to the water. Add Orzo and boil for 8-10 minutes until soft but not mushy (slightly softer than al dente). Drain the water from the Orzo and rinse the Orzo in cold water until the Orzo is cold (this will stop any residual cooking). Drain off any excess water, place the Orzo in a bowl, mix in a dash of Olive Oil, cover and set aside.
3. Shuck the corn. Wash and dry the corn. Using a sharp knife, shave the corn kernels off the cob. Saute the kernels in a small saute pan with a little butter until the kernels soften but are still firm (about 3-4 minutes). Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside to cool.
4. Finely and uniformly (if possible) chop the peppers and tomatoes and mix together in a bowl. Set the bowl aside.
5. Open the can of beans. Wash and drain the beans. Briefly saute the beans with a little salt and pepper (about 1-2 minutes) and set aside to cool.
6. In a large bowl, mix together the Orzo, cooled corn, tomato/pepper mixture and cooled beans. Add cilantro and basil and mix gently. Add salt and pepper to taste.
7. Serve with cheddar or feta sprinkled on top, if using. Excess can be stored covered in the refrigerator for about a week. I wouldn’t recommend trying to freeze it.
This salad is perfect in terms of ease of preparation and nutritional value. I’ve already expounded upon the nutritional value of Quinoa in a separate post (read post here) so I won’t go into that again here. This salad recipe is an adaptation of a recipe on the Food52 website. It’s a work in progress and changes depending on what vegetables I have on hand. However, this is the version that I love the most because with all the different vegetables, it really is a complete nutritional meal in one dish. It’s also wonderfully textured with the crunch of the peppers and nuts balanced against the creaminess of the Quinoa. The lemon gives a nice pop of freshness against the earthiness of the kale. Finally, it’s a rainbow of colors which just makes it beautiful on the plate.
Because it’s also good cold, it’s perfect for carrying to the office for lunch or eating straight from the fridge at night after a long day in the office. Because this recipe can be made in 30-40 minutes, it’s also possible to make this salad from scratch on a weeknight. If you decide to do it on a weeknight, you can save time by skipping step 2, starting with step 3 and then completing all the other prep work while the Quinoa and kale cooks.
Serves 4 as a main course:
|1||Red Bell Pepper, finely diced|
|1||Orange Bell Pepper, finely diced|
|2||Scallions, white and green parts finely minced|
|1||Chive, finely minced|
|1/8 – 1/4 cup||Feta, crumbled|
|Zest of 1/2 Meyer Lemon or regular lemon|
|1-2 tblsp||Meyer Lemon juice or regular lemon juice|
|1 tblsp||Walnut Oil or other oil such as olive oil.|
|1 cup||Chicken Stock or Vegetable Stock|
|1 bunch||Lacinato Kale (a.k.a: Black Kale, Dinosaur Kale, Cavolo Nero), sliced or hand torn into 1 inch strips.|
|4 tblsp||Pine Nuts, lightly toasted|
|Salt and Pepper to taste|
- In a large bowl, combine the diced bell peppers, scallions, and chive. Add in the feta, lemon zest, lemon juice and oil. Mix lightly then set the bowl aside.
- Rinse Quinoa under cold water. For maximum flavor, toast the Quinoa in a dry pan over medium heat until the Quinoa is dry and starts to give off a nutty aroma. Stir it and watch it closely as you toast it so that it doesn’t stick to the pan, turn brown or burn.
- In a 3 quart pot, combine stock and water (or use all water if no stock is available, but then salt the water generously so that it taste like the sea) and bring to a boil. Then add the Quinoa to the pot. Stir it once or twice then reduce the temperature so that the liquid is just at a simmer. Cover the pot and simmer for 10 minutes.
- After the 10 minutes have passed, most of the water (90%) should be absorbed. At this point, dump the sliced kale on top of the simmering Quinoa and put the lid back on the pot. Let it simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
- After the 5 minutes have passed, remove the lid and check to see that all the liquid has been absorbed and the kale is fully steamed, wilted and bright green. If that is the case, remove the pot from the heat, but cover it and let it continue to steam for another 5 minutes off heat. If that is not the case, let it simmer until all the water has been absorbed before proceeding.
- After 5 minutes have passed, the kale should be completely wilted and the Quinoa should be tender, but firm. Empty the pot into the bowl containing the other ingredients, add in the toasted pine nuts, and gently mix them all together (toss as you would a salad). Season with salt and pepper to taste, adding more lemon juice, if you prefer. then serve.