Archive for category Side Dish

Corn off the Cob

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.

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Winter Kale Salad

It’s the middle of winter – the time of year when hearty stews and warm soups call to us and New Year’s resolutions to eat better start to fail.  Well, here’s a hearty simple salad, that will stick to your ribs just as well as any stew, while at the same time being relatively heart and diet healthy.

This salad is derived from a salad served at Northern Spy Food Co., one of my favorite restaurants.  I’ve made a few adjustments and substitutions to suit my taste and to decrease preparation time.  It’s now become a regular in my kitchen.  It’s simple  (only 6 ingredients) and packs a big nutritional punch (Kale is low in saturated fat and cholesterol; is a good source of dietary fiber, protein, folate, iron, magnesium; and is a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese).

This salad is also surprisingly robust and well balanced flavor-wise.  The slight earthy bitterness of the raw Kale is perfectly offset by the freshness of the lemon juice.  The creamy nuttiness of the cheddar nicely balances the tartness of the apple and is complimented by the almonds which give a crunchy contrast to both the apples and cheddar.  Because this salad has such a strong combination of flavors, I find it completely satisfying as a stand alone meal. I’ve eaten this salad for lunch and felt full and energized for the whole afternoon.  I’m not a certified nutritionist, but I suspect that because the Kale is raw, it takes longer to digest.

Prep ahead / Lunch tip: This salad can be prepped the day before.  Don’t add the apples and lemon juice/walnut oil dressing until just before serving.  If you really want to add the apples in advance then I recommend that before adding the apples, you rub/sprinkle the apples with a little bit of lemon juice to retard the browning of the apples.

Winter Kale Salad

serves 4 as side salad or 2 as main course

Qty Item
1 bunch Lacinato Kale (also known as Cavolo Nero, Tuscan Kale, Dinosaur Kale or Black Kale)
1/4 cup (60g) Raw Almonds
1/4 cup (60g) Tart apple, cubed
1/4 cup (60g) Raw milk cheddar, cubed
1-2 tbsp (15-30ml) Fresh lemon juice
1-2 tbsp (15-30ml) Walnut Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Wash the Kale and then shake or wipe off any excess water. Remove the white ribs from the Kale and discard the ribs. Thinly slice the Kale leaves and place the slices into a large bowl. Raw Kale can be a little hard to digest so I recommend slicing it thinly to make it a little easier to digest.
  2. Place the almonds on a tray and lightly toast the almonds in a toaster oven or regular oven until they just start to give off a nutty aroma.  You can toast them in a dry pan on the stove top, but watch them carefully as nuts burn quickly.
  3. While the nuts are toasting, prepare the apple cubes.  I recommend a semi-tart apple such as Jonagold, but any firm apple that you like will do.
  4. Slice the cheddar into cubes.  I use a raw milk cheddar because I believe the flavor is richer, but if you’re uncomfortable with raw milk products (i.e., unpasteurized milk), any high quality cheddar would work just as well (this generally excludes the neon orange commercial brands).
  5. Toss the Kale, almonds, apples and cheddar with lemon juice and walnut oil to taste (go easy here – the leaves should glisten with dressing, not drown).  Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Quinoa Rainbow Salad

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:

Qty Item
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
3/4 cup Water
1 cup Quinoa
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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

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