Eggs Benedict Salad with Cottage Bacon, Spring Vegetables & Lemon

Cottage bacon is sweet, full of flavor, and has just enough fat. If you google it or Canadian bacon, the options are always the same, pizza and Eggs Benedict. It can be used in place of bacon in just about any application but it’s so delicious, I prefer to let it stand on it’s own. Here I’ve made a summer “Eggs Benedict Salad” with Spring vegetables, lemon, and croutons.

Serves 4

  • 1 pound Cottage Bacon, I use Rockside Ranch
  • 4 to 8 eggs, boiled for 7 to 8 minutes, drop in ice water to cool then peel and quarter
  • 1 bunch asparagus (or one handful of green beans per person) cut on the diagonal
  • ¾ lbs. baby new potatoes or larger potatoes quartered and dropped in cold water
  • 1 large handful washed and dried lettuce of your choice per person
  • 1 -2 tomatoes, quartered
  • Your favorite olives to garnish
  • Croutons of your choice
  • ½ Tbls. Dijon style mustard
  • 2 shallots, minced (optional)
  • Juice of one lemon, about 4 Tbls.
  • ½ cup good quality olive oil or too taste
  • Fresh cracked pepper, I love pink peppercorns here
  • Pinch sea salt

Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Prepare a large bowl with ice and water. Drop the asparagus, green beans, or both into the boiling water and stir. Cook just until crisp tender, about two minutes. Test one and when cooked to your liking, scoop the vegetables out and drop them into the ice water to cool. Drain as soon as they are cold. Place them back in the bowl.

Salt the boiling water and add the drained potatoes. Cook until the can be pierced with a knife with resistance. They will still cook as they cool.

Make the dressing: Whisk the mustard and shallots together in a small bowl. Whisk in the lemon juice and then the olive oil. Season to taste and adjust lemon or olive oil to your liking. When to potatoes are done, drain and place in a bowl and toss with several tablespoons of the dressing. Set aside.

Now for the bacon: Heat a medium heavy bottomed skillet of any kind. Once the skillet is hot (wave your hand over the surface) add the bacon in a single layer and don’t move it. The bacon will stick until the fat melts and the protein turns to sugar and caramelizes the meat. By being patient, you’ll have a crispy sweet piece of bacon. Once one side is caramelized, turn the pieces over to warm the second side. The longer it cooks, the crispier it gets. That choice is yours. Stack the cooked bacon on a small plate and cook the remaining pieces.

Putting it all together: Add the lettuce to the vegetables and toss with just enough dressing to coat. Pile on a large platter and garnish with the bacon, quartered eggs, tomatoes, olives, and croutons. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the salad or serve on the side.

Blanching tips:

  • Don’t blanch vegetables that are primarily water such as summer squash or eggplant.
  • Mix vegetables that are grown in the same season.
  • Blanch several vegetables at once. You can store them in the fridge and pull them out to toss with salads, pasta , or sauté in fat.

 

 

Keep it Bright: Blanching Vegetables

FullSizeRender 2.jpg

The weather's gorgeous and no one wants to be indoors cooking for hours. Hence, blanching is the perfect vegetable technique for Spring. Many vegetables can be blanched in a pot full of boiling water until crisp and slightly under-done. Drain the vegetables and immediately plunge into a bath of ice water to stop the cooking and retain the bright color. You can cook several night’s worth of vegetables this way and store them in the fridge in containers lined with paper towel to capture the moisture. 

To use, sauté vegetables in good oil or butter just until warmed through or toss them into a salad. Mix vegetables that are grown in the same season; they naturally taste delicious together. 

Here’s a list of vegetables to use for blanching and fun combinations for sautéing. The italicised vegetables should not be blanched.

Asparagus, snow peas or sugar snap peas with:

  • Green onion, shaved fennel and slivered ham or prosciutto
  • Salted cashews
  • Sugar snap peas and frozen petite peas, lemon zest
  • Sesame seeds sautéd in sesame oil

Carrots with:

  • Green onion, lime juice, and chopped cashews
  • Ghee or coconut oil with cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper
  • Cauliflower, mint & preserved lemon

Broccolini with:

  • Garlic, olive oil and chili flakes
  • Capers, toasted hazelnuts or pine nuts 

Green beans with:

  • Bacon and toasted walnuts or pecans
  • Diced tomatoes, garlic and nicoise or black olives

Carrots with:

  • Caraway seeds
  • Chick peas, Moroccan spices

Broccoli, cauliflower with:

  • Garlic, crumbled (leftover) Italian sausage
  • Raisins soaked in hot water then sautéed, blue cheese crumbles, pine-nuts
  • Cauliflower with curry and raisins
  • Sautéd mushrooms, shallots, basil, Pecorino 
  • Brown butter, pumpkin seeds, cumin

Blanched Spring Vegetables with Arugula, Olive Oil, Lemon & Cheese

Here's a quick, delicious, and very detoxifying salad that I love to make-

In a bowl, add a large handful of arugula per person along with a handful of blanched vegetables per person.  Note that in the photo, I've used asparagus, snap peas and fava beans. Toss with just enough good quality olive oil to coat the leaves with no oil puddling at the bottom of the bowl. Squeeze fresh lemon juice to taste and toss with a spoonful of capers. Cover with a blanket of freshly grated Parmesan. Enjoy!

 

Roasted Beet & Delicate Salad, Pomegranate Molasses, Blue Cheese and Walnuts

Serves 4-6

Salads shouldn’t be a science project; amounts are flexible. Sometimes recipes are so exacting, they become intimidating. Go will your gut here and taste, taste, taste. This salad is such an explosion of bright Fall colors and flavors with sweet, salty and bitter blended together. You just can’t mess it up!

Serves 4-6

  • Good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar 
  • 4 small beets, I like yellow and/or striped Chioggia
  • 1 Delicata squash, washed, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced into half moons
  • 2 bunches or 1 bag arugula, washed and spun dry
  • 2 to 4 ounces good quality creamy blue cheese
  • pomegranate molasses
  • coarsely chopped walnuts, about 1/2 cup

Preheat oven to oven to 425°F or better yet, roast beets while the oven is on for something else. The temperature isn’t crucial, just adjust the cooking time. 

Slice off both ends of the beets, the tip and top just enough to expose the flesh. Scrub to remove dirt and wrap them loosely in foil. Beets of the same size can be wrapped together. If you have one or two larger beets, cut them in half so they are about the same thickness as the smaller beets. Place the foil packages a baking sheet and roast for 30 to 40 minutes for small beets.  

To roast the Delicata squash, place the half moons on a parchment-lined cookie sheet with just enough olive oil to moisten and barely be noticeable. Add to the oven and roast 15-20 minutes or until tender. Remove from the oven and cool.

Check the beets every 20 minutes or so. Beets are done when a sharp knife or skewer slides easily to the middle of the beet. Cool enough to handle and peel the beets with a sharp knife or by rubbing the skin away with a paper towel. Slice beets into wedges, place in a bowl and sprinkle with just enough balsamic vinegar to bathe the beets without a puddle at the bottom of the bowl

When ready to serve, toss the arugula in a bowl with just enough olive oil to lightly coat the leaves. Add a small splash of balsamic (you can always add more) and a sprinkle of salt. Toss and taste. If it’s perfect, add the beats and squash and toss to coat. Place in a serving bowl and drizzle sparingly with the pomegranate molasses. Sprinkle with the nuts and small blobs of cheese and serve.

  • For and entrée salad, add grilled chicken or serve with roast or grilled pork tenderloin brushed with more pomegranate molasses.
  • I like to roast vegetables when the oven is on anyway. Roast whatever you’ve got, onions, winter squash, broccoli, until just tender. Cool and refrigerate. They can then be used to toss with pasta, add to frittata or soups and used in salads as below.
  • Roast beets this way, tossing in balsamic and store them in the fridge to use throughout the week.

Tea Smoked Mushroom Salad with Spiced Cashews and Goat Cheese

Tea-smoked mushrooms have a tea-infused, earthy, umami flavor. They are delicious served over warm Brie with crusty bread or in this salad. Enjoy!

Serves 6

Cayenne Cashews:

  • 1/4 cup cashews 
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • 1/4 cup water 
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper 
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt 

Tea-Smoking Mixture:

  • ½ cup rice 
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup black tea leaves of your choice, such as Earl Grey, Lapsong Souchong, etc.
  • 2 Tbls. whole black peppercorns, cracked
  • 1 tsp. whole coriander seeds 
  • 4 slices (about 1 ounce) fresh ginger root 
  • 1 cinnamon sticks 
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 1/4 cup indoor smoker wood shavings (optional)

Mushrooms:

  • ½ Lbs. assorted mushrooms, shiitake, chanterelle, portobello, brown cremini, white
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced 
  • Olive oil to coat the mushrooms
  • Tea-smoking mixture (recipe below)

Dressing & Salad:

  • 1/3 cup sherry
  • 1/2 Tbls. shallots, minced
  • 1/4 Tbls. Dijon mustard 
  • 1 Tbls. strong brewed black tea using the same tea as in smoking mixture
  • 2/3 cup nut oil or mild olive oil
  • Butter crunch lettuce and/or arugula
  • 4 oz. mild, fresh goat cheese

To make Cayenne Cashews:

Preheat oven to 375˚ 

Add the cashews, sugar, and water to a sauce pot and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Strain the cashews and place them in a small mixing bowl. In another small bowl, mix salt and cayenne and sprinkle the cashews tossing to coat the cashews. Spread the nuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake them for 5 minutes, or until the cashews are golden brown. Remove the nuts from the oven and let them cool. 

To make Tea Smoked Mushrooms:

Wash, dry and quarter or halve the mushrooms, depending on their size, into bite-size pieces and place in a bowl.  Toss lightly to coat with garlic and olive oil.  

Mix together all of the tea-smoking ingredients.  Line a wok or sauté pan with a tight-fitting lid (do not use non-stick) with two layers of foil and place the smoking mixture in a mound in the center of the foil. Set a wire rack or vegetable stearmer in the wok and place a tight-fitting lid on top of the wok.  Heat the wok until wisps of smoke appear when you briefly lift the lid. 

Reduce the heat under the wok and quickly place the mushrooms on the rack in the wok.  Replace cover.  Smoke for about 5 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and place in a bowl to let stand at room temperature.  Adjust seasoning as needed with salt and pepper to taste. 

To make dressing:

In a small pan, bring the sherry to a boil to burn off the alcohol. Reduce slightly. Cool. Whisk together shallot, Dijon and tea. Whisk in oil and adjust seasoning.

To serve:

Toss the lettuce with the dressing and mound on a platter. Top with mushrooms, crumbled cheese and cashews. Serve.

Other options for smoking

  • Asparagus and other veggies, Rhubarb, firm tofu, Tempeh, prawns, scallops, or halibut or salmon fillets.
  • Serve the smoked mushrooms over ramen noodles in broth sprinkled with chives 
  • Serve on toasted bread with Brie or goat cheese as an appetizer

*Mushrooms adapted from Cooking with Tea, Robert Wemischner

 

 

Salted Summer Squash Salad with Olive Oil & Hazelnuts

Salted Summer Squash Salad with Olive Oil & Hazelnuts

  • 1 small summer squash per person (zucchini, crookneck or patty pan)
  • sea salt
  • EVOO
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbls. toasted, skinned and chopped *hazelnuts per person

Remove the ends and coarsely grate or julienne the squash. Place in a bowl and toss liberally with salt. Allow to sit for 20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the nuts just until lightly colored and set aside. After the 20 minutes, rinse the zucchini really well. Taste it to make sure it is not salty, if it is, rinse again. 

The squash absorbs quite a bit of water. Take handfuls and squeeze out as much liquid as possible and place in a dry bowl. Or, place the squash in a clean, dry tea towel and twist the towel squeezing out the water.

Drain the olive oil used to sauté the nuts over the squash and toss adding more olive oil and lemon juice to taste. Sprinkle with nuts and serve.

*Sliced or slivered almonds are also nice.

Arugula, Fennel, and Preserved Lemon Salad

Arugula, Fennel, and Preserved Lemon Salad Serves 6

  • 3 fennel bulbs
  • sea salt
  • 6 Tbls. good quality EVOO
  • 2 Tbls. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbls. rinsed and minced Moroccan salt-preserved lemons
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh black pepper
  • 2 bunches or 1 bag arugula, stems trimmed and washed

Trim ends of the fennel with a sharp knife and reserve some fronds. Cut the fennel in half through the core. Remove the core. With the flat side down, slice/shave the fennel as finely as possible. Place in a bowl, liberally salt. Allow to sit for 20-30 minutes.

Whisk the 6 Tbls. EVOO, lemon juice, preserved lemons, minced garlic, and pepper.

Rinse salted fennel well and pat dry with paper towels. Toss with the dressing and arugula. Coarsely chop some fennel fronds and garnish the salad.

 

 

 

 

 

Root Vegetable Slaw

Root Vegetable Slaw  Serves 6

  • 3 medium beets, I like golden beets
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1/2 celery root
  • 1 medium kohlrabi
  • sea salt
  • 4 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp sherry vinegar 
  • 2 tsp superfine sugar or honey
  • 3/4 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup mint leaves, shredded
  • 2/3 cup flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp grated lemon zest
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel all the vegetables and slice them thinly, about 1/16 inch thick. Stack a few slices at a time on top of one another and cut them into matchstick like strips. Alternatively, use a grater or a food processor with a grater attachment. Place the vegetables in a large bowl and season liberally with salt. Set aside for 20-30 minutes. 

Make the dressing by placing the lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle simmer and stir until the sugar and the salt have dissolved. Remove from the heat. 

Drain the vegetable strips and rinse will with cold water. Place in a clean tea towel or paper towel and pat dry. Return to a dry bowl. Pour the hot dressing over the vegetables, mix well, and chill in the fridge for at least 45 minutes. 

When ready to serve, add the herbs, lemon zest, and 1 teaspoon black pepper to the salad. Toss well, taste, and add more salt if needed. 

Adapted from Plenty, Yotam Ottolenghi

A Spring Cleaning

 We’ve enjoyed the richness of winter root vegetables and stews that kept us cozy during winter's weather. Now, the earth begins to warm and bursts forth with green! As the earth awakens, so do our bodies. We become energized for what is traditionally the hard work of planting season.  Some like to do cleanses right after the holidays but I find that a time of rest and recovery and Spring a time to rejuvenate.   Many cultures participate in the ritual of spring cleaning. It applies to us as well as to our homes. This tradition is an age old practice.  *Chinese medicine associates the spring season with the color green, new growth... and [cleansing] the liver and gallbladder.  The Jews ready for Passover by thoroughly cleansing their homes and stomachs of leavened bread.   Ready for a cleans? To guide you, look to nature. Greens are what's in season and are extremely cleansing whether eaten raw or lightly cooked. You don't need to spend a fortune; just visit the farmer's market. And after a winter of slow stewing, it’s time for a quick sauté.   Foods taste best when eaten in season. Following the seasons gives us foods to look forward to and eating locally grown, high quality, seasonal foods provides more flavor and nutrients at less cost. To help with cost, read on for ideas on using all of the plant.  *Bliss, N. 2012.  Real Food All Year . New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

We’ve enjoyed the richness of winter root vegetables and stews that kept us cozy during winter's weather. Now, the earth begins to warm and bursts forth with green! As the earth awakens, so do our bodies. We become energized for what is traditionally the hard work of planting season.

Some like to do cleanses right after the holidays but I find that a time of rest and recovery and Spring a time to rejuvenate. 

Many cultures participate in the ritual of spring cleaning. It applies to us as well as to our homes. This tradition is an age old practice. *Chinese medicine associates the spring season with the color green, new growth... and [cleansing] the liver and gallbladder. The Jews ready for Passover by thoroughly cleansing their homes and stomachs of leavened bread. 

Ready for a cleans? To guide you, look to nature. Greens are what's in season and are extremely cleansing whether eaten raw or lightly cooked. You don't need to spend a fortune; just visit the farmer's market. And after a winter of slow stewing, it’s time for a quick sauté. 

Foods taste best when eaten in season. Following the seasons gives us foods to look forward to and eating locally grown, high quality, seasonal foods provides more flavor and nutrients at less cost. To help with cost, read on for ideas on using all of the plant.

*Bliss, N. 2012. Real Food All Year. New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

 Spring garlic, a special Spring treat, is highly nutritious and cleansing. Also known as green garlic, it's availability doesn't last long. This young garlic has hints of purple as apposed to leeks which are green-white. They are delicious sautéed.  Replace 1 entire green garlic stem and bulb for 1 clove of regular garlic.

Spring garlic, a special Spring treat, is highly nutritious and cleansing. Also known as green garlic, it's availability doesn't last long. This young garlic has hints of purple as apposed to leeks which are green-white. They are delicious sautéed. Replace 1 entire green garlic stem and bulb for 1 clove of regular garlic.

 In addition to farmer's markets and produce shares, ethnic markets are a great place to shop for inexpensive greens. The choices are endless!

In addition to farmer's markets and produce shares, ethnic markets are a great place to shop for inexpensive greens. The choices are endless!

 At the farmer's market I found these three types of spinach all used in Asian and Indian soups and stir-frys. Each bunch cost about $1.00. Notice the long stems. 

At the farmer's market I found these three types of spinach all used in Asian and Indian soups and stir-frys. Each bunch cost about $1.00. Notice the long stems. 

 When buying bagged spinach, we are paying for someone to clean the spinach and throw away the stems for us. It's expensive and a waste. Spinach stems are delicious in this  Sephardic salad with walnut and garlic sauce.  

When buying bagged spinach, we are paying for someone to clean the spinach and throw away the stems for us. It's expensive and a waste. Spinach stems are delicious in this Sephardic salad with walnut and garlic sauce.  

 Young, Spring carrots are another treat. The carrot family  Umbelliferae  consist of anise, caraway, celery, parsley, cilantro and coriander, cumin, dill, and fennel to name a few. Vegetables from the same family always taste delicious prepared together. Here are steamed carrots with   Carrot-Top Pesto.      By adding Spring's offering into your diet, you're off to a great cleansing start!

Young, Spring carrots are another treat. The carrot family Umbelliferae consist of anise, caraway, celery, parsley, cilantro and coriander, cumin, dill, and fennel to name a few. Vegetables from the same family always taste delicious prepared together. Here are steamed carrots with Carrot-Top Pesto. 

By adding Spring's offering into your diet, you're off to a great cleansing start!

 If you're interested in seasonal cooking and eating, I recommend Real Food All Year. It combines ancient Chinese practices with today's knowledge and some simple recipes.                         Real Food All Year: Eating Seasonal Whole Foods for Optimal Health and All-Day Energy   

If you're interested in seasonal cooking and eating, I recommend Real Food All Year. It combines ancient Chinese practices with today's knowledge and some simple recipes.                       
Real Food All Year: Eating Seasonal Whole Foods for Optimal Health and All-Day Energy
 

Spinach Stems with Walnut Sauce

Spinach Stems With Walnut Sauce

Serves 4

I like to serve this salad with an assortment of roasted peppers, olives, cheeses and cured meats as an appetizer. The walnut sauce is also delicious on chicken, spread on toast and with other vegetables.

  • Stems from 3 lbs. spinach, some tops are ok too
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 Tbls. olive oil
  • 1 cup ground toasted walnuts 
  • 1 slice rustic bread, crusts removed, soaked in water, and squeezed dry
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbls. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 to 4 Tbls. water, or as needed
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Put the spinach stems, onions, and olive oil in a saucepan and add water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until stems are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Lift out and discard the onion. Pour the contents of the pan into a sieve or colander and let drain for 15 minutes.

To make the walnut sauce, combine the ground nuts, soaked bread, vinegar, olive oil, and 3 Tbls. water in a small bowl. Stir to mix well and season with salt and pepper. Salt is the key ingredient for the balance here. The sauce should be thick but spreadable. If it is too thick, add the remaining 1 Tbls. water and taste again for seasoning.

Place the well-drained spinach stems in a serving bowl, pour the sauce over the stems and stir. Allow to marinate for a few hours or as long as overnight. Serve at room temperature. 

Adapted from Sephardic Flavors: Jewish Cooking of the Mediterranean, Joyce Goldstein