Pea shoots, a well-kept secret for far too long, are taking the food world by storm, revitalizing not only salads, but stir fries, pastas and risottos. Whereas traditional garden peas take a whole summer to grow; pea shoots are harvested after just 2-4 weeks, when the leaves are tender, young and literally bursting with a distinctive pea flavor. I’ll be sprouting these all summer long and probably indoors throughout next winter too!
I love the fresh crispness pea shoots bring to salads. Not just tasty, they’re packed with high levels of vitamin C and A. This recipe is meant to be a flexible guideline; quantities will depend on how many people you are serving and how many pea shoots you have on hand. And of course, you can use chicken instead of the smoked salmon, and mix and match any combination of fruits, vegetables and nuts that you want.
2 slices smoked salmon, cut into small pieces
1 mangoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
4 Persian cucumbers, peeled and sliced
3 Campari tomatoes, cut into small pieces
5 spring onions, peeled and minced
2-3 cups pea shoots, coarsely chopped
1 lemon, juiced
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Combine salad ingredients and then drizzle with the lemon juice and olive oil just before serving. Delicious with warm, crusty bread.
Since someone was brave (or crazy) enough to figure out that stinging nettles – a pesky and painful weed-like plant – are edible, they deserve a moment to shine on the culinary stage. Although nettles sound like adventurous eating, all it takes to remove the stinging venom is boiling them in water for a few minutes before proceeding with a recipe.
Their flavor is often compared to spinach, but nettles have a mellow herbaceousness that particularly makes for a tasty pesto. Super nutritious, nettles boast the highest levels of protein and plant-digestible iron of any other green and are high in vitamins A, C, and D as well as calcium, potassium, and manganese and have been used for centuries in various medicinal ways.
Today, I’m making a nettle-galangal pesto. You might be thinking, isn’t pesto made with basil, but really, pesto can be made from anything — it doesn’t even have to be a green thing. I’ve enjoyed pesto made with mint, parsley, cilantro, pea shoots and other herbs, even tomatoes. So why not make it with nettles! The Italians actually make a nettle pesto in springtime called pesto d’urtica.
1 cup blanched nettles (6 cups fresh)
2-3 garlic cloves
1-2 slicea fresh galangal
1/2 cup hemp hearts or walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup grated hard cheese
1/2 – 3/4 cup good-quality olive oil
Salt to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add some salt. Using tongs or gloves, transfer the nettles into the boiling water. (Although it has been said that nettles lose their sting pretty quickly after being picked, I choose not to test that theory as I remember far too many painful nettles stings as a kid playing in the woods). Stir around and boil for 1-2 minutes and then transfer the nettles to a colander to drain. Once cooled, press out excess moisture and transfer to a food processor.
Toast the hemp hearts (or walnuts) over medium-low heat, turning as needed to prevent scorching. Once toasted, transfer to the food processor. Add the garlic, galangal and cheese and process everything until smooth. With the machine running, pour in 1/2 cup of olive oil. If it seems to thick, add a tablespoon of olive oil at a time but no more than another 1/4 cup total. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and season with salt to taste. Optional, squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over the pesto, stirring to incorporate.
Serve the pesto as a spread on bread or crackers, as an additive to a hearty soup, as a pasta or pizza sauce or as a dollop on fish or poultry. Store any unused pesto in the fridge, topped with olive oil to keep the air out.
Once the pesto was made, I was still feeling a little adventurous, so I cut the tops off of a few tomatoes, scooped out their centers and stuffed them with nettle pesto. I baked them at 350 degrees for 25 minutes in a muffin pan so the tomatoes would stay fairly upright. Pretty tasty.
This versatile dip consists of roasted eggplant, jicama and onion. It’s really tasty!
Serve it with raw vegetables and warmed pita bread or rye crackers, use it as the base for pizza in lieu of tomato sauce or as a spread on sandwiches, tossed with quinoa or whatever else your imagination dreams up. Enjoy!
I eggplant, washed
1/2 large white onion, peeled
1/2 large jicama, peeled
Himalayan sea salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut the eggplant, jicama and onion into 1-inch cubes. Toss them in a large bowl with the garlic, olive oil, salt and granulated kelp until coated. Spread them on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are lightly browned and tender, tossing once during cooking.
Remove from the oven and cool slightly.
Place the vegetables into a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add 8 oven-roasted tomato pieces, red pepper flakes and a tablespoon or two of lemon juice. Because I had just made some, I also added 1 teaspoon of blood orange zest. Pulse until smooth.
Note: If you are using a blender, you may need to add water incrementally by the tablespoon to get a nice consistency. If it’s too thick, your blender blades will seize up, but take care not to add too much or your dip will be runny.
Taste for salt and add more as needed.
I love blood oranges.
That’s a pretty big deal for me, since I’ve had a lifelong aversion to oranges ever since “The Incident” suffered at age seven. Even sitting here recalling the event gives me the willies all over again.
My mom had left my brothers and me with the next door neighbor for the day. At lunchtime, she gave each of us kids a whole orange. I didn’t know what to do with it because my mom had always either peeled our oranges or quartered them so that we could eat the flesh right off the peel. I had no idea how to peel an orange. Everyone else managed to peel and eat theirs, quickly leaving the table to go outside and play . I wasn’t allowed to leave the table until I ate my orange. I have no idea how long I sat at that table, but I’m pretty sure it was several hours. I finally got the peel started and picked it off as best I could with my tiny seven year old fingers. Unfortunately, every single bit of pith remained on that orange, so even though it was peeled, it remained encased in a thick layer of inedible grossness. Eating that orange with all that pith made me want to gag. It still does. To this day, I don’t like the taste or smell of an orange. I don’t eat them and I don’t drink orange juice either.
And then something wonderful happened. Last year, my stepmother gave me a jar of her homemade blood orange conserve. It was delicious and such a beautiful, rich maroon color. The blood orange, a variety of orange (Citrus sinensis) has a crimson flesh due to the presence of anthocyanins, a family of antioxidant pigments common to many flowers and fruit, but uncommon in citrus fruits. I was intrigued. And hopeful. As a test last fall, I bought a couple of blood oranges and chopped them up into a simple salad with shrimp and avocados. I found them to be delightful and not orange-pithy tasting.
Today I bought several dozen blood oranges, which I will use in several ways. First, I used my micro planer to make zest, which I will dry and store for use in various recipes. I then juiced four of the oranges and, combined with black cherry juice, made a fruit pudding.
Next, I juiced the remaining blood oranges. Some of the juice will be used in a savory reduction for tonight’s dinner (paprika-roasted cauliflower purée and flank steak). The rest will get frozen in ice cube trays and stored in the freezer for later use in my sparkling water, salad dressings and sauces.
I know, it’s not like I peeled and ate an orange today. But hey, working with the juice of a blood orange, it’s a start!
I visited my favorite farm store today, Nash’s Organic Produce and was pretty excited to find beautiful, fresh chickweed and pea shoots. Chickweed is very nutritious, high in vitamins and minerals, and can be added to salads or cooked dishes, tasting somewhat like spinach. And pea shoots are just plain tasty! I decided to use half of the greens in a frittata and the rest will go into a salad tomorrow.
4 slices uncured bacon, chopped
1/4 white onion or 1 shallot, diced
10 grape tomatoes, halved
large handful of spinach leaves
handful of pea shoots
handful of chickweed
1/3 cup almond milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Sauté bacon pieces in a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat. When browned and almost crisp, transfer to a paper towel and set aside.
While bacon is cooking, place eggs, milk and garlic in a bowl and whisk until thoroughly mixed. Set aside.
Sauté onions in any bacon drippings remaining in skillet. Add a teaspoon of coconut oil if necessary. When onions are translucent, add tomato halves and spinach to the skillet and stir. Once the spinach is wilted, add the bacon, pea shoots and chickweed, stirring quickly to evenly distribute around the skillet.
Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables, tilting the pan to evenly distribute. Place pan in oven and bake for 12-14 minutes or until egg mixture have set. Remove from oven, cut into six slices and serve immediately.
I wanted to make a dairy-less pudding and this fruity, refreshing delight is the perfect light dessert to follow brunch or dinner. Super simple to make, I used Kuzu Root Starch as the thickener. For this pudding, I paired apricot nectar with kumquats, but you can use any organic juice and fruit combination that appeals to you. Next time, I’m going to pair bilberry nectar with blood oranges.
24 ounces bionaturæ® organic apricot nectar
3 tablespoons Eden Organic Kuzu Root Starch
10 kumquats, sliced and de-seeded
Dusting of Fennel Pollen
Dusting of Divine Desserts
Shaved organic dark chocolate
Toasted, chopped pistachios
Place the nectar, kuzu and kumquats in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and stir constantly until thick. Serve with any of the suggested toppings or whatever sounds good to you.
I’ve been eating Paleo* for the past few weeks which, among other things, means no grains, but I was in the mood for a biscuit to go with the Hubbard squash soup that I had just made. Pairing a yam with coconut flour and almond meal provided the base for these biscuits, while herbs and sautéed onions added nice flavors. Since baked goods without gluten and the gums tend to be flat, crumbly and dry, I served the biscuits with a generous pat of butter.
*For more information on eating Paleo, refer to the infographic at bottom of this post.
1 yam (yellow) (equivalent to 1 cup mashed)
1 cup almond meal
1 cup coconut flour
3 eggs, whisked
1/4 large white onion, diced (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup coconut oil or melted butter
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon granulated kelp
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Wash and peel the yam and cut into large chunks. Place in a pan of water and bring to a boil. Cook until soft, remove from heat and drain. Place yam in a mixing bowl and mash with a fork.
Sauté onion in a teaspoon of coconut oil until translucent and starting to turn brown. Remove from heat and add to mashed yam.
Add the eggs and melted coconut oil (or butter) to the yam mixture and mix well. Add all of the dry ingredients and mix well.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and use a large spoon to drop your biscuits on the sheet. Try to make them equal in size so they bake evenly. Since the biscuits don’t rise, I flatten them a bit so that the centers won’t end up gooey and undercooked.
Place in oven and bake for 18-20 minutes. Serve warm with grass fed butter. (I know butter is not Paleo, so you can skip this part, but these biscuits were so much better with the extra fat).
This simple yet flavorful dish, Sautéed Cabbage with Roasted Tomatoes and Prosciutto, makes a nice accompaniment to fish or chicken. It’s even nice served for brunch alongside fried or scrambled eggs.
Half a head of green cabbage
6 slow-roasted tomatoes
2 slices prosciutto
Slice the prosciutto into half-inch strips and cook in dry skillet over medium heat until crispy. Set aside.
Dice the roasted tomatoes and set aside.
Wash and core the cabbage and chop into large chunks. Preheat one tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium low heat. Add chopped cabbage and sauté until just starting to wilt, stirring occasionally.
Add the tomatoes and prosciutto. Drizzle sparingly with anchovy syrup and lemon juice and dust with truffle salt, stirring to incorporate.
Remove from heat and transfer to a serving dish. Toss with a couple tablespoons of apricot-bourbon mustard. Serve warm.
Recipe from Gifts Cooks Love by Diane Morgan and Sur La Table (2010)
Apricot-bourbon mustard is a unique, homemade mustard blending the sweetness of dried apricots steeped in bourbon with the bright bite of whole mustard seeds. I have used this mustard as a glaze for poached fish, as a dipping sauce for chicken and beef, tossed with roasted vegetables and incorporated into several different salad dressings. Is is versatile, flavorful and delicious.
Soak Time: 12 to 24 hours | Prep Time: 20 minutes | Maturation Time: 2 weeks | Makes 2-2/3 cups, enough to fill four (6-ounce) condiment jars
Photo courtesy of Gifts Cooks Love
2/3 cup yellow mustard seeds
1 cup bourbon, such as Maker’s Mark
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup packed chopped dried apricots
4 tablespoons cider vinegar
4 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt
Put the mustard seeds in a medium bowl and pour in 2/3 cup of the bourbon and the water. Soak the mustard seeds overnight or for up to 24 hours.
At least 1 hour before you plan to make the mustard, put the apricots in a bowl and pour in the remaining 1/3 cup bourbon. Macerate the apricots until most of the bourbon is absorbed. (The apricots need to soak for a minimum of 1 hour, or you can start soaking them at the same time you prepare the mustard seeds.)
Before making the mustard, wash the jars and lids in hot, soapy water and dry thoroughly. Alternatively, run the jars through the regular cycle of your dishwasher.
To make the mustard, first strain the mustard seeds, reserving the soaking liquid. Set aside the mustard seeds.
In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the apricots, any unabsorbed bourbon remaining in the bowl, cider vinegar, honey, and salt. Purée until almost smooth. Add the mustard seed soaking liquid and continue to purée until smooth. Add the mustard seeds and process until about half of the seeds are cracked and the others are incorporated but still whole.
Evenly divide the mustard among the prepared condiment jars, leaving ½-inch head space. Wipe the rims clean and secure the lids. Label and refrigerate for at least 2 weeks to allow the flavors to develop and mature.
Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 weeks and up to 3 months.
I don’t know why, but lately I have been craving potato chips. Bad me. Not to mention, except for sweet potatoes, I pretty much never eat white potatoes. Thus, in order to satisfy my craving, I would have to make a healthier alternative. Voila, jicama chips! They are even tastier than I imagined and I will definitely be making these again. In fact, they were so delicious, I had finished eating them before I had finished writing this blog!
1-3 whole jicama
Penzeys Mural of Flavor, to taste
Seaweed flakes, to taste
Truffle salt, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel and slice jicama into thin slices. Use a mandolin if you have one. The more even your slices, the more evenly they will cook. Since I cut mine by hand, they aren’t perfectly even in thickness.
Place sliced jicama in a single layer on parchment paper lined cookie sheets. I placed the thicker slices on one cookie sheet and the thinner slices on another, because I knew they would be done sooner.
Coat chips lightly with walnut oil and seasonings. You don’t want to use too much oil or the chips will be soggy. Seasonings can be anything from salt and pepper to garlic or onion salt — pretty much whatever your taste buds desire. Once I had the slices laid out on the cookie sheets, I dusted them with truffle salt.
Place cookie sheets in the oven and bake for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until crisp. To avoid burning, check every 5 minutes starting at the 15-minute mark and remove the thinnest chips from the oven that are getting too brown.
Enjoy with your favorite healthy salsa or dip! Even a simple unflavored yogurt with chopped fresh herbs pairs great as a dip. Although really, these are so good on their own, they don’t even need to be dipped.