Roasted Carrot & Avocado Salad with Cumin Citrus Dressing

IMG_2165

Carrots from Friday Venice, CA Farmers Market

Carrots elude me because I don’t really care for them raw, or even in the traditional french glazed manner.  Yet they are so healthy and now is the time of year that I tend to eat much more fruit and veggies, and less meat and starch.  I’ve been looking for a way to make carrots delicious and I’ve found it!  Tossed with an herb/garlic/cumin/olive oil dressing while roasting,  then re-dressed with roasted citrus juice, vinegar and more olive oil before serving, and paired with creamy, mild avocado, this recipe is the ticket.

My mother often roasts carrots as part of a roasted vegetable tray at buffet or holiday dinners, and I marvel at how delicious the little carrots are.  I think it’s just a simple concoction of olive oil, salt and carrots, so I decided to build on this idea, add more flavoring to the roasting “marinade” or coating, and add huge chunks of perfectly ripe summer avocado. My recipe is also an adaptation of a recipe I saw a very long time ago from Jamie Oliver which also included hunks of toasted ciabatta . . . a sort of carrot “panzanella”

IMG_5720

Ingredients
1 pound carrots, with their leafy tops
Sea salt
2 level teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1 or 2 small dried chiles, crumbled
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, peeled
4 sprigs fresh parsley, leaves picked
Extra-virgin olive oil
Red or white wine vinegar
1 orange, halved
1 lemon, halved
3 ripe avocados

1/4 cup olive oil

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Parboil the carrots in boiling, salted water for 10 minutes, until they are very nearly cooked, then drain and put them into a roasting pan. While the carrots are cooking, smash the cumin seeds, chilles, salt and pepper. Add the garlic and smash up again until you have a kind of paste. Add enough extra-virgin olive oil to generously cover the paste, and a good dash of vinegar.  Stir together, add parsley, then pour over the carrots in the pan, coating them well. Add the orange and lemon halves, cut side down.
  3. Roast carrots in oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden.
  4. While the carrots are roasting, halve and peel the avocados, discarding the pits, then cut them into wedges lengthwise and place in a big bowl. Remove the carrots from the oven and add them to the avocados. Carefully, using some tongs, squeeze the roasted orange and lemon juice into a bowl and add the same amount of extra-virgin olive oil and a little swig of red wine vinegar. Season, and pour over the carrots and avocados.

IMG_5719

This recipe is submitted for Fiesta Friday #24.

All About Farro

You may remember the Farro Porridge Bread #1 & #2 I slogged through making.  Although I enjoyed the challenge, I much prefer using the grain cooked in salads.  Head over to Foodlander to see some great salad ideas I found from fellow food bloggers.

 

 

Shapes & Colors Potato Salad

IMG_3967

Colors make me happy.  They represent abundance and variety to me, and conjure up feelings of awe and cheeriness.  I love bright and saturated hues, in textiles, ceramics, glass; in food, in clothing, in shoes.  Unpatterned though . . . I like solids and not patterns.  I favor a neutral palette with pops of wild color.

When I was a teenager I went through a stage where I stuck to a monochromatic wardrobe of black, much to my parents’ chagrin.  They didn’t make a big deal out of it, but I do remember my Dad mentioning it to me one time, so I knew they were paying attention.  It sounds silly to me now, but I think it was my way of living within the imagined confines of my clothing choices, as I was attending a pretty exclusive private all-girls school where I felt that I was the poorest kid on the block and could not compete with the fancy pants (literally) of my peers.  If I just wore black all the time I wouldn’t have to think about buying matching pants and shirts and shoes . . . and therefore wouldn’t be forever wanting to buy more clothes.  I sort of laugh at myself and then feel compassion for my parents, who God knows were not poor, but also were not movie stars or moguls, when I think back on these days. I had transferred to this school from public school in order to get a superior education, which I did, and I actually did love the school part, and am forever grateful that I was given the opportunity to go there.  It was not cheap, that’s for sure, but my parents wanted me to have a good education and felt that if I wanted to and could get into the school, that they wanted to make the financial sacrifice.  I’ve always loved school, campuses, just the whole experience of being in an academic community.  But the friends and clothing part?  I was miserable!

These days I wear a lot more color.  Also, one of the kicks of cooking and shopping for food, for me, is seeing what looks vibrant, colorful and fresh.  I created this potato salad, which is very roughly based (at least the potato part) on a version of German Potato Salad my paternal grandmother used to make of potatoes dressed in a bacon/mustard/vinegar dressing and then tossed with bacon, to celebrate the diversity of color I recently spotted at our Saturday’s Farmer’s Market.  I used lemon basil, amaranth leaf, jicama and all kinds of other odds and ends!

 

Slice up about a pound of fingerling potatoes, boil for 5 minutes, drain and toss with 2 Tbsp cooked bacon drippings/grease and 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper

Slice up about a pound of fingerling potatoes, boil for 5 minutes, drain and toss with 2 Tbsp cooked bacon drippings/grease, 1 minced shallot, and 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper

IMG_3949

Cut up some a few pieces of jicama and a red beet. As you can see I was feeling playful with the shapes.  Boil the small pieces of beet for about 5 minutes.

IMG_3950

Grab a handful of edible flowers.  These were from the back yard.

IMG_3953

Toss everything together with a clove of smashed garlic (leave out the beets until the last minute) and add some capers.

Blister a few shishito peppers by tossing with olive oil and salt; broil for 5 minutes.

Blister a few shishito peppers by tossing with olive oil and salt; broil for 5 minutes.

Slice up 1 small (preferably japanese, seedless) cucumber

Slice up 1 small (preferably japanese, seedless) cucumber

Add some leafy greens -- this is amaranth, also known as chinese spinach

Add some leafy greens — this is amaranth, also known as chinese spinach

Add a handful of herbs; this is lemon basil.

Add a handful of herbs; this is lemon basil.

Add beets and a dressing made with 1 Tbsp. mustard, 3 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 Tbps greek yogurt (or you can use mayonnaise or sour cream if you like), toss together and serve!

I also added a chopped preserved lemon, but you can easily omit.  Add beets and a dressing made with 1 Tbsp. mustard, 3 Tbsp. olive oil, juice of half a lemon, 1 Tbps greek yogurt (or you can use mayonnaise or sour cream if you like), toss together and serve!

Tossed and ready to eat

Tossed and ready to eat

Do you have a favorite color that comes up in your food preparations again and again?  How important is presentation to you when you are entertaining, dining with family, or dining alone?  What do you do when you’re feeling playful in your cooking?  Let me know in your comments!

More on Green Almonds: Green Almond Milk; Beirut Pickled Green Almonds and More!

My last post on Pea & Shoot Soup with Green Almond Garnish elicited a number of comments from readers who didn’t know green almonds can be eaten straight up, without shelling. You can read about them here and here.  The fuzzy shell is, as with their botanical sister The Peach, totally edible.  If you do shell them, though, you’ve got a slightly more gelatinous than normal almond, nut, and it’s kind of addictive!  There’s lots more to know about green almonds, and in this short season they have, I encourage you to educate yourself on and of course feed yourself green almonds!  The wonderful cooking blog Taste of Beirut has a recipe for pickled green almonds that is a wonderful idea for cocktail hour.  Take David Leibovitz’s lead and add some to your homemade jam!  How about some fried green almonds?  Or Spanish White Garlic Soup?

I was curious to see what green almond milk would taste like so I made some:

Ingredients:

1 cup raw green almonds
2 cups water, plus more for soaking

1 Tbsp cacao powder

1 tsp good salt (I like grey salt)
Sweeteners like honey, sugar, agave syrup, or maple syrup, to taste, optional

Instructions:

Soak the almonds overnight or up to 2 days. Place the almonds in a bowl and cover with about an inch of water.

IMG_3513
Drain and rinse the almonds.
Combine the almonds and water in a blender. Place the almonds in the blender and cover with 2 cups of water.
Blend at the highest speed for 2 minutes. Pulse the blender a few times to break up the almonds, then blend continuously for two minutes. (If using a food processor, process for 4 minutes total, pausing to scrape down the sides halfway through.)
Strain the almonds. Line the strainer with either the opened nut bag or cheese cloth, and place over a measuring cup. Pour the almond mixture into the strainer.

IMG_0323
Press all the almond milk from the almond meal. Gather the nut bag or cheese cloth around the almond meal and twist close. Squeeze and press with clean hands to extract as much almond milk as possible. You should get about 2 cups.

IMG_0324

Add cacao powder and salt, and sweeten to taste.

IMG_0319

* The leftover almond meal can be added to oatmeal, smoothies, and muffins as it is. You can also spread it out on a baking sheet and bake it in a low oven until completely dry (2-3 hours). Dry almond meal can be kept frozen for several months and used in baked goods.

 

 

 

Tahini Date Caramel

Bananas with Broiled Tahini-Date Caramel on Butter Toasted Oats with Coconut Cream

Bananas with Broiled Tahini-Date Caramel on Butter Toasted Oats with Coconut Cream

I have an acquaintance from college who ended up, after college, moving into a house about 100 yards from the house I grew up in.  She moved into the notorious “banana tree house” that all of us neighbors secretly wanted to tear down because of the wildly overgrown banana forest in the front yard.  Anarchistic and unkempt looking, it didn’t jive with the otherwise clean cut Santa Monica gardens on the block.  20 years later, and a spectacular house remodel later, the lot now contains a massive craftsman, multi-leved house . . . . and an only slightly neatened banana thicket.
I’ve been curious as to whether the tree produces any edible fruit (didn’t look like it), and last week as I was biking to work I saw her in the front yard and she gave me a banana. A very green and closed up banana.  I put it in a brown paper bag inside a dark cupboard and hoped for the best.  A week later, still barely peel-able.  Then I got an idea.  In Thai cuisine you often see on menus “green” papaya and mango salads that utilize very underripe fruit.  So I surgically removed the banana fruit from it’s peel and decided I’d broil it with some caramel sauce on top.  I got the caramel sauce idea from one of my favorite all-time cooking sites Use Real Butter.  Jen lives and cooks full throttle and I love her style.  Plus she’s a bonkers awesome photographer.  Go check her out.  Anyhow, she made Tahini Date Caramels with Sea Salt that I believe was adapted if not wholly taken from the Kitchn.  The recipe appealed to me because of the absence of sugar, even though we all know dates are relatively high in natural sugars.  Still, if you’re gonna have sugar, have it with some good vitamins and antioxidants and straight from the earth, rather than processed!
So, for this Fiesta Friday I bring you a nice shallow bowl of butter toasted oats in coconut cream, with broiled tahini-date caramel banana lattice.  I stuck an egg in the middle just for fun.  And some sprouted toasted raw buckwheaties.  It. Is. Delicious.
Here’s the Recipe:
I recipe Tahini Date Caramel   . . . . thinned out with 1/4 cup coconut cream and 1/4 cup water
IMG_0213_2
Creamy Tahini
Dates
IMG_0215_2
Medjools
Coconut Cream
IMG_0220_2
Coconut Cream
The Caramel
IMG_0214_2
Sauce (Ain’t much leftover!)
Next, cook up some oatmeal by taking 1 cup of steel cut oats and toasting them in melted butter for about a minute or two.  Then proceed to cook oatmeal as normal; 1 parts oatmeal to 2-3 parts water depending upon your type of oats/directions.
Spread out oats in a bowl and create a pocket in the middle into which you crack 1 egg.
Slice 1 banana lengthwise into 4 pieces and place in lattice design across oats and egg.
Brush 2-4 Tbsp sauce over banana slices.
Pour in a little almond milk or milk if you like, or cream, and broil for 5 minutes or until sauce starts to brown, but before it burns of course.
Serve up!
Finished Dish with Buckwheaties
Finished Dish with Buckwheaties

The Many Lives of Beets

Here are a few things I’ve done with beets in the past 2 weeks: