Dull Day, Bright Salad

P1040985William pears have a lovely tartness to them which marry well with the heavy creaminess of Haas avocados. Try this salad for breakfast or lunch.

Recipe:

1 William Pear, sliced into thin slices

1 firm Haas avocado sliced into thin slices

a few mint leaves

a few fresh fennel fronds

a few spoons of dried pomegranate seeds (or whichever dried fruit you have that could pair well)

a few squeezes of fresh lime/ lemon juice

French or Himalayan Pink salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

Slice the avocado, drizzle in lime then place around the plate as in the picture. Slice William pear and add to the plate, bearing in mind, that the more red skin shows, the better the contrast.

Place mint leaves and fennel fronds around the empty spaces then add pomegranate seeds. Squeeze just a little more lime on the plate, add your salt and pepper.

Note: Use an interesting and textured salt so that your palate receives bursts of different flavours in one bite. Don’t place it evenly on the plate. Same with the lime and herbs. If everything is evenly flavoured, it becomes lacklustre.

Enjoy.

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Roasted Pumpkin, Chipotle-marinated Mushroom and raw Caramelized Onion Salad

roasted pum[pkin raw caramelized onion chipotle-marinated mushroom spinach green bean cumin garlic

A few years ago, I read that book,Skinny Chicks Don’t Eat Salads and to be honest, I found it completely unmemorable. Also, I usually find salads to be the last thing I would order off a menu unless I was subconsciously trying to deal with the guilt of having previously consumed something unhealthy. I think this is called “purgatory”.  Don’t look away. I know you do it, too.

Now I try to find pleasure out of salads and include one in every day of the week. Even if I don’t always get there, it’s habit I’m working on. I think my problem with salads is that I usually feel even more deprived AFTER eating one than before, like I’m missing out on a real meal. I think eating like this fosters more anxiety about food and drives us, ironically more in the direction of unhealthy food. The body needs to feel satisfied and grounded and I don’t feel that way after munching on some sparse leaves and seeds from a bowl.

The salad above has everything I need to feel like I’ve eaten a meal – the bulkiness of roasted pumpkin, the heartiness of tenderstem broccoli (it’s really tiring chewing on those stalks), the earthy smokiness and spiciness of raw chipotle-marinated mushrooms (can one ever eat any dish without at least a little heat???), the sweet, rich delicacy of raw caramelized onion and the decadence of good, creamy gorgonzola. Throw in my new, favourite salad dressing of chunky garlic and cumin and you won’t even have space for dessert. Gorgeousness. Really.

You may have noticed that the last three salads have had gorgonzola in them. In a way, part of the salad recipes came about because we received a block of gorgonzola as a gift from family in the US. It felt really special because it was just this single block of cheese. It wasn’t one gift among many as is usually the case so the sense of wowness around it, made me think twice as hard about what to do with it. We are a dairy-free household but we are not anally-retentive about it. We still maintain our playfulness and humour about food. So if I’m going to feed us dairy-based cheese, I may as well make sure it is complemented by a lot of fresh vegetables.

Ok, here’s the recipe as far as I can remember and I’m not sure about measurements:

Prep: use your mushroom of choice, slice them up and marinate with olive oil, salt and chipotle.

1. Hack a pumpkin open, scoop out the innards and rub generous amounts of olive oil inside the cavity and the skin. Sprinkle with your favourite salt and black pepper. Roast it.

2. Rinse and shave your tenderstem broccoli – just the stems so they are easier to chew and digest. Cruciferous veggies gets lots of bugs stuck in them so make a bath of warm, salty water and leave em in there for about 10 – 15 minutes. Don’t pour the water out with the veggies still in the bowl. Lift the veggies away from the water. Then rinse. All the residue will remain at the bottom of the bowl. Wrap in a tea towel and press gently. or swing the tea towel around in the air and the water will separate really quickly. Do make sure you have secured either end with an elastic band or something.

Place the tenderstems in a salad bowl along with cleaned spinach leaves. Pour half of the salad dressing over the leaves and broccoli and gently mix. Over mixing will wilt the leaves and leave them lacklustre.

Add the mushrooms.

Dressing:

  • Finely crush 3 cloves of garlic and put it in a bowl
  • Two tablespoons of freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp of freshly-crushed black pepper
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt depending on how large your salad is.
  • 1/4 tsp powdered cumin and a few sprinkles of whole cumin for texture and bursts of cuminy-goodness

This dressing was inspired by one of my many searches which revealed Cuban chef, Marciel E.Presilla

By now the roasted pumpkin should be cooked and cooled, cut into cubes and gently move them around the bowl of salad dressing then pick them out and place them in the salad bowl with broccoli and spinach. I don’t like touching the pumpkin too much or they will not maintain their shape.

Next add your gorgonzola and the remaining dressing. Finally, top with raw caramelized onion.

Here’s how:

Finely julienne a medium-sized purple onion. Mix with about two tablespoons of honey/ maple syrup or whatever sweetener you choose, add two tablespoons of olive oil then dehydrate for a few hours until they get softer. You can store these in the freezer and just warm in the dehydrator whenever you need the. Alternatively , just bake them in the oven.

Sweet Jaysus Jicama Beet and Avo Salad with Gorgonzola and Cumin Garlic Dressing

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This was a “What’s in the fridge?” kinda salad. I’ve been so busy with cheese orders that I’ve neglected to cook for my Beloved who’s working on two big architectural projects. I was feeling GUILTY! Nothing better than a gorgeous salad to repent with.

This is a jicama, beet, avo salad with garlic cumin dressing.

Jicama (the white vegetable in the picture) is a Spanish vegetable which is described as a cross between a yam and a turnip.

jicama

jicama

It’s crunchy, a bit sweet and very refreshing. You could just eat it plain and thoroughly enjoyed it as well. You can find jicama at every fresh vegetable market. If you didn’t see it, you probably just weren’t “looking” for it. I’ve not seen jicama in any traditional Taiwanese dishes so I’m always curious about why we have them so plentifully, here. Make hay, people. Make hay.

So to make this salad:

  • Slice jicama as uniformly as possible
  • Wash, peel and slice beets as uniformly as possible
  • Slice and core avo then rub each slice with lemon juice to maintain its colour
  • Arrange on plate as in the main picture.

Dressing

Can you see the bits of cumin powder, black pepper and garlic?

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  • Finely crush 3 cloves of garlic and put it in a bowl
  • 1/2 – 1 tablespoon of freshly-squeezed lemon juice OR 2 tbls cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp of freshly-crushed black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt depending on how large your salad is. In this picture, I used 1 medium beet, 1/2 a medium jicama and 1/2 avo so added 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp powdered cumin and a few sprinkles of whole cumin for texture and bursts of cuminy-goodness

Lightly hand-whisk.

This dressing was inspired by one of my many searches which revealed Cuban chef, Marciel E. Presilla

P1010447

Finally, crumble well-aged gorgonzola on top.

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Disfrute!

Raw Asparagus Pâté with Marinated Mushrooms and Shaved Fennel

raw asparagus pate

Continuing on the theme of asparagus, here we have a raw asparagus pâté  with marinated shiitake mushrooms and shaved fennel with greens. 

Absolutely gorgeously delicious, satisfying and with a beautiful complement of acidic and sweet with the weight of nuts and delicacy of asparagus, this dish is easy to make but sumptuous to eat.  

Eat it on brown rice crackers, fresh bread or just by itself. 

P1000245

NOTE: Some pre-prep time is required

Recipe:

1/2 cup mushrooms

1 tablespoon liquid amino

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 tablespoon agave nectar

Combine agave, olive oil and liquid amino in a bowl. Add chopped mushrooms. leave to marinate in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. 

Pâté:

1 bunch of large asparagus

a large handful of fresh thyme

a small handful of cashew nuts

1 clove of garlic

2 tablespoons of coconut oil

freshly crushed black pepper

salt to taste 

Peel the asparagus, chop into pieces then blend until smooth with the rest of the pâté  ingredients. Set in a mould in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. If you don’t have a ring mold, use a bowl which you should line with cling wrap before you pour the ingredients in. 

Fennel/ Greens (you should do this only when ready to serve)

Finely shave some fennel and roughly chop some greens of your choice (arugula would be best). If you can’t find fennel, substitute with a crunchy green apple rubbed with fresh lemon juice. 

In a bowl, sprinkle the shaved fennel and greens with a bit of salt and olive oil. Mix lightly. You don’t want to bruise the leaves or leave them too limp or they won’t stand.  

Assembly:

After the pâté  has set, unmold onto a serving plate then top with the greens. Strain the mushrooms. Rinse well and pat dry with a kitchen towel.Place a handful of mushrooms on top of the greens.

Serve.