Category: Sides

Fiddlehead season again!

fiddleheads

Fiddleheads with garlic

It’s fiddlehead season again and if anyone is lucky enough to have access to them (farmers markets or grocery stores that are cool enough to stock them) I would recommend hoarding them right now. The season for them is very short, and these great veggies are a perfect introduction to summer. I’ve previously written up my favorite recipe to prepare them, which you can find here:

http://www.gatehousegourmet.com/2010/05/26/fiddleheads-young-fern-shoots/

Time is running out, so grab them while you can, these treats don’t last long.

Baby Kale with Beets and Onions

Baby kale with beets and red onion and aged balsamic vinegarFlush with baby kale right now, this dish was probably my best improvised dish yet this year. Inspired by many a salad I have eaten I took something raw and turned it into something warm and hearty and so good you can make new friends just by sharing it. The key to this dish is that the beets and the onion are somewhat sweet, and while the aged balsamic vinegar is somewhat sweet as well, the acidity balances the dish so perfectly that I want this dish to be my final one on death row. I’m not there yet, but just in case, you know?

You really want to slice the beets thinly as they will be sauteing in the pan rather than being boiled. You also don’t want to over cook them as a little texture is very nice in this dish. The onions should soften and the kale should be cooked gently, for just a short period of time. You don’t want to turn them into a spinach like mush, they should retain some of their crunch, which the stem will provide.

6 cups of baby kale? yes, it cooks down, even after a minute or two. But it’s so darn nutritious that why not? 618% of the Vitamin A you need for a day! 411% of the Vitamin C you need for a day! Fiber galore! It can make you rich! Kale! Seriously, why the heck not? Plus, you can fill your tummy for 211 calories. Seriously, do I really need to convince you? Fat loss schools and Weight Watchers be damned, this doesn’t need to be a side dish. While it is great on its own, the aged balsamic vinegar gives it that ‘je ne sais quoi’ that makes me want to serve this at my next dinner party. It’s not inexpensive stuff, but one bottle will last you forever, seriously.

Kale is an extremely overlooked vegetable, and is best in early summer. Stuff your face while you can because kale is one of the most healthful foods you can eat, and it’s very filing as it is full of fiber. The good kind of fiber. Regular kale is a bit more tough, so baby kale is my personal choice, but you could certainly make this with regular kale as well. Just cook the kale a little longer. You won’t regret trying this dish. And you can thank me by sending huge bags of cash.

Baby kale

Baby kale

Aged Balsamic Vinegar

Aged Balsamic Vinegar

Baby kale and beets cooking

cooking

Baby Kale with Beets and Onions
Author: 
Recipe type: side, entree
Serves: 2
 
A lightly cooked kale salad, a new take on what has been a boring bistro salad.
Ingredients
  • 6 cups baby kale
  • ½ cup beets, sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar (w/ must)
Instructions
  1. Slice the beets into tin little discs.
  2. Do the same for the onions.
  3. Saute the beets for a few minutes to soften.
  4. Add the sliced onions and soften as well, just a few minutes.
  5. Add the baby kale and let wilt, but not cook to a mush.
  6. Plate, and drizzle with aged balsamic vinegar.
Notes
This could easily be topped with pine nuts (pinoli) or goat cheese to great effect. Don't hesitate to experiment. Nutritional Analysis -No cholesterol -High in calcium -High in dietary fiber -High in iron -Very high in manganese -High in potassium -Very high in vitamin A -High in vitamin B6 -Very high in vitamin C
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 313g Calories: 211g Fat: 8.3g Saturated fat: 1.1g Unsaturated fat: 7.2g Carbohydrates: 31.5g Sugar: 7.2g Fiber: 5.8g Protein: 8.0g Cholesterol: 0g

 

Cannellini Bean Salad

Cannellini Bean SaladThere are so many variations of this recipe, sometimes called Tuscan cannellini bean salad (the beans are also referred to as cannelloni beans as well), or white bean salad, and the ingredients are often varied and quite good. This is my version, which, of course, makes it the best. You may see a small bowl of this on the table at good Italian restaurants, and while the most common variation uses parsley instead of basil, I much prefer my version. You will too.

Ingredients:
1 19 oz can of cannellini (cannelloni) beans (or any kind of white bean such as butterbeans)
the juice of 1 lemon (~3 tablespooons)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon pesto (or a handful of basil leaves coarsely chopped)
salt and pepper to taste
A baguette or rustic Italian bread, sliced into small cracker-like shapes

Directions:
1. Rinse the beans under water as, while the liquid they are packed in is quite nutritious, it won’t work well if included in this recipe. Set the beans aside. If you prefer, you can use dried beans that you soak, cook, and prepare yourself, but unless you are comfortable doing so and know how to ensure their tenderness, I recommend canned beans.

2. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and pesto (or basil leaves) to a bowl and stir together. The mix does not have to be a perfect emulsion, just a gentle stir will do.

3. Add the beans and stir it up a bit. I like to crush a few of the beans to thicken the dressing mixture allowing it to adhere better to the beans and giving it some texture. Then add salt and pepper to taste. Eat the whole bowl because you can’t stop after testing the flavor. Go back to step 1 and start over and try not to eat the whole bowl this time.

4. Place a spoonful of the bean salad onto each piece of bread and serve.

I always have pesto around so it is easy for me to use it in this dish, but basil leaves work perfectly well and so does parsley. I may experiment with the decidedly non-Italian cilantro to see how that goes. As I always say, experiment yourself, add other items that interest you, and you may chance upon something that blows you away. As you can see from the picture, I also added a lot more garlic than I indicate in this recipe, and woke up this morning still tasting the garlic, which I rather enjoy. Cooking is as much an art as it is a science, so tweak any of the ingredients or techniques to suit your own taste.

I also put the salad in the refrigerator for a bit which causes the olive oil to thicken somewhat. This helps the salad stay together a bit better and allows some tome for all the flavors to blend. I can easily make an entire dinner from a hunk of bread and a bowl of these beans, which is not just frugal, but also delicious and nutritious.

Classic Tomato Salsa

Salsa

Salsa

Per a request, this is my basic salsa recipe (enjoy this one, Tom). The great thing about salsa is that you can tweak it left and right to make the kind of salsa that suits your taste. Do you like cilantro, add an entire bunch (I do, it’s one of my favorite flavors). Hot or mild, play with the jalapeno to taste. Add a few chipotle peppers if you like it smokey. There are endless ways you can modify this recipe to make something incredible. I’m a huge fan of green salsa made with tomatillos, and I’ve even made salsa with spirits and odd spices. My point is that this is a great basic recipe and I challenge you to make it your own. Your taste buds will thank me.

Ingredients:
3 large tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon green jalapeno chilies
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:
The easiest way to make this is to place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse slowly until all ingredients are chopped but not pureed. I like a thick salsa, so I often add the garlic, lime juice and salt first, pulse (to get the garlic chopped well) then add the remaining ingredients and roughly process.

If you don’t have a food processor, or prefer to not use one, just chop up all the ingredients and mix together in a bowl. It is that easy. Sprinkle with a little dried cilantro, or even thyme or Mexican oregano for garnish.

Kale and Purple Potatoes (with sage and garlic)

Kale and Purple Potato

Kale and Purple Potato

I love earthy greens, and kale has a hearty chew that makes me feel as though I’m really eating something substantial.  The kale was subject to a rigorous yet thick chiffonading (if that’s a word, if not, it is now) as that is not only my favorite cut, but it shows off the nook ‘n cranny-y (another new word) nature of this great leafy vegetable. Kale looks particularly nice as a chiffonade. This is a really textureful (I did it again) dish, and sage and potatoes go together like tall glasses and water, so this simple combination of vegetables makes a great meal or side dish.

Ingredients:
1 bunch kale
1 lb purple potatoes (or any waxy potato), chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
2 garlic cloves, chopped
8 fresh sage leaves (or a teaspoon of dried, if fresh is not available)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Potato, Kale and Sage

Potato, Kale and Sage

Directions:
1. Wash, dry, and cut the kale into any size pieces that you prefer.

2. Heat a pan, add the oil and garlic and when the oil is hot, add the potatoes.

3. Add the potato and cook until soft, 10-2 minutes.

4. Add the kale and saute until soft. The kale will become softer the longer it is cooked. I prefer a little chewiness so I cook it about 8-10 minutes, but if you prefer a softer result, cook as long as you want.

5. Add the sage and mix into the kale and potato thoroughly and cook about 1 minute.

6. Plate and eat!