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TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Grain Bowl

If you order grain bowls at cafes or take-outs, have you ever made them at home?

A grain bowl is essentially a complete meal in one bowl. Combining whole grains, proteins, vegetables, and dressing, it’s a nutritious and filling lunch or light dinner,

This tip from DeLallo Foods is an easy blueprint.
 
 
HOW TO MAKE A GRAIN BOWL

There’s no exact science.

1. WHOLE GRAIN. There are many grains to choose from. Working through the list, you can change the personality of your bowl time after time.

Some favorites: barley, brown rice, couscous, farro, freekeh, kamut, millet, polenta, quinoa, spelt berries. You can also use smaller pasta shapes like orzo and acini di pepe, but you may not be able to find them in whole grain.

Mini Tip: Cook your grains in vegetable or chicken broth, instead of water.

(Check out all these grains in our Beans & Grains Glossary.)

2. PROTEIN. Make it light or hearty with beans, chicken, a fried or poached egg, pork, shrimp, tofu, tuna. Leftover proteins are more than welcome.

3. VEGETABLES. Fill up on a boatload of greens and other vegetables, raw, roasted or otherwise cooked. Try arugula, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots (we like carrot curls), chard, mushrooms, spinach, and anything that appeals to you as you peruse the produce aisle.

Assemble varied colors: orange sliced sweet potatoes, purple cabbage, red bell peppers, red or orange beets, red radicchio.

You can also add pickled and marinated vegetables, from dilly beans and pickled jalapeños marinated artichoke hearts. Steamed baby potatoes are fun.

4. DRESSING. You can use a salad dressing or a sauce like peanut or pesto. We prefer to keep it simple with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin oil, perhaps a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.

But you may prefer honey mustard, Italian or ranch dressing. Go for it.

5. GARNISHES. Garnishing is an opportunity to add more favorite flavors: avocado, capers, cherry or grape tomatoes, chopped scallions, edamame, fresh herbs, lemon zest, olives, watermelon radishes, etc.

We like to add crunch: nuts and/or seeds, trendy roasted chickpeas.
 
 
HAVE A GRAIN BOWL PARTY

 

Grain Bowl Ingredients
[1] Grain bowl ingredients. Imagine them in a DIY buffet (both photos courtesy DeLallo).

Mediterranean Grain Bowl
[2] Mediterranean grain bowls with farro and chicken breasts. Here’s the recipe.

 
Set out a grain bowl buffet for your next get-together. Everyone will have fun putting the ingredients together.

It’s an opportunity to introduce guests to grains they haven’t had before.

At this point, everyone knows what brown rice and quinoa taste like. So pick three or four others from the WHOLE GRAIN list above.

And for the mix-ins: The sky’s the limit!

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: The Dirty Dozen, 2019

Fresh Strawberries
[1] Top on the list of pesticide-laden produce: strawberries (photo courtesy In Harvest).

Spinach
[2] Popeye beware: Spinach is #2 (photo Stephen Ausmus | USDA Agricultural Research Service).

Kale
[3] In addition to nutrition, kale is laden with pesticides (photo courtesy National Kale Day).

 

Your fresh produce may not be as innocently good for you as you think. The annual Dirty Dozen list is out, naming the fruits and veggies most likely to be tainted with pesticides—even after you wash them.

The Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce is published annually by The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit whose mission is to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment.

  • The Dirty Dozen is the produce with the highest levels of chemical pesticides.
  • The Clean Fifteen has the least amount of pesticides.
  •  
    The findings are always eye-opening. Take kale, a vegetable embraced in recent years as a nutritional powerhouse.

    A single sample of kale—#3 on this year’s Dirty Dozen list—had up to 18 different pesticide residues.

    Strawberries top the list for the 4th year in a row, being the most likely to retain pesticides even after washing.

    The antidote? Eat more organic produce. The challenge: Organic produce is more costly and not every market carries the organic options you are looking for.
     
     
    THE DIRTY DOZEN
    1. Strawberries
    2. Spinach
    3. Kale
    4. Nectarines
    5. Apples
    6. Grapes
    7. Peaches
    8. Cherries
    9. Pears
    10. Tomatoes
    11. Celery
    12. Potatoes
     
    Here are more on the “dirty” list. Take a look: It may influence your shopping decisions.
     
     
    THE CLEAN FIFTEEN

    Produce with the least amount of pesticides include:

    1. Avocados
    2. Sweet Corn*
    3. Pineapple
    4. Sweet Peas
    5. Onions
    6. Papayas*
    7. Eggplants
    8. Asparagus
    9. Kiwis
    10. Cabbages
    11. Cauliflower
    12. Cantaloupes
    13. Broccoli
    14. Mushrooms
    15. Honeydew
     
     
    ________________

    *A small amount of sweet corn, papaya and summer squash sold in the United States is produced from genetically modified seeds. If you want to avoid genetically modified produce, buy organic varieties of these foods.

     

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Spring Salad With Warm Bagna Cauda Dressing

    It’s the first day of spring. For a sprightly lunch or dinner dish, how about a spring salad with bagna càuda dressing?

    Bagna càuda is a classic sauce from the Piedmont region of Italy. It’s made from olive oil, anchovies and garlic. The name means “hot bath,” since it’s served warm.

    Bagna cauda is served with crudités, especially in fall and winter. It’s often part of a Christmas Eve buffet.

    In our own version, we add slices of toasted plain and/or baguette to the crudités plate—because bagna càuda is a zesty bread dipper, too.

    Bonus: Serve it as a piquant sauce with chicken and fish, poached or grilled.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF BAGNA CÀUDA

    Bagna càuda dates to the Middle Ages, during the expansion of commerce between France and Italy. Among other items, Italian merchants began to import salted anchovies.

    A dip from Provence, anchoiade, is made with olive oil, garlic, white wine vinegar and anchovies. It likely crossed the border with the imported anchovies.

    The Piemontese adjusted the recipe to their taste, warmed it up, and created bagna càuda.

    For some time, bagna càuda was a food for ordinary people. It was not included in official Piedmontese cookbooks until 1875 [source].

    Today, it is one of the most popular recipes to hail from the Piedmont region.
     
     
    SALAD WITH BAGNA CÀUDA

    Last year, we came across an extension of the bagna càuda dip: as a warm dressing for a spring salad. We’ve enjoyed it several times since then

    Some simple recipes require simply that the anchovy fillets be mashed with the garlic cloves. They are then simmered in olive oil for a few minutes to take the edge off the garlic.

  • The French had it right: The dip tastes better with a bit lemon juice or vinegar.
  • Some versions add butter or cream.
  • You can give it a different flavor profile with walnut oil.
  • If you have truffle pieces (lucky you!), toss them in.
  •  
    Here’s our version. Play with it as you wish.

    Ingredients For 1 Cup Of Dressing (4 Servings)

  • 4-6 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6-12 best quality anchovy fillets, well drained
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Optional: pinch of chile flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley leaves
  •  
    Ingredients For The Salad

    Use whatever looks nice and springy in the produce aisle. We didn’t include carrot curls in the ingredients list, for example; but any salad vegetable fits right in.

  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 2 endive or radicchio, leaves separated
  • 4 radishes (ideally watermelon radishes), very thinly sliced
  • 1 small fennel bulb, very thinly sliced
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas
  • 1 medium beet, ideally chioggia or yellow*, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 scallions, trimmed
  • 12 small asparagus spears, blanched or raw
  • Salt and pepper
  • ________________

    *Red beets bleed.
     
    Optional

  • 1 burrata or 6 ounces goat cheese —or—
  • 4 eggs, boiled 8 minutes and cooled, then halved or quartered
  • Prosciutto “roses” (roll up the slices)
  •  
    Plus

  • 1 crusty baguette, sliced into 1″ widths
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the dressing: Pound the anchovies and garlic into a rough paste, using a mortar and pestle. Place in a small saucepan, add the olive oil and butter and simmer over medium heat for 2 minutes, until the anchovies have dissolved. Add the optional chile flakes before removing from the flame.

  • Alternatively, blend the oil, butter, anchovies and garlic in a food processor until smooth.
  • To take the edge off the garlic, sauté the garlic cloves in some olive oil for 3-5 minutes.
  •  

    Spring Salad

    [1] Spring salad with chioggia beets, from Foster’s Market Cookbook.

    Spring Salad With Burrata

    [2] Spring salad with burrata, from The Gourmet RD. Here are more recipes for a spring burrata salad.

    Spring Salad With Watermelon Radish
    [3] Spring salad with watermelon radishes, from Sid Wainer.

    Anchovy Fillets
    [4] Buy the best anchovies you can find, for the best flavor in your bagna càuda. These are from Vital Choice.

    Chioggia Beets
    [5] Chioggia beets are a specialty product. Like watermelon radishes, they add fun and fancy to a salad. Here’s a recipe for a chioggia beet salad (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

     
    2. TRANSFER Transfer to a small bowl and whisk in the lemon zest and juice. Set aside to cool.

    3. ARRANGE the salad on individual plates or on a large platter, as you prefer. Set a scallion across the plate. Garnish with the eggs or cheese. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

    4. WARM the dressing for 15 seconds in the microwave (or serve it at room temperature, if you prefer). Stir in the parsley right before serving.

    5. DRIZZLE 1 tablespoon of over each plate of salad and put the remainder in a small pitcher for passing. Serve immediately.

  • If the dressing is too garlicky for you, whisk in some crème fraîche, sour cream or plain yogurt.
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Fancy Dessert

    Banana Bread A La Mode
    [1] This fancy-looking dessert is quickly assembled from easily-available ingredients (photo courtesy Good Food On Montford).

    Pepperidge Farm Pirouettes
    [2] Pepperidge Farm Pirouettes, rolled wafer cookies, are an easy dessert garnish (photo courtesy Pepperidge Farm).

     

    It doesn’t take much effort to turn ordinary ingredients into a great-looking dish.

    This example (photo #1), from Good Food On Montford in Charlotte, North Carolina, shows how easy it is to turn basic ingredients into an ogle-worthy dessert.

    If you purchase all the ingredients, there’s no cooking required!

    The snappy look of this dessert is created by the square of cake. A traditional slice of loaf cake, or wedge from a round cake, doesn’t have the same appeal.

    The denser the cake, by the way, the better. You can also use a brownie or other bar.
     
    MAKE IT AT HOME

    All you need are:

  • Loaf cake (banana, carrot, chocolate, pound, etc.)
  • Ice cream of choice
  • Dessert sauce (butterscotch, chocolate, fruit purée, etc.)
  • Sauce garnish (cookie crumbs, pie crust crumbs, chopped nuts, etc.)
  • Ice cream garnish
  • Color garnish: mint leaf, raspberries
  •  
    While the pastry chef appears to have dehydrated thin slices of banana to make the vertical top garnish, you can use these options, inserting them vertically on top of the ice cream:

  • Chocolate orange peel, coin or straw
  • Piece of bark, brittle or toffee
  • Pocky stick
  • Tuile or Pirouette cookie (photo #2)
  • Slice of kiwi or starfruit
  •  
    Other options:

  • Chocolate curls
  • Strawberry
  • Or, no garnish at all
  •  
    Ready, set, assemble!
     

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Kurobuta Ham

    In the recent past, we were looking for the “best” ham for our Easter dinner.

    As part of research for THE NIBBLE, we tasted six different hams and came up with the winner: Kurobuta ham from Snake River Farms.

    If you’ve been pondering a ham for Easter dinner (or any other time of the year), or want to send a memorable Easter gift (or Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas or any occasion), Kurobuta (pronounced koo-row-BOO-tuh) is the ham for you.

    Succulent, deeply flavorful and beautifully textured, it’s become the Easter standard at our house, and a mainstay of buffet dinners during the year.
     
     
    THE WORLD’S BEST HAM?

    Kurobuta ham has been called the world’s best ham by chefs and food writers.

    You can always raise an eyebrow when reference is is made to “the best” of anything. Regarding food: Who has tasted everything in the category to determine “the best?”

    Even at THE NIBBLE, when we have tasted 100 hot chocolate mixes, extra virgin olive oils, strawberry jams, etc., we know there are products out there that we haven’t known about.

    That being said, everything we’ve research and read has come up with no better ham.

    Made from pure-bred Berkshire pork, it’s also known as the Kobe beef of ham.

    That’s because of the fine intramuscular marbling that makes the meat melt-in-your-mouth tender.

    How good is this ham? Tender, with a perfect smoke and impeccable seasoning. Subtle notes of clove and other spices caress the tongue.

    With other hams, even premium ones, the only thing that caresses the tongue is salt.
     
     
    KUROBUTA PRODUCTS

    That Berkshire pig produces more than ham. Here’s the the “menu” at Snake River Farms:

    Kurobuta Hams

  • Kurobuta Half Bone-In Ham
  • Whole Boneless Ham
  • Kurobuta Mini Half Boneless Ham
  •  
    Kurobuta Bacon

  • Kurobuta Bacon Bacon
  • Kurobuta Slab Bacon
  •  
    Kurobuta Chops

  • Kurobuta Boneless Pork Chops
  • Kurobuta Frenched Pork Chops
  •  
    Kurobuta Ribs

  • Kurobuta Baby Back Ribs
  • Kurobuta Short Ribs
  • Kurobuta Spare Ribs
  •  
    Other Kurobuta Cuts

  • Kurobuta Bone-In Shoulder
  • Kurobuta Crown Roast
  • Kurobuta Pork Collar
  • Kurobuta Porterhouse
  • Kurobuta Pork Belly
  • Kurobuta Pork Tenderloin
  • Kurobuta Pork Loin Roast
  • Kurobuta Rack Of Pork
  •  
     
    PURCHASE ONLINE

    Head to SnakeRiverFarms.com or phone 877.736.0193.
     
     
    HAM FACTS

  • The Cuts & Types Of Ham
  • The History Of Ham
  • The Cuts & Types Of Pork
  •  

    kurobuta-bone-in-snakeriverfarms-230
    [1] Ham doesn’t get any better than this Kurobuta (photo courtesy Snake River Farms).

    Sliced Gourmet Ham
    [2] Thick slices of ham are succulent and tender (photo courtesy The Chocolate Lab | SF).

    Rack Of Pork
    [3] There are other Kurobuta cuts, including this rack of pork (here’s the recipe from Kita Roberts | Girl Carnivore).

    Kurobuta Boneless Loin of Pork
    [4] Boneless loin of pork (photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma).

     

      

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