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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Vegetables/Salads/Herbs

TIP OF THE DAY: Make Delicious Charred Vegetables

Some recipes specify charring bell peppers to make it easy to remove their skins and purée them. But we char them just to enjoy the charred flavor.

Charring is a step beyond simple grilling. If you haven’t discovered the joy of charring vegetables on the grill—or haven’t ventured beyond corn, mushrooms and potatoes—let us whet your appetite.

Charring creates contrasting flavor and textures, caramelized sweetness, and toasty, smoky notes. When the skin gets blackened and blistery, the the flavor is intensified. The skins soften while the flesh stays crisp.

You don’t need a grill (ideally, with wood chips) to char vegetables. You can also do it:

  • On the stove top, in a dry cast iron pan
  • Under the broiler in your oven
  •  
    All you need are raw vegetables tossed in olive oil, a sprinkling of kosher salt or coarse sea salt, and the heat source. Grilling tips are below.

    WHAT VEGETABLES ARE BEST FOR GRILLING

    Some of our favorite things to char—in addition to corn, mushrooms and potatoes:

  • Asparagus: Trim the tough ends, toss the spears in olive oil and salt and grill for 4-5 minutes over medium-high heat. Then turn and grill another 4-5 minutes.
  •    

    assorted-grilled-vegetables-happilyunprocessed-230r

    A delicious platter of grilled veggies, from HappilyUnprocessed.com, with mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, yellow squash and bell peppers. Here’s their recipe for Balsamic Grilled Vegetables.

  • Baby potatoes: Potatoes, dense and hard, need to be pre-cooked. Leave the skins on and place the potatoes in a pot. Cover with one inch of salted cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until just tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Toss in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and skewer (for a gourmet touch, skewer on soaked rosemary twigs) and grill for 3 to 4 minutes total, turning occasionally.
  • Bell peppers, Hatch or other chiles: Remove the core and seeds, then slice the each pepper in half (or in quarters for large bells). Toss with olive oil and salt and grill over a medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes. Then turn and grill 4-5 minutes longer.
  • Cabbage or lettuce: Cut the head in half and slice each half into 1-inch-thick slices; skewer to keep the leaves together. Toss with olive oil and salt. Grill over a medium-high heat for 10 minutes, then turn and grill for another 10 minutes. (If cabbage and lettuce seem like strange grilling veggies, try them—they’re delicious!)
  • Cauliflower: Use large florets only; save the smaller bits for other uses. Toss in olive oil, salt and skewer. Grill over medium-high heat, turning frequently for about 10 minutes, until lightly charred.
  • Corn: Remove the husks; otherwise, you just steam the corn. Oil and salt them, then grill over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, turning frequently.
  • Eggplant: Cut into 1/2-inch slices, place on a wire rack and sprinkle liberally with salt. Leave for 30 minutes, then rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towels (this process removes the bitterness). Toss with oil (you can add some balsamic, too), salt and cook over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes. Then turn and grill another 4-5 minutes.
  • Green onions/scallions: Toss in oil and salt and grill on medium-high for about two minutes, until distinct grill marks appear. Then turn and cook for 1 minute more.
  •  

    grilled-vegetables-mccormick-230

    Mixed grilled vegetables. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
  • Mushrooms: Toss whole mushrooms with olive oil and salt; then skewer and cook over medium-high heat for 7-8 minutes, turning frequently. Grill whole portobello mushroom caps directly on the grill. Toss in oil (we also use some balsamic), salt and grill for four minutes; then turn and grill another four minutes.
  • Onions: Sweet and red onions are best. Peel, cut into ½-inch slices, toss in olive oil and kosher salt and grill over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Then turn and grill 2-3 minutes longer. A skewer will hold the onion layers together.
  • Tomatoes: Skewer cherry tomatoes and grill over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes, turning frequently. Cut plum or other tomatoes in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and grill for four minutes over medium-high heat. Then turn and grill for four more minutes.
  • Zucchini or yellow squash: Cut into ½-inch pieces lengthwise, toss in olive oil, salt and cook over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes. Then turn and grill another 4-5 minutes.
  •  
    We also love grilled romaine, especially in a grilled Caesar salad.

     
    GRILLING TIPS

  • Heat. Most vegetables need a medium-high heat. With a gas grill, this is 400°F to 425°F. With a charcoal grill, think “4 by 5”: You should be able to hold your hand four to five inches above the grill for for four to five seconds. For delicate vegetables, use medium heat—350°F or hold your hand four to five inches above the grill for six or seven seconds.
  • Skewers. When grilling smaller vegetables that might fall through the grate, use skewers. They also make it easy to turn the vegetables. We use stainless steel skewers; but if you’re using bamboo, remember to soak them for 30 minutes.
  •  

    USING THE BROILER TO CHAR VEGETABLES

  • Set the broiler to HIGH. If the broiler is inside your oven, place the oven rack to within 4-5 inches of the broiler flame.
  • Since there are no grates to fall through, you don’t need to skewer.
  • Toss with olive oil and salt and spread the the vegetables on a sheet pan. Softer vegetables will cook faster than harder, denser ones like onions, so keep the individual vegetables together so you can remove them as they finish cooking.
  • Broil for five minutes, then turn and stir. Leave the oven/broiler door open during broiling to vent the steam.
  • Continue to broil and turn every five minutes. The vegetables will gradually start to char on the outside. All vegetables will be ready in 20-25 minutes, depending on how crunchy or soft you like them.

     
    NO OVEN OR BROILER?

    Use your toaster oven on the highest setting. It isn’t exactly the same, but the results are still delicious. Lightly brush the veggies with olive oil, or drizzle mushrooms with balsamic vinegar.

      

  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fruit In A Green Salad

    Enjoy the summer’s fruit bounty straight, in fruit salads, yogurt, pies, ice cream, smoothies and … green salad.

    Strawberries or watermelon salad plus greens and feta or goat cheese are time-honored additions to a green salad.

    But you can create your own recipe. For a July 4th salad, how about a red, white and blue green salad with raspberries, blueberries and diced applies? Instead of the apples, use feta or goat cheese for the white component.

    The salad in the photo, from Souplantation, combines:

  • Romaine
  • Red leaf lettuce
  • Red onion
  • Caramelized walnuts
  • Raisins (you can substitute dried cherries or cranberries)
  • Sliced strawberries
  •  
    You can use a conventional vinaigrette recipe or a berry vinaigrette, adding a tablespoon of puréed berries to the recipe.

     

    strawberry-fields-salad-souplantation-230r

    Strawberry Fields forever? Well, for about 15 minutes until you’ve finished the salad. Photo courtesy Souplantation.

     
    For a creamy dressing, add a tablespoon of sour cream or Greek yogurt and combine in a blender.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Beer Batter Onion Rings

    onion-rings-horseradish-dipping-sauce-qvc-230

    Onion rings with horseradish-dill sauce
    instead of ketchup. Photo courtesy QVC.

     

    Try something different for National Onion Rings Day, June 23rd.

    The standard condiment is ketchup, beer-battered onion rings are delicious with a horseradish dipping sauce. Here’s a recipe from QVC’s chef David Venable. It even bows to tradition by including some ketchup!

    What should you drink with Beer Batter Onion Rings? Your favorite beer! Ours is a hopped up IPA.

    RECIPE: BEER BATTER ONION RINGS WITH HORSERADISH DILL DIPPING SAUCE

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons horseradish
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
  •  

    For The Onion Rings

  • Canola oil, for frying
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bottle of beer (12 ounces)
  • 3 large onions, preferably Vidalia, sliced into 1/4″ rings and separated
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the dipping sauce: Whisk together the mayonnaise, ketchup, horseradish, paprika and dill in a small bowl. Set aside while cooking the onion rings.

    2. PREPARE the onion rings: Clip a deep-frying thermometer to the side of a heavy, deep pot. Add 2″ of canola oil to the pot and slowly heat the oil to 350°F. While the oil is heating…

    3. WHISK together the flour, egg, garlic powder, oregano, cayenne, salt and black pepper in a bowl. Gradually whisk in the beer, stirring until a thick batter forms.

    4. DREDGE the onion slices in the batter. Using tongs, add four or five onion rings to the hot oil and fry for 1-2 minutes, until golden brown. Turn them halfway through cooking. (Cook the onion rings in batches or the oil won’t stay hot and the onion rings will be soggy rather than crisp.) Using the tongs, remove the fried onion rings to a wire rack or paper towels to drain.

    5. COOK the remaining batter-dipped onion rings. Serve hot with the dipping sauce.

     

    vidalia-onions-vidaliaonions.com-230

    Vidalia onions: sweet with no sulfur bite. Photo courtesy VidaliaOnions.com.

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Grilled Potato Salad With Bacon, Blue Cheese & Bacon Dressing

    bacon-dressing-potato-salad-blue-cheese-longhornsteakhouse-230

    Grilled potato salad with bacon, blue cheese and bacon dressing. Phoro courtesy LongHorn Steakhouse.

     

    Our crowd really enjoyed this potato salad with grilled fare on Father’s Day. It was created for grilling season by LongHorn Steakhouse’s executive chefs.

    RECIPE: GRILLED POTATO SALAD WITH BACON
    DRESSING

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 9 medium red potatoes, scrubbed, skins on
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
  •  
    For The Bacon Vinaigrette

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  •  
    For The Garnish

  • ¼ cup good blue cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons sliced green onion
  • 3 strips chopped bacon
  •  

    Preparation

    1. CLEAN and oil the grill grates, and heat to 500°F.

    2. ADD the potatoes to a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Turn down the flame and continue to boil for 12-15 minutes, or until cooked through. Drain the potatoes and allow the water to fully evaporate from the skin. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice them in half-inch pieces.

    3. DRIZZLE both sides of the potatoes with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

    4. PLACE the potatoes on the preheated grill to get the desired grill marks on both sides of the potatoes. Remove from the grill and place on a serving platter, with the slices overlapping shingle-style.

    5. COOK the bacon strips until crisp. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels; save the bacon fat.

    6. COMBINE all the dressing ingredients in a large mason jar or other container with a tight-fitting lid. Shake until well combined. Pour the dressing over the potatoes and garnish with chopped bacon, blue cheese crumbles and sliced green onion.
     
    For more information about LongHorn Steakhouse or to find the nearest location, head to the company website, LongHornSteakhouse.com.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Summer Salad With Salmon

    We first made this recipe from Maille with leftover poached salmon from the fridge. Subsequently, we made it as specified, with warm poached salmon. Both are equally delicious.

    The recipe serves four as a first course, two as a main course. Prep time is 5 minutes, cooking time is 15 minutes.

    RECIPE: SUMMER SALAD WITH POACHED OR GRILLED
    SALMON

    Ingredients

  • 12 ounces salmon fillets
  • 8 ounces green beans, trimmed (substitute sugar snap peas)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Juice and peel of ½ lemon
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup arugula
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted
  •    

    poached-salmon-salad-maille-230

    Poached salmon salad: a taste of summer. Photo courtesy Maille.

     
    Preparation

    1. POACH salmon in large skillet filled with lightly salted water until salmon turns opaque, about 10 minutes. Remove salmon and keep warm.

    2. COOK the green beans in medium saucepan filled with lightly salted water until tender, about 5 minutes; drain and keep warm.

    3. WHISK together the mustard, lemon juice, lemon peel, olive oil and salt and pepper; set aside.

    4. PEEL the skin from the salmon, then flake the salmon into large pieces. Toss the arugula with the green beans, then add the salmon.

    5. ADD the dressing and toss lightly. Plate, garnish with almonds and serve.

     

    dijon-jar-230

    A fine food staple since 1747. Photo courtesy Maille.

     

    MUSTARD TRIVIA

  • Mustard is a cruciferous vegetable. Mustard greens are the leaves of the mustard plant). It is part of the genus Brassica, which also includes bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, radish, rapeseed, turnips and other vegetables.
  • Whole mustard seeds have no heat. Mustard seeds, from the flower of the mustard plant, don’t have heat and pungency until they are cracked and mixed with a liquid. This causes a reaction between two components of the seed (the enzyme myrosinase and the mustard oil glycosides), which produces a sugar and several chemical irritants.
  •  
    MORE MUSTARD

  • The history of mustard
  • The different types of mustard
  • More Mustard Trivia
  •  

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Summer Fruits & Vegetables

    Following our recent article on spring produce, here’s what’s in season for summer. Not everything may be available in your area, but what is there should be largely American-grown—not imported from another hemisphere.

    Some of the items are harvested for only a few weeks; others are around for months. So peruse the list, note what you don’t want to miss, and add it to your shopping list.

    The list was created by the Produce For Better Health Foundation. Take a look at their website, FruitsAndVeggiesMoreMatters.org for tips on better meal planning with fresh produce.

    SUMMER FRUITS

  • Acerola/Barbados Cherries
  • Apricots
  • Asian Pear
  • Black Crowberries
  • Black Currants
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Boysenberries
  • Breadfruit
  • Cantaloupe
  • Casaba Melon
  •    

    lychee-baldorfood-230

    If you’ve never had fresh lychees, this is the season to get your fill! Photo courtesy Baldor Food.

  • Champagne Grapes/Corinthian Currants/Zante Currants
  • Crenshaw Melon
  • Durian
  • Elderberry
  • Fig
  • Galia Melon
  • Grapefruit
  • Grape
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Jackfruit
  • Lime/Key Lime
  • Loganberry
  • Longan
  • Loquat
  • Lychee (photo above)
  • Mulberry
  • Nectarine
  • Olallieberry*
  • Passion Fruit
  • Peach
  • Persian Melon
  • Plum
  • Raspberry
  • Rose Apple†
  • Sapote/Sapodilla
  • Strawberry
  • Sugar Apple
  • Watermelon
  •  
    *Olallieberries, developed in 1949 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture at Oregon State University by crossing a loganberry with a youngberry. They are two-thirds blackberry, one-third European red raspberry.

    †Rose apples are not related to European apples (family Rosaceae), which originated in Turkey. They are members of the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. Native to the East Indies, they are also known as plum roses and Malabar plums.

     

    ong-choy-water-spinach-Eric-inSF-Wiki-230

    Ong choy, Chinese water spinach. Photo by Eric | Wikimedia.

     

    SUMMER VEGETABLES

  • Anaheim Chile
  • Armenian Cucumber‡
  • Beet
  • Bell Pepper
  • Butter Lettuce
  • Chayote Squash
  • Chinese Long Bean
  • Corn
  • Crookneck Squash
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Endive
  • French Bean
  • Garlic
  • Green Bean
  • Green Soybean (Edamame)
  • Heart of Palm
  • Jalapeño Chile
  • Lima Bean
  • Okra
  • Ong Choy Water Spinach (photo above)
  • Pea
  • Radish
  • Shallot
  • Sugar Snap Pea
  • Summer Squash
  • Tomatillo
  • Tomato
  • Winged Bean
  • Yellow Squash
  • Yukon Gold Potato
  • Zucchini
  •  
    Enjoy the feast!

     
    ‡The Armenian cucumber, Cucumis melo var. flexuosus, is a long, slender fruit which tastes like a cucumber and looks somewhat like a cucumber inside. It is actually a variety of muskmelon, a species closely related to the cucumber. However, cucumbers and melons are botanical first cousins. Both are from the binomial order Cucurbitales, family Cucurbitaceae and genus Cucumis, differing only at the species level. Watermelon rind is edible and tastes like cucumber. That’s why it is often turned into pickles, like cucumbers.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: The New Layered Salad Bowls

    What’s hot in fast-casual restaurant dining? Layered salad bowls!

    The bowls have a bed of salad greens, with layers of toppings such as beans, cheese, corn, dips (guacamole, hummus, salsa), grains, legumes, noodles, proteins, sour cream, tomatoes and more. Each layer of ingredients adds more flavor and texture.

    According Katie Ayoub’s article in Flavor & The Menu, Chipotle’s Burrito Bowl now surpasses its burritos in sales. Jamba Juice added five Energy Bowls to its lineup last September. Panera rolled out Broth Bowls in January and KFC launched two new Chicken & Rice Bowls. On The Border introduced Border Bowls in April. The list goes on.

    Bowls cross comfort-food and global flavors with better-for-you fresh vegetables and smaller portions of protein. They provide tastes of multiple favorites in one dish. They’re a hit.

    Make your own bowls at home with the layer-by-layer guide to ingredients below, and add your own to the list.

    A tip: If you plan your menus for a few days, you can have leftover beans, grains and proteins with which to construct your bowls.

     

    steak-bowl-gimmedelicious-230

    A homemade version of Chipotle’s Steak Burrito Bowl (hey, where’s the grated cheese?). Here’s the recipe, from GimmeDelicious.com.

     
    BASE

    Salad greens plus:

  • Grains: Quinoa, farro, oats, rice (basmati, brown, cilantro, coconut, etc.)
  • Pasta: cappellini, penne rigate, ramen, rice noodles, soba noodles, whole wheat noodles
  • Potatoes: mashed/smashed white or sweet potato, diced boiled potatoes vinaigrette
  • Pulses: beans, lentils, edamame
  •  
    PROTEIN

  • Beef: braised beef or short rib, cubed or sliced steak
  • Chicken: grilled and cubed or sliced
  • Egg: fried, hard or soft-boiled, pickled
  • Lamb: cubed or sliced
  • Meatballs: beef, chicken, lamb, pork, turkey
  • Shrimp: habanero-mango glazed
  • Salmon: mini salmon cakes
  • Fish: grilled, pepper-crusted
  • Pork: pulled/shredded
  • Vegetarian: baked/grilled tofu or seitan, falafel, vegetarian “meatballs”
  •  

    Shrimp-Border-Bowl-OnTheBorder-Flavor-Menu-230

    From On The Border, the popular Shrimp Border Bowl, with grilled shrimp and
    Tex-Mex fixings.

     

    PRODUCE

  • Charred: beans, broccoli, carrots, greens, onions
  • Fresh: arugula, avocado, baby kale, basil, cilantro, corn, jicama, mint, mixed greens, peas/snow peas, radish, tomato, watercress, zucchini
  • Fruit: apple or pear slices, berries, cranberry sauce, grapefruit or orange segments, stone fruit slices
  • Grilled: corn, eggplant, green beans, mushrooms, peaches, red onion, zucchini
  • Roasted: bell pepper, jalapeño, mushrooms, onions, shallots, squash, tomato
  •  
    FLAVOR BINDERS

  • Broth: beef, chicken, miso, roasted vegetable, seafood (add ingredients that work in a soup bowl)
  • Other: Greek yogurt, hummus, sour cream, tzatziki, vinaigrette
  • Salsa: chimichurri, pico de gallo, roasted tomatillo
  • Sauce: chipotle sauce, guacamole, pesto, red curry paste, roasted harissa, peanut sauce, tikka sauce (to drizzle)
  •  
    TOPPINGS

  • Cheese: grated cheddar or mozzarella, crumbled fresh or aged cheeses
  • Dried fruit: apricot, cherry, cranberry, dates, fig
  • Fermented produce: cabbage, cucumber, kimchi, turnip greens
  • Nuts and seeds: candied, fire-roasted, glazed, spiced, toasted
  • Pickled produce: beets, carrots, onions, peppers, radish, slaw, watermelon
  •  
    We can’t wait until lunchtime!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Goat Cheese, Beets & Nuts

    One of our favorite salads is appealing year-round: for its green, red and white palette during holiday season, and for color, flavor and texture anytime.

    With a delicious shipment from Love Beets, we’ve been enjoying it every day. It’s a mesclun salad with beets, goat cheese and nuts. You can turn it into a lunch salad by adding a protein.

    You can also toast or candy the nuts. We think that toasted walnuts or pecans work best.

    For extra flavor and nutrition, you can roll the goat log in seeds (chia, pepitas, sesame, sunflower) or minced herbs before slicing.

    RECIPE: MIX & MATCH GOAT CHEESE & BEETS SALAD

    Ingredients

  • Log of fresh goat cheese (chèvre)
  • Lettuce: mesclun mix, bibb/Boston, frisée, romaine or other favorite
  • Beets: baby beets, diced or sliced beets
  • Nuts: hazelnuts, pecans or walnuts
  • Vinaigrette (recipe)
  •    

    beets-goat-nuts-bellechevre-taigan-230

    Ingredients for the salad. You can send this box as a gift! Photo courtesy Taigan.com.

  • Optional: halved cherry or grape tomatoes (look for orange or yellow, to contrast with the beets)
  • Optional protein: beef, chicken, hard-boiled eggs, lamb, pork or shrimp
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SLICE the goat cheese into rounds.

    2. TOSS the lettuce and tomatoes with the vinaigrette and place on plates. Arrange goat cheese rounds and beets atop lettuce (cut them in half if you like). Sprinkle with nuts.

     
    GIFT PACKAGE

    Want to send the ingredients as a gift? Check out this gift box from Belle Chevre (BYO fresh lettuce).

     

    love-beets-vinegar-230

    Love Beets sporting new packaging. Photo courtesy Love Beets.

     

    ABOUT LOVE BEETS

    If you like beets and have attempted to cook them, you know they can be a mess: peeling the irregular surface, getting red beet juice over everything (it stains!).

    Canned and jarred beets are pretty good substitutes, but Love Beets takes things a bit further, in minimal packaging and a broad choice of styles flavors.

    Our favorites are the flavored baby beets in: Honey + Ginger, Mild Vinegar, Sweetfire (with chili), White Wine + Vinegar and Organic White Wine + Vinegar. The seasoning add pizzazz to salads and other recipes.

    Certified kosher by OU, with organic options, the company also sells snack trays (beets, cheese and crackers, for example) and beet juice.

    Find the Love Beets nearest to you with this store locator.

     
    There are lots of creative recipes on the website. Beet Margarita, anyone? (It’s made with beet juice. We actually can’t wait to try it.)
     

    BEETS & BURGERS

    In Australia, a true Oz-style burger must be topped with a slice or two of beets. Even McDonalds and Burger King serve it.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Sumac With Spiced Roasted Carrots

    This recipe from the Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen was so breathtaking, we traipsed through three different farmers markets to hunt down the beautiful heirloom carrots (and finally found them at Trader Joe’s).

    The recipe gave us an excuse to purchase sumac, a slightly tart and fruity spice popular in North African and Middle Eastern cooking. We’d never worked with it, and we like lemony tartness. (More ways to use it are below.)

    RECIPE: SPICED ROASTED CARROTS

    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 1 teaspoon ground sumac
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 bunches rainbow carrots, peeled and trimmed, larger carrots halved lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  •    

    spiced-roasted-rainbow-carrots-ws-230

    Who could refuse to eat their vegetables? Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

  • Flaky sea salt for finishing (check out Maldon sea salt, beautiful pyramid-shaped flakes)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F (220°C).

    2. STIR together the sumac, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes and salt in a small bowl.

    3. TOSS the carrots with the olive oil in a large bowl. Sprinkle the spice blend on top of the carrots and toss until the spices are evenly distributed.

    4. HEAT a frying pan over medium heat until warm. Add the carrots and toss two or three times. Transfer to the oven and roast until the carrots are just tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

    5. TRANSFER to a serving dish and finish with a sprinkle of sea salt. Serve immediately.

    Find more terrific recipes at Blog.Williams-Sonoma.com.

     

    Sumac-silkroadspices.ca-230

    Sumac, a popular spice in the Middle East. Photo courtesy The Silk Road Spice Merchant.

     

    WHAT IS SUMAC?

    Sumac comprises some 35 species of flowering plants that grow in subtropical and temperate regions throughout the world. If you were a Boy Scout or Girl Scout, you likely learned to spot one of the varieties, the poison sumac shrub, in the woods. (Like poison ivy and poison oak, skin contact generates a nasty rash.)

    The fruits of the bush form in dense clusters of what we might call little round red berries—like holly berries—but are actually drupes. The dried drupes of some species are ground to produce a tangy, crimson spice; the word “sumac” comes from the old Syriac Aramaic summaq, meaning red.

    The spice is also a component of the popular spice blend, za’atar.

    In Middle Eastern cuisine, sumac is used to add a lemony taste to meats and salads. It is used to garnish meze like hummus, and rice.

     
    Try it with recipes where you’d like lemony tartness as well as some bright red color.

    You can find sumac online or at Middle Eastern markets. If you can’t get hold of any, add some lemon juice. Its tart flavor is an alternative to the tart-sour sumac profile.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Fun With Radishes

    Low in calories, high in crunch, often with a hot pepper spiciness, radishes (Raphanus sativus) can be a fun food. They’re nutritious*, too.

    If you’re old enough, you may remember the time when radish “roses” were almost as common a plate garnish a sprig of parsley. You sliced the rose in a certain way (or used a radish cutter), then dropped the radish into cold water, where the slices opened up into “petals.” As a child, we ate them petal by petal.

    There are numerous varieties of radish beyond the red globe “supermarket radish” (Burpee alone sells 30 varieties). They have different levels of heat-spiciness, mostly depending on growing conditions: soil, water, hot vs. cold weather, early vs. late harvest and other factors. Some people like them hot, others not so much. Unfortunately, you have to sample one to know what you’ve got.

     

    ministick-radishes-bowl-dandy-230

    Add radish matchsticks for crunch and spice. Photo courtesy Duda Farm Fresh Foods.

     
    The wild radish may have originated somewhere in southeast Asia, and developed by farmers in central Asia, China and India. Radishes enter the written record in the third century B.C.E. and appear in Greek and Roman texts in the 1st century C.E., which describe small, large, round, long, mild and sharp varieties.

    Burpee currently sells 30 varieties of differing shapes, sizes and colors. Our favorite is the watermelon radish: When sliced, it resembles a slice of watermelon. Runner up: Mardi Gras radishes, a mix of seeds that yield black, purple, white and yellow radishes. And we love Candy Stripe radishes—concentric circles of red and white—but can never find them.
     
    *Radishes are rich in folic acid, potassium and vitamin C.
     
    WAYS TO SERVE RADISHES

    Appetizer & Snack

  • Crostini or tea sandwiches. For crostini, toast slices of baguette and top with sweet butter or pesto, thinly-sliced radish, a bit of cress or other green, and a pinch of sea salt. For tea sandwiches, trim the crusts from un-toasted white or whole wheat bread.
  • Raw, with butter and sea salt. It’s a popular dish in France. If you can find longer-shape radishes, cut a slice lengthwise, drop into cold water to open a channel, and pipe in softened butter. Otherwise, slice round radishes in half horizontally, butter the bottom half and serve like poppers.
  • Pickled. Any type of radish can be quickly and easily pickled, for snacking, sandwiches, garnish, etc. Here’s the recipe.
  • With ricotta. Put together a plate of fresh radishes and a dish of mild ricotta drizzled with olive oil. We enjoy this as a weekend breakfast with crusty rustic bread.
  • Crudités and dip! In decades past, the predecessor of the crudité plate was the relish tray, with celery, radishes and olives.
  •  

    radish-tic-tac-toe-230

    Three varieties available from Duda Fresh Farm Foods: whole with ends trimmed, crinkle-cut coins and matchsticks. Photo courtesy Duda.

     

    Lunch & Dinner

  • Julienned. Toss radish strips into salads, scrambled eggs, rice and grains and anything that needs some color and crunch. Duda Farm Fresh Foods sells radishes already trimmed, sliced into matchsticks and coins (see photo).
  • Boiled or steamed. Top with a cheese sauce, Eastern European-style.
  • Garnishes: Sandwiches (a must on Vietnamese bánh mì), burgers, tacos, soups, sides.
  • Salads: In addition to green salads, see the Radish Salad recipe below.
  • Roasted or braised: A great solution to deal with radishes that are too hot. The heat of the oven removes much of the heat from the radishes, making them sweet and buttery. If you don’t want to turn on the oven, braise on the stove top in butter until tender.
  • More: Kabobs, chilled radish soup and as many options as you can research or invent.
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    RECIPE: RADISH & CUCUMBER SALAD

    This recipe from Natasha’s Kitchen is a Ukranian influence.

    The sour cream dressing helps to neutralizes the pungency of the radishes. Easy to make, prep time is just 10 minutes. It goes very nicely with grilled meats and anyplace you’d serve cole slaw.

    Ingredients For 6 Side Servings

  • 1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 2 bunches radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon or whole grain mustard (more to taste)
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste (substitute half garlic salt for a touch of garlic flavor)
  • Fresh-ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped dill (more to taste)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the cucumbers, radishes, bell pepper and green onion in a medium salad bowl

    2. COMBINE the sour cream, dill and salt in a small bowl.

    3. STIR the sour cream dressing into the salad just before serving.
     
    WHAT ABOUT THE RADISH TOPS?

    If the radish leaves are fresh and sprightly, consider leaving them on. They’re edible and pretty.

    In fact, the leaves are the most nutritious part of the plant. They have a very mild flavor, like lettuce.

      

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