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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: Fried Cheese For The Cheese Course

Sophisticated diners in the U.S.—and many people in Europe—have long finished dinner with a cheese course and small salad, instead of a sweet dessert.

How about a twist: fried cheese with salad on top—or underneath?

There are many fried cheese recipes; today’s is a Sicilian specialty. Caciocavallo, which means “cheese on horseback,” is a cheese that dates back to Roman times. Two large, pear-shaped cheeses are tied with rope and slung over a wooden board to drain and age.

Believed to have been so shaped to make it easy to transport by slinging over pack animals, the cheese duo evokes the image of saddlebags, hence the name (here’s a photo).

Caciocavallo is hard to find in conventional U.S. markets, although you can find it at Italian specialty stores and online from cheesemongers like Murray’s Cheese.

   

fried-caciacavallo-esquaredhospitality2

Fried caciacavallo cheese topped with salad. Photo courtesy E-squaredhospitality.

 
Or, substitute halloumi, kasseri, provolone, scamorza, smoked mozzarella or queso de freier (Mexican frying cheese). You’ve got plenty of options!

RECIPE: FRIED CHEESE COURSE

Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3/4 pound of Caciocavallo, cut into 4 slices
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 4 tablespoons vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon sugar
  • Italian bread, sliced
  • Salad of choice (we like arugula, basil, cress, endive, chives or sliced green onions and sometimes, fennel; but you can use absolutely anything, very lightly tossed with vinaigrette to slightly moisten)
  •  

    fried-cheese-eatwisconsincheese-230

    Fried caciacavallo served atop the salad. Photo courtesy EatWisconsinCheese.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and slices of cheese and lower the heat.

    2. COOK covered for 1 minute; then turn the cheese over and cook covered for an additional minute, or until the cheese is golden in color.

    3. REMOVE the skillet from the heat, add the oregano and pepper and transfer the fried cheese to the serving plates.

    4. ADD the vinegar and sugar to the hot oil in the pan and cook for about 1–2 minutes until some of the liquid evaporates. This creates a sweet and sour sauce.

    5. DECIDE if you want your salad on top or underneath the cheese. Add the salad accordingly.

    6. TOP the cheese with the sauce if the cheese is on top of the salad; or use it to dot the plate if the salad is on top. Use the garlic as garnish and serve immediately with slices of fresh Italian bread.

     

    ABOUT CACIOCAVALLO CHEESE

    Caciocavallo, a popular cheese in southern Italy and Sicily, is typically made from unpasteurized cow’s or sheep’s milk. Two pear-shaped cheeses, about 4 pounds each, are joined at the neck by a rope to age.

    Like burrata, mozzarella, provolone and scamorza, caciocavallo is a pasta filata, a cheese made by stretching and forming the curd by hand.

    It is then aged for two to three months, and optimally for one year. Because the pairs of tied cheeses hang from rods in the air to age, instead of sitting on shelves like other cheeses, more microbes can enter the cheese, where they help to develop sharp, spicy flavors, deep, earthy undertones and fruity aromas.

    The result is a layered, complex cheese that is typically sliced and served with fresh fruit, plus a glass of hearty red wine. The yellow rind is edible.

    There are different types of caciocavallo:

  • Caciocavallo Silano, a PDO* cheese made in the southern Italian regions of Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise and Puglia.
  • Caciocavallo Ragusa, a PDO* cheese made in Ragusa, Sicily.
  • Caciocavallo affumicato, smoked caciocavallo.
  • Caciocavallo piccante, spicy caciocavallo.
  • Caciocavallo primaverile, made from milk gathered in the spring, which has subtle flavors of the aromatic herbs in spring pastures.
  •  
    MORE FRIED CHEESE RECIPES

  • Cashew-encrusted fried cheese recipe.
  • Fried cheese curds recipe.
  • Grilled halloumi cheese recipe.
  •  
    *PDO, Protected Designation of Origin, is a designation of authenticity from the European Union. In the case of Caciocavallo Silano or Ragusa, it guarantees that the milk used comes only from local herds.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Apple Ginger Cole Slaw

    apple-ginger-cole-slaw-wmmb-230

    Go gourmet with apple ginger cole slaw. Photo courtesy EatWisconsin Cheese.com.

     

    When we attend summer cookouts, we always offer to bring the cole slaw. That way, we know it will be a great recipe. With respect to the simple prepared slaws of shredded cabbage and a bit of carrot doused with sweetened mayonnaise—we’ve eaten our share—cole slaw deserves as much attention and finesse as any other recipe.

    For Memorial Day, we’re whipping up this Apple Cole Slaw with Lemon Ginger Yogurt Dressing. The recipe, from Eat Wisconsin Cheese, uses queso blanco; but you can substitute Monterrey Jack or even mozzarella.

    RECIPE: APPLE COLE SLAW

    Ingredients For 8 Servings (About 12 Cups)

  • 1 large apple, cored and julienned
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon*
  • 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 cups green cabbage, shredded
  • 6 cups purple cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup carrots, peeled and julienned
  • 1 cup queso blanco cheese, cubed
  •  
    *Approximately 4 tablespoons juice and 1 teaspoon zest.

     
    JULY 4TH INGREDIENTS

    Use all red cabbage, plus:

  • Blueberries, fresh or dried
  • Red grapes, halved
  • Radishes, sliced or matchsticks
  •  
    Preparation

    1. TOSS the apple, lemon juice and zest in medium bowl; set aside.

    2. WHISK together in a large bowl the yogurt, mayonnaise, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper. Stir in the green and purple cabbages, carrots, cheese and lemon-apple mixture.

    3. SEASON to taste with additional salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

     
    ANOTHER COLE SLAW RECIPE

    For July 4th, try this BLT Cole Slaw recipe. Garnished with cherry tomatoes, it’s red, white (the cabbage) and blue (blue cheese).

     
    WHAT’S A SLAW? WHY IS IT COLE?

    Long part of the culinary repertoire, “koolsla” or “koolsalade” in Dutch means cabbage salad. Cabbage, the “kool” is pronounced “cole.” “Sla” is short for “salade.”

    Instead of being pulled into bite-size pieces like lettuce, the cabbage was sliced.

    The term got anglicized in the 18th century as cole slaw (and sometimes, cold slaw). In English, “slaw” came to specify a salad of shredded vegetables.

    Over time, shredded cabbage slaw was joined by carrot slaws and more recently, broccoli slaw.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pasta Made Tricolor With Veggies

    mediterranean-chicken-pasta-urbanaccents-230

    Mediterranean Pasta With Chicken. Photo
    courtesy Urban Accents.

     

    Doesn’t this pasta dish look more exciting than a conventional red-sauced plate? It uses vegetables to make “tricolor pasta” instead of pasta colored green and red with spinach and tomatoes.

    Tricolor pasta—green and red plus white—looks appealing in the bag but typically fades when cooked. So try a more colorful approach with veggies!

    In this recipe, color comes from red cherry tomatoes, purple kalamata olives and green spinach. If you want to use a red sauce, simply switch out the red tomatoes for orange or yellow varieties.

    Whether you use a red, white or colorless sauce (e.g. olive oil), adding two, three or four vegetable colors to your pasta dish provides great eye appeal as well as more flavor and nutrition.

     
    YEAR-ROUND COLORFUL VEGETABLES

    While green ingredients are a given, look for ingredients from the other produce “color groups.” For reference with other recipes, we’ve included fruits along with vegetables in this list.

  • Green: edamame (soybean), herbs (basil, cilantro, dill, parsley), Granny Smith apples, grapes, green beans, green peas (frozen are fine), mesclun or other salad greens, olives, snow peas, sugar snap peas
  • Orange: bell pepper strips, carrots (baby carrots, sliced or shaved carrots), kumquats, grape tomatoes, mandarin wedges, mango, sweet potatoes (cubed or sliced)
  • Purple/blue: blackberries, blueberies, cauliflower, grapes, kalamata olives, kale, Peruvian potatoes, red cabbage red raisins (plumped in cider)
  • Red: beets, bell pepper strips, cherry tomatoes, dried cherries or cranberries, grape tomatoes, lady apples, mini red jacket potatoes, pomegranate arils, radicchio/red endive, radishes, red grapes/champagne grapes (currants), red onion
  • Yellow: bell pepper strips, golden raisins (plumped in cider), lemon peel, miniature pattypan squash, star fruit (carambola)
  •  

    RECIPE: TRICOLOR MEDITERRANEAN PASTA
    WITH CHICKEN

    This Mediterranean Pasta With Chicken is an easy one-pot dinner, with a goat cheese-based sauce accented with sundried tomatoes, olives and Mediterranean herbs. It was adapted from Urban Accents, which used its Athenian Herb Dryglaze seasoning blend, which pairs sundried tomato with honey and thyme flavors.

    Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 30 minutes.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 packet Urban Accents Athenian Herb Dryglaze, divided seasoning
  • 1 pound penne, rigatoni or other medium tubular pasta
  • 1 cup sundried tomatoes (not oil-packed), roughly chopped
  • 5 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup Kalamata olives, sliced lengthwise and pitted
  • 1/3 cup chopped arugula, parsley or spinach
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    For The Seasoning

  • 1-1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried marjoram
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried minced onion
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried minced garlic
  •  

    penne-rigate-sxc-230

    Penne rigate. Rigate refers to the ridges, which help the sauce adhere. They give their name to rigatoni, ridged tubes. The difference between penne rigate and rigatoni and is the end cut: Penne (“quills”) are cut at an angle, rigatoni are cut straight. Also, rigatoni tend to be slightly larger. See the different pasta shapes in our Pasta Glossary.

     

    Preparation

    1. BLEND the seasoning ingredients. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, for the pasta. As the water heats…

    2. RUB the chicken breasts with 1 tablespoon olive oil and place in resealable plastic bag. Add the seasonings, reserving 2 tablespoons of seasoning for later use. Seal the bag tightly and gently shake so that breasts are coated evenly; refrigerate for 30 minutes.

    3. PREHEAT the stovetop grill pan for medium heat; spray with non-stick cooking spray. Cook chicken breasts, turning once, until cooked through and instant read thermometer indicates 170F. Slice cooked chicken breasts on angle. While chicken cooks…

    4. COOK the pasta for 3 minutes less than package instructions. Add the sundried tomatoes to water and cook for 3 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta; return the pasta and the sundried tomato mixture to the pot.

    5. ADD the goat cheese, reserved seasoning and cup of pasta water to hot pasta. Wait 1-2 minutes, then stir gently to combine. Add additional pasta water if you prefer a saucier dish. Stir in the olives and sprinkle with the arugula/parsley/spinach. Divide the pasta among 4 plates and top with slices of chicken.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: BLT Slaw With Bacon, Lettuce, Tomatoes & More!

    bistro-blt-slaw-safeeggs-230r

    A BLT salad with blue cheese and avocado in
    addition to bacon, lettuce and tomato. In this
    photo, the tomato is blended into the
    dressing; but we added extra cherry
    tomatoes as a garnish for a pop of color.
    Photo courtesy SafeEggs.com.

     

    We tend to use either shredded cabbage (packaged cole slaw) or romaine as a base for our lunchtime salads, loading them with an assortment of whatever ingredients we have on hand. But we never thought to combine the two until we saw this recipe for BLT Slaw.

    In the basic, the tomato of the “BLT” is blended into the dressing. But we added extra cherry tomatoes as a garnish for a pop of color.

    WHAT’S A SLAW?

    Long part of the culinary repertoire, “koolsla” or “koolsalade” in Dutch means cabbage salad. Cabbage, the “kool” is pronounced “cole.” “Sla” is short for “salade.”

    Instead of being pulled into bite-size pieces like lettuce, the cabbage was sliced.

    The term got anglicized in the 18th century as cole slaw (and sometimes, cold slaw). Over time, shredded cabbage slaw was joined by other options, like broccoli and carrot slaws. In English, “slaw” came to specify a salad of shredded vegetables.

    We adapted this recipe from one called Bistro BLT Slaw on the SafestEggs.com website.

     
    The recipe accessorizes slaw with not just with bacon and tomato, but accents of avocado and blue cheese. Blended with a homemade, mayo-like slaw dressing, this combination of fresh flavors is high in fiber and low in carbs. (If you don’t offer extra dressing in Step 4, it’s lower in calories, too.)

    You can also add diced chicken or other protein to turn the salad into a main course.

    USING PASTEURIZED EGGS

    Because the dressing contains raw eggs, like Caesar salad, pasteurized eggs like Safest Choice guarantee against the possibility of rare, though still plausible, salmonella poisoning.

    To pasteurize eggs, an all-natural, gentle water bath kills the potentially harmful bacteria in the eggs without changing the texture or nutrition. The eggs still look, cook and taste like raw eggs. Here’s more on pasteurized eggs.

    RECIPE: BLT SLAW
     
    Prep time is 25 minutes.

    Ingredients For 8 Side Servings

    For The Slaw

  • 1 package (10 ounces) cole slaw (plain shredded cabbage, or broccoli slaw if you prefer)
  • 6 cups thinly sliced hearts of romaine lettuce
  • 1 large avocado, diced
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion
  • 6 crisp cooked bacon strips, coarsely crumbled
  • 1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese (substitute goat cheese)
  • 1 pint sliced cherry tomatoes or equivalent diced heirloom tomatoes in season
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon celery seeds (encouraged!)
  • Optional: extra cherry tomatoes for garnish
  •  

    For The Dressing

  • 2 pasteurized eggs
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2/3 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the salad ingredients in a large bowl.

    2. MAKE the dressing. Place the eggs in a food processor or blender and process about 30 seconds. Add the tomato, vinegar, parsley, mustard, salt and pepper. Process until smooth. With the machine running, add the oil in thin steady stream until combined.
     

     

    coleslaw-dole-230

    Shredded cabbage, the traditional base for cole slaw. As an alternative, use a food processor to shred a whole head of cabbage, and consider red cabbage for color and the fun factor. Photo courtesy Dole.

    3. TOSS half of the dressing with slaw to coat. Garnish with the optional cherry tomatoes.

    4. PASS the remaining dressing for those who want more.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Asparagus & Prosciutto Wraps

    asparagus-prosciutto-rolls-castelloUSA-230

    We love these delicious, fancy yet very easy Asparagus & Prosciutto Wraps. Photo courtesy Castello USA.

     

    Need something fancy—and easy? Here’s a lovely first course to make with spring asparagus. We serve the wraps individually plated with some watercress salad, to which we add some snipped chives or thin-sliced green onion.

    The recipe is from Castello Cheese, which crumbles their Danish blue cheese as a garnish.

    RECIPE: ASPARAGUS & PROSCIUTTO WRAPS

    Ingredients

  • 8 slender* asparagus per person
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 slice prosciutto or other Serrano ham
  • 1 teaspoon crumbled blue cheese per person
  • Optional: watercress plus chives or green onion
  •  
    Preparation

    1. TRIM the woody ends from the asparagus. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the asparagus for 30 seconds (90 seconds for thick spears), until the asparagus just bends. Alternatively, lightly steam the asparagus in a microwave.

     

    2. PLUNGE the asparagus into ice water to stop the cooking. Blot dry with paper towels and set aside.

    3. WHISK together the olive oil, vinegar and garlic and roll and marinate asparagus in vinaigrette 30 minutes at room temperature. Make extra vinaigrette if you are serving the watercress.

    4. GATHER the asparagus into bundles of 8 (if thin, 4 if thick) and wrap each bundle with a prosciutto slice. Arrange on a platter or individual plates. Decorate with crumbled blue cheese.

    5. TOSS the optional watercress with vinaigrette and add to the plate.

    6. PASS a peppermill for fresh-ground black pepper.
     
    THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PROSCIUTTO & SERRANO HAM

    This is a complex question, because the authentic breeds of pig and curing techniques differ in Europe from what is permitted in the U.S. But a simple answer is: Both products are air-cured hams, with some differences in the breed and diet of the pig.

  • Prosciutto, from Italy, tends to be fattier and more mild.
  • Serrano, from Spain, tends to be more flavorful.
  •  
    But it’s hard to state something definitively when you buy the product in the U.S. The best approach: Buy a small amount of each and decide which you prefer. If you’re buying it freshly carved (not pre-packaged), ask the counterperson what the brand is, and keep notes.
     
    *Slender asparagus are easier to wrap; but if you can only find thick spears, use half as many.
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

    cauliflower-mac-and-cheese-michaelsymon-castello-230

    Forget the pasta: This “mac and cheese”
    substitutes better-for-you cauliflower. Photo
    courtesy Castello.

     

    Chef Michael Symon has a solution for mac and cheese lovers who want to cut back on the pasta: Substitute cauliflower for the pasta.

    For some time now, cauliflower “mashed potatoes” have been a favorite substitute for mashed potatoes: lower in calories, higher in nutrition.

    In this recipe, Chef Symon does a vegetable-for-starch switch with macaroni.

    His recipe has the creamy cheesiness of mac and cheese (Chef Symon uses used Castello Creamy Havarti), the crunchiness of the bread crumbs, extra cruciferous* vegetables in your diet and and delicious comfort food with reduced calories.

    Make it tonight!

    RECIPE: CAULIFLOWER MAC & CHEESE

    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup mascarpone (if you cannot find it, cream cheese will work in a pinch)
  • 1 cup havarti
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • ½ cup chives, finely chopped
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  •  

    Preparation

    1. BRING a large pot of water to a boil and add a tablespoon of salt. Add the florets to the water and cook until tender but still crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain well and pat between several layers of paper towels to dry. Set aside.

    2. PREHEAT the broiler to high. While the cauliflower is cooking, heat a 2-quart Dutch oven† over medium heat. Add the cream, salt, pepper and hot sauce to the pot and bring it to simmer. (Chef Symon used 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of hot sauce, but adjust the seasonings to your liking.) Reduce the cream by 1/3, about 3 minutes.

    3. WHISK in the mascarpone and havarti and stir to incorporate. When the cheese is melted and incorporated, keep the sauce at a simmer. The sauce will be slightly thickened at this point.

     

    cauliflower-beauty-goodeggs-230

    Turn it into “mac and cheese.” Photo courtesy GoodEggs.com.

     

    4. ADD the cauliflower and chives, stirring well to coat the cauliflower. Pour into an ovenproof dish; then top with the bread crumbs, sprinkling them in an even layer. Place the dish under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly. Remove from the broiler and let set for 5 minutes before serving.

     
    *The highly nutritious, anti-carcinogen Brassicaceae family of vegetables is also called the cruciferous family from cruciferae, New Latin for “cross-bearing.” Their flowers consist of four petals in the shape of a cross. The family include arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna, mustard, radish, rapeseed/canola, rapini (broccoli rabe), rutabaga, tatsoi and turnips. Eat up!

    †Also called a French oven, a Dutch oven is a thick-walled cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid. It is usually made of cast iron. In France it is called a cocotte, the French word for casserole.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Spigariello, Italian Leaf Broccoli

    leaf-broccoli-spigariello-goodeggsLA-230r

    Spigariello, Italian leaf broccoli. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | Los Angeles.

     

    If you love broccoli and broccoli rabe (rapini), look for spigariello (variously spelled spigarello).

    Related to both plants, spigariello is an Italian leaf broccoli that tastes like a cross between broccoli and kale. It’s popular in southern Italy, especially Puglia, where it’s called cima* di rape spigarello or cavolo [cabbage*] broccolo spigariello.

    Spigariello is practically unknown in the U.S., but we discovered some grown in Southern California by Jimenez Family Farm in the Santa Ynez Valley, and sold at Good Eggs Los Angeles (and no doubt, at some farmers markets in the area). Internet research revealed a few other growers around the country.

    Spigariello is very versatile, raw or cooked, alone or blended with other vegetables, substituted (or cooked along with) collards, kale and mustard greens, their botanical cousins. The leaf broccoli is sweeter yet more peppery than broccoli rabe (rapini), not bitter—a bit like broccoli sprouts.

    The stems are tender and delicious, and the flowers are also edible. Use them as a garnish with pasta, fish, salads or anywhere you’d like some small white blossoms.

     
    Use spigariello/leaf broccoli:

  • Boiled, sautéed, steamed or stir-fried
  • In salads
  • In smoothies
  • On pizza
  • On sandwiches, instead of lettuce
  •  
    NUTRITION

    Like all of the Brassicaceae, spigariello is very nutritious and full of anticarcinogens. Spigariello is a good source of amino acids, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and selenium. It’s a very good source of vitamins: A, B6, B complex, C, folate and riboflavin.

    The Brassicaceae family of vegetables includes arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna, mustard, radish, rapeseed/canola, rapini (broccoli rabe), rutabaga, tatsoi and turnips. Eat up!
     
    GROW YOUR OWN

    It’s easy to grow leaf broccoli. It’s an attractive, high-yield plant that’s grown like broccoli rabe. The leaves are large, like collards, and deep blue-green in color.

    And it keeps on giving: You harvest the leaves as you need them, and the plant generates more leaves into the autumn.

    Seeds for growing the plant, Spigariello liscia, are available from JohnnySeeds.com.

     
    *Cima is the Italy word for broccoli rabe; however, spigariello is a true broccoli, not a cima (rape). It is harvested young, before the stems turn to stalks. Nor is spigariello cavolo, cabbage, although cabbage is a family member of broccoli.

     
      

    Comments

    Spring Salad: Asparagus & Radishes

    Most of us are familiar with the crimson radish, and maybe even black radish and white radish (the shredded daikon served with sashimi).

    If you’re lucky, you’ve enjoyed the beauty of candy stripe radish (chioggia) and watermelon radish.

    But if you’re a radish lover, take a look at these heirloom radishes. We’d never seen the Chinese Green Luobo Radish (Qingluobo), with lime-green skin and flesh; and the purple-skinned Malaga Radish that looks like a beet.

    Some radishes are small globes, others have pointy tips, still others are the shape of carrots or turnips.

    The amazing Rat’s Tail Radish from Thailand doesn’t look like a radish at all. It’s a very long, slender green pod with radish “seeds” inside, and was grown in U.S. gardens in the 1860s. The Zlata Radish from Czechoslovakia is the color of gold beets.

    Radishes, botanically known as Raphanus sativus, are actually cabbage relatives that originated in Asia. They are a member of the Brassicaceae family of vegetables that is famed for its anti-carcinogenic properties.

    There are small varieties for salads and radishes the size of potatoes that in pre-refrigeration times could be stored through the winter.

       

    radish-portrait-thechefsgarden-230

    Less familiar radish varieties. Photo courtesy SweetGreen.

     
    Growing radishes is easy. You can plant salad radishes in spring through fall in most locations. Repeated plantings ensure you’ll have fresh radishes until the frost.

    Whether you buy them or grow them, celebrate spring with this refreshing radish and asparagus salad. It’s from Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, New York, which uses its micro arugula in the recipe.

     
    RECIPE: SPRING RADISH SALAD WITH ASPARAGUS & BLOOD ORANGE VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients For 3 Servings

  • 1 bunch specialty radishes (or substitute)
  • 2 blood oranges*
  • ½ cup pistachios
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 12 asparagus spears
  • 1 cup micro arugula‡
  •  
    For The Blood Orange Vinaigrette

  • 3 tablespoons blood orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon champagne vinegar†
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallot
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 9 tablespoons olive oil
  •  
    *If you can’t find blood oranges, see if the fresh juice section of the store has blood orange juice. Or, substitute orange or tangerine juice.

    †Substitute white wine vinegar.

    ‡Substitute other microgreens or sprouts.

     

    radish-beauty-sweetgreen-230

    The familiar radish. Photo courtesy SweetGreen.

     

    Preparation

    1. PEEL the asparagus and blanch in salted boiling water then shock in ice water, drain and reserve.

    2. PREPARE the Blood Orange Vinaigrette. Whisk together the orange juice, vinegar, minced shallot, salt and pepper. Add the olive oil while continuing to whisk. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

    3. TOSS a bit of the vinaigrette with the asparagus.

    4. WASH and trim the tops of the radishes so that some of the green is left. Cut each radish into four wedges and reserve. Peel the oranges, being careful to remove all of the pith, then separate the segments. Set aside and keep the orange remnants to use for the vinaigrette.

    5. TOAST the pistachios in a dry skillet over medium heat. Remove and set aside to cool.

     

    6. PLACE the radishes, oranges and pistachio in a salad bowl, then add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss together and adjust the seasoning to taste.

    7. PLATE: Place four asparagus on each plate. Spoon the radish mixture on top. Garnish with some micro arugula and drizzle with vinaigrette.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Use More Fresh Herbs

    asian-basil-siam-queen_bonnieplants-230-L

    Asian cooks add basil to summer rolls. Add
    them to your own wraps and sandwiches.
    Photo courtesy Bonnie Plants.

     

    The first week in May is National Herb Week, a time to focus on using more fresh herbs in your cooking.

    Fresh herbs offer tons of flavor and good nutrition with virtually no calories. The flavor they provide lets you cut back on salt. They can be used in any savory dish (and some sweet ones).

    So, why not use more fresh herbs?

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HERBS & SPICES

    The two terms are often used interchangeably, but there are important differences.

  • Herbs are the leaves of a plant (although stems may also be used). They grow in any climate warm enough to grow vegetables.
  • Spices are from the seeds, roots, fruit or bark, and typically used in dried form. Most originate in tropical or semi-tropical regions.
  •  
    It’s possible for one plant to contain both herb and spice. For example:

  • The coriander plant’s leaves are the herb cilantro, while coriander seeds are a spice in their own right.
  • Dill weed, an herb, and dill seed, a spice, come from the same plant.
  •  

    TIPS FOR COOKING WITH FRESH HERBS

  • Remove any twiggy, wiry or woody parts of the herb. Unless the recipe specifies otherwise, you can chop up soft stems. At any rate, don’t throw them away: They add deliciousness to soups and stews.
  • Avoid over-chopping herbs into teeny pieces. The diameter should measure between 1/8 and 1/4 inches.
  • Strip the leaves off of rosemary branches, but don’t throw the branches away. Freeze them for when you need a skewers. Cut the bottom at an angle to better skewer the food.
  • Plant some basic herbs; they grow well indoors and outdoors. For starters, plant basil, parsley, spearmint and English thyme. Avoid pre-planted pots that contain an assortment of herbs; their need for water varies.
  • Use flat-leaf (Italian) parsley for cooked dishes: It’s more strongly flavored than curly leaf parsley.
  • Add delicate herbs (basil, dill) to a hot recipe towards the end of cooking.
  •  
    Converting Dry Measures For Fresh Herbs

    In recipes, if dried herbs are specified, a larger quantity of fresh herbs is required. Here’s are the equivalents:

  • 1 teaspoon crumbled dried herbs
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground dried herbs
  • 1 tablespoon finely cut fresh herbs
  •  

    EVERYDAY USES FOR FRESH HERBS

  • Breakfast: A must in omelets, frittatas and baked egg dishes.
  • Lunch: Add punch to grain salads, green salads and protein salads (egg, chicken, tuna, etc.). Place a few basil leaves in a sandwich or wrap. Garnish soups with fresh-snipped herbs.
  • Dinner: Add herbs to everything you cook! Just a few: Toss cooked pasta, rice and other grains with flat-leaf parsley. Add dill to roasted vegetables. Snip chives onto baked potatoes and vinaigrettes.
  • All Meals: Sprinkle or snip herbs as garnishes for just about everything. If your herbs blossom, use the blossoms as well.
  •  
    POPULAR HERB & FOOD PAIRINGS

  • Basil: pasta sauce, peas, pesto, tomatoes, zucchini
  • Chives: dips, potatoes, tomatoes
  • Cilantro: salsa, tomatoes, plus many Asian, Caribbean and Mexican dishes
  • Dill: carrots, cottage cheese, fish, green beans, potatoes, tomatoes
  • Mint: carrots, desserts, fruit salad, parsley, peas, tabouli, tea
  • Oregano: peppers, tomatoes
  •  

    chive-blossoms-moreguefile-230

    When herbs blossom, like these chive blossoms, don’t cut and toss them. They’re beautiful plate garnishes. Photo courtesy Morguefile.

  • Parsley: egg salad and other protein salads, potato salad and other vegetable salads, tabouli, sandwiches
  • Rosemary: chicken, fish, lamb, pork, roasted potatoes, soups, stews, tomatoes
  • Thyme: eggs, lima and other beans, potatoes, poultry, summer squash, tomatoes
  •   

    Comments

    RECIPE: Green, Purple & Red Salad

    There’s no lettuce in this salad, but plenty of color!

    It was created by Fogo de Chão, a Brazilian churrascaria (steakhouse) with locations in the U.S. and Brazil.

    The chefs have combined three bright colors tossed in a light vinaigrette. It’s easy to do the same at home.

  • For the green: sugar snap peas (whole pods) and shelled English peas (a.k.a. green peas, garden peas).
  • For the putplr: shredded red cabbage; you can also red onion to taste.
  • For the red: halved cherry tomatoes; you can substitute or add red bell peppers.
  •  
    You can add additional seasonings as you wish—anything from fresh herbs to toasted sesame seeds.

     

    sugar-snap-pea-green-pea-salad-fogo-de-chao-230

    Put spring colors in your salad bowl. Photo courtesy Fogo de Chão.

     

    Serve it as a side with your favorite main. It will set off conventional proteins—typically shades of beige and brown—nicely.

      

    Comments

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