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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: Serrated Peeler

Every kitchen has a standard vegetable peeler to slice the skin from carrots, cucumbers, potatoes and other veggies.

But there’s also a serrated peeler, which works better on softer produce like mangoes, nectarines, peaches, plums and that toughest of peeling challenges, tomatoes.

Most home cooks who have both use the word “love,” as in, “I love the serrated peeler!”

Of course, you can use a serrated peeler where you’d use a conventional peeler, on anything from asparagus to zucchini. But we use both, so we don’t dull the serrated blade on potatoes when we want to keep it sharp for those pesky tomatoes.

The standard technique to peel thin-skinned produce is to blanch the item in boiling water, then chill it in ice water, then remove the skin with a sharp knife or fingers. A serrated peeler is the better way.

 

serrated-peeler-hands-crisp-230

Peeling tomatoes, bell peppers and mangoes is easy with a serrated peeler. Photo courtesy Crisp.

 

And instead of charring bell peppers over a flame to remove the skin, just use a serrated peeler.

How can you resist?

  • The angled-head serrated peeler from Crisp is $8.99 at CrispCooking.com. It also has an “eyer” at the top.
  • The highly regarded Messermeister serrated swivel peeler is $7.95 at Amazon.com.

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Burger

Pumpkin is the not-so-secret ingredient in these veggie burgers, which have real nutritional heft thanks to the addition of chickpeas and pumpkin seed protein powder.

Whether you’re determined to keep the spirit of summer alive or looking to transition into more autumnal foods, these pumpkin burgers span both worlds. You can make a double batch: The finished patties freeze beautifully.

The recipe was developed by Hannah Kaminsky.

RECIPE: PUMPKIN PROTEIN BURGERS

Ingredients For 6-8 Burgers

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 14-ounce can (1-3/4 cups cooked) chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seed protein powder
  • Salt and pepper
  •    

    pumpkin-burger-kaminsky-230

    Make your veggie burger a pumpkin burger. Recipe and photo © Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

  • Optional condiment: pumpkin hummus (mix pumpkin purée into plain hummus)
  •  

    organic-pumpkin-puree-can-farmersmarket-230

    We like this organic pumpkin purée. Photo
    courtesy Farmer’s Market Foods.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lightly grease and set aside.

    2. HEAT the olive oil in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. When it is shimmering, add the garlic and onions, sautéing until aromatic and lightly golden brown. This should take no more than 6 to 8 minutes; be careful not to overdo it or you could burn the garlic.

    3. DEGLAZE the pan with the balsamic vinegar, turn off the heat and let the mix cool for 10 minutes.

    4. ROUGHLY MASH the chickpeas in a separate bowl, with a fork or potato masher. Keep the texture fairly coarse so that the burger maintains a satisfying bite. Add in the pumpkin purée, mustard, spices and herbs, mixing well to incorporate. When cool enough to handle…

    5. ADD the sautéed vegetables and pumpkin seed protein powder; stir to combine. Mix thoroughly, making sure that there are no pockets of dry ingredients. The mixture should be soft but manageable—something you can fairly easily mold into patties that will hold their shape. Season with salt and pepper to taste. With slightly moistened hands…

     
    6. MEASURE between 1/3 and 1/2 cup of the burger mixture for each patty, and form into round, flat pucks. Space them out evenly on the sheet at least 1 inch apart. Bake for 15 minutes, flip and bake 10 more minutes, until golden brown. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before removing from the sheet.

    7. SERVE while still hot, or cool completely before freezing and storing (for up to 6 months).

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Veggies More Flavorful

    Vegetable lovers tend to love their veggies cooked in any way: grilled roasted, steamed, stir-fried, however. Others need more convincing to eat their minimum three servings of veggies a day. (Serving recommendations vary by age group. Here’s the latest government Food Pyramid.)

    One way to get people to eat more vegetables is to combine them with popular flavors. That doesn’t mean fried zucchini and ketchup, however. Here are several better-for-you ways to amp up the flavors and make veggies sexy. They come from Flavor & The Menu, a magazine that delivers ideas and trends to professional chefs.

    FOR GREEN SALADS & SLAWS

    Here are four ideas to that add appeal to your salads:

  • Garnish or toss a green salad with shredded cheese or toasted nuts/seeds and fresh or dried berries. If you don’t have time to make a salad from scratch, buy a ready to eat salad or slaw mix.
  • Caramelize your lettuce. Grill romaine hearts as a base for your salad. You can lightly grill other salad ingredients (bell peppers, tomatoes) or simply add croutons, shredded cheese or any other ingredients. Here’s a recipe for Grilled Caesar Salad.
  •    

    masala-cauliflower-paperchef-230

    Yummy caramelized cauliflower. Photo courtesy PaperChef.com.

  • Serve crudités as a first course—baby carrots, broccoli and cauliflower florets, snow peas and other favorites—with hummus, a simple aïoli (garlic mayonnaise—here’s the recipe) or balsamic vinaigrette dip*.
  • Make wilted salads: Add a warm dressing to spinach, kale or a baby braising greens mix. It will slightly wilt the greens. Here’s a recipe hot bacon vinaigrette that you can use with lettuce, kale or other greens.
  •  

    *Easy balsamic vinaigrette recipe: Blend together 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and 3/4 cup olive oil with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper (or to taste). Optional: Add 1 tablespoon chopped garlic and/or fresh parsley or other herb.

     

    pancetta-hazelnut-green-beans-goboldwithbutter-230

    Some bits of bacon and sautéed onions add
    great flavor to green beans. Photo courtesy
    Go Bold With Butter.

     

    FOR COOKED VEGGIES

  • Add umami elements to roasted, steamed or sautéed vegetables: bacon, Parmesan cheese, roasted garlic, sautéed onions or soy sauce (flavor it with minced ginger, garlic and chives/green onions). Fish-friendly families should try chopped anchovies, anchovy paste or Asian fish sauce*.
  • Caramelize your veggies. Caramelization is what happens when the natural sugar in a food break down under heat and forms new compounds. The food turns brown and becomes caramel—a broad term that extends to more than just candy and sauce. Roasting, grilling and pan-searing add flavorful caramelization and soften the bite of vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts. You can even cramelize a slaw mix. Here’s how to caramelize.
  • Please the spice-lovers with Asian flavors like sweet chile sauce, Sriracha and kimchi. Use chili and Sriracha sauces in your recipes or as condiments. Mix kimchi—Korean pickled vegetables—with grains, potatoes and vegetable medleys.
  • Stir-fry sturdy greens (those which have tough ribs and leaves, such as bok choy, broccoli, broccoli rabe, cabbage, collards, kale, mustard greens, spinach) to create an easy side dish or a bed for proteins.
  • Create a colorful warm “salad” using on-trend healthy vegetables such as sliced or diced sweet potatoes or butternut squash, beets and kale.
  • Pan-sear sliced mushrooms with shallots, then add cream and cheese for an elegant à la carte addition to steaks and chops.
  •  
    Read more about food, glorious food at GetFlavor.com.

    †Fish sauce was the favorite condiment of the ancient Romans (read all about it). Today, it remains a favorite condiment in Asia, with each country varying the recipe: Vietnamese nuoc nam, Thai nam pla and Cambodian tuk trey, Burma’s ngan-pya-yem, Korea’s jeotgal, Laos’s nam pa and The Philippines’ patis and bagoong. Related products include the Malaysian shrimp paste belachan and a similar product in Myanmar called nga-pi.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Scorpion Chile, The World’s Hottest?

    How hot do you like it?

    Chile heads—people who can’t get enough heat in their foods—are always looking for hotter and hotter varieties, so breeders keep creating hotter breeds.

    What’s the world’s hottest chile? Whatever it is today, it can change tomorrow.

    In 2007, the Bhut Jolokia also known as the ghost pepper, was rated the hottest. In 2013, the Guinness Book Of World Records rated the Carolina Reaper the world’s hottest pepper, moving the Bhut Jolokia to third place.

    The Carolina Reaper scored 1,569,300 on the Scoville Scale, which measures the heat level. A habanero, by contrast, measures up to 350,000 Scoville units.

     

    jamaican-scorpion-230-melissas

    Scorpion chiles are available from Melissas.com.

     
    Is there a new contender? According to fine produce purveyor Melissas.com, the hottest chile pepper in the world now cited bythe Guinness Book of Records is the Trinidad Scorpion. Melissa’s has them in stock right now.

    Buy them for yourself or as a gift for your favorite chile head at Melissas.com.

    They’ll stay fresh in the vegetable crisper for about 2 weeks.

    PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Handle all hot chiles with gloved hands and discard the gloves without getting any capsaicin on your hands. Because accidentally touching your eyes with the minutest amount of capsaicin will be an experience you’ll never forget.

    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CHILES.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY & FOOD HOLIDAY: National Kale Day

    kale-varieties-nationalkaleday.org-230r

    Three stems of curly kale with one of red
    Russian kale. Photo courtesy
    NationalKaleDay.org.

     

    Yesterday we focused on kale’s cousin, kohlrabi. But today is National Kale Day. If you’re one of the few better-eating-oriented food enthusiasts who hasn’t yet tried kale, today’s the day.

    This is the second annual National Kale Day, established as the first Wednesday in October. The holiday was established by Drew Ramsey, M.D. and chef Jennifer Iserloh, authors of 50 Shades of Kale.

    Their objective was to draw attention to the superfood, which continues to grow in popularity in both the retail and foodservice (restaurants, schools and other institutions, etc.) markets.

    The kale trend has driven up sales 20%-30% in the last year alone. As an illustration of how popular kale has become, mainstream producer Dole Fresh Vegetables recently rolled out new six salad mixes, all with kale, including a Kale Caesar salad kit.

    Kale is grown around the world, and has been cultivated for some 6,000 years. It’s easy to grow and hearty: A kale plant continues to produce late into winter, and after a frost, kale becomes even sweeter.
     
    TYPES OF KALE

    If you’re already a fan of green kale, visit farmers markets for specialty varieties. There are more than 50 varieties of kale, but in the U.S. you’re most likely to find:

     

  • Curly kale, the variety typically found in grocery stores. It can be bright green, dark green or purple in color with tight ruffled leaves. The fibrous stalks can be difficult to chop, but they’re easy to tear if fresh. The flavor is pungent, peppery and bitter. Seek out younger looking leaves for less bitterness.
  • Lacinato kale, also called black kale, dinosaur kale, Tuscan kale and other names*. It’s an Italian heirloom with blue-green leaves. Slightly sweeter and more delicate in flavor than curly kale, it has nutty, earthy notes.
  • Redbor kale, best known as ornamental kale, dark red or purple in color. It is certainly edible. You can grow it as a garden decoration and pick leaves as you need them, for cooking or garnishing.
  • Red Russian kale with flat leaves that resemble arugula leaves. It gets its name because the stems can have a red or reddish-purple tinge. It is considered one of the more flavorful kales, sweet and mild with just a bit of pepperiness. The stems, however, are too tough to digest and should be removed before cooking.
  •  
    *Lacinto kale is also called black kale, black Tuscan palm, cavolo nero (which means black cabbage in Italian), dinosaur kale, flat back cabbage, Italian kale, palm tree kale, Tuscan cabbage and Tuscan kale.

     

    To celebrate National Kale Day, make your favorite kale dish. Have you ever tried colcannon, a traditional Irish dish of kale (or cabbage) and mashed potatoes? We’re making it for dinner tonight, along with this kale salad:

    RECIPE: SHREDDED KALE WITH DATE PURÉE & PINE NUTS

    This recipe is from Svitana of ArtDeFete.com. She enhances a conventional vinaigrette with date purée for an exciting new flavor combination.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

    For The Date Purée

  • 2 cups Medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  •  

    shredded-kale-salad-with-date-puree-artdefete-230r

    Shredded kale salad with date purée. Photo courtesy ArtDeFete.com.

     
    For The Salad

  • 1 bunch kale, center ribs removed, leaves finely shredded
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • Optional garnish: ¼ cup Panko bread crumbs, toasted
  •  
    For the Dressing

  • 1½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon date purée
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the date purée: In a food processor, combine dates, water, salt, nutmeg, cayenne and lemon juice. Blend until it resembles a smooth paste. Taste and adjust the seasoning. You can keep date purée refrigerated up to two weeks or freeze for three months. Use the rest in smoothies or stir into yogurt.

    2. MAKE the dressing: Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil and date purée until well combined. Season to taste.

    3. COMBINE the dressing and shredded kale in a large bowl; toss until well coated. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

    4. ASSEMBLE the salad: Spread a thin layer (1 tablespoon) of date purée on each plate and top it with kale salad. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and toasted bread crumbs. Serve.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Kohlrabi

    kohlrabi-beauty-goodeggs-230

    Violet kohlrabi. There’s also a light green variety. Photo courtesy The Good Eggs.

     

    You’ve just gotten used to kale. Are you ready for another cruciferous vegetable, kohlrabi?

    A member of the powerful anti-carcinogenic Brassica family (formerly Crucifera), which also includes bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, mustard greens, rutabaga, turnips and others) to emerge on mainstream menus in a big way.

    Kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea), also called German turnip or turnip cabbage. It tastes like cabbage but is sweeter. The flavor has been described as a cross between apples and mild turnips, to broccoli stems with a hint of radish and cucumber. What look like bulbs, beet-shaped, are actually swollen stems that grow just above the ground.

    Kohlrabi typically is served cooked in Europe. But American chefs and recipe developers, understanding how much we enjoy crunchy foods, have taken to serving it raw:

     

  • Shaved, julienned or cut into disks or matchsticks as a salad garnish.
  • Shredded or julienned and dressed as “kohl slaw,” mixed purple and green kohlrabi, mixed with shredded cabbage and carrots, etc.
  • Cut into cubes or wedges, marinate in vinaigrette and served with toothpicks instead of crudites.
  • Cut into batons, cubes or wedges and pickled in your favorite pickling recipe, and served instead of cucumber pickles or other pickled vegetables.
  •  

    Flavor & The Menu, which covers food trends for chefs, encourages the preparation of hot kohlrabi dishes as well. Their recommendations:

  • Add cubes or wedges to meat-based soups and stews.
  • Braise the mild green tops using your favorite greens recipe. The leaves are a milder version of collards.
  • Julienne and stir fry.
  • Quarter, oven roast and toss with butter and herbs.
  • Shave and deep fry or bake for kohlrabi chips.
  •  

    kohlrabi-sweet-vienna-burpee-green-230

    Green kohlrabi. Photo courtesy Burpee.

     
    KOHLRABI HISTORY

    Although it has been cultivated for several thousand years, the first written record of the domesticated plant dates to Greek and Roman times, when it was a popular garden vegetable.

    According to Wikipedia, kohlrabi was bred into other Brassica cultivars, including broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.

    The name derives from the German words kohl, cabbage and rabi, turnip. This unusual looking vegetable originated in northern Europe and was not known 500 years ago. Kohlrabi did not become known in the United States until 1800. Kohlrabi tastes like cabbage but is sweeter.
     
    FINDING KOHLRABI: If your regular grocer doesn’t carry it, head for the nearest farmers market.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Zucchini Nachos, “Healthy Nachos”

    Zucchini Nachos

    Replace the tortilla chips with zucchini slices.
    Photo courtesy The Pampered Chef.

     

    Here’s some food fun that makes better-for-you “nachos.” Replace replace the salt-and-refined-carb tortilla chips with slices of grilled zucchini. The recipe is courtesy The Pampered Chef.

    RECIPE: ZUCCHINI NACHOS

    Ingredients

  • 3 large zucchini
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 to 1 cup shredded Cheddar or Jack cheese
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
  •  
    Optional Toppings

  • 1 large avocado, chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime
  •  

    Preparation

    1. HEAT a grill to medium for 3 to 5 minutes. Cut the zucchini into ¼”-thick rounds, ideally using a crinkle cutter.

    2. TOSS the zucchini in a bowl with enough oil to moisten, plus salt and pepper to taste. Place zucchini in a single layer in a grill pan or directly on the grill. Cook 4 to 6 minutes, turning once, until tender.

    3. SPRINKLE with ½-cup shredded cheese and cook until the cheese is melted, about one minute.

    4. ARRANGE nachos on a platter and add toppings: half (or more) of the black beans, chopped tomato and other favorite toppings. Squeeze with lime juice and serve immediately.

     
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Bread Salad #3, Grilled Chicken Panzanella

    We are fans of panzanella, and this is our fourth recipe of the year. The others:

  • Summer Bread Salad, with tomatoes and basil
  • Summer Panzanella #2, with zucchini, bell peppers, onions and tomatoes
  • Panzanella With Fruit
  •  
    Panzanella is a Tuscan-style bread salad made with a loaf of day-old (or older) bread, cubed into large croutons and tossed with vinaigrette or other dressing to soften it. The translation we have found for “panzanella” is “bread in a swamp,” the swamp being the water or vinaigrette in which it was soaked.

    While Italian loaves are used in the original, you can use any bread from baguette to challah to semolina raisin to sourdough. Chopped salad vegetables are then added.

    In this recipe, adapted from one by Annie of Annie’s Eats for Go Bold With Butter, a protein is added to make it into a luncheon salad. Annie (and we) use grilled chicken; we also like grilled salmon. But you can use any protein and it’s a great way to use up leftovers.

       

    chicken-panzanella-salad-goboldwbutter-230

    Instead of a Chicken Caesar, try a Chicken Panzanella. Photo courtesy GoBoldWithButter.com..

     
    Annie grills the bread. We live an apartment without a grill, so we baked the croutons in the oven (recipe below).

    We save time by buying pre-grilled, shrink-wrapped chicken breasts at Trader Joe’s.

    RECIPE: GRILLED CHICKEN PANZANELLA

    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

    For The Chicken

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup olive or canola oil
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 chicken breasts, butterflied into halves (4 pieces total)
  •  
    For The Salad

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 thick slices (1-inch) sourdough bread (about 4-5 cups when cubed)
  • 1 large or 2 small cucumbers, sliced and quartered into wedges
  • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, diced, or halved cherry tomatoes*
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • Optional: fresh herbs of choice
  •  
    *Off-season tomatoes tend to be bland. When tomatoes aren’t in season, you can substitute red bell pepper, grilled red pepper (pimento) or sundried tomatoes.

     

    serrated-knife-bread-SLT-230

    We prefer a crusty loaf, but any day-old
    bread can be used for panzanella. Photo
    courtesy Sur La Table.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT a grill to medium-high heat. While the grill is heating, make the marinade.

    2. COMBINE the lemon juice, canola oil, salt, pepper and garlic in a medium bowl. Stir well to combine. Add the chicken pieces to the marinade, mixing briefly to coat. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes. Meanwhile…

    3. PREPARE the bread slices. Combine the butter, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl and mix until evenly combined. Spread a thin layer of the garlic butter on both sides of each slice of bread.

    4. GRILL the chicken on the heated grill until browned on the outside, turning once. The internal temperature should register 160°F. Remove the cooked chicken to a plate or cutting board to rest briefly. Meanwhile…

     

    5. PLACE the bread slices on the grill and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes total. Keep a close eye on the bread to prevent charring. Remove the finished bread pieces to a plate or cutting board.

    6. CUT up the chicken and the bread into bite-size pieces and add to a large bowl. Add the cucumber, tomatoes and feta; toss gently just until evenly combined. Serve immediately.
     
     
    CROUTONS RECIPE

    1. PREHEAT oven to 400°F.

    2. CUT bread into cubes and place in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. If you like heat, add 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Mix well.

    3. SPREAD cubes in a single layer on a shallow pan or cookie sheet pan and bake for about 15 minutes, until golden brown.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Try Leeks

    When was the last time you cooked leeks?

    Leeks are closely related to onions and shallots, although they are not interchangeable in recipes, as their flavors and intensities differ.

  • Leeks look like jumbo green onions (scallions). The long, thick stalks are mild. Leeks are hardier than onions and shallots, and are also more difficult to clean and cook. Unlike onions, leeks don’t produce bulbs or grow underground.
  • Onions come in many different shapes, sizes, colors and tastes, from sweet and mild to pungent, spicy and even acrid. Easy to grow, it is used in cuisines worldwide. The bulb grows underground, revealing itself by a single, vertical shoot above ground.
  • Shallots look like small yellow onions, a bit more oblong in shape. They grow underground. Their flavor is onion-like—sharper when raw but much more sweet and delicate when cooked, an onion-garlic hybrid. Like garlic, the bulbs grow in cloves. Unlike onions, shallots normally bloom white or violet flowers.
  •  
    Leeks are often called “gourmet onions” because they are harder to find and costlier than onions. They can be prepared easily—boiled, braised, fried, sautéed or poached—or in elaborate recipes, or served raw as a milder substitute for onions.

       

    roast-leeks-latourangelle-230

    Roasted leeks are delicious, low in calories and easy to make. Photo courtesy La Tourangelle.

     

    The only rub is cleaning them. Leeks grow in sandy soil and don’t have a protective skin cover like onions and shallots; so you’ve got to be sure to get the sand out. Here’s a video showing how to clean leeks.

    Leeks are available throughout the year, although they are in greater supply from the fall through the early spring. Purchasing tips:

  • While larger leeks may look more impressive, they are generally more fibrous in texture. Select leeks with a diameter of one and one-half inches or less.
  • In a recipe where the leeks are cooked whole (like the one below), select leeks that are of similar size to ensure consistent cooking.
  •  
    Try this easy recipe from La Tourangelle, producers of the finest culinary oils and a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week. The recipe tastes extra-special using their Roasted Walnut Oil or Roasted Hazelnut Oil, but is certainly delicious with EVOO. You can serve it as a side or a first course.
     
    RECIPE: ROASTED LEEKS WITH MUSTARD-TARRAGON VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds small leeks, trimmed, rinsed and halved lengthwise
  • 2.5 tablespoons walnut oil, hazelnut oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh tarragon
  •  

    leeks-organic-goodeggs-230ps-r

    Leeks, fresh from the field. Photo courtesy
    GoodEggs.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Prepare an ice bath in a bowl.

    2. BRING a 2-quart pot of salted water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the leeks to the ice bath. Let chill completely, about 1 minute. Transfer the leeks to a paper towel-lined plate to drain about 3 minutes.

    3. DRIZZLE the leeks with the oil and toss to coat. Place on a baking sheet or baking pan and roast the leeks until they become slightly golden brown, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl…

    4. WHISK together the vinegar, mustard, garlic and lemon zest to make a vinaigrette.

    5. REMOVE the leeks from the oven and transfer to a platter. Spoon the vinaigrette over the leeks and garnish with the black pepper and tarragon. Serve hot or at room temperature. Enjoy!

     
    MORE LEEK RECIPES

  • Fried Leeks Garnish
  • Leek & Giblet Stuffing
  • Leek Soup
  • Leek & Seaweed Salad
  • Vichyssoise (leek and potato soup)
  •  
    ABOUT LEEKS

    Leeks are a member of the Allium genus, which includes garlic, onions, shallots, and scallions. Their botanical family, Amaryllidaceae, comprises herbaceous, perennial and bulbous flowering plants including the amaryllis, from which it takes its name.

    Leeks look like large scallions, having a very small bulb and a long white cylindrical stalk of superimposed layers that flows into green, tightly wrapped, flat leaves. Cultivated leeks are usually about 12 inches in length and one to two inches in diameter and feature a fragrant flavor that is reminiscent of shallots but sweeter and more subtle.

    Wild leeks, known as ramps, are much smaller in size, but have a stronger, more intense flavor. They are available for a short period of time each year and are often widely sought out at farmers markets when they are in season.

    Believed to be native to Central Asia, leeks have been cultivated in there and in Europe for thousands of years. They were prized by the ancient Greeks and Romans and were thought to be beneficial to the throat. The Roman emperor Nero supposedly ate leeks everyday to make his voice stronger.

    The Romans most likely introduced leeks to Britain; they were so esteemed in Wales that they became country’s national emblem. As the story goes, during a battle against that Saxons in 1620, Welsh soldiers placed leeks in their caps to differentiate themselves from the enemy—and won the battle, of course.

      

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    RECIPE: Gourmet Potato Tots (A.K.A. Tater Tots)

    sandwich-tater-tots-redduckketchup-230

    Heaven: sandwich, beer, potato tots. Photo
    courtesy Red Duck Ketchup.

     

    They’re not quite senior citizens, but Tater Tots® hit the big 6-0 this year. You could buy a box to celebrate, or you could make your own, tastier tots—bite-size potato croquettes—from scratch.

    The Idaho Potato Commission salutes the tot as both an inspired potato product and a springboard for potato creativity. Its website boasts a collection of innovative tot recipes and variations on the theme.

    For example, enhance the potato mixture with:

    ROBUST SEASONINGS

  • Aromatics, such as truffles
  • Herbs (parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme)
  • Onion or scallion—lots more than in Tater Tots*
  •  
    ELABORATE STUFFINGS

    Stuffed Tots with elaborate fillings:

  • Simple proteins (crumbled bacon, shredded crab, Parmesan, blue cheese)
  • Braised pork
  • Curried chicken
  •  
    HEARTY TOPPINGS

  • Breakfast scrambles
  • Chili
  • Nachos
  • Poutine (brown gravy and cheese curds†)
  •  
    *The ingredients in Tater Tots are potato, vegetable oil, salt, corn flour, onions, dextrose (a simple sugar also known as glucose), disodium dihydrogen pyrophosphate (an antioxidant that prevents potatoes from turning brown) and natural flavoring.

    *Traditional poutine consists of these toppings on fries, but we’re borrowing them for tots.
     

    TATER TOTS VS. POTATO TOTS

    The term Tater Tots is used generically, like Kleenex; although it’s a trademark of Ore-Ida, which invented the little potato bites in 1953. If you’re referring to anything but the Tater Tots brand, call them “potato tots.”

    Tater Tots are made from deep-fried, grated potatoes, resulting in crisp little cylinders of hash brown-style potatoes. Tater is American dialect for potato, and “tots” came from their small size.

    Ore-Ida founders, brothers F. Nephi Grigg and Golden Grigg, were considering what to do with leftover slivers of cut-up potatoes from their signature French fries. They chopped them up, mixed them with flour and seasonings, and pushed logs of the grated/mashed potato mixture through a form, slicing off and frying small pieces.

    Tater Tots began to arrive in grocery stores in 1954. They quickly caught on as a snack food, a side dish and the foundation for casseroles at dinner tables across America.

    The Ore-Ida brand was acquired by H. J. Heinz Company in 1965.

     

    LOADED POTATO TOTS

    This potato tot recipe borrows from the “loaded baked potato” concept, adding bacon, chives, shredded cheese and sour cream.

    Ingredients

  • 2½ pounds russet potatoes, divided
  • 2 ounces bacon, double-smoked, cooked, chopped
  • 6 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons chives, chopped
  • 1 ounce butter, melted
  • 1 ounce heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt, as needed
  • 2 cups flour
  • 6 each eggs, lightly whipped
  • 2 quarts vegetable oil for frying
  •  

    loaded-potato-tots-idahopotatocomm-230r

    Loaded Potato Tots. Photo and recipe courtesy Idaho Potato Commission.

     

    Preparation

    1. BOIL 2 pounds of potatoes. Cool, peel and mash.

    2. COMBINE bacon, cheese, chives, butter, cream, pepper and salt to taste in a large bowl; blend well. Roll into 1-ounce pieces, place on wax paper-lined sheet pan and chill overnight.

    3. SHRED remaining potatoes, using a box grater, into a shallow bowl.

    4. PLACE flour in another shallow bowl. Roll potato tots in flour to lightly coat then coat in egg. Roll in shredded potatoes to form crust. Return to sheet pan and chill.

    5. HEAT oil to 375°F in a heavy-bottomed pot, and fry balls until golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towel to drain. Season with salt and serve.
     

    AND THERE’S MORE

  • Recipe: Baked Potato Tots
  • History of potatoes
  • Potato Types
  •   

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