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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

PRODUCE: Spring Fruits & Vegetables

Here’s what’s in season for Spring. Not everything may be available in your area, but what is there should be domestic—not imported from overseas.

Some of the items are harvested for only a few weeks; others are around for a while.

So peruse the list, note what you don’t want to miss out on, and add to your shopping list.

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

SPRING FRUITS

  • Apricots
  • Barbados Cherries
  • Blackberries
  • Black Mission Figs
  • Cherimoya
  • Honeydew
  • Jackfruit
  • Limes
  • Lychee
  • Mango
  • Oranges
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberries
  •    

    open-jackfruit-showing-bulbs-wisegeek-230b

    It’s jackfruit, and it’s in season. Your most likely to find it at Asian markets. Here’s more about it from WiseGeek.org.

     

    SPRING VEGETABLES

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus: Green, Purple, White
  • Belgian Endive
  • Bitter Melon
  • Broccoli
  • Boston/Butterhead Lettuce
  •  

    manoa-lettuce-sunset.com-230

    Butterhead or Boston type has a loose head with green, smooth outer leaves and yellow inner leaves. Popular varieties include Bibb (Limestone), Buttercrunch, Mignonette (Manoa) and Tom Thumb. Here’s more about them from Sunset.com.

     
  • Cactus
  • Cardoons
  • Chayote Squash
  • Chives
  • Cipolloni Onions
  • Collard Greens
  • Corn
  • Fava Beans
  • Fennel
  • Fiddlehead Ferns
  • Garlic Scapes
  • Green Beans
  • Morel Mushrooms
  • Mustard Greens
  • Nettles
  • Okra
  • Pea Greens
  • Pea Pods
  • Peas
  • Radicchio
  • Ramps
  • Red Leaf Lettuce
  • Rhubarb
  • Snow Peas
  • Sorrel
  • Spinach
  • Spring Baby Lettuce
  • Swiss Chard
  • Vidalia Onions & Other Sweet Onions
  • Watercress
  •  
    Here’s more on spring fruits and vegetables. Get inspiration for meals and enjoy what’s best and freshest!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Spring Salad With Prosciutto

    If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to roll out spring recipes.

    Scafata is a dish from the Umbria region of Italy, typically made with spring vegetables such as artichokes, escarole, fava beans, green peas and Swiss chard, and flavored with basil, mint and often, guanciale (bacon made from the jowl of the pig).

    We’ve adapted a recipe from ParmaCrown.com into a spring vegetable salad with prosciutto (Parma ham). In our version, you can:

  • Serve the vegetables raw, cooked (to al dente) or blanched.
  • Customize it with your favorite spring veggies, for example fava beans.
  • Substitute the chard and escarole with kale or romaine.
  • Top it with a poached egg, for a lunch entrée.
  •  
    RECIPE: SPRING SALAD WITH PROSCIUTTO

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

    For The Cooked Version

  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  •    

    parma-style-scarfatta-parmacrown-230

    Make this spring salad, raw or cooked. Photo
    courtesy ParmaCrown.com.

     

    For The Raw Version

  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup vinegar (or divide between vinegar and fresh lemon juice)
  •  
    Vegetables For Both Versions

  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1-1/2 cups (about 4 ounces) snow peas
  • 1 cup green peas
  • 8 canned artichokes†, drained and halved
  • 4 ounces (about 3/4 cup) asparagus spears cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup green onion cut into 1/2-inch pieces (do not include in cooked version)
  • Optional: 1 cup Swiss chard or escarole, torn into bite-size pieces
  •  
    Toppings

  • 8 slices prosciutto di Parma
  • Optional: 4 poached eggs
  • Optional garnish: chopped or chiffonade of fresh basil and/or mint
  •  
    *If serving the salad raw or blanched, substitute 1/2 cup green onions, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, for the cooked onion.

    †The artichokes should be plain, not marinated.

     

    P6

    Prosciutto in the making: hams hanging to cure in the air. Photo courtesy ParmaHam.com.

     

    Preparation

    For The Cooked Salad

    1a. COMBINE the wine, oil and onion in large skillet; cover and bring to boil over medium- high heat. Add the zucchini, snow peas, peas, artichokes, asparagus, salt and pepper. Reduce heat, simmer partly covered about 5 minutes, stirring frequently until vegetables are al dente (or, if you prefer, tender).

    For The Raw Salad

    1b. MAKE a the vinaigrette: Whisk the oil and vinegar with salt and pepper to taste. A pinch of dry mustard helps keep the emulsion from separating. Toss the vegetables in vinaigrette just to moisten. Place the remaining vinaigrette in a small pitcher for those who would like more.

    For Either Salad

    2. POACH the eggs. Divide the vegetables among four plates. Top each with two slices of prosciutto di Parma and an egg. Garnish with chopped fresh mint, if desired.

     
    PROSCIUTTO & SERRANO HAMS: THE DIFFERENCES

    Both prosciutto and Serrano hams are dry-cured: salted and hung in sheds to cure in the air. Both are served in very thin slices. Country ham, preferred in the U.S., is smoked, and a very different stye from dry-cured hams.

    While prosciutto and Serrano hams can be used interchangeably, they are different.

  • Prosciutto, from Italy, is cured for 10-12 months with a coating of lard. Serrano, from Spain, can be cured for up to 18 months (and at the high end, for 24 months). The differing times and microclimates affect the amount of wind that dries the hams, and thus the character of the final products.
  • They are made from different breeds of pigs: Prosciutto can be made from pig or wild boar, whereas Serrano is typically made from a breed of white pig.
  • The diet of the pigs differs. Parma pigs eat the local chestnuts, and are also fed the whey by-product of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  • Italian-made prosciutto is never made with nitrates. American made prosciutto, as well as both domestic and Spanish Serrano-style hams, can have added nitrates.

  • Prosciutto is considered more salty and fatty. Serrano is considered more flavorful and less fatty.
  •  
    MORE

  • Find more Parma ham recipes at ParmaCrown.com.
  • Bitter greens salad with prosciutto recipe.
  • The different types of ham.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Stinging Nettles

    stinging-nettles-goodeggsSF-230r

    Wild nettles. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | San
    Francisco.

     

    If you like to scour farmers markets looking for rare seasonal delicacies, keep an eye out for stinging nettles, Urtica dioica.

    Now there’s a name that can get the juices flowing—or not. Some varieties have no sting or burn*; those that do can be neutralized by soaking in water, blanching or cooking.

    Nettles are slightly bitter green herbs that taste a bit like spinach with a cucumber accent. Not all of the varieties are prickly (stinging). Those that are get picked with gloves, and soaking or cooking eliminates the sting.

    Other names are common nettles and wild nettles.

    An herbaceous perennial flowering plant native to Asia, Europe, northern Africa and North America, nettles sprout up very briefly in early spring and late fall, growing like weeds at the edges of cultivated farmland.

    HOW TO SERVE NETTLES

    Like most herbs, nettles are good for you, rich in calcium, iron, manganese, potassium and vitamins A and C. They have been called “seaweed of the land” because of their complete spectrum of trace minerals and soft, salty flavor.

     
    Creameries in Europe and the U.S. use them to flavor their cheeses.

  • Valley Shepherd Creamery in New Jersey adds stinging nettles (boiled so they don’t sting you!) to a sheep-and-cows’ milk cheese called Nettlesome. (See photo below).
  • Holland’s Family Cheese in Wisconsin makes 13 different flavors† of Goudas, including Burning Nettle. (“Burning” is marketing; the nettles are soaked first to remove the burn.)
  •  
    They and other American creameries learned the trick from European cheesemakers. Nettles have long been added to Gouda by the Dutch. We’ve delighted in Beemster Gouda’s nettle flavor; although from a quick look at their website, it appears that they’ve pared back their flavored Goudas to garlic, mustard, red pepper and wasabi.

     
    *In the stinging varieties, hollow stinging hairs called trichomes on the leaves and stems inject three chemicals hen touched by humans and other animals: histamine which irritates the skin, acetylcholine which causes a burning feeling and serotonin. They produce a rash that can be treated with an anti-itch cream, aloe vera or baking soda. But the plant doesn’t do a good job of keeping us away: It has a long history of use as a medicine and food source. Further, you need to eat them before they begin to flower, which produces other compounds that cause stomach irritation. Dangerous food, indeed! If you’ve purchased a sweater that lists ramie on the contents label, it’s a fiber made from plants in the same family (Urticaceae) as nettles!

    †The others include black pepper, cumin, burning nettle, burning mélange, foenegreek, garden herb, Italian herb, mélange, mustard yellow, onion/garlic, smoked and just plain Gouda

     

    You can find many nettle recipes online. If you purchase a stinging variety, soaking them in water or cooking them eliminates the stinging chemicals from the plant. Then:

  • Have it for breakfast, in omelets or scrambled eggs.
  • Add to soup stocks or stews, they contribute a rich earthy/briny flavor.
  • Steam and add to enchiladas.
  • Make nettle pesto or risotto; add to lasagna; top a pizza.
  • Purée it for a sauce for chicken, fish and seafood.
  • Make soup: nettle potato, nettle garlic, nettle sorrel and many other variations, including nettle by itself.
  • Combine with spinach and/or mushrooms as a side, in a goat cheese tart, spanakopita, quiche, etc.
  •  
    DANGEROUS FOOD TRIVIA

    While your family and friends may raise an eyebrow when you serve them stinging nettles, nettles don’t even make the list of the top 10 dangerous foods that people actually eat.

    Here they are. Fugu (blowfish) is on the list, but some of the others will surprise you.

     

    nettlesome_cheese-valleyshepherdcreamery-230r

    Nettlesome, a cheese made with nettles. You can buy it online. Photo courtesy Valley Shepherd Creamery.

     

      

    Comments

    COCKTAIL: Tax Thyme Gin & Tonic

    gin-tonic-lime-qtonic-230

    For tax time, add fresh thyme to a G&T. Photo courtesy Q Tonic.

     

    If your taxes are in, you deserve a drink today. And if you haven’t sent them in by day’s end, you may need two drinks!

    Here’s a variation of the gin and tonic with a sprig of thyme, for tax time. It’s the creation of Q Tonic, an elegant, all natural* tonic water created to complement fine spirits.

    RECIPE: GIN & TONIC WITH FRESH THYME

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 4 ounces tonic water
  • 2 ounces gin
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme†
  • 1 lime wedge
  • Ice cubes
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ADD the gin to a cocktail shaker. Add 3 sprigs of thyme and gently muddle. Add the ice and shake.

    2. STRAIN into an ice-filled highball glass and garnish with a line wedge and sprig of fresh thyme.

     

    *If you buy major brands, check the labels to see if they’re all natural or made with artificial quinine flavor.

    †Fresh thyme should be stored in the produce bin of the refrigerator wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel. If you’re storing it for more than a day, put the damp towel with thyme in a plastic bag.

     
    WHAT TO DO WITH EXTRA FRESH THYME

    Don’t let fresh herbs dry out in the fridge; find something else to do with them. Thyme is a great partner many popular foods.

  • Beans: Thyme is the go-to herb for bean dishes, whether hot or in a bean salad.
  • Braises: Add it to anything braised (like pot roast), simmered or stewed. If cooking with multiple sprigs, tie them together with kitchen twine to make removal easier.
  • Breads: Add to corn bread or corn muffins, other savory muffins, sausage bread, etc.
  • Casseroles: Even if your recipe includes another herb, add an equal amount (or half as much) of fresh thyme.
  • Eggs: Add to omelets and scrambled eggs.
  • Freeze: Wash, dry thoroughly and seal in heavy-duty plastic bags. When ready to use, the frozen leaves come right off the stems, and the tiny leaves defrost almost immediately.
  •  

  • Fish: Poach fish, with lemon slices and sprigs of thyme on top of the fish, and additional thyme in the poaching liquid.
  • Pasta and risotto: Add chopped fresh thyme to the sauce or garnish for pasta; add to risotto towards the end of cooking with some lemon zest.
  • Pork: Add to sauces for grilled or roasted pork, or use in the marinade and/or as a garnish.
  • Potatoes: Add to roasted or scalloped potatoes. If you don’t have chives, add fresh thyme to baked potatoes as well.
  • Poultry: Add to the cavity of the bird before roasting, and/or tuck leaves under the skin. Add to the marinade of cut pieces.
  • Rub: Blend with mustard, salt and garlic to make a rub for roast lamb or pork.
  • Salads: Add to a vinaigrette‡ or sprinkle atop salad greens.
  • Soups and stocks: Season with fresh thyme (it’s great in bean or lentil soup).
  •  

    common-thyme-burpee-230

    It’s easy to grow fresh thyme indoors or as a patio plant. Get seeds from Burpee.com. Photo courtesy Burpee.

  • Spreads and dips: Mix in fresh thyme, to sour cream- or yogurt-based dips or hummus.
  • Stuffing: Mix in fresh or dried thyme.
  • Sweets: Try some in shortbread or other butter cookies.
  • Tomatoes: Add to tomato sauces and soups; sprinkle on grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches, or atop the tomato on a burger.
  • Vegetables: Add to sauteed mushrooms; make a thyme vinaigrette‡ or a Dijon-yogurt sauce for steamed or grilled vegetables.
  •  

    Thyme, like all fresh and dried herbs, should be added toward the end of the cooking process since heat can easily cause a loss of its delicate flavor. This is less of an issue with quick-cooking dishes like scrambled eggs, as opposed to long-cooking beans and stews.

    There are some 60 different varieties of thyme. The variety typically found in U.S. markets is French thyme, also called common thyme, Thymus vulgaris. The upper leaf is green-grey in color on top, while the underside is a whitish color.

    Check farmers markets for lemon thyme, orange thyme and silver thyme, or grow your own.

    THYME TRIVIA

  • Native to Asia, the Mediterranean and southern Europe, thyme has been used since ancient times for its culinary, aromatic and medicinal properties.
  • The ancient Egyptians used it as an embalming agent to preserve deceased pharaohs.
  • In ancient Greece, thyme was burned as a temple incense for its fragrance.
  •  
     
    ‡Thyme vinaigrette recipe: Crush a large garlic clove and add to 5 ounces extra virgin olive oil. Allow flavors to blend for an hour or longer. In a separate bowl, combine 1 tablespoon thyme, 1 tablespoon lemon zest, 1 tablespoon minced shallots,
    2 tablespoons Champagne or white wine vinegar. Remove the garlic cloves and gradually add olive oil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fun With Asparagus

    It’s asparagus season: The bright green stalks are at their freshest, most flavorful and affordable. In addition to the familiar green, look for purple and white asparagus.

    In the April-June window of fresh American-grown asparagus, you can simply steam fresh stalks to al dente—so tasty they don’t even require butter or lemon mayonnaise.

    Low in calories, asparagus are a dieter’s delight. Plan how you’ll enjoy asparagus season in new and different ways.

    Sure, it’s delicious for

  • Breakfast: in an omelet, frittata, scrambled eggs, poached eggs or as a side with Eggs Benedict.
  • Lunch: added to a salad, a conventional sandwich or a wrap; make a salad with sliced beef or lamb; asparagus soup.
  • First Course: asparagus with red grapefruit; asparagus with bacon or pancetta*.
  • Dinner: An asparagus salad with your protein (here, Greek style with feta, kalamata olives, mint and red onion); grilled salmon with asparagus and pineapple salsa; scallops with asparagus and morels.
  •    

    asparagus-crudites-kaminsky-230

    You don’t even have to cook. Just lightly steam asparagus in the microwave for a minute or more. Photo © Hannah Kaminsky | BittersweetBlog.com.

  • Sides: grilled asparagus (recipe with mushrooms and shaved Parmesan), grilled rack of asparagus, sweet and spicy asparagus; stir-fried; pickled asparagus.
  • Or, make asparagus Pasta, pizza or risotto.
  •  
    *Cook the bacon, then use the drippings to moisten the asparagus. Top with cut or crumbled bacon, and sprinkle with optional grated Parmesan.

     

    crostini-asparagus-kaminsky-230

    Crostini, topped with hummus and sliced asparagus. Photo © Hannah Kaminsky | BittersweetBlog.com.

     

    ASPARAGUS FOR SNACKING OR HORS D’OEUVRE

  • Snack on plain, steamed asparagus for a delicious low-calorie snack. You can mix yogurt and Dijon mustard or use balsamic vinaigrette if you need a dip.
  • Include asparagus in a crudités platter (for uncooked asparagus, look for the thinnest ones; or blanch thicker ones).
  • Add asparagus to a snacking plate of hummus or other spreads and dips, charcuterie, cheese, gherkins and/or olives with crackers or breads.
  • Make asparagus crostini, with either hummus or grated cheese.
  •  

    HOW TO BUY ASPARAGUS

    Select bright green asparagus with closed, compact, firm tips and smooth, tender skin. Try to find even-size spears. Size is measured by diameter, and ranges from small (3/16 inch) to jumbo (7/8 inch).

    The tenderness of the asparagus relates to color, not size. The greener (or whiter for white asparagus) the spears, the more tender they’ll be.

     
    Fat spears are just as tender as thin ones; the only difference is that the ends of fatter asparagus are woodier at the cut end.

    With very thin asparagus, you can often eat the last millimeter. If you’re concerned that they won’t be tender, cut them off and try them once they’re steamed. Then, toss them into omelets, rice, salads, etc. If they’re too tough to enjoy, you can use them in a purée, sauce or soup.

    Of course, you should cut off the dried out cut end before cooking.
     
    HOW TO PREPARE ASPARAGUS FOR COOKING

  • If the tips of the asparagus are slightly wilted, freshen them by soaking them in cold water.
  • Keep fresh asparagus moist until you intend to use it—in the fridge, wrapped in a damp paper towel inside a plastic bag.
  • The bottom of asparagus stalks are tough and should be trimmed before cooking. Using a vegetable peeler, first lightly strip off the bottom few inches of skin. Next, gently bend the bottom of the stalk until it snaps off. Don’t force it—it will naturally break in the correct spot.

     
    THE HISTORY OF ASPARAGUS

    The asparagus plant is a member of the lily family, Asparagaceae, which also includes agave. There are more than 300 species of asparagus, most of which are grown as ornamental plants.

    Asparagus were first cultivated more than 2,000 years ago in the eastern Mediterranean region.

    The ancient Greeks and Romans prized asparagus for its unique flavor, texture and alleged medicinal qualities. The vegetable gained popularity in France and England in the 16th Century; King Louis XIV of France enjoyed this delicacy so much that he had special greenhouses built to supply it year-round. Early colonists brought it to America.

    Asparagus is a perennial plant raised in furrowed fields. It takes about three years before the plants produce asparagus. The delicate plant needs a temperate climate and requires much hand labor in all phases of cultivation. The spears are cut by hand when they reach about 9 inches in length.

    Asparagus is nutritious: a good source of calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6 and zinc; and a very good source of copper, dietary fiber, folate, iron, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, protein, riboflavin, selenium, thiamin, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E (alpha tocopherol) and vitamin K. It is very low in calories, and contains no fat or cholesterol.

    Eat up!

      

  • Comments

    TRENDS: Restaurant Produce

    Many of us who love to cook get ideas from creative restaurant chefs. It’s their job to present new and different preparations to tempt customers.

    It could be as simple as produce (NB the onslaught of kale, first in restaurants, then in our homes). What’s next?

    Nation’s Restaurant News polled nearly 1,300 chefs in its annual What’s Hot survey. The chefs pointed to produce that distinguishes them from their competitors and gives them cred for sourcing specialty items. Here are what they see as the top produce trends for 2015.

    LOCALLY GROWN PRODUCE

    Consumers like to see locally grown produce on the menu. It shows support for the community, an appreciation for seasonality and reduction of carbon miles, the extra fuel required to the transport food from farther distances. It is the top trend noted by the chefs in the survey.

     

    chervil-bunch-www.herbtable.com-230

    Easy for home cooks: Try chervil instead of parsley. Photo courtesy HerbTable.com.

     
    ORGANIC PRODUCE

    Americans have growing awareness of the desirability of organic produce—fruits and vegetables raised without artificial pesticides or fertilizers. “Organic” on a menu is well received (even when consumers don’t buy organic produce for their own kitchens); and all-organic chains such as Sweetgreen are finding success.
     

    UNUSUAL HERBS

    It’s time to think beyond parsley. Chefs with classical French training are turning to chervil as a garnish, Mexican restaurants are wrapping more foods in hoja santa and Japanese chefs are using kinome, leaves of the sansho/Szechuan pepper plant.

     
    HEIRLOOM FRUIT

    Heirloom apples, grown from seeds that are passed down from generation to generation, are making a comeback. Heirloom foods fell out of favor because they are more difficult to grow, more expensive and/or other reasons that made farmers turn to other varieties—even if those varieties are less flavorful. You can look for heirloom varieties in your local farmers market. Ask the farmer to point them out.

     
    EXOTIC FRUIT

    Chefs have a growing interest in fruit that’s a little out of the ordinary. It could be açaí and goji berries added to fruit beverages and fruit salads, or desserts made with Asian pear or dragon fruit.

    What’s your favorite fruit or veggie trend?

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Hummus Salad

    hummus-salad-chalkpointkitchen

    Use hummus as the base of a salad. Photo courtesy Chalk Point Kitchen | NYC.

     

    Last month we featured 20 different ways to use hummus. But we left off at least one: this hummus salad.

    This appetizer concept, by Executive Chef Joe Isidori of Chalk Point Kitchen in New York City, piles crunchy veggies atop a base of hummus, served with a side of pita wedges.

    First, consider the hummus. Chef Isidori makes his own, but if you’re buying yours, check out the myriad of flavored hummus—everything from roasted garlic to spicy chipotle.

    Cut up your “salad”—beets, carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, olives, pickled vegetables (Chef Isidori used pickle onions, we used dilly beans), radishes, etc.—and toss it lightly in a vinaigrette. You can top the hummus with romaine or other crunchy lettuce before adding the other vegetables.

    For a final flourish, top with minced fresh herbs and some optional feta cheese, and serve with toasted pita chips.

    You can easily turn this into a light lunch or vegan dinner, and feel good that you’re eating healthfully, sustainably and tastily.

     
    We’ve also got 20+ ways to make a hummus sandwich.

    EASY VINAIGRETTE RECIPE

    There’s no need to buy bottled vinaigrette. Just open a bottle of olive oil and a bottle of vineagar—two kitchen staples—measure them in a ratio of 3:1 and whisk vigorously.

    Start with 3 tablespoons of oil and 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and a pinch of dry mustard. The latter helps the emulsion stay together and contributes a wee bit o flavor.

    The magic comes when you use different oils—flavored oils, nut oils—and vinegars; substitute lemon or lime juice for some or all of the vinegar; and add other flavor dimensions such as condiments (chopped olives, mustard, relish), heat, herbs and sweetness (honey, maple syrup).

    Here’s our master article on how to create great vinaigrette.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Breakfast Salad & Dip

    bagel-salad-amanda-paa-HeartbeetKitchen-230

    For breakfast, bacon and egg top a salad.
    Photo courtesy Amanda Paa |
    HeartbeetKitchen.com.

     

    The world over, what people eat for breakfast varies widely.

  • In eastern China it can include dumplings and vegetable soup with rice.
  • In Guyana it’s whitefish preserved in salt, served with fried bread dough.
  • A traditional breakfast in Japan has rice, fish, miso soup, sticky soy beans and nori (dried seaweed).
  • In South India it’s vegetable stew, served with steamed lentil-and-rice bread.
  • In Columbia it could be leftovers from the night before.
  •  
    So what’s wrong with a breakfast salad? Why not tortilla chips instead of bread?

    This recipe, from Amanda Paa of HeartbeetKitchen.com, is a salad with bacon and eggs. Food Should Taste Good’s “The Works” tortilla chips standn in for a bagel.

    If you don’t want a salad, there’s a breakfast sausage and cheese dip to enjoy with tortilla chips (scroll down).

     

    RECIPE: BREAKFAST BACON & EGG SALAD WITH “BAGEL CROUTONS”

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 4 cups mixed salad greens
  • 4 slices cooked bacon (crumble 2 slices and keep 2 whole)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons chopped kalamata olives
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite salad dressing
  • 1 handful Food Should Taste Good “The Works” tortilla chips (or substitute, including bagel chips)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. EQUALLY DIVIDE the salad greens, bacon (1 slice crumbled and 1 slice whole per plate) tomatoes and olives between two plates.

    2. POACH the eggs: Fill a medium saucepan 2 inches deep with water and set over medium-high heat. When the water boils, turn the heat down so that the water is just simmering. Crack one egg into a small dish and slide it into the water. Quickly do the same with the second egg. Set the timer for 3-1/2 minutes (if you like a firmer yolk, cook for 4-1/2 minutes). Make sure the water stays at a simmer. When the timer goes off…

    3. USE a slotted spoon to scoop one egg out of the water. Tilt the spoon so the liquid drains completely, then place the egg on top of one of the salads. Repeat with the second egg.

    4. TOP the eggs with a sprinkle of salt and a few grinds of black pepper, then drizzle each salad with dressing (we made a balsamic vinaigrette but some people may prefer a creamy dressing).

     

    RECIPE: ROSEMARY & CHEDDAR BREAKFAST SAUSAGE DIP

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 8 ounces breakfast sausage
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 3 cups (9 ounces) grated cheddar cheese
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Chips (or substitute dipper)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COOK the sausage in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently and breaking it up into crumbles. When sausage has just a little pink remaining, add the onion and continue cooking until the meat is no longer pink and the onions are translucent. Using a colander, drain the meat and set it aside.

     

    Breakfast_Sausage_Dip_heartbeetkitchen-FSTG-230

    Recipe and photography courtesy of Amanda Paa | HeartbeetKitchen.com..

     

    2. POUR the milk and maple syrup into a medium sized saucepan and turn the heat to medium. Let the mixture warm until steaming, but not boiling.

    3. TOSS together the cheese, cornstarch and rosemary in a bowl. Add this to warm milk and turn the heat up slightly, constantly stirring to melt the cheese evenly.

    4. COOK for about 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted and smooth. Stir in the salt and garlic powder, then add the sausage. Mix well and serve immediately.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fava Beans (& A Nice Chianti)

    fava-beans-thedeliciouslife-230

    Fresh fava beans. Photo courtesy
    TheDeliciousLife.com. Check out their
    recipe for a charming appetizer or hors
    d’oeuvre, Fava Bean Purée with Feta and
    Garlic Toasts.

     

    For those of you who recall Hannibal Lechter’s upcoming dinner at the end of The Silence Of The Lambs, you can make your own version of it 9we suggest calf’s liver). Fava beans are in season, here for their brief annual visit.

    Also known as the broad bean, faba bean, field bean and other names, Vicia faba is a member of the pea family (Fabaceae) that is native to North Africa, possibly Egypt.

    Fava is the Italian word for broad bean, and is the term most commonly used in the U.S. In the U.K. and Australia, broad bean is the common term.

    According to Wikipedia, fava beans are “among the most ancient plants in cultivation and also among the easiest to grow.” As such, they are cultivated extensively worldwide.

    Along with lentils, peas and chickpeas, they are believed to have become part of the eastern Mediterranean diet around 6000 B.C.E. or earlier. They were popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans.

     
    When very young, the pods can be eaten whole. But the beans are typically removed from the pod and then parboiled and peeled to remove the skin, which can be bitter. The young leaves can also be eaten either raw or cooked, like spinach.

    The beans, which resemble edamame and lima beans, are green with a buttery texture and an earthy flavor.

     

    WAYS TO ENJOY FAVA BEANS

    Fava beans are a wonderful addition to any meal, hot or cold. If you search online for “fava bean recipes,” you’ll find lots from which to choose. Here are some ideas for starters:

  • Appetizer: In a dip for crudités or on bruschetta with olive oil and shaved asiago or pecorino romano cheese.
  • Main: Atop linguine or angel hair pasta, with garlic and fresh herbs in a sauce of butter or olive oil (for Easter we served crab ravioli with fava beans and morels).
  • Salad: With cucumber, red onion, fresh herbs (basil, mint or tarragon) and feta cheese, in a vinaigrette.
  • Side: Sautéed in butter or olive oil; grilled in the pod, then eaten from the pod like edamame.
  • Soup: In a creamy, vivid green fava bean soup (garnish with some whole cooked fava bean).
  •  
    Another idea: Egypt’s national dish, ful medames, is a stew of fava beans with olive oil, lemon juice and garlic, usually eaten for breakfast (but you can serve it with any meal). It is a staple throughout the Middle East.

     

    fava-bean-soup-marthastewart-230

    Fava bean soup. Photo courtesy MarthaStewart.com. Here’s the recipe.

     
    If you miss the fleeting fava bean season, dried fava beans are available. But don’t let the fresh favas escape you. After all, would Hannibal Lechter eat dried fava beans?

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: The New “Dirty Dozen”

    The “dirty dozen” of produce refers to those fruits and vegetables that have the most pesticide residues. If you’re going to buy organic versus conventional produce, these are the foods to buy.

    Since agricultural practices change, The Environmental Working Group (EWG) creates an annual Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides to reduce your exposure to chemical pesticides.

    It ranks 48 popular fruits and vegetables by their pesticide loads. The rankings are based on lab tests done [mostly] by the USDA, which tests more than 34,000 samples of common food crops for pesticide residue.

    Rinsing and peeling conventional produce does not remove all of the chemical residue. Some plants absorb pesticides through the peel.

    Nor does washing and peeling change a food’s ranking, because the USDA lab tests produce as it is typically eaten: washed and, when applicable, peeled.

    But the EWG underscores that the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks from pesticide exposure. In other words, eating conventionally-grown produce is far better than not eating enough fruits and vegetables at all.
     
    WHY SOME PRODUCE HAS TO BE “DIRTY”

    Crops differ in their hardiness—whether they’re more or less susceptible to intense heat, cold, rainfall, drought, fungus or other disease, etc.

       

    assorted-apples-USApples-230

    An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but it also has the highest amount of pesticide residue. The solution: Buy organic! Photo courtesy US Apples.

     
    In the case of bugs, some crops are more readily attacked and destroyed by the hungry little critters. So chemical pesticides are used to kill the bugs, fungus, etc. before they kill the crop.

    Organic farmers use natural pesticides and fertilizers—no chemicals. The expense of growing crops this way leads to the higher cost of organic produce.

    Some shocking statistics:

  • The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other produce.
  • A single grape sample and a sweet bell pepper sample contained 15 diffent pesticides.
  • A whopping 99% of apple samples, 98% of peaches and 97% of nectarines tested positive for at least one pesticide.
  • Single samples of cherry tomatoes, nectarines, peaches, imported snap peas and strawberries each showed 13 different pesticides.
  •  

    asparagus-twine-230

    Eat all the asparagus you like: They’re one of the most pesticide-free veggies. Photo courtesy California Asparagus Commission.

     

    THE 2015 “DIRTY DOZEN” FRUITS & VEGETABLES

    Ranked from highest (dirtiest) to lowest (cleanest of the Dirty Dozen) are some of our favorite fruits and vegetables:

  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Imported Snap Peas
  • Potatoes
  •  
    Wow!

     
    We’ve been buying organic celery for years (it’s been on the Dirty Dozen list for a long time). But we’re going to go our of our way for organic apples and strawberries, two fruits we eat almost daily.

    We’ll also buy more of the Clean Fifteen, produce with the least amount of pesticide residue.
     
    THE “CLEAN FIFTEEN” FRUITS & VEGETABLES

  • Avocados
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbage
  • Frozen Sweet Peas
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Papayas
  • Kiwi
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Sweet Potatoes
  •  
    As an American consumer, the choice is yours!
      

    Comments

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