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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,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Vegetables/Salads/Fresh Herbs

FOOD FUN: Stovetop Elote

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Elote, Spanish corn on the cob. Photo courtesy Good Eggs.


Elote is the Mexican version of corn on the cob, a popular street food. It is often grilled, then served on a stick with lime wedge, ancho chili powder and crumbled queso fresco.

Elote is the Aztec (Nahuatl) word for what the corn on the cob. It is pronounced ee-LOW-tee. Removed from the cob, the recipe has a different name, esquites, from the Nahuatl word for toasted corn, ízquitl.

This hack from Good Eggs in San Francisco eliminates the need for a grill. Just use a gas range to turn ears of fresh corn into this Mexican street treat.

Here’s more about elote, including an off-the-cob elote salad.


  • Ears of fresh corn, husked
  • Butter
  • Ancho chili powder (substitute regular chili powder)
  • Crumbled queso fresco (substitute cotija, feta or grated Parmesan)
  • Lime wedges (substitute lemon)
  • Optional: skewers (because corn is heavy, you need thick skewers; you can also use conventional cob holders or these disposable cob holders)
  • Preparation

    1. USE tongs to hold the ears of corn directly over the stove top flame, turning to to blister the kernels.

    2. REMOVE from the heat, slather with butter, roll in crumbled queso fresco and finish with a squeeze of lime and a pinch of ancho chile powder.

    In Mexico people serve the classics: ancho chili powder, lime, queso blanco. But in the U.S., some people substitute mayonnaise or sour cream (crema) for the butter.

    Pepper or seasoned salt are also options (lemon pepper is popular in Texas, per Wikipedia). Other options: cilantro, fresh parsley, oregano.

    Or for a true American take, how about crumbled bacon?



    TIP OF THE DAY: Pozole (Posole) ~ Not Just For Special Occasions

    Much of what we know about Aztec customs is thanks to Bernardino de Sahagún (1499-1590), a Franciscan friar, missionary priest, scholar and ethnographer who traveled to New Spain* (current-day Mexico) after its conquest. Arriving in 1529, he learned the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs and spent more 61 years documenting their beliefs, culture and history.

    He wrote extensively about Aztec cuisine. This article focuses on pozole (poe-SOE-leh, and often spelled posole in the U.S.), a hearty soup or stew made of hominy, meat, chiles and other seasonings.

    The dish has either a red or green color depending on the chiles used for the soup base; there’s also white pozole. In addition to the traditional pork, later variations used beans, beef, chicken and seafood.

    Pozole† is actually the Aztec word for hominy, corn that is hulled (the bran and germ have been removed) by bleaching the whole kernels in a lye bath (called nixtamalization).

    In Sahagún’s time, pozole was cooked only on special occasions. Later, it became a popular holiday and “Saturday night” dish.


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    Pork pozole, garnished with cabbage,
    cilantro, lime and radishes. Photo courtesy Chef Ingrid Hoffmann.

    Today, pozole is customized by each individual at the table, with garnishes that include avocado, cilantro, diced red onion, lime or lemon wedges, oregano, radishes, salsa, shredded cabbage, sour cream and tortilla chips or tostadas.

    NOTE: Don’t confuse pozole with pozol, a porrige-like drink made from fermented corn dough.
    *After an 11-year struggle for independence, New Spain became the sovereign nation of Mexico in 1821.

    †Also spelled posole, pozolé and pozolli; the original Nahuatl spelling is name is potzolli.

  • Beef Pozole With Red Chiles (Pozole Rojo)
  • Green Pozole With Chicken (Pozole Verde)
  • Red Pozole With Chicken (Pozole Rojo)
  • Red Pozole With Pork (Pozole Rojo)
  • Shrimp & Scallop Pozole (Pozole Blanco)
  • Vegetarian Pozole With Beans (Vegan Pozole Rojo)
  • White Pozole With Chicken (Pozole Blanco)
    A modern variation:

  • Pozole-Stuffed Grilled Onions

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    Pozole interpreted as a salad, for a first course or side. Photo courtesy Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.


    Today we feature a vegan pozole salad from Hannah Kamimsky of Bittersweet Blog. It is intended as a first course or a side dish.

    Ingredients For 8 Side Servings

  • 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 Savoy cabbage ((1-1/4 pounds), shredded
  • 1 can (29-ounces) cooked white hominy kernels (not hominy grits), drained and rinsed
  • 2 ripe avocados, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely minced
    For The Cilantro Dressing

  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (2-3 limes depending on size and juiciness)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon light agave nectar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F. Toss the cherry tomatoes and onion with the olive oil and oregano, and spread them in one even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 15-25 minutes, until the tomatoes are blistered and beginning to burst. Let cool. Meanwhile…

    2. PREPARE the dressing: Add the cilantro, sundried tomatoes and garlic to a food processor or blender, and slowly pour in the lime juice while running the machine on low. Thoroughly purée, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl or blender jar as needed. Once the purée is mostly smooth, add the agave, chili powder, cumin and salt next, and drizzle in the olive oil (with the motor running) to emulsify.

    3. TOSS together the tomatoes and onions, cabbage, hominy, avocados, and jalapeños in a large bowl. Pour the dressing on top and toss to coat. Chill for at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to fully meld.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Okra’s In Season, What Should You Cook?

    Most people think of gumbo is a soup or stew from Louisiana, typically made with chicken or shellfish, Andouille sausage, bell peppers, celery and onions, and thickened with okra pods.

    But in the beginning, “gumbo” was simply the word for okra in the African Bantu language.

    Okra came to America with the slave trade and was introduced to the Southern white population by their African cooks. Okra became the vegetable associated with the American South*.

    Okra is a flowering plant in the mallow family, Malvaceae, which also includes cacao, cotton, hibiscus, the kola nut (the base flavor of cola drinks) and the “king of Asian fruits,” the durian, known for its strong aroma and large, thorny husk.

    The valuable part of the okra plant is its edible green seed pods. The geographical origin of okra is disputed, with champions of Ethiopian, West Africa, even South Asia. Today, the vegetable is cultivated in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions around the world. [Source]

    Okra is used in casseroles, soups, stews and sides; added, cooked, to salads and sandwiches (try an okra grilled cheese). They can be fried or stuffed (like poppers).


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    Okra pods were originally green, but mutations have led to the development of red and burgundy varieties. Look for them in your farmers market. Photo courtesy Starling Yards.

    But perhaps our favorite way to enjoy okra is Rick’s Picks Smokra, the most amazing smoked okra pickles. We always buy the six-packs and love them as low-calorie snacks, as exciting garnishes for dinner guests and to give as gifts.
    *Okra is also an important ingredient in cuisines in areas as far-flung as Africa, Asia and Latin America.

    We consulted the experts on the best ways to use okra. Here are Southern Living’s recommendations of the 12 best okra recipes:

  • Baked Polenta With Cheese & Okra, a special brunch casserole
  • Fried Okra Salad
  • Fried Pecan Okra
  • Okra & Corn Maque Chou (a corn and okra salad)
  • Okra Creole
  • Okra Rellenos, fried okra filled with cheese
  • Peppery Grilled Okra with lemon-basil dipping sauce
  • Pickled Okra
  • Pickled Okra & Shrimp
  • Shrimp & Okra Hush Puppies, fried cornbread bites
  • Skillet-Roasted Okra and Shrimp
  • Smashed Fried Okra

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    Okra fries. Photo courtesy Ulele Restaurant |


    But where’s the gumbo?

    We looked into THE NIBBLE archives and found:

  • Chicken Andouille Gumbo from Chef Emeril Lagasse
  • Easy Chicken & Sausage Gumbo from Chef David Venable
  • Easy Chicken & Sausage Gumbo using Swanson Louisana Cajun
    Flavor Infused Broth

    Some people avoid okra because of the “slimy” texture. That okra just hasn’t been cooked correctly. Here are slime-busting tips from Okra, a Savor the South cookbook by Virginia Willis.:

  • Choose small fresh okra pods. The smaller the okra, the less slime.
  • Cook okra at high heat: roasting at high temperatures, searing in a cast iron pan, deep fat frying or grilling are techniques that limit the slime.
  • Wash and dry the pods very thoroughly. Wet okra will steam, causing it to “slime.”
  • Cook okra in small batches. Overcrowding brings the heat down, which starts steaming and sliming the okra/
  • Add an acid when cooking okra. Citrus juice, tomato, vinegar and wine add flavor while limiting the slime.
    Up first for us: fried okra with ketchup!



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Savory Tomato Pie Or Tart

    Tomatoes are the second most widely consumed vegetable in the U.S., after potatoes. That’s not all sliced tomatoes, mind you, but tomato sauce on pasta and pizza, tomatoes in ketchup and salad.

    According to the USDA, Americans consumed 31.1 pounds of tomatoes per capita in 2013, 59% of them in canned form (much of which, presumably, went into tomato sauce).

    Botanically speaking, the tomato is a fruit, but 122 years ago the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it, for tax reasons, a vegetable. (Ah, if the enlightened justices of today would just reverse that misguided decision. More about it is below.)

    Thanks to Restaurant Hospitality for passing along this recipe from Chef Jack Gilmore of Jack Allen’s Kitchen in Austin, Texas.

    Serve it as you would a quiche: in small wedges as a first course, as a main with a salad.



  • 3 ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup Cheddar cheese, grated
  • ½ cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 prepared pie shell (purchased or homemade)
  • 6 large basil leaves, cut or torn into pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mayonnaise

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    This pie is filled with sweet summer tomatoes and three types of cheese.
    Photo courtesy Jack Allen’s Kitchen |



    1. SEASON the tomato slices lightly with salt and pepper, and allow them to drain on a paper towel (the salt draws out the water).

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 300°F. Combine the cheeses in small bowl.

    3. LAYER the tomatoes in the pie shell. Place basil pieces on top of them. Sprinkle the cheese mixture on top of the basil.

    4. WHISK together the eggs and mayonnaise in small bowl, and pour evenly over the pie ingredients. Bake for approximately 45 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/cherry tomato tart unpetitchefwordpress 230

    Here’s a showier concept—a cherry tomato tart with Gruyère and a crust of pâte brisée. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy



    Who would think, when looking at the seriousness of the Supreme Court’s docket today, that in 1893 they would take up the argument of whether the tomato should be classified as a vegetable rather than a fruit. The eight or nine cases the Court can adjudicate each year cover Constitutional rights and federal law.

    United States Supreme Court decisions have shaped history. So how does the classification of the tomato fit in? It made it onto the docket because of a federal law regarding import taxes.
    It Was All About The Import Tax

    The Tariff Act of 1883 stipulated that a 10% import tax be paid on imported vegetables, but no tax was levied on imported fruit*. John Nix, an importer of tomatoes, filed the action against Edward L. Hedden, Collector of the Customs House for the Port of New York. Nix wanted to recover back taxes he had paid on tomatoes. His case asserted that he was importing a fruit, but being taxed as if it were a vegetable.

    *We’ve tried to research why fruit was exempt, but haven’t yet found the answer. Typically, it involves special interests.  

    How To Tell If It’s A Fruit

    Botanically speaking the tomato is a fruit. A fruit is the ripened ovary, formed together with seeds, from from the flowers of a plant. This how the tomato is formed.

    In easier terms, here’s how to think of a fruit:

  • Does it carry its seeds inside, like apples, citrus, melons, squash and tomatoes?
  • If the seeds are absent from the produce—as in beets, carrots, celery, herbs, lettuce and potatoes—it is botanically a vegetable.
    The issue is not how any particular culture chooses to consume a particular item of produce (sweet or savory, raw or cooked, etc.), but the botanical structure of the item. Thus, avocado is a fruit (it’s a tree fruit, like apples and pears) as are cucumbers (relatives to melons).

    With science on his side, vendor Nix sued customs collector Hedden, and the case made its way through the court system—all the way to the Supreme Court.
    But The Court Disagreed With Science

    In a unanimous opinion, the Court held that the Tariff Act of 1883 used the ordinary meaning of the words “fruit” and “vegetable,” as people thought of them, instead of the scientific, botanical use. The opinion delivered by Justice Gray stated:

    “Botanically speaking, tomatoes are the fruit of a vine, just as are cucumbers, squashes, beans, and peas. But in the common language of the people, whether sellers or consumers of provisions, all these are vegetables which are grown in kitchen gardens, and which, whether eaten cooked or raw, are, like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, and lettuce, usually served at dinner in, with, or after the soup, fish, or meats which constitute the principal part of the repast, and not, like fruits generally, as dessert.” (Source:

    Wrong perspective, Justice Gray. The laws of nature should stand as is, not subjected to interpretation to fit cultural norms. Today, you can find tomato desserts (ice cream and sorbet, for starters). There are other crossovers. For example, rhubarb, a vegetable, is often prepared for dessert.

    And you should have had better clerks do your research: Beans and pea are legumes, not vegetables.

    Politically, the decision also meant more tax revenue for the United States. We guess we’re not going to get the Supreme Court to reverse the decision.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

    From our friends at Good Eggs in San Francisco, here’s how to enjoy cherry tomatoes when the tomatoes are at their sweetest and the prices are at their lowest.

    Slow-roast them and all of that rich, summer tomato sweetness will get concentrated into each bite.

    Buy two or three times as many as you need this week—ideally, an assortment of red, orange and yellow. Set aside what you’ll use fresh. Then:

  • Slice the rest of the cherry tomatoes in half.
  • Place them cut-side up on a baking sheet or pan lined with a sheet of parchment. Slow roast at 225°F for three hours.
  • Let cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks. Cover with olive oil if desired.
    But before those two weeks are up, you can easily use them up:

  • In scrambled eggs and omelets
  • On plain yogurt, with oregano and/or fresh basil and dill
  • On sandwiches and burgers

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    It’s easy to slow-roast a batch of cherry tomatoes. Photo courtesy Good Eggs.


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    Crostini with sundried tomatoes and fromage blanc. Photo courtesy Mixed Greens Blog.

  • In green salads and protein salads (egg, chicken, tuna, etc.)
  • On pasta and pizza
  • On canapés
  • On crostini (see photo)
  • As a colorful polka-dot-like garnish for any savory food

    One of our favorite snacks, crostini with sundried cherry tomatoes, can be made in a minute (or as fast as it takes to toast the bread.

  • SPREAD toasted or grilled slices of baguette with goat cheese, other soft cheese, even Greek yogurt or sour cream.
  • TOP with sundried cherry tomatoes in olive oil.
  • GARNISH with minced basil or a shake of oregano.
    It’s easy enough for snacking, and impressive enough to serve as an hors d’oeuvre or a first course.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Burger Salad & Salad Burger

    For years we have been enjoying the Burger Salad at Five Napkin Burger in New York City. It’s evolved over time, but initially consisted of a big bowl of beautifully arranged baby greens and colorful veggie complements, in a perfect vinaigrette. Atop was a plump burger: beef, salmon, turkey, veggie or a solid piece of grilled tuna.

    We love good bread and can [alas] eat loaves of it. But burger buns—even when heavily seeded or made of brioche—rarely fall into that group. And they get soggy.

    So when Five Napkin Burger presented a menu of burger salads in addition to conventional burgers, we tried a salad and were hooked. We were never a neat burger eater, so enjoyed the bonuses: no meat juices or ketchup dripping onto us when we raised the burger to our mouth.

    While it could be a calorie- and carb-cutting alternative for some, let us hasten to say that we enjoy our burger salad along with the establishment’s excellent onion rings, sweet potato fries, and a beer.

    Today’s tip is not just a burger salad, but for those who still want their bun, a salad burger (below).


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    Our favorite way to enjoy a burger this burger salad from Five Napkin Burger. Photo courtesy Five Napkin Burger | NYC.


    To start, think of your favorite salad and assemble the ingredients. Is it spinach salad? Cobb salad? Chopped salad? Salade Niçoise? Spicy greens (arugula, radish, watercress)? Tortilla salad?

    Create your burger salad from those ingredients; and if the original salad contained chicken, turkey or other meat, consider adding small amounts of them—a mixed grill burger salad, as it were.

    You can make a bacon cheeseburger salad or a diet burger burger salad. You can add seeds for more nutrition. And there are ways to cut calories. But here’s a list of options for starters:


  • Lettuce: mixed greens (we love to add arugula and cress, but have peaked on kale)
  • Salad veggies: bell pepper, carrots, celery, cucumbers, fresh herbs (basil, cilantro, dill, mint, parsley), radishes
  • Tomatoes: cherry, grape, sliced, sundried—or substitute pimento (roasted red pepper)
  • Onions: green (scallions), red, sweet

  • Cheese: crumbled, cubed, julienned, shaved ribbons or shredded
  • Extra veggies: broccoli florets, cauliflower, chiles, fennel, green beans, mushrooms—raw, pickled, roasted or steamed
  • Fruits: berries, dried fruit, mandarin or orange segments, sliced stone fruit, apples or pears
  • Luxury veggies: artichoke hearts, avocado, endive, hearts of palm, radicchio, water chestnuts
  • Seasonal veggies: for example, asparagus and green peas in spring; corn, yellow squash and zucchini in summer
  • Proteins: bacon, beans or legumes (chickpeas, lentils), ham, hard-boiled eggs, tofu/seitan, seafood (we recently created a modern surf and turf burger salad with grilled shrimp), slices or cubes of poultry, salami, sausage, etc.
  • Starch: boiled potatoes, cooked grains, small pasta shapes
  • Garnishes: anchovies, croutons, nuts, olives, peppadews, pepperoncini, pickles, seeds (chia, flax, pepita/pumpkin, sunflower, toasted sesame), sprouts

    A burger salad begs for a delicious vinaigrette. Here’s our template for making a vinaigrette recipe you’ll love.

  • Some people are calorie and fat counters. If that’s you, go for a dressing of plain balsamic vinegar (conventional or white balsamic). It makes a delicious dressing with just 14 calories per tablespoon.
  • Another direction is to use lemon, lime or yuzu juice. Yuzu is imported from Japan and pricey, but worth it.
  • Low-calorie salsa also works, plain or mixed with a bit of salad oil. For a creamy dressing, mix salsa with plain Greek yogurt.
    However, before you avoid salad oil, ask any nutritionist, the FDA or the American Heart Association: Two tablespoons daily of a heart-healthy oil are important for general health and specific conditions*. The recommended oils are monounsaturated, and include avocado oil, canola oil, olive oil and peanut oil.

    It’s time to stop looking old-school at “calories” and “fat”—an old school way of looking at diet—and focus your choices on health and nutrition.


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    Plan B: Top your burger with a salad.
    Photo courtesy Umami Burger | Hudson



    Instead of topping salad with a burger, you can top a burger with salad.

    Far more than a bunless burger or “diet burger”—the type served by our local diner and others, which plates a burger patty with lettuce, tomato, onion and a scoop of cottage cheese—a salad burger tops your burger with a flavorful salad.

    As you can see in the photo, it can be simple mixed greens, very lightly dressed. Since the burger is America’s favorite food, if you’ve been meaning to add more salad to your diet, here’s your chance.

    Monounsaturated fats deliver many health benefits, including:

  • Decreased risk for breast cancer.
  • Reduced cholesterol levels. The American Heart Association recommends the consumption of monounsaturated fats to improve one’s blood lipid profile.
  • Lower risk for heart disease and stroke. The FDA recommends that .8 ounce daily—about 2 tablespoons—may “possibly prevent coronary disease.”
  • Weight loss, when switching to monounsaturated fat from polyunsaturated fats (corn oil, safflower oil and soybean oil, among others) and saturated fats (largely from animal products: meat, dairy, eggs).
  • Less severe pain and less stiffness for sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis. Diet plays a role in reducing the pain and stiffness of those who already have rheumatoid arthritis.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Tomatillos

    The tomatillo, like the tomato, is an edible berry—it’s the size of cherry tomatoes. (Trivia: the original tomatoes were the size of cherry tomatoes, and were developed into larger sizes).

    Round and tart, it is erroneously thought of as a green tomato; and is called a husk tomato, a Mexican tomato and other names.

    While both tomatoes and tomatillos originated in Latin America (the tomato in Peru and the tomatillo in Central America), they are second cousins. They share a botanical family, Solanaceae (the Nightshade family), but belong to different genuses.

  • The tomato’s genus and species is Solanum lycopersicum. The tomatillo is Physalis ixocarpa, and is closely related to the smaller, sweeter cape gooseberry.
  • Like the orange-colored gooseberry, the tomatillo is surrounded by a papery husk.
  • The ripe tomatillo can be green, purple, red or yellow.
    Tomatillos were a staple of Maya and Aztec cuisines. They are still enjoyed today in chili, enchiladas, gazpacho, guacamole, salsa and tostadas, among other specialties.


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    Fresh tomatillos in their papery husks. Photo courtesy Good Eggs.

    But, you can create a fusion dish, adding it to anything that begs for a tart accent and green color. We just finished the last bite of a tomatillo quiche for breakfast.

    It’s very easy to cook with tomatillos: They don’t need to be peeled or seeded. Their texture is firm when raw, but soften when cooked.

    You can incorporate tomatillos in different ways:

  • Raw, they add a fresh, citrus-like flavor to sauces.
  • Blanched, they are more mellow. Boil in water for five minutes or until soft. Drain and crush or purée.
  • Fire roasted under the broiler or over an open flame, the charred skins will give sauces a smoky flavor.
  • Dry roast them for an earthy, nutty flavor. Place the tomatillos in a cast iron or other heavy pan; roast over low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, turning occasionally.
    Just remember to remove the husk and rinse the berry before using tomatillos.


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    One of the easiest ways to enjoy tomatillos: Make salsa verde. Poto courtesy



  • Start with breakfast: Add tomatillos to omelets, scrambled eggs or Huevos Rancheros; or grill or sauté them and serve as a side with the eggs.
  • Make salsa verde as a condiment for eggs or anything else: fish and seafood, meat and poultry, rice and grains, sandwiches, vegetables.
  • Make corn salad or salsa or guacamole
  • Add them to any Tex-Mex dish.
  • Slice them as a soup garnish.
  • Use them as a drink garnish for Bloody Marys and Margaritas.


    For an easy salsa verde, remove the papery tomatillo husks and roast the tomatillos for a few minutes. Then, blend with lime, cilantro and green chiles to taste.

    You can use salsa verde on just about any savory dish, and of as a snack with chips raw vegetables. Turn it into a creamy dip with a bit of sour cream or plain yogurt.


  • Ají Sauce, a favorite hot sauce in Ecuador and Peru
  • Enchiladas Suizas
  • Gazpacho Verde
  • Salsa
  • Tomatillo Guacamole
  • Tomatillo Guacamole With Roasted Corn
  • Tostadas


    TIP OF THE DAY: American Bruschetta & Beet Swath

    This beautiful plate from Gardenia restaurant in New York’s Greenwich Village is a composition of grilled mackerel, butternut squash and endive, garnished with baby greens dressed in vinaigrette and a dollop of pesto.

    But what really stood out to us is what we’ve named “American bruschetta,” a square of crustless white toast, topped with pickled vegetables, a gherkin and an herb leaf tossed in vinaigrette (shown on the bottom left of the plate).

    If this is “American bruschetta,” what’s Italian bruschetta? Here’s the scoop, including the difference between bruschetta and crostini. (NOTE: Pronounce it broo-skett-a, not broo-shett-a.)

    You don’t need a baguette or other crusty loaf that serves as the foundation of classic bruschetta.

  • Toast anything—from ordinary white bread to raisin walnut bread.
  • Top it with anything that complements the entrée. Look in your fridge, pantry, freezer.
  • Use up leftovers.
  • Have fun with your creation.



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    Check out the crustless toast topped with veggies. This bruschetta, along with the, orange squash and swath of burgundy beet purée, add vibrant color to the plate. Photo courtesy Gardenia Restaurant | NYC.

  • Cheese: goat cheese, crème fraîche, fromage blanc or other mild cheese on raisin bread or walnut bread (or a raisin-walnut-semolina combination)
  • Condiments: chutney, compound butter, olives
  • Fish: anchovies, caviar/roe, sardines, shellfish
  • Meat: bacon, sausage, other charcuterie
  • Spreads: egg salad, guacamole, Middle Eastern (babaganoush, hummus, tzatziki, etc.), spreadable pâté, tapenade, pimento cheese or other cheese spread
  • Vegetables: fresh (baby arugula, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers or watercress are easy), pickled, puréed cooked vegetables
  • Whatever you have at hand (yesterday we used leftover creamy polenta garnished with sliced olives and pimento

  • Butter, mayonnaise, mustard, olive oil, vinaigrette, yogurt or other binder as needed, to anchor dry ingredients to the bread
  • Garnishes: sliced chiles, herbs, gherkins, spices, etc.

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    Duck breast with carrot purée. Photo courtesy



    1. ASSEMBLE the ingredients. Grill or toast the bread (in a toaster or under the broiler). Remove the crusts as desired.

    2. SPREAD a binder, if necessary, on the bread.

    3. TOP with the featured ingredients and serve.

    Painted swaths of fruit or vegetable purée are clever ways to add color to a plate. Use them along with entrées that are beige, brown or white—which includes every protein we can think of except crab, shrimp and lobster (fish, meat, poultry, seitan, tofu).

    That also goes for most standard starches: beans, potatoes, noodles, white and brown rice and most other grains.

    Even if you have another bright color on the plate—butternut squash, carrots, corn, green beans, etc.—you can round out the plate with a swath of a different color.

    No time to cook vegetables for your color splash? Canned beets and carrots work well: Just drain and purée.


  • Bright colored fruit or vegetable—green, orange, red, yellow
  • Seasonings to taste—anything from salt and pepper to curry, garlic, etc.

    1. PURÉE and seasonthe cooked vegetable.

    2. USE a silicon basting brush to paint a swath of purée across the plate.



    FOOD FUN: Corn Custard & Popcorn

    Before the summer corn fades away, make corn custard—and for fun, serve it with a side of popcorn. It’s not just for Thanksgiving, a traditional time for corn custard (also called corn pudding and corn casserole, even corn soufflé; but the latter should be an airy soufflé, not a custard dish).

    But by Thanksgiving, fresh corn is a distant memory, and canned or frozen corn must be employed. So make hay—or corn custard—while the sun shines on fresh summer corn.

    Corn custard is typically served as a side, but you can make an first course with it, along with optional garnishes. In this recipe, we make individual corn custards that are better for a first course.

    Or, you can place them in the middle of your green salad, as part of the salad course.

    Prep time is 20 minutes, inactive time is 15 minutes, cook time is 1 hour 10 minutes (total time 1 hour 45 minutes). This recipe was adapted from one by Nealey Dozier on


    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 yolk
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen sweet yellow corn (thawed if frozen)

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/corn custard popcorn kitchenincBoston 230

    Turn summer corn into corn custard, with a side of popcorn for fun and fiber. Photo courtesy KITCHENiNC | Boston.

  • Plate garnish: popcorn
  • Custard garnishes: bacon crumbles and snipped chives, jalapeño, chopped fresh or sundried tomatoes

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/bicolor goodeggs 230r

    Take advantage of fresh corn for this recipe. Photo of bicolor corn courtesy Good Eggs.



    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Lightly coat 8 individual soufflé dishes, ramekins or Mason jars (4 to 5 ounces each) with butter or cooking spray. Place in a shallow baking pan or on a cookie sheet (preferably with a rim).

    2. ADD the sugar and eggs to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or with an electric hand mixer), and beat until light and frothy (approximately 3 minutes).

    3. ADD the flour, salt and baking powder and beat for an additional 3 minutes, until the mixture is airy and foamy. Fold in the heavy cream and milk until thoroughly combined.

    4. STIR the corn and melted butter together and divide evenly among the ramekins. Pour the batter over the corn mixture, filling each dish almost to the top.

    5. BAKE the custards for 60 to 70 minutes, rotating the pan once, until the filling is set and the top is golden brown. Remove the ramekins and cool on a wire rack for at least 15 to 20 minutes before serving, to allow custard to firm up.

    6. GARNISH the custards as desired, and garnish each plate with popcorn.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Grilled Portabella Salad

    Whether you’re planning for meatless Monday or looking for something tasty to grill on any other day, how about a meaty grilled portabella salad?

    Grill not only the mushrooms, but red and yellow bell peppers and anything else you’d like to add to it, including polenta (see photo below).

    Place the grilled veggies atop your favorite greens, with an optional garnish of crumbled feta or goat cheese and a vinaigrette.


    How can one mushroom, Agaricus bisporus, have three different spellings? After all, carrot is carrot, tomato is tomato, zucchini is zucchini.

    The answer: When Americans began to grow and sell them in the 1980s, it was a very small output. The growers, initially Italian Americans who grew the creminis they liked from the old country (creminis are the young form of portabellas), named it. Portabella means “beautiful door; portobello means “beautiful port.”


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/grilled portabella salad daviosboston 230

    A grilled portabella salad on baby greens, with grilled bell peppers, balsamic vinaigrette and a garnish of crumbled feta. Photo courtesy Davio’s Boston | Boston.

    Or perhaps, as you’ll read below, someone with marketing chops realized it needed a glamorous name in order to sell the mushrooms.

    According to Food Timeline, food experts generally agree on these points when it comes to the history of portabellas:

  • The mushroom was developed in southeastern Pennsylvania from the Italian cremini—which, we must point out, is also spelled crimini, and also called the brown mushroom, Italian brown mushroom and Roman mushroom. Newer “marketable” names including baby portobellos, mini bellas and portabellinis. “Baby Bella” is a trademarked name.
  • A 1996 article in Nation’s Restaurant News noted that many of the mushroom farmers were of Italian origin. While they originally produced the creminis they knew from Italy, there was no market: The public wanted pristine white mushrooms. The back-to-earth movement of the 1960s and 1970s opened the door for the growers to make another stab at selling creminis.
  • By accident, growers found that creminis that weren’t harvested grew into extra-large mushrooms. These large mushrooms are here today despite early efforts to thwart them. In a 1996 article in Nation’s Restaurant News on the growing popularity of portabellas, Wade Whitfield of the Mushroom Council, an industry trade group, noted, “They are really culls. You didn’t want them in the mushroom bed. [Growers] would throw them away. There was no market. Growers would take them home.”
  • Whitfield then noted: “This thing has gone from nearly zero in 1993 to a predicted 30 million pounds this year. It’s a major item. It will be the largest specialty mushroom.” Both cremini and portobello mushrooms are first mentioned in the New York Times during the mid 1980s.
  • According to The New Food Lover’s Companion, “‘portobello’ began to be used in the 1980s as a brilliant marketing ploy to popularize an unglamorous mushroom that, more often than not, had to be disposed of because growers couldn’t sell them.”
  • There is no definitive spelling. According to Food Timeline, an un-scientific Google survey at one point showed that portobello got the most searches (169,000), followed by portabella (33,100) and portobella (3,510). Wade Whitfield noted The Mushroom Council preferred “portabella”; we use “portabella” because we prefer how it rolls off the tongue.

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/grilled portobellos urbanaccents 230

    Grilled polenta and portabellas are a delicious pairing. Add arugula, shaved Parmesan and a balsamic vinegar reduction Photo courtesy Urban Accents.



    Ingredients For 8 Side Salads

  • 8 large portobello mushrooms, stemmed* and brushed clean
  • Olive oil for grilling, plus extra virgin olive oil for dressing
  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 2 large red yellow bell peppers
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary for dressing
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 package (4 to 5 ounces) baby greens
  • 1 large handful baby arugula (substitute baby spinach)
  • Optional garnish: shaved Parmesan cheese or crumbled feta
    *Save the stems for an omelet or another salad. To clean mushrooms,
    first use a mushroom brush (much more delicate than a regular vegetable brush) and remove any remaining dirt with a slightly damp paper towel.


    1. PREHEAT the grill to medium. Brush both sides of the mushrooms with olive oil. Halve and seed the bell peppers.

    2. PLACE the mushrooms and bell peppers on the rack and grill until tender, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes. Transfer to plate and season with salt and pepper to taste.

    3. CUT the peppers into strips. You can also cut the mushrooms into strips, but they make a nicer presentation whole.

    4. MAKE the dressing: Combine 1-1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil in a blender or food processor with the balsamic vinegar, minced garlic and chopped fresh rosemary. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    5. CREATE a bed of greens on individual serving plates. Place the mushroom in the center, surrounded by pepper strips. Place some arugula in the center of each mushroom. Garnish as desired with cheese. Drizzle with dressing serve.



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