Sunday, March 18, 2012

Arugula Salad with Pear and Fennel

Sunday mornings.

In my dream world Sunday mornings go a little something like this:

Wake up without being dragged out of bed by my two dogs. 
Drink copious amounts of tea while preparing a huge brunch.. you know pancakes, french toast, eggs or something else decadent that will sit in my gut like a rock until dinner time. 
Then... I would sprawl out on my bed, read the New York Times and start drinking mimosas when the clock strikes noon (Don't judge... at least I wait 'till noon). 

Real life:

Wake up to the sound of dogs whining like they haven't eaten in weeks. Roll out of bed, trip on something, swear loudly.
Make some tea while feeding the dogs.. decide to take them for a long walk so I don't feel guilty if I don't leave the house the rest of the day.
Get harrased by my neighbor for letting my dogs poop in front of his house despite the fact I pick it up. Attempt to NOT go off on him, which rarely happens.
Come back inside. Drink my tea while trying to keep my dogs from humping each other (I told you... real life). Start to get hungry, then realize I have nothing to eat for breakfast in the house despite the fact I dropped $75 at the grocery store the day before.  You know.. on vitamins, flax oil and fancy salt. The necessities.
Think about eating popcorn and a drinking a beer at 10:30 a.m.
Decide I should eat something healthy to counteract all the martinis I had last night.. you know.. like a salad.
Pray that I have something I can throw together in less than 10 minutes.

Pull out some arugula, half a bulb of fennel and a bosc pear. Chop, chop, chop.

Make a quick dressing. Shake, shake.

Enjoy my salad while watching old episodes of real housewives of Atlanta, wishing I had some champagne to wash it down.

Arugula Salad with Pear and Fennel (serves 1-2)

This makes a great first course salad. If you are looking to make it a bit more substantial I think adding some shaved parmesan and a handful of roasted almonds would be amazing.

4 oz. Baby arugula (a couple large handfuls)
1 bosc pear, cored and sliced into thin pieces
1/2 fennel bulb, sliced thin
Shaved parmesan cheese (optional)
Roasted almonds, rough chopped (optional)

Simple champagne vinaigrette (this may make a bit more than you need, but keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days)

2 T. champagne vinegar
1 t. stoneground mustard
1 1/2 t. honey
1 T. minced shallot
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients in a small glass jar and shake it up.

Place arugula in a large bowl, add some dressing and toss to combine.  Transfer to a plate.  Add the fennel and pear to the bowl, toss with some dressing and pile on top of the arugula. Top with a little more dressing and some fresh cracked pepper.  If you're feeling naughty top with some shaved parmesan and chopped roasted almonds.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Summer Rolls

As soon as temperatures rise above 70 degrees, I eat summer rolls like it's my job.


After over indulging in rich, comfort food all winter long, I feel the need for a little cleansing of sorts. That usually involves eating my weight in asparagus, drinking lots of fresh juice and preparing some variation of summer rolls at least three times a week.

The great thing about summer rolls is they are cheap, healthy and you can fill them with whatever you have kickin' around in your fridge and it's an easy and tasty way to incorporate more raw vegetables into your diet.

This time around I filled them with some shredded carrot, red bell pepper, pea shoots, smoked tofu, cilantro and some ginger onion paste. 

But, really.. you could stuff 'em with lots of goodies.

Some of my favorites are:

cabbage (red or white)
lettuce (butter lettuce, romaine or leaf lettuce)
red bell pepper
fresh herbs (cilantro, basil, mint, chives, scallion)

A peanut sauce is fantastic with these, but you could also spread the inside with a thin layer of hummus or other bean dip or a nut/seed pate.

Get creative!

Once you get the hang of it, making summer rolls is easy peasy.  The most time consuming part is prepping all the ingredients.  The actual rolling takes about 20 seconds, kind of like making a burrito.  Also, don't be discouraged if your first few look a little wonky, they will still taste delicious!

Summer Rolls  (makes 8 large rolls)

8 rice paper wraps
1 1/2 oz. vermacelli noodles (aka rice stick noodles), soaked and drained
1 c. shredded carrot
1/2 large red bell pepper, julliened
1 c. cilantro leaves
2 large handfulls of pea shoots
6 oz. baked tofu, cut into matchsticks

ginger onion paste (adapted from this recipe at 101 cookbooks)

2 scallions, sliced
2 shallots, diced
3" piece ginger, grated
1/2 t. fine grain sea salt]
5 T. sunflower oil

Place scallion and ginger in a food  processor with the salt and pulse to make a rough paste. Heat the oil in a small saucepan. When the oil is warm (not hot) add the onion/ginger mixture and heat for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and transfer to a small container. (the paste can be made a day or two in advance, stored in an airtight container in the fridge)

Bring a small pot of water to a boil.  Add the rice stick noodles, remove from heat and allow them to soak for 2-3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain again and set aside.
Fill a large bowl (big enough to fit your spring roll wrappers) with warm water.
Place one of the wrappers in the warm water for 10 seconds. Remove and place on a cutting board, carefully stretching it out to make a round shape.  Working quickly, place 1- 1/2 t. of the ginger/onion paste (drain off as much oil as possible) in the middle of the wrapper. Pile on a small handful of pea shoots, followed by a small amount (1-2 T.) of rice noodles, carrots, 2-3 bell pepper strips and 3-4 pieces of tofu, and 5-6 cilantro leaves.
Fold the bottom over the filling, fold in the sides and continue to roll.  When you are done it should look like a mini burrito. 
Repeat with the remaining wrappers.
When ready to serve, cut in half and serve as is or with your favorite dipping sauce.  Scroll down this page to find the sauce I used here.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Savory Oatmeal Cookies

Cookies. I'm not talking chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin here.

I'm talking cookies chocked full of rolled oats, fresh grated pecorino romano, rosemary and olive oil, topped with sprinkling of flaky, melt on your tongue, maldon salt.

THAT is what I'm talking about.

Enjoy 'em with some tea for a savory breakfast. 

Serve 'em at your next cocktail party with some cheese, nuts and olives.


Just eat 'em straight up!

Savory Oatmeal Cookies (makes 18 cookies)
From The Kitchn

1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup warm water
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup sifted unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Flakey sea salt such as Maldon or fleur de sel

Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Place the oats in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the water over them.
In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, brown sugar and egg. Pour this mixture over the oats, stir to combine, and set aside.
In another mixing bowl, combine the flour, fine sea salt, baking soda, rosemary, and black pepper. Whisk to combine well. Stir in the Parmesan.
Gradually sprinkle the flour mixture over the oat mixture, stirring until combined.
Form 1 tablespoon size scoops of batter and place, evenly spaced on a parchment paper or baking mat-lined cookie sheet. Flatten each piece of dough to about 1/4-inch thick. Use your hands to form an even disk. Sprinkle a pinch of salt on top of each.
Bake for 15-17 minutes, until the edges are slightly darkened.
Remove to a cooling rack.