It’s that time of the year when the weather is getting warmer and I start craving raw and cold salads again. This week, at the farmers’ market, I brought home lots of kohlrabi and turnips with the main intention to eat them raw (which is how I like them better anyway).
I know that a lot of people aren’t particularly excited about turnips, and even though I used to share the same opinion, I’ve been rediscovering this vegetable and absolutely loving its versatility. I’ve been enjoying thinly sliced turnips with just a dash of salt and black pepper as a light snack these days – there’s something about its light and yet slightly bitter flavour that I really love.
Anyway, this salad is pretty much like a coleslaw, with lots of crispiness and different textures. I felt I needed to balance that with a smooth dressing, and that’s how I ended up making an apricot-based one. I was really pleased with how it turned out – it’s sweet and tangy at the same time, with just a hint of cumin to make it more complex and intense.
Farmers’ Market Salad with Apricot-Cumin Dressing
For the salad:
220 g /5 medium sized carrots, grated
140 g /1 large kohlrabi, thinly sliced
120 g /1 large turnip, thinly sliced
200 g /1 large orange, sliced into half-moons
15 g / half a bunch of parsley, finely chopped
15 g / half a bunch of coriander, finely chopped
60 g /1/2 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped, toasted and lightly salted
For the apricot-cumin dressing:
65 g /6 dried unsulphured apricots, roughly chopped
6 Tablespoons olive oil
6 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 Tablespoons water
1 ¼ teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground in a mortar and pestle
¼ teaspoon sea salt
black pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients for the salad in a large bowl.
Put the apricots in a small bowl. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over them, cover the bowl, and let stand for at least 10 minutes, or until the apricots are very soft.
In a blender, combine the drained apricots with all the other ingredients for the dressing. Blend until you get a very smooth mixture.
Pour the dressing over the salad (you might not need all of it, use just enough to coat the vegetables), mix with a wooden spoon or with your hands and serve immediately.
The other day I was going to dinner at my brother’s and was asked to bring dessert. My first plan was to bake a cake – a carrot one – but I didn’t have much time and ended up improvising these raw truffles with the ingredients I already had at home. By now you already know that I’m the kind of cook who likes to “freestyle” in the kitchen, combining ingredients, adjusting here and there, and tasting as I go. The truffles I bring you today were made just like that, with the sort of approach I usually use when cooking savoury dishes.
Turns out, everyone at the table loved the truffles. The cashew, currant and turmeric version is inspired in one of my all-time favourite protein bars, while the one with sunflower seeds and maca powder in it is my brother’s personal favourite (he likes warmer, toasty flavours). I’m particularly happy with the hemp seed, coconut and lime combo though, because it’s fresh and exotic at the same time.
Needless to say, you don’t have to stick with the ingredients I used and should feel free to make your own combinations too. Instead of sunflower seeds, you could use toasted hazelnuts, and if you’re not a fan of maca, you could probably substitute it for a combination of spices such as ginger and/or nutmeg (although not in the same proportion). The possibilities are endless here, just have some fun mix and matching and I’m sure you’ll come up with something delicious.
Little Energy Bites, Three Ways
makes 24 truffles, 8 of each flavour
Sunflower Seed, Figs & Maca
55 g / 1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon sunflower seeds, lightly toasted
95 g / about 12 small dried figs, chopped
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Maca powder
1 Tablespoon Water
pinch of salt
cocoa powder for coating
Add the sunflower seeds to the bowl of a food processor and run the machine until they’re finely ground. Add the remaining ingredients and process once again until a paste comes together. Form 8 truffles with your hands. Roll the truffles in cocoa powder and store in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before eating.
Cashew, Currants & Turmeric
78 g / ½ cup cashews
40 g / 1/3 cup currants
1 ½ Tablespoons brown rice syrup
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
zest of one orange
pinch of salt
Pulverize the cashews in a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and run the machine until a paste comes together. Shape the mixture into 8 balls.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before eating.
Hemp Seeds, Coconut & Lime
60 g / 1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon raw shelled hemp seeds
2 Tablespoons brown rice syrup
5 Tablespoons dried shredded coconut, plus extra for coating
zest of one lime
pinch of salt
Combine all the ingredients in the food processor and run the machine until you get a paste-like mixture. Shape the mixture into 8 truffles – this mixture will be a softer than the other two, but the truffles will harden in the fridge. Roll the truffles into shredded coconut (I like to mix some extra lime zest with coconut). Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before eating.
What I’m about to say might sound a bit weird, especially coming for someone in her mid-twenties who lives relatively close to the sea, but, I do not like going to the beach. I don’t like walking on sand and lying down in a beach towel with the sun hitting my back. I’m also not a fan of swimming (nor I do know how to swim well), particularly when the sea is packed with people (and, this time of the year, it is most of the time). Having said that, summer isn’t the season I’ve been anxiously waiting for the whole year.
But, even thought warm weather (particularly when it’s above the 30 degrees) and salty water aren’t my cup of tea, I do love summer’s produce. Watermelon and peaches are amongst my favourite fruits and I seem not to get enough of them these days. Early in the week, I went to the market and those good looking peaches definitely caught my eye. I was probably too enthusiastic about them, having bought way more than I could realistically eat before they start to over ripe. Not wanting to turn on the oven to bake a peach tart (my original plan), a raw pudding was in order.
Now, everyone who’s into whole foods have probably already used chia seeds to make puddings – it’s quick, almost effortless, and fits into the healthy-guilt-free-dessert category. I kind of regret having arrived late at the chia pudding party, because I definitely didn’t expect this treat to taste so good. It’s the perfect summer dessert – light, fresh and fruity. Did I say it’s also ridiculously easy to make? All you have to do is to peel and cut a couple of peaches and mix them in a food processor with chia seeds and dates. Pulse a few minutes, refrigerate for 1 or 2 hours – so that the chia start doing their magic (aka absorbing the moisture and thickening things up) – and that’s about it. Next time around I’ll be using apricots instead of peaches, and maybe trying out a different version with frozen watermelon, for an even fresher and almost sorbet-like dessert. Wish you guys a great weekend! (:
Summer Peach Pudding
3 large peaches or nectarines / 700 grams, peeled, cored, and cubed
2 medjol dates, finely chopped
55 g / 1/3 cup chia seeds
1 vanilla bean, open lengthwise and seeds scraped (optional)
Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Blend for a few moments or until smooth. Have a taste and, if it’s not as sweet as you’d like, add a few more medjol dates and blend again. Transfer the pudding to small bowls or jars, refrigerate for 2 hours, and serve. Garnish with extra chopped peaches if you like.
The other day I got a big bag full of spring goods from my aunt’s garden – it had snow peas, pea pods and fava beans (also still in their pods) in there. I sat down in front of the tv for a good hour peeling the pea and fava pods, and by the end of it there was this huge pile of green pods and a smaller one with the actual edible produce (that was eaten in the next two or three days). However, the bag also contained a considerable amount of snow peas (and, thankfully, those do not need to be shelled), and even though I love eating them the simplest way possible – sautéed for just a few minutes with garlic and olive oil – I felt I needed to do something a little bit different with them just for the sake of variety. And so this pesto recipe was born.
It’s as easy as it gets – mix a couple ingredients in the food processor, purée, season and enjoy. I prefer my almonds toasted (I think they’re more flavourful that way), but if you don’t want to turn on the oven just to toast them, you could use them in their natural state and still end up with a tasty, somewhat unusual, pesto. I brought some of it to a dinner party and we ate it over bread, crackers and even as a dipping sauce/paste to spring rolls but, really, you could do a whole lot of things with it – it’s excellent as pasta sauce, for instance.
Oh and last, but not the least: this blog is now on facebook. Go over there if you want to follow it as it is going to be updated regularly.
Snow Pea and Roasted Almond Pesto
(makes, roughly, 1 1/2 cups)
200 g snow peas
1/3 cup / 55 g almonds with their skins on
zest and juice of one medium lemon
½ cup / 125 ml extra virgin olive oil
½ plus 1/8 teaspoons sea salt
2 garlic cloves
a few sprigs of lemon thyme
Pre-heat the oven to 180ºc /350 F.
Rinse the snow peas and, while trimming their ends, slide your finger along one side to remove any tough strings. Coarsely chop them.
Arrange the almonds evenly on a baking tray. Roast them for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Set them aside to cool. When the almonds are cool enough to be handled, chop them coarsely.
Put all the chopped snow peas and almonds in the bowl of a food processor along with the other ingredients. Process for 1 to 2 minutes until smooth. Have a taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Transfer the pesto to a large bowl and store in the fridge. Use within 2-3 days.
My friend Ana‘s favourite colour is purple. The other day I was driving back home from her place and stopped at this little grocery store. I was into buying some vegetables for lunch and, subconsciously thinking about the conversation we had about colour that day, I decided to bring home, amongst other things, a purple cabbage. Purple cabbage isn’t the kind of vegetable I eat much. I love cabbage and cook it often but, for some reason, I’ve never cared much for the purple variety. However, after making this salad I guess that is about to change. The cabbage is “cooked” in a garlicky and vinegar-y dressing and the toasted nuts add a nice contrast thanks to their depth and earthiness. I didn’t add any fresh herbs to the whole thing because I didn’t have any at hand, but you can definitely finish it off with some finely chopped parsley or coriander. When it comes to salads, I usually think “The simpler, the better”. Work with a few ingredients, cut them appropriately, make a slighty more acidic/vinegary dressing and you’re good to go. And in case you want to know, I’ve already decided what my next “purple experiment” will be: sauerkraut.
A Purple Salad
½ medium sized / 300 g purple cabbage
½ red onion / 80 g, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons / 30 g toasted peanuts (or walnuts), coarsely chopped
for the dressing:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 big piece / 15 g of fresh ginger, grated
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon agave nectar
zest of one orange
Remove the cabbage’s outer and tougher leaves. Then, cut the cabbage in half and remove its white stalk. Cut each half into paper thin slices. Transfer the shreds of cabbage to a large bowl.
Now, it’s time to make the dressing. Add all the dressing’s ingredients (except the ginger) to a bowl and whisk to combine. Finely grate the ginger and squeeze it over the bowl (you’re not going to use the pulp). Add the sliced onion to the bowl with the dressing and let it sit, covered and at room temperature, for at least 15 minutes. The dressing will “cook” the onion making it softer and sweeter to the palate.
Add the dressing and onion to the bowl with the shredded cabbage. Using your hands, massage the salad for at least 3 minutes or until its volume reduces by half. Serve immediately sprinkled with coarsely chopped peanuts or walnuts (preferably toasted).
Avocado is one of those fruits I always keep handy. I used to use it strictly for making guacamole, but then I started incorporating it into salads and, more recently, smoothies and desserts. Fruit desserts and salads are something I’m particular fond of, and today’s recipe was born out of the need to use a great part of the huge bag of kiwi fruit my aunt gave us (she grew and picked it herself). Don’t be skeptical about the use of avocado in here: its primary function is to give creaminess, and you’ll barely feel its taste. On the other hand, if you’re planning on doing this, it’s key to use ripe kiwi fruit, otherwise it’ll taste bitter and give you this weird feeling in the mouth (at least that’s what happens to me when I eat it underripe). Also, and I know this comes with a bit of a delay, but I wish you all a great 2012, full of exciting projects and recipes (I made this list where I wrote down recipes I want to have on my repertoire, and Socca is the first in line, so I guess this is a hint of what might come up next in here).
*Another reason to convince you to try out the avocado-kiwi fruit combo: Jennifer and Jaclyn’s version of a similar pudding.
Avocado and Kiwifruit Pudding with Lime
for the pudding:
2 avocados (I used one large and one medium sized), (320 g)
7 kiwis (310 g)
½ banana (50 g)
¼ cup (60 ml) agave nectar
zest of two limes
juice of one lime
a few banana slices
2 to 3 kiwis, cut into cubes
fresh mint leaves
1. Put all the ingredients for the pudding in a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
2. Divide the pudding among four small bowls and add a few banana and kiwi fruit slices on top, as well as some mint leaves. Serve and enjoy!
This blog hasn’t been updated in a while and all I can do is to blame the fact that life and its issues have kept/are keeping me busy. I’ve been cooking (although not on a daily basis), but most of the time I just don’t feel like taking pictures of what I’ve cooked and writing down the recipes to make blog posts out of it. It’s not that I don’t like that part of the process, but I just don’t manage to do it as often as I’d like to.
So, the other day I met up with some friends for a picnic and, inspired by this recipe, I made and brought these cocoa truffles, as well as an Ottolenghi-inspired cucumber salad. Everybody enjoyed the truffles and asked how I made them so, dear friends and people, hereby follows the recipe. These ones are so damn delicious and come together in a breeze, so there’s actually no excuses not to make them. As far as toppings go, I used cocoa powder, shredded coconut and a beautiful mix of dried flowers. But you can certainly play around with the toppings and roll the truffles in sesame seeds, a mixture of cinnamon and light muscovado sugar or a combo of finely chopped nuts and fragrant spices. This is also the perfect treat to try out if you have kids around and need a little help molding and rolling the truffles, and of course eating them. ; )
(makes about 18 truffles)
1 cup (80 grams) shredded coconut
3/4 cup (120 grams) almonds, soaked for at least 2 hours before using
8 dried figs (the softer, the better), coarsely chopped (75 grams)
5 tablespoons good quality cocoa powder
3 to 4 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
1 tablespoon tahini
a pinch of salt
shredded coconut, cocoa power, mix of dried flowers for topping
1. Mix all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until a thick paste has formed.
2. Take one or two teaspoons of the mixture at a time and, with your hands, mold the mixture into little balls.
3. Coat the balls with the toppings mentioned above. Enjoy!
recipe inspired by Green Kitchen Stories