20 April 2014

Broccolini vinaigrette with chopped egg and red onion

Broccolini vinaigrette with chopped egg and red onion

Everyone has been on the asparagus bandwagon lately. I have too. The roasted asparagus is just jumping onto our plates. But you know what? So are all the other spring vegetables.

How about broccolini?

No one is singing the praises of broccolini this spring. Why not? It's tender, delicious, sweet, and available in nice bunches for your eating pleasure. Go get some!

Broccolini and broccoli rabé are not quite the same thing. Broccolini is sweeter and has bigger, floppier blossoms; broccoli rabé is more bitter, with tighter, more broccoli-like blossoms. They're close enough to each other that they're frequently mislabeled, and they're definitely interchangeable in recipes, but the two flavors will be a little different. If you prefer a more tender green, broccolini is the way to go; if bitter greens are your thing, broccoli rabé. Either one should make a delicious salad.

You can, of course, make this with asparagus too, but why not go for something completely different?

Broccolini vinaigrette with chopped egg and red onion

Broccolini vinaigrette with chopped egg and red onion

red onion
hard-boiled egg
olive oil
lemon wedge
salt & pepper

If you need to hard-boil an egg, do it in advance. I boil mine for eight to nine minutes, depending on size, and ice them immediately when done. You can use whatever method you like best.

Start by trimming the ends of as much broccolini as you want to eat. I used half a small bunch for one lunch-sized serving; a whole bunch could serve two for lunch or three to four as a side.

Steam your broccolini over boiling water. After three minutes, pull out all the thinner stems. Continue to steam the thicker stems for about two more minutes before pulling them as well. (If you're using broccoli rabé, you may need to add a few minutes to the steaming time.) Let them sit for a minute to let the clinging water evaporate, but don't shock them in cold water unless you want a cold salad.

While your broccolini is steaming and resting, finely mince a slice or two of red onion. You can also use shallot if you like. Peel your hard-boiled egg and finely mince it as well. You'll want about half an egg per serving; I left the second half of mine whole and just ate it alongside my broccolini with some salt and extra red onion.

Dress your broccolini in a light drizzle of olive oil, turning to coat all sides. Arrange the pieces on a plate. Squeeze a lemon wedge over all, scatter with a tablespoon of red onion and one of egg, and season with salt and pepper.

It's so good.

What new spring vegetables are you most excited to eat?

15 April 2014

Strawberry ginger yogurt smoothie

Strawberry ginger yogurt smoothie

It's spring and my system wants all the fresh berries as immediately as possible.

That means it's time for...a smoothie with no banana!

I don't know about you guys, but I cannot stand frozen bananas in smoothies. For a long time, this made me think I didn't like smoothies. (Well, this plus my continued distaste for washing the blender.) But I was wrong, because guess what I can sub in? Yogurt.

So the ubiquitous vat of plain yogurt isn't just for curries, garnishes, and labneh anymore -- it's also my standby for cramming my face full of as much fresh fruit and veg as possible. Hooray!

I broke out the new spring strawberries and went to work.

Strawberries and ginger are an amazing combination in my book, so I punched up this smoothie with a chunk of fresh ginger. If you find the zing of ginger too strong, you can add a small apple, peeled and chopped, but be aware that the yogurt will tame it a bit too. Personally, I prefer the full-zing version, but both are very good. It's up to you and your taste buds. And of course you can always add more ginger for the most exciting smoothie in the land!

I used a standard plain full-fat yogurt for this smoothie. If you happen to have Greek yogurt instead, you can halve the amount and thin your smoothie accordingly with the milk of your choice. It's all good.

Strawberry ginger yogurt smoothie

Strawberry ginger yogurt smoothie

3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced or grated
1 1/2 cups chopped strawberries
(optional apple)

Put everything in a blender, with the yogurt on the bottom and the strawberries on top. Liquefy thoroughly. Pour into the glass of your choosing and drink. Makes approximately 1 pint.

Strawberry ginger yogurt smoothie

This smoothie makes a perfect breakfast or mid-morning break on those days when you can't quite bring yourself to eat something hot. So good!

How are you eating your fresh spring strawberries? Any fantastic smoothies in your current rotation?

11 April 2014

Roasted beet salad with butter lettuce and sliced eggs

Salads are the best. Salads that fulfill the lunch quota for the day are even better.

This time I went for a contrast in temperature and texture as well as flavor. Beets and eggs still warm from cooking over cool, crunchy lettuce, covered with a tangy, herby vinaigrette? Perfect. I ate a plateful for lunch, had a sliced apple for dessert, and was thus well prepared for an afternoon's work. Yay!

For an added bonus, you can absolutely make 90% of this salad in advance. Roasted beets, hard-boiled eggs, and vinaigrette all keep quite well for a good week, so you can have a prep party and get all of them ready on a long, lazy weekend afternoon. A few days later, when you discover that you need to eat lunch immediately, you can assemble it on the spot and go.

I kept this salad super simple, with only three main ingredients, but you can absolutely up the fance factor if you so desire. A handful of toasted almonds or walnuts, some beautifully garlicky croutons, or a scattering of crumbled feta or goat cheese would all be excellent over hearty, earthy-sweet beets. Extra crunch and tang? Yes, please.

Roasted beet salad with butter lettuce and sliced eggs

2-3 small beets or 1 large
2 eggs
butter lettuce
salt & pepper
vinaigrette of your choice

To roast your beets: Preheat the oven to 400F while you scrub your beets under running water. Trim the stems, saving the leaves for the braised, stir-fried, or ensoupenated application of your choice.

Wrap the beets in foil, put them in a small casserole dish, and roast for about 45 to 60 minutes, or until tender to the point of a knife.

When your beets are done, give them a few minutes to cool, and then slip off the skins with your fingers. Slice into whatever size pieces you prefer.

To hard-boil your eggs: put your eggs in a small pot with a lid and cover them with water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, covered, for eight minutes for large eggs and nine for extra-large.

Immediately remove the pan from the heat, drain off the hot water, and cover your hot eggs with cold water and ice. When cool enough to handle, peel under running water. Slice.

To assemble your salad: Wash and spin dry your lettuce. Tear or chop it into bite-sized pieces.

Arrange your lettuce on a plate. Top with your beets and eggs. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with vinaigrette. I did a simple oil-vinegar-dijon combination with some added parsley, but I think this herb vinaigrette would be good too. Even a squeeze of lemon would be good.

Beautiful and delicious.

What salads are you eating this spring?