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Vinaigrette

Spring Nicoise Salad

Spring Nicoise Salad

Spring is made for salads, especially those tossed with asparagus fresh from the farm. Nothing beats a topping of crisp radishes, too, to compliment the butteriness of the season’s lettuce.

Spring Nicoise Salad

This season – which I long to never part – let’s us rethink our salad bowl – which I love. Love. Love. With it, it brings endless light options for lunch that would be a disgrace to label as boring.

Salad can be fun. And this one more than proves that to be so.

Spring Nicoise Salad

Here, asparagus takes the place of the green beans in a classic Nicoise salad. Aside from that, the make-up is pretty straight forward. Hardboiled eggs? Check. Tuna? Check. Thinly sliced onion? Check. Radishes? Check.

For the asparagus, a simple steam actually works well with this salad, given the complexity of the other flavors. However, if roasted spears are your absolute fav., by all means, get the oven going and go for it.

SpringIf you want to get fancy, you could sear some fresh tuna instead and add it on top. Or reserve that fanciness for the olives and bread you may wish to serve alongside this.

Bright, light and easy to assemble, this is spring at its best.  Cheers.

Spring Nicoise Salad

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Spring Salad with Hard Boiled Egg and Feta

Spring Salad with Hard Boiled Egg and Feta

We’re about to touchdown into my favorite half of the year –  that magical time of spring and summer! According to the calendar, we’ve already made landing there, but Philly seems to be dragging its feet a little. Today, I awoke to a balmy 39 degrees. Only a little short of paradise…

As the shining sun spreads its rays into my window, screaming, “patience grasshopper”, I’ve quickly begun moving my kitchen into spring mode. Late March has launched a revival that fills me with happy anticipation and my fork full of salad greens. Pretty soon, roasted asparagus spears will join us, and I’m ready for it all.

Colorful Eggs

As April nears, young lettuces and tender baby greens will be the first to fill the garden as well as local farmer’s markets. They’ll be paired with spring onions, and soon followed by radishes. All of these early ingredients are what inspired this simple recipe I unfold today. That, and those beautiful eggs you see pictured above, given to me by a new coworker who shares in my love of all things food.

When warm weather hits, I like to lighten up a bit on my plate. Salads like these frequently grace my diet, and leave me feeling every bit as fresh and lively as the produce that fills them. Quick and simple, they also leave me time to go wander around outside. Feel free to add nuts or toasted seeds to this for a little extra crunch, and perhaps pair it with a side of buttered toast, which will compliment both the eggs and greens.

Note, for hard boiling the egg, I use the Martha Stewart method. It works perfectly everytime. You may wish to also hard boil some additional eggs while you’re going through the process for the one in this salad. Keep them on hand for a quick, protein-packed snack. Continue Reading…

Asian Cabbage Slaw with Basil and Ginger

Asian Cabbage Slaw with Ginger and Basil

My blog is going on a 2 week vacation, while its author heads to the West Coast. (Hello California and Portland!) Before it says a brief adieu, however, we are leaving you with this excellent summertime recipe.

Asian Cabbage Slaw with Ginger and Basil

Have no fear if cabbages are ransacking your garden, farmers’ market or CSA share, and you haven’t a clue what to do with them. I can relate. Hence why I’m hoping to help you out here with this recipe before I jet-set away for a few.

That blank state of mind seems to be a yearly occurrence for me when cabbages starting forming into bowling balls by the masses. I really do enjoy cabbage. But what do you make with it that will use it up fast enough? A few shreds on top of some fish tacos won’t begin to peel off those layers. Nor will most pasta sautes and other recipes where cabbage comes in handy.

Of course the simple answer is coleslaw.

Cabbage

While as I said I love cabbage, there’s only so much coleslaw I can tolerate. Cabbage by the masses paired with mayo by the masses ends in feelings of eventual repulsion for the leafy veg.

Not that I’m a mayo-hater or anything. I just can’t eat it with slaw on a regular basis until my family and friends’ gardens stop crying me cabbage.

This Asian slaw however? It’s something my fork could get down with daily. Especially in the summer when almost every lunch/dinner screams for a crunchy, cool salad.

Asian Cabbage Slaw with Ginger and Basil

I like this because it’s refreshing, yet each bite hits you with an immense amount of flavor. You get sesame paired with summer basil, and a slightly sweet and spicy kick from the rice vinegar paired with the ginger. Use a food processor to make its assembly easy, and feel free to top with roasted peanuts or any other garnish of your choice.

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Kale and Strawberry Salad over Bulgur Wheat

Kale and Strawberry Salad

Strawberry picking in the city is a funny thing. Or I guess I should technically say just outside the city – the ‘burbs.

You see, where I grew up, when you wanted to pick fruit, you drove to the local farm. You’d stop and say hello with one of the old-timers, who was of course part of the family farm. Usually, he be missing a few teeth. Always, he’d be armed with directions to the sweetest patch of fruit. He’d give you a basket or box to go pick, and then you’d be on your way.

It was always a swell time.

Kale and Strawberry Salad

In (or just outside) the city, it’s certainly a swell time, too. But the scene looks a little (and by that I mean a lot) different.

When you roll up to the ‘burbs farm, or at least the one I recently visited, you find not old geezers hanging around in their holey shirts and overalls. Nope. Instead, you find a parking lot packed with 200+ cars. I kid you not.

You also find kids. And cameras. And hot dog stands. And maybe even a carnival ride. Not sure if that last part actually existed where I went, but there was definitely some kind of train riding and face painting action going on, and I felt as though I might as well have been at a carnival. Although again, the only thing that was missing was the guys with no teeth.

What really set the experience apart, however, was the part where I had to pay $5 before even going to pick the strawberries I dreamt about all morning. Pay-before-you-pick? City picking isn’t cheap, I tell you. In fact, you might be better off just buying a few pints at the store. But that’s obviously no fun, right? It’s okay. I ate my weight in strawberries while out in the field to make up for it.

Kale and Strawberry Salad

I left my gorging-on-strawberries, red-stained, kid-like self in the strawberry field, and decided to become an adult again once I returned home. The results are this salad.

After this, I can tell you for once, I feel okay about getting older. Strawberries in my kale salad? Heck, I’ll call myself an adult any day if that’s what comes from it. Just don’t quote me on that when I’m eating a large bowl of strawberries and ice cream for dessert. And the strawberry juice is running all down my face. Because I’m licking the bowl. Because I’m a kid. At heart.

A little salty (thank you feta), a little sweet (cheers to local strawberry season), and a little earthy (thank you almighty kale), this salad hits every note in all the right ways. Plate it up over cooked bulgur to make it a meal, or send it off to a picnic and become the star of the party.  It won’t let you down – even if your strawberry experience is a bit more dubious.

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Tahini Goddess Dressing

Tahini Goddess Dressing

It’s not all that infrequent that I’m caught engaging in a long, passionate conversation about tahini.  Me and tahini are good friends. And me and tahini make new friends together.

Somehow in recent months, it’s been showing up a lot. At random parties. At bars. At food events. There I am, talking about tahini. You could say it’s kind of like the weather, although a much more dynamic discourse.

Soom tahini

As such, bonding sessions over its magnificence aren’t uncommon in my life, nor are shared meals with tahini at the center. I go through a lot of jars, and there’s an instant connection with others I meet who do too.

So, of course, I was thrilled to come across Soom Foods Tehina, a new company started by three sisters in my very own city. Girlpower + tahini (aka, tehina) + Philadelphia…boom.

Without much effort, these ladies convinced Zahav — undeniably not just one of the best Israeli spots but also one of the best restaurants in Philadelphia — to switch completely over to their tahini. When I got word of that, the rest was history. I needed to try Soom’s Tehina. And before Zahav took it all. (They go through 100 lbs each week! The owner/chef also has a hummus restaurant in the works…)

As written on the jar, “Soom Foods was founded by three sisters, Shelby, Jackie and Amy Z (SheJAmz for short). Shelby had a business degree. Jackie married a Tehina expert. And Amy needed a job.” What’s come of it? A paste made from white Humera sesame seeds that’s starting to gain some buzz. It’s the high quality Humera seeds that distinguish Soom Foods. They provide a rich, smooth, oiliness that’s just not quite there in standard tahini you’d get. Like a good peanutty version, this is the kind of butter you could eat by the spoon.

Clearly though, it’s best in recipes like this. Tahini dressings are my jam – for roasted broccoli (Dishing Up The Dirt knows what I’m talking about!), for grain + veggie bowls (see suggestion to follow), for salads, veggie sticks, and more. It’s a great go-to to have stored in the fridge for when you want to whip up a quick, simple dinner and have an addicting sauce to pour over it. Steam up some veggies and/or cook up some grains/lentils/beans, add this, and you’ve got a memorable meal after very little effort.

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