Vegetables: It’s what’s for dinner.

I have had gazpacho on the BRAIN. Caps, for emphasis. As in, I mentioned to Michael several times that I might make it, would make it, was planning on making it.

On Sunday, we stopped by a farm stand post-beach, and I bought a pound of tomatoes. These were not just for salads. These were my gazpacho tomatoes.

We also had kale. And Michael was asking for kale chips, again. We really do love them! I know lots of bloggers make kale chips (and green monsters, and overnight oats, and the like…and yes, I like them all!) and it’s KIND OF overdone, but hey. I’m showing mine off anyway.

This gazpacho was inspired by The Curvy Carrot. I like my soups kind of chunky and stew like – even in a gazpacho. Certainly puree yours more if you don’t.

Here’s what I did:

1 pound of tomatoes
1/2 cup cucumber
1/2 cup kohlrabi, sliced into matchsticks
1 ear of corn, with kernels cut
1/2 large avocado, sliced into bite sized pieces
juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup of water
1 tbsp each: parsley, basil, mint
1/8 tsp each: chipotle pepper, smoked paprika (I used Penzey spices for both)
salt and pepper to taste

In food processor, combine tomatoes and cucumber and pulse until desired consistency. Pour into bowl. Add remaining ingredients, spices and water. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. I let it sit for 30 minutes before serving.

For the kale chips:

~ 6 large kale leaves, destemmed and cut into pieces
1 tbsp coconut oil
smoked salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 400. In a large baggie, throw in all your kale and coconut oil. Seal bag and shake it up to coat all the leaves. Line a baking dish with parchment paper or tinfoil, and invert the bag and spread out the kale.

Cook about 8-10 minutes, and keep checking on them – they go from crispy to burnt very quickly! Remove and top with salt. 🙂

Carrot Tahini Heaven (Or, The Healing Salad)

We should talk about this. Now, this little baby? I make it a lot. The first time I made it for Michael, he asked me to make it again, immediately. As in, for lunch the next day. If you know him, you’ll know he doesn’t like repeating foods that often.

The reason I love this is multi-fold: 1) It’s just really good. It’s crunchy, salty and sweet. 2) It’s versatile. I have subbed out the carrots for everything from kale to cucumber and broccoli and mixed up everything in between and we love it every time. 3) It’s really good for you. The properties in this salad are very healing. Let me extol the virtues.

Carrots are full of vitamins A and C. These are good for reducing inflammation, increasing bone metabolism and of course, it’s good for your eyes. (Remember when Michael had laser eye surgery? I fed him this for sure. It’s no joke that carrots are good for your eyes!).

Walnuts may be high in fat, but it’s “good” fat. And depending on how you like your diet macros to be, you’ll need some fat anyway. It keeps you feeling full longer and fat in the form of walnut is full of antioxidants.

Turmeric is what gives curry powder its distinctive yellow color. The benefit (depending on what you read) is vast. My dad’s oncologist even suggested he eat more turmeric, curry and ginger because of their healing properties, anti-inflammatory qualities, and possible increase in cell reaction to chemotherapy. Studies have shown a reduction in alzheimer’s disease in populations who consume turmeric, and it’s been known to help with arthritis.

What’s the wonder in tahini? Hidden source of calcium. I know, and I thought it was just a plain old delicious fat source and an ingredient in hummus. Not so. It’s full of B vitamins and a tablespoon is about one third of your daily requirement of calcium. With bones to heal up in our house – we need more calcium!

Aside from that, I pretty much always have these ingredients in the house – including raisins and parsley. I love fresh herbs. So, this is my go-to meal when we have nothing else left in the cabinet. Tends to happen on Wednesday, because Thursday is shopping day, of course.

And if you don’t have carrots, I recommending chopping up whatever you have on hand and just slathering on the tahini dressing. It’s so good, I can’t even really contain myself.

I got the recipe about a year ago from Lunch Box Bunch. I have made it just as directed, with and without tofu, with and without nutritional yeast and so forth. I mainly make it the way I’ve listed below.

Here’s what you do:

  • carrots, cut into matchsticks (how many depends on how many people you want to feed. You can just adjust the dressing accordingly later)
  • raisins
  • chopped walnuts
  • parsley

I kind of use a ratio of 5 carrots to 1/4 of raisins and a couple tbsp of walnuts and a palmful of parsley. That would feed both of us, with a protein of some sort on the side (I usually go for hard boiled eggs. My choice for muscle repair.). Adjust as you need to. Put everything into a salad bowl and get working on your dressing.

I use this ratio for one serving of dressing. Increase as you need to.

  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp sweet curry powder (I prefer Penzy’s, but you can use any kind you like – even hot curry)
  • salt and pepper
  • water (to fluff the tahini)

Add tahini, maple syrup, curry, salt and pepper (a pinch of each) to a small bowl. If you haven’t fluffed tahini before – it’s FUN! Add a little water and wisk it up. If it seems like nothing is happening, just keep going. The color will get lighter and the tahini will become thicker and…fluffier. Ha. I add as much water as I need to get a thick dressing consistency. Pour over the salad and mix it up.

That’s about it!

Thai-Style Salmon and Vegetable Curry

Last night I was hankering for a good curry but my pantry was out of premade Thai curry paste. (The Taste of Thai brand is available at many grocery stores, but I prefer the Maesri brand that you find at Asian markets). I improvised and combined a Thai recipe for cilantro pesto with my usual method for a vegetable curry, and threw in some coconut milk and salmon. Using precooked salmon is a bit of a cheat but makes the dish come together very quickly; substitute shrimp, chicken or tofu (raw or cooked – just add it to the pot with the zucchini and snow peas if you are using raw protein or tofu).

Once you chop off its roots, store the rest of the cilantro in a glass of water on the countertop or in the refrigerator. Treat it like a bunch of flowers and change the water every few days, chopping off the bottom inch or so of stems before returning it to the glass. The cilantro will stay fresh for a week or more – longer if you also put a plastic bag over the glass.

 Thai-Style Salmon and Vegetable Curry

  •  1 bunch of cilantro
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, or more
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Peanut or other vegetable oil
  • One small onion, sliced
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon of curry powder (Madrasbrand is my favorite)
  • 1 14-oz can of coconut milk
  • Water, chicken broth, or veggie broth
  • 1 large or 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut on a angle into slices
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, sliced (optional)
  • 1 medium or 2 small zucchini, cut into ½” cubes
  • A couple handfuls of snow peas or sugar snap peas, washed and string removed
  • About 1 lb of cooked salmon (I used some precooked wild salmon that I bought from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1-2 teaspoons of sugar (white or brown)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of fish sauce (optional but totally worth it)
  • Salt and pepper (use white pepper, if you have it)
  1. Open the coconut milk with a can opener. Don’t worry if the coconut oil has solidified and separated from the liquid.
  2. Cut the roots off of the cilantro, leaving about 2” of the lower stem attached to the roots. Soak the roots in a bowl of cool water to loosen the dirt and then rub them with your fingers to clean them. Rinse the roots a couple more times until clean. 
  3. Chop the cilantro roots and garlic together until minced fine. Add the salt and pepper and continue to chop and smash everything together with the side of the knife. 
  4. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a small pot and add the garlic-cilantro paste. Cook, stirring, for about a minute or until fragrant. Add the sliced onion and sauté for a couple of minutes until the onion begins to soften, then add the curry powder and sauté another minute.
  5. Add the coconut milk and stir well (note: if the coconut oil has solidified in the can, scoop it out and add it to the pan now. Save the liquid and add that in the next step along with the water or broth). Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, stirring often, until the liquid has mostly evaporated and the oil begins to separate. 
  6. Add 1-2 cups of water or broth, depending on how soupy you like your curry, and stir well. Add the carrots (and bell pepper, if using one ) and cook ~3 minutes, then add the zucchini and snow peas. Cook about 5 minutes until the vegetable are tender but still bright-colored and not mushy. Add the salmon, fish sauce, sugar and lime juice and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. 
  7. Turn off the heat and serve immediately over hot cooked rice. Make 4 main-dish servings.

Raspberry and Currant Jam

By Karen Yates, Melrose Depot

A friend told me about a wonderful raspberry and currant jam that her grandmother used to make. I pieced this recipe together from several currant-containing confitures I found in my collection of vintage cookbooks. It was a bit tart for my taste; when I tried a second batch, I used 5 baskets of raspberries, 3 baskets of currants, and increase the sugar to 1 cup per cup of puree. I preferred the sweeter, raspberry-heavy version, but when I mailed a jar of each to my friend she said that the first one was a dead ringer for her Grandma’s.

Making jam without powdered pectin is not as hard as I’d though it would be. After my first few attempts, though, I realized that I was cooking the jam for too long. Be sure to start checking for the jellying point* about 5 minutes of boiling after you’ve added the sugar.

Ingredients:

  • Red raspberries
  • Red currants
  • Sugar
  • A large pot, at least 6 qt in volume, ideally with a heavy bottom
  • Half-pint canning jars and lids, washed and prepared for processing
  1. Use equal amount (by weight or volume) of raspberries and currants. For my first batch, I used 2 lbs of each fruit, or four baskets.
  2. Wash and drain the currants in a colander – no need to remove them from the stems. Place a layer of currants into the pot and crush lightly using a potato masher or spatula. Repeat until all the currants are in the pot. Turn the heat on and bring the currants to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes.
  3. Rinse and drain the raspberries and add them to the pot. Bring the fruit to a simmer again and cook for another 15 minutes or so. Turn off the heat.
  4. Working in batches, put the cooked fruit through a food mill or strainer. I used a vegetable strainer attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer, but you could use a handheld food mill too – just be sure that the mesh is fine enough to remove the currant seeds and stems (some raspberry seeds will get through no matter what you do). Transfer the strained puree to a bowl as you work.
  5. Measure the puree and return it to the pot. Calculate how much sugar you will need: Âľ cup of sugar per cup of puree. (For example, when I used 2 lbs of currants and 2 lbs of raspberries, I ended up with 5 cups of puree. So I measured out 5 x Âľ = 3-3/4 cups of sugar). Put the sugar in a large bowl and set it next to the stove.
  6. Turn the heat on medium high and bring the puree to a boil; let it boil for 5 minutes. Add the sugar all at once and stir well; keep stirring until the mixture comes to a boil again. Reduce the heat slightly and let it cook. Start testing for the jellying point after 5 minutes.
  7. When the jam is ready, turn off the heat. Pour into clean, hot half-pint jars, seal, and process in an open kettle for 15 minutes. Remove the jars from the kettle and let them stand, undisturbed, overnight. Check the seals and store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator.

*There are a few ways to do this. I prefer the sheet test method, because it’s quick and easily done while you stand at the stove.

Chilled Cucumber Salad

Jennifer Ritter, Marblehead Tuesday Depot Coordinator,  heard a great suggestion for a chilled cucumber salad yesterday – chop them up, lightly salt them and let sit for a bit, then toss in some sesame oil and rice wine vinegar.