Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Buttered Baguette Ice Cream + Gianduja, Peach Sauce, and Peach Leather

I saw this idea for an add-in for store-bought vanilla ice cream in a great ice cream article by Tara Bench in LHJ and had to develop it from scratch as part of a summer version of fresh baguette with chocolate-hazelnut paste and peaches. It's one of those things you just have to taste to believe. Use some special butter like Plugra for the richest, crunchiest bits of baguette throughout the ice cream. Be amusing and top with what you'd usually put on baguette, like gianduja or a fruit sauce instead of jam.

Buttered Baguette Ice Milk

roughly 3 tablespoons Plugra butter
15 1/4-inch slices of baguette bread
2 tablespoons neufchâtel cheese
1 1/2 cups 2% milk (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup cane sugar (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon Maldon sea salt flakes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter both sides of the baguette slices and set them on a pan. Put it the oven for about 10-15 minutes until all start to lightly brown and become crunchy. Set aside on a plate for a couple of hours or even overnight. When it's completely cooled and crisp, pulse baguette slices in the food processor until you have fine crumbs. Set aside.

Whisk the cheese, milk, whipping cream, sugar, vanilla, and salt together. Put into your ice cream maker and let it spin for about 30 minutes; you'll know when it's ready when you see it start to fluff up and creep up the sides of the container as it goes around. At this point, spoon in the baguette crumbs. Once they're dispersed, immediately spoon ice milk into a container and place it in the freezer for at least 4 hours so it hardens. Top as you wish -- see above for tips -- or serve it plain. (Makes 1 quart.)

I love the ease and expertise in this video about making raspberry tuiles and wondered if the same technique would work with peaches. It does! It seriously tastes like a fresh peach Fruit Roll-Up. You can also cut it up into shapes or roll it into tiny cylinders as a part of this dessert.

Peach Leather

6 peaches (for peach purée)
2 tablespoons cane sugar
pinch of Maldon sea salt flakes

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. To make the purée, peel and pit peaches, and then put the flesh into a blender. Set it on high for a minute until there are no lumps. Into a bowl, strain out the pulp using a fine-mesh sieve. Rinse the blender and then add strained juice, sugar, and salt and blend on high for another minute.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silpat. Spread peach mixture in a thin layer across it. Bake for 2 hours. Lift it carefully using a knife to loosen the edges. Use scissors to cut sections of it from the pan. We rolled 1/2-inch strips into small, loose rolls as a pastry decoration and placed them on a plate to set.

Peach Jam / Peach Sauce

12 peaches (peeled and pits removed)
2 1-inch strips of lemon zest
juice from half a lemon
pinch of Maldon sea salt flakes

Mash peaches in bowl with a potato masher. Add peaches, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt to a medium saucepan. Cook on a low or simmer setting for an hour. Stir occasionally, about every ten minutes. Let jam cool before you spoon it into containers. For a smooth peach sauce, strain the warm jam through a fine-mesh strainer or put it through a food mill. Store either in a jar in the fridge and use within a week or put up a jar in the freezer to enjoy later.


For my first time making this, I just followed this classic chocolate-hazelnut paste recipe to a T and added a small scoop of it plus toasted, finely chopped hazelnuts on the dessert.

For more fun with peaches, check out some of our other recipes:

Grilled Peach Ice Cream

Peach + Tarragon Pesto Pizza

Oven Roasted Peaches and Cream

Sweet Potato Pancakes with Peaches and Pecans

Monday, June 25, 2012

eaTABLE Supper Club: June 24, 2012

What a night! On Sunday, we cooked a 6-course dinner for 16 people under the stars in a beautiful outdoor kitchen. We couldn't have pulled it off without our wonderful hosts, the Fishes, and our friends Margot McNeely of Project Green Fork, who coordinated and decorated, and Jody Moyt, Executive Chef at Owen Brennan's, who kept things calm and moving forward in the kitchen.

This is the third eaTABLE supper club event presented by us here at The Chubby Vegetarian. (We did all-vegan comfort food last fall for comforTABLE. And our first one with a Latin theme back in 2010 was actually the first eaTABLE!) 

It's hard work to prepare and present so many dishes to so many people in an unfamiliar kitchen. It's usually an all-weekend event for us from menu planning to shopping at the farmers markets, to prepping the sauces and ingredients, and then packing, transporting, and unpacking. It's fun, but can be a little head-spinning. Why do we keep doing it? It's simple, really. This particular group of people are such an appreciative audience. They are there for the experience and to try something new, so that is what we wanted to give them.

We called the menu comporTABLE, which means 'appropriate and suitable'. Since we were eating poolside out in the heat, we wanted to keep the food fairly light. Here is what we came up with for the menu:

1. Banh Mi Spring Rolls
Local Shiitake Paté, Cucumber, Do Chao, Sriracha

2. Corn + Fennel Stuffed Squash Blossom 
Grilled Zucchini, Crookneck Sauce, Fennel Pollen

3. Grilled Watermelon Steak
Jewel Tomatoes, Goat Cheese, Honey-Lime Vinaigrette

4. Deconstructed Potato Salad
Truffled Grilled Potato, Five-Minute Egg, Pickled Mustard Seed, Greens

5. Chorizo Stuffed Pepper
Chipotle-Tomato Sauce, Corn Nuts

6. Buttered Baguette Ice Cream 
Peach Jam, Gianduja

We had a blast cooking and are so glad that we were asked to participate this time. In other news, we will have information for you this week about another upcoming TCV dinner at an East Memphis restaurant in late July; we would love it if some you would be able to attend!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cheese-Stuffed Anaheim Chili Pepper

The pepper crop from Concord Farms is rolling in, and we've been using them as fast as we can. We have pickled a bunch of jalapeños, used fragrant green bell peppers for the filling of a socca crepe, and been lit on fire by some unidentified pepper that looks a lot like a devil's horn.

We are pepper-rich these days with almost every kind of pepper you can imagine -- except poblanos.  No poblano, no problem-o. This is a dish similar to the ubiquitous "Chili Poblano" you will find on the menu at most Mexican restaurants.We used the light green variety of Anaheim peppers in the place of the poblanos with delicious results. 

Cheese-Stuffed Anaheim Chili Pepper

6 Anaheim peppers (about 5 inches long)
1/2 pound smoked Gouda (shredded)
1 cup canola oil (for frying)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Spiced Batter (recipe follows)
Chipotle Tomato Sauce (recipe follows)
sour cream 
Mexican crema (to garnish)
finely chopped pickled jalapeño (optional, to garnish)

Using a paring knife, make a slit all the way down the long end of the pepper without going through to the other side. Gently open the pepper and insert your knife in order to cut the seeds loose from the top of the pepper. Pull out the seeds with your hands. Stuff each pepper loosely with the Gouda cheese. Repeat until all peppers are stuffed. 

In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, heat the canola oil until it shimmers.

Dust each pepper in the flour in order to allow the batter to adhere to the pepper's slick skin. Roll each stuffed pepper one at a time through the Spiced Batter and make sure every surface is covered. (This will keep the cheese from leaking.)

Lay the pepper into the hot oil and allow it to cook for about 2 minutes before turning. Once all sides are golden brown, remove the pepper and place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet in a 350-degree oven to keep warm. It's best to fry the peppers in batches of 2 or 3.

To serve, place a spoonful of the Chipotle Tomato Sauce onto the center of a plate, top that with one Cheese-Stuffed Anaheim, and garnish with sour cream and pickled peppers. It goes well with rice and beans on the side.

Spiced Batter

1 egg (beaten)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon finely chopped cilantro
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

Mix the egg, flour, water, garlic, cilantro, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Use a whisk to work out any lumps. The batter should be thicker than pancake batter.

Chipotle Tomato Sauce 

2 cups chopped Roma tomato
1 smoked chipotle pepper (from a can)
1 cup sweet onion
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons tomato paste
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

Place the tomato pepper, onion, chili powder, cumin, and tomato paste into the work bowl of your food processor and blend until smooth. Place mixture into a medium pot over medium heat and allow mixture to cook until thickened. Stir the mixture often to prevent the bottom from scorching. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Caramelized Fennel + Corn Gnocchi

We had this dish at Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen here in Memphis about 2 1/2 years ago, and it's been on our own at-home dinner menu ever since. The combination is perfect. The corn retains a crunch and adds a subtle sweetness to the sauce, and the fennel, when caramelized, becomes mild and creamy. This dish is proof that you can do a lot with a few ingredients and a bit of imagination.

The sauce comes together in no time, so if you buy the gnocchi you could be eating this dish in under 30 minutes from start to finish. Try this one at home; you will love it.

Caramelized Fennel + Corn Gnocchi

Microwave Gnocchi
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
2 cups fennel (cored, thinly sliced)
1/8 cup sliced shallot
1/4 cup white wine (like pinot Grigio)
1 cup corn (one large ear cut away from the cob)
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup grated parmesan (more for garnish)

sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
fennel fronds (for garnish)
black truffle oil (optional, for garnish)

Make the gnocchi according to the recipe and set it aside while you make the sauce. Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once the sauce is finished, you will need that water to cook the gnocchi. 

In a large pan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the fennel and shallot to the pan. Continue to cook until the fennel is soft and translucent and beginning to caramelize, about 15-20 minutes. Turn the heat up to medium-high and deglaze the pan with the wine. Allow the wine to reduce until most of the liquid has evaporated. Turn off the heat, add the corn, half and half, and the parmesan cheese. Stir to incorporate.

Cook gnocchi in boiling, salted water until they float. Remove gnocchi from the water using a slotted spoon and place it directly into the sauce. Toss to coat. Divide gnocchi between 4 plates and garnish with fennel fronds, black truffle oil, sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste. (Serves 4.)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Rosemary-Lemon Cookies

We asked a good friend of ours who is expecting twin girls this summer if she was having any cravings. She was ecstatic about all kinds of sweets, especially the rosemary shortbread someone she knew made recently, and that sounded really good to us, too, right about now.

There's so much rosemary flourishing in the garden--big, established plants that come back even stronger each spring--and sometimes it's tough to find a use for all of it since it grows so fast. The first steps of this cookie recipe are chopping up the leaves of a fragrant fistful of just-picked rosemary and then using your hands to mix it with sugar, salt, and lemon zest; this makes the kitchen smell amazing.

The funny thing about these is they fall on that line between sweet and savory. Kind of like our hazelnut-black pepper cocktail cookies, it's your call: have them with milk or top with parmesan and  enjoy them with a glass of wine.

Rosemary-Lemon Cookies

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (stems removed; finely chopped)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (from 2 organic lemons)
1/2 cup cane sugar  (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
1 egg
1/2 cup olive oil margarine (melted)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (unbleached; like Whole Foods 365 brand)
1 teaspoon baking powder (aluminum-free; like Whole Foods 365 brand)

(First, a trick for easily getting the leaves of the rosemary off the stems: press the stems into your cutting board and the leaves will flatten, allowing you to cut a bunch of them off the stem at once. Pulling them off bit by bit is too much of a pain!)

Combine rosemary, salt, lemon zest, cane sugar, and brown sugar in a bowl. Mix it well and set aside. In another bowl, whisk the egg and then add the margarine and vanilla and stir. Pour in the sugar-rosemary mixture and stir. Set aside. Whisk together the flour and baking powder and add to the wet ingredients. Mix until none of the flour is visible. Chill dough in a container in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chilled dough onto lightly floured surface, flour your rolling pin, and roll out thinly to about 1/4-inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter or a glass to cut cookies. Place on 2 parchment-lined cookie sheets and bake until edges are golden brown, about 12 minutes. (Makes 24 cookies.)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Blueberry Cream Snow Cones

This snow cone is actually an easy granita, but isn't it more fun for everyone to go ahead and call it a snow cone? We miss pulling up to the old SnoBiz , the one that was in the parking lot of Poplar and Kirby in East Memphis. We used to hold up the line considering the dizzying array of sugary choices only to ultimately decide on our usual. We'd either get Mud Pie or Black Cherry, both with extra cream on top for richness. That's the idea that inspired this dessert. 

These snow cones were made with fresh, in-season blueberries and local honey, which may make it the best snow cone you've ever had. We added orange flower water (available in specialty grocery stores or online) to reinforce the floral nose truly fresh blueberries possess. You can do this same operation with other berries and add whatever you like to the top to customize your own grown-up snow cone. 

Blueberry Cream Snow Cones

2 pints fresh blueberries
2 cups water
1/2 cup cane sugar (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon orange flower water
2 tablespoons local honey

half and half (to garnish)

In a medium pan over medium heat, cook the blueberries, water, sugar, and lemon juice for 10 minutes to soften the berries. Run the mixture through a food mill or blend it in a food processor and strain it using a fine mesh strainer in order to remove any of the blueberry pulp. Stir in the orange flower water and the honey. Allow the mixture to cool.

Pour mixture into a 9 x 13 inch ceramic casserole dish and place into the freezer. After one hour, stir the mixture; use a fork to break up any lumps and return it to the freezer. After another hour, use a fork to scrape the surface of the ice, stir, pack it back town, and return it to the freezer. After one additional hour, it will be ready to serve.

To serve, scrape the surface of the ice with the tines of a fork. This will create what looks like purple snow. Using an ice cream scoop, place two scoops in a cup, top it with a 1 1/2 teaspoons of half and half, and enjoy. (Makes 6 servings.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Grilled Muffuletta Pizza + Pickled Mustard Seeds

(We just had to feature a grilling recipe today in order to highlight Jennifer Chandler being mentioned on during their grill week for her cookbook Simply Grilling! What a great thing to wake up to on a regular old Tuesday morning.)

Hey, don't be afraid to grill pizza dough. It's way easier than it sounds. The best part is that you can make the dough and put this whole meal together in less time than it takes to order a mediocre pizza. You can use this grill top method for all other kinds of pizza, too -- on the same night, we also made truffled grilled potato pizza with goat cheese.

For our mash-up of a pizza, make the olive dressing a day (or at least a couple of hours) ahead of time, and assembling it will be easy from there. The Pickled Mustard Seed recipe is something you'll just have to wait to see. Sure, there are other versions out there, but we talked Andy and Michael out of their Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen recipe, and it'll be included in an upcoming article we wrote for Edible Memphis.

Grilled Muffuletta Pizza

Beer Pizza Crust (makes 3 crusts)
Vegetarian Olive Dressing (recipe follows)
olive oil (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
1 pound provolone cheese (shredded)
Pickled Mustard Seeds or Creole Mustard
1 cup chopped parsley

Follow my beer crust instructions, but be sure to omit the honey since it will burn on the grill. There is no need to allow time for the crust to rise either. This is a quick dough. 

Turn your outdoor grill on the highest setting and shut the lid in order to preheat it. Roll each dough ball out as thinly as you can; use a rolling pin to make about a 10-12 inch crust. Don't worry about it being a perfect circle -- this is supposed to be rustic. 

Drizzle each circle with about a teaspoon of olive oil and rub it into the surface of the dough on the top and bottom. Using your hands, lay a disk of dough onto the grill grates. Once the top surface is bubbly and the bottom side is nicely marked, remove the dough, using a pair of kitchen tongs, from the grill and set aside. Depending on your grill, this process should take about 3 minutes. Repeat with the other two portions.

Top the cooked side (the side that was face-down on the grill) of the crust with 1 1/2 cups Vegetarian Olive Dressing and 1/3 of the provolone. Return the pizza to the grill top for another 3 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Garnish with a tablespoon of mustard and 1/4 cup chopped parsley. (Makes 3 pizzas. Serves 6-8.)

Vegetarian Olive Dressing

2 to 3 cups spicy, pitted olives (green, black, and kalamta)
2 stalks celery (about 1 cup, sliced)
2 cups cauliflower
1 large carrot (about 1 cup, sliced)
roasted red peppers (chopped)
8-12 peperoncini peppers (optional, chopped)
2 teaspoons good Italian seasoning mix (Whole Foods has a really good one in the bulk spices section.)
4 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 cup olive oil (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
1 cup white vinegar

Using the slicer blade on your food processor, slice the olives, celery, cauliflower, and carrots. Place sliced vegetables into a 2-quart container; add the red peppers, peperoncini peppers, Italian seasoning mix, crushed garlic, olive oil, and vinegar. Allow mixture to marinate and the flavors to meld for a day or so...seriously, the longer you leave it, the better it will be. (Makes 2 quarts. Keeps in the fridge for up to a month.)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Gender Reveal Cake for a Boy

This week, we felt honored to be chosen to bake the cake that revealed my brother and sister-in-law's big news to the family: it's gonna be a boy! SO excited to have another nephew running around.

We did a ton of very serious research and learned a lot about making a gender reveal cake. Having never even been to this type of party before, we knew it would be a blast and wanted our cake to taste really good and also be really striking in the big moment.

Here are our baking notes, which might be of use to those of you who can foresee this type of event coming up soon for someone you love:

1. Stay with the tried-and-true recipes. This is not the time to test out any weird ideas. The cake was a simple butter cake (recipe doubled) and the frosting was sour cream milk chocolate (I subbed 2 Whole Foods organic milk chocolate bars and half a dark chocolate bar in the recipe, which calls for chocolate chips).

2. The color blue does not occur in natural foods. Blueberries would look purple, and sure, we could have tried cabbage-blue cake, but barring that, sometimes you just have to raid the back of the cabinet and break out the food coloring used once a year for Christmas cookies.

3. Do different layers: four drops of blue for sky blue, eight drops for a medium blue. (We included a plain white layer for contrast and normalcy. All blue just seemed a bit much.)

4. Don't just make a white cake with blue or pink frosting filling. Everyone will know the deal once the coated knife comes out after the first cut, and it makes for a better reveal if you have to wait a sec to see the cake color all at once.

5. Cutting out parchment circles is a lifesaver when it comes to getting the cakes out nicely. Just trace the bottom of the pan with a pencil and then set the parchment circle into the bottom of the fully buttered and lightly floured pan.

6. Run a knife along the edges of the pans to loosen the edges. (A lettuce knife is good to use once the cakes have halfway cooled because it won't scratch up pans like metal knives.)

7. Let the layers cool before placing a cutting board on top of the cake-side of the pans and flipping cake onto the board. A fish spatula helped us safely move the layers to the cake carrier.

8. Choose a dark-colored frosting so that there's no chance of the color peeking through and ruining the surprise.

9. Put a dollop of frosting in the middle of the plate part of the cake carrier before setting the first layer down. It will help to make the base of the cake steady.

10. Instead of the typical packaged cake decorating items, we used a plain old peeler to make curls and shavings out of Callebaut white chocolate and dark chocolate blocks for the question mark on top and also for decorating the top and bottom edge.

11. You probably want to wear disposable gloves if you don't want to be frantically scrubbing color off your hands pre-party so as not to inadvertently alert people to the color of the cake you've baked!

12. A cake carrier helps to prevent any disasters in transport, and taping a pie/cake server to the top of it makes things a lot easier when it's cutting time.

Next up, maybe we'll try out a girl's cake. Honestly, making a strawberry cake would seem like it would be easier than something blue, but we tested blended strawberries in the batter from above, and it just make the sample cupcakes heavy enough to fall in...we'll get back to you on that!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Strawberry-Rum Compound Butter

The very last gasp of strawberry season calls for something like this: a sweet compound butter that can be frozen and then used all summer long on biscuits, toast, or banana pancakes. This is so easy to make -- and it tastes pretty amazing despite how little effort it requires!

Strawberry-Rum Compound Butter

2/3 cup very ripe strawberries (mashed)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 stick unsalted butter (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
generous pinch of Maldon sea salt flakes

Set a stick of unsalted butter out on the counter so it can get to room temperature (about 20 minutes). Combine strawberries, brown sugar, and rum. Microwave for 1 minute, stir it, and then microwave for another minute. Let mixture cool for about 20 minutes. When butter has softened and and mixture has cooled, add in the salt and combine strawberry mixture and butter well; freeze it until set, about 2-3 hours.

When you are ready to use it, set container out for a few or microwave it for 30-45 seconds. Use a small scoop for individual servings, wrap it into individual logs for freezing and gifting, or get fancy (we learned the trick here) and smooth the top of it before serving in a small, round dish.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cabbage Dogs

I was shooting a story written by my friend Stacey Greenberg for the Memphis Flyer about two brothers who started a hot dog business called Memphis Dawgs. Todd kindly offered me a hot dog, so I had to break the news to him. 

"It looks great, but I'm a vegetarian," I told him. He told me that he tried to sell tofu dogs, but he thought they were terrible and that he couldn't sell something he didn't like. I had to agree. 

Then he said something brilliant: "Man, if I was gonna make a vegetarian hot dog, I'd just roll up some good veggies like mushrooms and onions in a cabbage leaf and stick that on a bun." 

We took his sage advice and ran with it -- and got excellent results! It looks like a lot of steps, but it's really simple to put together and makes 10-12 dogs. You can make them ahead of time, so all you need to do when it comes time to eat is heat and serve.

Cabbage Dogs

1/2 cup French green lentils
1/8 cup yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
1 teaspoon dried sage

1 teaspoon red pepper
1 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion (1 medium)
1 8-ounce package cremini mushrooms (finely chopped)

sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups grated potato (1 small)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 large eggs (beaten)

1 large head of cabbage
10-12 hot dog rolls (preferably the poppy seed kind)
sweet relish, tomato slices, sour pickles, yellow mustard, and celery salt (for garnish)

In a medium pan over high heat, bring the lentils, mustard seeds, caraway seeds, broth, sage, red pepper, marjoram, garlic powder, and vinegar to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the lentils are cooked through but still firm. Set aside. 

In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add the canola oil and then the onion. Sauté until translucent. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until the mixture appears dry. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the potato, tomato paste, and the lentil mixture. Stir to incorporate. Set mixture aside to cool before stirring in the eggs to create the filling.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Using a paring knife, cut the thick part of the outermost cabbage leaf away from the root. Carefully peel the leaf away from the head and set aside. Repeat this process until you have 10 or 12 large cabbage leaves. Boil the leaves in boiling water until just tender (about 2 minutes each). This can be done in batches of 3 or 4. Set tender cabbage leaves aside to cool. (Reserve the remaining cabbage for another use -- maybe this or this?)

Lay one cabbage leaf down and then scoop 1/3 cup of the filling near the center of the leaf. Form the filling into a 3 1/2-inch-long mound. All you do then is roll the leaf up like a burrito: fold the sides over then roll the end nearest to you toward the top. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Place a cabbage roll on a hot dog roll and garnish as you like. (Makes 10-12 Cabbage Dogs or about 6 servings.)

Friday, June 1, 2012

Spicy Quinoa + Black Lentil Salad with Avocado Vinaigrette

Summer salad time is here, and for lunch the other day, we wanted to make one that was more of a meal. There's no cheese and no bread in this -- unless you have a warmed tortilla on the side, like one of us just had to have -- but the quinoa makes it pretty filling. The trick is Avocado Vinaigrette, something that you can't really place in the finished dish that adds so much flavor. 

We're liking black lentils so much better than black beans. The flavor is very similar, but they only take 20 minutes to cook and require no pre-soak. We've been using them in place of black beans for months in huevous rancheros, burritos, and alongside fajitas. They're even good outside of Mexican cuisine. Check out our literal use of black beluga lentils here.

Trying to keep things simpler in our cooking lately has been a nice challenge -- new idea, new cookbook daydreams? Possibly! This particular recipe takes a little more in terms of time and effort, but it's worth it since it ends up tasting really fresh and healthy. 

Spicy Quinoa + Black Lentil Salad with Avocado Vinaigrette

Pickled Red Onion (do ahead; recipe follows)
1 1/2 cups prepared black lentils (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
1 1/2 cups prepared quinoa (follow package instructions)
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1 cup corn (cut away from the cob or frozen)
1/4 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin

Avocado Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

To prepare the lentils, bring 1 cup of broth or water to a boil in a medium pan and add 1/2 cup dry lentils. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed. Prepare quinoa at the same time. Toast the corn kernels in a dry pan over medium-high heat until they start to brown a little. Allow the quinoa, lentils, and corn to cool. In a large mixing bowl, toss the onion (minus the pickling liquid), lentils, quinoa, pepper, corn, chipotle, and cumin together with the avocado vinaigrette. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve on a bed of your favorite greens with sliced avocado, cilantro leaves, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Pickled Red Onion

1 cup diced red onion (about 1 medium)
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Add the onion, vinegar, water sugar, and salt to a food storage container. Allow mixture to sit in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving. These are also great sliced for burgers or tacos.

Avocado Vinaigrette

1 cup cilantro leaves
1 clove garlic
juice of 1 lime
1 small fresh chili pepper (like a jalapeño)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1 small avocado

1/4 cup olive oil

Place the cilantro, garlic, lime juice, chili pepper, vinegar, honey, salt, pepper, and the flesh of the avocado into the work bowl of your food processor. Blend until smooth. While the processor is running, drizzle in the olive oil. Set aside until ready to use.