Monday, July 25, 2011

Beginning of Summer's Bounty

Last week I spent time with my daughter in upstate New York and we enjoyed the produce she received from her CSA even though there was lots of lettuce and small portions of other vegetables this early in the season. Thursday afternoon she went to pick up her vegetables and returned with the produce in the photo above. This early in the season, the box contained red leaf lettuce, bibb lettuce, red cabbage, onions, carrots, beets, summer squash and a cucumber.

Every week she and her husband enjoy trying new recipes using the produce of the week. They rely on Melissa's Everyday Cooking with Organic Produce by Cathy Thomas (Wiley, 2010). This cookbook list fruits and vegetable alphabetically with detailed descriptions, suggestions for using and cooking and recipes. It also has beautiful photos.

Cathy Thomas has a great newsletter. Go to for info.

This week we chose Tunisian Carrots. The tender Sweet carrots were cooked with an onion and tossed with a vinaigrette made of olive oil, orange juice, ground cumin, red pepper flakes, honey and finished with chopped fresh cilantro (also in the box!).

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It's Too Hot to Cook

When the heat index in Minneapolis is about the same as the temp in Phoenix, it's too hot to cook. One of my stand-by dinners is a roasted chicken from the supermarket. Or sometimes we cook marinated chicken breast on the grill but today it's too hot for grilling, too.

This side salad is a summertime staple here. It's low calorie, high fiber and bursting with flavor. Another plus- it keeps several days in the refrigerator.

Black Bean and Corn Salad

6 servings

1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups sweet corn (an 11 ounce can or corn kernels from two ears of local sweet corn)
1 red pepper, diced
1/4 cup chopped green onion
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Combine the black beans, corn, red pepper and green onion in a medium bowl. Whisk the lime juice, soy sauce, olive oil and cumin in a small bowl. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss. Cover and refrigerate several hours before serving. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cilantro before serving.

Note: At the peak of summer, I prefer to use local sweet corn. From late July to early September, we eat corn-on-the-cob almost every day. For the recie, I cook two extra ears and cut the kernels from the cobs. I've also used frozen corn and canned. I prefer the crunch that canned corn provides over the frozen.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Nicoise Salad for Bastille Day

Nicoise Salad is one of my summer favorites. The first time I prepared it I had gotten the recipe from a friend at work when I worked at the USDA and prepared it as a picnic for a day trip to Harper's Ferry. I still remember the view of the historic town from the hillside where we had our picnic. I use canned tuna although I know this recipe is often served with Ahi tuna today, I stay with the classic.

Nicoise Salad
Makes 2 servings

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon country-style Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium red potatoes, (about 8 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 pound green fresh, cooked
1 tablespoon chopped red onion

2 hard cooked eggs, cut into wedges
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 can (6 1/2 ounces) tuna packed in oil, drained and flaked

Combine the vinegar, Dijon mustard, sugar and salt in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake
until sugar is dissolved. Add olive oil and shake to blend.

Scrub the potatoes and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place the slices in a small saucepan and cover with water and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer potatoes 6 to 8 minutes or until fork tender. Drain well.

Place the potatoes, green beans and onion in a medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of dressing and toss to mix. Serve warm or refrigerate until serving.

For Nicoise Salad: Arrange 2 hard-cooked eggs, cherry tomatoes, tuna and potatoes on a serving dish. Garnish with lemon slices and serve with remaining dressing. Kalamata olives are also a colorful garnish.