Some of the biggest challenges home cooks face are lack of time and accommodating different dietary preferences. I am right there with you! And this new fish in parchment recipe I am sharing is a dream come true. It is not only healthful and delicious, but it’s quick to prepare, quick to cook and customizable. You can use different fish, omit the vegetables or substitute other ones, add a spicy element, or keep it super plain for the choosier eaters.Continue reading
Spetses is one of the Greek islands and a place I visited many years ago. I love Greek food and I still remember this cod dish I had in Spetses which I have recreated often for weeknights with my family and dinners with friends. The recipe is written to serve 4, but you can easily increase to 6 if you can fit that number of filets in the skillet. I am using cod here which is very commonly used in Mediterranean areas, but you can use halibut or whatever thicker white fish you have access to. I originally had the dish with zucchini, but I have swapped in fennel because it’s in season right now. Definitely try it with zucchini in the summer!Continue reading
I’m doing a little menu planning right now for my annual Christmas trip to my parents’ house, where we’ll (mostly I’ll) be cooking 3 meals a day for at least a dozen or more people. And this does require planning otherwise we will be schlepping to the market multiple times a day. And why would I want to do that when I can be obsessing over a 1000 piece puzzle all day, ignoring everyone around me? Exactly.
I don’t often think of salads when I meal plan during the winter in New York, but since it’s about 65 degrees there right now, I’m rethinking that and this will be on the menu for one dinner. This is my new favorite winter salad. I specify winter salad because I don’t make the same salads in the winter as I do in the summer. There are no local tomatoes or cucumbers right now, but there is fresh fennel and juicy citrus.
I’ve been teaching this salad in my classes this month and everyone is loving it. It’s light and refreshing and easy as pie to make. I think this would be perfect with fish, poultry or pork. Fennel is also an amazing digestive aid, which comes in very handy during the holidays. Wink, wink. As a child, I remember after a big pasta and meat dinner, my aunt would pass around a platter of raw fennel wedges and a bowl of clementines for dessert. It was the perfect end to a rich meal, but I loved fennel because it subtly tastes like licorice. So yummy. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned not all people ate raw fennel from a blue and white Wedgewood platter after dinner!
The components of this lovely salad are thinly sliced fennel, segmented citrus (preferably blood oranges or grapefruit,) avocado and ricotta salata + a citrus dressing. Like I always say, feel free to make substitutions and get creative. Other things you can add/sub:
frisee, butter lettuce or watercress
red onion or shallots
The image below is ricotta salata, which I love. It’s a dried ricotta made from sheep’s milk cheese, with a firm, but creamy texture and a little salty. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to find. I buy it at my local Whole Foods, but there’s no other store in town that sells it. So when WF is out of it, I’ll use shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, which is also delicious here. But a good feta is also a nice sub.
If you’ve taken my classes in the last year, you know how obsessed I am with my new food processor. This is NOT a sponsored post for Breville even though I would be totally thrilled if they noticed me ;). I just think the adjustable slicing disc is genius. So I was able to go pretty thin with the fennel, but you can also do this with a mandoline or with a very sharp knife. If you have the Breville Sous Chef, I set the slicing blade anywhere between 1/2 and 1. Otherwise, just use the standard Cuisinart slicing disc. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, watch my YouTube video on how to use your food processor. And while you’re at it, check out this post for how to segment citrus.
I think the presentation of this salad is a little tricky, though. The best method is if you have a large platter on which you can spread the fennel ribbons in one layer and then tuck the grapefruit and avocado slices in randomly. Don’t worry about it being perfect. I apologized to a few of my groups this month that I couldn’t take the time to make this salad look more beautiful and I realized that was silly. It looked good enough to eat and it was gobbled up in record time. And that is good enough for me!
2 large fennel bulbs, bottom trimmed, stalks discarded, fronds reserved
6 blood oranges or 2 large grapefruits
2 firm, but ripe avocados, halved and pitted and sliced crosswise
⅓ pound ricotta salata, shaved (if unavailable, feta or Parmesan are nice alternatives) Do not slice with a food processor. Use a knife or vegetable peeler.
Maldon or flaky sea salt to taste
In a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine dressing ingredients, shake until emulsified and set aside.
Halve the fennel bulb and remove the core. As thinly as possible, slice the fennel lengthwise. Use a mandolin, extra-thin blade on your food processor, vegetable peeler or a knife. Place fennel in a large bowl.
With a sharp knife, remove the peel and pith from the blood oranges and segment the slices. See my blogpost “How to Segment Citrus” for a visual.*
Arrange the fennel across a big platter and toss with enough dressing to moisten lightly.
Tuck the citrus segments and avocado slices into the fennel and scatter the cheese. Drizzle remaining dressing or only as much as is needed.
Garnish with fennel fronds, if desired. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
I cannot get out of summer mode, people. And when it’s 80 degrees and sunny here at the beach, it’s hard not to be this way. I really wanted to post a new recipe here over the weekend, buuuuutttttt I procrastinated. A lot. The weather was so perfect and we weren’t totally overscheduled like we usually are so I helped Mr. Picky and his pal set up a lemonade stand. And then I was so exhausted from their 10-year-old exuberance that I took a nap. For the first time since 1998. And then the beach was pleading to me to come for one last summer visit. So I did. And I then I had to make a blueberry crumb cake and some salads to bring to a friend’s house. And then I just rationalized that all you people were doing the same thing I was so you wouldn’t be online waiting for a new recipe from me.
How was it waking up today? I thought it was brutal! I keep seeing hashtags like #readyforseptember #septemberhereicome #excitedforfall. You know what my last hashtag was? #fallisoverrated I actually have a lot to look forward to this fall, but I think I just feel gipped. Summer is supposed to be three months like every other season in nature. But it’s not really. My son’s school has 9 1/2 weeks off for summer. Uh… #tooshort.
I did do a fair amount of cooking this summer when I was home and at my parents’ house. But I had so many projects and recipes I wanted to test and I got around to NADA. I think that’s another reason I am not really ready for fall. Because I’m not ready! Not to worry if you’re taking any of my classes this fall– I will get my lazy rear into gear pronto.
This summer I made a lot of salads like this Fennel and Green Bean Salad with Olives. It’s everything I love when the weather’s warm and I only have an appetite for veggies, fruit and acai bowls. I happen to love fennel which I’m sure you know by know if you’ve hung around here long enough. It has such a unique flavor and great crunch and it’s actually fabulous for digestion. Green beans are loaded with Vitamin K, beta-carotene and Vitamin C. It’s a very hydrating salad too.
The dressing has a nice salty bite from a little bit of anchovy paste. But if you’re vegan or don’t want to use the anchovies, just drop it. I am a bit of a salty gal myself, so I love the dressing and the olives in the salad. This is the perfect salad to serve with seafood or a frittata or grilled chicken.
Even though summer has come and gone in the blink of an eye, I’m still looking for recipes like this one for the sultry days ahead. And for those days when I am not motivated enough to do more than slice some fennel. #indenial
Author: Pamela, Adapted from "cucina rustica," by Evan Kleiman and Viana La Place
1 pound green beans, trimmed and halved
Kosher salt for blanching beans
1 large fennel bulb (about 1 pound)
¼ cup unrefined, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon anchovy paste or 1 anchovy fillet, minced
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
¼ cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and quartered
Prepare a large bowl with ice water and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a heaping tablespoon of sea salt. Submerge the green beans in the boiling water and cook 3-4 minutes or until they are crisp tender. Drain and immediately plunge into the ice water bath. After a few minutes, drain and set aside to dry a bit.
Trim the stalks off the fennel bulb and cut away any bruised spots. Cut the fennel bulb in half lengthwise. Cut out the core at the base and slice the fennel thinly into strips. (I would slice them more thinly than I did in the pictures here.)
In a large serving bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, anchovy, garlic, salt and pepper. (You can also do this in a glass jar with a screw-top lid.)
Add the green beans and fennel to the dressing and toss to combine. Remove garlic and discard. Sprinkle with olives and serve.
Halloween is tomorrow, but to tell you the truth, I don’t make much of an effort to show my “spirit” with cupcakes that look like spiders or swamp slime green Jell-o. Do my kids really need marshmallow ghosts on top of the candy I have not forbidden them to inhale as they trick-or-treat? Silly question! Actually, my only food strategy on Halloween is to make a very hearty , filling dinner, like vegetable chili with brown rice, so the kids aren’t starving while they carry around a sack o’chocolate. Works for me!
If you checked out my post last Thursday, you probably guessed I have bypassed Halloween and gone straight into Thanksgiving mode. Not only have I already taught two Thanksgiving classes, but I am starting to check tasks off my list. Invites — out. Menu — planned. Turkeys — ordered. So if you’re like me and you’re daydreaming about maple-glazed root vegetables instead of witch cakes, let’s get down to business!
The vegetables are really the only part of the menu that I get to have any fun at all. My family and guests would have a rebellion if I didn’t make roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and sweet potato casserole. So every year I try some new salads and vegetables just to mix it up a bit. This salad is one of my absolute favorites and not just for Thanksgiving. I have made this for other holiday dinners and for friends, and I always save a little extra for me for the next day’s lunch. This salad is the perfect complement to a Thanksgiving meal consisting of lots of cooked food, much of it soft and beige. Not only will all of these colors brighten up your holiday buffet table like little jewels, but you’ll be happy to have something juicy, crunchy and (is this a crime?) healthful to eat. Even though there are apples, pomegranates and dates in the salad, it doesn’t feel too sweet. It’s more like a tart-sweet, a perfect complement to roast turkey.
This salad is also ideal for Thanksgiving since you can prep almost all of it the day before. Oh yeah! No need to squeeze anything into your already monopolized oven or dirty any measuring spoons the day of. You can blanche the beans the day before, roast the beets two days before, chop fennel the day before and cover with a damp paper towel, seed the pomegranate several days before, chop walnuts whenever you want, and make the salad dressing several days in advance. The only last minute item is the apples which you can dice a few hours in advance and keep in ice water in the refrigerator. Just drain and pat dry before adding to the salad. How’s that for a plan!
3 stalks celery or 1 bulb fennel, diced (I prefer fennel.)
1 cup pomegranate seeds (about 1 medium pomegranate)
1 large crisp apple (e.g. Fuji or Granny Smith), diced (peeled or unpeeled)
1 cup walnuts, chopped
3 dates, pitted and diced (easier to cut when they’re cold)
1 cup diced roasted golden beets (can be done the day before)*
Vinaigrette: (can be prepared several days in advance)
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
a few grinds of black pepper
2 teaspoons minced shallot
2 teaspoons 100% pure maple syrup
3 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons walnut oil (or use all olive oil)
Prepare a large bowl with ice water. Blanche green beans for 2 minutes in boiling, salted water. Drain and submerge into ice water. Drain, pat dry and slice on the diagonal into bite sized pieces. (Can be done the day before.)
In a large bowl combine beans, chopped celery, pomegranate, apple, walnuts, dates and beets.
Prepare the vinaigrette: whisk all the ingredients in a small bowl. Pour enough vinaigrette over vegetables to coat lightly. Taste for salt and pepper.
*To roast 1-2 beets, wrap each one in parchment and then foil. Or follow the photos above to roast a pan of several beets. Roast in a 400 degree oven until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Large ones can take about 60 minutes. Allow to cool and then peel off the skins.
I just adore fennel and its hint of licorice (that’s the black kind, not the red). When I was a child, after a big Sunday dinner, my Aunt Maria would pass around a platter a raw fennel wedges along with a bowl of tangerines and unshelled nuts. We would chomp happily on the fennel the way my kids munch on celery today. Fennel is an amazing digestive aid and the perfect way to end a big meal in the fall and winter when it’s in season.
I started playing around with fennel and green apples last winter and loved the combination for a salad. The flavors go so nicely with poultry and fish and even better, my kids tend to eat more salad when there’s fruit in it. I knew this had to be a part of our Thanksgiving dinner, no doubt the biggest meal of the year. To dress it up a bit, I added greens and my favorite fall/winter salad add-in, pomegranate seeds. While the salad was a huge hit on Thanksgiving, the green and red colors were a natural for Christmas.
Whether you are serving fish, pork, turkey or chicken this Christmas, I’m sure a salad would add some balance to your meal. You can serve it with or without the greens, but the pomegranates are a must. The little red seeds are like rubies or ornaments on a tree! The walnuts were another last minute add-on, but provide some extra crunch and nutrition.
Because I have a juicer, I can make pomegranate juice easily for the dressing, but fresh squeezed orange juice would be a perfectly delicious substitute. I’m sure if you wanted to, you could add some goat cheese, but don’t overcomplicate this. The best salads are the simplest.
6-7 Tablespoons unrefined, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces mixed greens or 1 head of frisee (optional), washed, dried and leaves separated
1 -2 bulbs of fennel, cut in half, cored and sliced thinly
1 large (or 2 small) green apple, cored and sliced thinly
1 large handful of pomegranate seeds
1 large handful of walnuts, chopped
Make the dressing: in a small bowl, combine the shallot, salt, lemon and pomegranate juices, maple syrup and black pepper to taste. Pour the oil into the bowl slowly, whisking constantly to emulsify. Reserve until ready to use.
Place the salad greens on a serving platter and drizzle with a small amount of dressing. Toss gently to coat. Add the fennel and apple slices and drizzle with dressing. Scatter pomegranate seeds and walnuts on top.
*An alternative dressing:
1 small shallot, finely chopped
½ teaspoon sea salt
a few grinds of black pepper
1 ½ Tablespoons sherry vinegar
6 Tablespoons unrefined, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
People ask me all the time for more recipes that are Fast! No, faster! And easy! I understand the challenges that people face when pulling together a weeknight meal, whether they are parents or not. However, we need to put some time into our cooking. I haven’t figured out yet how to make something in no time that’s worth eating. But this sausage and vegetable dish is my idea of fast food.
I buy precooked sausages from Applegate Farms, which don’t contain spooky ingredients like nitrates or nitrites (hooray, no carcinogens!). Slice up some cabbage and fennel and you’ve got yourself a quick and easy dinner. Make extra and toss it with pasta the next day, just save some of the pasta cooking water after you drain it if you need to moisten the sausage dish up. If you have a favorite sausage that is not precooked, I would slice it or remove the meat from the casing and sauté that first. Remove it from the pan, sauté your vegetables and put the sausage back in.
If you haven’t cooked with fennel before, it has a fresh, licorice undertone and perfectly complements the fennel seed that is usually present in most sausages. I use red cabbage here for color, for the extra phytonutrients that come with it and the higher C profile than green, but you can certainly use green cabbage if that’s what you have handy. Cabbage is part of the cruciferous family of vegetables – a group that I encourage you to incorporate regularly into your diet. These include all the cabbages and kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and bok choy. These vegetables contain some potent anti-cancer compounds called sulphurophanes. Cabbage also contains some cholesterol-lowering benefits as well as loads of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients. It is also relatively inexpensive, to boot. What are you, in love with cabbage or something? Well, maybe I am!