Mediterranean turkey and zucchini burgers recipe

mediterranean turkey and zucchini burgers |  pamela salzman

I’m a happy mama since I picked up Mr. Picky from sleepaway camp on Saturday.  13 days is just too long for me to be apart from that guy.  I have been enjoying all the stories, hanging on every word as if he traveled around the world.  Bless his heart, Mr. Picky “snuck” some food from camp to bring to my husband and me.  Thankfully, it was from breakfast the morning he left and not from last week.  From his backpack he pulled out a paper cup with a few pieces of melon for me and a cup with mini cinnamon buns mixed with tater tots for my husband.  What does that tell you?

grated zucchini

While Mr. Picky can’t stop talking about his counselors, his bunk mates and all the competitions in which he participated, I had to find out about the food.  What was your favorite dinner?  Did you eat any vegetables?  What did you drink?  Blah, blah, blah.  I’m so predictable, but I have no self control.  I have to give the camp props that soda is not served.  I don’t know if I could handle that.

that's everything!

So what I have gathered is that Mr. Picky didn’t eat any protein at breakfast ever since, go figure, the camp doesn’t serve Organic Pastures Raw Organic Milk, and Mr. Picky still doesn’t eat eggs or cheese.  And it also sounds like the only vegetable he ate was cucumber.  So we have some catching up to do!  One thing that my son loves is any type of burger, even veggie burgers.  I made these turkey burgers the week before he left and he loved them so they’re going on the dinner menu again this week.  It’s another winner recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Jerusalem” cookbook.

12 patties

yogurt-sumac sauce

If you’re bored with plain burgers, these are so different and delicious.  And a great way to make a (small) dent in your zucchini crop.  They are moist, herby and they’ve got a great kick to them.  If spicy isn’t your thing, you may want to cut back to a pinch of cayenne.  Although if you make the sumac sauce, which is delicious, it really cuts the heat from the burgers.  But I’m not really doing dairy these days and Mr. Picky didn’t want any sauce, so I only made half the recipe for the sauce and I thought it was the perfect amount.  I also didn’t use traditional buns when I made these.  Bread will just detract from the tastiness of these burgers!  Instead we ate them on lettuce leaves with some chopped cucumbers and tomatoes, right up my alley.  Of course if you want a more traditional burger, you can probably get 6 “standard” size patties and pile them onto buns with all your favorite fixings.  Delish!

mediterranean turkey and zucchini burgers |  pamela salzman

mediterranean turkey and zucchini burgers recipe
Author: 
Serves: 4-6 (Makes about 18 1½ ounce burgers or 12 2½ ounce burgers)
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground turkey (I like dark meat)
  • 1 large zucchini, coarsely grated (scant 2 cups)
  • 3 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped mint
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (perfect for us, but the original recipe called for ½ teaspoon; you can use even less if you don’t want them spicy)
  • unrefined olive oil, coconut oil or ghee for searing
  • For the Sour Cream & Sumac Sauce:
  • Scant ⅓ cup / 75 grams full-fat Greek yogurt
  • Scant ¼ cup sour cream / 50 grams (or use all Greek yogurt)
  • ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • ½ Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ small clove garlic, grated or minced
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sumac
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Make the sour cream and sumac sauce by placing all the ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well and set aside or chill until needed.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the patties except the olive oil. Mix gently with your hands and then shape into about 18 burgers, each weighing about 1 ½ ounces or 12 burgers, each weighing about 2 ½ ounces.
  3. Pour enough oil into a large frying pan to form a layer about 1/16 inch thick on the pan bottom. Heat over medium heat until hot, then sear the patties in batches on both sides. Cook each batch for about 5-7 minutes on each side, adding oil as needed, until golden brown and cooked through.
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature, with the sauce spooned over or on the side.

Moroccan carrot and beet salad recipe

London has been amazing!  Freezing, but amazing!  At least we were prepared with our winter outerwear for the unseasonably cold temperatures.  We have seen so much and the kids have really enjoyed it all.  After our month in Europe this summer, we learned a bit about how to keep the kids engaged and not wanting to kill each other.  We also learned that Mr. Picky, who is 9, has a 1 1/2 hour time limit in any museum (2 hours if he just ate breakfast.)  Whatever we didn’t get to see will just have to wait until our next visit.

This week we have also booked a private guide each day, which has taken the pressure off my husband from whatever palace or neighborhood we are checking out.  Besides going to many of the major sites, we also had a tour of London’s East End and its many outdoor markets, a rock tour (think The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, not One Direction), and a Shakespeare tour.  All worth it and much more interesting for the kids!  We are leaving London today for Chewton Glen in Hampshire.  My husband visited when he was a child and loved it. I’m hoping it’s still as wonderful 30 years later and I’m hoping we make it in one piece since my husband will be driving us there.  On the other side of the road.  You know I’ll give you all the details either way!

Now I hope you didn’t think I was going to scamper about England this week and forget about you cooks.  Rubbish!  Although I’ve been tweeting what I’ve been up to and posting a few things on Facebook, I didn’t want the week to go by without something for you to try in the kitchen.  Believe me, after a week of scones and mash (not at the same time, of course), I’ll be ready for a few salads like this when I return home.

First of all, if you think you hate beets, you may not hate them raw so stay with me here.  This salad converted everyone who thought s/he didn’t like beets.  I am fairly obsessed with chopped and grated salads.  One of my favorites is my grated carrot salad with avocados and sunflower seeds.  I love vegetables cut into small bits so that you get a lot of different flavors in one bite.  And grated vegetables can actually be a totally different experience from their whole counterparts.  This is completely true with respect to carrots.  If you haven’t tried the carrot salad I just mentioned, you absolutely must!

The one thing you do need to do for this salad is go into your garage behind the piece of exercise equipment, pull out the Cuisinart box and find the medium grating disc which I’m hoping you didn’t throw out thinking you would never use it!  If you did, go to the manufacturer’s website or thegourmetdepotco.com where you can buy missing or broken parts to almost any appliance.  The grating disc is amazing, one of my favorite kitchen tools especially since I broke up with my mandoline.  No love lost there.  I use my grating disc to make very quick work of shredding cheese, onions, potatoes, zucchini, apples, cabbage, and of course carrots and beets.  One tip I can give you is that many food processors give you the option of feeding your food through the wide part or the much narrower feed tube.  In the case of carrots, I like to process them horizontally the wide way for longer shreds for a salad and through the feed tube for short shreds which are better for carrot cake or carrot muffins.

I was doing a Moroccan-inspired menu last month and I desperately wanted to include a carrot salad.  Many Moroccan salads are too sweet for me and include dried fruit plus lots of honey in the dressing.  In my opinion, carrots and beets are already rather sweet, so this salad is dressed with a cumin-orange-lemon dressing, a little tart and just a little sweet.  You can leave this as grated veggies and dressing for a fab 5-minute salad or make a little extra effort and add the delightful fresh herbs which turn this into something really awesome.  I eat this without feta since I’ve gone dairy-free (moment of silence), but if you can handle a little goat or sheep cheese, add it and you won’t be sorry!  Either way, this is a juicy, crunchy, thirst-quenching, gorgeous salad which happens to be super nutritious and alkalizing.

I have served this salad with all sorts of fish dishes, simple roast chicken, frittatas and vegetable stew.  I’m sure it would be great with lamb or grilled beef kabobs.  My point is that you don’t have to be eating a Moroccan meal to enjoy this.  A little heads-up about eating red beets, though. If you’ve never tried them, just be aware that when you eliminate, there will be a tinge of hot pink/red.  I can’t tell you how many stories I heard of people calling their doctors or googling “hot pink poop.”  On the other hand, eating beets can be a good indication of how efficient your digestive system is.  If you see beets later that day or the next, things are moving nice and quickly.  But if it takes 4 days for those beets to appear again,  you probably need a little more fiber and water in your diet.  Just a thought.

Ok, that’s all I have for today, friends.  I’m leaving the hustle and bustle of London for the English countryside and hoping to make it in time for Afternoon Tea which has become my favorite way to wind down after a busy day.  I know some people like a glass of wine at 5, but I’m not sure they’ve tried sitting down to tea with a warm homemade scone.  Brilliant!

Moroccan Carrot and Beet Salad
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled
  • ¾ pound fresh beets (about 2 medium beets), trimmed and peeled (with a vegetable peeler), greens saved for another use
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (measured after it has been chopped)
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon paprika
  • 6 Tablespoons unrefined cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (I like goat feta)(optional)
Instructions
  1. Using the shredding disc of your food processor, shred the carrots and beets. Transfer the vegetables to a serving bowl.
  2. Add herbs to serving bowl.
  3. In a medium bowl or in a screw-top jar, combine lemon juice, orange juice, sea salt, cumin, paprika and olive oil.
  4. Pour enough dressing on top of carrot mixture to coat lightly and toss to combine. Add more if desired.
  5. Add feta on top of salad and taste for seasoning. If you dress the salad early, the dressing will pull water from the vegetables and make a pool at the bottom of your serving bowl. You can just serve from the top or pour off some of the liquid no problem.
Notes
Salad can be dressed the day before and herbs and feta added just before serving.

For a delicious, spicy note, add about ¾ teaspoon harissa to the dressing.

Minted Sweet Pea Dip

 

minted pea dip | pamela salzman

In as much as I promote buying and preparing fresh produce, I really have no problem with using frozen sometimes.  Frozen vegetables are supposedly picked at their peak and frozen immediately, allowing less deterioration of nutrients.  I can’t, however, say the same about canned.  Thumbs down on that one.  In general, I tend to use frozen vegetables more in cooked dishes than in raw.  There are quite a few frozen vegetables which are staples in my kitchen including artichoke hearts, edamame, corn, chopped spinach and especially peas.

everything into the food processor and you're done!

Believe me, I adore fresh peas.  If they are picked off the vine and prepared right away, they can be so amazingly tender and sweet.  But if they’ve been sitting around for too long, those sugars become a little starchy.  Plus, they do take a bit of time to remove from the shell, which sadly I don’t have the leisure to do on a busy weeknight.

if you decide to grill bread, brush with a little olive oil first

Peas are a great source of protein and fiber, so I love adding them to pastas, soups, stews and grain-based dishes for a complete protein.  Peas also contain substantial amounts of many other vitamins and minerals, including Vitamins C and K, as well as Folate and Manganese.  I post the contents of my kids’ lunch boxes every Monday on Facebook, so I know many of you saw a lunch Mr. Picky made a month or so ago with frozen peas as the entrée and frozen corn as the side dish. (They defrost by lunchtime!)  That was by far the quickest healthful lunch we’ve packed all year!

grilled bread

Although fresh peas come into season in the Spring, I use frozen the whole year long.  I first taught this delicious dip in a December holiday hors d’oeuvres class, but I made it recently for a dinner and it really sang spring.  This dip is a bit like hummus, the Mediterranean dip made from pureed chickpeas, tahini (sesame paste) and garlic, although not quite as thick and rich.

light and fresh

Instead, this has such a lovely light, fresh flavor from the mint and lemon zest.  It  would be such a nice addition to your Easter festivities, whether you’re doing a brunch, lunch or dinner.  Even if you have your whole menu planned,  I bet you have almost all the ingredients to make this dip today.  Best of all, it can be made in about 5 minutes or less.  Seriously!  You can definitely serve this dip with pita chips or toast points.  But I love it with crudités like carrots or endive leaves or my favorite (and more indulgent), slices of grilled baguette.  If you have some nice Pecorino-Romano cheese, shave a little sliver onto each crostini and you will be in heaven!

a little indulgent on bread, but delicious!

I wish you all a beautiful and joyous Easter.  My husband and I were feeling brave enough to take the three kiddies to Europe again, so we’ll be in London for the next week.  I hope to post some pictures of our adventures on Facebook!  Always interested to hear about your faves and must-sees!

minted pea dip | pamela salzman

Minted Sweet Pea Dip
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups fresh (already shelled) or frozen green peas, defrosted (original recipe used 3 cups)
  • zest of one lemon
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove, chopped
  • ¼ cup packed fresh mint leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 Tablespoons raw tahini
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • Crostini
  • French baguette, cut into ½ inch slices
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese (optional)
Instructions
  1. If using defrosted frozen peas, skip to Step 2. If using fresh peas, fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add peas and cook for 2-3 minutes. Plunge them into the ice bath to halt the cooking process. Drain well and pat dry.
  2. Place all the dip ingredients in a food processor and puree. Serve with crostini and/or raw crudités. If you assemble the dip on crostini, you can also shave pecorino or parmesan on top of each hors d’oeuvre or sprinkle grated cheese on top and drizzle a good olive oil over all of them.
Notes
Crostini Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
Brush each side of bread with olive oil and place on pan.
Bake for 15 minutes, turning after 7 or 8 minutes.  Use immediately or store in an airtight container for several days.
Or preheat a grill over medium heat and grill the bread (brushed with a little olive oil) until slightly charred on both sides.  This only takes a couple of minutes.

Grain-Free Cauliflower Tabbouleh Recipe

We have had some interesting discussions in my classes lately about the latest findings concerning the presence of arsenic in rice.  Arsenic is a chemical element which occurs naturally in water, air, food, and soil.  This natural form is referred to as organic arsenic.  Arsenic is also the product of contamination from manmade fetilizers and pesticides, as well as burning coal and oil.  This inorganic arsenic is what is linked to certain cancers and has many people concerned.  Inorganic arsenic has found its way into may different foods through soil, as well as into our drinking water, but for some reason rice absorbs it much more than other foods.

Although I don’t take such reports lightly, the jury is still out on just how much arsenic is actually in rice since it varies from region to region (California-grown rice seems to contain less than rice grown in Arkansas, for example) and how much we should limit or not limit our rice consumption.  I’m generally not an alarmist in these situations, so I will be mindful of this information and continue to eat rice in moderation.  But it’s a good reminder of why it’s important to eat a well-balanced diet of a wide variety of whole foods (90% of the time, of course!).  I’m sure one can do research and find whatever it is we want to hear.  I like Dr. David Katz’s interesting point that cancer rates are generally low where rice consumption is highest.

But if you are concerned about your rice intake or you’re just looking to expand your horizons a little, have I got the recipe for you!  Cauliflower Tabbouleh uses barely steamed and grated cauliflower in place of the typical bulgur wheat, making this a grain-free,  gluten-free salad.  When the cauliflower is grated, it completely resembles rice in appearance and even texture a little.  It’s fun serving this tabbouleh to guests who usually have no idea what they’re eating and naturally assume it’s rice.  Cauliflower has a fairly subtle flavor, so you really pick up everything else that’s going on here with fresh herbs, juicy pomegranates and a sweet-earthy dressing.

Tabbouleh is traditionally a parsley salad with bits of bulgur wheat, onion, tomato and cucumber.  It’s such an awesome, healthful, fresh salad which I really enjoy when the weather is warm.  I make a really yummy version with quinoa that is one of my summer staples.  But this recipe with cauliflower is like an autumnal tabbouleh with some pomegranates for a sweet and juicy crunch.  Many “cauliflower rice” recipes call for the cauliflower to be raw, which I don’t enjoy as much as giving it a quick steam or blanche.  Raw cruciferous vegetables are also a tad harder to digest than lightly cooked.  Cauliflower is is very rich in fiber, phosphorus and potassium, and a very good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, and Manganese.  Plus the entire cruciferous family contains powerful anti-cancer compounds.

I just made this for Rosh Hashana lunch last week and served it with roast chicken and a few other salads.  The girls got it in their lunchboxes the next day mixed with a few spoonfuls of quinoa and one of them had some feta mixed in as well.  By the way, I am posting photos of the kids’ school lunches once a week on Facebook and Twitter in case you’re in a lunchbox rut.  I also love this cauliflower with Spice-Rubbed Salmon, grilled chicken kabobs, and even turkey burgers. More importantly, there are so many ways to have fun with this preparation of cauliflower.  I’m thinking about using it in place of rice for a vegetable fried rice, just for fun of course.    No one here is giving up rice that fast!

Grain-Free Cauliflower Tabbouleh
Author: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • Kosher salt for cooking cauliflower
  • 2 cups diced celery, about 5 stalks
  • Seeds from 1 large pomegranate, about 1⅓ cups
  • ½ cup finely diced red onion or shallot (you can soak in ice water for 15 minutes to take the raw edge off)
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup unrefined, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper or to taste
Instructions
  1. Prepare a large bowl with ice water. Place cauliflower in a large pot with an inch of water and a teaspoon of kosher salt. Bring to a boil and steam cauliflower for 3-4 minutes until crisp tender. Drain in a colander and immediately plunge cauliflower in ice water.
  2. Drain cauliflower and transfer to a clean kitchen towel to dry off a little.
  3. Fit the grater attachment in a food processor and gently grate/shred the cauliflower. It will look like barley or rice. Transfer to a serving bowl.
  4. Stir in remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Taste for seasonings, especially if you allow this to sit. You may need an extra pinch of salt.

Wild fish in parchment with summer herbs recipe

We’re baaaack!  What an amazing trip.  The five of us had an unbelievable 3 1/2 weeks together in Europe.  We shared so many great experiences, met interesting people and really grew together as a family.  People have been asking me what was the best part of our trip and I know it sounds corny, but what I enjoyed most of all was the five of us just being together.  Most importantly, and this is the mother in me talking, no one got sick, hurt or lost and we made it home in one piece.  Hooray!

I learned a new expression on this trip and it’s not in a foreign language.  My daughters kept saying to me, “YOLO, Mom.  YOLO.”  Huh?  Is that Dutch?  Apparently YOLO stands for “You Only Live Once.”  This often came up in regard to food.  The first five days of the trip I was able to avoid bread, pizza (except for that tomato and cheese pancake in Amsterdam), pasta and desserts, but my family was going for it.  Big time.  Eventually, I think around Copenhagen, I gave in and basically had a carb fest for 2 1/2 weeks.  It was fun while it lasted, but it also reinforced what I already know about wheat and refined foods — overdoing it is never a good thing.  And I’ve got my tight jeans to prove it.

Although it was a nice break to be out of the kitchen for a few weeks, I am happy to be back, cooking the food that makes me feel good.  I especially have a craving for fish and vegetables since the last half of our trip focused mostly on apple strudel, meat, apple strudel, potatoes, apple strudel, and bread.  This fish in parchment recipe is one of my favorite, easiest and most healthful ways to prepare fish.  It’s also the perfect light dinner for summertime, especially if you have some herbs growing in your garden.  Feel free to change the herbs in the recipe to suit your tastes or you can even add some thinly sliced, quick-cooking vegetables to the packets.  I used baby spinach leaves in these photos, but I also like diced fresh tomatoes and zucchini.  Or if you have some roasted or grilled vegetables from last night’s dinner, throw those in.  You really can’t go wrong.

Lucky for me, only Daughter #2 is still holding out on seafood, but everyone else loves fish, including this preparation.  Wild, cold water fish is high in important anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fats, which help support brain and cardiovascular function, as well as balance inflammatory influences in our lives, both from diet and lifestyle.  Steaming the fish in parchment actually helps to protect those fats from oxidation since the temperature inside the packets is low.  I am eager to start cooking for family again the way I know they and I should be eating.  Because like I always say friends, YOLO.

Wild Fish in Parchment with Summer Herbs
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1-2 cloves garlic (2 if small)
  • ½ cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh basil leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh mint leaves
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt (you can use an extra pinch if you like salt)
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 6 4-6 ounce portions of wild fish, such as halibut, salmon or mahi-mahi, defrosted, if frozen
  • 6 14-inch squares of unbleached parchment
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the garlic, herbs, salt and pepper in the bowl of a mini-food processor and process until the herbs are finely chopped. Add the olive oil and process until well combined. Add lemon zest and pulse once or twice.
  3. Place each piece of fish in the center of a sheet of parchment. Spread a heaping spoonful of the herb mixture on top of each piece of fish.
  4. Bring 2 opposite sides of the parchment together and fold. Continue to fold all the way down until you reach the fish. Twist both ends of the parchment so that it looks like a hard candy wrapper. Place each packet on a baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes based on the thickness of the fish.
  5. Transfer each packet to a plate and use caution when opening – the steam will be very hot!
Notes
You can make the fish packets in the morning if you like and keep them refrigerated. If you cook them straight out of the fridge, add an extra minute or two to the cooking time.

Other suggestions: you can also add to the packets quick-cooking vegetables such as baby spinach leaves, julienned zucchini or finely diced tomatoes. For longer-cooking vegetables, blanch or steam them first, then add to packets.

If you enjoy this, check out my other recipe for Halibut in Parchment with Cilantro and Ginger! There you can see step-by-step photos for how to fold the parchment paper.

 

Thai (Grass-fed) Steak Salad Recipe (or with Chicken)

 

Thai Steak (or Chicken or Salmon) Salad Recipe | Pamela Salzman

 

Oh people.  We are on the brink of my favorite time of year.  A time of backyard barbeques, picnics at the beach, sand between my toes, fresh tomatoes and basil, peach pie, and long nights under starry skies.  Ahhhh, summer.  Beyond better weather and my favorite produce, life is just easier when the kids are out of school.  No homework, tests or book reports.  Sure, two out of my three have a summer reading list, but they always wait until the last week of summer to crack those books open, so it’s smooth sailing until then.

Because we live at the beach, we entertain most weekends in the summer, starting with Memorial Day which, being the East Coaster that I am, is the unofficial start of “the season.”  One of my favorite things to do right about now is start planning a few menus that I can rotate during the summer.  Whenever I am thinking of the ideal food to prepare — make ahead, room temperature and easy all come to mind.  Very often, we’ll go to the beach for the afternoon, come back to the house to freshen up before lingering over dinner in the backyard.  This doesn’t give me too much time to cook for a crowd, so I look for recipes which allow me to prep in the morning or the night before so I can do more assembling than cooking.

This Thai Steak Salad has never appeared on any of my summer menus since I just taught it a few months ago in my classes, but it will definitely be a regular this season.  There are so many reasons I love this salad — it’s light, I can vary it with chicken or tofu (even shrimp) and change up the vegetables according to what looks good, and there’s lots of prep in advance that I can do.  Oh, forgot to mention that my family loves it, too!  The first time I told my kids and husband they were eating “Thai” steak salad, I saw a bunch of sad faces.  “We don’t like Thai food.  It’s too spicy.  Or sour.”  “Guess what?  You’ve never had Thai food in your life!”  I only call this a “Thai” Steak Salad because of the combination of sweet, sour and sort of spicy in the marinade/dressing, plus the addition of cilantro and/or mint.  I have a feeling I am taking a lot of liberties with the word “Thai.”  I could probably get away with it if I added some fish sauce to the marinade.  Next time.  However, if I were to rename this recipe, I would call it Yummy, Fresh, Tangy, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Vegan-adaptable, Paleo-friendly, Perfect for Summer Salad.  If you’re debating whether or not to veer from the standard burger fare this holiday, I have two words for you:  Pink Slime.

 

If you’ve been hanging out with me for the last year, you probably remember my post on how to reduce carcinogens when you grill.  Now’s a good time for a refresher.  Whereas you can definitely grill the steak or chicken here (I did grill the chicken), I prefer a more healthful way to cook the steak.  It’s a method I picked up from Cook’s Illustrated and it’s especially good for cooking grass-fed beef, which can get dried out if you’re not careful.  The only downside is that it takes a few minutes longer than grilling, but it’s a really tasty result and likely less carcinogenic.  No matter how you make this salad, it will surely be a delicious way to welcome in summer!

 

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Thai Steak Salad Recipe
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • Marinade/Dressing:
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ cup unrefined olive oil, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons shoyu (or gluten-free tamari)
  • 6 Tablespoons packed fresh cilantro or mint leaves, chopped (or a combo)
  • 1-2 small cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon chili flakes or ½ teaspoon chili-garlic sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon raw honey
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 ½ pounds grass-fed top sirloin or flank steak, about 1-inch thick
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon unrefined coconut oil or olive oil
  • 8 heaping cups salad greens, about 6-7 ounces
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • a few handfuls of seasonal veggies*: thinly sliced cucumber or sweet bell pepper, sprouts, julienned carrots, fresh mint leaves, fresh Thai basil leaves
Instructions
  1. Combine lime juice, 6 Tablespoons oil, shoyu, cilantro, garlic, hot pepper, honey, and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Whisk together and set aside.
  2. If steak is thicker than 1 inch, place between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound on both sides. Remove wrap and place meat in a shallow nonreactive dish that is just small enough to hold the meat. Pour HALF the marinade (about ⅔ cup) over the meat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours (longer is better). Take the reserved marinade in the bowl and add 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Set this aside as your salad dressing.
  3. Pull the steak from the refrigerator about 30-60 minutes before cooking it. Preheat oven to 275 degrees or preheat a grill.
  4. Insert a wire rack inside a baking sheet and place the meat on top of the rack and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Bake for 20-30 minutes for medium to medium-well.
  5. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, over high heat. Transfer the steak to the skillet and sear for 2-3 minutes on each side for medium to medium-well. Alternatively, grill over medium heat for about 10 minutes for medium doneness.
  6. Transfer meat to a carving board and allow to rest for 10 minutes, covered.
  7. Assemble the salad greens on a platter and drizzle with half the dressing (about ⅓ cup), tossing to coat. Drizzle the shallots and vegetables with half the remaining dressing (about 2 ½ Tablespoons). Toss to coat and arrange on top of the salad. Taste for salt and add as needed.
  8. Slice meat thinly against the grain on a diagonal. Arrange slices of meat on top of the greens and drizzle with remaining dressing.
Notes
* I used 1 whole red bell pepper and 2 Persian cucumbers.

To prep in advance, marinate steak or chicken the night before. Keep dressing refrigerated. Wash and cut all vegetables and keep refrigerated until ready to assemble.

 

 

spinach and quinoa salad with feta and dill (aka, spanakopita without the guilt) recipe

I know it’s still February, but I think a spring bug bit me.  The new strawberries, asparagus, sugar snap peas and artichokes were calling my name last weekend at the farmer’s market and I felt myself thinking ahead to the next season. Just noticing that the sun is setting later and later is making me giddy.  Yesterday I was working at home and felt inspired to make one of my favorite quinoa dishes with baby spinach, fresh dill and mint.  It was like a bowl of fresh air.

This salad is based on the ingredients in spanakopita, the very rich and tasty Greek pie made from layers of phyllo dough (and butter), stuffed with cheese, spinach and herbs.  My friend John gave me his mother, Libby’s heavenly recipe for spanakopita which I have been making for at least 10 years now, but not quite as often as I used to since loads of dairy, processed wheat and fat aren’t friendly to a certain someone.  So these days spanakopita makes an appearance only once a year at our Yom Kippur break-the-fast dinner.  Don’t feel sorry for me too fast.

Since I still crave those flavors, I came up with a lighter and fresher way to enjoy them.  Hence this salad was born.   Would you think I was lying if I told you I like this quinoa just as much, maybe more than spanakopita?  Of course, I acknowledge this is still a salad and not a flaky, buttery hot mess of three kinds of cheese bound by chopped spinach.  But I do like this quinoa better!!  I like that it’s fresh, zingy and makes me feel energized instead of weighed down.  Quinoa has that effect on me.  It’s gluten-free and full of high quality protein, fiber and healthful minerals.  For something so nutritious, it is also bouncy and light.  Plus I can prepare this salad in a faction of the time it takes me to butter 20 sheets of phyllo dough.

My girls came home from school yesterday and polished off what was left in the serving bowl.  I was hoping to ask Mr. Picky to try one bite.  In the past, he has only been willing to eat the spinach leaves after he wiped them clean with his napkin.  But lately I’ve noticed he has been a little more tolerant of quinoa, not minding if a spoonful or two gets mixed in with some kale salad or sugar snap peas.  This is part of the slow and steady process to which I have committed.

For those of you with actual dietary restrictions or aversions, this is an incredibly flexible recipe.  Vegans and dairy-free people can omit the feta and add some kalamata olives for a salty bite.  I know there are mint-haters out there (really? very hard to believe!), so feel free to leave that out, especially since Libby’s recipe calls for only dill.  And for those of you who would rather not use pine nuts, I have also used sliced almonds or roasted pistachios before with success.  I love quinoa with a little crunch.  This salad is the perfect lunch or light dinner on its own, but I have also served this with dozens of different sides including roasted carrots and beets, grilled zucchini,  sauteed green beans with shallots or minted snap peas.  Can you say “Spring It On?!”

5.0 from 3 reviews
Spinach and Quinoa Salad with Feta and Dill
Author: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, RINSED (see Step 1)
  • Sea salt
  • ½ cup pine nuts, toasted (optional)
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced or 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 6 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves (3 ounces)
  • ½ cup chopped fresh dill
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint (optional)
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 ounces feta, preferably made from goat or sheep’s milk
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Instructions
  1. Rinse quinoa in a bowl with water or place quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse under cold water until water runs clear. Drain and transfer to a medium saucepan with a pinch of sea salt and 1 ¾ cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover and lower heat to a simmer. Cook until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Let sit, covered for 10 minutes. Quinoa can remain in the pot until ready to combine with other salad ingredients or transfer to a serving bowl and fluff with a fork. Allow quinoa to cool slightly.
  2. To the quinoa add remaining ingredients and toss to combine. * Or you can place the spinach on a serving platter and toss with 1 Tablespoon of the lemon juice and 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil. Combine quinoa with remaining ingredients and mound on top of the spinach leaves. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Notes
Other additions can include Kalamata olives, halved cherry tomatoes, diced cucumbers, and/or fresh corn kernels.

 

White bean salad with celery and mint (and sometimes tuna)

Happy summer!  I really can’t believe it’s here, but I am just thrilled to bits.  Even though I still teach during the summer, I find that my schedule with the kids is a little easier and frees me up to spend a bit more time cooking.  The ironic thing is that during the summer, we don’t need to “cook” as much.  The weather is warmer and our bodies can tolerate more raw or lightly cooked foods.  But this has to be my favorite season for just the sheer bounty of vegetables and fruits available.  You can find me literally bouncing around the farmer’s markets in the summer overbuying berries and stone fruits, corn, eggplant, greens and tomatoes.  This past Saturday I bought a bushel of mint that was so gorgeous and fragrant, I couldn’t resist.  But I should have since already I GROW mint on my patio.

I also love summer since we entertain much more frequently and it’s a wonderful chance to catch up with friends.  I enjoyed a little quiet time this morning planning some weekend meals with guests in mind.  I have several new recipes I’ll be trying out, like chicken and vegetable kabobs with chimichurri sauce, black bean burgers with a smoky red pepper spread, and cantaloupe and cucumber salad.  I’m hoping they get the thumbs-up and I’ll post them before the end of the season.  Also, the kids and I have been having fun dipping big chunks of peeled ripe bananas into melted dark chocolate and freezing them.  But in as much as I get excited about experimenting, I also love my favorite stand-bys.

One of my regular dishes in the summer is this white bean, celery and mint salad.  By now you know I have a thing for creamy and crunchy together and I clearly have no self-control when a healthy bunch of mint seduces me.  On a beach day, I like to put the fixings out for a make-your-own sandwich bar.   Whether we choose to eat a quick bite at home or pack the sandwiches to go, this bean salad is always the perfect side to chicken salad, grilled vegetables or a humble turkey on wheat.  It is a great salad to bring on a picnic since the beans and celery don’t suffer after sitting in dressing for hours.  But the recipe is so easy that you might find yourself at home for lunch one day and decide that you can pull a beautiful healthful salad together with that can of white beans in your pantry and a simple vinaigrette.

Beans are a great source of inexpensive, low-fat protein and contain a ton of soluble fiber — so great for helping balance the LDL and HDL levels.  I am pretty good about planning meals in advance, so I will usually soak dried beans and make them from scratch, but opening up a can of Eden Organic beans is just fine, although a tad more expensive.  Sometimes I add canned tuna to this salad and you really need nothing more, although my girls love to take crusty bread and scoop up the salad and eat it that way.  Now would be a good time to mention that I dread BPA, which is a plastic and resin ingredient found in the linings of most cans, as well as water bottles and is associated with several health problems including breast cancer and infertility.  Thankfully, Eden Organics and Vital Choice Seafood do not use BPA in their can liners.

Please stop in again for more fresh, healthful and seasonal recipes to share with family and friends.  I’m looking forward to a great summer!

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
White Bean Salad with Celery and Mint (and Sometimes Tuna)
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound dried Great Northern or cannellini beans*
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 1 stalk celery, quartered
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 2-inch piece kombu (if you have it)**
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • Dressing:
  • ¾ cup unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup raw apple cider vinegar, preferably unpasteurized
  • ½ teaspoon raw honey
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 ½ cups chopped celery
  • 1 shallot, cut into thin half-moon slices ar ½ red onion, small dice
  • 1 ½ cups loosely packed mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 7-ounces can albacore tuna packed in oil or water (optional), flaked
Instructions
  1. Rinse the beans and pick over for small stones or debris. Soak the beans in cold water overnight with a 2-inch piece of kombu.
  2. Discard the soaking liquid, and place the beans and the other ingredients for cooking them in a 6-quart pot. Add enough cold water to fill the pot half full. Bring to a boil. Simmer 1 to 1 ½ hours, until the beans are tender. Turn off the heat, add the tablespoon of kosher salt and allow to cool in the cooking liquid. Drain and discard the cooking liquid, onion, celery and kombu.
  3. Whisk the dressing ingredients in a small bowl until emulsified.
  4. To make the salad, transfer the cooked beans to a serving bowl. Add the celery, sliced shallot, fresh mint and (optional tuna.) Pour the dressing over the beans and toss to blend. Serve at room temperature.
Notes
*Or you can use 6 cups drained and rinsed canned beans, approximately 3 or 4 cans.

** Kombu is a seaweed which helps tenderize the beans and make them more digestible. If you also cook the beans with the kombu, it adds alkalinity. I buy Eden kombu at Whole Foods or from amazon.com

 

white bean salad with celery and mint (and sometimes tuna)

serves 8

 

1 pound dried Great Northern or cannellini beans*

1 medium onion, quartered

1 stalk celery, quartered

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 2-inch piece kombu (if you have it)**

1 Tablespoon kosher salt

 

Dressing:

¾ cup unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup raw apple cider vinegar, preferably unpasteurized

½ teaspoon raw honey

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

 

1 ½ cups chopped celery

1 shallot, cut into thin half-moon slices ar ½ red onion, small dice

1 ½ cups loosely packed mint leaves, chopped

1 7-ounces can albacore tuna packed in oil or water (optional), flaked

  1. Rinse the beans and pick over for small stones or debris.  Soak the beans in cold water overnight with a 2-inch piece of kombu.
  2. Discard the soaking liquid, and place the beans and the other ingredients for cooking them in a 6-quart pot.  Add enough cold water to fill the pot half full.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer 1 to 1 ½ hours, until the beans are tender.  Turn off the heat, add the tablespoon of kosher salt and allow to cool in the cooking liquid.  Drain and discard the cooking liquid, onion, celery and kombu.
  3. Whisk the dressing ingredients in a small bowl until emulsified.
  4. To make the salad, transfer the cooked beans to a serving bowl.  Add the celery, sliced shallot, fresh mint and (optional tuna.)  Pour the dressing over the beans and toss to blend.  Serve at room temperature.

 

*Or you can use 6 cups drained and rinsed canned beans, approximately 3 or 4 cans.

** Kombu is a seaweed which helps tenderize the beans and make them more digestible.  If you also cook the beans with the kombu, it adds alkalinity.  I buy Eden kombu at Whole Foods or from amazon.com