Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cilantro Lime Corn

I am all about quick and easy lately in the kitchen. I find that the flavors seem to pop and speak for themselves a little louder when there aren't too many other ingredients elbowing them for room. This corn side dish might seem a bit out of season, but was actually made from corn frozen from the summer's harvest, which makes it extremely simple to put together (I knew there would be a time when all of the prepping and freezing would pay off!)

The prominent flavors are cilantro and lime, both fresh and zippy, with a touch of raw honey and salt to round it all out. That is it: no oil, no garlic, no heat. Like I said, quick and easy. The results are extremely light and bright, but could be tamed with the addition of some cumin, red pepper flake or chipotle if that is your aim. Or sauteed in a bit of coconut oil for a hot side. You get the picture.

This week it accompanied a Cowboy Bean Quinoa Burger with a Spicy Avocado Mole Spread and some Toasted Cumin Roasted Roots. There is also a Pistachio Goji and Coconut Truffle finale, but I will save those pictures and recipe for another time (sounds good, right?). Yum.

Cilantro Lime Corn
Serves 6

3 cups corn kernels, blanched if fresh, or thawed if frozen
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1/2 cup cilantro stems and leaves
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. raw honey


In a large bowl, mix corn kernels and lime zest. In a blender, blend lime juice, cilantro, salt and honey until smooth(ish). Pour over corn, mix and serve. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Spinach and Pomegranate Salad

This is a post about repeating themes (are you flashing back to High School English class yet?? What were you wearing??)

This salad is not unlike the Arugula, Orange and Fiery Pumpkin Seed Salad posted back in September. And the seeds are a bit similar to those found in the Rubbed Kale Salad from November. Sometimes, repetition is key.

The art of creating in the kitchen (or in layman's terms: cooking) often comes down to finding a formula that works, and altering the ingredients to generate something new and brilliant. Because of my love for all things salad, this post is meant to be a guide for creating a delicious and interesting salad, customized for any season or occasion, using a simple formula and a good dose of creativity. 

And so here are the building blocks:

Fresh Greens: Baby Spinach, Mesclun, Leaf Lettuce, Shredded Cabbage, Torn Kale, Arugula, Dandelion, Frisee, etc. 

Crispy vegetables: Thinly sliced cucumber, Cherry tomatoes, Grated beets and carrots, Snap peas, Scallions, Radishes, Blanched asparagus, Sprouted French Lentils or Alfalfa Seeds etc.

Sweet Element: Apple chunks, Roasted squash, Orange segments, Dried cranberries, Currants, Quartered figs, Pomegranate seeds etc.

Savory Booster: Spiced Nuts and Seeds, Blue Cheese crumbles, Spice-rubbed Goat Cheese, Slivered Manchego, Homemade Croutons, Smoky Shitake Slices, Herbed Tofu, Olives etc.

Complimentary Dressing: Herbed Dressings, Fruity Vinaigrettes, Vegan Creamy Ranch or Caesar etc. 

Go forward and be bold! Want a salad to match an Asian meal? How about shaved Napa Cabbage, shredded Daikon Radish, Avocado Chunks, Ginger Toasted Sesame Seeds and a Miso Sesame Vinaigrette? Latin? Try Red Leaf Lettuce, Cherry Tomato Halves, Kalamata Olives, Goat Cheese, Fiery Pumpkin Seeds, and a Cilantro Lime Dressing. Indian? Baby Spinach, Roasted Eggplant Cubes, Chickpeas, Slivered Red Onion, Cashews and a Toasted Cumin Tahini Dressing sounds nice. 

You get the idea. The possibilities are endless, but the pattern simple. 

So here is this week's "Italian holiday" creation. To take it up a notch, I would throw in some roasted winter squash (I'm thinking delicata) and a few crumbles of the best blue cheese you can find (for those Vermonters out there, have you ever tried Boucher Blue?? NO? Please run, don't walk, to you nearest gourmet cheese supplier now. You can thank me later. Hunger Mountain Co-op is one such purveyor.) But this might push it into the category of a "meal in a salad", so it depends on how far you want to go. This time I served it with a Polenta Torta with eggplant, fire-roasted tomato sauce and tofu pesto ricotta, as well as garlicky Cannelini beans in a vegan cream sauce. I don't think the squash or cheese were missed. 

Holiday Spinach and Pomegranate Salad
Serves 6

1/2 lb. baby spinach
1 pomegranate, deseeded
1/2 cup currants

1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 tbs. maple syrup
1 tbs. tamari
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
a dash cayenne

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
juice and zest of 2 large lemons
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp mustard
1 tsp. white miso
1/2 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp. salt
black pepper to taste
2 tbs. fresh sage leaf


To remove the seeds of the pomegranate, cut in half and carefully use your fingers to release the seed pockets, picking out any pith that tried to hang on. Don't mind the blood splatter pattern on your cutting board, it will come out. 

Heat a medium cast-iron pan to medium heat. Toss in the sunflower seeds and toast, stirring frequently for a few minutes until they begin to brown. Add maple syrup through cayenne and continue to cook for one minute. Remove from heat and cool. 

In a blender, combine olive oil through sage leaf, and blend until smooth. 

To assemble, toss spinach and currants with dressing, using just enough to coat the leaves without over-dressing (you may have some leftover). Place in serving bowls, and top with pomegranate and spiced sunflower seeds.

 Relax. Eat Well.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Raw Parsnip Rice Curry Bowl

Since the weather seems to be stalled at a balmy 50 degrees or so each day, I am prolonging the raw food movement in my life for a bit longer. 

I am often asked my opinion on "the raw diet", and always have to pause to collect my thoughts before responding. To sum it up: I fully believe in the importance of raw food within our diet. Fresh ingredients, prepared with intention in their raw state, provide us with energizing enzymes and abundant nutrients easily digested and assimilated. Just try a glass of fresh juice (juiced within minutes of consumption), full of fresh, organic colorful veggies and experience for yourself the rush that ensues. You can literally feel the energy pumping through each and every vein. 

That being said, I am not sure I am fully on board with eating completely raw, all the time. At least not for myself, especially in the climate I happen to call home. In my (professional?) opinion, the take home message here is: Include more raw food in your diet, on a daily basis, at every meal if possible. In menu planning, I always strive for at least 1 raw dish out of three, and often times a raw dessert. I am sure you will make the final judgement for yourself, but I urge you to pay a bit more attention (especially at breakfast!) and see what happens. 

This main dish is a fun and easy raw food preparation, including no fancy equipment (dehydrators, juicers etc.). The results are quite filling, and satisfy the need for savory often absent in raw food menus. 

Raw Parsnip Rice Curry Bowl
Serves 6


1/4 cup dried hijiki seaweed, soaked in orange juice for at least 30 minutes
6 medium parsnips

2 tbs. raw almonds, soaked for at least 4 hours if possible
½ lime, juiced
2 tbs. thai red curry paste (try the homemade version in this post for AMAZING results)
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. tamari
2 tbs. coconut milk

1 tbs. coconut oil

1 cup shelled edamame, thawed if frozen
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
2 tbs. pickled ginger
1 avocado, chopped
1/4 cup raw cashews, chopped


Set hijiki to soak in enough orange juice to cover by 2 inches, as it will grow impressively. Drain and rinse. 

Wash parsnips well and cut into large chunks. Place in a large food processor fitted with the S blade (the most common one) and pulse until it resembles a rice.           
In a blender, process almonds through coconut oil to make the sauce.              

To serve, place parsnip rice in large bowls. Drizzle with sauce and toss to coat. Top with rinsed hijiki, edamame, red pepper, avocado, cashews and pickled ginger. 

Relax. Eat Well.