Posts Tagged ‘lettuce’

Unrecipe of the Week: Summer Salad Rolls

May 19, 2014

These vegetable rolls are riff on the traditional Vietnamese Summer roll. A study in simplicity, these rice paper rolls are filled with fresh julienned vegetables. The secret lies in the sauce: we dipped ours in a carrot, sesame oil and soy based dressing that brought the flavors to life. The best part? We’re torn between how healthy and low calorie they are, and the fact that nothing needed to be cooked.  Twice the reason to try this unrecipe!

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For the rolls:

Julienne a variety of vegetables, including cucumbers, carrots, diakon, red bell pepper, radishes and beets. Mix it up to suit your tastes. I used a mandolin, but depending on how many you are making, you can just cut them by hand. Be sure to peel the carrots, diakon and beets first!

To assemble:

Dip a large rice paper wrapper* in warm water to soften. There is no need to soak them, just get them hydrated enough to be pliable.

Place the rice paper on a work surface. Lay a small piece of lettuce and a fresh mint leaf or two at the bottom of disc. Layer on the julienned vegetables. Begin rolling the rice paper, tucking it tightly, but gently as you go. Roll it twice, fold the sides in, and continue rolling to the top. It should look like a fat, transparent egg roll.

Lay the finished roll on plastic wrap. The rolls will stick together, so be sure to keep them from touching. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to eat.

For the sauce:

Peel about 3-4 medium carrots, and cut them into chunks. Place them in the food processor, along with a small shallot, peeled and quartered, a good sized chunk of peeled fresh ginger, about 1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar, a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce, about a 1/2 or 1 teaspoon of sesame oil. Puree until everything is finely diced and combined. With the machine running, add about 1/4 cup or so of vegetable oil ( We used grape seed oil, which has a neutral flavor. Do not use olive oil, as the flavor is too strong!) Add about 1/4 cup of water, and continue mixing until it forms a a chunky dressing. Check flavors, and add more vinegar, or soy sauce as needed. If the dressing is too thick, add a little bit more water. Refrigerate until ready to use.

We served the rolls cut in half lengthwise, on a pool of drizzled dressing, and then put the rest on a platter with a bowl of sauce on the side. Sounds like the perfect dish to toss in my lunch bag tomorrow!

*rice paper wrappers are sold packaged in the international foods section of grocery stores, or at Asian markets.

CSA Tuesday: It’s a Wrap!

December 20, 2012

This week marks the end of our CSA series for the season. I have mixed reviews about it. On one hand, I did become acquainted with a few new vegetables, and I did need to flex a little culinary muscle to use some of the items I received.

On the other hand, there was a lot of waste. Things that went bad before I could get to them, and things I just didn’t like that much that kept on coming.

This week we received more beets ( yum), lettuce, spinach and pumpkins (hence the things that just keep coming!). We also got butternut squash and garlic.
I have 4 day weekend coming up, so I hope to be creative and use it all up.

Spinach…That’s an easy one! Saute with garlic. ( 2 items used already!)

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I love beets!

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Roasted beets in a salad? That’s a no-brainer!

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People were leaving the pumpkins behind…they are heavy to carry, and harder to prepare. Late in the season pumpkins are not always so tasty. I will give them a try, one last time!

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photos: Spencer Jones / Glasshouse Assignment

CSA Tuesday

November 28, 2012

It’s a cold rainy day in New York, but the farmers came through with a bountiful array of vegetables.

We got cabbage, leeks, beets, parsley, lettuce and yams. We ended up with only 1 leek, and 1 bunch of beets (which I love!) but a ton of lettuce and parsley. Wanna swap?

Although they said to take 2 cabbages, this one is bigger than my head and truly magnificent. One is plenty!

We got several heads of lettuce and a few giant, lush bunches of parsley.

My baskets of onions and potatoes have now grown to 3, even though I used a lot for Thanksgiving.

I am toying with the idea of making a sweet potato bread pudding that I found a recipe for. Definitely a salad, with roasted beets, pecans and goat cheese.

The parsley and giant cabbage pose a bigger challenge to my creativity. Perhaps stuffed cabbage of some sort? A parsley pesto?

Great ideas are always welcome!

CSA Tuesday

November 7, 2012

It’s CSA day today.  Since fresh food is still not fully available in downtown Manhattan since the storm, this week’s produce share was highly anticipated.

We got a butternut squash, 4 onions, lettuce, collards, red radishes, black radishes, and sage.

I am not familiar with black radishes, so I am looking forward to experimenting with them.

Since the storm forced me to throw away several weeks worth of CSA soups from the freezer, I will be happy to make my next batch this weekend. Unless the squash becomes ravioli first, which would be lovely with a little sage butter. A lettuce salad with mixed radishes perhaps? That would leave just the collards, which are not a favorite around here.

Let’s see what happens as the week wears on..

CSA Tuesday

October 3, 2012

It’s Tuesday and that means it’s time to pick up our farm selection from the CSA. Today’s assortment is more balanced than it has been:

There is a huge butternut squash, a head of lettuce, some young broccoli rabe without any florets ( the jury is out on that one until it’s cooked),red potatoes, a beautiful bouquet of kale, some rosemary and a bunch of celery.

I am thinking about a simple vegetarian dinner tonight, especially if it prevents me from having to go back out in the rain again!

Any great ideas out there?

CSA Tuesday

September 26, 2012

It’s CSA Tuesday, and I am a little unexcited about today’s selection.

There is a head of lettuce, some potatoes, 2 types of squash and a pumpkin.

There is an herb that looks like mint and smells lemony. I think its lemon balm.

I will try that tonight with some sautéed seafood and see how it goes.

The pumpkin will hopefully yield a small pie, something B has been requesting since last Thanksgiving.

Any ideas for the squash?

CSA Tuesday

September 19, 2012

Today’s CSA bounty was very different from last week’s haul.

There are lots of greens, including lettuce, collards, kale, parsley, sage, and kohlrabi.

An lonely acorn squash rounded out the assortment.

With one family member who grew up in the South and remembers over-cooked collard greens simmered in leftover, and possibly rancid bacon grease, and another that only eats green items like gummy worms and M&M’s, this selection is going to be a challenge. And I LOVE a good cooking challenge!

Stay tuned. This week indigo jones is going green and sharing the unrecipes along the way! Wish me luck!

Unrecipe of the Week: Cleaned Up Tacos

July 25, 2012

My family loves tacos. I don’t. I am not a meat eater, and Mexican spices have never been a favorite flavor of mine. The texture of refried beans, sour cream, salsa and guacamole dripping down my chin don’t hold any appeal for me either.  I won’t talk about calories here, but seriously, this isn’t usually the diet plate.

I created this super clean, simple version of a taco, which is the way I would want to eat it, IF I wanted to eat it! You can even substitute the beef for mushrooms, and have a great vegetarian version.
They seem to love them, and this unrecipe even sneaks a few vegetables into B’s diet, which is a win all the way!

 

Cleaned Up Tacos:

 

Beef Filling:

Dice 2 garlic cloves and one small shallot.

Spray a large pan with cooking spray, and sauté the garlic and shallot with 1 pound of ground beef (I buy grass fed, organic beef with the lowest available fat content, which is a much healthier alternative to basic grocery store ground chuck).

Season it with a large dollop of ground cumin, some cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. Add a little Tabasco sauce if you like it hot. Cook until brown.

Sprinkle the meat mixture with a little cornstarch (a tablespoon or so) and stir to coat. Add a little water (about 1/3 cup), and return it to the stove, mixing it well to be sure that no clumps form. This should form a thick sauce.

Toppings:
Shredded lettuce: Be creative: I used arugula

Chopped avocado

Chopped tomatoes: I used assorted baby heirloom tomatoes cut up

Shredded Jack cheese

If you really love the classic fillings, feel free to add all the goopy accouterments you like. I won’t judge!

 

Assembling:

Heat a whole-wheat tortilla on the gas flame of the stove for just a couple of seconds per side.

Add the meat filling. Top with vegetables and cheese. Fold in the sides, and roll it up.

Eat and enjoy!

Eat Your Vegetables

July 20, 2012

It’s no secret that I am a big fan of the Union Square Greenmarket.

I tend to go on Saturday mornings, after a particularly grueling cycling class down the street, and pick up whatever strikes my fancy.

While the greenmarket goodies tend to last longer than their supermarket purchased counterparts, fresh produce only lasts so long.

I was thrilled to stumble upon some tips in the New York Times Dining section this week, on how to prolong the freshness of summer’s vegetable bounty.

Here are a few key tricks to preserving the produce of the season:

Greens, like lettuce, are best washed in advance, dried and stored.

Soft herbs such as basil and soft produce such as mushrooms and berries should be washed when used, as the water will speed spoilage. I find that putting basil in a glass of filtered water that comes a few inches up the stems, keeps it fresh for several days. Frequent readers will note that I am also a big proponent of making pesto, and basil oil while it’s still green and “perky”.

Anything that comes in bunches, should be released from it’s binding, as the closer the vegetables are packed, the faster they will rot.

Leafy tops of root vegetables, such as carrots and beets should be trimmed to 1” long to prolong freshness but prevent them from drying out.

Fruits and vegetables should be stored separately, as the ripening fruit emits ethylene, which damages vegetables.

Some produce will continue to ripen on the counter: stone fruits, melons, mangoes, apples, pears, tomatoes and avocados.  Bell peppers, citrus fruits, and berries will only deteriorate.

Bananas ripen quickly, and will speed the ripening of anything they are stored with.

If you can, cut and simply cook vegetables, as they will last longer in the refrigerator that way. Prepare them separately, to allow more flexibility in their use.

Intimidated by the skills needed to slice and dice vegetables? Have no fear.

The specialty market Eataly, just north of Union Square employs a fulltime vegetable butcher who will peel and cut your produce to order.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

The Clean 15

June 5, 2012

We have written here about the “Dirty Dozen,” a list of produce that has the highest levels of pesticides and contamination. It is recommended that these foods be organic wherever possible.

There is another list called the “Clean 15”, which have the lowest pesticide load, and can be enjoyed in the conventional varieties.

These are:

Onions

Sweet corn

Pineapples

Avocado

Sweet peas

Mangoes

Eggplant

Cantaloupe

Kiwi

Watermelon

Sweet potatoes

Grapefruit

Mushrooms

Asparagus

Other foods, such as broccoli, cabbage and tomatoes have more recently tested cleaner as well, due to less pest threats, and therefore less spraying.

Many of these fruits and vegetables have a protective outer layer that gets peeled or removed before eating. This helps eliminate the toxins, which are largely on the outside of the food.

The current list of the most harmful foods tested positive for at least 47 different chemicals, and as many as 67. Buying organic insures that the fruit and vegetables are not treated with harmful pesticides.

Foods that should be organic:

Celery

Strawberries

Peaches

Apples

Blueberries

Nectarines

Sweet bell peppers

Spinach, kale and collard greens

Cherries

Potatoes

Grapes

Lettuce

This lists were compiled by the Environmental Working Group, which is an organization made up of scientists, researchers and policymakers. The data used was supplied by the United States Department of Agriculture’s tests for pesticide residue on fresh produce.

photos: Glasshouse Images

 


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