Roasted Sweet Potatoes

2014-09-23 20.10.04Sweet potatoes are a nutritious fall treat.  Rich in dietary fiber, vitamins A, B, and C it makes for a great side dish to any meal.  The starchy goodness is complimented by subtle sweetness that really takes off when highlighted the right way.  I got 3 pretty big sweet potatoes in our CSA this week that I knew I couldn’t eat all by myself, so I had to find a way to disguise them into something my husband would eat.  Roasting the potatoes is an easy way to cook them, and it brings out the natural sweetness in the vegetables.   I also learned that baking sweet potatoes increases the Vitamin C content, go figure.  To sweeten I debated between using my traditional go-to brown sugar or maple syrup.  I went the maple syrup route as I keep hearing it is the new “healthy sugar” of choice.

I am not a fan of going full-sweet when making dinner sides, so to keep the savory touch I roasted with leeks and put a few sprigs of thyme on top. Usually, I remove thyme from the stem and stir it into my dishes, but I so often see in recipes that the thyme is used whole to add flavor then removed.  Sometimes the small leaves become bitter while roasting, so I kept the stems attached and removed the sprigs just prior to eating.  I was surprised at how the flavor incorporated so well without actually remaining in the finished product.  To round out the flavors I mixed in a few dashes of ground ginger.  This side smelt like thanksgiving while roasting, maybe it will make an appearance on the thanksgiving table this year.

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Ingredients:

-2 Large Sweet Potatoes, washed and diced with skin on
-1 large leek, diced into 1/2-1″ pieces
-2 Tbsp of oil (I used grape seed oil, you can use whatever you prefer)
-salt and pepper to taste
-2-3 dashes of ground ginger
-2-3 Tbsp of high quality maple syrup
-3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme

Directions:

  1. Prepare potatoes and leeks and place into oven safe dish.  Drizzle with olive oilthen season with salt, pepper, and ground ginger.
  2. Mix well then place sprigs of thyme on top, drizzle with maple syrup and an additional dash of salt.
  3. Roast in the oven at 400F for 45 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender, stir once during roasting.
  4. Remove thyme sprigs after cooking.

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Enjoy!

Hot Giardiniera

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Giardiniera is a blend of vegetables that are pickled and can be eaten as an antipasto or used as a condiment.  This recipe is one I got from my mom years ago and have really grown to love.  It takes some prep work and you are a few days away from the finished product, but believe me it is well worth the efforts.  When you make a giardiniera using hot peppers like this recipe, it is also called “Chicago Giardiniera”, typically eaten on Italian beef sandwiches.  We eat it liberally on sandwiches, wraps, sausages, spaghetti squash, over eggs, or even on its own.

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I have experimented in the past with hot water canning this giardiniera to preserve it for months.  This is a little risky as I do not have a recipe for timing the cooking or canning of this recipe to kill of all the bacteria, so I do not feel comfortable sharing a method at this time.  I suggest keeping the giardiniera in the fridge and using it up in a few weeks to a month.  The vinegar is preserving to allow the vegetables to stay fresh in the fridge for quite a while.

The oil you use should be picked based on flavor, so pick a high quality.  Know that the oil will solidify slightly in the fridge, so let it sit out a few minutes before eating.  If you want to lighten up the recipe a little, I would suggest using a grape seed or avocado oil in place of olive oil.  The recipe makes a significant amount, 6-8 pints, based on how quickly you will consume it may be wise to plan to share or half the recipe below.

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Ingredients:

2 green bell peppers, diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
8 fresh jalepenos, sliced
1-2 other hot peppers of choice
3 large celery stalks, sliced
3 medium carrots, diced
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups fresh cauliflower florets, diced small
1/2 cup salt
water to cover
2-3 cloves garlic, freshly minced
1 tbsp dried oregano, heaping
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp black pepper
1-5oz jar green olives, sliced (if desired)
1 C white vinegar (pickling or white wine)
1 C olive oil (or avocado or grape seed oil work well also)

Directions:

  1. Place the prepared peppers, celery, carrots, onion, and cauliflower into a large bowl that is able to be sealed or covered.  Stir in salt and fill with cold water until vegetables are covered.  Cover bowl and place in fridge overnight.2014-09-07 17.07.16
  2. The next day, drain salty water and rinse vegetables well.
  3. In a bowl mix garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, black pepper and olives.  Pour in vinegar and oil, mix well to combine with vegetables. 2014-09-08 19.40.58
  4. Cover and refrigerate for 2 days before use.

I typically package the giardiniera into pint or cup sized mason jars immediately after mixing, however you can return mixture to the original large bowl and seal in the fridge for 2 days before distributing into easier to manage jars or containers.

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Enjoy!

Heirloom Tomato Simple Side

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Heirloom tomatoes are about to be finished for the season, but if you can get your hands on one I would highly recommend it.  A good tomato can stand alone on my plate, but sometimes it is nice to dress it up a little.  For a simple side we have been eating this summer I slice the tomato into big slices and dress it up a little.  It doesn’t get much easier or healthier.

I love the way basil matches with tomatoes, but don’t feel like you have to stop there.  I love chives when serving with a savory breakfast as pictured above or parsley when accompanying a sandwich.

Ingredients:

-1 heirloom tomato sliced thick
-1 Tbsp of good quality olive oil
-dash of Kosher salt
-1 Tbsp of fresh herbs roughly chopped or torn

Directions:

Arrange tomato slices on a plate and drizzle with olive oil.  Next sprinkle with herbs and kosher salt…done!

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Quick Pickled Corn on the Cob

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Pickled corn on the cob has become a summertime favorite at our house.  With corn in season it’s the best time to make this side.  I first made it from a recipe from Martha Stewart’s Real Simple magazine when we were eating fresh oysters at home.  I wanted to make something fresh and tangy that would stand up well and pair with the most delicious oysters in the world, Island Creek Oysters!

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This recipe is easy and I have added other vegetables to the mix over my times making it.  Some of my favorite additions are cauliflower, carrots, garlic, celery and fennel.

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You want to make this 2 days before you plan on serving it, and eat it within one week of making for the best results.  The chili peppers give a little kick, you can add more or less based on your preference.  I usually add an extra bay leaf or two as well for a little extra spice.  The vegetables are fantastic on their own, but I highly recommend adding the red onions to burgers, sandwiches, and fish tacos.  The sliced corn is great as well in the fish tacos, salads, or with fresh cilantro and tomatoes for a quick salsa.

Ingredients: 

4 ½ cups cider vinegar
6 cups water
¾ cups Sugar
¼ cup coarse salt
1 dried bay leaf
7 red Thai chilies, 3 split open
8 large ears of corn, shucked and cut into 1.5″ medallions
1 large red onion, thinly sliced

Directions:

1. Bring vinegar, water, sugar, salt and bay leaf to a boil making sure sugar dissolves.  Stir in chilies and let cool about 10 minutes until warm.

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2. Cut and prepare corn and onion (or whatever vegetables you want to use) and layer in jar or bowl.

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3. Pour warm vinegar mixture over corn and onion and cover completely leaving jar open for an hour or two to cool before closing and putting in refrigerator for at least 1-2 days.

Serve cold and enjoy!

 

 

Kohlrabi Salad

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If you have ventured through the farmers markets lately or joined a CSA, you are probably looking at a few bulbs of Kohlrabi to use up.  The first time I tried kohlrabi I grilled it with onions, garlic, salt and pepper.  It turned out good but nothing to rave over.  My friend suggested just eating the slices raw with olive oil and salt/pepper to taste.  She was right, raw is the way to go with this.  The flavor is similar to broccoli stem or cabbage, but more delicate.  This simple salad uses up these strange looking orbs in a fresh way.  I didn’t fully skin the bulbs before thinly slicing, but I did scale down some of the thicker portions of the skin to avoid any woody or tough pieces in the salad.  The leafy greens are edible too, I plan to pulverize those in my morning smoothie.

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Ingredients:

1-2 bulbs of kohlrabi cleaned and sliced thin
1/2 red onion, diced
1 handful of fresh herbs (I went with parsley and thyme)
1-2 Tbsp of good quality olive oil
Generous dashes of salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Slice the kohlrabi, onion, and herbs.  Mix in a large bowl with olive oil and salt/pepper until evenly coated.

Note: If you want to take it up a notch, some crumbled feta and bacon would be delicious mixed in as well.

Dill Potato Salad

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Summer is all about salads, and potato salad is no exception to the list.  While I love a healthy and fresh salad devoid of cheese and creamy dressing, sometimes a little creamy potato salad is just what the meal needs.  Especially when you are serving a main course straight off the grill.  I have an abundance of dill left over from our CSA this weekend and I needed a side to bring to dinner tomorrow night.  Potato salad is the best crowd pleaser I could come up with.  I started with a simple base and a combination of yukon and red potatoes to make this creamy and tangy masterpiece.  With the 4th of July coming up, I would recommend this as an easy and cost effective side.

Ingredients: 

3-4 medium size red skin potatoes
2 medium size yukon or golden potatoes
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
2-3 Tbsp light cream
1/4 cup of red onion, diced
1/4 cup of green onion, sliced green and white pieces
1/4 cup of dill, minced
1 Tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

1. Bring the potatoes to a boil, whole, let boil for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5-10 more minutes until just fork tender but not completely cooked.

2. In a bowl combine mayonnaise, cream, red and green onion, dill, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

3. Drain and dice potatoes into 1-1 1/2 inch cubes based on preference.  Allow to cool and mix with mayonnaise mixture.  Serve that day or refrigerate for up to 2 days.

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Note: You may want to change out the dill for another herb of choice, but I think the dill is perfect.  You can also add some diced bacon for a meat lovers option, I think this is called German Style.  If you notice the potatoes absorb all the moisture on day 2, make up a little more mayo mix and add to potatoes.

Enjoy!

Tangy Herb Vinaigrette

2014-06-22 19.04.51 Our summer CSA has been full of greens for salads, which means I was in the market for a new dressing to spice things up a bit.  This dressing is tangy and using the Vitamix makes it smooth and creamy without adding any dairy.  I adapted this vinaigrette from a recipe for pasta salad, but it pairs well with a classic summer salad topped with fish, chicken, or just veggies.

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Ingredients: 

1/4 cup of Avocado oil or another vegetable oil
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/3 cup of red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Tbsp of chopped dill
1 clove of garlic
dash of salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

1. Add everything to the Vitamix and blend increasing to high until smooth and creamy.

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I used fresh parsley and dill, however I am looking forward to trying out other herbs to change the flavor profile: basil, thyme, cilantro, oregano, chives or whatever you are growing in abundance.

Enjoy and Eat Well!