Category Archives: Vegetable Dishes

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup from Paula Wolfert

I’ve been enchanted by Paula Wolfert’s book The Food of Morocco since it came out last year.  I raved about all the great dishes that everyone made from it for the event hosted by the Culinary Historians of New York featuring Ms. Wolfert, but I hadn’t yet tried my hand at any of them.  Food and Wine also did a feature on some of the recipes, which I’d set aside to make later.  One in particular caught my eye, the Spiced Butternut Squash Soup, which seemed like a perfect thing to make on this snowy Saturday.

I used a kabocha squash

In anticipation of the arriving storm, I’d stocked up on the ingredients.  I even managed to track down a goats cheese cheddar from Patches of Star farm at the Union Square Greenmarket.  It might not have been exactly the same as the one called for in the recipe, but it imparted a tangy, creamy flavor that when combined with a dollop of crème fraîche and a smidgen of harissa livened up the squash and blended well with the La Kama spice mixture which was cooked with the vegetables.

La Kama spice blend (Wolfert suggests using the leftover with roasted vegetables)

As with many winter vegetable soup recipes, this came together relatively quickly after the labor of dismantling and de-gutting the squash.  I should have taken a photo of the whole messy process, but my hands were too sticky and I wasn’t quite sure how attractive it would have been to see a picture of all the seeds and fibrous mass that came out of the kabocha splayed all over my countertops.  It’s kitchen carnage at its best.

Mixing everything together

When finished, the soup has a vibrant orange color, made even richer in texture by flecks of the spices.  Sometimes I find that these single vegetable dishes can be dull and bland; however, that is not the case here.  The heat from the harrisa, the sour pucker of the cream, and the earthiness of the aged goats cheese cut through the strong notes of the squash to create a harmonious spoonful of warm, soul-filling flavor.  The aroma is enticing without being heavy, leaving one to dream about warmer, more exotic shores far away from our current winter wonderland.

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

Buon appetito!

Quinoa with Broccoli

Are you doing a New Year’s de-tox diet?  It seems like more than a few of the folks I follow on Twitter and some others I’ve spoken to besides have decided to undertake this cleansing ritual to jump start their bodies in 2012.  I’m on the fence about this.  While each year I do abstain from eating something during Lent, and I have from time to time tried to cut back on certain foods in my diet (sweets, meat, alcohol, etc.), I’ve never done the fasting or juicing thing.  I’m not even sure how my body would react to it, but I have a feeling it wouldn’t be all that happy.

I came up with this dish for Quinoa with Broccoli as I think instead that one of the best ways to help out your body is to alternate between heavier and lighter meals and to try to balance out less healthy dishes with ones that are filled with the good things that keep your body going.  I eat out quite a bit at food festivals, markets, and events, so I don’t always accomplish that aim.  This year, I’m really going to try hard to make healthier dishes when I’m not running around trying out all the terrific artisan products or hanging out at amazing cook-offs.

Start off with these ingredients

One of my other goals for this year is to cook up all those random ingredients that are in my pantry.  Quinoa is one of those things that is really good for you, along with broccoli, and I need to be better about incorporating it into my diet to counter balance all those rich, creamy, gooey things that I love to eat.  This recipe is partly an adaptation of a method that I’ve used for years in cooking up broccoli or broccolini.  The addition of the quinoa adds some protein and extra fiber making this a great, quick lunchtime (or late evening) meal or a side dish.

Quinoa with Broccoli

Prep Time: 20 minutes or less

Serving Size: 1 person for 1-dish meal, 2 people as a side dish

Ingredients:

1/4 cup Quinoa

1 tsp. Olive Oil

1 clove Garlic, minced

1 large or 2 small Anchovy fillets in oil

1 c. Broccoli florets and stems, cut into 1/4-inch chunks

1 pinch Salt

2-3 grinds of Black Pepper

1 tsp. Lemon juice

1 pinch to 1/4 tsp. Red Pepper flakes

1 Tbsp. Pine Nuts

Parmesan Cheese

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (top quality drizzling oil)

Assembly:

Measure out quinoa and cook according to package directions.  In the meantime, prepare the broccoli, as the two components will end up being done at about the same time.

Quinoa cooking

Heat a small skillet over a low flame or burner.  Add olive oil.  Put in the minced garlic and let it cook for about 10 seconds before adding in the anchovies to release the flavor of the garlic.  With the back of a wooden spoon, mash up the anchovies into the oil and garlic so that there are no large pieces of fish.  The anchovies will add a depth of flavor to the dish without imparting a fishiness to it.

Adding anchovies

Add the broccoli and stir to mix in the garlic and anchovies.  Pour 1 tablespoon of water into the pan and cover it with a lid.  After 3 minutes, check to see if broccoli is cooked through by poking a floret with a knife.  If the knife passes through it easily, take off the cover and add salt and pepper to the broccoli.  Pour the lemon juice over the broccoli, add the red pepper flakes and pine nuts to the pan, and toss to mix together.

Broccoli cooking away

By this time, the quinoa should also be cooked.  Drain the quinoa of any extra water and add it to the pan with the broccoli.  Stir to combine everything.

Combining quinoa and broccoli

Transfer quinoa and broccoli to a shallow bowl or a plate.  Sprinkle a bit of parmesan cheese over the top and sparingly drizzle a little high-quality, extra-virgin olive oil onto as well.  Serve immediately.

Buon appetito!

Park Avenue Tree Lighting Party Holiday Appetizers

One of my very favorite things to do in New York each holiday season is actually something that takes place in my neighborhood.  It is the little-known tradition of the Park Avenue Tree Lighting Ceremony where the trees are lit in the medians up and down Park Avenue (really, I ask people about it every year and almost no one has heard of it).  Imagine this.  A few thousand Upper East Siders, their kids, dogs, neighbors, and friends, all pile into Park Avenue, which is closed for about ten blocks to accommodate the festivities, around 90th to 92nd Street near the Brick Presbyterian Church, the host, to sing Christmas carols and belt out hearty “Fa, la, la, la”s into the cool night air.  This year, I decided to invite some friends over for the caroling and illumination ceremony and then to my place for some drinks and appetizers afterwards.

It really is a bit of ordered chaos

It’s always a bit chaotic at the start.  Songsheets are handed out with the words to multiple verses for familiar holiday tunes, and the carols are never sung in the order in which they are numbered on the piece of paper.  Children are perched on a parent’s shoulders or hanging out in the other trees in the median so that they can get a view of the lights or chasing each other in and around the crowds.  Once the pastor signals that it is time to start, however, and the first note is sung, the combined voices fill the air with the joyful spirit of the season and young and old alike join in.  Midway through the singing, the trees are lit, starting at the highest point on the street, and domino-like cascading down Park Avenue towards the Metropolitan Life building, always accompanied by an “aahhh” from the audience.  “Taps” is then played in memory of the men and women who have given their lives in service to our country, as this ceremony is also about commemorating them.

It doesn’t matter if one can’t carry a tune, the warmth of the group delivers the sound up and down the city streets.  Even in the darkest times, or years when I haven’t been feeling particularly Christmas-y, this event has always helped me to get a bit more in the spirit of the season.  I remember that after the terrorist attacks in 2001, there was a bit of debate as to whether the ceremony would take place, as there had been a ban put on holding large gatherings in the city.  I have no idea what strings were pulled to get the permit for that year, but, like clockwork, the caroling started and the trees were lit in the presence of a very special guest and neighborhood resident, then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.  I think it was then that I realized we would eventually get back to some kind of normal in our lives.

Walking back home after the trees have been lit

This really is a very special holiday tradition on the Upper East Side, so I wanted to introduce my friends to it. Fortunately, they were all game to trek up to my neighborhood on a Sunday evening, especially when I said I’d be feeding them afterwards.  My idea was for the menu to be a little dressed up, with easy-to-prepare bites.  Although I could prep all the components of these appetizers in advance, I only pulled two of them together before I went to meet everyone for the caroling.  The Beet and Goats Cheese with Horseradish on Lavash Crackers with Microgreens had to be finished after we got back so that the crackers didn’t get soggy.  While everyone was filling their glasses, I put these together.  I allowed for about 2-3 of each appetizer, both sweet and savory, per person, which turned out to be about the right amount.  Hopefully, these recipes will help you to plan your holiday gathering and maybe even to start a caroling tradition of your own.

 

Smoked Salmon on Ruis Bread with Mustard Crème Fraîche and Dill

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

Serving Size: 24 pieces

Ingredients:

4 Tbsp. Crème Fraîche

4 tsp. grainy Mustard (I used Tin Mustard)

1 pinch ground White Pepper

2 small rounds Ruis Bread from Nordic Breads (or use any thinly-sliced, non-caraway seed dark rye bread)

3-4 oz. thinly-sliced Smoked Salmon

1 Tbsp. fresh Dill sprigs

Assembly:

Mix together crème fraîche, mustard, and pepper.  Taste to test the balance of mustard to dairy.  There should be a slight tang from the latter with the spiciness of the former and a pop from the mustard seeds.

Cut each of the Ruis Bread rounds in half and then cut each half into six pieces so that you have a total of 24 small triangles like in the photo above.  If using another type of rye bread, cut into small squares or triangles to make 24 pieces.  Place on serving tray.

Spread a layer of the crème fraîche mixture on each of the bread pieces.  Tear the smoked salmon into 2-3 inch long pieces and drape each triangle with a piece of the fish.

Break the dill sprigs into smaller pieces.  Garnish each salmon-topped triangle with a mini-sprig of dill.  These can be made in advance, wrapped in plastic or covered with a towel for a couple of hours, and refrigerated before serving.

Beef Filet and Creamed Spinach on Toast Rounds

Prep time: 40 minutes

Serving size: 30 rounds, give or take

Ingredients:

1 Baguette, cut into about 1/4 to 1/3-inch thick rounds

2 cloves Garlic, cut in half

1/2 tsp. Olive Oil

1 tsp. unsalted butter

1 large clove Garlic, minced

1 bunch fresh Spinach, about 4-5 cups

2 tsp. heavy Cream

1 pinch Nutmeg

1 pinch Black Pepper

1/4 tsp. Salt

extra Salt and Ground Black Pepper

1 tsp. Canola Oil

1 to 1 1/4 lb. Beef Filet (tenderloin), cut into 2-inch rounds

1 Tbsp. Crème Fraîche (optional, I had it left from the other recipe)

Assembly:

Toast rounds:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.  Put cut baguette rounds on a baking sheet and toast for 5-7 minutes, not letting them get too dark.  Flip them over, and toast again on the other side for 5-7 minutes more.

Remove from the oven and then place them on a serving tray.  Rub each toast round with a side of the cut garlic clove while the toasts are still warm and can absorb the flavor from the garlic.

Creamed Spinach:

While the bread is toasting, rinse the spinach to make sure there is no dirt or grit.  In a saucepan, heat up the olive oil with the butter.  When the butter has melted, toss in the minced garlic and let it cook for about 30 seconds until the liquid is perfumed by the garlic.  Add the spinach, cover the pan and let the greens cook for 1-2 minutes until they are all wilted and soft.

Remove the lid from the pan, add the heavy cream, the nutmeg, pepper, and salt and stir to combine.  Let this cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until the cream has reduced.  You’ll need to watch it periodically to make sure the spinach isn’t burning and that there is still some liquid in the pan.

When the cream is reduced, remove the pan from the heat, drain the spinach of any remaining liquid, and place the spinach on a cutting board to cool.  When cooled, cut the cooked spinach mixture into small chunks.

Beef Filet:

Salt and pepper each beef filet round on both sides.  Heat canola oil in sauté pan placed over medium heat until it is fairly hot, but not smoking.  Place the beef pieces side by side but not touching each other in the pan.  Cook for about 3 minutes per side, more if you would like the meat well-done.  The meat should come off of the pan easily when each side is cooked (i.e., the proteins have cooked and the meat will release without effort from the bottom of the pan).  This should give you a brown crust on the outside and a bright pink-red center on the inside.

Remove the meat from the pan when you have achieved desired doneness.  Set aside on a carving board to let the juices go back into the meat.

Putting it all together:

Spread a thin layer of crème fraîche on each of the garlic-rubbed toast rounds (optional – omit if not using).  Place a small amount of creamed spinach on top of each round.  Cut the meat into 1-2 inch pieces crossways and place on top of the spinach.  These should not be made too far in advance as the juices from the meat and the spinach will seep into the bread and make it soggy.  I made them about two hours before they were eaten, which allowed for the toast to be a crunchy platform for the toppings.  Serve at room temperature.

Beet and Goats Cheese with Horseradish on Lavash Crackers with Microgreens

Prep time: 20 minutes

Serving Size: 30 or so pieces

Ingredients:

Poppy seed flatbread crackers or Hot Bread Kitchen Lavash Crackers

8 oz. Goats Cheese with salt

1 Tbsp. heavy Cream

2 tsp. prepared Horseradish

1/4 tsp. ground White Pepper

2/3 to 1/2 c. finely chopped pickled beets (I used Rick’s Picks Phat Beets.)

1/2 c. fresh Microgreens

Assembly:

Break crackers up into 1-inch pieces and put on serving tray.  Mix together goats cheese, cream, horseradish, and pepper.  Place a dollop of the cheese mixture on each of the crackers.

On top of the cheese, sprinkle several of the beet pieces.  Garnish each with a dusting of the microgreens.  While the cracker pieces, cheese, and beets may be prepared in advance, they should not be put together until just before serving. Serve immediately so that the crackers do not get soggy.

Almond Toffee

While all the recipes for the savory appetizers were new ones that I created just for this party, the sweet ones I pulled from my tried-and-true favorites files.  These are all made in advance of the nibbles in the recipes above and, in the case of the cookies and the toffee, can even made the day before the event.  I made two batches of the Almond Toffee so that I could create individual goodie bags for my guests to take away with them after the party while still having some left for them (and me) to snack on during the evening.

White Chocolate Cranberry Macademia Nut Cookies

The White Chocolate-Cranberry-Macadamia Nut Cookies were the remainder of the batch that I brought with me to the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer swap earlier in the day.  The batch made about three dozen cookies, so I could keep some back for the party, too.

Mixed-berry Jam Tarts with Lemon Curd

You know the rule about never making things for the first time for a dinner party?  Well, I usually ignore that one and get off o.k.  This recipe experiment was one of those that worked like a charm, if my guests are to be believed.  My goal during this party was to serve edibles that didn’t involve utensils or big slabs of anything.  I had had some leftover Mixed-Berry Spreadable Fruit from Sarabeth’s from the crostata that I made for Pie Party Live (see that post for a Kitchen Witch Tip on working with spreadable fruit)  So, I took the dough, used a tart pan to make mini-crusts, added the jam to the uncooked dough like I would for a crostata, and just baked them as I would according to the original recipe.

The only alteration I made, aside from not using a large tart pan, was to cut the cooking time to about 30 minutes, as the smaller shape will make these little gems bake faster.  Once cooled, I added a dollop of lemon curd to balance the sweet-tart berries with a citrus-tang of the lemon.  The crisp, buttery tart shell brings it all together in one delightful bite.  I will definitely be trying more off-the-top-of-my-head ideas like this one in the future, as this worked so well.

Buon appetito!

Sautéed Green Beans with Almonds

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I grew up on canned products and salad as my options for vegetable-like things.  My journey through adulthood has introduced me to the wonders of broccoli, broccolini, cauliflower, and all sorts of other greens that just never made it onto the childhood menu rotation.  This minimal side dish selection would change for Thanksgiving and Christmas when we received a special treat:  Green Beans with Almonds.

Green Beans

Initially, this was a way to dress up squishy, briny, grey-green canned beans to make them more appealing to our palates.  When I was about ten or so, my mom decided to build a vegetable garden to one side of our house.  This was my first experience with freshly-grown produce.  Green beans were long and slender and crunchy – what a revelation!  (The same kind of vegetable epiphany happened for me with snow peas as well.) I fell in love with these verdant slivers then and try to grab up handfuls of them each year when they arrive at the Greenmarket.

Toasted Almonds

Theories behind how to cook green beans range from the boil the heck out of them until they are breaking apart, which is just too close to the canned ones I was tormented with as a child, to just barely fork-tender and crunchy.  For this recipe, I cook them in boiling water until they get to the latter stage, drain them, and then pop them into the sauté pan along with butter and the toasted almonds.  My mom used to cook all of the ingredients together, but that made the beans drenched in fat and rather greasy; it also involved way too much butter to be healthy.  Cooked my way, they still have a bit of give to them but are soft enough to balance out the meaty, crunchy taste of the nuts while still having a bit of a sheen and richness from the butter.

Sautéed Green Beans with Almonds

Prep Time:  15-20 minutes

Serving Size: 4 people

Ingredients:

1/4 c. slivered Almonds

1/2 pound fresh Green Beans, trimmed on top and bottom

2 Tbsp. unsalted Butter

3/4 tsp. salt

Assembly:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.  Put almonds on a tray in a single layer and place them in the oven to toast.  This will take about 5-10 minutes, but you should check on them a few times to make sure that they do not become too dark or burn.

While the almonds are toasting, put a saucepan of water on the stovetop to boil.  Once the water has boiled, put in 1/2 tsp. salt.  Toss in the green beans and let them cook for 5-10 minutes until a fork inserted in them goes through easily (i.e., “fork tender”).  Remove the saucepan from the heat and drain the green beans.

In a large frying pan, melt the butter.  When the butter is frothy, toss in the green beans and the toasted almonds and stir them around until they are coated in the butter.  Add 1/4 tsp. salt and toss to coat everything.  Serve immediately.

Buon appetito!

This post is also in memory of my mother’s oldest brother who passed away suddenly this past Saturday evening.  I took it pretty hard, even though I hadn’t seen him in a few years.  I wondered why, and then it hit me as I thought about all the great family meals and many, many Thanksgivings and holidays that he had been at our house.  As he didn’t have a wife and children of his own, he usually came to my folks’ place to join us in the festivities, well, and to watch football.

I would relish being a “big kid,” hanging out at the table after the plates had been cleared away, with my mom, their other sister, and him telling stories about growing up in their large, chaotic family while the inevitable family card game was in play.  I don’t think I ever managed to win one of those, even as an adult.

Pasta with Zucchini and Zucchini Flowers (Pasta alle zucchine e fiori di zucca)

This Wednesday, when I was doing my weekly shopping trip to the Union Square Greenmarket, I was kind of surprised to see how much summertime produce was still available.  I snapped up blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries to have with my yogurt and granola for breakfast (I’m trying to be very good after all that pasta and gelato in Italy.).  While I was walking around the market, one item in particular caught my eye, Zucchini Flowers.  I thought that the season for these was long over, so I picked up a box of them to take home with me.

I’ve been wanting to make a pasta dish with Zucchini and Zucchini Flowers (or fiori di zucca in Italian).  I’d never eaten these delicate blossoms until I moved to Italy, and there I fell in love with them.  It wasn’t until several years ago that I started seeing them for sale in the farmers markets in New York.  Now, I find them on menus around town, people ask for my recipes, and I read about them being used in dishes featured in cooking magazines.

Zucchini “coins”

Zucchini has been one of those things with which I’ve had a love-hate relationship.  When it isn’t cooked to death, the way my mother made it when I was growing up, it is actually one of those vegetables that I enjoy eating.  I’m not a huge fan of it raw on crudite platters, either.  Somewhere in the middle, whether it is fried or sauteed, is really the best point at which to eat it, I feel, when there is some creaminess to it and a bit of a bite.  Here, I cooked it in olive oil, grated Parmesan cheese on top, added the zucchini flowers, and sprinkled it with another summertime favorite, fresh basil, to give it an herbal, anise-like snap at the finish.

I tossed this with some linguine that I found hanging out in my cupboard, but spaghetti would work well, too.  It seems like it will finally be getting a bit cooler after this weekend so summer really is winding down.  There’s just a short window left to make this dish this year.  Then, it will need to wait until next summer when the golden yellow zucchini flowers come back into season and bright green, tender zucchini flood the markets.

Getting everything ready

Pasta with Zucchini and Zucchini Flowers (Pasta alle zucchine e fiori di zucca)

Serving Size: 2 starter portions

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

2 tsp. Olive Oil (does not have to be extra virgin)

4 small, dark-skinned Zucchini, cut into round “coins”

2 cloves Garlic, minced

5 Zucchini Flowers, trimmed, rinsed and cut into strips cross-ways

1 Tbsp chopped fresh Basil

Black Pepper, freshly ground

Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

2 portions of dried pasta, such as linguini, trenette or spaghetti (not too thin), cooked according to the directions on the package

Assembly:

Start water to boil for the pasta and follow the preparation instructions on the package.  In Italian cooking, the sauce is made in advance of the pasta being cooked, so that nothing distracts from making the pasta perfectly.  In this recipe, you can make them pretty much side-by-side, although the pasta will take a bit longer to cook than the sauce.

Cleaned and chopped zucchini flower (left) and one waiting to be prepared (right)

You will also need to clean the zucchini flowers before you cut them up to eat.  As you can see in the above photo, there is a stem end that needs to be removed.  Make a slit in the side of the flower, carefully open it up to separate the yellow floral part from the stem end and the yellow fuzzy part coming up from the stem.  Discard those parts leaving only the yellow flower.  That part is what you will chop up and eat.  Rinse it carefully under water or brush with a wet towel to get rid of any dirt and bugs on it.

In a sautee pan large enough so that all the zucchini will fit in one layer, heat the olive oil for about 30 seconds over low to medium heat (It should not be smoking hot.).  Put zucchini in the pan and cook it on one side until the coins start to blister a bit and become golden brown.  This will take 2-3 minutes.  Flip them over to cook on the other side for another 2-3 minutes.

Sauteed zucchini “coins”

Add the garlic and mix together with the zucchini.  Be careful not to let the garlic turn brown as it will then develop an acrid taste.  Turn off the heat at this point.  Add 4 of the chopped zucchini flowers and 2 Tbsp of the basil.  Toss together letting the residual heat wilt them.  Set aside until the pasta is ready.

Sauteed Zucchini with Zucchini Flowers

Here is the beauty of this dish – it also makes a wonderful vegetable side course (or contorno in Italian).  If you want to skip the pasta, at this point grate some Parmesan cheese on the top of the zucchini and zucchini flowers.  Add a few grinds of black pepper and toss it together.  Then, as a finishing touch sprinkle the remaining chopped zucchini flower and fresh basil on top of it.  Serve immediately.

If using as a pasta sauce, drain the cooked pasta, reserving a couple of spoonfuls of the cooking liquid.  Add the liquid to the pan with the vegetables and toss together.  Put the pasta into the saucepan and stir to coat the pasta strands.  Place half the pasta mixture on each of two plates.  Add a couple of grinds of black pepper to each along with a dusting of Parmesan cheese, and the remaining chopped zucchini flowers and basil leaves.  Serve immediately.

Buon appetito!

No-Mayonnaise Carrot Salad

Do you have a food phobia?  I’m not talking about just a normal dislike or won’t-eat.  I mean, do you have something that actually strikes terror in your heart and makes you gag when thinking about it or even coming within 100 yards of the smell of it?  That is me with any kind of mayonnaise-heavy salad dish.  You know the ones I mean.  They lurk on the tables at Boy Scout potlucks, show up menacingly at soccer picnics, and loiter at neighborhood barbecues, trying to squeeze in next to the potato salad.

Grated carrots

There’s a series of these salads which date from my 1970s childhood (separate from the sequence of equally-disliked Jello salads).  Ambrosia Salad, Waldorf Salad, and the one that I probably despise most of all, although it is tough to pick just one, Carrot Salad.  Part of my dislike is that I’m not a big fan of raisins in things, which I now know is not that uncommon.  Then, there’s the whole globs of processed mayonnaise, which I also can’t stand as I’ve mentioned before.  So, put those two things together alone and the dish is not likely to be a hit with me.  Carrots, I think, are the innocent bystander in all of this, as I like those raw or cooked.

Dried dates

At a baby shower a couple of years ago, I was introduced to a whole different kind of carrot salad, one I could actually enjoy.  There were bits of sweet dates amongst the crunchy, shredded carrots instead of the dreaded raisins.  Toasted almonds, one of my favorite things, added a heartiness, and the chopped fresh cilantro brought an herbal brightness to the mix.  In place of the goopy mayonnaise was a light, smokey cumin-based vinaigrette.  My tastebuds were so happy that at last I could be freed from the horror of the carrot salads of the past!

Cumin vinaigrette

As it was such a hit, this recipe was quickly added to the keeper file after it was emailed around to everyone.  I’ve adapted the recipe somewhat and added some more instructions from the original.  With the temperatures set to reach record highs today, something cool, crisp, and refreshing, like this salad, seemed to be perfect.  The components can be prepared in advance, with the dressing added at the last minute, to keep everything fresh and crunchy.  The flavors would pair well with grilled meats or fish or it could be part of a vegetarian meal or mezze set-up, something else that would be a great solution for a no-cook dinner.

Annette’s No-Mayonnaise Carrot Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Serving Size: 4-6

Ingredients:

1/4 cup blanched slivered Almonds

2 cups grated Carrots (3 large carrots, approximately)

1/2 cup chopped Dates (about 8 of them)

2 Tbsp chopped fresh Cilantro

Dressing:

1 Tbsp white wine Vinegar

2 tsp. Honey

1 tsp. ground Cumin

1 pinch Salt

1/4 cup Olive Oil

Assembly:

Heat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.  Put almonds in one layer on a baking tray and toast until golden brown, about 5-10 minutes (check them after 5 minutes to see how they are doing).

In the meantime, grate the carrots and chop the dates and cilantro.  Put these ingredients into a bowl and toss to combine.  In a separate bowl, put in the vinegar, honey, cumin, and salt.  Add the olive oil to the vinegar mixture in a steady stream while stirring with a whisk until completely incorporated.

When the almonds are done, set them aside to cool while assembling the rest of the ingredients.  If preparing in advance, wait until the last minute to mix everything together so that the salad doesn’t become mushy.  If serving right away, pour the dressing into the carrot mixture and toss to combine.  Sprinkle the almonds on top.

Buon appetito!