As a little girl I would take the bunch of carrots that my dad brought home from the grocery store and go and burry them in the ground until nothing but the leafy green tops could be seen. I would then distract myself for a while, climbing a tree or pretending to be my favorite movie character, until I decided the carrots had reached a state of full growth and would proceed to pull them out of the ground. Its amazing how, with my childlike imagination, I could feel so connected to the earth by doing this. A part of me was in awe at the feeling of pulling a large edible object out of dirt and I am thankful today, as my imaginative abilities have faded somewhat, that I still have the ability to experience this connection with nature through the very real garden that now lives in my backyard. I’ve harvested many fresh veggies from this garden, including spring peas, broccoli, zucchini, crookneck squash, lettuces, beets, swiss chard, and red onions, but I think that my favorite thing to pull out of the dirt will always be carrots.
Although a little past their prime, these beautiful carrots brightened up the springtime salad pictured below. For the recipe, make sure that you cut similarly sized carrot slices for roasting. You don’t want half the carrots to be shriveled and dry and half to be crunchy and hardly cooked.
- 2-3 carrots, sliced evenly (if you can find a multi-colored bunch, this will look best)
- 3/4 avocado, diced
- 1 cup quinoa
- 4 cups arugula
- 2 ounces goat cheese
- handful parsley leaves, chopped, along with marjoram and chives if on-hand
For the Dressing
- 1 shallot, minced
- juice of 2 oranges
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons honey
- salt and pepper, to taste
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange the carrot slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 15 minutes. While the carrots cook, prepare the quinoa. Heat 2 cups water with 1 cup rinsed quinoa. Bring to a boil. Turn to a gentle simmer and let sit, covered and untouched for 15 minutes with the lid on. After 15 minutes, turn of the heat and let sit for another five minutes before removing the lid and fluffing the quinoa with a fork.
Combine the quinoa and all but a half cup of the arugula in a bowl. Top evenly with the carrots, avocado, remaining arugula, goat cheese and herbs. Combine the dressing ingredients with a whisk and pour as much over the salad as desired. Season with freshly ground pepper and salt.
Serves 5-6 as a side salad
This is my second time making this balsamic-port reduction sauce and I have to say it was pretty fantastic with the duck. Not too difficult of a sauce either. Just sauté some shallots, add the port and balsamic, simmer off the alcohol for about 20 minutes, and add some fresh herbs and a dab of butter and you have a flavorful, light sauce. For this recipe I made two duck breasts and then halved the balsamic glaze recipe from a previous post.
- 2 duck breasts (then halve the balsamic glaze recipe linked to below)
- 1 Tablespoon canola oil
- salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350. Rinse the duck breast and trim off any connective tissue, leaving just the breast meat and the long strip of fat on top. Cut shallow slices down the length of the fat just to open it up but stopping before puncturing the meat below. Cut about 4 shallow slices down the length of each strip of fat and then rotate 90degrees and repeat down the width so the fat is punctured by a checkerboard like pattern. Wrap in a paper towel until the meat is dry and then coat with salt and pepper on both sides.
Heat canola oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, but not smoking, at least a minute and a half, add the duck breasts fat side down. Sear until the fat appears golden brown, about 4-5 minutes. Remove the breasts and place them fat side up in a glass dish or roasting pan. At this point you will want to use the rendered duck fat to begin the sauce. Start by tossing out some of the fat so that only a Tablespoon or so remains. Add the minced shallot and follow the directions for the Balsamic Glaze.
While the sauce is simmering, check the meat periodically and remove it from the oven once it reaches an internal temperature of 130F, about 20 minutes. Pour the sauce over the sliced duck breast and serve.
This little bread apparently had the power to change Sarah Britton’s life. Considering how much I love her blog, I figured there must be something to this flourless creation.
It turns out that this hearty loaf has no flour and is held together entirely by psyllium seed husks…an ingredient that I had never heard of before this post. Apparently these seed husks are an extremely absorbent form of soluble and insoluble fiber that “help to reduce cholesterol levels, aid digestion and weight loss, and alleviate diarrhea and constipation.” So overall this ingredient is sounding pretty awesome in terms of health benefits. In addition it has the added mechanism of being able to hold together all the delicious ingredients in this “Life-Changing Loaf.” The finished product, which requires no kneading or rising, and only a loaf pan and a measuring cup, uses whole grains, nuts, and seeds to provide lots of protein and incredibly high levels of fiber. Sarah even adds an extra soaking period into her instructions, which allows for optimal nutrition and digestion.
- 1 cup / 135g sunflower seeds
- ½ cup / 90g flax seeds
- ½ cup / 65g hazelnuts or almonds
- 1 ½ cups / 145g rolled oats
- 2 Tbsp. chia seeds
- 4 Tbsp. psyllium seed husks (3 Tbsp. if using psyllium husk powder)
- 1 tsp. fine grain sea salt (add ½ tsp. if using coarse salt)
- 1 Tbsp. maple syrup (for sugar-free diets, use a pinch of stevia)
- 3 Tbsp. melted coconut oil or ghee
- 1 ½ cups / 350ml water
Read recipe directions at My New Roots
For the spring semester of my sophomore year here at Berkeley I will be living in my sorority. This is something that I’m extremely excited about. The downside of course….is that I don’t have a kitchen to cook in. Rather a big tradeoff actually, but still worth it! And luckily the sorority that I live in serves quinoa alongside a fully stocked salad bar so I think I’ll survive. Although I won’t be able to cook for most of the semester I will continue to obsessively stalk my favorite food blogs and chefs, so I’ve decided to post links to some of my favorite recipes I come across on OatsAndSprouts.
The first recipe I want to share is from one of my favorite food bloggers, Heidi Swanson at 101Cookbooks. She’s a San Francisco foodie with an appreciation for foods that are local, natural, and diverse. I’m always excited to see a new post on this site. They are always interesting and use unique ingredients and spices that inspire me to cook and try new flavors.
Moroccan Carrot and Chickpea Salad Recipe
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1/3 cup / 80 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 10 ounces carrots
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas
- 2/3 cup / 100 g dried pluots, plums, or dates
- 1/3 cup / 30 g fresh mint, torn
- For serving: lots of toasted almond slices, dried or fresh rose petals
Read recipe directions at 101Cookbooks
- 1 head butter lettuce
- 1 heirloom tomato
- 2 ounces gorgonzola cheese
- 1/4 cup pistachios (raw, unsalted)
- 1 teaspoon agave
- chives and parsley, or any other fresh herbs for garnish
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- juice of 1/2 orange
- 1 small shallot, minced
- salt and pepper
Wash and dry the lettuce. Arrange in a serving dish. Heat the pistachios in a dry skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle with agave and stir. Toast for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Slice the tomato (peeling if desired) and arrange over the lettuce. Next sprinkle with the cheese and candied pistachios.
Whisk together the olive oil, balsamic, white wine vinegar, orange juice, and minced shallot. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle over the salad. Top with fresh herbs and freshly ground black pepper and serve.
Serves 3 to 4 as a side
Black cod is a flaky white fish that simply melts in your mouth with its tender texture. It can have quite a few bones which can be a pain but certainly worth it for the flavor and texture. The sweet and spicy sauce that I paired with the fish is made primarily of hoisin (a Chinese dipping sauce available in many grocery stores) and soy sauce and flavored with scallions, ginger, and a few other ingredients. The recipe comes together in a matter of minutes actually, so for me its just a matter of having all the ingredients on hand, which is a problem I often encounter with any sort of ethnic cooking. I have found though that gradually building a collection of unique, ethnic ingredients, like hoisin and sesame oil has proven to be very rewarding and has allowed me to discover a number of fabulous recipes that I wouldn’t have been able to experience otherwise.
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons fresh peeled ginger, minced
- 2 teaspoons chopped green onions
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek)
- 2 teaspoons fresh orange juice
- 1 Tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 2 7-ounce Alaskan black cod fillets
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- salt and pepper
Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Whisk together first 9 ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Clean and debone the fish. Pat dry and season with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in a heavy, ovenproof pan (I used a cast-iron skillet) over medium-high heat. Add cod, skin side up and cook for 2 minutes. Flip cod and spoon sauce evenly over the fillets. Allow to cook for only a minute or so after flipping.
Finish cooking fillets in the oven for about 5 minutes, or until the fish is opaque. After they have finished cooking you may want to gently turn the fillets onto their sides to remove the skins or you can serve as is over a bed of brown rice.
Recipe adapted from The KitchWitch
During the holidays my family makes a few special meat purchases from D’Artagnan, a New York supplier of gourmet meats. This year I put in a word for these wild pigeons based on the particularly tender and flavorful squab I ordered in a restaraunt this past year. They did not disappoint and they paired amazingly well with the sage and balsamic-port reduction in this recipe. Because squab isn’t readily available, feel free to replace the pigeons with cornish game hens which are available in everyday supermarkets. Also consider pairing the balsamic glaze with duck breast, which I am sure to do in the future.
- 4 whole pigeons
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for brushing
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup port
- 3 teaspoons sage (additional for garnish)
- 3 teaspoons parsley (additional for garnish)
- 1/2 Tablespoon butter
- salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Clean and gut the pigeons and dry thoroughly. Stuff each bird with 1/2 teaspoon sage each. Place the pigeons breast side down in an oven proof pan (I used a cast iron skillet). Brush thoroughly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes.
While the pigeons are roasting, in a saucepan heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add shallot, season with salt and pepper, and heat on medium-low until lightly golden. Once the shallots are golden and have absorbed the olive oil, add the balsamic and port. Heat on a low simmer while you roast the squab.
Turn the birds over and roast for another 10 minutes, then turn the heat up to 500 degrees and cook for 10 more minutes to brown the skins. While the birds are finishing up, add the butter and remaining (1 teaspoon each) sage and parsley to the glaze.
Remove the birds from the oven, checking for doneness with a thermometer (internal temperature should be at least 160 degrees). Place the birds on a serving dish and strain the pan drippings through a sieve. Add 2 Tablespoons of the strained cooking sauce to the balsamic glaze. Pour the mixed glaze over the pigeons, garnish with salt, sage and parsley.
These are pretty little appetizers that you can prepare almost entirely in advance. The roasted bell pepper and herb salad actually tastes great alone with the crostini. But I think the goat cheese makes these appetizers more exciting. I would recommend using a smaller amount of goat cheese for each patty then you would think necessary because the flavor is quite strong and you want the roasted bell peppers to stand up to the cheese.
- French or Italian baguette (olive oil for brushing)
- 2 bell peppers
- small garlic clove, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1/4 tsp chopped fresh marjoram
- 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
- salt and fresh-ground black pepper
- 1 5oz log goat cheese
- 1/4 cup roasted pepitas (or toast raw pepitas in a hot, dry skillet for about 3 min)
- 1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds (or toast raw sunflower seeds)
For the bell peppers: Roast peppers in a roasting pan for 30 to 40 minutes at 400 degrees, turning occasionally. Cook until skins blister and pull loose from flesh. Place hot peppers into a paper bag and roll down to seal in steam. While they sit, combine the garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and herbs. Slide off all the skin from the peppers and remove the stem an seeds. Slice them into thin strips and add to the dressing along with salt and pepper. Stir and let marinate.
—method for Roasted Pepper Salad from Alice Waters’ book, In The Green Kitchen
For the goat cheese patties: Divide goat cheese into 16 even sized balls. Combine the pepitas and sunflower seeds and pour them onto a flat plate. Press the goat cheese balls into the seed mixture flattening them into thin patties, and thoroughly coating them with the seeds. Refrigerate.
For the crostinis: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice baguette into 16 quarter-inch slices. Lay the slices on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Toast in oven for 10 minutes or until just golden brown on the edges.
To put it all together, toast the crostinis, and while they are toasting heat the bell peppers in a sauté pan over low heat until hot. Remove the crostinis and transfer the goat cheese patties to the oven for 5 minutes or so, until they are warmed throughout but not melty. Place a spoonful of the bell pepper medley onto each crostini and then top with a goat cheese patty.
Makes 16 crostinis
I made this soup with a mix of heirloom tomatoes, some of which I got from the grocery store and a handful of which I gathered from my backyard. The tomatoes were ripe and vibrant resulting in a fresh, naturally sweet soup. I tried to make this a very light and slightly chunky soup that really highlighted the freshness of the tomatoes. If you like creamier soup then go ahead and blend the mixture until smooth and perhaps add a bit of cream or milk.
- 8 large tomatoes (I used heirloom)
- 2 carrots, sliced in 1/2″ thick rounds
- 5 garlic cloves
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 onion
- 1 1/2 Tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
- 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme
- 2 teaspoons freshly chopped marjoram
- 2 teaspoons freshly chopped thyme
- 6-8 basil leaves chopped
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place halved tomatoes and carrot slices in a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet. Place the garlic cloves in and around the tomatoes. Drizzle liberally with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes.
While the vegetables are roasting, heat a Dutch Oven, or large pot, over medium-high heat and add 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
Once cooked, add the onion, roasted veggies, and tomato paste to a food processor. Blend to desired consistency and return to the Dutch Oven over low heat. Add chicken broth and herbs. Season with salt and pepper and continue you to cook over very low heat for as long as you please to let the flavors develop. Adjust seasonings to your liking, top with some fresh herbs, and serve.
Serves 6 as a side dish
Citrus-based salads are so refreshing, and lighten up any meal. This salad was the answer to the dozens of mandarin oranges I had gathered off the tree in my yard. You could substitute regular oranges as well. The mandarins, avocado, and pomegranate seeds are nicely complimented by a dressing of lavender, thyme, and honey.
There’s just something about breaking apart a fresh pomegranate with your hands, scooping out the seeds, and scattering them over a dish. The fruit automatically lightens the dish bringing a burst of freshness both in the form of taste and appearance. To learn how to effectively gather the seeds of a pomegranate see this description from Italian Dish.
- 8 to 10 mandarin oranges
- 1/2 avocado
- 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme
- 1 teaspoon freshly chopped lavender
- salt to taste
Peel the skins off the oranges and arrange the segments on the bottom of a serving bowl. Place the sliced avocado and pomegranate seeds on top of the oranges. Whisk together the rest of the ingredients and pour over the salad.
Serves 4 as a side dish