Spring Greens + Honey-Grapefruit Vinaigrette, Two Ways

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Kitchen accidents happen. With me, they happen in epic proportions that I wish were captured in slow motion so I could play them back later when in need of a good laugh. I’m talking explosions. All the walls and surfaces and ceilings.

A few weeks ago in a moment of hunger, I popped an egg, broken into a little glass dish, into the microwave. I covered it and carefully checked every 15-20 seconds, as I know how egg-microwaving can quickly turn risky. It was all fine and well until I took the bowl out, carefully uncovered it, and leaned in close to make sure the egg was cooked through. At that exact moment, the egg belched out, blowing apart with all the noise and momentum of a volatile volcano.

I took a step back and blinked, looking around me in shock. Someone made a move in the apartment upstairs as if to look for a window. Or an escape route. No, I silently told my neighbor, you haven’t been attacked. It’s just me, standing in a kitchen on a Saturday afternoon covered in exploded egg.

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Egg in my eyelashes, my hair, in every corner of exposed skin. Thankfully I have the circulatory system of a skinny grandma and wear sweaters year round or I would have needed more than a change of clothes.

Egg on the ceiling. Egg on the living room carpet. Egg on every wall and surface in between.

After clean-up, I wasn’t about to try again. I’m officially cured of microwave-egg-cooking, I thought as I miserably ate the swollen, (seriously-how’d-it-get-overcooked?) half that was left in the dish. And I haven’t had another since.

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Weeks before the egg episode, I was in a similarly messy situation, thinking the exact same thing. I needed red wine for a recipe and in the exact moment of needing to add it to the recipe, I recalled that I had broken our bottle opener and our wine drinking had gotten so lax that it hadn’t been replaced. Recklessly bent on quick results and praying things would turn out right, I squeezed my eyes shut and violently stabbed a knife into the cork.

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Things didn’t turn out right.

Red wine, like the egg, exploded over the entire kitchen. The white walls and white cabinets looked like a three-year-old went to town with a red watercolor and designed something only a kid could qualify as art. I scrubbed until I nearly painted instead. By the end of clean-up, I really needed a glass or two. If only it wasn’t all over me.

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Through other episodes over the years, I’ve acquired scars that I can barely remember the occasion for, save they involved being too confident with hot surfaces or knives slicing through the air to land dangerously close to little toes.

I’m only now recovering from the last kitchen accident, which involved the vegetable peeler, my pinky, a whole box of band-aids, and a lot of blood.

Thankfully, there were no limbs burnt or bruised, no toes carved in the process of creating this post. Instead, the March Recipe Redux theme is Two for One: cooking once and eating twice or ReDuxing leftovers into a new dish. William and I cannot seem to get through a whole bottle of wine these days before it starts to taste off, even when we have dinner guests. Instead of volcanizing it all over the kitchen walls and ceilings, I decided to share how I repurpose wine into vinegar instead.

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First let me say I really love vinegar. I’m one of those people that can go to the oil and vinegar shops and happily forego the oil and bread, and just slurp the different flavored vinegars.

Making vinegar is quite simple. The word itself actually means “sour wine” in French, and when any liquid with less than 18 percent alcohol is exposed to air, the vinegar-producing bacteria will attack it and gradually turn it sour. It simply takes time.

To make vinegar from wine, I often leave the leftovers sitting out on the counter with the cork off. It’s ready when it tastes like vinegar instead of wine, in about two months. Recently however, I’ve done more research and found that if a vinegar mother–the starter used for vinegars–is used, the process is sped up and the vinegar is more consistent in its taste. We have a local brewing supply store–because seriously, Oregon–and they are currently growing a new mother for me. In the meantime, I’m making vinegar the same old way, with patience.

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I tend to splash together vinaigrettes depending on my mood but am sharing two different grapefruit vinaigrettes that use white wine vinegar. These two recipes more or less form the backbone for my vinaigrettes on any given day. Because I like vinegar so much, I tend to go for a one to one ratio of vinegar to oil, which is significantly higher than the standard one to three ratio.

In these recipes, I opted for grapefruit juice in addition to the white wine vinegar and often use other citrus juices like orange or lemon when I’m feeling fancy. Pick one to try and toss together with simple spring greens, herbs, and thin radish or carrot slices. Salad will feel extra special and delicious!

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Grapefruit-Tahini Vinaigrette

2 Tbs. white wine vinegar

2 Tbs. fresh grapefruit juice

1-2 tsp. grapefruit zest

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbs. tahini

1 Tbs. honey

splash of water

salt and pepper

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Honey-Mustard Grapefruit Vinaigrette

3 Tbs. white wine vinegar

3 Tbs. fresh grapefruit juice

1-2 tsp. grapefruit zest

2 tsp. wholegrain mustard

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbs. honey

splash of water

salt and pepper

Directions for both vinaigrettes: Whisk all the ingredients together and drizzle over greens. The leftovers can be stored in the fridge for several weeks!

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Quinoa + Chorizo Wintry Salad

Quinoa + Chorizo Wintry Salad

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My mom and I sat at the farm table this morning planning this week’s holiday meals. There is ham, turkey, prime rib and likely a roast to be served up in the coming days. Last night we had steak for dinner, good steak of the homegrown variety. I failed to mention to the family that I haven’t had meat since Thanksgiving, and the steak was enough to last me for the next couple months. I don’t strictly avoid meat, but it’s never been my thing and I tend to partake in small amounts, infrequently. The stretches in between have grown wider in the last couple years and this being the case, I’m generally put on vegetable duty for family meals. I’m happy to have all the holiday sides for the planning, so there will be the full spectrum of winter roots and greens putting on their best show this week.

 

The Recipe Redux folks asked us to share a peak into the cookbooks we’re using, so this salad is from a current favorite that gets much use. Green Kitchen Stories(UK)/Vegetarian Everyday(USA) absolutely reflects my style of eating (and William’s too, as long as meat makes an appearance in his diet semi-regularly). It is written by the Swedish/Danish couple, David and Luise, of the lovely Green Kitchen Stories blog. Their recipes are the inspiration behind many a meal in our home, whether it be via their cookbook, blog, or instagram feed. They’ve also recently released a second cookbook, Green Kitchen Travels, and it’s super-duper on my Christmas wish list. This meat-free(!) Chorizo & Quinoa Salad is perhaps the most time-consuming of recipes I’ve made in their book, and its super-packed with feel-good-tasty-nutritiousness that we could all use this time of year.

 

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I made up a big batch of this salad before making the trek across the state to visit the family, and though I get a lot of flack for being oh-so-health-nutty ’round these parts, these people also like to eat my salads and approvingly devoured every bit of the simple Mushroom, Tomato, and White Bean Stew I made for this evening’s dinner. I do like Chorizo if it’s of the small-batch made, not wrapped in plastic sketchy supermarket sort, and this salad would definitely be excellent with the real deal instead. I’m not at all into fake meat so endorsing a homemade vegan chorizo means David and Luise are truly on to something. If you’ve extra time on your hands in the next few days or your holiday meals need a hefty dose of antioxidants, this is your dish. I changed up the original recipe quite a bit, adding in wintry broccoli, broccoli sprouts, turnips, pomegranate and garbanzo beans in lieu of the original fruit, vegetable, and bean mixture. The chorizo makes it super tasty and balances out the stronger brassicas and mustard dressing. Perhaps, if you’re anything like me, this will be a welcome reprieve from the many heftier meals that will be had in this season.

 

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Chorizo + Quinoa Salad, adapted from Vegetarian Everyday. Serves 4-6

VEGETABLE CHORIZOS

Scant ½ cup sundried tomatoes, rinsed

½ cup cashews, toasted

¼ cup hazelnuts, toasted

2 leeks, diced

2 green chili peppers, diced

6 unsulphured dried apricots, finely chopped

2 sprigs of oregano, leaves picked and chopped

1 cup brown rice flour

1 Tbs. xanthan gum

1 Tbs. ground flax seeds

3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

4 ½ cups vegetable stock

2 tsp. olive oil, for frying

 

QUINOA SALAD

1 cup quinoa

3 medium turnips, chopped

Seeds from one pomegranate

One bunch broccoli florets

4 leeks, diced

2 cups cooked garbanzo beans

1 cup broccoli sprouts, more or less to taste

 

DRESSING

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Zest and juice of ½ a lemon

3 Tbs. hot English mustard

Sea salt

A few sprigs of oregano, to garnish

 

To prepare the chorizos, combine the sundried tomatoes, cashews, hazelnuts, leeks, chili, and apricots in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Add the oregano, rice flour, xanthan gum and flaxseed and pulse until everything is combined. Add the olive oil and ¼ cup water and pulse until a dough is formed. It should be easy to handle and form into a sausage shape.

Divide the dough into 5 equal parts. Roll each piece into a sausage, place on a piece of cheesecloth, roll up and tie both ends firmly with a piece of twine.

Bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a large, wide saucepan. Lay the chorizos in it and let them boil for about 45 minutes. Next, carefully remove the cheesecloth from the boiled chorizos. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat and fry the chorizos until they are nicely browned all over.

In the frying pan, next lightly sauté the leeks and turnips until just tender. Toss in the broccoli florets for a minute or so to soften. Transfer them to a large serving bowl.

Next, prepare the quinoa salad. Place 2 cups water, the quinoa, and a pinch of salt in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Set aside to cool. Slice the fried chorizos.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Add the quinoa, remaining vegetables, pomegranate seeds, beans and chorizo to the serving bowl. Pour about half the dressing over and toss until everything is well coated. Add more dressing, as necessary. Garnish with oregano and serve.

 

Honey Poppyseed Mixed Greens with Summer Plums

Wondering what to do with DIY whole-grain mustard, besides eat a sandwich?  I may have been chronically faulted for my obsession with sandwiches–but there is something I do love using whole-grain mustard for even more.  And that’s salad dressing.  My theory on salad dressing is why buy a whole bottle, when you can have more choice (and better taste) in making it yourself?  And it takes seconds to whip up a fresh batch.  Literally.

Add the best summery fresh plums, toss some mixed greens together, add a nice glass of wine (I’m drinking this) and you have the makings of simply the perfect summer starter.

Simple.  Quick.  And if you’re really feeling lazy, grill up a nice chicken or steak, and you have a meal.  Which leaves us all enjoying summer even more!

Honey Poppy seed Mixed Greens with Summer Plums, adapted from Celebrate the Rain
  • 2 Tbs. honey
  • 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. + 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. whole-grain mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. poppy seeds
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Mixed greens
  • Dark plums, thinly sliced

Whisk the dressing ingredients together. Toss loosely with greens in bowl.  Plate the salads.  Add the plums.