After a few months of gluten-free, lean-protein, low-carb, whole-grain, raw-food living, the taste buds may begin to cry out indignantly: “Why does everything taste the same? Why do we have to be so healthy? Why can’t we have pizza? If we have to eat another leafy green salad dressed in olive oil and vinegar we’re going revolt!
Brown rice and beans is just so darn easy to prepare, and so is oatmeal And shaking up a weekly jar of olive oil vinaigrette is no big deal. The wholesome dishes have been a habit for me, but has removed the guesswork, creatiity and flavor after so long. It is health-conscious eating, but mindful masticating?
Something had to give. At a recent Sunday Brunch party inspired by memories of thinly sliced smoked salmon and lox, baskets of bagel and tubs of cream cheeses, I was inspired to create this Bagels ‘N Lox Salad.
It began as many meals had with a layer of the leafy green-of-choice. But then it really started to get good with a few boiled new potatoes tossed in for a tender bite and some toothsome heft. Salty-oily slivers of smoked salmon or lox draped loosely on the leafy bed. Thin ribbons of sweet-tangy pickled red onions layered on more color and exciting flavor. A scattering of capers for even more salty taste. And then a few well-toasted pumpernickel squares added in for a pleasing crunch. It all ended tastily with a piquant drizzle of horseradish-dill crème fraiche dressing (the dedicated health-nuts can easily substitute Greek yogurt).
It might not be as high on the health-o-meter as steel-cut oatmeal or brown rice and beans, but it’s still in keeping with the balanced eating regime. Sometimes we just need some Jewish love in the form of a flavor.
For the pickled red onions:
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
For the Crème Fraiche Dressing:
3 Tbsp crème fraiche or Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
1 Tbsp prepared white horseradish
Salt & pepper, to taste
Pinch of sugar, optional
1 pound small new potatoes
2 slices pumpernickel or rye bread
12 ounces torn romaine or mixed greens
6 ounces sliced lox or smoked salmon, cut into bite-sized squares
2-3 Tbsp capers, drained
To make the pickled red onions: Pour red wine vinegar in a small bowl, mix in sugar until it dissolves add the sliced onion, ensuring it is mostly submerged in vinegar. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.
Boil or steam potatoes until just tender; drain let cool for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile make the dressing: In a small bowl mix together crème fraiche (or yogurt), fresh dill, horseradish. Adjust seasonings to taste.
To make the croutons, pre-heat oven to 375F. Cut slices of bread into bite-sized squares and spread evenly on a baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove and allow to cool
On a large platter evenly spread out lettuce. Space out the boiled potatoes strategically on the lettuce. Drape squares of smoked salmon over potatoes.
Distribute the pickled red onions in equal amounts over the platter. Sprinkle drained capers artfully over salad.
Drizzle salad with horseradish-dill crème fraiche dressing- ensuring that every section gets an adequate amount.
Scatter the cooled croutons evenly over salad platter.
Other suggested add-ins: sliced avocado, radishes, beets, hard-boiled eggs. Store-bought bagel chips are a fine substitution for the pumpernickel croutons.
When summer comes around, I love to take inspiration from the amazing fresh seasonal produce to create light and healthy dishes. The juicy melons and brightly flavored veggies work wonderfully to create sweet and crunchy salsas, tangy chutneys and colorful salads.
Picking your own produce at a U-Pick farm is a great way to spend a Sunday with the family. My kids relish the opportunity to pick blueberries from bushes and corn from the ground. We take home our amazing bounty and enjoy the farm fresh taste of just-picked fruits and veggies. If you’ve ever been to a farmers market, you know that there is no comparison between freshly picked produce, and the stuff sitting on the shelf in your grocery store.
Using bright and sweet farm fresh produce requires little preparation. I usually dress my salads minimally with olive oil and citrus, allowing the fresh flavors to speak for themselves. This watermelon corn salsa is a great example. I’ve made it with both raw and cooked corn – each is equally delicious.
TIP: A great way to remove corn from the cob, is to cut the corn over a bundt pan, allowing the kernels to fall into the bowl, instead of all over your counter.
For more recipes from Chanie check out her blog Busy in Brooklyn.
9 oz finely diced watermelon (about 2 cups)
3 ears corn, raw or cooked to crisp-tender, shucked
1/3 cup red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno, vein & seeds removed, finely diced
1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
juice of 1/2 lime
salt, to taste
Add all ingredients to a bowl and gently mix to combine. Serve with grilled chicken, fish, or tortilla chips.
NOTE: For more heat, add some of the jalapeno vein and/or seeds.
For centuries, Jews throughout the Mediterranean have made good use of artichokes. Most notably, in Rome, crisp and lightly fried varieties adorn many a holiday table. I’ve always loved the simplicity and approachable nature of Italian cuisine, so much so that my husband and I partook in a local Tuscan cooking class on our whirlwind honeymoon adventure through Italy. When I returned home, I was thrilled to observe that since the climate and terrain in California are so similar to that in Italy, I am spoiled by the riches in produce we get here that resemble true Italian fare.
Perhaps it is because I grew up in an image-conscious city, or because healthy eating and cooking is important to me, but I often like finding ways to lighten up a recipe while maintaining great flavor. Lucky for me, I prefer my artichokes grilled, rather than fried. I know that just about everything tastes better fried, but I love the smoky, crisp bite of a charred edge that only a grill can produce.
Often times, artichokes act as a vehicle for rich, creamy sauces, but with just the right amount of seasoning and the slight kiss of the grill, these babies need no doctoring, and are exceptional on their own. And don’t be too intimidated about preparing and cleaning fresh artichokes. Once you try your hand at the first one, you’ll get the hang of it. Served hot off the grill or at room temperature, grilled artichokes are the perfect accompaniment to any summer meal.
To read more about Jennifer Stempel’s culinary adventures, check out her blog at The Cuban Reuben.
2 large whole artichokes
2 lemons, cut in half
1 head of garlic, sliced in half
1 bay leaf
1 tbs Old Bay seasoning
Seasoning blend of your choice (I really like Regular and Salt-Free Greek Seasoning)
In a large stock pot with the steamer insert removed, add 2 halves of the lemon (1 whole lemon), garlic, bay leaf, and Old Bay seasoning. Fill the pot with water until it just meets the bottom of the steamer insert. Place over medium heat, and let sit.
Meanwhile, to prepare the artichokes for steaming, first cut about an inch off the top of the artichoke. Then, with your hand, peel off the tougher leaves (about 1 layer into the artichoke).
Using a pairing knife, cut off the base of the leaves you just peeled, and continue pairing down the stem until you have a single, uniform layer. Rub the exposed areas with lemon, squeezing the juice from the lemon a bit.
Cut the artichoke in half, and again, run the lemon over the cut sides to keep from browning too much.
Remove the fibrous choke at the center, as well as any colored (purple) leaves. Run the lemon over the exposed cuts. Slice the halves into quarters, and assemble on the steaming insert of the stock pot.
Cover and let the water simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until the artichokes are fork tender.
(You can stop here, and eat them as is, but you'd miss out on the next step!)
Drizzle olive oil and seasoning blend over the steamed artichokes, then place them over high heat on a grill. Grill 1-2 minutes per side.
As the artichokes are already cooked, the goal here is just to get grill marks and the flavor of the char.