My friend Katelyn is a grain salad person. She’s always serving the tastiest salads with barley or wheat berries mixed together with other delicious morsels.
Last week my sister hosted dinner and served a tasty orzo and arugula salad that I absolutely loved. I decided to adapt her recipe by using farro and it turned out wonderfully. I served it to Katelyn alongside this Chicken Piccata recipe from Homemade Italian Cooking. She asked for the recipe, so here we are. 🙂
The magic ingredient in my salad (that’s completely optional) is reconstituted porcini mushrooms chopped up finely. It adds depth to the dish and the lemon, feta and dried cranberries bring in a brightness that complement the spiciness of the arugula.
This is a wonderful side dish to serve at Thanksgiving as it incorporates cranberries, grains, and has a look of good cheer on your plate.
You can of course replace the farro with any grain such as brown rice or couscous.
Farro and Arugula salad with Feta, Cranberries and Porcini
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (optional)
2.5 cups cooked farro, cooled
A few big handfuls of baby arugula (or baby spinach/arugula mix)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup Craisins
2 tablespoons olive oil
juice from 1/4 of a lemon
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Splash of white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Place dried porcini in a small bowl and cover completely with boiling water. Place a plate on top of the bowl and let sit for 20 minutes until mushrooms are soft. Chop finely.
Add all the ingredients to a salad bowl and toss until everything is well coated. Add more olive oil if it needs to be loosened up a little.
I’ve discovered I’m picky when it comes to potato salad. I don’t like celery, I don’t like hard-boiled eggs, or caraway seeds, or big hunks of onion, or mushy potatoes — ok, ok I’m a potato salad priss!
I needed to use up some thin-skinned potatoes in my pantry so I turned to Pinterest and couldn’t find just what I was looking for. I did find something close. This recipe from Mrs. Happy Homemaker calls for pickle brine instead of vinegar or lemon juice. That piqued my interest.
So I came up with my own version and it was everything I’ve always wanted in a potato salad. It’s creamy, tangy, salty and has a good bite.
Pickle and Potato Salad – the perfect potato salad without celery or eggs
3 pounds small, thin skinned potatoes
3/4 cup finely chopped dill pickles
generous 1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup pickle brine
1/3 cup yellow mustard
1/3 cup chopped green onions
salt and pepper
Place unpeeled potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Cover and bring to a boil. Boil for about 12 minutes until potatoes are fork tender but not mushy.
Drain potatoes and run cold water over them to cool.
Combine the pickles, mayo, brine, mustard, and green onions in a large bowl. Mix until thoroughly incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste.
When potatoes are cool enough to touch, slice them half lengthwise and then slice into 1/4-inch wide pieces.
Add potatoes to the sauce and mix until potatoes are completely coated. Serve warm or chilled.
I recently read a story about a Juneau-based company that made food out of kelp. I was immediately intrigued by the idea. One of the best dishes I’ve ever eaten was when I spent a summer in Kodiak and a Chinese woman prepared braised fresh kelp for me.
Barnacle uses bull kelp to make salsa, spice blends and pickles. Their Instagram account displays gorgeous photos of Southeast Alaska along with how they prepare their products and what to serve with them.
Their dill kelp pickles are tangy, slightly sweet and, well, of the sea. What a perfect ingredient to add to a smoked salmon dip.
This dip comes together in no time and is a real crowd-pleaser. Impress your dinner guests by revealing its secret ingredient — wild kelp!
Tonight was supposed to be leftovers night, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I wanted to cook something using the ingredients on hand. We had leftover chili and tortillas so I decided on chili enchiladas. That’s a heavy dish and as with most Mexican-style dishes I never know what type of vegetable to serve on the side. Broccoli? Cole slaw? Naw.
I rifled through the fridge and found an English cucumber, feta and some limes. I had chickpeas in the pantry. Yes….this could be something.
This salad was the perfect palate cleanser to the heavy enchiladas. The bright lime dressing cut through the spicy, cheesy sauce and left me licking the salad bowl.
You can opt to not fry the chickpeas, but that added crispiness was a wonderful touch.
Cucumber chickpea salad with lime dressing
1 can of chickpeas, drained
1 english cucumber, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3+ tablespoons good olive oil
1/4 cup feta crumbles
salt and pepper
Coat the bottom of a medium sauté pan with olive oil, about 2 tablespoons. Heat over high flame. Remove as much moister as possible from the chickpeas by putting them in a salad spinner.
When the oil is hot, add the chickpeas to the pan and fry them for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are golden and crispy. Turn off heat and let chickpeas cool.
In a medium bowl, add the cucumbers, green onion, cilantro and feta.
In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
When chickpeas are cool, add to the rest of the salad. Just before serving, whisk the dressing together and toss into the salad.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove the stems from the mushrooms. Chop stems finely and mix with the onions. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and onions until the liquid has been drawn out of the mushrooms and the onions are soft, about 7 minutes. Set aside to cool in a mixing bowl.
In the same pan, add another tablespoon of butter and stir in the panko flakes. Sauté until the flakes are lightly browned, about two minutes. Place flakes in the mixing bowl with mushrooms and onions.
In the same pan add the loose sausage (remove from casings if necessary). Cook until meat is browned, about 7 minutes. Place the meat on a cutting board and chop finely. Add to the mixing bowl.
Toss in the Parmesan, parsley and cream cheese and mix thoroughly (hands are best). Add salt and pepper.
Stuff each mushroom with a heaping amount of filling and place on a baking sheet. Top with more grated Parmesan.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve immediately.
Since starting a full-time job a year ago, I’ve had to get creative with dinners. I have a limited amount of time before I put my son down for bed.
This evening I came home from work with absolutely no plan and a near-empty fridge. My freezer, however, was chock full of random Costco impulse buys: tamales, gyoza, hash brown patties, broccoli.
I contemplated the frozen broccoli. Why, why did I buy this? It’s never as good as fresh broccoli. It’s sort of chewy and crumbly. So I decided to get creative.
I fried up some hash brown patties, chopped up some thawed broccoli and came up with a seriously delicious side dish that’s sure to please the whole family. My husband ate five of them!
Baked broccoli fritters
8 oz. frozen broccoli, thawed and set to drain
1/2 onion, chopped finely
1 tablespoon butter
1 garlic clove, minced
3 frozen hash brown patties
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 grated sharp cheddar
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat the butter in a sauté pan and cook the onions till soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another 30 seconds.
Place onions and garlic in a mixing bowl to cool. Place hash brown patties in the pan and brown on both sides. Crumble up and add to the mixing bowl. Finely chop the broccoli and add to the mixing bowl.
Once all the ingredients have slightly cooled, add the egg, bread crumbs, cheeses, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.
Lightly grease a baking pan (I used a silpat mat instead). Form mixture into small patties. Bake 15 minutes, flip and bake another 15 minutes. Serve with sour cream.
Every year my family takes a trip down to Nayarit, Mexico to my parents’ vacation home, Casa Colibrí. Their housekeeper, Moña, is an expert cook and I look forward to her authentic Mexican dishes every time we visit.
I have tried to replicate several of her recipes in the past, including fried cauliflower and guacamole. I’ve attempted other dishes but there’s something about the fresh ingredients of Mexico that I am unable to replicate many of her recipes.
Here is one more attempt at one of her classic dishes, chiles rajados con elote y crema, or in English, sliced chiles with corn and cream. In Mexico, crema is a thick consistency, almost like yogurt or sour cream, but with a sweet cream taste. I’d say crème fraîche is the closest thing here in the states, but I have a hard time finding that in Anchorage, so I’m trying it with heavy cream.
Moña serves this for breakfast or lunch. It can accompany fried eggs or rice. It’s a versatile dish that’s got a slight amount of heat, which is mellowed out by the sweetness of the corn and cream.
4 poblano chiles
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
3/4 cup cream
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon chicken or vegetable bullion
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Slice the peppers into strips and remove the seeds and pith. Add oil to a pan and heat over medium-high flame. Sauté the peppers and onions until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook till fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the corn and cream and bring to a simmer. Sprinkle in the bullion. Turn heat down and simmer for a few minutes until sauce has thickened slightly. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle cheese on top and serve.