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Beet Hummus

beet-hummus

You may have seen beet hummus before – that dip that transcends all dips, the upstager on the party table, flamboyantly fuscia in color, with FIESTA written all over it. Yep, that would be the beet hummus. Sure, the name is rather frumpy, but it makes up for any nomenclatural dowdiness with its captivating vibrance and sweet earthiness tinged with citrus and spice. It’s a looker, it tastes great – and it’s healthy, too.

beet-hummus-tastefood

Beet Hummus

This dip is not only delicious, it’s a nutrient bonanza when served with a kaleidoscope of raw carrots, watermelon radishes, and cucumber wedges for dipping. Eating all your veggies never tasted so good.

Makes about 2 cups

2 to 3 medium red beets, about 12 ounces, roasted until tender, skin removed
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (or half lemon/half lime)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup tahini
1 teaspoon Sriracha
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process to blend. Add more oil to your desired consistency (it should be a little thick) and taste for seasoning.
2. Transfer to a bowl and garnish with finely grated lemon zest, chopped mint, and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with pita and cruditees.

Easy Homemade Granola

Basic Granola TasteFood

Why spend money on boxed granola when you can easily make it in less than 30 minutes? Now that school is in session, try making this recipe to keep on hand for healthy breakfasts and snacks. This recipe follows a basic ratio of 2 cups oats to 1 cup coconut to 1 cup nuts to 1 cup dried fruit. To that I embellish, adding different grains and seeds such as flax, sunflower, or even wheat germ, depending on what I have in the cupboard. Use this recipe as a template and mix and match your favorite nuts, fruit, and seeds to your taste – and consider doubling the batch, because it’s guaranteed to be gobbled up.

Easy Homemade Granola

Be sure to add any of the fruit after the granola has cooked to prevent the fruit from burning. Makes about 5 cups.

2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup unsweetened grated coconut
1 cup coarsely chopped raw almonds
1/4 cup pepitas or sunflower seeds (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup raisins, or more to your taste

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Combine the oats, coconut, almonds, pepitas, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk the syrup, sugar, oil, vanilla, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Pour over the oats and stir to thoroughly coat.

Spread the mixture on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat. Bake until light golden, about 25 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove from the oven and add the raisins, stirring to blend. Cool completely. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to one week.

Tomato, Corn, and Quinoa Bowl with Kale and Avocado

Corn Quinoa SaladTomato, Corn and Quinoa Bowl with Kale and Avocado

When it’s too hot to cook try a big bowl of salad for a meal. Not just a simple garden salad – but a satisfying bowl layered with crisp fresh veggies, grains, legumes, and herbs. This salad bowl is fortified with protein-rich quinoa, tumbled with the classic summer trio of sweet corn, tomato, and avocado. Whether you call it lunch or dinner, it’s guaranteed to hit the spot.

Tomato, Corn, and Quinoa Bowl with Kale and Avocado
Serves 4

Dressing:
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 small garlic clove
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash of hot sauce, such as Tabasco
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salad:
1 small bunch Tuscan/Lacinato kale, ribs removed, torn into bite-size pieces
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
3 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
2 ears of corn, husked, kernels cut from the cobs
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup tricolor or red quinoa, cooked and cooled
1 small handful Italian parsley leaves, chopped, about 1/2 cup
1 small handful cilantro leaves, chopped, about 1/2 cup

1. Whisk all of the dressing ingredients, except the oil, until blended. Add the oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly to emulsify.
2. Place the kale in a large bowl. Lightly drizzle with oil and a sprinkle of salt. Rub the leaves until thoroughly coated, about 1 minute.
3. Combine all of the remaining salad ingredients, except the avocado, in a separate bowl. Pour 1/4 cup of the dressing over the salad and gently stir to combine. Mound the salad over the kale. (Or divide between individual serving bowls.) Top with avocado and drizzle with additional dressing to taste.

Blackberry Clafoutis

Blackberry Clafoutis TasteFood

Got berries? If you’re like me, it’s impossible to resist the baskets of fresh summer berries at the farmers’ market. If you have more restraint than me and you haven’t gobbled your berries up yet, here’s a great way to add them to a dessert. Clafoutis is a French flan-like dessert consisting of fresh fruit baked in a custardy batter. It’s light and elegant, gently sweet, and redolent with your favorite fruit. Berries work well because their juices seep into the clafoutis while it bakes. You can also use cherries, plums, and pears.

Blackberry Clafoutis
Makes 1 (9-inch) gratin or 2 (5-inch) gratins

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup whole milk
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (or almond flour)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 ounces fresh berries, such as blackberries, blueberries, raspberries
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. (190 C.) Butter a 9-inch gratin dish.
2. Beat the sugar and eggs in bowl of electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the cream, milk, flour, lemon zest, vanilla and cinnamon until blended..
3. Arrange the berries in the gratin dish and pour the custard over the fruit.
4. Transfer to the oven and bake until the filling is golden brown and set, about 35 minutes. (If using smaller dishes, the baking time will be slightly reduced).
5. Remove and cool slightly. Before serving, dust with confectioners sugar. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.

Shrimp, Avocado, and Grapefruit Salad

avocado shrimp salad

It may sound cliche, but “less is more” and “what you see is what you get” are perfectly descriptive of this clean and refreshing salad. Layered with citrus, briny shrimp, sweet onion, and creamy avocado, each ingredient hits the right spot and unites in a light and lovely summer lunch or salad course.

Shrimp, Avocado, and Grapefruit Salad
Serves 2 to 4

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
Salt
Fresh lime juice
Extra-virgin olive oil
12 large (16/20) shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact
Extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large avocado, halved, pitted and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 ruby grapefruit, sectioned, membranes removed
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley leaves

1. Salt the onion slices and place in a colander in the sink or over a plate for 20 minutes. Rinse with cold water and blot dry, then toss the slices with 1 tablespoon lime juice.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, add to the skillet, and cook until colored on both sides and cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes, turning as needed. Transfer to a plate.
3. Halve and pit the avocado, then cut into 1/4-inch slices
4. Cut away the skin and pith of the grapefruit, then cut away the membranes and seed the segments.
5. On individual serving plates, layer the avocado, grapefruit, onion, and shrimp. Drizzle with olive oil and a squeeze of lime juice. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.

 

5 Veggie Sides for a Grill Party

Memorial Day weekend is all about the grill, but it doesn’t have to be all about the meat. Here are a bunch of side dishes to round out your party and ensure that you and your friends eat their vegetables.

broccoli rabe tastefoodGrilled Broccoli Rabe
Char, garlic and red chili flakes transform this bitter-leaning crucifer into a delicious side dish.

pepper potatoes tastefood

No -Mayo Peppery Potato Salad
Hard to believe there’s no mayonnaise in this creamy salad, chock-a-block full of peppers, chiles and onion.

Corn Tomato SaladCorn and Tomato Salad
This classic summer salad is sweet, juicy and fresh with the kick of poblano chiles and crisp red onion.

mustard blue potato tastefoodBlue Potato and Mustard Salad
Another no-mayo potato salad, napped with olive oil and spiked with fresh mustard leaves. Use blue potatoes if you can find them for color value. Otherwise, yellow potatoes will work too.

fattoush salad tastefoodFattoush Salad
A fresh and satisfying Middle Eastern salad fragrant with mint and coriander, composed of crisp greens, crumbled feta and grilled pita bread.

Clam Chowder

Memorial Day is fast approaching – the sunny holiday which ushers in the summer season, lots of grilling, time at the seashore, and – for me – clam chowder. Blame it on my New England roots, but slurping down a bowl of steaming hot, buttery rich chowder is right up there with building sand castles and smearing on sunscreen when I think of summer. Chowders are actually quite easy to make, a simple concoction of milk and cream, potatoes, and clams. If you are not feeling the clams, you can add firm fleshed fish such as salmon and halibut and call it a fish chowder. The key is to get a smoky base to the soup with bacon (or in fish chowders, I’ll add warm-smoked salmon), and a little thickness with a roux (which is simply a little flour mixed into the fat from the bacon) and have fun with your vegetables. Potatoes and onion are standard, and I often add leeks or mild root vegetables, such as celery root, or even spinach. When you are selecting clams be sure to choose the smallest you can get your hands on, such as little necks, middle necks, or, if you are on the U.S. west coast, manila clams.

Clam Chowder
Serves 4

2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium leek, white part only, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock, divided
1/2 pound small fingerling potatoes, cut in 1/4-inch coins
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh thyme
12 manila or middle neck clams or 24 little neck clams
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fry the bacon in the oil in a large pot over medium heat until the fat is nearly rendered. Add the onion and leek and sauté until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle the flour into the pot, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until very lightly colored, stirring constantly. Whisk in 1 cup of the stock, stirring to blend the flour. Add the remaining stock, the potatoes, milk, cream, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring to a simmer, partially cover and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Add the clams, partially cover the pot and simmer over medium heat until the clams open, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes. Discard any unopened clam shells. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot garnished with fresh thyme.

Baking Favorites: Lemon Shortbread Bars

lemon sea salt bars tastefood

If I had to name a favorite baking ingredient, it would be a lemon, and, in my opinion, the best way to show off its citrusy sweet-tart flavor is a lemon bar. These tiny (or not so tiny) squares are all about the citrus. A buttery shortbread crust anchors a squidgy thick wedge of puckery filling, simply topped with dusting of sugar. A pinch of sea salt is a nice finishing touch, balancing the sweetness and letting the lemon shine through. These bars are thoroughly addictive and guaranteed to brighten your day. One bar will never be enough.

Lemon Bars with Sea Salt

This recipe is adapted from and inspired by many sources, including Ina Garten, Food52,  and my personal weakness for lemon – and sea salt. Makes 32 (2-inch) square bars.

Shortbread:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened but still cool, cut into cubes

Filling:
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Garnish:
Confectioners sugar
Sea salt flakes, such as Maldon

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, then line the pan with parchment and butter the parchment.
2. Combine the shortbread ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix until the dough resembles coarse lumps and just begins to come together. Dump the dough into the prepared pan and, with your fingers, evenly press the dough to cover the bottom of the pan.
3. Bake the crust until it just begins to turn golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, but do not turn off the oven heat.
4. Whisk the filling ingredients together in a large bowl until blended, then evenly pour over the crust. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is set but not coloring, about 25 minutes. Remove and cool completely on a rack.
5. Cut into bars. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and lightly sprinkle with sea salt flakes before serving.

Black Lentil Salad with Asparagus and Egg

black lentils bowl tastefood

Asparagus and egg pair well together – especially in the spring. In this hearty salad, they team up with black lentils. These shiny pellets are nicknamed Beluga lentils because of their resemblance to caviar. Black lentils remain firm when cooked, which makes them a great addition to salads, and their inky dark color provides vivid contrast to bright vegetables. Like brown or green lentils, black lentils are a superb source of iron, fiber, protein, folate and magnesium. Plus, they are easy on the wallet. Not bad for a little legume.

black lentils salad tastefood

Black Lentil Salad with Asparagus, Kale, Egg

For a larger salad, arrange the lentils on a bed of mixed greens or arugula.
Serves 3 to 4 as a side dish.

1 1/4 cups black lentils
3 cups water
Salt
6 to 8 thin asparagus
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 spring onions, white and pale green parts thinly sliced
2 hard boiled egg yolks, crumbled
1 red jalapeno pepper, minced
1 1/2 cups shredded kale
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup cilantro

1. Rinse and pick over the lentils to make sure there are no small stones. Combine the lentils and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover and simmer until the lentils are tender but still firm, about 25 minutes. Drain, transfer to a large bowl and cool to room temperature.
2. While the lentils are cooking, blanch the asparagus. Bring a wide pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the asparagus and cook until bright green and crisp tender, about 1 minute. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Cut off and reserve the tips, and slice the stalks into 1/2-inch pieces.
3. Whisk the garlic, oil, lemon juice, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the black pepper in a small bowl. Pour over the lentils and toss to coat. Add the asparagus tips and stalks, the spring onions, 1 crumbled egg yolk, the jalapeno, kale, parsley and cilantro. Gently stir to combine. Taste for seasoning – you might need more salt. If the salad is too dry at this point, drizzle with a little extra oil.
4. Transfer the salad to a platter or divide among serving plates. Garnish with the remaining crumbled egg yolk and serve.

Easter Brunch: Asparagus, Prosciutto, Egg Mimosa Salad

Asparagus salad tastefood

Have you been tasked with bringing a spring-y platter of food to feed a crowd for Easter brunch this weekend? I made this sunny salad for an Easter brunch last year. It’s a lovely way to serve asparagus; and prosciutto; and egg. There is not much else you need to add to this trio except a few squirts of fresh lemon and a splash of olive oil to coat and glisten. If you can get your hands on a bunch of baby greens, then use them as a bed for the asparagus to absorb the oil and lemony goodness. And if you have a few baby herbs unfurling their leaves in your garden, by all means, add them to the plate.

Roasted Asparagus Salad with Crispy Prosciutto and Egg
Serves 6 to 8

1 pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 ounces prosciutto
2 hard cooked eggs
4 ounces mixed baby greens (such as kale, arugula, mizuna, spinach)

Heat the oven to 375°F. Spread the asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle a little olive oil over the asparagus and turn to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until the asparagus are bright green and crisp tender, 10 to 12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the stalks. They should be crisp tender and not too floppy (unless you like them that way; then cook a bit longer). Remove from the oven and transfer to a plate to cool. Keep the oven on.

Arrange the prosciutto on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake in the oven until shriveled and firm to the touch, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool to the touch. The prosciutto will continue to harden as it cools. When cool enough to handle, break into shards.

Spread the greens on a serving platter. Arrange the asparagus over the greens. Squeeze the juice of the lemon over the asparagus and greens and drizzle with a little oil. Grate the eggs over the asparagus, then sprinkle the prosciutto shards over the salad. Garnish with fresh black pepper. If you have any fresh herbs in the garden, such as parsley, chervil or mint, feel free to tear a few leaves and scatter over the salad as well.