When I first ate quinoa, my gratitude propelled my love for it more than its flavor. I was desperate for another gluten-free option to replace rice, and I was also on a low-glycemic diet. I can eat wheat and other gluten-protein grains, but several of my friends can’t. So, serving food that everyone can eat, not feel different or left out is my entertaining and personal philosophy. Quinoa is a perfect grain (seed), to eat and a great source of protein for plant-based diets. Ever since my discovery of this recipe, quinoa salad with avocado and dried fruit makes a regular appearance on my dinning table, especially for entertaining.
I discovered this salad recipe in Fine Cooking Magazine 2009, in an article featuring avocado recipes. Next to dark chocolate, avocados are one of my favorite foods. Naturally, the recipe grabbed my attention. During the time, I needed vegan and gluten-free recipes to serve with Thanksgiving dinner. The quinoa salad with avocado turned out to be the perfect option, a two for one deal. Additionally, this quinoa salad turned my attitude around from not just being grateful, but liking quinoa as well. This salad appeals to everyone, not just people who are vegan, vegetarian, or on a gluten-free diet.
There are many reasons why I love this salad and the taste is just one of them. This quinoa salad is just as much about avocados as it is quinoa. With a ratio of about 2 cups of cooked quinoa to 2 whole avocados, you get a creamy avocado morsel in every bite. Being a major avocado fan, I find this significant amount of avocados wonderful. What’s not to love about an avocado in every bite? There is never such a thing as too much avocado.
The dried apricots and raisins adds punch and concentrated flavor. The nuttiness of the quinoa and creaminess of the avocado provide a foundation for the dried fruit to pop. You do not need a lot of dried fruit, a little goes a long way. The deep orange color of the apricots adds a nice attractive element to the salad as well. If you live in an area where apricots are grown, try substituting fresh ones for the dried apricots. The only consideration is, once sliced, apricots get mushy and aged looking after they linger. However, adding a fresh ripe apricot might be worth a try.
The lemon cumin vinaigrette is much brighter than it sounds. Thanks to the absorbing power of the quinoa, the cumin flavor is in the background and does not overpower the delicate flavor of the avocado. The cumin adds a bit of earthiness against the airy and lemony sunshine. The taste of the flavors are unexpected, yet truly complimentary. I love it. The blend of the quinoa, avocado and dried fruits with the dressing is a nice balance of sweet, acid, nuts and earthy flavors. It is not a heavy dressing, just enough to season the ingredients. Therefore, the quinoa salad does not taste or look oily.
More Gluten-free recipes:
The only thing I change is, I like to add fresh herbs when they are available. Basil adds a nice bit of fresh green sweetness, and even parsley or mint works. If you want to add cilantro, substitute the lemon zest and juice with lime and see how you like it. Quinoa and avocados pair well with a variety of herbs and spices, just be careful not to overpower the salad with too much of anything. If you need a more substantial meal or substitute for almonds, chickpeas are also delicious in this salad.
Making this salad reminds me of my hometown in California. I can picture so many parts of my childhood with each ingredient. Eating avocado sandwiches with my friends at a restaurant in Strawberry. Climbing our apricot tree and picking them before the birds got them. But, what really touches my heart is when I rinse the quinoa. Running my hands through the cold, wet and gritty quinoa seeds, reminds me of making sand castles and building forts at Cronkite Beach. It’s usually cold, foggy and the sand is rough. Despite the cold, I love the Marin Coastline and will forever hold it dear in my heart.
Food has a way about savoring old memories and making new ones. Deborah Madison created this recipe, but after making it for so long and cherishing new and old memories, it feels like my own.
Quinoa and Avocado Salad with Dried Fruit
- 3 TB raisins dark, golden or a mix of raisins
- 2 TB dried apricots thinly sliced
- 1 cup red or white quinoa or a mix
- Kosher salt
- Zest from one lemon
- 1 TB fresh lemon juice
- 3 Tb extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp ground sweet paprika
- 2 ripe avocados pitted, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
- 2 scallions white and light green parts thinly sliced
- 2-3 TB coarsely almonds
Add the raisins and apricots to a small bowl and cover with hot water. Soak the dried fruit for 5 minutes. Drain the water and set aside.
Put the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until the water passing through the strainer runs clear, not chalky. Add the rinsed quinoa to a medium saucepan with 2 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt. Bring the water to a boil, then cover and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook until the water is all absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. You will see the germ ring that will look like a white curlicue around each seed.
When done, fluff the quinoa with a fork and spread out on a sheet pan to cool to room temperature.
While the quinoa is cooking, toast the almonds. Heat a small skillet on the stove at medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Add the almonds and stir, shake or flip the almonds in the pan and toast the almonds until they get slightly darker and release their oil. About 1 minute depending on how hot your skillet is. You will start to smell the almonds as they toast. Keep the almonds moving so they do not burn. Immediately remove the almonds from the skillet and cool. Once cooled, rough chop the almonds and set aside.
Make the salad dressing. Finely grate the lemon zest into a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, coriander, cumin, paprika and 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt, and whisk until well combined.
In a large bowl add the cooled quinoa, apricots, raisins, avocados, scallions and chopped almonds. Carefully mix the ingredients together. Try mixing them with a fork so you do not squish the ingredients together. Then add the salad dressing. Mix until combined. Spoon into a severing bowl, garnish with chopped almonds, scallions, and lemon zest. Serve at room temperature.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
Usually, when I’m making dinner, my primary focus centers on the main entrée. The side dishes get made, but my attention is elsewhere. It is just too stressful to cook three different recipes, that require a lot of ingredients, prepping, and everything done at the same time. I love vegetables and don’t mind eating them without a lot of flourishment. Yet, they do deserve an opportunity to be front and center. Making a composed dinner doesn’t have to take up a lot of time, just a little foresight.
Most people like carrots. When my son Evan was young, carrots was one of the 3 vegetables he ate. This popular vegetable is easy to prepare and does not require a lot of pampering. It is one of the backbones used to make stocks, soup, stews and braises. If you haven’t given carrots much thought, think again. Carrots are so much more than crudité. I love cooking with them because their natural sweetness and sturdy structure make it easy to pair with bold flavors on either the sweet and/or spicy side.
This recipe was inspired by a recipe written by Nigel Slater titled, Harissa Carrots. His recipe is delicious and is featured in his cookbook Eats. In Slater’s recipe he blanches carrots, then mixes them with harissa paste, egg yolk, vinegar and olive oil. The egg yolk in the dressing made it nice and creamy, but not suitable for a vegan diet. My idea was to make a carrot side dish that everyone could eat. So, keeping the flavor of Slater’s Harissa Carrots in my mind, I created a vegan dressing to compliment the carrots natural sweetness, provide some spicy-heat, and lots of fresh herbs. I have said it before and I will say it again, fresh herbs elevate any food from good to awesome. I do not cook without them.
In this recipe for Sweet n’ Spicy Herbed Carrots, I use three different types of herbs. I realize cilantro and dill do not have a big fan club. Yet, if you are willing to be adventurous then reduce the amount of cilantro and see if you like it in a blend. There are times when less is more, but this recipe is not one of them. However, if you do not want to commit to all three herbs, use one or two of them. Mint and dill are especially delicious with carrots. I want you to enjoy your meal, so if you know you don’t like something – don’t use it.
For me, I am no longer fearful or stingy with how I cook with herbs. Many recipes from Middle Eastern cuisine have inspired me to combine herbs and not use them by themselves. There are many herbs that compliment each other, and tasting an abundance of the freshness is always welcome in a recipe.
Fortunately, making Sweet n’ Spicy Herbed Carrots, is as easy as making a salad. Making this dish won’t take up a lot of your attention, but the results will taste as if you slaved all day. The spicy heat is in the background and will grow as you continue to enjoy your meal. I prefer all the ingredients to balance one another. This recipe is not about the heat but about balance, and bringing all these flavors together to give carrots center stage.
Serve with any grilled meats and white meat fish. They are also delicious as part of a vegan bowl made with greens, carrots, chickpeas, a grain, and nuts. Enjoy!
Sweet n’ Spicy Herbed Carrots, Update February 7th 2018:
This is also delicious made with roasted carrots. Roast the carrots in a 400°F / 204°C oven for 40 minutes or until the carrots are slightly soft in the middle but still firm and can hold its shape. Add the diakon radish and sweet n’spicy vinaigrette and serve warm.
Sweet n’ Spicy Herbed Carrots
- One inch piece of fresh ginger
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard smooth or grainy
- 2 tsp honey or 1 tsp maple syrup for a vegan recipe
- 1/4 tsp ground chili pepper* more if you want it hotter
- Zest from 1 lime
- Juice from half a lime reserve the other half to add if needed
- 1 Tb red wine vinegar*
- 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
- 4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tb chopped cilantro
- 1 Tb chopped mint
- 1 Tb chopped dill optional
- 1 1/2 lbs / 683g medium size carrots
- 2 " piece of daikon radish 3 oz / 87g
Gently scrape off the thin skin of ginger using the edge of a teaspoon. Be careful not to dig into the flesh of the ginger root. Once the skin is removed, thinly slice the ginger and mince. Add to a small mixing bowl.
Add the Dijon mustard, honey, (maple syrup), ground chili pepper, lime zest and juice, vinegar, and Kosher salt into the bowl with the minced ginger. Whisk together until well combined.
Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, a little at a time. While you drizzle, whisk to create an emulsion. Once all the olive oil is added, give it a good whisk to keep the oil and acid from separating.
Taste the dressing and correct the seasoning to suit your taste.
Add the herbs, then whisk to combine. Set the sweet and spicy dressing aside while you prepare and cook the carrots.
Peel the carrots and trim the ends. Cut each carrot in half across the width, then cut each piece in half down the length. Cut all the pieces in half lengthwise to create long carrot strips.
Fill a medium saucepan with water and turn the heat up to high. Add a pinch of Kosher salt, a 1/4 inch sliver of ginger, and 2 crushed garlic cloves to the water. Bring the pot to a boil and add the carrots. Cook the carrots for 1-2 minutes after the water returns to a boil. Drain the carrots and pick out the garlic cloves and ginger. Add the carrots to a mixing bowl.
Peel and julienne the daikon radish in long thin strips. Add the daikon to the carrots and gently toss the carrots and daikon radish with your hands to mix together. Before you add the dressing taste it again and make any adjustments. Add the dressing, give it a gentle but good stir until the vegetables are evenly coated with the dressing.
Serve hot, warm or room temperature.
Use your favorite ground chili. The ground chili I used has a bright flavored heat, not a smokey one. Sorry I do not know the name of it. I started with a quarter teaspoon of ground chili then added a little more later. This meal is not about the heat, but about the balance of heat and sweetness.
Good substitutes are: your favorite ground chili powder, harissa paste, Thai chili paste, or sriracha. Adjust the amount you add to match the chili's heat. Example, if you use sriracha I would begin with 1/2 teaspoon then add more later if needed. Just like cooking with salt, it is always good to start with less then add more.
Do not substitute balsamic vinegar for this dressing. Good substitutions are: white wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.
Square Meal Round Table’s Rainbow Carrot and Ricotta Tart
The Cooking of Joy’s Candied Carrot Rose Tart
Better with Biscuits’ Carrot Souffle
This Healthy Table’s Beet and Carrot Galette
Always Eat Dessert’s Carrot Cake Squares with Orange Glaze
Figs & Flour’s Thai Peanut Pizza
Fufu’s Kitchen’s Oven Baked Carrot Fries Drizzled with a Tahini Sauce
Flours in Your Hair’s Carrot Pecan Cookies
Hola Jalapeño’s Roasted Carrots with Chipotle-Honey Butter
Worthy Pause’s Paleo Thai Curry Carrot Soup
Something New for Dinner’s Minted Sous Vide Carrots with Balsamic Vinegar and Goat Cheese
What Great Grandma Ate’s Paleo Carrot Mug Cake
More Icing Than Cake’s Spiced Quinoa & Roasted Carrot Salad
Hot Dishing It Out’s Vegan Carrot Whoopie Pies
Katie Bird Bakes’ Carrot Cake Scones
Confetti Kitchen’s Harissa-Roasted Carrots with Lentils and Yogurt
Easy and Delish’s Carrot Spaghetti
Pie Girl Bakes’ Five Spice Carrot Bundt Cakes with Bourbon Cream Cheese Glaze
Smoothies and Sundaes’ Carrot Cake Sourdough
Zestful Kitchen’s Moroccan-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
Food by Mars’ Paleo Carrot Walnut Loaf Cake
Cosette’s Kitchen’s Sumac Carrot and Feta Salad
Measuring Cups Optionals’ Carrot Curry Soup
Rezel Kealoha’s Turkish Yogurt Carrot Dip
Pies and Prejudice’s Carrot Pie with Maple & Cardamom
Amanda Skrip’s Rainbow Roasted Carrots with Citrus Fennel + Arugula
Baking The Goods’ Roasted Carrot & Herby Feta Galette
Marianne Cooks’ Carrot and Zucchini Mini Muffins with a Cinnamon Frosting
Rumbly in My Tumbly’s Chai Carrot Pie
Cook Til Delicious’ Mini Carrot Cake
What Annie’s Eating’s Roasted Carrots with Herby Carrot Top Salsa Verde
It’s a Veg World After All’s Zesty Sunflower Carrot Spirals
Butter Loves Company’s Iced Carrot Cake Cookies
Le Petit Eats’ Carrot Cake Breakfast Bars w/ Maple Coconut Icing
Smart in the Kitchen’s Curried Carrot Ginger Soup (Whole30)
Cocoa and Salt’s Classic Carrot Cake
Dirty Whisk’s Carrot and Herbed Ricotta Tart
A Modest Feast’s Pomegranate-Molasses-Glazed Carrots With Crispy Chickpeas and Feta
Lady and Larder’s Carrot Crudite Board with Z’atar Hummus
Prickly Fresh’s Carrot Cake Blondies with Cream Cheese Frosting
Suburban Pie and Treat’s Carrot Pineapple Raisin Pie
Hello Flour’s Macro-Friendly Carrot/Tomato Soup w/ Grilled Cheese
Flotte Lotte’s Carrot Apple Pie
Pizanna’s Vegan Carrot Birthday Cake
Mom’s Kitchen Handbook’s Salad with Miso Ginger Carrot Dressing
What’s Karen Cooking’s Spiced Cornbread w/ Carrots, Pecans & Chili Butter
Sweet Pillar Food’s Carrot and Date Salad with Tahini Vinaigrette
Feed the Swimmers’ Air Fried Rainbow Carrot Chips with Tzatziki
Blossom to Stem’s Caramelized Carrots with Fennel, Ricotta, and Walnuts
Been There Tried It’s Carrot Latkes with Cranberry Aioli (Paleo)
Farm and Coast Cookery’s Carrot & Herbed Ricotta Phyllo Tart
Seed and Mill’s Carrot Cake with Tahini Caramel Frosting
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
Day 2 of Super Bowl Dip frenzy featuring Muhammara. This is a delicious dip recipe made with roasted red peppers, chili pepper, chopped walnuts and pomegranate molasses. Muhammara, pronounced [mu-HUMM-a-da](Maureen Abood), is an amazing discovery and could be the best party dip ever.
Roasted red pepper dip has its origin from Aleppo, Syria. It is typically served as part of mezze. To generalize, mezze is the Middle Eastern equivalent to Spanish Tapas. A selection appetizers featuring spreads, cheeses, several meats, and served with drinks. We served Muhammara with grilled chicken for dinner last night and I thought it was out of this world. I could not stop myself from spreading it over everything on my plate. I showed great restraint not to dollop this dip all over my salad.
If you are ever looking for an alternative to hummus, Muhammara is a good substitute. Nonetheless, you will have nothing to lose if you want to serve both. I believe there is always room for more. The walnuts make this dip of roasted red peppers thick and creamy, and the olive oil smooths the texture. Additionally, pomegranate molasses adds a touch of sweetness to counter the spice of the hot peppers.
My research revealed that there are as many versions of this dip as there are recipes, and almost as many different pronunciations. (Food Network pronunciation is [moo-hahm-MRAH].) So please feel free to play around with the amounts of each ingredient. After all, the more you make this dip you will develop Muhammara into your own special creation. I adapted this recipe of Muhammara from two recipes, Red Pepper Dip with Walnuts and Pomegranate by Amanda Hesser from Cooking at New York Times, and Muhammara from 101 Cookbooks.
Tips for success making Red Pepper Dip: Muhammara
Roast the peppers on a hot grill, under the broiler, or over the flame on a gas burner. You want to get the whole surface of each bell pepper really charred. It is a lot easier to peel off the skins when the peppers have a good char, followed by a good steam in a covered bowl.
I used Aleppo pepper flakes, but feel free to use any dried red pepper flakes you have. You can also use a fresh hot chili pepper. Roast the chili with the red bell peppers, peel off the skin, and add according to how spicy you want it to be. You can buy Aleppo pepper flakes at specialty spice markets or on Amazon.
Toast the walnuts. Toasting nuts brings out the flavor by releasing the oils and makes a big difference in their flavor and texture. You can toast walnuts by spreading them out on a sheet pan and place in a preheated 350˚F oven for 8 – 10 minutes. Watch the nuts carefully so they do not get scorched. The walnuts are finished toasting when they are slightly darker and have a toasty-nutty aroma.
Pomegranate molasses is concentrated pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon juice which is cooked down and reduced to a thick syrup. You can make it or buy it at specialty markets (Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Korean Markets, Middle Eastern Markets, specialty grocery stores, or Amazon).
For a simple shortcut you can buy jarred roasted red peppers, or from the olive bar in the deli section of a grocery store. You will need the equivalent of 3 whole red bell peppers.
Muhammara is also delicious with:
Be forewarned, this dip is very addictive.
Roasted Red Pepper Dip: Muhammara
- 2 lbs red bell peppers 2-3 red bell peppers
- 1 Tb Aleppo pepper or dried red pepper flakes, or 1 small fresh hot chili pepper
- Up to 1 ½ cups toasted walnuts coarsely chopped
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- 2 Tb pomegranate molasses
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp Kosher salt
- ½ tsp granulated sugar
- 2 Tb olive oil more for garnish
- Pita bread for serving
Roast the red peppers (and fresh chili pepper if using): Turn the oven on to the broiler setting. Cut the red bell peppers in half and place them on a sheet pan covered in aluminum foil, and put the peppers under the broiler*. Broil the peppers until the sides are charred all over. This will take some time, about 10 - 20 minutes. You will need to watch the peppers closely during the broiling process. The more it is charred the easier it is to peel the skin off the bell peppers.
Once the peppers are charred, immediately put them in a bowl large enough to accommodate all the peppers and quickly cover with plastic wrap. Let the peppers steam in the bowl for 15 minutes.
Once steamed and cool to touch, rub the skins off the peppers and remove the seeds and pith. Rough chop the peppers and place in the blender, or food processor.
Using an immersion blender, blender, or food processor, combine half of the chopped walnuts and the remaining ingredients, except the olive oil, into the bowl to process. You might need to add the ingredients incrementally depending on what small appliance you are using. I used an immersion blender and the dip got very thick until I added the roasted red peppers. Blend until smooth and add more of the walnuts to reach your desired consistency. If the dip is too thick you can add a small amount of water, two teaspoons at a time.
Add the olive oil and process until very smooth. The dip can have some texture to it, but you want a smooth consistency.
Let the dip rest on the counter, or covered in the refrigerator if longer than one hour. Serve the muhammara at least one hour after you make it. Muhammara is best served at room temperature. Drizzle the dip with extra olive oil, ground cumin and chopped walnuts. Serve with plain or toasted pitas.
Muhammara will last in the refrigerator for one week.
Toast the pita bread.
Turn on the oven to 350˚F and cut each pita into 8 triangles and place on a rimmed sheet pan. Place the pitas in the oven and bake until lightly browned and crispy, about 10 to 20 minutes.
*If you are using a fresh hot chili pepper, broil and remove the skin at the same time with the red bell peppers. Add the amount of chili pepper to the dip to satisfy your desired level of spice and heat.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
Broccoli. Spinach. Fresh herbs. These three ingredients are all that is needed to develop a nutritious and velvety smooth soup. No fat. No diary. Just vegetables and fresh herbs. It doesn’t get any purer and simpler than this. What I am talking about, is broccoli soup with spinach and mint. This broccoli soup recipe is deliciously satisfying, and so wonderfully smooth you won’t believe there is no added cream. Broccoli soup with spinach and mint is also the easiest soup that I have ever made.
This recipe is from the cookbook, Fresh Happy Tasty: An Adventure in 100 Recipes by Jane Coxwell. I love this cookbook. The recipes are inventive, not complicated to make, and Jane likes to enhance the flavor of her food with a lot of fresh herbs. Jane Coxwell is the personal chef to Diane von Furstenberg aboard her sailing yacht. She gets to sail around the world, shop at international seaport markets, and cook delicious food for Diane von Furstenberg and the boat’s crew. The photographs of the food and markets are sunny with vibrant colors, and Jane always has a laughing smile on her face.
If you have never made soup before and want to try, this is the soup recipe for you. Most soups begin with a base sometimes called mirepoix or sofrito. They usually consist of celery, carrots and onions that are sautéed until softened. Mirepoix is the bodybuilder for stews, soups and some regional foods. However, this broccoli soup does not have it or need it. Broccoli is the base, spinach mellows the broccoli and contributes to the smooth texture, and the fresh herbs add interest. All the ingredients contribute to the soups bright and pure flavor. If you love broccoli and spinach, then you will love this soup.
Keys to Success Making Broccoli Soup with Spinach and Mint
The number one key to success is all about the blending. You will need special equipment to make broccoli soup with spinach and mint. The original recipe specifies using a blender, but I do not own one. I have made this recipe at different times using a food processor or an immersion blender. Both appliances worked with excellent results. My advice is to be patient, and keep at it. The whole blending process will take time. Just when you think you are done blending, blend some more. Later when you think you are done, blend some more. As you continue to whirl, the soup will become thicker, velvety smooth and develops an amazing bright green color. I have never been to Ireland, but I imagine the soup is the color of Ireland’s grassy emerald fields.
Another key to success comes from the secondary ingredient, the spinach. I believe the raw spinach, along with the blending, is responsible for creating the luxurious texture. Broccoli alone will not blend so smoothly because of its own texture. Understand that if you substitute the spinach with other leafy green vegetables like chard, it might taste great, but omitting the spinach will create a completely different soup.
This is a minor suggestion: I cut off the stems of the raw spinach before it is added the blender or food processor. Sometimes, even baby spinach leaves can have stringy stems.
What to serve with Broccoli Soup with Spinach and Mint:
Broccoli Soup with Spinach and Mint pairs beautifully with goat cheese and olives. If you are lucky enough to have access to a delicious olive rosemary bread, toast it and spread it with creamy goat cheese.
Or, make croutons with the olive rosemary bread and garnish the soup with the croutons and a drizzle of yogurt or crème fraîche.
Additionally, any open face melty cheese sandwich made with crusty bread is yummy with soup.
We like to serve broccoli soup with spinach and mint for dinner smorgasbord style. Accompanied with grilled herb marinated chicken breasts, marinated artichokes, olives, goat cheese, and toasted bread. Joe refers to this type of meal as, “Soup and Stuff” and is one of his favorite dinners.
Anything salty, crunchy, tangy, creamy is divine served with broccoli soup with spinach and mint. Enjoy!
Broccoli Soup with Spinach and Mint
- 2 heads of broccoli
- 2 garlic cloves peeled sliced in half and green germ removed
- 2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves
- 1 small handful mint leaves
- 1 small handful basil leaves
- Flakey Sea Salt such as Maldon
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Juice from 1/2 a lemon
- Honey or agave to taste optional
Fill a saucepan large enough to accommodate all the prepared broccoli with water add about 1/2 tea of Kosher salt, and bring to a boil.
Cut the broccoli heads by separating the florets and the stems. Trim the florets into small pieces. Set aside. Then cut the rough and thick end off each broccoli stem and discard, Chop the remaining stems into 1/2 inch pieces.
When the water comes to boil add the garlic halves and the chopped broccoli stems. Cook for 5 minutes. Then add the broccoli florets and cook until the florets are tender, but still bright green. About 5 minutes.
Turn off the heat. Using a slotted spoon, remove the broccoli and put into a bowl of a blender or food processor. (*If you are using an immersion blender you will need to do some juggling. Once you have removed the broccoli, pour the broccoli water into a container and reserve. Put the broccoli back into the stock pot that you cooked them in.)
Measure 2 cups of the broccoli water and place in the blender (or pot) with the broccoli. Reserve the remaining broccoli water.
Blend the broccoli until it is smooth. Add the spinach, mint and basil and continue to blend until very smooth. If you think you are done blending, blend some more. One of the outstanding features of the soup is getting the soup to have a luxurious and smooth texture. The blending step is what will set this soup apart from any other broccoli soup. It will take awhile to accomplish, even longer depending on what equipment you are using. The blending should take at least 5 minutes but possibly longer.
If using a food processor or blender, pour the vegetable puree into a clean pot. Turn on the heat to medium and add broccoli water, a little at a time, into the stock pot with the vegetable puree. Keep adding until you reached your desired consistency. Taste the soup and season with the lemon juice, about 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt, and freshly ground pepper. (Be careful with the amount of lemon juice you add. The acid reacts with the green vegetables and changes the color from bright to drab.) Sweeten with about 1 teaspoon of honey or agave if needed. (optional) Taste and correct for seasoning.
Serve warm for lunch or dinner. The soup will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days. The color might change after a day or more in the refrigerator.
The amounts of the ingredients are somewhat open to interpretation. Every head of broccoli is not the same size, as well as every handful is not the same. But one of the great characteristics about making soup is you can play around with the amount of ingredients without totally messing it up. The key ingredients are the broccoli and spinach. To give you some guideline, the two heads of broccoli weighed a total of 1 lb 8 1/2 oz / 697 g and the total amount of spinach weighed 2 1/8 oz / 61 g.
I once bought a head of broccoli at the farmers market that was so big, it could have been the equivalent of two or three heads of broccoli. Use your judgement and let your eyes and tastebuds be your guide.
You can add around 3 -4 sprigs, or less, of each fresh herb to your liking.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
When I plan a meal the quote, “Everything in moderation, including moderation,” is forever lurking in my brain, except when it comes to vegetables. I love vegetables and could easily have them take over half of my plate for any dinner meal. One vegetable I particularly love is sugar snap peas, and despite the fact that it is not spring, they are widely available at most stores in my area now.
Sugar snap peas have a great sweet pea flavor and a snappy-crispy crunch. They could not be easier to prepare, just clean and trim the ends. Sometimes the fibrous string along the side needs to be pulled off, but I rarely feel it is necessary. I like to eat them raw in a salad, or quickly blanch or sauté them, then toss the snap peas with butter and fresh herbs.
I wanted to make a vegetable side dish that would compliment my chicken entrée that was marinated in yogurt, tahini, and sriracha and roasted in the oven. With the chicken baking in the oven, I could spend the down time on creating a flavorful vegetable side dish. Truth be told, the real inspiration came from the fact that I just happened to have all the ingredients in my refrigerator. I know I should be more studious and plan every meal for the week, but often my dinners are spontaneous creations based on what is in my refrigerator. Spontaneous or not, this is a recipe that compliments most meat entrée and can be adapted for a vegetarian entrée as well.
When cooking with vegetables most of the work involves cleaning and prepping the vegetables. The actual cooking time is very short. For this recipe I have a two-step cooking process for the sugar snap peas. First I blanch them for 30 seconds and set them aside until the mushrooms are sautéed. Then I add the snap peas to the pan with the mushrooms and sauté just long enough to get the sugar snap peas heated through. The blanching and minimal cooking time help maintain the bright green color and crispness of the peas. In this recipe the contrast of the crispy sugar snap peas with the silky sautéed shiitake mushrooms is part of its appeal.
Sautéed sugar snap peas with shiitake mushrooms pair beautifully together. Add minced shallots, fresh ginger and garlic to the sugar snap peas and shiitake mushrooms you have a side dish that can stand on its own merit. Despite the potent ingredients the flavoring is subtle with the ginger adding a bright note that is not overwhelming. I happen to love cooking with fresh ginger. I do not find its flavor to sharp or biting. It is a sweet bite of spice. If you are not a fan of ginger, you can omit the ginger and the sugar snap peas and shiitake mushrooms will have plenty of flavor.
Sugar snap peas with shiitake mushrooms and ginger can be paired with any grilled or roasted meat, chicken or fish. It would make a perfect Thanksgiving side vegetable that would brighten up the rich flavors of the turkey and gravy and stuffing. If you serve this recipe with rice or other grain, the sugar snap peas with shiitake mushrooms and ginger becomes a great vegetarian and vegan meal for Thanksgiving, or for any dinner. Sprinkle some chopped peanuts, almonds, or hazelnuts over the dish and it is even better for vegetarians by adding more protein.
Bits and Tips making Sugar Snap Peas with Shiitake Mushrooms
What is a sugar snap pea?
A sugar snap pea is a member of the legume family that originated in East Asia. It is a cross between a snow pea and a garden, or English pea and is widely cultivated in North America. Like the snow pea, sugar snap peas are eaten whole: pod and seed together. They can be enjoyed raw or briefly cooked to keep the crisp snappy texture and bright green color. The fibrous string along the side may need to be removed.
How to store mushrooms:
Mushrooms often come packaged in plastic containers and tightly sealed in plastic wrap. Plastic creates an overly moist environment that will quickly turn the mushrooms slimy. Paper bags are perfect for storing loose mushrooms. Be careful not to crowd the mushrooms, (or any vegetable) in an overly packed crisper drawer. Air movement keeps everything fresh longer.
How to clean mushrooms:
Sometimes mushrooms have a lot of dirt on them and brushing or wiping the dirt off the mushroom is not practical or effective. You can quickly rinse the mushrooms in running water and then pat dry with a paper towel or a clean cloth. Mushrooms are like sponges, so rinse them quick and do not soak them. Clean mushrooms right before you plan on using them.
How to peel ginger:
To peel the skin off of a knobby chunk of ginger root the best tool to use is a spoon. Hold the piece of ginger in your non-working had and a spoon in the other. Gently scratch the ginger skin with the side of the your spoon. The skin should scrape right off without you having to dig into the ginger root. Use a light hand when working. The spoon makes it easy to work around all the knobby ends.
Sugar Snap Peas with Shiitake Mushrooms and Ginger
- 1 lb/ 455 g of sugar snap peas- cleaned and trimmed
- 1 Tb olive oil
- 1 medium shallot about 3 oz/ 92 g
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger root
- 1/2 tea Kosher salt divided
- 8 oz/ 246 g shiitake mushrooms
- 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
- Optional garnishes
- About 1 to 2 Tb of chopped fresh herb of your choice- parsley scallions, mint, chives, thyme, (see note)
- Chopped nuts like peanuts almonds or hazelnuts, or toasted sesame seeds are a great garnish
Wash and cut the stem off the sugar snap peas. You can remove the little string at the tip if think it is unsightly.
Cut the stem off the shiitake mushrooms right at the base of the mushroom cap. Discard the stem or reserve for making stock. Slice each mushroom cap in long 1/4 inch strips.
Mince the shallots garlic and set aside in separate piles. If the garlic cloves have a green germ in the middle, remove it before mincing. Peel the skin off of the fresh ginger root then mince. Keep the vegetables in separate piles and set aside.
Quickly blanch the prepared sugar snap peas in boiling salted water for about 30 seconds. As soon as the water returns to a boil. Drain the water from the sugar snap peas. Keep the peas in a colander and set aside.
Putting it all together
Heat a large 10 or 12 inch skillet on medium heat and add 1 Tb olive oil.
Add the minced shallots and stir to evenly coat with the olive oil. Cook the shallots until they are translucent. Stir occasionally to prevent them from sticking to the pan and to prevent browning. About 4 minutes.
Add the minced garlic, ginger and 1/4 tea Kosher salt, then stir to coat with the olive oil and mix with the shallots. Cook until the garlic and ginger become aromatic, about 1 minute.
Add the sliced mushrooms and stir until they are evenly combined with the shallot mixture. Cook the mushrooms and occasionally stir them until the mushrooms have reduced in size, look glossy and released all its liquid. About 5 minutes.
Pour in the stock into the pan and stir to deglaze the pan and cook off the liquid for a minute.
Add the sugar snap peas and the rest of the Kosher salt then stir to combine. Cook the vegetables briefly just to get the sugar snap peas heated all the way through. About 2 minutes.
Taste and add more salt if needed.
Depending on what you are serving the sugar snap peas with, will dictates what herb or garnish you may want to finish it with. Sugar snap peas and shiitake mushrooms with ginger is perfectly delicious as is, but I always like to add fresh herbs to finish a meal. For this recipe the ginger should remain the dominant seasoning, choose an herb, if using, to compliment the ginger and your main entree, like parsley and mint and use a light hand adding it.
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