Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summer Grain Salad

I'm on a real summer vacation. I have few obligations and the job I have lined up does not start until September. I didn't realize two things until I started to have all of this down time: that I was extremely busy until the end of June and that while I had been cooking and baking, I had been both doing it and enjoying it a lot less. That said, I've been cooking and baking almost every day. And this isn't a result of a conscious decision to do it more - I have just been drawn to it more. I find myself back in the swing of thinking about what to make for lunch or dinner, or what gelato to have ready for dessert.

Today I made what is a take on a grain salad I used to be a little obsessed with. When I first came across it in Diane Worthington's The New California Cook, I knew we were meant to be together (that is - me and the salad, specifically). Over the years, I've made it numerous times, always veering a little from the recipe Worthington provides. Today I made it with Freekah, which usually refers to roasted green (young) wheat berries, however my Freekah is made of spelt. I like Freekah because I think the roastedness makes it a bit smokey. Its deep, earthy flavor is the perfect base for a grain salad dressed with a lemony vinaigrette.

Freekah Salad
1 c freekah
2 c water
pinch salt
2 T scallions, diced
2 T parsley, chopped
2 T cilantro, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 kirby cucumber, diced
1 bell or other sweet pepper, diced
handful green beans, chopped into 1" lengths
1/4 c sunflower seeds
1/4 c pumpkin seeds
1/3 lb feta or goat cheese, or a mix
1/2 c any vinaigrette, but my recipe - whisk together the following:
2 T red wine vinegar
3 T apple cider vinager
juice of half 1 lemon
1 t dijon mustard
pinch salt, pepper
2 T minced shallot
1 garlic clove, minced
2 T fresh herbs
1/2 c olive oil

Cook the freekah in the water with pinch of salt- simmer about 20 min. Water should be absorbed by then but if it's not, and the grain is done, just drain it. Let cool 10 min. Mix with the rest of the ingredients, toss cheese and vinaigrette in at end. Serve cold or at room temperature. Serves 4-6.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Spicy Greens Pesto

Some people don't like to cook in the summertime. I don't mind the act of cooking in the summer. I don't mind the heat of the kitchen, but it's more that I am just so hot I don't want to do anything at all! When I came home today and I was hungry, I just wanted something to materialize in front of me. Even the act of really chewing seemed too great a task! So I threw some basic ingredients into the food processor: Spicy greens (arugula, mustard, dandelion...), a garlic clove, toasted pine nuts, parmesan, olive oil, salt, lemon juice, black pepper... and hit the ON switch. And out came pesto!
I lathered it atop Hot Bread Kitchen sourdough batard (omg new favorite), along with seared zucchini and chopped fresh herbs. Dinner for the lazy is served.
Greens Pesto (makes about 1 c)
1 garlic clove
3 c greens of your choice, raw or steamed to wilted
1/4 c toasted pine nuts
1/4 c grated parmesan
almost 1/4 c olive oil
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Whiz ingredients in food processor. Eat atop whole wheat pasta or toasted bread of choice.