Ivory Lentil Mediterranean Salad

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The Stein Eriksen lodge is a beautiful hotel in Deer Valley, Utah. The namesake is the gold medalist Stein Eriksen, a downhill skier from Norway.

The hotel has such a wonderful Norwegian ambiance with its unique furniture, textiles, and design. We fell in love with the hotel itself, but best of all was discovering brunch at the hotel’s restaurant, the Glitretind.


We’ve been going back as often as we can – just for brunch. We’ve taken our children there, children with friends, then children with husbands, then grand children. The restaurant is family oriented, and definitely skier-oriented during ski season, but still maintains high-end, high-quality food in a cozy, European-style setting. The view from the Glitretind is also stunning, no matter what time of year.

Recently we took my mother there for brunch on her 91st birthday. And, as always, it was a perfect experience, including a surprise treat for my mother. And let me tell you, this brunch is a buffet. I’ve never been a buffet fan. Somehow, the Glitretind pulls buffet off well.

So, while brunching at the Glitretind with the birthday girl, and perusing the salads, one caught my attention. It was an ivory lentil salad. I’m familiar with tan, brown, green, and black lentils… but ivory?!! I just had to have it. And the salad was wonderful.

So I went to my favorite online grocery store, Amazon, and I found ivory lentils sold by Barry Farms, which is a company that sells high-quality grains and beans. Turns out ivory lentils are the insides of black beans!

This is my version of a Mediterranean salad using ivory lentils, with roasted vegetables and some extra goodies, all tossed in a creamy dressing.

Ivory Lentil Mediterranean Salad

16 ounces ivory lentils, pre-soaked for 4-5 hours

1 large purple onion, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt, pepper

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1 small lemon
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon tomato paste or a few sun-dried tomato halves
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic
Salt

Canned artichoke bottoms or hearts, quartered
Sun-dried tomatoes, julienned
Kalamata olives, sliced

Turn the oven to 400 degrees F, or to a high roasting position.

While the oven is heating, start the lentils cooking using water or vegetable broth. This step took me 20 minutes with the pre-soaked lentils.


Rinse gently and set aside to cool.

Toss the onions and bell peppers in a bowl and toss with the oil, salt, and pepper.

Pour the vegetables into a roasting pan, and when the oven is at temperature, roast the vegetables until nicely charred, about 20-25 minutes.

Turn off the oven, let the vegetables cool.

Place the slightly warm lentils in a large bowl along with the roasted vegetables and any remaining olive oil in the pan.

Add the quartered artichoke bottoms. I am in love with this product.

Meanwhile, prepare the dressing by combining all of the ingredients in a blender. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Stir in about 1/3 of the vinaigrette and gently combine.


To serve, place the salad in a shallow serving dish.

Top with the sun-dried tomatoes and olive slices.

If desired, drizzle on a little more dressing.

So many ingredients could be included in this salad, like feta cheese for example. But I really liked the simplicity of what I created, which was inspired by the salad I enjoyed at brunch.

I will definitely purchase ivory lentils again, mostly because they’re so pretty. They don’t have the same flavor as Le Puy, which is my favorite lentil variety, but then, they’re really not lentils.

Whole Lemon Dressing

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Typically, I don’t have the television on while I’m cooking. In fact, I typically listen to my favorite music playlists. That is, unless my husband is in the kitchen first. He will invariably, mindlessly, turn on the tv. Which is what happened one morning a few years ago.

The Rachael Ray show was on, and I’m not a fan, but I was too busy to change channels. She had Carla Hall on for a cooking segment, which only caught my attention because I’d seen her compete in Top Chef.

So I was only watching with one eye, so to speak, but I saw Carla do something interesting.

We’ve all combined citrus juices with olive oil and made dressings. But here is the thing. Carla put the WHOLE lemon into a blender for her dressing.

Here’s what I did to replicate her recipe, which I just knew I’d love!

Lemon Dressing

1 clean, organic lemon
Olive oil
Salt, to taste
Salad of your choice

To make the dressing, trim the lemon ends and quarter it.

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Place the pieces in a blender or food processor. Blend away until you can’t.

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Add about 1/2 cup of olive oil and a generous pinch of salt, and re-blend the mixture.

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Strain the dressing through a fine strainer into a medium bowl. What you’re left with is a thickened emulsified lemon dressing.

I chose a salad of greens with avocado and raspberries so the dressing could really shine. Plus a little chunk of Parmesan.

I’m not even that much of a lemon freak, but this dressing is superb. It’s powerfully lemon, but not tart or bitter like you’d think.

I’m definitely making this dressing again. Next time I’ll add some toasted walnuts and crumbled goat cheese to the salad!

I also really love lemon dressing on salads that are grain-based, so that might be my next move!

Pesto Ranch Dip

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I’ve written before about what a purist I am in the way that I make most everything from scratch. It doesn’t matter if it’s barbecue sauce, spaghetti sauce, salad dressings, you name it. I just can’t do it any other way.

Sure, a lot of those products are real time savers. But they’re also horrible. Or, should I say, that home-made is always better. Plus you don’t have to include the uncessary salt, sugar, fake colors and preservatives.

During the summer months especially, I eat a salad every day. I typically use a good vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil on them – that’s it. Or, I use a vinaigrette that I’ve made ahead of time.

A few years ago, we were at a local restaurant with our daughter and son-in-law. I ordered a Cobb salad for my meal, and with it Ranch dressing. If you haven’t heard of Ranch dressing, then you’ve probably never lived in the U.S.
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My son-in-law kidded me about ordering such an “American” dressing. So I threatened him. Nicely. Something like, “If you tell anyone I ordered Ranch dressing I’ll have you killed.”

But to this day, at most restaurants, and for basic salads, I ask for Ranch dressing. I’ll tell you why. (And I still threaten folks if they tease me about it.)

1. Italian dressing, which is supposed to be oil and vinegar, is disgusting at restaurants. It’s not typically made in the restaurant kitchen. It’s a Kraft product, somewhat gloppy, overly sweet, with little unidentifiable bits in it.
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2. If you ask for oil and vinegar for your salad you will simply get stared at by nincompoop waiters.

3. If a “specialty” salad, say an Asian salad, is offered with a dressing, it is usually so disgustingly sweet that I can hardly eat the salad. I’ve learned that if the menu states “sweet chili lime dressing,” it basically means simple syrup. I wish I was kidding but I’m not.

So, that’s why I order Ranch dressing. At least I know what I’m getting. It’s not healthy, but it has its merits in the taste department.

Last week while grocery shopping, I happened to spot Ranch dressing. I quickly checked to see if I knew anyone near me, then I stuck the bottle of dressing under bags of produce. I actually purchased Ranch dressing for the first time in my life.

Flash forward to a recent impromptu evening with friends. I got out my usual hors d’oeuvres – cheeses, crackers and fruit.

Then I spotted a slab of bread cheese that I hadn’t needed for salad I’d made the week before and decided to grill the bread cheese at the last minute for a fun change.

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For a quick dip, I used freshly-made pesto, along with, yes, some Ranch dressing. The dip turned out so good I thought I’d share it with you. Here’s what I did.

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Pesto Ranch Dip

2 heaping tablespoons prepared basil pesto
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/3 cup Ranch dressing
Olive oil
Approximately 10 ounces Halloumi or bread cheese, cut into 16 or so pieces
Fresh pepper

Place the pesto and lime juice in a small blender and process until smooth. Then add the Ranch dressing; set aside.

Heat a little olive oil in a non-stick skillet over high heat. Add the pieces of cheese and cook until browned on both sides. Place them on a serving platter and sprinkle them with pepper. Continue with the remaining pieces.

Pour the pesto ranch dip into a small bowl and serve with the warm cheese.

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Dip away!

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I realize that this isn’t much of a recipe, nor is it that creative, but this dip is so good with the bread cheese. See what you think!

And if you’re even more stubborn than I am, substitute sour cream, heavy cream, or creme fraiche for the Ranch dressing!

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Beet Vinaigrette

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You all know by now that I love vinaigrettes, and I always make them with different ingredients. To me, it’s really fun to mix and match seasonal ingredients and flavors in pairing a salad with a vinaigrette.

Whenever I purchase canned beets, which happens when I run out of my own pickled beets, I always save the beet juice. That’s just a rule. I typically pour it, strained if necessary, into a little pot and reduce it to a syrup-like consistency. Then, it can be added to any basic vinaigrette for that beautiful beet color and earthy flavor.

But today I simply added an equal amount of white wine (red or champagne would have worked as well) to the beet juice and reduced the liquid to a syrup.

Then I poured it into a jar.

I added about 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/3 cup vinegar, in this case red wine vinegar, plus a little salt, and shook the jar. I prefer a more emulsified look of the vinaigrette because of the resulting red color.

Of course, you can get more involved with the vinaigrette and add garlic, cloves, mustard, and so forth, but I like the simplicity of the reduced beet juice in a simple vinaigrette such as this.

My salad was one of those use-what-you have salads which, besides lettuce, included sliced beets, mushrooms, carrots, sprouts, and toasted pumpkin seeds. I used a little bacon and some soft-boiled eggs for protein, as my avocados weren’t behaving properly. And I’d recently picked up a pomegranate, so I decided that the pomegranate seeds would be wonderful with the beet-based vinaigrette.


And it was delicious. I encourage you to save every little bit of everything and use it in a vinaigrette! It always works!

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I’ve posted before on a beet and cider vinaigette, based on a beet juice and apple cider mixture. And I’ve also posted on a pear vinaigrette I made with a fresh pear. Think how creative you can get with different fruits and juices!

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This beet vinaigrette would be fabulous with all types of protein, including salmon, avocados, beef, duck and chicken. It pairs beautifully with walnuts, pecans, pine nuts and sunflower seeds. And of course, ingredients like tomatoes and red bell peppers would be good additions to your salad as well, I just didn’t want them in this particular salad because I feel they would clash with the pomegranate seeds.

Buttternut Squash Aigre Doux

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If any of you have been following my blog for a year, and merci for that, you might remember when I made something called cranberry aigre doux. I made three jars of these cranberries essentially cooked in wine and vinegar. The recipe came from a very interesting book on canning called the Preservation Kitchen, by Paul Virant.

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In a follow-up post, I strained the cranberries from the liquid, reduced the liquid, and then poured everything over a room temperature block of cream cheese. My daughter claimed it tasted like Christmas! It was indeed good, and I’d also made the blueberry version of his in the summer before I started blogging so it’s not documented; it was equally delicious.

These posts no longer exist because I need to re-do them.

But I became even more intrigued with whatever Mr. Virant means by his terminology of aigre doux when I saw his recipe for butternut squash aigre doux. Okay, now I get it for cranberries and blueberries. But now for a winter squash? A vegetable? Of course, I had to make it. So here it is.

Butternut Squash Aigre Doux

1 good-sized butternut squash
1 large white onion, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sherry
1 cup maple syrup

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I used this sherry. It wasn’t good for drinking because I prefer sweeter sherry.

Have all of your canning supplies available and ready to go. I used one large jar that held the whole butternut squash, but you can use smaller jars, of course. make sure everything is sterilized.

Peel the squash, cut off the ends, and then slice it once lengthwise. Remove the seeds. Then cut each half lengthwise again.

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Slice 1/4″ slices crosswise and place in a large Dutch oven. Slice the onion crosswise into thin slices and add to the squash in the pot, and add the salt.

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Then pour on the sherry and maple syrup.
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Bring the liquid to a boil, then cover the pot and reduce the heat. Simmer the squash for about 30 minutes, stirring it around one time during the cooking process. You want it tender, but not mush. Let everything cool with the lid off.

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Using a slotted spoon, place the squash and onions in your sterilized jar.

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Add the sherry vinegar to the remaining liquid in the pot. Cook the liquid gently for about 10 minutes. I actually placed all the liquid in a different pan that had a pourable side.

Using a funnel with a strainer at the bottom, pour in the liquid until it comes no more than 1″ from the base of the lid. Cover the lid, but not too tightly.

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Process the jar or jars, under 1″ of water, at the correct temperature according to the thermostat on your canning pot, for 10 minutes. Remove the jar from the water, and let it cool.

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Store it as you would any thing that you’ve canned before, preferably a cool, dark place like a cellar or basement.

So then, what in the world to do with this butternut squash? Well, for me, the answer was simple. A salad! But a hearty salad. I’ve been making lots of bean and lentil salads lately, being that it’s winter time, so I reached for orzo instead.

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I put together a salad of spinach, purple cabbage, tomatoes, purple onion, orzo, butternut squash aigre-doux style, and some toasted pine nuts. Of course, I added a little salt and pepper.
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And the dressing? Simply some delicious balsamic vinegar and olive oil – both of which my daughters had bought me as Christmas presents! The vinegar matched beautifully with the somewhat maple syrup-sweetened butternut squash. I wish I could have shared.

verdict: I’ll probably not make this again. But that’s not to say it isn’t good, because it is. Mostly, the butternut squash slices taste like they were infused with maple syrup, although, fortunately, they’re not too sweet. Honestly, it was a waste of a lot of good sherry, maple syrup, and sherry vinegar. And some time that I’ll never get back. But if you’re feeling adventurous, go for it!

Pickled Beets

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Fresh beets don’t usually last long in my house. I typically roast them, remove the peels, and add them to salads. I eat salads pretty much every day in the summer.

But I decided it was time to actually make my fresh beets last by pickling them.

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I just started canning last summer, and canning is the perfect way to make these pickled beets last even longer. Normally, pickled beets would only last in the refrigerator for a few weeks, and that’s just not enough time. Especially if you want them during the winter months. So, pickling plus canning equals a winning combination!

I won’t do a canning tutorial just yet, but stay tuned. And if you haven’t canned, try it. It’s incredible what varieties of foods and condiments you can create, and trust me – no one will get botulism if you just follow the rules.

So the recipe is in two parts – one is the pickling water, and the other, the beets.

Pickled Beets

The Beets:

6 beets, scrubbed, ends removed
A 3″ long piece of fresh horseradish, quartered
Bay leaves, about 6-8
Few peppercorns
Few whole cloves

scrubbed and rinsed beets

scrubbed and rinsed beets

Place the beets in a large pot on the stove. Don’t peel them, otherwise you’ll lose too much beet juice.

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To the pot add all of the remaining ingredients, then add purified water until the beets are fully covered by at least 1″ of water.

Bring the water to a boil. As soon as the water boils, count 1 hour on the clock.

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If you want to make sure the beets are fully cooked, pierce the largest one with a cake tester or point of a knife.

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Immediately drain the beets into a colander and let them cool.

The Pickling Water:

2 cups purified water
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 bay leaves
1 smashed garlic clove
A 1″ piece of garlic, sliced into quarters
Few peppercorns

Combine everything in a medium pot. Place over high heat, and stir to dissolve the sugar. As soon as it’s dissolved, remove the water from the stove and set aside to cool.

When the beets are cool enough to handle, gently peel them, and trim away any hard, woody parts with a sharp knife.

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If you’ve never worked with beets before, be aware that they stain everything. Skin included.

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Have jars and lids available that have been washed through a dishwasher cycle or sterilized.

Slice or cube the peeled and trimmed beets and place them in the jars. Today I cubed mine.

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When you’re all done, add the strained pickling water to the jars; the beets should be completely covered. Alternatively, you could include the pickled onions.

I placed a couple of horseradish pieces in two jars, and the star anise in a third. The fourth I left alone.

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I then covered the jars with clean and dry lids, and stored them in the refrigerator. I wasn’t quite ready to begin the canning process, but when I do, I will bring the tightly sealed jars to room temperature before proceeding.

Pickled beets are one of my favorite additions to salad, which I eat often. the one in the featured photo includes avocado, mushrooms, and tomatoes.

Beets, pickled or not, go well in salads with salmon, steak, or grilled chicken. They’re also wonderful with red bell peppers, grated carrots, and cucumbers. And don’t forget the goat cheese!

verdict: These beets are delicious. I’m glad I didn’t add any more sugar to the pickling water. The horseradish isn’t very strong. And I love the addition of the star anise. Will make these again.