heirloom tomato, currant, blackberry salad & cocktail

When Sophia Roe shared her tomato and currant salad the other day, it reminded me how much I love the combination of both on a plate. It is pure magic in looks and taste. It is currently the season for BOTH in NYC so you need to get to your local farmers market and grab ’em! I used a variety of tomatoes here, one large Cherokee heirloom and a pint of cherry tomatoes. Blackberries made this extra special and yes, they are also in season. Please use your best quality olive oil for this beauty! All it really needs is a couple pinches of flaky salt but I did add some ground galangal for floral heat. If you spot any fresh, grate a tiny bit! It’s a beautiful ginger-looking ingredient that I even slip into fruit pies when no one is looking.

I dragged my butt out of the house in this heat for some market therapy, and I recommend you do the same. Look at my tiny haul! Currants are tiny and mighty and I am obsessed with them. A little sweet with a citrusy tart bite.

Most of it went into this salad. And the juices that were created from the salad? Yeahhhh…I turned ’em into a cocktail. Recipe for both below!

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heirloom tomato, currant, blackberry salad

a fruit-forward summer salad
Course Appetizer, Salad
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1 large heirloom tomato cut into pieces
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved or quartered
  • 1/2 pint blackberries halved
  • currants, as much as you'd like! stem on or off
  • generous amount of good quality olive oil
  • 2 tsp ground galangal optional
  • flaky sea salt to taste
  • juice from 1/2 sm lemon

Instructions
 

  • Add all ingredients together, gently mix. Allow it to sit for 30-60 minutes before serving, so that the flavor develops! The juices from this salad is perfection. Serve with bread, or use the juices for a cocktail like I did!
Keyword Currants, In Season, Quick, Seasonal, Simple, Summer, Tomatoes

Because I didn’t have any bread to sop up the juices, and the juices were out of this world, I decided to reserve it for a cocktail. I’m going to ask my Instagram audience to help me name this cocktail, but for now, here’s the recipe. It has 3 ounces “leftover salad” juice, 2 ounces vodka, and about 5 ounces of sparkling grapefruit mixer. Ginger ale might do well, too. I used what I had, and it worked!

smashed vegetable pie with cheddar crust and cucumber salad

smashed vegetable pie with cheddar crust and cucumber salad

I crave savory pies more than fruit-filled. There, I said it. And since it’s winter and my landlord doesn’t like to warm up the house the legal way, I find many excuses to turn on our oven. Our salads have even been the roasted sort topped with fresh cucumber – an Ottolenghi recipe that somehow manifested into a pie in my kitchen, using whatever I have.

You’ll want to choose tender-when-cooked vegetables for this one. Here we have eggplant, zucchini, red bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes. While these aren’t in season right now in NY, roasting them this way in colder months brings out better flavor. I order from a farm-to-home delivery service to ensure my veggies are on point, but if you prefer waiting til Summer arrives, save this delicious idea for later!

smashed vegetable pie with cheddar crust and cucumber salad

Course Main Course, Side Dish
Servings 1 pie

Ingredients
  

for the cheddar pie crust

  • 1 1/4 cup AP flour
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 8 tbsp butter chilled and cubed
  • 4 ounces grated cheddar
  • 1/4 cup iced water

for the roasted veggies

  • 2 med eggplant diced
  • 1 lb cherry or grape tomatoes halved if big
  • 2 red bell peppers diced
  • 1 large zucchini diced
  • 6 sprigs of thyme
  • generous amount of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

for the cucumber salad

  • 2 Kirby cucumbers diced
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 3 tbsp freshly chopped dill
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

for the pie crust

  • In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt. Toss the chilled pieces of butter into the flour til well coated. With your fingers, begin to break the butter into smaller pieces til they become pea-sized. Toss the grated cheese into the flour, then incorporate the ice water. Fold the dough into itself a few times til a ball forms. Flatten it into a disc and wrap with plastic wrap. Leave it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days.

for the vegetables and pie assembly

  • Preheat oven to 425.
  • Place all diced vegetables onto a large sheet pan layered with parchment paper. Add a generous amount of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss til combined. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, stirring once mid-way.
  • Discard the thyme. Gently smash about half of the vegetables with a fork, leaving some of the cherry tomatoes whole. Allow it to cool down before filling your pie crust.
  • When ready, roll out the dough and place it over a deep pie dish. Fill it with the roasted vegetables. Fold in the edges and crimp the way you prefer. Brush with a little egg wash and bake for 40-45 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make the cucumber salad and spoon it over the pie once it has cooled down (or serve on the side while the pie is warm.) Enjoy!
Keyword Cheddar crust, Locally Sourced, Pie, Seasonal, Vegetables

Citrus-Stewed Beans

No one would believe mom is Russian if they’ve tasted her pernil with a side of rice and beans. Seriously. And while I don’t eat pernil these days, I’m perfectly fine with having a bowl of these beans all on their own, or with rice! Or bread.

Mom told me she learned to stew them from her best friend’s mother as a teen. Tomato broth, with potatoes and olives, smoked, salty meat, and tons of fresh cilantro is where her recipe begins, but does not have to end. Sometimes you’ll see sliced carrots in there, too. Or maybe even peppers. There’s a nod to Autumn in this recipe by using the honey nut squash for sweetness. It’s hearty and the recipe doesn’t require that it needs to be. I love that most about it. As long as you have a can of beans, organic Sazon, and tomato puree, you can totally improvise based on what you have around your kitchen. No fuss, EVER. Do you always store sofrito in your fridge? Use some of that, too.

My approach to mom’s beans is always based on the season and what’s in season. The addition of orange zest is not something mom would use, but I happen to be obsessed with cooking with oranges. When flavors of citrus, smokiness, and spiciness meet–it surprises you in an eyebrows-up kind of way. While smoked or cured meat is always involved in her recipe, I’ve added smoked tofu instead.

Now, let’s get cooking! 

Citrus-Stewed Beans

A flexible, hearty recipe
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Puerto Rican
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

  • olive oil to coat pan
  • 1/2 cup smoked meat or tofu
  • 2-3 long strips of orange zest
  • 2 tsp organic Sazon
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme or oregano or 1/2 tsp dried
  • 1/3 cup Spanish onion diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 jalapeño diced (optional)
  • 1 tbsp capers or handful of Spanish olives
  • 1 1/2 cup honeynut squash or other veggies diced
  • 15 oz can of cannellini beans or other variety
  • 8 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 1/4 cup water or stock or more
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Cilantro to taste

Instructions
 

  • In a medium pot under low-medium heat, add your smoked meat, orange zest, garlic, onion, jalapeno, capers, sazon, and herbs. Saute for a few minutes, til onions are translucent.
  • Add beans, tossing til everything is combined.
  • Stir in the tomato sauce and water. Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes. 
  • Then add your honeynut squash and any more liquid if necessary. Simmer til tender, about 15-20 minutes. Discard orange zest and woody herbs.
  • Serve with rice or bread.
Keyword Beans, Comfort Food, Quick, Stew

Spring Greens Kibbeh

Spring Greens Kibbeh

Guess what? I have never had an all-veggie-and-herb kibbeh before. Nor a very flat one. It is the hefty oval-shaped classic stuffed with meat that I’m used to; with it’s outer, crispy shell made of bulgur wheat and even more (but very delicious) meat. In Lori’s kitchen, all that’s needed is a fresh squeeze of lemon over them and each bite is heaven. But it’s spring and I want to do the following: see green, eat green, maybe not spend too much time in the kitchen if there’s a shortcut I can live with. I also really want to eat less meat.

So bring on this quicker version of kibbeh packed with fresh herbs, chickpeas, spring peas, and beautiful spices. Kibbeh-meets-falafel, almost! Use whatever greens you fancy.

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While you can use fresh English peas that are already pre-packaged for you, I’ve come across spring’s sugar snap peas plump enough to shell and use for this recipe. No steaming necessary! They are currently in season. They are sweet all over and you can make a simple salad out of their tender shellings.

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Add some fresh herbs and toss them in lemon juice and good quality olive oil, and season with salt, pepper, cumin, and sumac. And yes, it goes perfectly with kibbeh!

Spring Greens Kibbeh – makes 12-14 thin patties

– 1/2 cup fine bulgur, rinsed and drained completely in a fine mesh strainer
– 3 spring onions, sliced thin
– 3 garlic cloves, minced or 3 ramps/garlic scapes, chopped, if you have
– 1 cup variety of herbs, tightly packed, chopped (parsley, cilantro, dill)
– 2/3 cup cooked chickpeas, gently smashed
– 1/3 cup + 1 tbs fresh spring peas (frozen is ok)
– 1/2 cup flour
– 1 heaping tsp allspice or baharat
– 1 heaping tsp Aleppo pepper
– 1 tsp fine sea salt
– 1 tsp cumin
– 1/4 tsp coriander
– vegetable oil, for frying

In a big bowl, add all ingredients together, tossing so that everything looks fully incorporated. Then knead til big, slightly sticky clumps form.

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Cover and leave in the fridge for about 15 minutes. When ready, knead a palmful of the mixture into a ball and press it down to create a flat disc. Do this til the mixture is gone. No worries if some of the peas run loose. You can always press them gently down onto a patty after you form them.

Heat a cast iron skillet and drizzle vegetable oil onto it. Not too much! We’re just searing each patty on both sides til they’re golden, about 1 1/2-2 minutes a side. For each batch, drizzle more oil onto the pan. Place them on a plate lined with paper towels, sprinkle with salt while they’re still hot. When ready, plate them however you wish, though stacking them is fun.

Serve with lemon wedges and/or pomegranate molasses. And that shelling salad!

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If you’re serving more than 3 or 4 people, you can easily double the recipe. This is a great appetizer, lunch, or snack, or side dish.

Last night I served it with this beauty of a red snapper with even more beautiful cauliflower and everyone was so silent at the table, enjoying every moment of molasses dripping onto this and onto that.

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If interested in making this super easy one-pan meal, just season the fish with za’atar, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Toss the cauliflower in olive oil, salt, pepper. Roast for about 40 minutes. Heat up the kibbeh for about 6 minutes in the oven if it cooled down. The crunch of these patties completed the meal! Between the 3 of us, there were only a few left. And I enjoyed those few cold the next day.

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Miss-You-Spring Galette

Miss-You-Spring Galette

Are you over citrus season yet?

Not I.

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But I wanted my next recipe to lean into spring as if it were only 10 days away. (It is. It doesn’t feel like it, but I promise you, it is. My latest trip to the farmers market told me so!)

Some will say I jumped headfirst into our neighboring season with all these glorious yellows, oranges, and greens, but then that buttery, flaky, pie dough keeps things real cozy, just in time for that moment you realize it’s 23 degrees outside and not as sunny as what’s comin’ out the oven.

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I didn’t know what to name this! It’s basically one of my favorite salads nestled into pie dough. Roasted beets and oranges, topped with lots of spicy greens, and feta.

Cara Cara and Golden Beet Salad Galette AKA Miss-You-Spring Galette AKA Fav Salad Galette?

-2 small golden beets, peeled and sliced crosswise
-1/2 tbs blood orange olive oil (or regular olive oil)
-salt and pepper, to taste
-1 Cara Cara, peeled and sliced
-9 inch pie dough (homemade or store-bought)
-milk or eggwash
-pinches of spice blend (or cracked pepper, flaky salt)
-1/2 cup feta, or more!
-1 1/2 cup arugula or microgreens, dressed however you like, I used a citrus balsamic

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1. In it’s own bowl, toss sliced golden beets in olive oil, salt and pepper.

2. Roll out your dough on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper and layer it’s center with beets and oranges. You’ll want enough room to fold in the edges. You can even add some crumbled feta at this point, reserving the rest for when it’s out of the oven.

3. Brush any exposed oranges with olive oil.

4. Brush milk or eggwash on the folded edges and sprinkle some seasoning. I added Aleppo pepper, salt, roasted garlic, parsley flakes.

5. Bake at 375 degrees for about 35-40 minutes. Let it cool down a little before piling on your greens and cheese.

I repeat: 10 more days!

Also, just for photographing purposes, I used way less greens and cheese so that you can see the oranges and beets. But please, pile everything on (and some), should you want to. I’ve even placed extra greens and cheese in bowls in case others wanted more. Maybe offer olives, too!

Chickpeas + Your Market Haul

Chickpeas + Your Market Haul

Let’s be real. Your chickpeas are grateful when spring and summer at the farmers market debuts their color, crunch, earthiness, herbiness, bitterness, spiciness, and sweetness. My new thrift shop platters are pretty grateful, too. Nevermind how work-friendly chickpea salads are, they are FUN, filling, and way too easy to put together.

Sometimes I have a neglected radish in the crisp drawer, or a wedge of red cabbage left (you’ll be amazed by how long and fresh they last!) They make wonderful additions to any salad that contains legumes and/or avocado. I’m a sucker for balancing out textures. Creamy wants crunch. My sweet buds want earthy and spicy. I always want cheese. Perhaps I want it all.

Here’s a recipe that comes with many variations. Everything depends on your market haul. One week string beans were everywhere and so, a green and yellow bean salad with chickpeas and yellow tomatoes had to happen. (Beware: the beautiful purple variety turns green when cooked). Then squash makes an appearance. Soon, every tomato you can imagine. Sometimes you’ll want to use a different lugume. Sometimes, depending on the size of your haul, you won’t need them.

But when I’m going to work, I need to know I’m taking something hearty with me. Something that doesn’t make me want to demolish Levain Bakery’s chocolate brioche. Which I have done and just did thank you very much. It is literally the size of a hero.

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This addictive chickpea and avocado salad was created by my haul from Down to Earth Markets in Jamaica, Queens the very first day they made an appearance. I will make variations of this forever. Also, don’t be lazy. Peel your chickpeas if you’re not in a rush!

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-29 oz canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed (peel em)
-2 shallots, minced
-1 large hass avacado, diced
-2 medium tomatoes, diced or variety of cherry
-3 long radishes, sliced and quartered
-1/2 cup purple cabbage, chopped
-1/2 cup fresh herbs (parsley, basil, dill, whatever you like)
-lemon zest (tiny bit)

Toss with a quick dressing of juice from 1/2 a large lemon, good olive oil, oregano, salt n pepper. Your favorite dressing will do, too.

Add some crumbled feta. I didn’t have any the first time around. Small pastas like orzo make a fine addition, too. Grate a carrot. Chop olives. Sweet and hot peppers. Cucumber! CORN (in season right now!) We’re trying to eat healthy and seasonally here. Can’t you tell?

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