Foods

100% Raw Vegan

How to Get Started on a Raw Vegan Diet

Raw Vegan Diet

Raw foods made easy on how to simplify and enjoy a raw diet amazing reasons to keep coconut oil in your kitchen benefits of garlic that will surprise you. Homemade probiotics, save money by fermenting vegetables quick and easy raw vegan foods buckwheat granola/ gluten-free cereal/ simple ingredients did the discuss.

raw vegan foods recipe

Raw Foods Made Easy: How to Simplify and Enjoy a Raw Diet

For many people considering converting to a raw foods diet the biggest deterrent is how time-consuming food preparation can be. Because you are not simply emptying a box of pasta into a pot or popping something into the microwave, raw food requires a more hands-on approach; what’s more every single thing you make, you are making from scratch!

The time and effort can certainly be daunting, but if you are serious about eating raw, here are a few basic workarounds that you can implement, saving time and making the process that much easier.

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Stock Up on Staples

A raw food diet requires not only a variety of ingredients but great big quantities of them. When first trying out raw recipes, you may find yourself at the health food store every other day, trying to dig out the raw cacao nibs or kelp.

This gets old really quickly. The best way to get a good start and save time is to keep yourself organized and keep the basics amply stocked. While you will, of course, have to restock fruits and veggies weekly, feel free to buy these in bulk:

  • Nuts- ultimately the kind of nut is your preference, but cashews, almonds, and walnuts are probably most useful.
  • Dates- great raw sweetener for those dessert recipes!
  • Nutritional Yeast- for that “cheesy” flavor and a great vitamin booster
  • Dried seaweed- again, the preference is yours, but some options would be dulse, nori, and kelp
  • Cold-Pressed oils-a a great way to get a healthy fat boost!
  • Dried Herbs-fresh ones are great in the summer, but keeping yourself stocked with a good variety of dried spices will make you happy all year round.

Stop Trying to Make It Pretty

Slicing, dicing and chopping your veggies for the company is all well and good, but when you are cooking for you and your family, there is no reason to spend too much time on presentation.

Throwing veggies in a food processor (or blender) will do the trick just as well; your final product will taste just as good and provide just as much nutrition!

Plan Ahead

This can be a difficult tenet to stick to, but try it and you won’t be sorry. Weeknight work is always a huge bummer and most of us will do everything to avoid it, including sliding back into “easier” cooked foods.

Avoid the temptation and be ready with some delicious raw snacks in the fridge. Take an hour or two of your Sunday and prepare some sauces, butter, and spreads, you will not regret it.

Outfit Your Kitchen

You do not need to shell out the big bucks to make your kitchen raw food ready, but you do need to think strategically and invest in some plan meals ahead of quality kitchen tools. Cutting out everything fancy, here are three things that will see daily use in raw food cooking.

  • Food Processor- Since this is such a common kitchen essential, the price options vary drastically and everyone can find something that fits their price range.
  • Knife Set-Prices vary here too, but quality matters where knives are concerned, so consider spending a bit more for a set that will last longer and serve you better.
  • Spiral Slicer- Seems silly, but this is a handy little gadget that will help you create those zucchini noodles you’ve heard so much about! No need to worry about cost here, a quality slicer will run you no more than $30.
  • For starters on the raw food diet, you may follow our beginner’s articles diet here. Click on prevent diabetes food.
  • There you have it, some basic tips and tricks to give you your time back and keep you on track with raw eating!
  • Once you put these in action, you will find there is very little to complain about while eating beautiful, raw foods.

Top 11 Amazing Reasons to Keep Coconut Oil in Your Kitchen

As a saturated fat, we know some are wary about using coconut oil in their daily diets. But in fact, coconut oil has a different type of saturated fat (called medium-chain triglycerides) that can give you amazing health benefits! Here are our 11 reasons to keep coconut oil in your kitchen for a healthier body and a healthier kitchen!

coconut oil

1) Improves Digestion:

The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil do wonders for your digestive system. Taking a spoonful first thing in the morning can help improve your digestive tract’s function for constipation relief, as it acts as a natural laxative.

2) Staves Off Infections:

Individuals who have applied coconut oil to fungus infections, such as athlete’s foot, have found great results. Again, the natural compounds of the oil help attack the fungus to keep it at bay, getting rid of the problem. When digested, it can also fight off harmful pathogens.

3) Improves Cholesterol Levels:

With its high level of lauric acids, coconut oil helps boost HDL levels for better cholesterol-free protein. At the same time, these acids help convert bad cholesterol into a subtype that causes no harm, greatly improving all cholesterol levels in the body.

4) Better Blood Pressure:

Paired with better cholesterol levels, people who use coconut oil daily have also seen improved blood pressure levels. Overall, coconut oil helps reduce the risk of heart disease.

5) Healthier Skin:

As a lotion, the coconut oil helps to lock-in moisture while healing your dry, damaged skin, making it a great alternative to man-made, chemically-based lotions. Some have also seen the coconut oil help fade age or sunspots.

6) Healthier Hair:

As a conditioner, coconut oil’s uses in hair ranges from reducing split ends, healing dry scalps, reducing dandruff, coconut hair mask getting rid of frizzy hair appearances, and even removing or preventing lice.

The oil helps improve the look of your hair as well, keeping it shiny and healthy. In all cases, a little goes a long way, so start with small amounts before adding to your head!

7) Boosts Your Energy Levels:

Many people have found that coconut oil can help with their mental clarity and energy levels, so add a teaspoon to your morning best smoothie maker consumer reports!

8) Helps Reduce The Risk of Alzheimer’s:

Introducing two teaspoons of coconut oil in one’s diet can help improve cognitive function. The ketones in the oil can help improve memory and therefore potentially help reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s on a person’s brain.

9) Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties:

The lauric and capric acids in coconut oil can help soothe inflammation in the body, helping to take away the pain from ailments like arthritis. Used as a rub, it can also soothe rashes and itches and keep things from swelling.

10) Help With Managing Weight Loss:

For those who want to maintain a better weight, coconut oil can be helpful too. For more information see details physical fitness exercises. It can reduce one’s appetite and improve your body’s fat-burning abilities, helping you shed off pounds from your waistline without added exercise.

11) Improves Your Kitchen Wood Counters (And Tables, And Chairs…):

Coconut oil is a well-known alternative to store-bought (toxic) wood polish. The oil helps keep the wood looking healthy and shiny for longer, with a natural look. In addition, you can use coconut oil to condition your wood cutting boards, keeping them cleaner and in better shape. All the more a reason to keep coconut oil in your kitchen!

So how can you start using coconut oil in your raw kitchen? You can add it into drinks and “baking” recipes as a sort of dairy substitute for a creamy effect. For example, our raw cheesecake recipe uses coconut oil for a rich, creamy texture.

Looking for more informative articles like these? You may also check our 7 secrets on how to maintain and regenerate beautiful skin. Coconut oil is also great for homemade beauty products, such as soap bars and lotions, that can help your skin stay healthy. There is a multitude of ways to start incorporating coconut oil into your life today!

Top 7 Benefits of Garlic That Will Surprise You

Garlic is good for you. And not just to chase Vampires away! Many people don’t know that garlic is actually one of the healthiest foods available.

We may be aware of the many vitamins found in a clove despite the fact that it doesn’t require a lot of calories, but its health benefits go way beyond its nutritional value. If you’re looking to emphasize healthy eating in 2014, here are 7 benefits of garlic that will have you run to the store.

benefits of garlic

1) Fighting Disease

Before garlic became a popular food and seasoning option, it was primarily medicine. Ancient cultures around the globe from the Egyptians, Romans, and Greek to the Chinese and Babylonians all used garlic to treat ailments, and you can still take advantage of that today.

A clove is packed with antioxidants, and garlic tea has proven to work well against the colds and coughs so common during this cold season. It’s not often that a delicious seasoning agent also has healing powers, but garlic pulls off the feat.

2) Staying Young Staying Young

Who doesn’t want beautiful hair and clear skin regardless of age? With garlic, you can get both. Garlic is in the onion family, and like its relatives contains a sulfur compound called “allicin” that has been found to effectively treat hair loss.

Furthermore, clove can also be used as an effective acne treatment. Rubbing garlic on your skin or scalp may seem unusual at first, but its effectiveness cannot be denied.

3) Weight Loss & Weight Control

How are you doing with your new year’s resolutions? If you’re like most people, chances are your resolve is beginning to break. Don’t worry, it happens to everyone. But if you’re still looking to get those extra pounds off your body, might we suggest a garlic-heavy diet?

Studies have shown that eating garlic regularly reduces both your weight and fat stores, making it not only effective for the present but also more difficult to gain the weight back in the future.

4) Staying Healthy

What are you worried about in your life? Do you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or a family history of Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia? As it turns out, garlic helps prevent all of these undoubtedly scary worries.

In fact, it can lower your cholesterol by up to 15 percent, while helping your body fight oxidation damage – damage to your cells that accelerates aging and can lead to dementia.

Meanwhile, studies have found that people with high blood pressure exposed to a garlic diet saw their blood pressure normalize consistently.

5) De-Icing Powers

It’s cold out in most parts of the country right now, and thousands of people are trying to keep their sidewalks and driveways clear of snow and ice.

Have you tried garlic salt? A town in Iowa did, with great success. As it turns out, garlic acts as a de-icing agent, effectively melting the snow wherever it’s applied.

6) A Natural Pesticide

Of course, the many benefits of garlic don’t stop once it gets warmer outside. If you’re a fan of growing your own vegetables, garlic can also be a great asset for your gardening hobby.

As it turns out, it’s the key ingredient for a non-toxic pesticide that keeps bugs away without damaging the plant or anyone eating it. The key to remember: humans like it, bugs don’t.

7) Keeping Mosquitos Away

Speaking of bugs: garlic also keeps mosquitos away! Rubbing garlic on your exposed skin has been shown to be effective, but even keeping some cloves of garlic close by helps prevent you from being stung on an otherwise beautiful summer evening. Blood-sucking creatures don’t like garlic! Who knew? And you thought we weren’t going to mention vampires…

You see garlic is really beneficial to us humans, and we can use them in so many ways. I would like to share with you another good thing to prevent cold and cough this season aside from garlic, it’s lemon you may check this one. So make sure you have plenty of garlic in your household, as this will help eliminate bugs as well.

Homemade Probiotics, Save Money By Fermenting Vegetables Quick & Easy

Eating fermented vegetables can be a life-changing experience as you notice your moods, health, and digestion improve. I remember in the past I suffered from severe hay fever and skin allergies.

I was also told that I had candida which is the ‘not so good’ bacteria overpowering the good ones in the gut. This was the time I knew I had to make some radical changes and take responsibility for my health and well-being.

fermenting vegetables

Benefits of Eating Fermented Foods

Fermented foods like Kombucha, cultured vegetables, kefir, and nut seed cheeses are extremely delicious and also rich in healthy bacteria that are necessary for good health. The benefits of eating fermented foods are endless but here are some important reasons to get you started.

  • Our gut has been named our second brain, when we eat fermented foods we can increase the good bacteria in our gut and start to trust our gut instincts more.
  • Our gut manufactures about 95% of our body’s serotonin which is known as the happiness hormone. If our gut lacks good bacteria, we start experiencing depression and anxiety.
  • Fermented foods are also rich in enzymes and can increase the vitamin content of the vegetable. For example, Microbial cultures create B vitamins like folic acid, niacin, thiamine, etc.

The best part about culturing your own vegetables is that it is inexpensive and so easy to do. All you need is a jar, a vegetable (i.e. cabbage), salt, and clean water (spring, mineral, filtered, or distilled water).

Always use organic different vegetable soups when fermenting and unchlorinated water.

Fermented Butternut Squash Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 butternut squash (shredded)
  • 1 tablespoon of sea salt
  • 1/2 liter water (filtered, bottled water, distilled, etc.) NO tap water

Instructions:

  • Use a mandolin or knife to cut the pumpkin into thin long slices. Reserve two larger pieces to seal at the end.
  • Soak the pumpkin slices along with the salt and water in a bowl for 10 mins. Massage the pumpkin with the saltwater for about 5 mins to start the fermentation process. This step is optional.
  • Put the pumpkin in a glass jar and keep pressing downward with your fist or a wooden tool so that no air enters between each layer
  • Pour the saltwater in the jar containing the pumpkin until it reaches the brim and covers the vegetables
  • Place the two larger pumpkin pieces on top of the pressed down pumpkin but make sure they are soaked under the saltwater.
  • Seal tightly and place in a dark place between 3 to 7 days. Try the pumpkin after 3 days and continue to let it ferment until it reaches your desired acidity taste.
  • I usually add a plastic bag underneath the jars because as the bacteria are growing in the vegetable, and the vegetables themselves are also producing water. It means that eventually, it will create so much pressure that the water will start to seep out of the lid

To make sauerkraut, use cabbage and follow the same steps as with the fermented pumpkin. Enjoy!

Raw Vegan Buckwheat Granola/ Gluten-Free Cereal/ Simple Ingredients

This is one of my favorite breakfasts and it’s quite easy to prepare once you get the hang of it. I usually make my raw vegan buckwheat granola in my £40 dehydrator which I purchased from Amazon. This is how you can get the fluffy, crunchy, granola-like texture.

However, if you don’t have a dehydrator sitting on your kitchen counter (taking up all of the space in your kitchen), then bake the granola in the oven for 3 ½ -4 hrs at 175°F (80°C) or until it dries.

raw vegan buckwheat granola

I usually have buckwheat granola at weekends when I have more time to soak my buckwheat and seeds, as well as dehydrate them. I tend to make big batches (see ingredients below) so that I can store them in the fridge for later use.

The buckwheat granola will keep fresh and crunchy in the fridge for about 2 weeks so it can be a great snack and breakfast cereal.

Buckwheat is a complete protein. It is filled with antioxidants, prebiotics, and fiber; plus, it is easy to digest and doesn’t cause bloating, gas or indigestion. Just be sure to rinse your buckwheat very well after soaking them to remove the slimy part of it which can be indigestible.

Ingredient:

  • 2½ cups buckwheat groats soaked for 4 hours or more.
  • 3 medium apples chopped
  • ¼ cup goji berries or raisins
  • 2 tbsp. coconut flakes, sunflower, pumpkin seeds (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon of sea salt
  • ¼ cup plant-based milk (nut milk or rice milk – to help blend the wet ingredients)

Instructions:

  • Pulse diced apples in the food processor until they are chunky.
  • Add nut butter, sweetener, and coconut oil. Add plant milk and blend till well mixed.
  • Hand-stir buckwheat, cinnamon, and salt together. This will help to coat them in the cinnamon, distributing the flavor.
  • Pour the contents from the food processor over the dry ingredients and stir until buckwheat is well covered.:5) Add the goji berries, sunflower and pumpkin seeds in the mixture and stir.
  • Spread mixture evenly onto non-stick flex dehydrator sheets or lined parchment paper. The mixture should be no more than 1/2-inch thick, the thinner you spread the mixture the quicker it will dry.
  • Dehydrate at 105 degrees for 10-14 hrs. You can try putting them in the oven but I am not sure how they will turn out.
  • I keep mine well-sealed, this will keep fresh for 2 weeks in the fridge.

Why it’s Not About Being 100% Raw Vegan

Often times, people that are part of the 100% raw vegan lifestyle seem to think that anyone who isn’t following that lifestyle is not living “right”. We often get criticized because we occasionally have eggs or goats’ milk cheese.

100% Raw Vegan

I want to emphasize that what is far more important than religiously following a 100% raw vegan diet is that you eat well, and eat healthfully – primarily fruits and vegetables and organic whenever possible.

Some people may get well adjusted to the raw food diet or vegan diet and may find it easy as pie to include food items that are 100 % healthy in their daily lifestyle.

These people are aware of the varied health benefits that are provided by raw and vegan food. However, there is also a section of the population that continues to struggle in a quest to eat healthily and live a fit lifestyle.

These are eggs 300×221 Why it’s Not About Being 100% Raw Vegan 100% of the Time the people who are torn between their current lifestyle choices and the type of lifestyle that they should be ideally adopting.

Raw Vegan on The Time

Some people believe that going vegan is the best way to live your life. However, most people may think otherwise. Although consumption of meat should be avoided, it is alright to eat eggs occasionally.

Eggs are a great source of protein and regular consumption of eggs is healthy for your body and so we occasionally eat eggs. Also, you must not hesitate to drink milk and consume milk products unless you suffer from a condition that forbids you from the consumption of such products.

The simple reason for this is the fact that in most cases, humans are not naturally born vegans or raw food eaters. They have been consuming meat and other such products for the most part of their lives.

Therefore, while it is important that you restrict yourself from consuming meat products, it is completely alright to consume eggs along with milk and milk products occasionally. It does not matter whether you are a perfectionist or still struggling to adopt the raw vegan diet, some important things that you should always abstain from are harmful food products like those rich in gluten and sugars.

100% Raw Vegan

Processed foods are the greatest examples of foodstuffs that are loaded with sugars and gluten. Additionally, regular consumption of alcohol, smoking, and coffee can organic 300×207 Why it’s Not About Being 100% Raw Vegan 100% of the Time do you more harm than good and must, therefore, be avoided as much as possible.

Consumption of drugs can not only harm your physical health but can also affect your mental balance in the long run. You do not need to be a raw vegan to follow these principles.

The simple logic of choosing organic fruits and vegetables over the ones that have been sprayed heavily with chemicals such as pesticides and insecticides can go a long way in ensuring that your health is maintained.

The raw food and vegan diet are extremely helpful for the body. You may not realize it and you may also not take it up in a serious manner. Going vegan only for a couple of weeks does not improve your health.

Going vegan or eating raw food is not a diet choice, it is a lifestyle choice and it should be altered in a way that you include it as part of your daily activities, like brushing teeth or sleeping. Therefore, it is important to eat healthily rather than to just go vegan or eat raw food for the trending tag.

Get Started on a Raw Food Diet

Bringing about a change in your existing lifestyle is not a very easy task. This is true with your diet as well. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut especially if you don’t have the important tools to get started on a raw food diet.

raw food diet

You get so absorbed and used to your present way of living that you want to do little to make any drastic changes. The most important aspect of your everyday life is food. You may not realize it but you eat a great deal of junk on a daily basis without any guilt.

Ceramic knife 300×225 Important Tools to Get Started on a raw food diet. However, you must make it a point to take some time out from your busy schedule to understand your body and its needs.

Your body is screaming for help. It needs nourishment and good food to keep the systems within your body running smoothly. If your nose scrunches up automatically at the sound of raw food, the following 3 tools will enable that you stick to the raw food diet without giving up.

Eventually, your body will show the glorious results and your mind will adjust with the food. So, what are the three most important tools to get started on a raw food diet?

1.) Knives:

You may find it trivial but having a good set of knives is considered as one of the important tools to get started on a raw food diet. It is essential that you choose ceramic knives over metal ones.

The difference between the two is not very drastic but ceramic knives are far too sharp compared to the metal ones.

It always pays well to invest in a good, expensive and branded set of ceramic knives. You can use any knife for that matter; the material does not really make a very significant difference.

2.) Blender:

If you want to survive for long on raw food, it is always advisable that you invest in a good quality blender. Blenders can be used to make a wide variety of raw food delicacies. (Check this content: blender food processor combo)

For people who are not very big fans of raw foods, this blender is a perfect tool for you. If you thought that smoothies, ice creams, milkshakes, sauces, and dressings taste good only when they have processed ingredients in them, try making the smoothies and juices with your raw foods.

You will be surprised to know that these raw foods taste amazing too. However, some people may think that buying cheap blenders is better than buying expensive ones.

However, think about it; would you invest a good amount at the start for an expensive blender or would you rather keep replacing parts of a cheap blender making it cost more than the branded one? Choose wisely.

3.) Recipe books:

One of the important tools to get started on a raw food diet is getting gourmet recipe books and looking up recipes online for your raw foods. You can make raw pizzas, pasta, cookies, cakes, and everything else that you crave with raw food.

I am happy to share many of the recipes we eat as a family every day in our book The Best Raw Food Recipes. You will find many delicious and nutritious treats in this book.

These tools are the bedrock of a raw food diet. As with anything, if you don’t have the proper tools, you will have a much more difficult time being successful!

How To Get On A Healthy (Raw Food) Diet Even If Your Partner Is Totally Against It

It may not always seem like it but it is possible to get on a healthy (Raw Food) diet even if your partner is totally against it. Women are more prone to adapt to a healthy diet as compared to men.

healthy raw food diet

They are often concerned about the family’s well being and living a more healthy life. However; sometimes this becomes difficult especially if your partner is against your choice and prefers his traditional meals.

How To Get On A Healthy (Raw Food) Diet Even If Your Partner Is Totally Against the best way to get on a healthy (Raw Food) diet even if your partner is totally against it is to not force your partner to eat what you eat and believe it is healthy.

Do not start to fight with your partner over eating healthy since this will only add conflicts within the family and create chaos. Your partner is entitled to their own views and if they do not want to adapt to a raw food diet it’s best not to act too pushy.

If you believe the diet you’re following is a good and healthy option, and you want to get on a healthy (Raw Food) diet even if your partner is totally against it then stick to your choice and practice it, even if you have to do it on your own.

You need to attack your partner by his taste buds. Don’t talk too much about raw food as it doesn’t sound very appealing. The best thing you could do is create a really tasty raw food meal for your partner without telling them what it is.

Healthy Raw Food Diet

Since raw food is usually judged by its name; don’t talk about what the dish is until your partner eats it and likes the taste. Include small portions of raw food in your daily diet without talking too much. If your partner likes it increase the quantities gradually. Let your partner take time to get adjusted to the raw food diet and like it with an open mind.

The chances of your partner liking raw food without knowing what it is, are higher as compared to him knowing what he is eating. It will be easier to get on a healthy (raw food) diet this way. Make delicious raw food meals and present them to your family. Try making raw food pasta, pizzas and anything which your family might like.

The most important part of how to get on a healthy (Raw Food) diet even if your partner is totally against it is to give them time. Let them take their time to adjust to the change you have made in your lifestyle. Every raw food beginner needs time. Give yourself time to understand the raw food diet and how much you like it. Practice it for a while and try not to convince people to adapt to the diet just because you have chosen it.

You need to impress upon the family that raw food does not necessarily mean bland and bad tasting food. Create tasty meals to impress the family and slowly explain why the meal was healthy and why its a good choice instead of traditional food patterns.

Understand your family needs time to get used to the entire concept of raw food. So give it time and you will find your answer on How to get on a healthy (Raw Food) diet even if your partner is totally against it.

Easy Chicken Recipes For Dinner With Few Ingredients

Easy Chicken Recipes For Dinner

Vegetarian Chili

Foods have a solution for a quick dinner that’s as convenient and easy to make chicken recipes for dinner with few ingredients as it is irresistibly satisfying.

Now you can have delicious and nutritious homemade vegetable soup without all the work! All you do is add water and simmer! Salad recipes vegetarian Chili is a variety of kidney pinto beans and vegetables in a spicy tomato base.

vegetarian chili

Ingredients:

  • Pre-cooked red beans, textured vegetable protein (soy flour, caramel color), partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (contains one or more of the following: canola oil, soy oil), tomato powder, chili powder, sugar, onions, salt, garlic powder.
  • Directions: For 2 servings, mix 1 cup of chili mix and 2 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Stir continuously. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Sherried Beef Muffins

sherried beef muffins

This recipe is a relative of those casseroles- they were the rage during the fifties and sixties parties’. Well, the recipe name has a Spanish ring to it and we use lots of in this recipe. Hence I allude to this recipe to be in origin. Serve with crisp vegetables and glasses of wine. Enjoy the food and conversation that arises.

Cook Time

Prep time: 30 min Cook time: 45 min Ready in 1 hour 15 min Yields: Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T. onion, minced ( i always prefer shallots but use what you like
  • ½ can condense cream of mushroom soup
  • ½ cup dry California sherry
  • 1 cup cooked white rice

Instructions

  • Mix ingredients together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Grease large muffin tins and fill with mixture.
  • Bake in a moderate oven for 45 minutes or till cooked in the center when a tester is poked through it.

Remove from tins by turning upside down on the platter. Serve with the following sauce:

  • 2 T. butter
  • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • salt, pepper, cayenne
  • ½ cup dry California sherry
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 T. flour
  • 1 T. sauce

Melt butter and stir in flour (making a roux). Add cream of mushroom soup and milk; cook, stirring until mixture thickens. Add remaining ingredients. Serve piping hot.

Notes:

You may use this sauce with chicken, meat or seafood and serve over a bed of white, fluffy rice. You can use miniature muffin tins instead of the large ones to make the meat “muffins” go farther, just adjust the cooking time.

Experiment with other baking dishes, like using just one decorated tin and then turning it upside down at the table in front of the other guests. Serve the sauce on the side.

Chicken Tacos

chicken tacos

Here’s a delicious lunch or dinner recipe that takes just minutes to prepare. As you look through the ingredients, you may think some are unique, but I am sure this recipe will make the best-tasting chicken tacos you’ve ever had! Chicken Tacos are good for you and your whole family will love them! Make some up tonight!

Ingredients

  • 1 package chicken gravy, (makes 1 cup)
  • ½ cup of Salsa
  • 1 cup Chicken TVP, Servings Per container: approx. 24
  • 1 cup of water
  • 9-10 Tortillas
  • Cheese (Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Cheddar)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A little about Chicken TVP

A little about Chicken TVP

A great way to save space in your freezer is with Chicken TVP. Just reconstitute with water and it’s ready to use. Try Chicken TVP in soups, chicken salad, chicken enchiladas, casseroles, and any other recipe with chicken. Makes 24 ¼-cup servings.

Ingredients:

  • Textured soy flour, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, salt, autolyzed yeast extract, hydrolyzed corn gluten protein, natural flavoring, thiamin hydrochloride, disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate.
  • Directions: Reconstitute using 2 parts water to one part dry Chicken TVP. In saucepan combine water and chicken TVP, bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for at least 2 minutes. Remove from heat and use as you would chopped chicken meat. For more Information Please visit my link meat mixer machine for sale
  • Net Weight: 1.5 pounds (680 g)

Instructions

  • In a bowl, combine Chicken TVP and water. Let sit for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, mix the chicken gravy according to package directions and add the salsa. Salt and pepper to taste. Drain the remaining water from the Chicken TVP and add it to the gravy salsa mixture.
  • Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Spoon 1/3 cup of the mixture into tortillas and sprinkle with cheese, reserving some mixture to pour over the top.
  • Roll up tortillas and place in a buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle with cheese and/or additional. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees or until cheese is bubbly. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, and salsa.
  • Cook Time
  • Prep time: 5 min
  • Cook time: 15 min
  • Ready in: 20 min
  • Yields: Makes 9-10 tacos
  • Nutrition Facts
  • Serving size: 1/2 cup dry (28.35 g)
  • Calories 113
  • Calories from Fat 270
  • % Daily Value *
  • Fat 30 g 46%
  • Saturated fat 3 g 15%
  • Carbohydrates 8 g 3%
  • Sugar 2 g
  • Fiber 4 g 16%
  • Protein 12 g 24%
  • Cholesterol 0 mg
  • Sodium 581 mg 24%

The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 low-calorie chicken dinner, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA

Smoked Salmon Recipes

Smoked Salmon With Lemon-Chive Aioli, Capers, and Shaved Fennel
Serves: 6

smoked salmon recipes

Lemon-Chive Aioli

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¾ cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon chives, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Champagne Vinaigrette

  • 1 teaspoon shallots, chopped
  • ½ cup champagne vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ cups canola oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Salmon, Fennel, and Capers

  • 1 bulb fennel, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 2 tablespoon capers
  • 12 ounces smoked salmon, sliced into 2-ounce portions

For the Lemon-Chive Aioli:

  • Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl.
  • Slowly drizzle oil into egg yolk mixture and stir until incorporated. Stir in chives. Season with salt and pepper.

For the Champagne Vinaigrette:

  • Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl. Slowly drizzle oil into mixture until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.

For the Salmon, Fennel, and Capers:

  • Arrange salmon over 6 chilled plates. Drizzle salmon with Lemon-Chive Aioli.
  • Toss fennel and watercress in a bowl with 3 tablespoons Champagne Vinaigrette. Reserve remaining vinaigrette for Cobb Salad.
  • Divide fennel and watercress salad evenly, placing it in the center of each plate. Scatter capers over salad.

Sautéed Lobster With Cèpes

Lobster Mushroom recipe

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 4 lobsters, each about 1 ½ pound
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, or to taste
  • ½ cup minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
  • 2 cups water or fish stock
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 ½ pounds cèpes, trimmed, rinsed, and patted dry

Instructions

  • In a large pot of boiling salted water add the lobsters and cook them, covered, for 5 minutes. Drain and let cool enough to handle. Separate the tails and claws from the heads. Remove the meat from the tails and claws, cut the tails in two lengthwise, and reserve.
  • Cut the lobster heads in two and remove and reserve any coral. In a large saucepan set over moderate heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter, add the heads, and cook them, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add half of the shallots and the tarragon, and cook, covered, 2 minutes. Add the water or fish stock, crush the lobster into the liquid, and bring back to a boil. Simmer until reduced by half. Drain the mixture into a saucepan, pressing on the solids to remove all flavor, and stir in the coral. Warm over low heat and with an immersion Oster blender mixer combo or electric mixer whip until foamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste and keep warm.
  • Cut the mushrooms into 1/2-inch-thick slices. In a large nonstick skillet set over moderate heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter until hot. Add the remaining shallots, the mushrooms, and salt and pepper to taste and cook them, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until golden. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the remaining butter.
  • In a skillet set over moderate heat melt the remaining butter, add the lobster meat, and cook it for 2 to 3 minutes, or until heated through.

To Serve:

  • Arrange the lobster on four serving plates, surround it with the mushrooms, and spoon the sauce over the lobster.

Basic Oven Fries

These oven-baked French fries are a home cook’s dream—simple, and the kitchen smells great. But the best part is they taste as good as drive-thru fries, without the fat.

There are two keys to the best oven air fryer. The first has to do with the type of potato—russets work well because of their high starch and low water content. The fries get crisp without turning soggy.

The second factor to good oven fries is slicing the potatoes thinly, about the width of a pencil. Be patient as you do this—if they’re too big, they’ll be soft and greasy.

basic oven fries

Oven Fries

(Makes 4–6 Servings)

  • Prepare:
  • 3–4 large russet potatoes, unpeeled (about 2 lbs.)
  • Toss with:
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper*

Any of the seasoning options can be substituted for the black pepper in the recipe. Cut and Preheat oven to 475°. Spray 3 or 4 baking sheets with a nonstick cooking spray.

Slice and Prepare potatoes by first creating a flat surface on potatoes by slicing off a thin piece from one side. To slice planks, turn the potato on its flat side and cut 1/4? thick planks. Stack the planks together and cut into 1/4? sticks.

Stack and cut

Toss potatoes in a large bowl with oil and seasonings. Arrange potatoes in single layers on baking sheets. Bake 15 minutes. Flip with a spatula and continue baking 20–30 minutes until golden. Serve immediately.

Options: Chili Seasoning
Combine:

  • ½ t. sugar
  • ¼ t. chili powder
  • ¼ t. cayenne
  • 1/8 t. paprika

Cheese Seasoning

  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Beef Roast Dinner

beef roast dinner recipe
  • Beef Roast Dinner
  • The Menu:
  • Beef Roast
  • Steamed Carrots
  • Roast Potatoes With Rosemary

Serves: 4 Prep Time: Roast: About 60 minutes Potatoes: 35-40 minutes Carrots: About 8 minutes

If you want to cook a roast, you’ll need to plan on about an hour to prepare your meal. So when you’ve got a little more time, try this. 3-pound rump roast (will serve four generously)

See Also: Veal Roast Recipe Slow Cooker

Ingredients

  • 3-pound rump roast (will serve four generously)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 pounds medium carrots
  • 2 pounds new potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon crushed dried rosemary (3 tablespoons fresh)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the roast in a roasting pan, rub with cut garlic, and push a few garlic slices into the flesh. Place in oven.
  • Wash potatoes and scrub away any dirt. Cut into bite-size chunks. Place in a large baking dish, coat (don’t drench) with olive oil, and toss with rosemary. When the roast has been cooking for about 1/2 hour, put potatoes in the oven. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until nicely browned, stirring the potatoes once. This dish is always a hit, so have plenty for the potato eaters.
  • While potatoes are cooking, wash and peel carrots; dry with a paper towel. Cut across at a slight diagonal into slices about 3/8%u2033 thick. When the roast and potatoes have about 15 minutes to go, bring water to boil in the bottom of a steamer. Place carrots in the steamer basket and steam 8 to 10 minutes at medium-high heat
  • Slice up the roast, apportion the vegetables, and serve.

Filet Mignon Feast

  • The Menu:
  • Filet Mignon
  • Steamed Carrots
  • Roast Potatoes With Rosemary
filet mignon feast

For those who like an occasional steak, there’s nothing simpler to prepare. A filet is a special treat – it costs a little more, but it’s worth it on occasion. If you have a bit more time, you can also try a roast.

See Also: Easy Veal Stew Meat Recipe

Serves: 4

Prep Time: Filet: 6-8 minutes Potatoes: 30 minutes Carrots: 10 minutes
Total Time: 45 – 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 filets
  • ¼ to ½ pound each depending on appetites cut about an inch thick
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon crushed dried rosemary (3 tablespoons fresh)
  • butter
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Wash potatoes and scrub away any dirt. Cut into bite-size chunks. Place in a large baking dish, coat (but don’t drench) with olive oil, toss with rosemary and place in oven. Roast for 30 minutes or until nicely browned, stirring the potatoes once. This dish is always a hit, so have plenty for the potato eaters.
  • While potatoes are roasting, wash and peel carrots; dry with a paper towel. Cut across at a slight diagonal into slices about 3/8 inch thick. After the potatoes have been cooking for about 15 minutes, bring water to boil in the bottom of a steamer, place carrots in the steamer basket, and steam 8 to 10 minutes at medium-high heat.
  • After you start the carrots, melt a little butter in a pan over fairly high heat, and when the pan is good and hot, saute the steak 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. It’s delicious plain, with mustard, or with any leftover brown sauce, you have in the refrigerator, reheated and thinned with wine as needed. Arrange on plates with potatoes and carrots.

Broiled Chicken Dinner

The Menu:
Broiled Chicken With Tomato-Olive Salsa Leafy Greens (Spinach, Collards, or Kale) Boiled Potatoes

broiled chicken dinner

Serves: 4

Prep Time: Chicken breasts: 20 minutes (whole chicken, 30 minutes) Salsa: 10 minutes Potatoes: 20 minutes Vegetables: 3-20 minutes Total Time: 60 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts split in two skin removed (optional); or a large whole chicken
  • 2 pounds fresh spinach collard greens or kale
  • 2 pounds small round firm new potatoes (red or white)
  • 1- teaspoons olive oil
  • 10 pitted olives (choose your favorite kind and buy an olive pitter – a very handy utensil)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Wash tomatoes and herbs, pit olives and set aside. Wash potatoes, scrubbing away any dirt but leaving the skin intact. Set aside.
  • Wash greens well. Trim off stems, chop roughly or break into pieces (spinach is fine as is). Put into a pan with water clinging to the leaves (add a little extra water for collards or kale). Set aside.
  • Preheat the broiler. Wash and dry chicken breasts well, and trim off excess fat. Place on an oiled piece of aluminum foil in a broiling pan or on a broiling rack.
  • Brush lightly with olive oil and broil for approximately 20 minutes, until cooked through but not dry, turning once. To broil a whole chicken: Ask your butcher to butterfly it so that it is split up the back and lies flat. Heat the broiler.
  • Lay the chicken in a broiling pan or on a rack, skin side up, and broil 15 minutes. Turn over and broil another 15 minutes. Remove to a platter and cut up.
  • After you start the chicken, place whole potatoes in a saucepan with salted water to cover. Bring to a boil, covered. Reduce heat.

More Instructions

  • Gently boil for about 20 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a knife (watch that they don’t get mushy). Drain well and toss with a little butter, salt, and pepper.
  • If you’re cooking spinach, set it over moderate heat when you’ve got a few minutes left on the chicken and potatoes.
  • For collards or kale, start vegetables sooner (the tougher the vegetable, the longer the cooking time). Cover and cook over moderate heat until wilted, about 3 minutes for spinach and about 20 minutes for collards or kale.
  • Check after the first minute or so that the water has not evaporated, and add a little as needed.
  • You may have to adjust the heat. When the greens are done, drain well in a colander or sieve, pressing the water out with the back of a wooden spoon. Dress the greens with melted butter or olive oil and fresh lemon juice or a simple splash of vinegar.
  • While the chicken and potatoes (and heartier vegetables) are cooking, finish preparing the tomato-olive salsa.
  • This sauce recipe is particularly good in the summer when tomatoes are ripe and sweet. (It can also be prepared ahead and will keep for two days in the refrigerator.
  • Bring to room temperature before serving.) Chop tomatoes and olives; place in a bowl. Add parsley, basil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Toss. Place a bit of salsa on or next to each piece of chicken. Arrange some potatoes and leafy greens on each plate and serve.

What to have for dinner tonight

Something wonderful to eat:

Yes, indeed. It’s really quite simple to prepare a perfectly delicious meal that’s sophisticated enough to serve the company but that requires virtually no planning. After a quick stop at the market to pick up fresh ingredients, you can sit down to a lovely meal in less than 30 minutes, rejuvenated just by the appetizing sight of it.

Think of this meal as a three-part composition: fish, chicken, or beef that you either saute, poach, or broil; a vegetable that you grill or steam; and starch that you bake or boil.

The following are recipes and step-by-step plans for three simple, delicious meals. (See discuss meals and snacks). Each meal serves four. Once you try the basics, it’ll be a snap to dream up your own delightful compositions.

Game Plan:

To avoid surprises, always be sure to read through the entire set of instructions before you begin. Equip your kitchen with a timer; make note of the approximate cooking times for each part of the meal, and start cooking. You’ll find that this little bit of planning makes it possible to bring everything together perfectly.

Sauteed Salmon Supper

  • The Menu:
  • Sauteed Salmon With Butter-Lemon Sauce
  • Grilled Vegetables
  • Rice
dinner ideas

Ingredients

  • 4 salmon fillets (4 to 6 ounces each cut from the thick end if possible)
  • An assortment of vegetables
  • 2 medium zucchini and 2 yellow squash about 1 1/2 inches thick
  • 2 eggplant preferably the long slender Japanese variety
  • 4 endives
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil plus a little more for greasing
  • Pepper to taste
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • Juice of half a lemon or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons capers

Instructions

  • Prepare the broiler for the vegetables. Remove the top of your in-oven broiling pan, cover it with foil, and brush with olive oil using a pastry brush. (You can also use a shallow broiling pan.) Preheat broiler, leaving pan out for the time being.
  • Clean and trim the vegetables. For the squash and eggplant, sliced in half lengthwise (or in 1/2-inch slices if you can only find extra-large vegetables). With the tip of a knife, score the cut surface with a diagonal grid pattern.
  • Place on aluminum foil cut side up, brush lightly with oil, and sprinkle with dried rosemary or thyme. (Release the flavor of the herbs by crushing with a mortar and pestle or between your palms.) Slice endive in half, brush with oil, and place on foil, cut side up. Set aside.
  • Start the rice. Bring 2 cups water to boil with 1 teaspoon salt and slowly add the rice. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes (check once to be sure that rice is at an even simmer).
  • The water should be absorbed and the rice soft. Fluff with a fork. Add butter (optional) and season with salt and pepper. (Makes three cups.)

More Instructions

  • After the rice has begun to cook, put the vegetables in the well-heated broiler. They will take 15 minutes to brown nicely.
  • Depending on the broiler setting and rack’s distance from flame, they could be charred to cinders in 15 minutes.
  • While the rice and vegetables are cooking, prepare the salmon. Brush the skin with oil so it won’t stick.
  • When you’ve got about ten minutes to go on the rice and vegetables, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the fillets skin side down.
  • Cook without turning 6 to 10 minutes, depending on thickness and how well done you want the fish. If the salmon is thick and remains too rare in the center, cover the pan for a few minutes to hasten the cooking.
  • After you’ve started the salmon, prepare the butter-lemon sauce. Heat 4 tablespoons each butter and olive oil, lemon juice, and the capers until the butter melts.
  • If you’re watching your fat intake and wish to avoid butter and oil, a squeeze of lemon and some capers will do very well. Remove the salmon from the pan to the plate. The skin will be dark and crisp (and delicious).
  • Pour a bit of sauce over each portion and have extra sauce at the ready. Place some rice and an assortment of grilled vegetables on each plate and serve.
easy dinner recipes for beginner

Quick and Easy Homemade Dinner Masala Recipes

Easy Homemade Dinner Masala Recipes

Easy dinner recipes for beginners and I always believed that recipe is a south Indian recipe. I was only partly right for sambhar is one dish that is zealously loved all across the nation and there are many different versions of it.

For example, in Maharashtra the sambhar has a sweet taste, in Kerala is not too spicy and has a thicker consistency, Tamil sambhar is thinner and a tad spicier than the Kerala one while the spiciest is had in Hyderabad and Karnataka. Basically, masala is different in all the variations of this recipe.

Most south Indian households use their own home-made sambhar masala by powdering spices. It obviously takes a lot of time and authentic ingredients to prepare.

A true sambhar lover and not one to be bogged down by the lengthiness of authentic recipes, I have come up with my very own sambhar recipe that doesn’t take too much time and uses easily available ingredients.

While some may feel that the end result doesn’t even come close to authentic sambhar, it suffices fine for me. When friends ask me how to make easy dinner recipes to beginners in a jiffy, I give them this recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Arhar / Toor dal: 1 cup
  • Vegetables: Few pieces of Brinjals (small ones, sliced into half), carrot (diced), potatoes (diced), ladyfingers, gourd or lauki, pumpkin, french beans, tend
  • Tip: You may have all or some of the above-mentioned veggies. Do not fret if you do not have some of the above items.
  • Tamarind (half a bowl, soaked in water)
  • Tomatoes: 3 big
  • Onions: 3 medium-sized for tempering: 5-6 curry leaves, 2 tsp mustard seeds, a pinch of asafoetida, 5-6 cloves of garlic, 2 dry red chilies, 3-4 star aniseeds
  • Powdered spices: 2 tbsp Everest sambhar powder, ½ tsp turmeric powder, 1tsp red chili powder, 1 tsp coriander powder, Salt to taste

Instructions

  • In a pressure cooker put washed Ahar daal, some salt, and turmeric and bring to a boil (it will take 2 whistles on high flame).
  • In a kadhai put oil, add sheen, curry leaves, dry red chilies, star aniseeds, and mustard seeds. Once the seeds splutter, add chopped garlic.
  • When garlic turns golden brown, add chopped onions. Once the onions are done add tomatoes and other sambhar vegetables that you may have gathered. Now add salt, powdered spices and cook for 5 mins.
  • Once the vegetables have absorbed the spices and have become a bit tender, add them to the boiled dal in the pressure cooker and wait for one more whistle.
  • Separately strain the tamarind to take out its pulp and remove the seeds. Add tamarind water to the sambhar in the pressure cooker and close the lid.
  • Open the cooker after 15 minutes by when the tamarind would have well been absorbed into the daal and vegetables.
  • Transfer to a bowl and garnish with chopped coriander. Your delicious sambhar recipe is ready to be savored with steamed rice, dosa, idlis, or appams!

Notes

You may also like Hyderabadi Bhindi Recipe, Achari Baingan Recipe, Egg Curry Recipe.

Uncooked Pear & Berry Stew

easy dinner recipes for beginners

Unlike most fruit, pears increase in flavor after they’re picked.

Ingredients :

  • 4 ripe pears, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • ¾ cup blackberries, hulled
  • ¼ cup honey
  • zest and juice of 1 orange

Instructions

  • Place pears and berries in a glass or ceramic dish. In a small bowl or cup, mix together honey, zest, and juice.
  • Pour over fruit, toss, cover, and set aside for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Serve at room temperature.
  • Makes 4 servings.
  • PER SERVING: 207 CAL(2 PERCENT FROM FAT), 1g PROT, 0.4g FAT, 49g CARB, 4mg SOD, 0mg CHOL, 7g FIBER.

Pear Cranberry Shortcake

pear cranberry shortcake

Work Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes

Filling:

  • ½ cup of water
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • 4 Bosc or Bartlett pears, peeled and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese, blended until smooth

Shortcake

  • ¾ cup low-fat plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium saucepan, combine water, cranberries, and 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until sugar is dissolved. Toss pears with cornstarch. Add to saucepan. Simmer 15-20 minutes until tender.
  • Remove from heat and cool. Combine ricotta with the remaining 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Refrigerate.
  • In a small bowl, combine yogurt, oil, and orange zest. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  • Pour wet ingredients over dry. Stir gently with a spatula until just combined. Spoon into 6 neat mounds on cookie sheet.
  • Bake about 30 minutes until golden brown. Cool completely.
  • Cut shortcakes in half crosswise. Top-bottom half with apple mixture and a dollop of ricotta, dividing evenly. Serve immediately.
  • Each serving: About 390 calories, 10 g protein, 70 g carbohydrate, 9 g total fat (3 g saturated), 14 mg cholesterol, 280 mg sodium.

Fried Green Tomatoes

fried green tomatoes

To enhance flavor, many cooks brine their tomatoes before frying. But this can make the tomatoes inconsistently salty. So instead, I salt my slices, let them sit, and then rinse them off. This adds flavor but eliminates the salt and excess water in the tomato. The end results are much more consistent.

Ingredients:

  • Sprinkle with Kosher Salt:
  • 7 green tomatoes, cut into ½″ thick slices
  • Combine:
  • ½ cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 2 T. baking powder
  • ½ t. pepper
  • ¼ t. cayenne
  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • Stir in:
  • ¾ cup of cold water
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • Beat to Stiff Peaks, then Fold into Cornmeal Mixture:
  • 2 egg whites Fry in ¼″ Vegetable Oil.

Instructions

  • Prep 1
  • Layer tomato slices in a bowl and salt both sides. Let stand 30 minutes, then rinse slices under cold water and pat them dry.
  • Prep 2
  • Here’s a twist to traditional fried tomatoes–a cornmeal tempura batter. In a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients (except egg whites).
  • Prep 3
  • Beat egg whites to a stiff peak. With a whisk, stir a small amount into the cornmeal mixture to lighten it. Then fold in the remaining egg whites.
  • Prep 4
  • Pour vegetable oil into a skillet to ¼″ depth. Dip tomato slices in batter and fry slices over medium-high heat until golden brown.
  • Prep 5
  • Fry tomatoes in batches. It takes 2–3 minutes per batch. Drain on a rack over paper towels. Serve with Red Onion Marmalade.
  • Nutritional Information per 2 Slices:
  • Calories 254
  • Total Fat 22(g)
  • Calories from Fat 78%
  • Sodium 237(mg)

Caraway Rolls

caraway rolls
  • Cook Time
  • Prep time: 20 min
  • Cook time: 45 min
  • Ready in: 1 hour 5 min
  • Yields: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 4 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • ½ cup lukewarm water, e.g. between 105 and 115 degrees
  • 2 tablespoons caraway seed
  • 1 tablespoon caraway powder
  • 1 ½ cups raisins (optional)

Instructions

  • Heat the milk in a medium saucepan over low heat. While the milk is heating, add 1 teaspoon of sugar, the salt, molasses, and shortening and stir until the sugar dissolves and the shortening melts. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the liquid to cool to lukewarm.
  • Warm the bowl of a standup mixer by rinsing it with hot water. Put in the yeast, the other teaspoon of sugar, and the warm water. Allow the yeast to proof for 5 minutes.
  • Add the milk and 3 cups of flour, and mix slowly for one minute. Add ½ cup more of flour, the caraway seeds, the caraway powder, and the raisins and mix about 2 minutes more.
  • If the dough clings to the hook and cleans the side of the bowl, do not add more flour. Otherwise, add the rest of the flour.
  • The process at medium speed about 2 minutes more or until the dough is smooth and elastic – it will be slightly sticky.

More Instructions

  • Put the dough in a greased bowl, turning the dough around to get the grease all over the surface. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until doubled.
  • Turn the bread out of the bowl and divide the dough into twelve even portions; (I do this by weight).
  • Form each of the pieces of dough into 12 balls and put the balls in a 10 inch round cake pan. You will need to squeeze them a bit to fit them in – they’re supposed to be pressing against each other.
  • Recover the bowl with the damp towel and let the rolls rise for another hour.
  • About 20 minutes before the rolls are finished rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If you want the rolls to have a shiny color, combine an egg white with a teaspoon of water and brush this on top of the rolls.
  • Bake the rolls for 45 minutes or until the top is shiny and the temperature in the center of one of the rolls is 200 degrees.
  • When finished, turn the clump of rolls onto a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely. Tear each roll-off as desired.

Herbal appetizer: Gravlax and Saffron Risotto

gravlax and saffron risotto

Gravlax, usually used as an appetizer, is raw salmon marinated in a dry cure of salt, sugar, and dill. Gravlax is one of my favorite entertaining dishes, as it is so easy to make and creates such a strong impression.

The name means “salmon from the grave” referring to the Swedish practice of burying cured salmon in the ground to preserve it.

You need to start four days before serving, although actual preparation time is minimal.

  • A 3-pound salmon fillet, with the skin on
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons Cognac or Vodka, optional
  • Fresh dill, at least 1 cup packed

Instructions

  • Cut the salmon fillet in half, crossways. Place one fillet, skin side down, on a piece of cheesecloth, (preferably) or plastic wrap. Place the other fillet, also skin side down, next to the first fillet.
  • Mix the salt and sugar in a small bowl, and work the mixture into the top of both pieces. Sprinkle on the Cognac or vodka, if using.
  • Place all the dill on top of one of the salmon pieces on the cheesecloth. Cover the dill with the other salmon fillet, so that the skin side of the second fillet is on top. Using the cheesecloth, wrap the two pieces together – essentially making what looks like a dill sandwich.
  • Put the salmon package on a sheet pan or some container big enough to hold the salmon and that has an edge to hold the liquid that will exude. If using cheesecloth, cover the container with plastic wrap.
  • Now you need to weigh the salmon down. Lay a board, or cookie sheet, or any flat object on top of the salmon, and pile on heavy objects, like cans or a brick.
  • Since you’re going to keep this in the refrigerator, I usually just pile on containers that are already there. Turn the salmon every 24 hours and baste with any exuded liquid.
  • Taste a small piece after 48 hours to see if you want any additional salt or sugar – this recipe makes a lightly salted gravlax. To serve, separate the two fillets and brush off the dill.
  • Place on a cutting board with the skin side down. Slice the filet very thinly on the diagonal down to, but not through, the skin. Gravlax can be personalized to match individual preferences, using more salt, sugar, or other types of liquor.

Risotto Alla Milanese Recipe

I couldn’t finish the course without something that uses saffron – the most expensive food, by weight, in the world. When you cook with saffron, it should be the highlight of the dish, and I know of no better dish than the following classic risotto, serves 4 – 6:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ cups Arborio rice
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1-quart chicken stock, or more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon saffron
  • ¾ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter (optional)

Crush the saffron between your finger and put it in a small bowl. Add a tablespoon or so of warm water. Set aside, and heat the chicken stock.

Melt the butter in a medium skillet. Add the wine and ¾ cup of stock, stirring constantly until the rice absorbs the liquid. Continue to add the stock in ¾ cup increments. The next addition should be added when the stirring spoon parts the rice down the middle of the pan, and the rice flows back over the exposed part of the pan very slowly.

When you’ve used up all the chicken stock, taste to make certain the rice is cooked through. The risotto should still be creamy. Just before serving, add the saffron, cheese, butter if using, salt and pepper. Cover the pan and let it rest for 5 minutes.

Classic Herbal Sauces

classic herbal sauces

Now we’re going to look at making three classic herbal sauces: pesto, gremolata, and salsa verde. I’ve given suggestions of possible uses, but once you’ve mastered these, I’m sure you’ll think of a lot of others.

Pesto is probably the best reason for growing your own basil – pesto’s popularity is certainly driving the increased availability of fresh basil in grocery stores.

Originally invented in the Ligurian section of Italy and used as a pasta dressing, pesto is now a popular spread for sandwiches, hamburgers, or as a sauce on chicken and fish.

Nothing to me means summer as much as the smell of pesto:

  • 2 cups fresh basil, packed
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, (walnuts can be substituted)
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt, to taste

In a food processor, chop the garlic and basil. With the motor running, add the oil gradually. When the oil is completely absorbed, add the pine nuts until coarsely chopped. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Stir in the grated Parmesan. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt if necessary.

The gremolata was invented in Milano and is the classic accompaniment to the braised veal shank dish, Osso Buco. Once you’ve tasted it though, a number of other uses will come to mind. One possibility is to mix it into mashed potatoes or rice. Stir a little into tomato soup.

Add some to mayonnaise on your next tuna fish sandwich.

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
  • The rind of a ½ lemon, grated
  • 1 anchovy fillet, rinsed

Mash the anchovy to a paste and mix thoroughly with the parsley, lemon, and anchovy. Salsa Verde segregates the strongest elements of the classic tomato salsa for vibrant easy spicy sauce recipes that should not be just used as a dip.

Try it on fish fillets, e.g. tilapia, chicken breasts, or on top of fried eggs. Stir it into V8 juice with some diced cucumbers and bell peppers to make a unique gazpacho.

  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup packed cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup green chiles, chopped
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

In a food processor, add the minced garlic and cilantro, and pulse until blended. Add the chilies, lime juice, salt and pepper, and puree to a chunky sauce consistency. You can adjust the heat of this sauce by using different types of chilies – use jalapenos for a little more heat.

Baking With Herbs And Spaces Photos

baking with herbs and spices

We’re going to start with pizza and focaccia, discuss classic yeast bread, and end up with quick bread.

Pizza and Focaccia

  • Pizza and Focaccia are great bread to start with when you want to use more herbs and spices in baking.
  • Both almost cry out for herbal or spicy flavors – think of the ubiquitous jar of red pepper flakes at pizza houses. There is relatively little difference between pizza and focaccia, in fact, I use the same basic dough recipe for both.
  • If the bread’s going to be an accompaniment to a meal, then I make focaccia. With pizza, I only allow the dough to rise one time, but with focaccia, I let the dough rise a second time since the end result should be thicker than a pizza.
  • Also, the herbs are incorporated directly in the dough as well as sprinkled on top, along with olive oil and maybe sautéed onions.
  • Unless I’m going to use the focaccia to make sandwiches, I form the dough in a flat circle that has a 9” diameter. The pie is then freely placed on a baking sheet.
  • Focaccia does make great sandwich bread – it will rise enough in the oven to be sliced horizontally. If it’s designated for sandwiches, instead of forming the dough in a circle, bake the dough in a heavily oiled jelly roll pan.

See Related: Best Homemade Pizza Toppings Recipe

More Pizza and Focaccia

  • Pizza, by contrast, is rolled out after only one rising so it will not rise as much in the oven as focaccia. Also, since it’s really a full meal, there are lots more topping possibilities.
  • But as with so much in the kitchen, once you know the basics – in this case how to manipulate the dough – there are no rules and you can revise the dish to suit your own preferences.
  • Also, while I’m going to give you a full recipe for rosemary focaccia, including the dough, do not overlook the availability of premade pizza dough in the grocery store.
  • Add herbs to that dough, roll it out and bake it. It will still make great bread and the fresh herbs you add will make the bread seem homemade.
  • But if you can, try the homemade dough once even if you have a fear of working with yeast dough.
  • One thing that makes pizza/focaccia less intimidating is that kneading is much less important than with other yeast bread. Kneading helps develop gluten, i.e. the protein structure that holds uprisen bread.
  • As pizza/focaccia dough does not rise much, a lot of kneading is not required. In fact, in the recipe below, almost all the kneading is done by the food processor.

Rosemary Focaccia

This will make a 9” circle, enough to serve 4 – 6:

  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 package instant dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups water, (use spring water if your water has off-flavors like chlorine)
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons or more (by taste) of chopped rosemary, (possible other herbs include sage, parsley, chives, tarragon, cilantro, or savory).
  • Cornmeal for use on the baking sheet

Instructions:

  • Add the flour, yeast, and salt to a food processor consumer reports outfitted with a steel blade and pulse several times to mix. Pour in the water and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil.
  • Pulse until the flour begins to cling together, and then let the machine run for 20 seconds.
  • Dump the dough into a large enough bowl so that it can comfortably rise to twice its volume. Let it rest for 10 – 15 minutes while you’re washing and chopping the herbs.
  • Divide the chopped herbs into two equal portions and reserve one portion to use for a topping. Turn the rested dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
  • Knead the non-reserved herbs into the dough, slowly incorporating all of them into the dough. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a damp towel, and let the dough double in size. This should take 1 ½ – 2 hours.
  • When the dough has doubled, turn the dough back onto the floured surface and punch it down. Shape it into a ball and press it out to form a 9” circle.
  • Sprinkle a little raw cornmeal on a baking sheet and put the circle of dough on the sheet.

Recover it with the damp towel, and let it rise for another hour.

  • About 20 minutes before the dough is ready to bake, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. When the dough is risen, just before baking, use your finger to poke holes through the dough, almost to the bottom.
  • Coat the dough with the rest of the olive oil. Sprinkle the reserved herbs over the surface along with some kosher salt.
  • Bake the focaccia for 10 minutes at 450 degrees, then turn the oven down to 400 degrees. After another 10 minutes, check to see if the bread is done.
  • The best way to determine if the focaccia is done, (and in fact if any bread is done) is by temperature.
  • Using an instant-read thermometer, the temperature in the thickest part should read 200 degrees. If it is not done, and the bottom of the bread is turning too dark, turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees and check after another ten minutes.

Quick Bread

quick bread

Quick bread is the bread that is not leavened by yeast, rather usually with baking soda or powder. They don’t need kneading nor require time to rise. They tend to be denser than yeast bread and take especially well to a variety of flavorings.

Quick bread can be savory – Irish soda bread, biscuits, and cornbread are classic savory quick bread. They can also be sweet, like gingerbread or banana bread. Many quick pieces of bread, to my mind, are sweet enough to be almost cakes.

If you would like to learn a lot more about quick bread, we have a great course at An Introduction to Quick Bread.

The course author also recently posted the recipe for a delicious, classic Pain d’Espices, a spiced quick bread that highlights the remarkable mutual affinity of cardamom and cinnamon.

Quick bread is remarkably versatile. Because they do not rise before baking, they can easily incorporate various kinds of flours like rye, corn, and oatmeal that can’t develop the gluten yeast bread require. They also take especially well to seasonings, including not only herbs and spices but fruits, nuts, cheese, and various sweetening agents like molasses or honey.

The classic baking spices like ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice are great in a quick bread. Most people have recipes for favorites like banana bread or cornbread; if not the bibliography can refer you to several sources. I thought we’d explore one savory option that is a little less familiar but equally delicious, i.e. quick bread made with cheese and herbs.

These bread make great brunch options and are also good for hours deserves. Or, after dinner, serve slices of the bread with a cheese and wine course. To incorporate cheese into quick bread there are a couple of rules of thumb. First, you do need a lot of cheese for the flavor to come out.

If you don’t have enough, maximize flavor by putting the cheese on the top of the bread 10 or so minutes before the bread is baked. Secondly, use strong cheeses – for example, use extra sharp cheddar cheese rather than regular cheddar.

Cheddar cheese is one of the best cheeses to use, as it combines very well with a variety of herbs and spices, especially:

  • Peppers, including paprika, hot peppers like jalapeno and cayenne, and ground black pepper
  • Hot spices like ginger or mustard
  • Sage
  • Coriander
  • Cumin
  • Fennel

Other good herbal and cheese matches include:

  • Basil with Mozzarella or Parmesan
  • Caraway with Muenster Dill with Swiss Cheese
  • Parsley with Swiss
  • Muenster with hot peppers

The following recipe brings in all of the flexible elements we’ve discussed, i.e. using different flours, cheeses and herbs. It’s from the classic, The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book:

Cheese Muffins

  • 2 tablespoons minced chives
  • 2 tablespoons butter or oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ¼ cups buttermilk
  • ½ cups grated Swiss cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dill weed or parsley
  • OR
  • ½ cup grated cheddar cheese
  • ½ teaspoon mustard
  • 2 cups rolled oats, ground in a food processor to make a flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line each cup with a paper liner. In a large bowl, beat the chives, butter or oil, and egg together. Stir in the buttermilk, cheese, and herb.
  • In a medium bowl, sift the oat flour, whole-wheat flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder together. Add the flour mixture to the cheese mixture, stirring just until combined.
  • With an ice cream scoop, spoon some of the batters into each muffin cup. Bake the muffins for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry.

Aperitifs

An “aperitif” is a wine-based beverage drunk before dinner – a drink designed to stimulate the appetite. Aperitifs flavored with herbs are called, generically, “vermouth” although some are better known by their individual names.

All vermouth is white wine flavored with a combination of up to 200 different botanicals, e.g. herbs, spices, fruits, flowers. Caramel is added to make sweet, red vermouth. These additives are infused, macerated, or distilled in a base white wine. Vermouth is inexpensive as the base wine needs to be neutral and can be mass-produced.

The liquid is filtered, pasteurized, and fortified, i.e. additional alcohol is added so vermouth is more alcoholic than wine. Vermouth’s alcohol level is 16% for dry vermouth and 18% for sweet vermouth. Like tisanes, vermouth was invented to be used medicinally. Its original primary ingredient was wormwood – the name “vermouth” is derived from “vermut” which is German for wormwood.

The Italians first developed a taste for vermouth as an aperitif. The first aperitif formulation, sweet red vermouth, was created in Turin in the 1700s.

The French were not far behind, developing a dry version later that century. Traditionally, Italian vermouth is supposed to be sweet and French vermouth to be dry; however, both countries now produce both sweet and dry vermouth.

The three most common categories are white (dry), Bianca (white and slightly sweet), and red (sweet) vermouth.

Each manufacturer uses a proprietary formula, so brands taste differently. Generally, Italian vermouth tends to be stronger, e.g. more bitter and spicy, and their sweet vermouths have strong caramel overtones. Martini & Rossie extra dry vermouth is the bartender’s favorite to flavor a martini – just a little is strong enough to stand up to the juniper flavor of gin.

French vermouths are subtler and rely as much on the aroma as a taste for their flavor impact. For that reason, when I use vermouth in cooking, I prefer the French brands.

Some specific vermouth formulas with a good following in the U.S. are not sold under the name vermouth, but rather under special names, e.g. DuBonnet, Lillet, Campari, Punt e Mes, and Cynar.

Liqueurs

As opposed to aperitifs, liqueurs are usually served as an after-dinner menu drink. Liqueurs are alcoholic drinks in which herbs or spices or other flavors like nuts, chocolate, or coffee have been infused.

They differ from vermouths as they do not have a wide base, but are made with either a neutral alcohol base like vodka, or they get additional flavor by using such bases as brandy, cognac, rum, or whiskey. As such, they are more alcoholic than aperitifs.

Also unlike aperitifs, liqueurs are usually sweet, not bitter. There is no standard formula for liqueurs- even those that use the same name as crème de menthe. Like vermouth, manufacturers use proprietary, closely guarded formulas.

Some liqueurs are centuries old. These often have monastical origins and are usually based on numerous ingredients. Bénédictine, for example, is flavored with more than twenty herbs and plants. It was first produced in 1510 in Normandy. Also invented in the Middle Ages is Chartreuse, created by Carthusian monks.

It is purportedly blended from 130 different plants. I’m not sure whether the color “chartreuse” came from the liqueur or vice versa, but the liquid is bright green. There is a large category of liqueurs that are anise or licorice-flavored, e.g. anisette, absinthe, pastis, as well as liqueurs with proprietary names like Pernod or Sambuca.

Sambuca actually gets its flavor from the elderberry bush. Traditionally, Sambuca is served with three whole coffee beans floating on the top. This is called “con mosche” or “with flies”, and is reputed to bring good luck

The above liqueurs are based on a neutral alcoholic base.

A liqueur that uses single malt whiskey as its base is Drambuie from Scotland. Supposedly created from a recipe used by Bonnie Prince Charlie, the manufacturer adds heather honey, herbs, and spices to the whiskey. A close relation from Ireland is Irish Mist, which is a blend of Irish whiskey, heather honey, and herbs.

I have never tried to make herbal liqueurs from scratch. If you’re interested, there is a site, like a healthy dinner, which has numerous links to recipes for making liqueurs with such flavors as mint, ginger, allspice, vanilla, cinnamon, and lavender. As the site notes, however, most liqueurs are made just from the volatile oils, not from the plant part itself, which can contribute off-flavors.

To make homemade liqueurs, then, it is easiest to buy the underlying essences rather than use the herbs or spices. The bibliography lists good sources for essences. The site, however, gives one very easy recipe should you want to make a licorice-flavored liqueur at home.

This recipe uses star anise, a Chinese spice that has become very popular. It is stronger than regular anise, so while you can substitute star anise for anise seed, use only one third as much. Star Anise is named for its shape, and it is a beautiful spice, often used as a garnish:

Star Anise Liqueur

  • 3 tablespoons of ground star anise
  • 2 cups of vodka
  • 1 cup of sugar

Combine the star anise and vodka in a clean glass jar. After 2 weeks, pour the liquid carefully into another jar leaving behind the spices that have settled on the bottom.

Clean out the jar, and pour the liquid back into it through a coffee filter. Add 1 cup of sugar to the jar and cover. Invert the jar repeatedly until the sugar has dissolved. Store the liqueur for at least 3 months. You may need to add slightly more alcohol or sugar to adjust the flavor.

Herbs in Non-Vegetable Salads

herbs in non-vegetable salads

There’s a whole range of great salads that are not based on greens or vegetables, rather on fruits, grains, and legumes. Herbs can amplify flavor in these as well. To illustrate, and get you thinking about some possibilities, here are three recipes that highlight three different herbs with their soul mates:

Cardamom Fruit Salad With Cardamom Sauce, adapted from Miloradovich, P. 103, Serves 4:

  • 1 large apple
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom seed, whole
  • Juice of one lemon

Slice the banana and section the grapefruit and orange. Peel and slice the apple. Combine the fruits and toss lightly with the lemon juice. Sprinkle the cardamom seed on top of the fruit and refrigerate.

Prepare the Cardamom Sauce as follows:

  • The ½ cup of water
  • ½ cup clover honey
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
  • 6 large mint leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup port wine

Blend the water, honey, and cardamom in a small saucepan. Heat the mixture over a low flame and bring just up the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the mint leaves and salt. Simmer for an additional 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow the sauce to come to room temperature.

When ready to serve, drain the fruit, adding two tablespoons of fruit juice to the sauce. Arrange the fruit over lettuce leaves or divide among individual bowls. Pour the cardamom sauce over the fruit.

This recipe for Hummus illustrates how well cumin works with dried legumes, in this case, chickpeas.

  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ cup “tahini” or sesame paste, (you can substitute peanut butter)
  • The ¾ cup of water
  • 6 cups chickpeas, canned, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin, toasted
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Paprika to garnish

Instructions

  • Place the garlic, lemon juice, and tahini in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. The process to a smooth paste. Add the water and chickpeas and process until the mixture is smooth, almost fluffy.
  • Add the cumin and salt, and process again to combine with the chickpeas. Taste, and add additional cumin and salt if desired.
  • Transfer the hummus to a serving bowl. Pour the oil on the top and swirl lightly with the tip of a knife. Sprinkle with paprika. Serve with pita triangles.
  • Besides allowing parsley to come into its own as an ingredient rather than a garnish, this recipe for Tabbouleh shows how well mint and parsley work together. It also highlights bulgur – an overlooked grain that cooks very easily and has a great nutty flavor:
  • Soak the bulgur in cold water, to cover, for half an hour. This is all the cooking the bulgur needs. Strain, and squeeze as much of the moisture out as possible. In a bowl, combine the bulgur with the onion, parsley, and mint.
  • Sprinkle the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt over the salad, toss, and refrigerate until chilled.

Herbal Salad

herbal salad

Here’s a guide to making a farmers market salad – i.e. a vegetable salad that uses whatever fresh and good in the market. Suitable vegetables include carrots, asparagus, sugar peas, broccoli, zucchini, and green beans.

  • Make a vinaigrette with lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of mixed herbs.
  • Cut the vegetables into bite-sized pieces.
  • Blanch each vegetable in boiling salted water, i.e. dip them into the water until they’re just beginning to get soft and then put them into ice water. The time in the water will vary based on the vegetable used.
  • Allow the vegetables to cool. Toss them together with salt and pepper.
  • When the vegetables are at room temperature, dress them with the vinaigrette.

The recipe below pays tribute to a really underappreciated vegetable/herb, i.e. fennel. If you’re not familiar with this vegetable, buy one next time you’re in the produce section along with a small jar of fennel seeds. From the fresh vegetable, you’ll get two salad ingredients. The large bulb at the bottom of the plant is crunchy when eaten raw and has an anise flavor.

The feathery greens on top of the bulb can be treated like any fresh herb. Here’s a salad that’s a full meal in itself and uses fennel in all of its three forms. Adapted from Deborah Madison’s,

The Greens Cookbook here’s Fennel & Mushroom Salad, Serves 4 – 6:

  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 to 2-½ tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 strips of lemon peel, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed under a spoon or in a mortar
  • 4 – 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces large, firm mushrooms, wiped clean
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 to 3 ounces Parmesan Reggiano, shaved into paper-thin slices.

Instructions:

  • Pound the garlic and the salt in a mortar until completely smooth. Stir in the lemon juice, lemon peel, fennel seeds, and olive oil to make a tart, lemony vinaigrette.
  • Thinly slice the mushrooms, carefully dress them with a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette, and season them with plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
  • Lay a damp kitchen towel or a piece of plastic wrap directly over them to keep them from browning, and set them aside for 1 hour to marinate.
  • Trim the fennel bulb and cut it into quarters. Remove most of the core; then slice it lengthwise, very thinly, leaving the pieces joined together.
  • Dress it with most of the remaining vinaigrette and half the herbs, and season with salt and pepper. Add the rest of the herbs to the mushrooms.
  • Layer the mushrooms, cheese, and fennel on each plate and spoon the remaining vinaigrette over the top.

Vin-aigrettes & Salad Dressings

We all know about the most common uses for fresh herbs – vinaigrettes and other salad dressings. Here we will look at using herbs in green and vegetable salads as well as other salads such as tabbouleh and hummus.

vin-aigrettes and salad dressings

Vin-aigrettes and Other Salad Dressings

Vinaigrette is a simple mixture of three components – oil, (olive, canola), an acidic liquid (vinegar, citrus juice), and seasonings (herbs, salt, mustard). Making a vinaigrette is simple. In a small bowl or jar, add vinegar or fruit juice or even water or bouillon.

Add salt and pepper. It is especially important to add the salt now, as salt will dissolve in acid but not in oil. Add any additional flavoring elements like herbs.

Whisk or shake to combine. You can then add the oil slowly to the bowl while whisking vigorously, or add the oil all at once into the jar and then shake, with the cap tightly closed. For the most stable dressing possible, use cold ingredients.

The two variables that make vinaigrette so adaptive are ingredients and the proportions of those ingredients. The most important ingredient, due to its larger volume, is the oil.

Choose oil by taste. It’s hard to go wrong with extra virgin olive oil, but sometimes a neutral oil like canola or safflower will let other flavors prevail, especially with the softer herbs. Nut oils, like peanut or walnut, can add interesting flavor.

The acidic liquid, the second ingredient, can be selected from any number of choices – here is where the flavored vinegar we made before is especially useful. Sherry vinegar is especially nice as it has a rich body and a slightly sweet aftertaste.

Balsamic vinegar can also provide body and a hint of sweetness, (to perk up less expensive balsamic vinegar, try adding a touch of dark brown sugar). Wine vinegar is classic.

About the only vinegar that isn’t appropriate for vinaigrette is distilled white vinegar. Alternatives to vinegar include fruit juices, especially lemon juice.

Seasonings always include salt and pepper, but then there are a lot of additional options.

Finely chopped garlic, shallots, scallions or Dijon mustard are the most common additives, along with almost any herb. Infuse, i.e. allow the seasonings to soak in the vinegar or lemon juice, before adding the oil.

Once you’ve chosen the ingredients, proportions are also strictly up to you – people have varying preferences for acidity or for certain herbs. A 3:1 oil to acid ratio is a guideline most commonly cited, but any other combination is fine and simple experimentation is the best way to find your preferences.

It is useful to remember that the higher the acid content, the more salt will be required. Also, when calculating your acid to oil ratio, remember that mustard itself is acidic. If possible, make the vinaigrette about an hour ahead of time, as this will let the flavors meld.

But always add the dressing at the last moment to any food like lettuce that wilts. Also, the base food should be as dry as possible as water particles will repel the dressing and it won’t stick.

When adding dressing to a salad, add just enough to make each leaf glisten, (your hands make the best salad tongs). A beginning rule of thumb is ½ cup vinaigrette to 1 quart of greens. Vinaigrette can be stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks; it will solidify but just bring it up to room temperature and shake.

To start, here is a classic herbal vinaigrette recipe – use any herb you like as a substitute for the thyme in this recipe:

  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon of salt (or more to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon of pepper (or more to taste)
  • ½ cup of good-tasting olive oil

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, add the shallots, thyme, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Shake vigorously until the salt is dissolved. Add the olive oil and shake.

Other Salad Recipes Dressing Ideas:

Besides using herbs in a classic vinaigrette, think of using them in other salad dressings.

Follow the above instructions for a vinaigrette, but instead of the acidic component, use a non-acid fruit juice like mango or grape juice.

Or instead of oil, use chicken fat, stock, or even water to minimize calories. Herbs, of course, are a great way to flavor food without added fat.

Besides vinaigrettes, use herbs in creamy salad dressings. Store-bought mayonnaise can really be improved with just a little effort. To a good mayonnaise-like Hellmann’s, stir in a little lemon juice in which salt has been dissolved.

Start with a teaspoon of lemon juice and half a teaspoon of salt in half a cup of mayonnaise or more, and then add to taste.

Now add either spices or herbs that are compatible with the salad ingredients. Here are some ideas:

  • Curry is a classic additive when dressing a chicken salad.
  • Dill is a great addition to the mayonnaise used for potato salad.
  • Use mint in a sweetened mayonnaise on fruit salad.