Category: Side Dish

My New Favorite Mushrooms

November 21, 2013

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From the Magazines

August 2, 2012

Ever since my early 20’s, I have been getting food magazines in the mail.  The subscriptions have varied over the years but I have received at least one every month for 20 years.  (Current ones are Food & Wine, Cook’s Illustrated, and Saveur.  How about you?)

The magazines tend to pile up for months before I attack them with scissors, cut out the recipes that I want, and tape them into four binders that I have with 20 years worth of magazine recipes.  It is a long process and since the past few years have been pretty busy, it has literally been two years since I last did a scissor attack.  Two years worth of magazines is a lot of magazines.  There is no way I am moving those along with the other 9 billion things we have in our house so it was time to start whittling them down.

In the past, when I have started this process, I have just gone through them chronologically.  But that often meant I was paging through Christmas issues in July, or BBQ special issues while the Thanksgiving turkey was in the oven.  Reading about food that is completely out of season is not all that inspiring.  So this time, I decided to sort them out into season and start with the summer issues.  I was looking for some inspiration anyway and I certainly found it within the pages of June, July, and August magazines.

This recipe will surely become a favorite around here.  I’ve always been a fan of Israeli couscous – so much so that I had no fewer than three bags of it in my pantry.  Here it gets tossed with a pesto made from arugula and lots and lots of tomatoes.  I like basil pesto as much as the next person, but arugula is such a nice change.  It tastes brighter than its green cousin and just a tantalizing hint of bitterness.  The cooking time is minimal so it is a great choice for a hot night.  It is best served room temperature so it is great to bring to a potluck or a picnic (it also makes a lot and scales up easily.)  And if you are one of those lucky people who has tomatoes coming out of their ears, now you have a wonderful place to park them.

I served this salad along side a beautiful vegetable terrine that I was really excited about.  All of us picked at the terrine and had seconds of the couscous.

One Year Ago:  Tomato and Corn Pie
Two Years Ago:  Yeast Bread Sticks
Three Years Ago:  Grilled Potato Slices with Salt and Vinegar

Israeli Couscous and Tomato Salad with Arugula Pesto

Adapted from Food & Wine
6-8 servings

One of the things I don’t like about pesto is how oily it is.  I use a bit less oil in mine here.  If you like you can add a full ½ cup or you can drizzle additional over the finished salad if it seems too dry.

6 ounces arugula, plus additional leaves for garnish
2 cups Israeli couscous
1/3 cup olive oil
¼ cup pine nuts
1 garlic clove, chopped
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for garnish
Kosher or sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 pints multi-colored cherry tomatoes, halved

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the 6 ounces of arugula and blanch for 10 seconds.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the arugula to a colander.  Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking, then drain thoroughly.

Add the Israeli couscous to the boiling water and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until it is al dente, about 10 minutes.  Drain the couscous and put it in a large wide bowl.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil and toss to prevent it from clumping.  Let the couscous cool to room temperature.

In a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over moderate heat, tossing, until golden brown, about 2 minutes.  Let cool.

Squeeze the excess water from the blanched arugula and coarsely chop it.  Transfer the arugula to a food processor.  (DT:  I used my mini food processor for this job.)  Add the pine nuts, garlic, cheese and the 1/3 cup of olive oil and process until the pine nuts are finely chopped.  Season the arugula pesto with salt and pepper.

Using a spatula, stir the pesto into the cooled couscous until well combined.  Gently fold in the tomatoes.  Garnish the salad with the remaining arugula leaves and some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

(I didn’t try it but I’m sure you could make this salad earlier in the day.  Cover and refrigerate it but allow it to come to room temperature before you serve it.)

Home Sweet Quinoa

July 20, 2012

Do not adjust your screen.  Yes that is food.  And yes there is a recipe at the end of this post.

I made dinner most nights we were in France.  When I first saw the kitchen and its equipment in the Cagnes-sur-Mer place, I assumed we would eat dinners out.  Two burners, one of them very small, and three pots, none of them bigger than a 3 quart.  One big bowl, one wooden spoon, one spatula, and a handful of duller-than-dull knives (thankfully, I brought a knife with me).  But after getting used to my tiny kitchen, I found making dinner each night to be lovely.  Pleasantly easing into the evening after a busy day of laying on the beach or exploring beautiful French towns.

I made things that were relatively quick and easy.  It was hot so I tried to keep my time in front of the stove at a minimum and I never turned on the oven.  I made a giant salad every night and sometimes I just ate that with a big hunk of bread.  I also kept it simple because I didn’t want to buy a bunch of ingredients that I would just have to leave behind.

So, we ate Mediterranean for a month.  And it was awesome.  But I missed Mexican, Asian, and Indian food.  The first thing I made when we got back was a rice dish.  I could have made risotto in France but I didn’t and I was craving rice like crazy by the time we got home.  Also – quinoa.  I found quinoa there but somehow it just didn’t seem like the right thing to cook there.  I’ve made it several times since we’ve been home.

Now, I love quinoa but I don’t love it by itself and I don’t love it just boiled away in water.  It is a very charming seed (not a grain!) but it needs a little help.  I find I like it best made more as a pilaf.  I sauté shallot rounds in a little butter, stir in the quinoa, then pour in a bit of white wine.  I cook it until the wine is syrupy, then add the water.  I have found that if you add just 1½ times the liquid as you have quinoa, it turns out great.  (So for a cup of quinoa, I add ½ of wine and 1 cup of water.)  It is not mushy and has that slight and delightful crunch.

What else is going on in that bowl?  Red lentils, cooked just enough that they are soft but not so much that they lose their shape.  Ricotta salata, one of the world’s most charming cheeses.  A little crushed red pepper.  Lots of mint.  Lots of lemon juice.  A little olive oil.  Two additions I think would be lovely are pea shoots or broccoli rabe, the former blanched and finely chopped, the latter sautéed in olive oil, sprinkled with more red pepper flakes, and finely chopped.

One Year Ago:  Lemony Chickpeas and Oven-Dried Tomato Stew, Savory Spinach, Feta, and Peppadew Muffins, Salted Caramel Squares
Two Years Ago:  Chocolate Pavé, Roasted Cauliflower with Tomato, Dill, and Capers
Three Years Ago:  Blasted Broccoli, Gnocchi with Mushroom Sauce, Asparagus Ragout
Four Years Ago:  Green Goddess Salad with Romaine, Cucumbers and Avocado (pardon the terrible photos)

Quinoa with Red Lentils, Ricotta Salata, and Mint
Dana Treat Original
Serves 6-8

If you have never used ricotta salata, you are in for a treat.  It is very salty but still mild in flavor and has a nice texture.  Similar to feta but drier and the flavor is not as gamy.  You could use feta instead.  Don’t worry about the exact amount, a small wedge will do fine.

1 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
Kosher or sea salt
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
1 cup quinoa
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup red lentils
5 ounces ricotta salata
1 small bunch of mint, leaves stemmed and coarsely chopped
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tbsp. olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Place a medium (3 quart is perfect) saucepan over medium heat.  Melt the butter, then add the shallots along with a pinch of salt.  Stir in the red pepper flakes and cook until the shallots are brown in spots, about 5-7 minutes.  Stir in the quinoa, make sure it is coated with the butter and shallots, then pour in the wine.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the wine is mostly absorbed, then pour in a cup of water.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low.  Cook for 15 minutes, or until the liquid is completely absorbed.  Scrape the quinoa out into a large bowl.

Rinse out the saucepan, then pour in the lentils and cover them with cold water.  Bring to a boil, add a large pinch of salt, then reduce the heat to keep it at a lively simmer.  Scrape off any white foam that comes to the surface.  Cook just until the lentils are tender, avoid having them go mushy, about 10-12 minutes.  Drain and add to the quinoa.

Once everything is cool (room temperature is fine), stir in the olive oil and the lemon juice, a pinch of salt and some black pepper.  Crumble in the cheese and fold in the mint.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  This salad will keep and taste great the next day, but the mint might turn black.


February 9, 2012

Short and sweet today.  You may recall that I promised lots of food this week.   There is lots of food waiting to be talked about but no time to talk about it in.  Next week!

Do you have a thing that, no matter how much you make, it all gets eaten?  Up until last spring, I had that experience with only two things.  Popcorn and guacamole.  Then, in one of my cooking classes, I made these snap peas and was astounded to watch every last one of them get eaten.  Dinner parties – gone.  Last month’s yoga retreat – gone.  They are addictive, salty, nutty, crunchy.  They are also quick, healthy, and vegan.

I always de-string my snap peas and I have been surprised to hear that other people don’t do so.  I find if I don’t do that, this charming vegetable becomes less charming.  The fibrous string is hard for me to choke down so if you haven’t done this step, give it a try.  They don’t always come off.  In my experience, the fresher the pea, the more readily the string comes off but I don’t know if there is any scientific basis in that.  Using my fingers, I just “snap” one end and pull it towards the middle along the top of the pea and then “snap” the other end and pull it toward the middle along the bottom.

One Year Ago:  Dried Cranberry and Ginger Canoli
Two Years Ago:  Apple Torte
Three Years Ago:  Vegetarian Caesar Salad

Sesame Snap Peas
Dana Treat Original
Serves 4

Don’t let the simplicity of this recipe fool you into thinking these are nothing special.  They are special.  They can be made even more so by the addition of a bit of minced garlic and ginger, added about a minute before the snap peas, but they are equally delicious without.  I had some gomasio, a Japanese condiment made from white and black sesame seeds and salt, on hand and used that to garnish but plain old sesame seeds are good too.

1 tbsp. canola oil
10 ounces sugar snap peas, strings removed
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp. soy sauce
Sesame seeds (for garnish)

Place a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Drizzle in the canola oil and swirl around the pan.  Add the snap peas and salt and cook, tossing occasionally, for 3 minutes, or until starting to brown in places.  Drizzle in the sesame oil, give the peas a toss, then pour in the soy sauce.  Cook for one more minute, just until the sauce starts to get syrupy, then pour out onto a serving plate.  Garnish with sesame seeds.

Sweet Winter Slaw

January 31, 2012

There are certain things you can count on in life.  The sun will rise, the sun will set.  You will pay taxes.  Unless you have the stomach flu, you will be hungry at some point today.  You know how it goes.  There are also certain things you can count on here on the Dana Treat site.  There will be vegetarian food, there will be chocolate, and about every three months, there will be talk of a Bainbridge yoga retreat.

It is hard for both Jen and me to believe, but May will be our three year anniversary of doing these retreats together.  If you are new here, Bainbridge Island is a magical haven just across Puget Sound from Seattle.  There is a ferry that takes you from our downtown waterfront to the island in about 35 minutes.  My friend Jen, who I have known since 7th grade, lives there and teaches yoga in a studio on her property.  Over three years ago, she told me about her dream of quarterly day-long retreats.  She asked if I would want to partner with her four times a year.  She would provide the space, the yoga instruction, someone to guide meditation or other exercise, and I would make lunch for everyone.  I love Jen.  She is one of my closest friends.  I wanted to help and I also wanted to participate.

So in May of 2009, we launched.  It took me a few retreats to figure out how to get everything done the day before so I could actually participate in the morning yoga session.  Now it goes a little something like this.  I take a 7:55am ferry to the island, drive to Jen’s house, and then spend the time before the 9:30am start unloading my car and getting the kitchen set up.  I find a spot for my mat and towel in the studio and after a short intro of the retreat’s theme (this time it was nourishment), the hot yoga portion starts.  I don’t practice hot yoga at home but I really love doing it on occasion.  Jen is a dear friend of mine but believe me when I tell you that she is a most incredible instructor.  Her own practice is so strong and such a part of her that she teaches from a place of curiosity, experience, and joy.  She talks like a normal person and wherever she takes you, you want to go.  One of my favorite things she said this time was, “Starve the negativity.  If you don’t feed it, it can’t survive”.  Another, while we were in a challenging pose, “If you are talking to yourself in your head right now, make sure you are saying something nice”.

At the end of the hot yoga portion, people take a bathroom and water break before a meditation portion, and I book it up to the house for a quick shower and to set up the lunch.  People are starving by the time they get to me, so I have learned to have nibbles out and at the ready in case I am still putting the finishing touches on the food.  I’ve made a completely different lunch every retreat.  I’m proud of that.  People are incredibly grateful for the food and I love spending the time getting to know this amazing community better.

There is always a little downtime after lunch, so I usually chat or start on the clean up.  Some people take a walk, some find a nook and read a book.  Before we all know it, it’s time for the second yoga class of the day.  Our tummies are gurgling a bit and we are all sleepy so it is to Jen’s immense credit that she can get us back in the studio and back in downward dog.  Before we know it, we are back in the flow – just hard enough to make it exciting but not so hard that we regret taking a second cookie.  It is an invigorating end to an amazing day.  I have cried at almost every one of these retreats and I am not a crier.  It is so incredible to take a day to yourself, to spend it with a dear friend, to do the work in yoga, to immerse yourself in an amazing community, to be surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, and to eat wonderful and healthy food (if I do say so myself).  At the end of it all, you wait for a ferry, book and flashlight in hand, and commute back home on the water.  Even the coming and going is magical.

Now that most of these people know me and many read my blog, they always want to know which dishes I’ve made are either on my blog or will be posted there soon.  I got many questions about the chocolate chip cookies of course.  People were also crazy for this winter slaw.  I’m not surprised.  I taught this slaw twice last week in classes.  It comes from our good friend Plenty and it totally changed my opinion about slaws.  Like many, I’m not a coleslaw fan because mayo is not my friend, but I haven’t ever really liked any slaw I have made or tried.  I’m in love with this one.  Two different types of cabbage, some buttery sweet nuts, sweet mango, and a bit of kick from a red chiles make this an intoxicating slaw.  There are also lots of herbs and a dressing you will want to make a double batch of and use for many different things.  I tweaked.  Cashews instead of macadamia nuts, no papaya (those things freak me out), more green cabbage, more herbs.  My recipe below reflects those changes.

As if the flavors and the color were not enough to recommend this slaw, I will tell you this.  It keeps well.  I can’t think of another salad or salad type thing that I would want to eat a day after, or even an hour after, it has been dressed.  But we munched on this one happily two days after I made it.  Even the nuts were still crunchy!  Finally, this is not a slaw you want to underdress.  I am usually very sensitive about too much dressing on my salads or salad type things, but if you don’t use enough dressing on this one, it’s a little hard to choke down.  That red cabbage needs a good soaking.

One Year Ago:  Simply Sweet Diamints and Spicy Pasta with Broccoli and Cauliflower
Two Years Ago:  White Bean Dip and Caramel Cake
Three Years Ago:  Guacamole

Sweet Winter Slaw
Adapted from Plenty
Serves 6-8

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 lemongrass stalk, chopped
3 tbsp. maple syrup
2 tbsp. roasted sesame oil
1 tbsp. soy sauce
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
4 tbsp. canola oil

1 tbsp. butter
¾ cup raw cashews
2 tbsp. sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
½ a head Savoy cabbage, finely shredded
½ a head red cabbage, finely shredded
2 medium mangoes, peeled and cut into thin strips
1 fresh red chile, deseeded and finely chopped
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
¼ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped

First, make the dressing.  Place all the ingredients, except the sesame oil and canola oil, in a small saucepan and reduce over medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes, or until thick and syrupy.  Remove from the heat.  Once cooled down, strain the sauce into a bowl and whisk in the oils.  Set aside.  (Dressing can be made up to one week in advance.  Store in the refrigerator.)

Melt the butter in a small saucepan or sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the cashews and toast them, shaking the pan frequently until they start to brown.  Sprinkle on the sugar and stir constantly until the sugar is melted and starting to turn brown.  Scrape the mixture out onto a sheet of parchment paper and allow to cool and harden.  Chop coarsely.

Place the shredded cabbage in a large mixing bowl with the rest of the salad ingredients, including the nuts.  Add the dressing and toss together.  Taste and add more salt if necessary.

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