March 19, 2011 · Weekly Menus and Recipes · Comments Off on Appetite Alignment and Seasonal Vegetables

For some reason last week, Ian and I were on the same frequency when it came to meals that sounded good. At least twice, he came home to a dinner that was exactly what he had been thinking about earlier in the day. Neither dish was particularly seasonal (bread salad and chicken tortilla soup) nor discussed ahead of time, so we’ll have so assume it was just coincidence. In any case, the week of meals worked out well for both of us.

Toward the end of the week, I did make a couple delicious (and easy) seasonal dishes. Our nearby wholesale produce distributor had some beautiful, big bunches of asparagus and the local organic farm had a giant bin of sunchokes. I was able to use both on Friday night along with an always delicious roast chicken from the Gueggeli man.  I lightly sauteed the asparagus and sprinkled it with salt, pepper and lemon. After doing a bit of quick research on sunchokes, I used this recipe for it’s simplicity. Both dishes were wonderful and simple accompaniments to the heavily salted chicken. The sunchokes had a texture of crisp potatoes and a very mild artichoke like flaovr. The sage and butter brought out the “artichokiness” of the sunchokes well.

On Sunday I used the remainder of the bunch of asparagus for an asparagus and leek soup as well as a quinoa based salad. It was wonderful to bring all the fresh green to our table.

The week’s meals:

March 19, 2011 · Recipe · Comments Off on Tuscan Bread Salad

Adapted from Epicurious.

  • 4 cups torn pieces of sourdough or rustic peasant bread, 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 5 assorted ripe heirloom tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on size and shape
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1/2 cup pitted and halved Niçoise olives
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • Preparation:

    1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.

    2. In a bowl, toss the bread with the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Spread the bread on a baking sheet and bake for 7 to 10 minutes, until slightly crisp. (The pieces should not be as crispy as croutons.) Alternatively, spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and let them dry, uncovered, for about 24 hours.

    3. In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, capers, zest, and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Whisking constantly, add the extra virgin olive oil in a stream until well incorporated.

    4. Add the onion, tomatoes, bell peppers, and olives and toss with the vinaigrette. Adjust the salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Set aside for 20 minutes.

    5. Garnish each plate with shaved Parmesan cheese and serve. If you prefer a moister salad, drizzle with a little more extra virgin olive oil.

    March 19, 2011 · Recipe · Comments Off on Quinoa Salad with Arugula, Asparagus & Avocado

    From Cooking with Amy.

    • 1/2  cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
    • 1 cup water
    • 5 asparagus spears, shaved thin (use a vegetable peeler)
    • 2-3 handfuls fresh baby arugula, roughly chopped
    • 1 green onion, chopped
    • 2  Tablespoons lemon juice, fresh squeezed
    • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
    • 2 Tablespoons fresh dill, chopped (optional)
    • Salt and freshly ground pepper


    In a medium saucepan combine quinoa and water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 12- 15 minutes or until liquid is completely absorbed. (Alternatively, cook in a rice cooker.) Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, make the dressing by whisking together lemon juice and oil. Add avocado, green onion and arugula to the dressing.
    Transfer quinoa to a medium bowl and allow to cool. Add quinoa to dressing and vegetable mixture; toss with fresh dill and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.

    March 19, 2011 · Recipe · Comments Off on Asparagus and Leek Soup

    From Gourmet via Epicurious.

    A very easy soup for springtime.

    • 1 cup finely chopped white and pale green part of leek, washed well
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
    • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
    • 1/3 cup sour cream


    In a saucepan cook the leek and the garlic in the butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until the leek is softened, add the asparagus, the broth, and 1/2 cup water, and simmer the mixture, covered, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the asparagus is very tender. Purée two thirds of the mixture in a blender until it is very smooth, stir the purée into the mixture remaining in the pan, and whisk in the sour cream and salt and pepper to taste. Cook the soup over moderately low heat until it is heated through, but do not let it boil.

    March 19, 2011 · Recipe · Comments Off on Pan-Fried Jerusalem Artichokes in Sage Butter

    From Bon Appetit via Epicurious.

    • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 pound Jerusalem artichokes or sunchokes, scrubbed, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
    • 3 tablespoons coarsely torn fresh sage leaves, divided
    • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley


    Melt 1 tablespoon butter with olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add Jerusalem artichokes and half of sage. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until brown and just beginning to soften, turning frequently, about 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer Jerusalem artichokes to shallow serving bowl. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and sage to skillet; fry until sage darkens and begins to crisp, about 30 seconds. Add lemon juice; simmer 1 minute. Pour lemon-sage butter over Jerusalem artichokes in bowl, tossing to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley.