ROASTED CARROT AND BARLEY SALAD

Another recipe that was highly recommended by editors of the food section in The New York Times. We will be paying close attention to those reviews from now on, because so far everything we’ve tried has been a total winner. I made a few modifications to adapt to our taste, so I share my version with you. Barley is definitely under-appreciated.

ROASTED CARROT AND BARLEY SALAD
(adapted from The New York Times)

1 cup pearled barley
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 pounds carrots, washed, trimmed and cut into long pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
zest of 1 lemon
2 cups arugula
A handful of cilantro
¼ cup toasted sliced almonds

for the spiced tahini:
¼ cup tahini
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon Ras-el-hanout
water to adjust consistency

Heat oven to 425 degrees and place a rack on the lowest shelf. In a medium saucepan, combine barley with 4 cups water; season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain excess water if still some remains.

Meanwhile, place the carrots on a sheet pan, drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat, spreading into an even layer. Season with salt and pepper. Place on the bottom oven rack and roast until tender and starting to turn golden, about 25 minutes.

While the carrots roast, make the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, Ras-el-hanout, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it is smooth and has a pourable consistency.

When the carrots are ready, remove them from the oven, drizzle with honey and sprinkle with lemon zest. Season with a pinch of salt and toss to coat.

In a serving bowl, combine the carrots with the barley, arugula and parsley. Drizzle with the spiced tahini and sprinkle with almonds. Try not to over-eat…

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was one of the best side dishes of the year of 2021 that showed up at our table. I do have a very special place in my heart for tahini, so maybe that explains my love for this recipe. You can cook the barley and roast the carrots in advance. In that case, just warm the carrots briefly in the microwave – I mean for 20 seconds tops – because it’s nice to have the contrast of warm carrots with the cold salad. If you are not too fond of arugula, spinach will work too, but there’s something about the slightly bitter nature of arugula that works well here.

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INCREDIBLY SIMPLE TIMES FOUR: MAY 2021

Last time I shared Incredibly Simple recipes was 7 months ago, so it’s been a while… The first three are embarrassing simple. The fourth will surprise you. Read on, my friends!

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #1

AIR-FRIED CAULIFLOWER FLORETS

I admit that the picture is not that great. The problem is I had no intention of blogging about it, until I realized I made it three weeks in a row, and now it’s pretty hard for me to prepare cauliflower any other way. The air-fryer is the perfect environment to get crispy, tender inside florets, in 20 minutes. Yes, 20 minutes start to finish. No mess, no fuss. Perfect results every single time.

Toss the florets in a large bowl with a little grapeseed oil (you can use olive oil if you prefer), season with salt, pepper, and when you want to rock your world a bit, go for smoked paprika, maybe a touch of curry. Set your fryer to the highest temperature (mine is 390F), and let it roast for 20 minutes, shaking the basket once or twice.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #2

HARD-BOILED EGGS, THE AIR-FRYER WAY

If you own an air-fryer and want to expand your horizons to use it more often, hard-boiled eggs are a great option. Place as many eggs as you want in the basket. Set it to 270F (or around that temperature, depending on your model) and set the timer to 15 minutes. You might need a little adjustment in the time. For my fryer and my taste in hard-boiled eggs, that combination hits the spot. If you want to have soft-boiled eggs, reduce the time to 8 to 10 minutes, but again you’ll have to tweak the conditions. The eggs peel like a dream, by the way.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #3

SWEET AND SPICY WALNUTS (or PECANS)

Phil came up with this idea and now we do it all the time for our salads. Grab a handful of walnuts or pecans. Coat a non-stick small skillet with a tiny tiny tiny amount of olive oil. Heat, and add the nuts. Season with salt and pepper, or if you like to change things a bit, go for a touch of paprika. When the nuts start to get fragrant, drizzle a very small amount (maybe 1 tsp) of maple syrup. Everything will bubble furiously. Shake the pan to move the walnuts and coat them with the syrupy mixture. Immediately remove from the heat and transfer them to a small bowl to cool down a bit. Add to your salad. Any salad. Try to refrain from picking those babies from the bowl when no one is looking

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #4

FRIANDS

You may ask yourself… “Has she lost her mind?” BAKING in Incredibly Simple? Nope, I did not lose my mind (at least not for this particular reason). This is a recipe that a 5 year old can make with minor supervision as the young child will need to operate a food processor.

Melt 1 stick (113g) of butter and place in the bowl of a food processor together with
90g all-purpose flour
110g almond flour (or finely ground almonds)
3/4 tsp baking powder
5 egg whites
190g powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Process for 1 minute. It will be very foamy. Spoon the mixture in non-stick muffin tins (or friand molds), filling each cavity no more than 3/4 full. Place two raspberries in each portion, top with some slivered almonds. Bake at 325F for 18 to 20 minutes, until the edges start to get golden. Let them cool for 10 minutes, remove from the molds and when fully cold, dust with powdered sugar.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I hope that if you consider yourself a non-baker, or worse yet, a bake-o-phobe (like I used to be), you will still grab the ingredients and try this recipe. You can vary the nut flour by adding some hazelnuts or even ground pistachios in some proportion together with almond flour. Or you can bake this simple version. They are delicate, moist, fragrant, absolutely perfect with a cup of tea. And so incredibly simple to prepare! Make sure to surprise whoever is around and when you bring those to the table, say very non-challantly… “I’ve made some friands for you”… Work on your best French accent, it is a must in this case.

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BUFFALO CHICKPEAS

This could be served cold as a salad or right after mixing the cooked chickpeas with the other ingredients. It is delicius on its own for a light lunch. Chickpeas have that earthy flavor I find addictive, and when paired with the heat of Sriracha – another passion of mine – it gets even better… And let’s not even mention the tahini, so I don’t lose my composure.

BUFFALO CHICKPEAS
(adapted from Skinnytaste)

15- oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 large carrots, shredded on a food processor
2 stalks celery, diced small
1 Tbsp Sriracha (or to taste)
3 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp tahini
mixed baby greens to serve alongside (optional)

In a large bowl, mix the carrots with the celery, squirt a little lemon juice, season lightly with salt and mix gently. Reserve.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Once it begins to shimmer, add the chickpeas, spreading them in a single layer, and let cook undisturbed for 1 to 2 minutes, or until they brown a bit. Stir, season with salt and cook for a minute more. Transfer the chickpeas to the bowl with the veggies.

Make the dressing by mixing the yogurt, lemon juice, Sriracha and tahini. Add to the bowl of chickpeas and veggies, and fold gently. Serve with baby spinach/lettuce right away, or refrigerate and enjoy later as a salad, but in that case do not add the greens.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Depending on the thickness of your yogurt, you might have to add a little water to thin the dressing a bit. Mix it as described, then adjust if needed. As I mentioned, this dish could stand on its own for a vegetarian meal, but we enjoyed it with grilled pork tenderloin for a nice and easy weeknight dinner. Leftovers were my meat-free lunch two days later, barely passed by the microwave just to break the cold from the fridge. The carrots mellow quite a bit after a couple of days in the fridge, so if you like a bit more texture, grate additional raw carrots on top. Crumbled blue cheese would be quite appropriate also…

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ROASTED SWEET POTATO WITH CORN AND SUNFLOWER SEEDS

A few things make this recipe a bit unusual. First, the sweet potato is roasted at a low temperature, 300F. Second, it is served either barely warm or at room temperature over fridge-cold lemony yogurt. And finally, it gets crowned with a hot and spicy mixture of sauteed sunflower seeds and corn. I know it all sounds a bit crazy, but when the husband praised this side dish more than he did the bison chili that went with it, I knew I had hit gold.

ROASTED SWEET POTATO WITH CORN AND SUNFLOWER SEEDS
(adapted from Start Simple)

3 medium sweet potatoes
olive oil and salt to season potatoes
1/2 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tsp harissa paste
Urfa pepper (or another ground chile pepper you like)
salt to taste
2 tablespoons grape seed oil
kernels of 1 ear of corn (raw or cooked)
1/4 cup sunflowers seeds, raw
drizzle of toasted sesame oil

Turn the oven to 300F. Rub the sweet potatoes with a little olive oil, season with salt. Roast for 60 to 75 minutes, until soft (it depends on the size of the potatoes). Let the potatoes cool to room temperature, the flesh will sink and the skin will peel off super easily.  Cube the flesh in the size you like. Reserve.

Mix the yogurt with lemon juice and harissa, season lightly with salt. Place in the dish you will use to serve the potatoes.  Add the cubed potatoes on top. Just before your meal, add grape seed oil to a non-stick skillet, when it gets nice and hot add the corn kernels, season with Urfa pepper and salt. Sautee until fragrant, add the sunflower seeds and cook until they start to get golden.  Immediately add the hot mixture over the sweet potatoes, and take to the table.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: There are two ways to make sweet potatoes truly special, sous-vide and low-temperature roasting. The latter is the easiest, and if you’ve never tried them prepared this way, you are in for a treat. It is really a lot better than the more common method of blasting it at higher temperatures, either whole or cut in pieces. Roasted, they can sit in the fridge waiting for you, perfect texture, to be used in all sorts of preparations.

We enjoyed it over bison chili (made with this recipe, but using ground bison instead of ground turkey). The yogurt tames that heat from the chili, acts as a refreshing breeze on a warm summer night. A delicious dinner, that will be on our menu for sure in the near future.  The husband already requested it…

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CUCUMBER SALAD WITH HARISSA-YOGURT DRESSING

Simplicity hit again the Bewitching Kitchen. I used rose harissa because it is one of those ingredients I fell in love with a couple of years ago and now I cannot live without. If you don’t have it, use regular harissa and it will be wonderful too, it’s all about the delicate heat coupled with the soothing yogurt.  Perfect side dish for those hot days of Kansas summer. Have I ever mentioned I cannot get enough of summer?

CUCUMBER SALAD WITH HARISSA-YOGURT DRESSING
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

¼ cup full-fat yogurt
1 to 2 tsp rose harissa paste
drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Persian cucumbers, cut in rounds, then quarters
yellow or red grape tomatoes, cut in half
black sesame seeds

Mix the yogurt, oil, salt and pepper, add the harissa paste and mix gently. Add the cucumbers and tomatoes to a bowl, mix with the yogurt dressing. Let it sit in the fridge for 30 minutes (if you have the extra time), sprinkle with sesame seeds right before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I’ve shared quite a few recipes with rose harissa, one of my favorites involved chicken thighs. If you like to see the recipe, go back in time with a click here. I had never tried it in a salad dressing or any preparation in which it goes uncooked, so I am glad to report that it works well. You can adjust the amount according to your tolerance to heat. I find harissa quite pleasant, but you should play with it and see how it works best for you.

Surprisingly, leftovers were still quite good next day, I refreshed it with some additional black sesame seeds, and the flavors seemed to be even better. Cucumbers tend to release a bit of liquid, but not to the point of ruining the salad.   I hope you’ll give this recipe a try, it pairs well with salmon, chicken, pork, and if you have a nice bread, it can even stand alone as a light lunch.

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