GRILLED ROMAINE LETTUCE WITH TAHINI DRESSING AND CHICKPEAS

Another food trend I kind of twisted my nose at… grilled lettuce. How wrong can a person be? Very. I am here to gently invite you to the bright side. Don’t eye-roll, just trust me. It is absolutely delicious! You can do it on the outside grill or in the comfort of your kitchen using a non-stick grill pan, which is what I did. I don’t remember the husband getting so excited about a salad, but he gave this one two very enthusiastic thumbs up and insisted it must become part of our regular rotation. I am more than happy to “make it so.”

GRILLED ROMAINE LETTUCE WITH TAHINI DRESSING AND CHICKPEAS
(inspired by several sources)

2 heads of Romaine lettuce, outer leaves removed, sliced in half lenghtwise
olive oil to rub on the surface
salt to taste to season
for the tahini dressing:
1/3 cup yogurt
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt to taste
water to adjust consistency

for the chickpeas:
1 can of chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and dried
olive oil spray to coat chickpeas
salt to taste
smoked paprika to taste (or other spice of your choice)

Make the dressing: combine all ingredients except water in a blender. Blend until smooth, then add water until it reaches the consistency you like. Reserve.

Make the chickpeas: coat them with oil, season and air-fry for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Alternatively, roast them in a 425F oven until done.

Grill the lettuce: rub olive oil on the cut surface of the lettuce, season lightly with salt and pepper. Grill for about 3 minutes, flip the pieces and grill for just a couple of minutes on the other side. Transfer to a serving platter, opening the leaves a bit so that the dressing can reach in between them.

Drizzle the dressing, add the roasted chickpeas, and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: You can grill the lettuce 30 minutes in advance, and just allow it to sit in the serving platter waiting for showtime. You must use Romaine, other lettuces cannot stand to the heat as well, although I did see some recipes using little butter lettuce heads cut in half. I have not tried to use them, to me they seem a bit too delicate. The dressing is so good I could eat it with a spoon. And of course, fried chickpeas take the concept of croutons to a whole new level. A little tip for you that worked super well for me: I air-fryed the chickpeas twice. After they were first made, I let them sit at room temperature, and then right before adding to the salad I fried them again for 2 minutes. The crispiness factor went off the charts. I have to try that again and write down some specific timing but keep this in mind if you own an air-fryer. Elaine and Karen, I am winking at you both!

ONE YEAR AGO: Asparagus and Snow Peas with Walnut Crumbs

TWO YEARS AGO: Yin and Yang Viennoise Bread

THREE YEARS AGO: Extreme Chocolate Cupcakes

FOUR YEARS AGO: Sunflower Seed Kamut Sourdough

FIVE YEARS AGO: The Joys of Grating Squash

SIX YEARS AGO: Auberge Pecan-Walnut Bread

SEVEN YEARS AGO:Gluten-free and Vegan Raspberry Bars
.

EIGHT YEARS AGO:Lasserre, a French Classic
.
NINE YEARS AGO:Sourdough Bread with Walnuts and Dates
.
TEN YEARS AGO:Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Apricot Glaze
.
ELEVEN YEARS AGO: The Real Vodka Sauce
.
TWELVE YEARS AGO:Pork Tenderloin and Blue Cheese


KAMUT AND BROCCOLI SALAD

If I am going to have a salad, my preference is a salad with substance, and a variety of textures and colors. No need to go all the way into a Chicken Caesar or a Steak Salad, but the addition of grains is more than welcome. I used quick-cooking kamut, but any type will work, just pay attention to the timing. Also, any other will be fine: barley, cracked wheat, or the beautiful farro.

KAMUT & BROCCOLI SALAD
(adapted from many sources)

1 cup cooked kamut, or amount to taste
2 broccoli heads, or amount to taste
1/2 cup roasted, salted cashews
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 apple, cut in pieces (I used Pink Lady)
1/4 cup olive oil
juice and zest of 1 lemon
grated ginger to taste
salt and pepper to taste

The kamut can be prepared a day in advance if you like. Make sure it is cold when you make the salad. If you make it in advance, drizzle just a touch of olive oil to prevent the grains from sticking together. Separate the broccoli into florets and steam them for 3 minutes. Immediately run very cold water to stop the cooking. Cut the steamed broccoli into pieces. Reserve.

Make the dressing by whisking the olive oil with lemon juice, add ginger, salt and pepper.

In a large serving bowl, add all the ingredients for the salad, pour the dressing and mix gently. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Allow the salad to sit for 30 minutes before serving, if possible.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The main inspiration for this recipe came from a cookbook I own, but that version served the broccoli raw and passed by the food processor. The pieces of raw broccoli were very small and lost in the middle of the grain, all acquiring the same green color. The way I chose to make it, was barely steaming the broccoli. This simple step tames its raw sharpness. Next, I cut the pieces with a knife, in small chunks. In my opinion, this makes the final product much more appealing not only visually, but as far as texture goes.

The apples and raisins are a must, and the cashews give that extra crunchiness that will leave you smiling… peanuts, walnuts, or pecans, can be used instead.

The added bonus of this salad: it holds quite well in the fridge. I made such a big portion that in fact it lasted two days, and on the second day I decided to warm it in the microwave for a minute. Perfect! A light lunch that needed absolutely nothing else to go with it.

ONE YEAR AGO: Charcoal Peanut Sourdough

TWO YEARS AGO: Chocolate Cake with Coconut Buttercream

THREE YEARS AGO: Berry Rebellion Tarts 

FOUR YEARS AGO: Bergamot-Cherry Macarons

FIVE YEAR AGO: Roasted Veggies with Queso Cotija Dressing

SIX YEARS AGO: Creamy Broccoli and Mushroom Casserole

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Maple Walnut Biscotti

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Barley Risotto with Peas

NINE YEARS AGO: Oatmeal Fudge Bars

TEN YEARS AGO: Cauliflower Steaks

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Soft Spot for Chevre

TWELVE YEARS AGO: Quick sun-dried Tomato Crostini

PASTA CHIP BHEL

Can you tell I am in love with this salad?

But first, a disclaimer… This is by no means an authentic bhel. If you are new to the term, bhel is a concoction from India, made with puffed rice and crispy sev noodles. I’ve found this version by complete accident and was so intrigued by it, I could not wait to try it. However, I have modified it substantially so if there was any resemblance with the authentic bhel, it is pretty much all gone… Can we still be friends?

PASTA CHIP BHEL
(adapted from Naturallynidhy)

for pasta chips:
1 cup cooked pasta (I used fusilli)
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
2 tsp black and white sesame seeds
1/2 tsp black pepper
salt to taste

for the salad:
1 cup mixed colors shredded cabbage or store-bought cole slaw mix
1/2 cup matchstick carrots (or shredded in food processor)
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, finely diced
fresh cilantro leaves
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sweet red chili sauce (I used Thai Kitchen)
1 tbsp black vinegar (or another vinegar of your choice)
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
juice of 1/2 lime (or to taste)
salt to taste
sesame seeds to serve

Turn the air-fryer to the highest temperature (mine is 390F). Mix the pasta with oil, sesame seeds, salt and pepper. Air-fry for about 10 minutes, until crispy and fragrant. If you don’t have an air-fryer, roast in the oven at 400F for about 15 minutes. Let it cool in a single layer over paper towels.

In a large bowl where you will serve the salad, make the dressing by mixing all oil, soy sauce, red chili sauce, vinegar, and chili flakes. Whisk well, then add a little lime juice, taste, and see if you’d like more lime juice. Add the pasta chips and all other ingredients to the bowl, toss well and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving, or longer in the fridge.

Add cilantro and more sesame seeds right before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Talk about exotic flavors and textures, this salad has it all. I am now quite eager to make the real bhel, so stay tuned for that. One of my modifications was using the pasta more like you would “croutons” in a Caesar salad, just like an accent. I believe that in bhel the pasta is a main component.

All the amounts of veggies are suggestions, and super flexible. Use what you like, add other veggies if you prefer. But the idea is to have a lot of texture, and let the sauce barely smooth things out. The salad is vegan-friendly , but we “corrupted” it with grilled pork tenderloin. If you make the pasta as a main component of the salad, this could well work as a full dinner. One more thing, pay close attention to the air-frying step, and shake that pan often. It is easy to end up with some pasta crisps over-cooked. I am definitely making this or modifications of this version again and again.

ONE YEAR AGO: Be My Valentine Sourdough Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: Orange Streusel Cake

THREE YEARS AGO: Pink Praline Brioche

FOUR YEARS AGO: A Spinach Salad to Write Home About

FIVE YEARS AGO: Karen’s Four Hour French Country Bread

SIX YEARS AGO: The Siren’s Song of the Royal Icing

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Blog-worthy Roasted Butternut Squash

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Chocolate Currant Sourdough Loaf & Roasted Beet Hummus

NINE YEARS AGO: Sesame and Flax Seed Sourdough

TEN YEARS AGO: Spanakopita Meatballs

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Saturday Morning Scones

TWELVE YEARS AGO: Pain de Mie au Levain

ROASTED BROCCOLI AND APPLE SALAD WITH TAHINI DRESSING

Easily makes it into the OMG FILES. Everything goes together in perfect harmony, so my advice is not to skip any of the ingredients. Broccoli has that funky nature that people love or hate, but even if you are in the latter group, the apples act as the perfect partner. Like couples that make each other shine a little brighter. I don’t really have a broccoli issue, but maybe some of my readers do, so don’t let that stop you from trying this recipe.

ROASTED BROCCOLI AND APPLE SALAD WITH TAHINI DRESSING
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, adapted from several sources)

for the broccoli:
Broccoli florets, enough to cover a quarter-sheet pan
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste

for the dressing:
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 to 2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoons Dijon mustard

for the salad:
greens of your choice (baby spinach, spring mix, baby arugula)
apples, cored and diced (I used Honeycrisp)

Heat the oven to 420°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or non-stick aluminum foil. Place the broccoli in a bowl, toss with the soy sauce and maple syrup, season with salt and pepper. Spread on the baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes, moving them around half-way through roasting. Remove from the oven and let it cool still spread out, so they don’t steam and get mushy.

In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Set aside. Assemble the salad: add all the ingredients to a large bowl, drizzle the dressing and toss gently. Adjust seasoning with salt, if needed.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: We had this salad twice already, the second time I’ve added roasted slivered almonds and dried cranberries, and it was even better, so I recommend you include them if you like. The inclusion of broccoli makes it more substantial and if you are vegetarian or vegan, a hearty piece of bread will be all you need to call it dinner. Sourdough dipped in balsamic vinegar plus olive oil would be a match made in Vegan Heaven.

ONE YEAR AGO: A Different Kind of Cookie Swap

TWO YEARS AGO: Scary Good Recipes for your next Halloween

THREE YEARS AGO: Pumpkin Sourdough

FOUR YEARS AGO: First Monday Favorite

FIVE YEARS AGO: Secret Recipe Club: Paalak Paneer, a Farewell Post

SIX YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, November 2015

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Helen Fletcher’s Oatmeal Cookies

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Thai-Style Pesto with Brown Rice Pasta

NINE YEARS AGO: Shrimp with Spicy Orange Sauce

TEN YEARS AGO:  A Simple Appetizer (Baked Ricotta)

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Sour Cream Sandwich Bread

TWELVE YEARS AGO: Pasta with Zucchini Strands and Shrimp

TURKEY TACO SALAD

When we go to Mexican restaurants, my default request is taco salad, in part because most other offerings are pretty heavy and the portions huge. At least when I have a salad the risk of getting into a food coma are a bit lower. The inspiration for this version came from many sources, and I must say I’m pretty happy with it. What made it special for me was the inclusion of red cabbage and jicama. Full disclosure: julienning the jicama was not particularly pleasant. A small price to pay.

TURKEY TACO SALAD
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the dressing:
1 small bunch of fresh cilantro (no need for precision here)
1 tablespoon agave nectar
juice from 2 limes (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup grape seed oil

for the salad component:
1 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp kosher salt
3 cups shredded red cabbage
3 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 large jicama, peeled and julienned

Make the dressing: combine all ingredients in a blender or small food processor and puree until as smooth as possible.

Add the red cabbage to a large bowl and add half of the dressing to it. Leave it in the fridge for an hour or so.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil, add the turkey and salt, and cook for a few minutes. Add the chili, cumin, mix, and drizzle about 1/4 cup of water to the pan. Cover, simmer gently for a few minutes, the remove the lid and allow most of the water to evaporate. Reserve.

Assemble the salad: Place the cabbage (already seasoned) on a serving platter, add the lettuce, jicama, toss gently. Add the cooked meat on top, and the additional reserved dressing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you want to turn this into a vegetarian meal, omit the turkey and add roasted garbanzo beans instead. Or maybe sweet potatoes. The red cabbage gives it a very nice texture, and the jicama also contributes a lot. I just wish there was an easy way to deal with jicama, I am always afraid I’ll lose one or two fingers whenever I prepare it. But it has such a nice, fresh flavor. Totally worth the trouble.

I love this dressing. Definitely not for the cilantro-haters out there. Finally, what makes this perfect for me is the contrast of hot and cold. I’ve been planning many meals now with this in mind. We had a very small amount leftover and as usual, I was the lucky one who enjoyed it the following day. My husband is a real gentleman.

ONE YEAR AGO: Cheese and Pesto Emmer Roll-ups and Elaine’s Cookbook Review

TWO YEARS AGO: Mango-Hazelnut Entremet Cake

THREE YEAR AGO: Lebanese Lentil Salad and a Cookbook Review

FOUR YEARS AGO: Cottage Loaf

FIVE YEARS AGO: Sourdough Loaf with Cranberries and Walnuts

SIX YEAR AGO: Sichuan Pork Stir-Fry in Garlic Sauce

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Our Green Trip to Colorado

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Ditalini Pasta Salad

NINE YEARS AGO: Celebrate Wednesday with a Thai Seafood Curry

TEN YEARS AGO:  Post-workout Breakfast

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Semolina Barbecue Buns

TWELVE YEARS AGO: Lavash Crackers