Strawberry Salad

Delicious with raspberries too, this salad is a great combination of flavors, colors and textures.

Delicious with raspberries too, this salad is a great combination of flavors, colors and textures.

Recently, I was cooking for a friend’s birthday and she requested a salad with berries. With my farmer’s market filled with local strawberries, my fondness for arugula and my belief that everything-is-better-with-avocado, this salad was a no brainer. I added some walnuts for crunch, some sheep’s milk cheese for salty-umaminess and a lemony-sherry dressing. Birthday worthy.

Strawberry and Arugula Salad

Makes four small salads or two large salads

For the dressing:

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon mince shallot

1 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

For the salad:

4 cups baby arugula, washed and dried

1 cup strawberries, stems removed and cut into bite-size pieces

1 avocado, pitted, peeled and cut into slices

¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts (I like to toast them for a better texture)

¼ cup grated pecorino or manchego cheese

1) Prepare the vinaigrette: Combine the mustard, shallot, vinegar and lemon juice in a small bowl. Drizzle the olive oil into the bowl while whisking to blend. Season with salt and pepper.

2) Combine the arugula, strawberries, avocado and nuts in a bowl. Add the vinaigrette to taste, salt and pepper and toss. Divide the salad among the plates and garnish each with the cheese.



Using My Noodles

A new vegetable this week at my CSA: red noodle beans! Known also as yard long beans (although mine are more like foot-long beans), these purple-hued string beans have a firm crunch and slight nutty flavor. Some sources said they would lose their color when cooked, but mine stayed a dark, burgundy color through stir-frying and blanching.

Last week I stir-fried a batch with some garlic, soy sauce and sesame seeds. This week, I decided to make a salad with some delicious cherry-style tomatoes and pumpkin seeds. Inspired by a recipe I saw in The Gourmet Cookbook, I made a Mexican-style pesto using green pumpkin seeds, cilantro and some pickled garlic scapes I had in the refrigerator. No pickled garlic scapes lying around the house? A fresh clove of garlic will do the trick.

Being a chef, I plated the salads individually and coiled the noodle beans up like, well, noodles on the plate, put the tomatoes in the middle and drizzled the sauce around. The whole thing could just as easily be tossed together in a bowl and served family style.

Red Noodle Bean and Tomato Salad with Pumpkin Seed Pesto

This salad would be great with any type of pole bean

Makes 4 to 6 servings

For the pesto:

1/3 cup green pumpkin seeds

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice

2 tablespoons pickled garlic scapes (or 1 tablespoon minced garlic)

3 tablespoons cilantro leaves

Water as needed

Salt and pepper to taste

For the salad:

1 pound red noodle beans, trimmed and stringed (or 1 pound of string or wax beans)

1 cup small tomatoes (cherry, sungold, etc) or, 1-2 heirloom or other ripe tomatoes

1 teaspoon toasted cumin seeds

Chopped cilantro for garnish, if desired

  1. Toast the pumpkin seeds: Place the pumpkin seeds in a small, dry sauté pan over medium heat. Stir the seeds constantly for 3-5 minutes until they begin to brown and puff. Remove from the heat.
  2. Place the pumpkin seeds, olive oil, lime juice, garlic scapes and cilantro in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Thin with water if the pesto is too thick. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Fill a large saucepot with cold water and bring to a boil. Add salt. Blanch the red noodle beans for 2-3 minutes. They should still be crisp. Drain and immediately place the beans into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain the beans, dry and place in a bowl.
  4. Cut the tomatoes into bite size pieces. Add to the cooled beans.
  5. Toast the cumin seeds for 1-2 minutes following the pumpkin seed method. Sprinkle the seeds over the salad.
  6. Divide the salad between 4-6 plates and drizzle with the dressing. Garnish with the chopped cilantro, if desired.