Fast and Fantastic in the Kitchen Celebrates Summer

22 Jun

Last night we had a cooking class at Whole Foods where we shared some yummy seasonal recipes. We decided to do this class to go along with the theme of the CSA Challenge, so we picked recipes that used ingredients many people are seeing at farmer’s markets right now or in their CSA boxes. In order to broaden your horizons, we also tried to pick ingredients that may be a little bit unusual for people. Using new or strange ingredients doesn’t have to make cooking complicated, and it shouldn’t be scary. It really helps to spice up your everyday meals while giving you needed nutritional variety. As usual our recipes reduce the most common food allergies, and the meals are balanced, beautiful, delicious and nutritious.

Some of the ingredients we used that some people might not be so familiar with are: ramps, pea shoots, cannellini beans, quinoa and agave. Ramps are a vegetable that look very similar to a scallion, with the same bulb, but they have broad leaves and a purple stem. They are native to North America and are sometimes referred to as wild leeks or spring onions. They taste like a cross between an onion and garlic, and the entire thing is edible, bulb, stem and leaves. They are popular sauteed in olive oil as a breakfast side dish or with eggs on top. They are high in vitamins A and C, selenium and chromium.

Pea shoots are very pretty, delicate looking tendrils, with a distinctive pea flavor. The peas themselves take a whole summer to grow, but the shoots are harvested after just 2 to 4 weeks. You can eat them raw or cooked; they are excellent either way. They are packed with vitamins A, C and folic acid.

Cannellini beans are similar to kidney beans and they are very popular in Italy. They are high in protein, fiber, minerals and B vitamins. When taste testing the recipes we made for the cooking class, we decided that we may even like the taste and texture of these beans more than chickpeas. And chickpeas have been a long time favorite of mine.

Quinoa is comprised of seeds that come from a grain-like plant, but it is actually more closely related to beets and spinach than cereal or grains. It has a high protein content and also a complete protein, making it an excellent vegetarian protein source. It is also high in fiber, phosphorous, magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free so it works as a great replacement for rice and other grains, and you also cook it the same way as you would rice, so it’s very simple. You just have to make sure you rinse it before cooking to remove the saponins which create a bitter tasting coating. You can even use it as a gluten-free hot breakfast cereal/dessert. With a little coconut milk and maple syrup. Mmmm.

Agave nectar comes from the agave plant (yes, the same one that tequila is made from). It is 40% sweeter than white sugar, and it doesn’t cause spikes in blood sugar like refined sugars do. It has a taste comparable to honey. You’ll often see two types of agave nectar in grocery stores, light or dark. Light just means that it’s gone through more filtration, whereas the dark is less filtered and has more of a maple syrup taste.

 Sheila assembling the Chickpea, Avocado and Pea Shoot Salad with Orange Dill Dressing

Chopping up some fresh leeks, scallions and sun-dried tomatoes for the bean appetizer

Salmon Cake with Creamy Chive Dressing

Chewy Chocolate Macaroon with Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce

Ginger Lime Mocktail
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon zested ginger
6 drops stevia
9 ounces sparkling water
1 mint sprig

  1. Muddle the stevia, ginger and mint in a sturdy glass.
  2. Fill glass with ice. Pour lime juice and sparkling water over the top.

Cannellini Beans with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Ramps on Rice Crackers
8 sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup water
12 ramps
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon mirin
1 cup cooked cannellini beans
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Place sun-dried tomatoes in a small bowl. Bring water to a boil, pour over tomatoes and set aside for 15 minutes or until soft. Remove tomatoes from bowl and save soaking water. Mince tomatoes and set aside.
  2. Wash ramps, cut off and discard root ends and chop bulbs and greens into thin slices. In a large skillet over medium heat, saute tomatoes in olive oil for 3 minutes. Add ramps and mirin and continue sauteing for 2 minutes. Add tomato liquid 1 tablespoon at a time as needed to prevent sticking. Add beans and 2 tablespoons more of the tomato liquid. Continue cooking until beans are heated though and there is almost no liquid remaining in the pan.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper, remove from heat, and serve with rice crackers.

You could puree this for a more smooth dip, we wanted it chunky so everyone could see the ingredients they were tasting. It also looks very pretty chunky. This can also be eaten as a main course either alone or over a bed of greens. Whole Foods actually didn’t have ramps the night of the class, I have seen them there previously though. We substituted a leek and some scallions for the ramps.

Chickpea, Avocado and Pea Shoot Salad
1/2 small red onion
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2-3 red radishes, thinly sliced
4 cups water
1/2 red bell pepper
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
1 cup pea shoots, washed
dressing:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
zest of one orange
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon freshly chopped dill
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Place onion, carrot, radishes and chickpeas in a large bowl. Bring water to a boil and pour over vegetables. Let sit 2-3 minutes to soften vegetables. Drain water well and set aside.
  2. In a small skillet over medium heat, prepare dressing by whisking together olive oil, vinegar, orange juice and zest, lime juice and dill. Season to taste with salt and pepper and simmer until heated though.
  3. Add red pepper, avocado and pea shoots to salad and drizzle with dressing. Toss to coat and serve warm.

This salad was a big hit. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any fresh dill available. We substituted fresh chives which turned out just fine. If you can’t find pea shoots, you could use watercress or arugula or really any sort of tasty green you’d like.

Salmon Cakes with Creamy Dill Dressing
3-4 green onions, trimmed
1 large handful fresh cilantro
1-2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 to 1 1/2 pounds wild-caught salmon, skinned and deboned, canned is fine
1 cup cooked quinoa

  1. Using a food processor, process the green onions, cilantro, lemon zest, seasoning salt and black pepper until finely minced.
  2. Add the salmon and quinoa and process to desired texture.
  3. Form into patties and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place under broiler until they start getting browned and crispy, then flip them and broil the other side.

Creamy Dill Dressing
1 cup plain greek yogurt
4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill **again, we didn’t have dill so we substituted chives**
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
pinch salt
1/4 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse to combine.
  2. Add water to desired thickness.

We ate these just as they were with the dressing on top, but you could eat them as salmon burgers on a bun, over greens or in a wrap. I actually had one over watercress with a poached egg on top which was delicious.

Chewy Chocolate Macaroons with Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce
2 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon almond extract
6 ounces 100% dark chocolate

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the coconut and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, maple syrup and almond extract. Add to coconut and mix until evenly moist.
  3. Melt chocolate in a double boiler or over very low heat in a small pot. Pour onto coconut mixture. Fold evenly until combined.
  4. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Scoop batter by the tablespoonful and place on cookie sheet. Gently press. Bake 18-20 minutes; until tops appear dry.
  5. Let cool and drizzle with sauce.

Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce
2 cups rhubarb
2 cups strawberries
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 – 1 cup agave nectar

  1. Cook down rhubarb and strawberries over medium heat.
  2. Add salt and vanilla. Mash and mix to desired consistency.
  3. Add in agave and serve.

We didn’t have any fresh rhubarb, but frozen worked just fine.

**Some recipes sourced and adapted from Clean Start by Terry Walters and from Elana’s Pantry

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