Frisee and Traviso Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette

Salad Blood Orange Evoo

Yield: 3 to 4 servings

 

1 large shallot, peeled and diced small

2 tablespoons aged sherry vinegar

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 small heads of frisee, cored and leaves cut in half, lengthwise

1 head traviso, cut into 1/3 inch slices on a bias

kosher salt, to taste

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

8 medjool dates, pitted and quartered

3-ounces chevre, torn into small pieces

½ cup pomegranate seeds

½ cup marcona almonds

 

In a small container with a tight fitting lid, combine the shallot, sherry vinegar and olive oil, close the lid tightly, and shake well to combine. Or, whisk to combine the ingredients in a small bowl.

In a medium bowl, combine the frisee, traviso and vinaigrette. Mix together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Divide the salad equally among plates. Equally divide the dates, chevre, pomegranate seeds and marcona almonds among the plates.

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Drought Friendly Eggless Shakshuka

On March 18, Super Sous and I posted a blog about the California Drought and how it affects the entire United States via the food grown in California (50% of California fruits and veggies are exported across the US – not just to grocery stores, but to restaurants, institutions, hospitals, schools, etc.).

Another thing that we mentioned in the blog post, is that we (Super Sous and I) have decided to create some “Drought Friendly Recipes”. Since 74% of all water in California is used for agriculture, our idea is that we can incorporate foods into our day-to-day lives that have a lower water footprint (than others).

For example, if the Water Footprint Organization says (global average) that it takes 28 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of lettuce, this might be a better drought friendly food choice than, say, eating a pound of figs which they slate at 401 gallons of water per pound.

Of course, figs and lettuce have different nutritional properties (and you are probably not going to eat a pound of either in one sitting!), but these drought friendly recipes aren’t about completely re-arranging your diet or skipping out on the nutrients you need. It’s about being aware of the drought and what each of us can do to conserve our precious water. If we can substitute a “water heavy” meal (like beef which is calculated to take anywhere between 1500 to 2000 gallons of water per pound), for a drought friendly recipe even once a week, it will make a difference in terms of conservation. (Fun fact: Did you know that 1 pound of goat meat takes only 127 gallons of water to produce?)

Now, this is not a perfect science/water calculation and we know it.

This is about having a conversation about the drought and dialoguing about conservation and solutions.

Our first “Drought Friendly” recipe is an Eggless Shakshuka. Shakshuka is a North African egg dish with tomatoes, onions and spices. Here, Super Sous and I substitute eggs with goat cheese and avocado. You can add both goat cheese and avocado or choose one or the other. Whatever you like best.

1 egg is cited by National Geographic to require 53 gallons of water to produce, whereas 1 pound of avocados (2-3 avocados) takes  237 gallons. Shakshuka would normally call for 6 eggs. So, this dish, (eggs alone) would take 317 gallons of water to produce. The 1 avocado used is 1/3 of that. And whereas a typical American breakfast might be eggs and bacon breakfast or a cup of greek yogurt or grabbing something on the go, this is a great alternative.

Since I began on my culinary journey, from learning how to garden with my grandparents as a child to working at farmers markets for over 10 years to cooking on television, I have always told people to shop locally as much as possible. Go to farmers markets, shop in season and support your local farmer, when you can. If you live outside of California, for example in Virginia where I’m from, and you are buying all of your meat and produce locally, and you are cooking all your meals at home, then wow! you are amazing and Super Sous I want to come over for dinner! But seriously, if you are able to do such a thing, than these recipes will be more food for thought than drought friendly conservation efforts. However, most of us don’t cook every meal at home. And most people don’t shop solely at farmers market nor even have that option depending on where in the country we live and what time of year it is. So, there’s a good chance you are shopping at grocery stores and eating at restaurants that are using California produce.

The last thing I want to mention is about food waste. This recipe calls for beet greens. There are so many recipes for beets out there, but less so for beet greens (although they are so tasty). Super Sous and I want to utilize as much as possible of the fruit and/or vegetable we are cooking with. 40% of all food goes to waste in the United States which translates to trillions of lost gallons of water. No need to discard the beet greens next time you grab a bunch of beets – here’s a great way to enjoy them.

Finally, Super Sous and I would love to hear from you. Comments, questions, thoughts, ideas, etc. Like I wrote, this is not an exact science or a strict dietary plan or about restricting your meals or nutritional needs. This is about a conversation that needs to be happening a lot more.

So, let’s gather around the communal table and discuss. I’ll bring the bread, you bring the shakshuka.

Shakshuka Goat Cheese

Shakshuka with goat cheese only

Shakshuka Goat and Avocado

Shakshuka with goat cheese and avocado

Drought Friendly Eggless Shakshuka

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced medium (1½ cups)

10 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (3 tablespoons)

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika

¼ teaspoon crushed red chile pepper (chile flakes)

2 cups roughly chopped beet greens, rinsed but not dried

2 large fire-roasted red bell peppers, diced medium

1 (28-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 small avocado, pitted and sliced

3 tablespoons fresh goat cheese (chevre)

20 fresh cilantro leaves

1 baguette, sliced into large pieces

Place a large sauté pan over medium-low heat and add oil, onion and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.

Add garlic, cumin, paprika and chile flakes. Stir and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add beet greens and stir. The remaining moisture from rinsing the greens will release any brown bits from the bottom of the sauté pan. Continue cooking and stirring, for 3 to 5 minutes, until the greens have softened.

Add the peppers, tomatoes and black pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for approximately 10 minutes, until the liquid has thickened slightly.

Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.

Remove from heat.

Arrange slices of avocado and dollops of goat cheese on the shakshuka. Sprinkle over fresh cilantro.

Serve on plates with a slice of fresh baguette.

Roasted Sweet Potato Sandwich with Fresh Goat Cheese and Honey

It’s another meatless Monday dish – this time, a hearty veggie sandwich perfectly suited for this cold time of year when sweet potatoes are plentiful!

Roasted Sweet Potato Sandwich

Roasted Sweet Potato Sandwich with Goat Cheese and Honey

Yield: 2 sandwiches

 

For Sweet Potato

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut width wise into ¾-inch rounds

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing on onion slices

1½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

kosher salt, for seasoning

freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning

1 large red onion, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch rounds

Balsamic vinegar, for brushing on onion slices

 

Place an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add the sweet potato, olive oil, thyme, cinnamon, and a healthy dash of salt and pepper. to a large bowl. Toss until well combined.

Place sweet potato in a single layer on a parchment lined sheet tray.

Place onion rounds on the same sheet tray (use an additional sheet tray if needed) and brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper on both sides of the onion. Using a brush or your finger, rub a small amount of balsamic vinegar on each of the tops of the onion rounds, just enough to cover and coat the top.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until potato is cooked through and onion is soft.

 

For Sandwich

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small bunch of mixed greens

1 small loaf of walnut (or any other nut or seed bread), cut into 4 sandwich slices

¼ fresh cup goat cheese

1½ tablespoons honey

 

Whisk to combine vinegar and olive oil in a small bowl. Gently toss some greens in a small bowl to lightly coat with the vinaigrette.

Spread goat cheese on sandwich slices and drizzle honey over the goat cheese. Place a layer of roasted sweet potato on the bottom slice of bread. Add a layer of roasted onions (the more the better!) and top with some of the dressed mixed greens. Top with remaining slice of bread and enjoy.

 

 

 

Spiced Roasted Eggplant Tomato Soup with Fresh Goat Cheese

Since it’s cooling down in some places (certainly not in Los Angeles!), here’s one for a crisp afternoon or cold evening – using the end of summer eggplants from  your local farmers market.

Spiced Roast Eggplant Tomato Soup

Spiced Roasted Eggplant Tomato Soup with Fresh Goat Cheese

Yield: 8 servings

1 large Italian eggplant, peeled and diced medium (approximately 7 to 8 cups)

7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling

½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

2 large yellow onions, peeled and diced small (3 cups)

6 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly (2 tablespoons)

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme

¾ teaspoon garam masala

⅛ teaspoon crushed red chile pepper (chile flakes), or to taste

1 dried bay leaf

1 teaspoon ground paprika

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained, preferably fire-roasted

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint

Fresh Goat Cheese/Chevre, for serving

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, then preheat the oven to 450ºF.

In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with 3 tablespoons olive oil, and season well with some salt and pepper.

Lay the eggplants in a single layer on two sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Place into the oven, and roast, uncovered, until lightly colored, approximately 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.

Add 4 tablespoons olive oil and the onions to a small pot over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.

Stir in the garlic, thyme, garam masala, chile flakes, bay leaf, and paprika, and cook until fragrant, 1 minute

Pour in the tomatoes and stock and add the salt and pepper.

Turn the heat to high, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Check the eggplants; if they are lightly colored, remove them from the oven.

Add the eggplants and the stock to the tomato mixture and stir. Increase the heat to high and bring to a simmer.

Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaf.

Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth.

Add lemon juice, a healthy pinch of salt, and a few really good grinds of pepper. Blend once more. Taste and adjust seasoning once more with additional lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Serve in soup bowls with a drizzle of olive oil, a little goat cheese, and a sprinkling of the chopped parsley and mint.