Zippy Radish Salad with Green Onions and Lemon Zest

Zesty, peppery, biting – the flavor of a freshly picked radish is anything but tame.  For this reason, many people tend to shy away from this surprisingly versatile veggie that also happens to be a nutritional powerhouse.

I must admit, radishes hold a very special place in my heart.  On the night we were engaged, my husband Brandon and I ate at a farm to table restaurant in Door County, where we had a perfect appetizer of jewel-toned radishes served with smoked sea salt. In celebration of this simple, yet unforgettable dish, we served radishes as a starter at our wedding as well.  So yeah, I like radishes.

This weekend, my best pal and fellow dietetics student Chetney and I teamed up to do a cooking demonstration at our local farmers market.  We shared and handed out samples of two recipes that showcased some of the season’s best produce, donated by one of the market vendors, Kettle Rock Farm. Our “Zippy Radish Salad” was a big hit, as was the Kickin’ Kale Hummus that’ll be popping up on Chetney’s blog soon.  Under our paper lantern-adorned tent, we prepared this salad from scratch amidst eager market patrons and handed out samples, in response to which many people commented, “I don’t like radishes, but this is delicious!”

Here’s us all apron-ed out in between demos:

Chetney and I at the market

Not only are radishes de-lish, but they’re also a good source of vitamin C, fiber, and some pretty amazing phytonutrients called isothiocyanates, which are also found in broccoli, kale, and the other cruciferous veggies we’ve all come to love.  Isothiocyanates (try saying that three times fast) are known to help rid the body of carcinogens and to inhibit the growth of cancer cells by essentially causing them to self destruct. Read more about these fascinating compounds here.

But now onto the recipe: the reason this super-simple salad was beloved even by the radish-averse is because it tames the vegetable’s bite while allowing just enough of its “zip” to shine through.  It’s like that one perfect dress that plays up all your nice parts while hiding your less-favorite spots. The bulk of the salad is raw chopped radishes and green onions. The “dressing” is plain, whole milk yogurt, salt, pepper, and lemon zest.  The creamy, tangy yogurt plays so well against the sharp flavors of onion and radish while lemon zest brightens everything to just the right flavor-hue to please nearly every palate.  Enjoy with all your favorite picnic foods this summer, replete with pride in your ability to say “isothiocyanates” with a mouthful of zippy radish salad!

radish salad

Zippy Radish Salad
serves 4 as a side dish

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups radishes, chopped into matchsticks
3-4 green onions, sliced into thin rounds, green and white parts
1/4 cup whole milk plain yogurt
1 tsp lemon zest
pepper to taste
1/4 tsp salt, added just before serving

Method:

Combine chopped radishes and green onions in a medium serving bowl.

In a separate bowl, stir together yogurt, lemon zest and pepper in a separate bowl, then pour over vegetables and stir to combine. Just before serving, stir in salt.

Note: if you stir in the salt right away and allow the salad to sit before serving, the radishes will lost their crunch and the salad will become watery.

***Try adding chopped fresh dill, basil, mint or other seasonal herbs for a new flavorful twist!***

zippy radish salad

Nutrition Information – Thank you Chetney for calculating these out!
serving size = ¼ salad

Calories: 18
Fat: 1g
Carbohydrate: 2g
Sugar: 1g
Protein: 1g
Fiber: 1g
Sodium: 157mg
Vitamin A: 8% DV
Vitamin C: 8% DV
Calcium: 4% DV
Iron: 8% DV

Lemony Kale Pesto with Walnuts

I wanted to write something profound about how I often miss the way I felt in church as a kid on Easter Sunday.  The way the trumpets and lilies and hymns stirred my kid soul and made me joyful.  I want to pay homage to those memories, those experiences, but couldn’t find exactly the right words to do so.  So I will simply offer that as a grown up, I’ve gladly realized closeness with the divine has no boundaries. We all just have to find our temples.

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No matter how you choose to celebrate it, Easter can mark a day of renewal, of rebirth.  Check in with your New Year’s resolutions.  Do some deep-belly breathing before you get out of bed.  Let the sun shine on your face for an extra minute or two.  See the beauty in being alive today.  Make a healthy meal to nourish your body and share it with loved ones to nourish your soul.

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I offer you this pesto recipe which you can whip up and use as the base for a springy salad to bring to tomorrow’s festivities.  In this way, you will effectively help counterbalance the salty ham, cheesy potatoes and Cadbury cream eggs.  Don’t even get me started on Peeps.

Lemony Kale and Walnut Pesto

This pesto is great on lots of things.  I used it as the dressing for a cold farro salad studded with golden raisins, currants, toasted walnuts, and chopped roasted red pepper.   Try it on your leftover hard-boiled Easter eggs.  Stir it generously into penne pasta, or slather it on boiled potatoes and throw in some chopped black olives for a quick, greened-up potato salad.

Ingredients:

2 bunches kale (any variety will work but let’s be honest, most of us prefer dinosaur, right?)

2-3 cloves garlic

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup toasted walnuts or other nut of choice

Juice of one large lemon or two small guys

2/3 cup olive oil …ish

salt to taste

water as needed

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Method:

Bring a large (3  quart or bigger) pot of salted water to a rolling boil.

Wash your kale.  Cut off the thick, lower portion of the stems and discard or save for another use. Roughly chop the leaves.

Peel your garlic and drop the cloves into the boiling water.  This will take the bad-breath edge off, amazing!  Then throw all the chopped kale into the pot and use a wooden spoon to make sure everyone is dunked under the water.

Continue cooking kale for about 30 SECONDS, and then quickly retrieve it along with the garlic cloves using a slotted spoon or strainer and drain well.  Save the kale cooking water!

*blanching the kale in this way will denature the enzymes that will eventually turn your kale pesto that nasty shade of olive green/brown as well as tone down the “grassy” flavor, which is nice if you’re serving to a diverse audience (read: picky)*

Use a clean dish towel or paper towel to blot the kale dry and then put it all in a blender along with the garlic, grated cheese, walnuts, lemon juice, and olive oil.  Blend until the consistency resembles a milk shake, adding some of the kale cooking water as needed to move things along.

Once you get the desired consistency, taste the pesto and add salt until it tastes just right.

Pour your pesto into a jar for later use or directly onto some farro or other hearty grain for a great salad/ side dish for your Easter feast!

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Curried Sweet Potato Dip

Noticing my last post was a sweet potato pie recipe, you might be inclined whisper redundant under your breath and run away. Well, not only would that be a little weird of you, but you would also miss out on this great dip you could share with your new found (or age-old) friends.  Friendship and sweet potatoes: two vital components of a well-lived life.

Since starting the dietetics program at Mount Mary last fall, I’ve been steeped in fascinating nutrition knowledge and surrounded by a strong, smart, diverse group of women. I’ve had the privilege to get to know some of these ladies as friends and on Saturday, we celebrated life, food, and friendship.  We brought dishes to share and sipped (gulped?) wine, started a book club, and mulled over life’s big and little questions.  If you would have told me a year ago I’d be writing those words now, about new friends and all, I might not have believed you.  I’ve never been the most gifted friend-maker, and I know a lot of us say that, but anyway, it’s been a blessing, and that is all.

I brought this smooth, spicy, sweet potato dip accompanied by sliced radishes and blue corn tortilla chips.  Whole grain crackers or flatbread would also work quite nicely.  If you leave out the curry powder and swap in some cinnamon, I’d imagine graham crackers would be an excellent dipping vehicle as well.

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So, I changed it some: chickpeas for white beans, more olive oil, no feta, add garlic and cayenne pepper, but I owe the blog Mary Not Martha for the soul of this dip. Topping it with pepitas was a game changer. Thanks for the inspiration ladies!

You can use a blender, immersion blender or food processor to bring this dip together.  If you don’t have any of these, you can whip up a slightly more rustic version by just mashing with a potato masher.

Ingredients:

3 large sweet potatoes

½ cup olive oil, plus as added for thinning dip

1 cup cooked chickpeas

1 Tbsp fresh curry powder (I used Penzey’s Hot Curry Powder)

½ Tbsp garlic, minced or pasted

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

coarse salt and pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) for sprinkling

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Method:

Preheat oven to 450°.  While it warms up, wash sweet potatoes and wrap them in aluminum foil, then place directly on the middle rack and roast for an hour, or until very tender, like borderline mushy.

Let sweet potatoes cool, then remove from foil and working over a large bowl, or food processor, peel away skins, letting the orange flesh slide lusciously into the bowl below.  Mash the flesh with a fork to get out any significant lumps.

Now, add the olive oil, chickpeas, curry powder, garlic, and cayenne, blend with your appliance of choice.  If dip is too thick, add more olive oil.  You’re looking for a consistency around that of a hearty hummus.  Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.

Spoon dip into your serving bowl of choice.  Sprinkle with coarse salt, pepitas (green pumpkin seeds), and more cayenne pepper just before digging in.

Leftovers will last a solid week in the ol’ fridge.

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Sweet Potato Pie with Creamy Vanilla Swirl, People!

Just as there are dog people and cat people, there are most definitely pie people and cake people.  I’d say most dog people are pie people, and many cat people are cake people, but let’s not get into it, okay?  I am both a dog and pie person, but I think even cat-loving cake people will enjoy this pie.

I whipped this baby up for a family get-together during the Christmas season.  It went over swimmingly, with only an enigmatic trapezoid-shaped slice left at the end.  For the love of my GF aunt, it’s wheat-free and the crust is made of (GF) gingersnaps!  Daintily swirled with vanilla scented cream cheese and permeated with soul-warming spices, this pie offers melt in your mouth comfort but doesn’t weigh you down like that slice of triple chocolate cheesecake you wish you hadn’t had.  Beckoning you with loads of vitamin A and antioxidant-laden spices, this is the kind of pie you may have to have a second slice of.

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I came across the recipe in Eating Well magazine, this year’s holiday issue to be exact, which I promptly plastered with post-it notes because ALL the recipes looked amazing.  Aside from this pie, I also made an awesome quinoa & beet salad they featured in a section on ancient grains (pictured below).  The process is simpler if you have a food processor or blender. If not, I’d reluctantly suggest buying canned sweet potato, or better yet, go to Goodwill and hunt down a secondhand blending appliance!  I ❤ my immersion blender.

I adapted this recipe from Eating Well.  I changed a few things, first switching out traditional store-bought gingersnaps for gluten free ones (Mi-Del brand are awesome; try not to eat them all before you make the pie).  I also substituted European-style yogurt for the called-for vanilla Greek variety, (it’s what I had in the fridge and was an easy way cut out some of the added sugar) and then added a teaspoon of vanilla extract. I made the crust with coconut oil instead of canola and bumped up the spices a couple notches.  The sweet potatoes should be roasted in the oven, but can surely be microwaved in a pinch.

Go on, have your pie, and eat it too!

Sweet Potato Pie with Creamy Vanilla Swirl

Prep: 40 minutes              Cooking & cooling time: 4 ½ hours

Serves: however many slices you cut it into : )

Ingredients:

2 medium-large sweet potatoes

6 ounces crispy, gluten free (Mi-del brand) gingersnap cookies (26-28 small cookies)

2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup plain (European-style or Greek) yogurt , divided

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon allspice

1/4  cup (2 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel)

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Method:

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Wrap sweet potatoes in foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast until very tender (test with fork), about an hour. Carefully unwrap and set aside to cool.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°.

Process gingersnaps in a food processor until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl, add coconut oil and stir until well combined.

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Using your fingers, spread and pat the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie pan.

Bake until just barely beginning to darken and your kitchen smells like a gingerbread man’s butthole, about 10 minutes.

Wipe out the food processor workbowl of any lingering gingersnap crumbs.

Peel the sweet potatoes and transfer to the food processor. Puree until smooth, then measure out 1 ½ cups of sweet potato (if you have extra puree, reserve it for another use or eat it, NOW). Return the 1 ½ cups puree to the food processor and add brown sugar, 1/2 cup of the yogurt, eggs, egg yolk, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice; pulse just until combined.

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Pour the sweet potato filling into the (possibly still warm) crust and spread to distribute evenly.

Clean and dry the workbowl.  Add the remaining 1/4 cup yogurt, vanilla extract, Neufchâtel cream cheese, powdered sugar and ginger.  Puree until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.

Now, the fun part(!!!)  Plop tablespoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture onto the sweet potato filling, spacing them evenly. Draw the tip of a wooden skewer or a butter knife through the cream cheese mixture and sweet potato filling repeatedly to create a whimsical swirled design.

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Bake the pie until firm to the touch and starting to puff around the edges, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack, at least 2 hours.  Cracks may occur, don’t cry; you’re about to experience heaven… in pie form.  Now go adopt a Weimaraner and call it a day.

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And here, the lovely ruby-hued quinoa & beet salad:

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Quinoa Black Bean Burgers

Perhaps a strange confession for this digital space of mine, I must admit I’m a real fan of tangible reading materials.  I love to smell the pages of a musty old novel or graze my fingers over the cover of a shiny new copy of Real Simple.  So I subscribe to a couple of in-print magazines.  I love devouring the recipe photos in a brand-new issue of my favorite mags – flashing through a month full of new ideas for things to cook and eat.  I try so hard to savor each article, not looking ahead to the most interesting ones but rather reading it like a book to make it last longer.

Recipe reading is I’m sure a guilty pleasure I share with many in this community of food bloggers and readers.   (When I can’t sleep, I often sit on the loveseat and read the beastly (in size) Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by lamplight until my eyelids get a bit heavier.)  But many times a recipe can be just that, reading material.  Then there are those times, there is that recipe, which jolts you into must-make-this-immediately mode.

Well, for whatever reason these quinoa burgers, featured in Whole Living‘s grilling feature this month, hit that button in me.  I made them as soon as I got home from work (I sometimes get to read my magazines at my job!)  I switched out some ingredients because I didn’t have everything called for on hand, but I feel like these turned out so delish that I’d definitely make these alterna-patties “my way” again.

The original recipe uses kidney beans; I used black.  I also subbed Vidalia onions for shallot, crumbled goat cheese instead of feta, whole eggs instead of whites, and added cornmeal to dry up the mixture a little and make patty-formation a much easier feat.

I melted Wisconsin cheddar onto a whole-wheat tortilla in the frying pan and then folded the hot tortilla around the burgers.  If I’d had avocado, it would have been a big-money addition to this sandwich.

I must say though, these turned out great.  They were everything I want a frozen black bean burger to be but never is: fresh-tasting, bearing a perfectly crisp exterior and soft, warm interior.  Perhaps it was the lack of hydrolyzed soy protein or maybe just the way I formed them by hand and cooked them so lovingly in their wading pool of olive oil.  I like that you can really taste the beans, because I sure like beans – quinoa boldly offers up its winning texture while grated carrots and goat cheese lend crunch and creaminess respectively.

Try these – even if like me, you don’t have a grill.  Eat them outside if you can because everything tastes better that way.  The burgers are not too hard to make, and with a side of roasted veggies and perhaps a watermelon wedge, they make a darn good meat-free Monday supper.  I recommend making extras so you can heat one up whenever you need a quick lunch this week!

Quinoa Black Bean Burgers – makes 6 sandwiches

adapted from Whole Living magazine – June 2012

Ingredients:

1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed well

½ medium Vidalia or other sweet onion, finely chopped

1 big or 2 medium carrots, scrubbed and finely grated

2 cups cooked quinoa (any color!)

½ cup crumbled goat cheese

1 teaspoon coarse salt

2 eggs, lightly whisked

¼ cup cornmeal or as needed for consistency

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 100% whole wheat tortillas

cheddar cheese and avocado for sandwich assembly

Method:

In a biggish bowl, mash black beans into a thick paste with a fork, then mix in onion, carrot, cooked quinoa (slightly cooled), goat cheese, salt, and eggs.  Incorporate cornmeal by the tablespoon until mixture resembles something you could make patties out of (not runny).

Form mixture into six or so patties and allow to chill out in fridge for 30 minutes on a wax paper lined plate.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat (or directly on grill grates if you are so lucky and inclined) and cook patties until golden brown (add remaining tablespoon oil if cooking in batches), 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Remove burgers to paper towel lined plate.  Turn heat to medium/low, warm tortillas in same pan, sprinkling with cheddar, until cheese is just melted.

Serve burgers snuggled inside the tortillas with slices of avocado to your liking.

Note: you can cook all the burgers right away and just heat up leftovers, or leave remaining patties uncooked until ready to eat to ensure crisp burgers each time.

Here We Go and Carrot Soup

Hi there.

Starting is the hardest part.  True of most worthwhile tasks, creating this place to impart upon the the world wide web parts of my life, fairly intimate parts like what I eat and how I make it and how it makes me feel, has been no exception.  For well over a year “start a food blog” has been oscillating between my long and short term to-do lists.  Well here we are, and here we go.

I wanted to start with something bright, a vibrant dish that would make a statement about my cooking style and food values.  From humble beginnings.  Yes, and so it is soup.  Healthy, colorful, funkily-combined-ingredients-that-happen-to-be-around soup that we shall commence with herein henceforth.

Start with carrots.  Fresh as possible to lay down the base for full-flavor potential since these will be the stars of your soupy show.  Winter time here in Wisconsin turns out some pretty sweet (tasting) carrots thanks to the cold temperatures that cause these guys to store sugar instead of starch in their root parts.  Although it is now technically spring, and how early and abundantly it has come to us, the carrots at the grocery store are of course still hauling ass from Cali-forn-i-a, but sniffing around a late winter farmer’s markets might just turn up some orange gems for this recipe.  Alternatively, if you want to wait until next year to make this soup you could grow your own. 

Kale, cashews, and ginger are the back up singers in this show.  Ginger sings loudest of the three, but only if you use fresh chopped.  Cashews lend a slight meaty chew and creamy consistency so we can keep things light by skipping the animal products.  Kale adds color contrast and a dose of vits to boot, plus it smells like fresh cut grass when you shred it for the soup.  Ahh…

The soup is light, not especially hearty – it will shine forth from your bowl singing a little hallelujah of orange and green.  Upon first bite, the ginger leaves itself lingering after the other flavors slide away.  And soon the bowl is empty and your stomach feels like sunshine.  It’s a good soup for the afternoon time, before a hike or a trip to the grocery store.   Serve it with bread or a dollop of yogurt and some triscuit crackers.  Now get cooking friends!

Ingredients:

1 medium sized shallot, diced

1 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic minced

2 inch chunk fresh ginger, minced

Spices: curry powder, nutmeg, ground ginger, cinnamon

1/3 cup raw cashews coarsely chopped

6 medium-large carrots scrubbed and chopped into ½ inch thick coins

4 cups stock of vegetable or chicken – homemade or store bought

Salt to taste

1 bunch (8-10 leaves) dinosaur kale, coarsely shredded into strips

Juice of half a lemon

This is how we do it:

Sauté shallot in 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon olive oil for 2 min in dutch oven or stockpot

Add garlic and ginger and let cook for 1 more minute

Add spices – 2 teaspoons curry powder, a few grinds of fresh nutmeg if you’ve got it, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, a sprinkle of cinnamon if you’re feeling crazy- along with 1/3 cup coarsely chopped cashews, toast spices and nuts for an addition minute or two, deglaze pan with splash of stock or water if ingredients become dry or start to burn.

Toss in chopped carrots and 3.5 cups cooking liquid of choice – I used store bought low-sodium chicken stock.  Bring to gentle boil for a minutes, then reduce to simmer and cook uncovered for 15 minutes or until carrots are tender upon testing by tasting one, after of course blowing on it until cool enough to pop in your mouth. The carrots should give easily when chewed, but not be falling apart in the pot.

While allowing carrot mixture to cool slightly, heat a frying pan with some olive oil and sauté coarsely chopped kale, in 2 batches if necessary, until wilted and maybe even slightly crisp.

Leave kale alone for a while (most varieties don’t suffer from separation anxiety) and ladle some of the carrots and broth into a blender, getting a good 50/50 ratio of carrots to broth.  Fill only a little above halfway, then cover top of the blender with a clean towel or oven mitt and puree until smooth, but not so much that you lose sight of all the pale flecks of ginger, garlic and cashew.

It will take a few runs of the blender to get all the soup blended up, and you will probably need a separate pot to put the finished stuff in.  I hope your significant other likes to do dishes as much as mine does, and if your significant other’s name is Whirlpool or Maytag, I applaud you.

Once all soup is pureed and back in a pot, turn the heat back on medium low and begin stirring in the kale.  Give it about 5 minutes for the carrots and kale to get acquainted then add salt to taste and squeeze in half a lemon’s juice to finish. Well now – you’ve got yourself a pot of carrot ginger kale soup.  Well done.

Stir in a splash or two of half and half right before serving if you’d like a silkier texture.