Thursday Three: Arugula Recipes

Spring is officially here! Which doesn’t explain why I see snow on the ground and there still isn’t a goddamn thing worth buying at the farmers’ market. Seriously, screw you apples and potatoes. I’m done with you. Because arugula was basically the only thing providing a shade of green at the far mar this weekend, here are three vintage ES arugula recipes to get you through until we start seeing some serious spring veggies.

1. Feta and arugula spring rolls

2. Arugula pesto

3. Zucchini boats with arugula, black beans and mini tomatoes

Remember, you can find all kinds of vegetarian recipes in the ES recipe index.

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Fried Flower Power

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Around this time of year, foodies start spying one of our favorite finds at the farmers markets: zucchini blossoms. These are the pretty yellow flowers that grow above the root of the zucchini plant, and can be harvested to eat before the main squash part is fully grown. Actually, I’m pretty sure that these are kind of like garlic scapes — a part of the plant farmers used to just throw away before they realized they could sell them to us sustainability saps at a premium.

I spotted these guys at my local far mar a few weeks back and loved that they still had the teeny tiny squash part attached. The flowers themselves have a pretty delicate flavor. I know this sounds obvious, but I’m gonna go ahead and say they taste a little bit like a zucchini, a little bit like a flower. After some exploring the Internet, I found that most people go the same route with these — stuffing, breading and frying. Hey, who am I to argue with that?

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Extreme Simmer: The SousVide Supreme

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So after hearing me bitch for the last two years about how everyone on Top Chef gets to sous vide but I don’t, someone finally decided to throw me a bone. The folks over at SousVide Supreme, the first legit sous vide machine aimed at home cooks, sent me over one of their $450 contraptions to test out for a few weeks. Woo-hoo!

For those who need a recap: sous vide cooking involves vacuum sealing ingredients in plastic bags with this neat little contraption:

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That’s actually the most fun part, watching all the air get sucked right out of the bag. Then you submerse the bag in a thermal hot water bath that’s designed to remain at an exact pre-set temperature, down to the degree:

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SOS Zucchini Boats to the Rescue

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I hope everyone has read Westcoast‘s fantastic okra-starring dish, Bhindi Masala with Whole Wheat Dill and Garlic Parathas. And I’m sorry you all could only *read* about it. The day after he made it we met for lunch. He brought his Indian okra leftovers and I brought my Kefir Parsley Pesto with Zucchini, Peas and Udon Noodles leftovers.

He totally fucking won. Especially because the udon noodles sucked up all of the moisture from the veggies and the sauce and, well, it was really bland compared to his spice-heavy mixture.

As we were packing up lunch, he flippantly said he’d be tossing what we hadn’t finished. I clearly was having none of that! I took home some of the masala, one of the parathas and the dill-ed yogurt mixture. But there wasn’t enough for a full meal, which to me is a perfect excuse for some kitchen creativity.

Luckily, it was Monday and I caught Kim O’Donnel’s Meatless Monday post on her new blog, Licking Your Chops, on the site True/Slant. Okay, enough with the plugging for the great KOD.

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Feeling Good About Creaminess

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I’ve only started liking yogurt in the last year, but now I can’t get enough: smoothies, dipssoups. I go to yogurt in a pinch because it adds flavor and consistency, yet can easily adapt to a multitude of culinary situations: it can be sweetened with fruit or it can turn spicy with curry.

And then it can turn into a sauce. Ish.

The PR folks for Lifeway Kefir emailed Endless Simmer about its “healthy, nourishing, drink/yogurt shake.” I had absolutely no idea what it was about, but decided to give it a try. I already know I can’t dig the supermarket yogurt, but figured trying this “staple in much of Europe ” would be fun. Who am I to deny free samples of something that could potentially be a new healthy addiction? (And PS, Maids, this is apparently a legit alternative for the lactards, “The cultures in Lifeway Kefir alleviate the unpleasant side effects that can be associated with milk consumption, even in people who are lactose intolerant.”)

It was one of those fridge clearing nights, especially because I received NINE bottles of Kefir (3 plain, 3 strawberry, 3 vanilla) and really needed to start experimenting. I wasn’t sure how milk-like it was going to be, so I had 80 (milk drinker) take the first sip. Upon the pour I knew he would hate it: Kefir is super thick and I could smell the tang from a foot above.

He grimaced. I gloated.

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Eggs Over Zucchini

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Wait, did I just watch a Phillies game last night: Shane, Chase, Raul, Ryan, Jayson. Oh wait, never mind, it was the All-Star Game, my bad.

Anyway, I’ve had some strike outs recently. And I’ve been lying. 80 admitted it first, but I brushed it off, noting his fear of leafy greens. But I kept trucking along, thinking I could fake my appreciation of the bitterness.

But alone, I faced the truth. I’ve struck out on kale.

I love the look of dinosaur kale, so when I was in a rush at the market this past Saturday I grabbed a crispy bundle of kale, zucchini and yogurt, among a few other treats (peaches are here!)

While 80 went to a bocce captains’ meeting, I fled to the kitchen, knowing I only had to create for my own tastes, which basically meant experimenting with vegetables. When I was brainstorming for my Foodie Fight, I wanted to create long strips of zucchini, but reasoned it wouldn’t work in a spring roll. But I still wanted to try that technique.

I peeled the zucchini length wise, laid the strips down on a cookie sheet, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and threw it under the broiler for only a couple minutes until it softened. The zuke turned slightly sweet and I could get away with cooking it without any fat (of course the dish’s fat would come in other forms.)

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Feed Us Back: Comments of the Week

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Top Chef Masters has ya’ll missing Padma more than you might have thought. Summer:

I’m liking Kelly Choi less and less with every episode. The way she delivers her lines is grating… she emphasizes the end of every sentence to give the impression that what she is saying is SO IMPORTANT! and yet she never seems to have a valid comment to make about the food. She has none of Padma’s elegance.

– Everyone wants in on Britannia’s English Breakfast on a Bun creation. Although Lucy makes a fair point:

It’s not an English breakfast without HP and a cup of tea! Other than that it’s perfect.

– And finally, congrats to gansie on her second-place finish in the zucchini-garama masala foodie fight. Don’t miss battle #7: Pineapple and Basil. Mmmm!

PS – bonus comments of the week points to anyone who can explain what the eff is going on in the Kelly Choi pic above.

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