Batter Licker

June 29, 2011

whole wheat pearl couscous salad with pistachio-broccoli pesto

When I first discovered Bob Red Mill’s new line of whole wheat pearl couscous at the BlogHer Food Conference in Atlanta, I was instantly hooked by the nutty flavor. I even smuggled a few sample bags back to San Francisco, and couldn’t wait to play around with the wholesome, round bites of pasta. Except that I actually did wait quite a bit – two entire months – before finding the perfect opportunity to use these precious samples.

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The opportunity came in the form of an orzo salad recipe I came across while flipping through Heidi Swanson’s superb cookbook, Super Natural Every Day). I decided to substitute the whole wheat pearl couscous for the orzo to add some wholesomeness while keeping the bite of a small, salad-friendly pasta.

But the combination of a broccoli pesto with broccoli florets, avocado and crunchy nuts were what initially drew me to the recipe. I’ve been known to easily polish off several cups of broccoli – raw, steamed, sauteed, or roasted. Yet I had never tried a broccoli pesto. Clearly, the time was nigh.
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May 26, 2011

green garlic pestoed asparagus “noodles” with poached egg

After whipping up a spontaneous batch of Green Garlic Walnut Pesto in less than five minutes, I found myself adding it to everything I could think of. Smearing a knifeful onto bruschetta; mixing a forkful into scrambled eggs; tossing a heaping spoonful into pasta. As I’ve admitted before, I’m a garlic fiend.

Peering into my fridge to find another pestoed possibility, a friendly bouquet of asparagus waved back at me, and I contemplated a twist on the traditional asparagus with poached egg.


Vegetable peeler in hand, I scraped away at the elegant asparagus stalks and reduced them to noodle-like strands. Halfway through, I wondered whether I had gone completely mad and destroyed a perfectly beautiful spring vegetable. But it was a bit too late to turn back. (more…)

April 8, 2011

asparagus, radish and smoked trout salad with lemon, dijon and balsamic vinaigrette

I remember picking radishes out of my mother’s garden as a child. And I’m almost certain that I did not clean them with as much diligence (and an entire bottle of hand soap) as the first baby carrots I ever pulled out of the ground. Rather, I brushed off the dirt with my shirt, twisted off the ugly root, and dove right in. Crunchy and spicy, I enjoyed the radish in its freshest and rawest state without any adornments. But unfortunately, I never thought to approach asparagus in the same way.

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Fresh asparagus, as I appreciate it now, signals the decline of thick greens and hearty root vegetables, and ushers in the lighter, more uplifting assortment that spring has to offer. However, in my childhood memories, I recall asparagus as a rather sad, drooping and stringy set of spears that were often overcooked, as that is the easiest and most frequent method of preparing a veggie that barely needs any time to cook. Except for eating it raw. (more…)

April 4, 2011

mexican carrot slaw

Filed under: mexican,salad,vegan,veggies — Tags: , , , , , , , — Kristen @ 3:11 pm

When I made Smoky Black Bean and Spinach Soup last week, it was not quite so grey and cold out as it has been of late. Instead, a warm and sunny day had shifted into a temperate and windless evening, which is unusual by San Francisco standards. I blame this sudden change into decidedly spring-appropriate weather for creating my otherwise inexplicable craving for carrots on that soup-dedicated evening. Seriously … who ever really craves carrots?!?

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To satisfy my desire for the crunchy and sweet root vegetable, I quickly ran a carrot against a coarse grater. To tie it in with the Mexican flavor profile of the soup and balance out the sweetness of the carrot, I added some fresh cilantro, tart lime, smoky cumin, and spicy hot sauce. (more…)

March 10, 2011

celery root and cabbage in drunken mustard sauce

Growing up, my mother always made corned beef, cabbage and potatoes for St. Patrick’s Day. I can’t recall eating cabbage any other day in the entire year, but I really looked forward to it each March. This year, I couldn’t quite wait for the holiday to arrive (and I didn’t have any corned beef left over quite yet to make corned beef hash and cheese bread), so I got my cabbage fix in a little early, swapping out traditional potatoes for the lighter, foodier celery root in the process.

If you have not tried celery root (also called celeriac) before, it’s a really strange-looking type of celery that’s grown as a root vegetable. Don’t be intimidated by its furrowed surface, as it actually has a very mild flavor that seems to be a cross between a potato and celery. But unlike its root vegetable brethren, celery root is very light in starch. Give it a try; you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised that this ugly root can taste so light and fresh!

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As for cabbage, I know it’s not the most popular leafy green vegetable in the produce section. And if you’ve ever had it cooked to death in a soup or stew, or boiled to death for St. Patrick’s Day, I don’t blame you for hating it. But if you give cabbage another chance, you might find that it can taste positively delightful when cooked properly to an “al dente” texture that retains the slightest bit of crunch. And it’s usually dirt cheap.


The combination of al dente strips of cabbage and tender cubes of celery root creates a surprisingly light and fresh-tasting dish, as contrasted with the heavier boiled cabbage and potato combination. (more…)

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