Thursday, June 9, 2011

Green Tomato Salsa

Jesse and I discovered the magic of green tomatoes last spring. I know, we're late to the game, but in our defense, we live in New England - up here, people just kind of wait for them to ripen. Blame it on Yankee stubbornness, I guess. Regardless, we were desperate for tomatoes last spring and when Beth's set out a pile of green ones, we decided that unripe tomatoes were better than no tomatoes, and resolved to figure something out. A few hours, some Googling and a pot of hot oil later, we entered "The Summer of the Fried Green Tomato," and never looked back.

Green tomatoes showed up at Beth's again last week, and after making the requisite batch of fried green babies (recipe forthcoming), we decided to try something new. It was fish taco night - oh, I live for fish taco night - and running out to the store for salsa would break our "no store between grocery trips" rule. So, we got creative with the leftover green tomato, and an almost-ripe hydroponic* one we had languishing on the sill. Some homemade tortillas, pan-fried haddock and a dollop of sour cream, and we were happy campers!

 Green Tomato Salsa
This is, of course, a very adaptable recipe. Add a chopped chili for some spice, toss in cumin or fresh corn, sub vinegar for the lemon juice - salsa loves to be fiddled with.

1 large green tomato
1 small ripe tomato (or ripe-ish)
1/2 red onion, diced
Small bunch cilantro, chopped - we used some we had frozen from last summer
2 cloves garlic, minced
juice of one lemon
Sea salt to taste

If you can, let the salsa sit a few minutes before serving.


*Is it just me, or are hydroponic tomatoes a terrible idea? To me, tomatoes taste like the soil - they're warm and flavorful and rich. Hydroponic ones, for some reason, always seem to be lacking that. They look like tomatoes, but that seems to be where the similarities end. There's a local tomato operation that grows hydroponically year-round and we break down occasionally and buy one because, gosh, it's such a LONG stretch between tomato seasons! But we always regret it because, sigh, it's just not the same. End ramble.  

Monday, June 6, 2011

Spring Egg Salad

There is absolutely nothing fancy about egg salad. I don't care how you dress it up, whether you smoosh caviar or sriracha or gold leaf into it, or serve it on baguettes or those fancy crackers with the seeds - it's still egg, smashed with something creamy. It is peasant food. And I love it.

Egg salad is one of those things that people have a very immediate reaction to - you either fancy it, or think it's totally disgusting. No one likes to have people wrinkle their nose at your lunch - it's just not nice, and kind of ruins the experience. As such, I spent years avoiding my true love for it, refusing to pack it in my school lunch or order it at the deli.

But you know what? I don't care anymore! I am emerging from the egg salad closet, head held high, proclaiming for all the world to hear - "yum."

One thing I like about egg salad is how flexible it is - you can use mayo or yogurt, mix in mustard or chives or walnuts, smear it on bread or crackers or dip into it with pretzels. It's very fickle-person friendly. Also, it's filling, and when chasing a school full of teenagers, and a house full of toddler, it's easy to forget to eat, so your meals should be as filling as possible.

I find myself making egg salad weekly these days. We go through a lot of eggs in our house - almost two dozen a week, often more. When picky toddler syndrome strikes, Miles can always be counted on to devour an omelet, and Jesse likes to take boiled eggs to work as a snack - or maybe to ward off sensitive-nosed students when he wants a little peace and quiet. Since it stores well in the fridge, I make a batch with a half dozen eggs all at once, and then it's there, waiting for me, lovingly.

My last egg salad was especially pleasant - I tossed in some diced onion, some fresh chives from the garden, and pulled up our first couple radishes and tossed those in, too. They gave it a bright little crunch, and also looked mighty pretty. Which is important.

A couple notes on egg salad:
1. Older eggs peel more easily. I don't know why, it's probably scientific, but they do.
2. Peeling eggs when they're hot is a lot easier than after they're cool. Also for some sciency reason I don't know.
3. Don't smash the eggs up too small. We don't want egg puree (blech).
4. Start with a tiny bit of binder (mayo, yogurt, etc) and then add on. Soupy = gross.

Spring Egg Salad
Fills 3-4 sandwiches
6 eggs, hard boiled and peeled
3ish Tbs mayo
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 shallots (or 3 Tbs onions) minced
6 or so small radishes, chopped
small handful fresh chives, minced

Smash everything together in a bowl. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Spread on toast and top with some arugula or sliced tomato for extra deliciousness.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Quinoa Patties

When Jesse found this recipe in my newest cookbook, I was not overly optimistic about these little guys, I have to admit. Sure, I love quinoa, and anything in patty form is inherently adorable. But the idea of simple grain patties just seemed kind of dry and flavorless - like one of those veggie burgers from a box. Not bad tasting, but not really good, either.

Well, I was very, very pleasantly surprised. So much so that I sighed audibly with the first bite, and even our highly carnivorous toddler devoured a whole patty without hesitation. These are delicious - they're moist and flavorful and equally good warm or cold. Heidi suggests serving them with a smear of avocado or a tahini dipping sauce. We decided on a simple yogurt sauce, with cream cheese, fresh chives, garlic and lemon juice. It was a good decision.

Quinoa Patties
Adapted from Super Natural Everyday, by Heidi Swanson
Makes about a dozen

 3 cups cooked quinoa
4 large beaten eggs
pinch sea salt
1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
1 onion, minced (make sure to mince it finely)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (fresh grated is key here)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup breadcrumbs, unseasoned
1 tablespoon olive oil

Mix everything together except the olive oil (using your hands works well here).
Let them sit a little while so the breadcrumbs can absorb the moisture - they should not be crumbly. If they are, mix in a little water.

Form into 12 balls, and flatten. 
Cook in olive oil until browned, then flip and repeat.