Butter Lettuce with Sugar Snap Peas, English Peas and Radishes and Honey Herb Vinaigrette

The sweet crunch of sugar snap peas and tender English peas and peppery radish slices are brought to light with a delicately sweet vinaigrette. Chill and pat the peas dry before adding them to the salad- it gives the best flavor and texture.

1 head butter lettuce, washed and dried, leaves torn into bite-size pieces

8oz fresh English peas, or 1 C frozen peas, thawed

8oz sugar snap peas, strings removed

6 medium radishes, thinly sliced

3 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced

For garnish – 2 T coarsely chopped dill, tarragon, basil, chives and/or parsley

(Optional- 2oz. crumbled feta or ricotta salata, shaved with a vegetable peeler)

Honey Herb Vinaigrette

1/3 C fresh herbs- dill, tarragon, basil, chives or parsley (can substitute with 1 T dried), finely chopped

1 T white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar

1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice

½ t lemon zest

1 t honey

1 t Dijon mustard

¼ – ½ C extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt to taste

Prepare the vinaigrette: Put all the dressing ingredients except the olive oil, in a small jar and shake to combine. Add ¼ cup of olive oil and shake well. Taste and adjust for salt and more olive oil, if desired. (If you have a mini food processor, use that and process until emulsified). Set aside.

For the salad: If using fresh peas, sample them. If they are young, sweet, and tender, keep them raw. If they are older and a bit tough, blanch them in small pot of boiling water until they are tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Drain and immediately rinse under very cold water. Shake off excess water and refrigerate until well-chilled, at least one hour.

Bring another pot of water to a boil and add the sugar snap peas and blanch until crisp-tender, one to 2 minutes. Drain and immediately rinse under very cold water. Shake off excess water and refrigerate until well-chilled, at least one hour.

Combine the lettuce, scallions and radishes in a salad bowl, and toss to combine, taking care to separate the radish slices. Pat dry the English peas and sugar snap peas with a clean dish towel if they are very wet, and add them. Dress lightly and toss the salad gently (you may not need all the dressing); garnish with your roughly chopped herbs of choice. Serves 4.


It’s Thyme for Marinated Mushrooms

4oz. white button or cremini mushrooms, brushed clean and sliced thin

Juice of 1 lemon (2-3 T)

¼ C extra virgin olive oil

1 T fresh thyme leaves, chopped (or 1 t dried)

1 clove garlic, minced

½ t sea salt – more to taste

Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish

Toss sliced mushrooms with remaining ingredients. Marinate 1 hour at room temperature or up to 3 hours in the refrigerator. The mushrooms can also be quartered, which is nice if you are using them for an appetizer platter (poke with a toothpick); if you choose to quarter the mushrooms, marinating time may be slightly longer. Serve chilled. Serves 2-3.

Note: mushrooms will be fine the following day although the texture will be softer, well-marinated and release a lot of juice.


Orzo Salad with Asparagus, Feta Cheese, Spinach and Lemon

½ lb. orzo, cooked

1 lb. asparagus

1 (6-ounce) bag fresh baby spinach

2 T extra virgin olive oil

½ cup red onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Zest of 1 small lemon

½ cup toasted nuts – chopped pistachios, pine nuts, slivered almonds or pumpkin seeds

1 cup feta, crumbled

Pinch of nutmeg

Pinch of cinnamon

Salt to taste

Cook the orzo according to the directions on the box, drain and transfer to a large bowl. Prep the asparagus: trim each one by snapping them at the end of their stem, which will separate the tough part from the tender. Bring a pot of water to a boil, drop in the asparagus and cook for 2-3 minutes, until crisp-tender. Drain them under cold running water. Cut them into 1½ inch pieces and set add them to the orzo.

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes, just until aromatic. Add the spinach and a pinch of salt and cook until wilted and tender, about 1 minute. Add mixture to the orzo; add the feta, nutmeg, cinnamon, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt to taste.

Heat a small-medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the nuts and toast until they begin to brown, about 3 minutes. Watch them carefully so they do not burn. Sprinkle on top of the orzo and serve. Serves 5.


Fattoush Salad

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2 rounds pita bread (8- to 12-inches)

2-3 T olive oil

½ t sumac

Salt and pepper

 

Salad

2 C shredded romaine lettuce

1 large or 2 small cucumbers, peeled and seeded, diced small

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

5-6 radishes, sliced

½ C parsley leaves, chopped

¼ C mint leaves, chopped

5-6 scallions, chopped

 

Dressing

½ C lemon juice

½ C olive oil

1 t sumac

1/8 t cinnamon (optional)

Sea salt to taste

 

 

Toast the pita bread in your toaster oven until dried and crisp but not browned. Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Break the pita into pieces and put into the heated oil. Fry briefly until browned, tossing frequently. Remove from the oil and place on paper towel. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and sumac.

 

In a large mixing bowl, combine the salad ingredients. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Dress the salad with the vinaigrette and toss lightly. Lastly, add the pita chips and toss one more time. Serves 4-6.

 


Succotash

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Danielle spent a recent Saturday at the U.S. Botanic Garden teaching visitors about succotash and handing out samples and recipes. A Native American food, succotash finds it’s way on to many Thanksgiving tables and was a staple for families during the Depression. Traditional succotash will often include tomatoes, sweet peppers and bacon. The name originated in Narragansett, and translates from the Algonquin Indian language meaning “broken corn kernels.” Butter beans, or lima beans as they are often referenced, are grown throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Carolinas and harvested in August and September. Corn is cultivated copiously all across the United States, yet Americans are among the few cultures who eat sweet corn on the cob, which also originated with Native American tribes.

 

1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)

1 cup fresh butter beans (or lima)

½  medium-size sweet onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup heavy cream

1 Tablespoon fresh chopped dill (or 1 teaspoon dried) – optional

Sea salt and pepper, to taste

 

Cut the kernels off the cobs into a large bowl. In a medium-sized pot, cover the butter beans with water and bring to a low boil. Cook until beans are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside. While beans are cooking, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and add the onion. Cook until it becomes fragrant and a bit soft, about 2 minutes. Add the corn and stir well, then add the butter beans. Cook another few minutes until corn is tender and then add the cream. Reduce heat to very low and let the cream soak up into the mixture, add the dill. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 2.

 

 

 

 


Mediterranean Summer Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes, Figs and Kasseri

Combining thyme and mint in one dish is common throughout Greece and Turkey. Look for the best summer tomatoes you can find, it will make the salad shine. Pomegranate molasses is found in most supermarkets or any middle eastern grocery store.

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1½ lbs heirloom tomatoes, chopped into ½ inch dice (2-3 large)

½ pint (about 8) figs, quartered

1 t fresh thyme leaves, chopped

1 T fresh mint leaves, chopped

¼ C red onion, finely chopped

6 C baby arugula or mixed seasonal greens

1½ C crumbled Kasseri cheese (or Feta)

 

Dressing

Juice of 1 lemon

2 t pomegranate molasses (or good quality balsamic vinegar and 1 T honey)

¼ C olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 

In a large serving bowl, combine all of the salad ingredients except the cheese. Whisk together the dressing and pour it over the salad. Toss well. Add the cheese and toss lightly. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

 

Note: make it a main course by adding chunks of cooked chicken.

 


Mediterranean Lentil Salad with Black Olives & Mint

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1 C dried French lentils (lePuy) rinsed well and picked over

1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed

2 bay leaves

¼ t dried oregano

1 cinnamon stick or ¼ t. ground cinnamon

 

Combine the lentils, garlic, oregano, bay leaf and cinnamon in a saucepan and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then cover, lower the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender, 20-25 minutes. Drain the lentils well and discard the whole spices.

 

¼ C olive oil

1 T rice vinegar (can substitute apple cider vinegar)

2 T fresh lemon juice, more to taste

1 t lemon zest

½ t ground cumin

Sea salt and pepper to taste

 

In a separate bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, cumin and salt together. Toss the lentils with this vinaigrette and let stand while preparing vegetables.

 

1 red pepper, diced small

1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced small

¼ C pitted black olives, sliced in half or quarters (Kalamata or Moroccan)

3 T fresh mint, chopped

½ C (2 ounces)feta cheese, crumbled

 

Add the chopped vegetables to the lentils, stir gently. Adjust seasoning for salt and pepper or fresh lemon juice.