Zucchini Salad with Lemon, Herbs and Ricotta

Adapted from Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Magazine

2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound)

2 T lemon juice

2 t fresh rosemary, minced

1 t honey

½ t sea salt

½ C whole milk ricotta

2 t lemon zest

2 T extra virgin olive oil

¼ t sea salt

¼ C pistachios, chopped

1 T sesame seeds

Garnish – ½ – 1 C lightly packed fresh herbs, chopped (mint, chives, parsley)

Thinly slice the zucchini (use a hand-held slicer or a mandolin if you have one) and transfer to a bowl. Mix together the lemon juice, rosemary, honey and salt and add to the sliced zucchini; toss well and let stand 15-30 minutes. Left longer, the slices will turn limp and continue to release moisture, which changes the texture of the salad and can dilute flavors.

In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta with the lemon zest, olive oil and salt. Set aside.

In a small skillet (or in a toaster oven), combine the pistachios and sesame seeds and toast, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Transfer the zucchini to a platter, add half the fresh herbs and mix gently. Dollop the ricotta mixture on top. Scatter with the pistachio-sesame mixture and the remaining fresh herbs. Drizzle with additional oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Serves 4.


Stir Fried Broccoli with Sichuan Peppercorns

1/3 C plus 2 T water, divided

3 T unseasoned rice vinegar, divided

1 ½ T soy sauce

1 t sugar

¼ t salt

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 t fresh ginger, grated

¼ t red pepper flakes

2 scallions, white and pale green parts finely chopped, dark parts thinly sliced on bias

1 ¼ lbs. broccoli, florets cut into 1-inch pieces, stems peeled and sliced 1-inch thick

3 T grapeseed or sunflower oil

2 t toasted sesame oil

½ – 1 t Sichuan peppercorns, toasted and finely ground

To enhance the flavor and aroma of the peppercorns, toast in a small skillet over medium heat for about 2 minutes, let them cool and then grind them into a fine powder with a spice grinder.

In a small bowl, stir together the 1/3 cup water, 2 tablespoons of the vinegar, soy sauce and sugar. In a second small bowl, stir together the 2 tablespoons water and the salt. In a third small bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, pepper flakes and minced scallions.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, combine the broccoli, salt water and 2 tablespoons of grapeseed/sunflower oil. Cover and cook for 1 minute, the water should reach a simmer. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally until the broccoli is crisp-tender and browned in spots, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl or platter.

Return the skillet to medium-high heat, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil and the garlic-ginger mixture. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 10 to 15 seconds. Add the soy sauce mixture and simmer, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, until slightly reduced, 2 to 3 minutes. Return the broccoli to the skillet and stir to coat.

Off the heat, stir in the sesame oil, remaining 1 tablespoon of vinegar and ½ teaspoon of the ground Sichuan peppercorns. Taste and add more peppercorns, if desired. Serve sprinkled with the sliced scallion greens. Serves 4.


Raw Beet Salad with Orange Supremes and Spring Greens

This salad is not only beautiful with different colored beets, but it is packed with antioxidants, vitamin A and C, iron, potassium, folic acid and fiber.

½ lb. raw beets, a mix of colors if possible (about 4 small or 3 medium), peeled

1 orange, peeled and segmented (“supremes”)

6 C spring greens, washed and spun dry

¼ C fresh chives, finely cut, or other fresh herbs of your choice (tarragon, basil)

Optional – crumbled feta cheese or soft goat cheese, for garnish

Dressing

1 T white wine or champagne vinegar

1 T fresh lemon juice

1 t Dijon mustard

3 T extra virgin olive oil

½ t sea salt

Peel the beets and, using a hand guard, carefully slice them paper thin on a mandolin or hand-held slicer. (If you don’t have a mandolin or a hand-held slicer, you can grate the beets, but it will change the texture and look of the salad.) Set the sliced beets aside and prepare the orange: cut both end off the orange, stand it on one side and guide the knife down to the bottom end, following the shape of the fruit. Remove the rind and as much of the white pith as you can. Slice along the inside of the membrane, gently removing each segment into a bowl.

In a small bowl or jar, mix together the vinegar, lemon juice and Dijon mustard. Drizzle in the olive oil and salt, whisking well to emulsify the dressing. Taste and adjust for salt. Assemble the salad: in a bowl or a deep-dish platter, scatter the spring greens evenly and layer with the beet slices and oranges. Drizzle half the dressing over the salad, and toss gently to coat the salad greens, taking care not to break apart the orange supremes. Garnish with finely-sliced chives and/or fresh herbs of you choice. Serves 6.

½ lb. raw beets, a mix of colors if possible (about 4 small or 3 medium), peeled

1 orange, peeled and segmented (“supremes”)

6 C spring greens, washed and spun dry

¼ C fresh chives, finely cut, or other fresh herbs of your choice (tarragon, basil)

Optional – crumbled feta cheese or soft goat cheese, for garnish

Dressing

1 T white wine or champagne vinegar

1 T fresh lemon juice

1 t Dijon mustard

3 T extra virgin olive oil

½ t sea salt

Peel the beets and, using a hand guard, carefully slice them paper thin on a mandolin or hand-held slicer. (If you don’t have a mandolin or a hand-held slicer, you can grate the beets, but it will change the texture and look of the salad.) Set the sliced beets aside and prepare the orange: cut both end off the orange, stand it on one side and guide the knife down to the bottom end, following the shape of the fruit. Remove the rind and as much of the white pith as you can. Slice along the inside of the membrane, gently removing each segment into a bowl.

In a small bowl or jar, mix together the vinegar, lemon juice and Dijon mustard. Drizzle in the olive oil and salt, whisking well to emulsify the dressing. Taste and adjust for salt. Assemble the salad: in a bowl or a deep-dish platter, scatter the spring greens evenly and layer with the beet slices and oranges. Drizzle half the dressing over the salad, and toss gently to coat the salad greens, taking care not to break apart the orange supremes. Garnish with finely-sliced chives and/or fresh herbs of you choice. Serves 6.


Homestyle Chunky Tomato Sauce

Makes 1½ cups

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ large sweet onion or 1 small yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)

2 large garlic cloves, minced

3 large tomatoes, seeded and diced (about 3 cups diced, OR substitute 1-28oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes)

¼ cup fresh basil leaves, minced OR 1 tablespoon dried

¼ cup fresh oregano, minced OR 1 tablespoon dried

¼ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (about 6) – optional

½ teaspoon sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)

In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Stir in the diced tomatoes and increase heat to high-medium to bring to a low boil. When the mixture boils, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 15 minutes, uncovered, until most of the water cooks off. Watch closely, reducing heat if necessary and stirring often. Add sun-dried tomatoes (if using) into a food processor along with a ladle of the tomato sauce. Process until mostly smooth. Stir this mixture back into the tomato sauce in the pot. Stir in the minced basil, oregano, salt, and pepper, and optional red pepper flakes to taste. Continue cooking until thickened to your liking and then remove from heat. Serve sauce over a bed of cooked pasta noodles, zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash noodles or diced butternut squash.


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.