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.


Sweet Potato Rounds with Cilantro Pesto

Use fairly skinny sweet potatoes that are pretty even to avoid rounds of different dimensions and to keep the appetizers bite-sized. This recipe comes from the farmer’s market at St. Stephen’s Church in Richmond VA.  If you’re ever in the area on a Saturday morning, it’s well worth stopping in and checking it out. Adrienne demoed tghe recipe for our Holiday Buffet extravaganza at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton MD December 2015.

2 pounds sweet potatoes
1 T olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pesto:
2 bunches cilantro
¾ C unsweetened shredded coconut
¾ C shelled pistachios
4 cloves garlic
1 hot pepper, such as jalapeño or Thai, optional
1 lemon, juiced
¼ C olive oil
Salt to taste

Heat the oven to 450°F. Slice the sweet potatoes in rounds about 1/2-inch thick. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and brush with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast 10 minutes, flip and roast five more minutes until just tender and slightly browned.

While the sweet potatoes are roasting, make the pesto. Roughly chop the cilantro and blend both leaves and stems with the coconut, pistachios, garlic, hot pepper (if using), and lemon juice. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and blend until smooth. Add the rest, if desired. Taste and add salt (or more garlic, or more acid) until satisfied. If desired, thin the pesto with water to make it spreadable.


Red Rice and Quinoa Salad with Orange and Pistachios

 

red riceWith a sumptuous blend of sweet and savory, this dish, from the great Isreali chef, is classic Yotam Ottolenghi. It’s a little bit Middle Eastern, a little bit European, and a lot delicious. Red rice, like black rice, is densely nutritious and incredibly flavorful, with earthy, nutty notes a long ways from the blandness of white or even brown rice.

¼ C shelled pistachios, toasted and chopped
1 C quinoa, cooked and cooled
1 C red rice, cooked and cooled (see instructions, below)
1 medium white onion, sliced
1 small zucchini, diced
½ C olive oil
grated zest and juice of one orange
2 T lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
¼ t red pepper flakes
4 spring onions, thinly sliced
½ C dried apricots, roughly chopped
2 handfuls of arugula (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Saute the white onion in 4 tablespoons of the olive oil until golden; add zucchini and saute until crisp-tender. Let cool completely. In a large mixing bowl combine the rice, quinoa, cooked onion and the remaining oil. Add all the rest of the ingredients, taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve at room temperature.
TO COOK RED RICE: Heat 3 teaspoons olive oil in a medium size saute pan. When hot add 1 cup red rice. Fry, stirring, until rice is lightly browned and starting to pop like popcorn. Add 2 cups hot water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook, without stirring, for 20-25 minutes or until barely tender. Remove covered pan from heat and let rest for 15 minutes. Drain rice in a fine mesh strainer. Let cool.