Mushroom Sour Cream Salad

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Trying to eat “light” in the lead-up to this week — three Christmas dinners on the calendar and that doesn’t include the famous Garreau tortiere, handed down to Adrienne from her late mother-in-law. That recipe may not be ready to post just yet, but this mushroom salad certainly is. It’s light yet satisfying, even — dare we say it for a salad? — comforting. The combination of the sour cream and walnuts is part of that. But, in a non-obvious way, the mushrooms themselves have both a meatiness and an almost souffle-like airiness. Use the freshest mushrooms you can find and stick with real sour cream if at all possible to get the creaminess just right. The salad needs at least a half-hour for the flavors to meld and the mushrooms to release some of their moisture into the dressing.

1/4 C chopped walnuts
2 C sliced very fresh white button mushrooms (about one 8-oz box)
1/3 C sour cream
2 T lemon juice
1/4 C minced scallions, green and white parts combined
1/4 t cayenne pepper
salt and black pepper to taste
chives for garnish

Toasting the walnuts is optional, but I like them better that way. Heat a non-stick pan on medium; add walnut pieces and toast until you get a good, nutty perfume and they are golden. Do not scorch. This will take about five minutes. Remove from heat and cool. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, except the chives. Add the walnuts; toss well and set the salad aside to marinate for at least a half-hour. You can also make it up to one day ahead of time. Garnish with chives and serve. Two to three servings.


Cranberry & Fig Chutney with Walnuts

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A perfect accompaniment for all of the holiday cooking ahead, this side dish is a new spin on an old favorite. Don’t overcook it, you want it luscious and thick, not sticky.

12 ounces fresh cranberries
¼ C onion, minced
1 C light brown sugar
½ C orange juice
½ C apple cider vinegar
¼ C raisins
8 dried black mission figs, cut into eighths
1 T fresh ginger, finely minced
½ t ground cinnamon
½ t red pepper flakes
1/3 C walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

Add all the ingredients, with the exception of the chopped walnuts, to a medium pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to bring the mix to a simmer, and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chutney thickens some. Remove from the heat, stir in the nuts and let cool slightly before serving. Serves 12-15.

 

 

 


Tahini Sauce with Nut Pesto and Pomegranate Seeds

 

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This combination has it all – tart lemon, crunchy nuts, sweet pomegranate seeds. It’s also chock full of nutrition and it’s versatile. Great over grilled or sauteed fish, grilled chicken or roasted or grilled lamb and even vegetables.  You could serve it as a dip or toss a salad with it.  Pomegranate molasses is a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine and can be found in specialty food stores or on line.  There’s nothing quite like it, but you can substitute balsamic syrup, made by boiling down balsamic vinegar until it becomes slightly syrupy.  We adapted this from Fine Cooking and demoed it last January. We’re rolling it out again for our September 2015 Mediterranean demos at the US Botanic Garden in honor of its new exhibit from the region. This time, Danielle had the pleasure of making this dish, served on pita bread.

Tahini sauce

6 T tahini (sesame seed paste, available in supermarket health food section)
4 t fresh lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, crushed
½ t ground cumin
Kosher salt

For the nut-herb topping

¼ C toasted, finely chopped almonds
¼ C toasted, finely chopped walnuts
¼ C finely chopped fresh cilantro
3 T. finely chopped red onion
2½  T extra-virgin olive oil
2 T finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 T finely chopped fresh mint
1/8 t crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Garnish

¼ C pomegranate arils (see note, above)
2 t pomegranate molasses

Make the tahini sauce

Process the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, ¼ t salt, and 5 T water in a food processor until smooth, about 1 minute.

Make the nut-herb topping

In a medium bowl, gently toss the almonds, walnuts, cilantro, onion, olive oil, parsley, mint, and pepper flakes with ¼t salt and 1/8 t pepper until well combined. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.

Serve the tahini sauce sprinkled with the nut-herb mixture and topped with pomegranate seeds. Drizzle pomegranate molasses.


Green Bean Salad with Walnuts, Fennel and Goat Cheese

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Got green beans coming out of your ears? This month at the US Botanic Gardens here in Washington, DC, we brought two new salads using this popular legume. Green beans aren’t just to be tossed in a little butter – these summery salads are sure to zing things up.

1 ½ T Dijon mustard
2 T white wine vinegar
¾ t sea salt
½ t freshly ground black pepper
1/3 C extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ pounds green beans, trimmed (a combination of green and yellow is great)
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced into half-moons (1¼ to 1½ C)
¾ C walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 (4-oz) log fresh goat cheese, crumbled
¼ C fresh dill, chopped
¼ C flat leaf parsley, chopped

 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Gradually add the oil and whisk until well combined; set aside. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain, run under cold water to cool, and set aside until you’re ready to assemble the salad.

In a large bowl, combine the green beans, fennel, and walnuts. Add the goat cheese, herbs and vinaigrette just before serving (the acidity of the vinegar with turn the green beans to a dull green if marinated). Toss well and serve at room temperature or chilled. Serves 8-10.


Creamy Pasta with Asparagus, Cremini Mushrooms and Tarragon

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Another recipe from our spring repertoire, this one demoed by Danielle at Brookside Gardens earlier this month — sorry wonderful audience for taking so long in posting this. It somehow slipped through the cracks. Enjoy this delicious recipe. It was adapted by Danielle from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe.

½ lb. pasta (farfalle, orecchiette, casarecce)
3 tablespoons butter
½ C (1 large) shallot, minced
½ C Marsala wine
1 lb. Cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 lb. thin asparagus, trimmed, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
1 C mascarpone cheese
1 T fresh tarragon, finely chopped
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
¾ C walnuts, toasted
¼ C freshly grated Parmesan
Walnut oil, for drizzle garnish (optional)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, about 10-12 minutes, per the package directions. Drain and reserve.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the Marsala wine and increase the heat to a boil. Cook another couple of minutes to reduce the wine slightly. Add the mushrooms and asparagus and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the pasta and heat thoroughly. Stir in the mascarpone, nutmeg, tarragon and toss until the cheese coats the pasta. If the sauce seems too thick, thin with a splash of chicken or vegetable broth. Stir in 1/2 cup of walnuts. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mound the pasta in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and remaining 1/4 cup of walnuts. Serve 4-6 as an entrée, 6-8 as a side dish.