Toasted Pecan Coleslaw.

Happy Fourth of July!! And to all friends in Chicago, Boston, and anywhere else that is brutally, disgustingly hot and humid today, I feel your pain. I think I’ve mentioned before that my apartment doesn’t have air conditioning, but as long as I don’t turn the oven on, it’s actually pretty pleasant. Today I volunteered to make coleslaw for a barbecue, and I was excited to riff on a Nigella Lawson recipe that I saw on one of her shows. One thing I wanted to do was oven-roast some pecans to top off the coleslaw, but on a hot hot hot day like today, even I have enough self-control to stay away from the oven. So instead of an elegant “roasted pecan coleslaw,” I made a much more down-to-earth “pan-toasted pecan coleslaw”—and just as important, my apartment is still livably cool. Besides, it’s Independence Day, and I have the right to prepare my pecans any way I want!

INGREDIENTS

1 head white cabbage, shredded
3 carrots, peeled and grated
3 green onions, white and green parts, sliced thin
1 scant cup olive oil mayo
1 tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp honey
2 tbsp Greek yogurt
dash of hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups unsalted pecans, rough chop

DIRECTIONS

Combine cabbage, carrot, and green onions in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, stir together mayo, vinegar, honey, yogurt, and hot sauce.

Pour sauce over the cabbage mixture, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Put coleslaw in the fridge until ready to serve.

Heat a large pan over medium flame and add the pecans. As soon as they start to release that beautiful nutty smell, start to watch them carefully, because they’ll burn pretty quickly. When they’ve darkened slightly in color and they smell strong, but not burned, remove them from heat.

Just before you serve, sprinkle the coleslaw with your toasted pecans. Enjoy it on a burger or pulled pork sandwich or eat it with baked beans, then have some apple pie, and watch some fireworks. Happy 4th!

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Warm Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese and Roasted Beets.

The end of a bag of lentils sitting in my pantry, a great little beet stand at the farmers market, and a passionate and undying love of goat cheese contributed to my creation of this lentil salad. Goat cheese and lentils are fine and dandy, but I’m definitely not a beet lover. I do enjoy them from time to time, but I’m picky about how they’re prepared. Luckily, goat cheese is a beet’s best friend. Throw these two buddies over a well-dressed lentil salad and you’ve got yourself a dish that will make non-members of the beet chorus change their tune! Oh, and I forgot to mention, there’s bacon, too. Just in case you needed more convincing.

INGREDIENTS

3 small beets, scrubbed clean
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for the beets
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme, plus 3 sprigs
squeeze of honey
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/4 cup French lentils
bay leaf
3 sprigs parsley
4 cups chicken stock
4 strips bacon
2 shallots, minced
goat cheese

DIRECTIONS

First, get the beets a-roastin’.  Preheat oven to 375 F. Rub the beets with a bit of olive oil and wrap them in foil. Set them on a pan and roast for about 45 minutes, until fork tender.

When the beets have cooled enough to touch, slice them.

Next, the dressing. Whisk together 1/2 cup olive oil, vinegar, mustard, 1 tsp chopped thyme, honey, and salt and pepper. Let it sit a while so the flavors can marry.

To prepare the lentils, bring stock, bay leaf, and sprigs of thyme and parsley to a boil.

Stir in lentils, season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.

In a large frying pan, cook bacon until browned to your liking and remove from pan. Don’t drain off the grease.

Turn off the heat and add shallots to pan with hot bacon grease. Cook for 1 minute, until they just start to brown.

Drain lentils and remove bay leaf, parsley, and thyme, and add lentils to warm pan with the shallot. Stir in most of the dressing and then taste, and add more dressing if you need it. Garnish with bacon bits, crumbled goat cheese, and sliced beets. Dig in!

Bacon and Egg Salad.

The French really know how to dress up a salad. I ate a dish just like this in Paris a few years ago, and I’m thrilled with how my recreation turned out! Thanks to Laura Calder for the recipe, which is really just an extravagant excuse to eat bacon and eggs for lunch. All the fatty, breakfast-y glory of the bacon and eggs, served atop a salad that helps you rationalize away all your nutritional doubts. One suggestion: to avoid wilting leaves and a hardening egg, this salad should be eaten immediately after it’s prepared. I’m betting you won’t have a problem with that.

INGREDIENTS

3 strips bacon
1 egg
2 tbsp white wine vinegar, plush a splash
olive oil
2 cups arugula, washed and dried
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Cook bacon to your liking and remove from pan.

Crumble into pieces and set aside.

On low heat, add 2 tbsp vinegar to bacon fat and boil to reduce to about a tbsp or two.

Then add enough olive oil to the pan to make a dressing for the arugula and stir. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, poach the egg: heat a pot of water with a splash of vinegar until it’s about to boil. Crack an egg into a ramekin. Stir the water gently so that it flows in a circle and gently pour in the egg. Poach until the white is cooked but the yolk is still runny. Remove from water with a slotted spoon.

Toss arugula in the pan of warm dressing.

Then, assemble! Arugula first, then bacon, then egg. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley. Make sure to break the yolk over the arugula so that it becomes a sort of dressing of its own. Mmmm.

Summer Carrot Salad.

While wandering around the farmers market on Saturday morning, I encountered a little boy standing in front of a big pile of purple carrots. He was trying so hard to make sense of these strangely-colored vegetables, and both his mother and the man behind the table were indulging his curious questions. I love to see little ones engaged in farmers market culture, so I decided to play along, too. “I think I have to get some of those,” I said to the boy. “Would you pick me out a nice bunch?” He looked back at me with wide eyes and then started to dig through the purple carrots, handing me a bunch that he seemed to have chosen for no reason in particular. I thanked him, smiled at his mother, paid the $3, and went home to make this salad for my family. Goes great with flank steak. A good day.

INGREDIENTS

1 small onion, diced
2 bunches orange carrots, grated to thin, long strips
1 bunch purple carrots, grated to thin, long strips
2 cloves garlic, minced almost to a paste
3 tbsp olive oil, plus more for sauteing the onions
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste
parsley for garnish
handful of raw almonds, crushed with the back of a knife

DIRECTIONS

Heat a splash of olive oil over medium heat and add onions and a pinch of salt. Saute until soft and translucent. Set aside to cool.

Combine garlic, the rest of the olive oil, vinegar, cayenne pepper, coriander, sugar, and salt and pepper. Mix well with a fork.

Combine carrots, onion, dressing, and almonds, and toss. Refrigerate for 4 hours before serving. Garnish with parsley and enjoy with steak or burgers as a healthier replacement for cole slaw.

Watercress and Radish Salad with Mustard Jalapeño Vinaigrette.

The farmers market had some beautiful watercress and radishes on Saturday, so I picked up a few bunches of each, content in the knowledge that a yummy salad was in my future. Most of the time, I’m not a salad fan–or more accurately, not a lettuce fan. I’ve found that the salads in my life fall into two categories: boring or bad for you. That’s why, when I think of a salad like this one, which is neither boring nor bad for you, I get really excited and have to share it!

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp mustard
1/4 tsp orange marmalade
1/2 shallot, minced
1/2 tsp jalapeño, minced
1/2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch watercress, rinsed
1 bunch radishes, rinsed and sliced
1/2 tomato, diced

DIRECTIONS

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, mustard, marmalade, shallot, jalapeño, parsley, and salt and pepper.

In another bowl, combine watercress, radishes, and tomato. Toss all ingredients together.

Pile onto a plate and  sprinkle with more pepper. Enjoy!

Asparagus with Hard-boiled Egg Dressing.

Adapted from seven spoons, this alternative salad is unique, fresh, and bright. It’s perfect for dressing up a simple main dish, like a roasted chicken breast or mushroom ravioli. Welcome the spring with a vibrant and healthy asparagus dish, and watch out, or you might just eat the whole platter yourself.

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INGREDIENTS

2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and diced, whites and yolks separated
2 bunches asparagus, bases snapped off
1/8 tsp salt, plus more to taste
2 green onions, white parts finely diced, green parts sliced (keep them separate)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp brown mustard
olive oil
red pepper flakes
parsley, chopped
pepper

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DIRECTIONS

In a medium-sized bowl (you’ll be mixing your dressing in here), stir together 1/8 tsp salt, the white parts of the green onion, and balsamic vinegar. Set aside.

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Fill a shallow pan with a bit less than an inch of water. Bring to a boil and add the asparagus. Cover and cook for 2 minutes, then remove from heat, drain, and place asparagus in an ice bath, so that they stay crisp and bright.

Combine mustard, half of the diced egg yolk, and 1 tbsp olive oil. Mix until smooth. While stirring, slowly add more olive oil until consistency is slightly runny. Stir in scallion mixture and egg whites, and add red pepper flakes, parsley, salt, and pepper to taste. Mix well.

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Place asparagus–either cold or hot, both are good!–on a platter and top with dressing. Garnish with remaining egg yolk and green parts of green onion. Happy St. Paddy’s Day!!