Along the Grapevine


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Beet and Currant Salad

DSC03583.JPGWhen I read today’s Fiesta Friday post, one recipe featured from last week particularly caught my eye and I decided to make it right away. Unwilling to go shopping I had to make do with either what I had in my own kitchen or garden, and by the time I finished I had used in my version, still recognizable as Monika’s,  a few ‘new’ ingredients I thought worth sharing.

The recipe I refer to is one for Pomegranate Beet Salsa by Monika at Everyday Healthy Recipes.  It is the perfect dish for these hot dry days- simple to prepare, keeps well, and as good on its own as it is a side dish. Thank you Monika!

The so-called new ingredients in my recipe are red currants (ribes rubrum) and Queen Anne’s lace (daucus carota) leaves. The currants I have used before to make salad dressing and mayonnaise, but I had never thought of putting them whole into a salad. They are found in much of North Eastern US and Eastern Canada. Once established they thrive in sunny spots, and apparently are drought resistant given that they are still thriving in our back yard desert. One source I read describes them as a brilliant red skin encasing a pulpy flesh that contains 3-12 tiny edible seeds with flavours of raspberry, cranberry, gooseberry, rhubarb and a hint of rose. That sounds about right to me. Many sources say they are delicious as long as you add lots of sugar, which explains why they are most often used to make jelly. However, used sparingly in a savoury dish such as this one, no sugar is needed.DSC03586.JPG

As for the Queen Anne’s lace, there is so much of it blooming right now, but I had not given any thought to anything other than the flowers. I know that all parts of the plant are edible and often see reference to the leaves as being good in salads, but have never seen a salad recipe that calls for them. For identification and further information on this plant, please check here.dsc03429.jpg

Again, the herbs I used are all from my garden, but this salad is versatile, and you can make your own mix of greens to add. As for the oil, I used my black walnut infused oil, and I think any nut oil would be good, or just a good quality oil as Monika suggests, such as grape seed oil.

Beet and Red Currant Salad

3 Tbsp finely chopped red onion
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 cups chopped beets, previously boiled, cooled and peeled
2 Tbsp chopped Queen Anne’s lace leaves
1 heaping Tbsp each of fresh mint and dill
2 Tbsp oil
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup red currants
Put the onion and vinegar in a bowl and allow to sit while preparing the other ingredients. Add everything except the currants and mix well. Gently fold in the currants. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving for best flavour.

DSC03580.JPGLinked to: Fiesta Friday #233


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Wild Greens and Chocolate Balsamic Dressing

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Not everyone shares my enthusiasm for bitter wild greens. Dr. Andrew Well does, and he has written a very persuasive argument why we should include things like dandelion leaves in our diet in this article.

This post offers a way to serve wild greens, mixed with other flavours to help your palate get used to the bitter flavours. It is a salad of mixed greens with strawberries, goat’s cheese and chocolate balsamic vinegar. The dressing itself is a mixture of sweet (honey) and bitter (chocolate). It is the perfect match for wild greens, or any greens for that matter.

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I was first introduced to the idea of mixing chocolate with balsamic vinegar by a recipe posted recently by Simi at acasadisimi for another kind of salad all together which called for chocolate balsamic vinegar. I had never heard of chocolate balsamic before, so was determined to try it. I chose to make a salad dressing with those two flavours in it – and it worked like a charm. This is as easy as salad dressing gets, but with such a rich combination of flavours, it makes the simplest salad seem like an epicurean treat.

Chocolate Balsamic Dressing

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tsp cocoa powder

4 Tbsp liquid honey (I used buckwheat)

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup olive oil

Whisk the first four ingredients together. Add the olive oil slowly continuing to whisk.

For the salad, I used a mixture of spring greens (including some dandelions, day lily sprouts and tubers), cucumber, crumbled goat’s cheese and strawberries.

And so this wild salad is my contribution to Angie’s Fiesta Friday

get-together where I always end up collecting new recipes and inspiration to take away with me. Can’t wait to see what treats are in store for me this week.

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Waldorf Salad with Purslane

With all the ripening apples falling off the trees, I decided to use some in a waldorf salad so they could be used fresh rather than cooked. Not having any celery growing in my garden this year, and finding little in the local markets, I decided to use purslane instead. In this version, I used very little mayonnaise, and a little lime juice just to prevent the apples from going brown during preparation.

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These are the ingredients I used, but feel free to use whatever you fancy.

apples

purslane

walnuts

juice of 1 lime

mayonnaise

salt and pepper to taste

I mixed the lime juice with the purslane, then added the apples and stirred after each apple, adding them one at a time. I left some of the skin on the apples because they are organic, and add some nice colour. Then, I added the rest of the ingredients.

And a nasturtium flower.

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Purslane and Cabbage Salad

Purslane (portulaca oleracea) is yet another weed I have growing wildly in my garden, but only now have I decided to stop thinking of it as a pesky weed. I am even considering collecting some seeds in the fall, and growing some in its own little garden – away from my onions and leeks which it likes to snuggle up to. Image

Canadian Gardening says this about it:

Nutritionally, purslane is a powerhouse. It has more than double the omega-3s that kale has and, as far as I know, more than any other leafy green ever analyzed. It has over four times the vitamin E of turnip leaves, more than any other leafy green ever analyzed. It has glutathione and other antioxidants and about as much iron as spinach. It also has reasonable amounts of other nutrients as well as phytochemicals, like all these leafy greens. So purslane is no slouch, not a poison, and definitely worth eating.

Rich in omega-3s
Many people studying the Mediterranean diet think that it is foods like purslane and other omega-3 greens that give the Greeks their good balance of fats. Olive oil only contributes some of the omega-3s; the greens, walnuts, oily fish, and a few other foods give them the rest of what they need.

To help you identify it, it is a spreading plant, looks much like portulaca, and has reddish-green or purple tinted stems that are very fleshy. It has small, inconspicuous yellow flowers.Image

If you pick only the succulent stem tips, the plant will continue to grow. Remove flowers as they appear, unless you wish to collect seeds. The flavour is lemony-sweet, and they are crunchy when fresh.

As my first experiment in eating it, I decided to try it in its raw form to see how I liked the taste. This salad is not really a recipe – just an idea for using fresh purslane.100_0423

I used cabbage, shredded carrot, purslane, olive oil, salt and cider vinegar to keep it as simple as possible. Other herbs, shredded beets, jerusalem artichokes, or even a base of lettuce or some other greens would work just as well.100_0426