keito potato

German Beet Salad
September 2, 2012, 6:50 am
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A simple and refreshing beet salad.  This isn’t much of a recipe, since it’s so easy to pull together.


red beets

sherry vinegar

olive oil

salt and pepper

mustard seeds

caraway seeds


Leave the skins on the beets, and place in a heavy roasting pan.  Roast at 400F for about 40 minutes, depending on the size of the beets,  until cooked.  When cool enough to handle, peel the beets, and roughly quarter them.  Toss with sherry vinegar, then toss in some olive oil. Add some mustard seeds and caraway seeds, to taste.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve it in a pretty bowl that shows off the gorgeous color of the beets.

Roasted Zucchini and Mint Salad
August 5, 2012, 8:30 pm
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This is a new favorite salad, and a fresh way to handle a profusion of zucchini during summer.  It’s light and refreshing with the crunch of almonds and croutons, and the brightness of mint and lemon.  What’s not to love?

This recipe calls for halving the zucchini lengthwise, and roasting it briefly at a high heat without any oil.  The technique works well to sear the zucchini without burning it, and the interior is perfectly tender.  The amount of lemon juice in the original recipe was a bit excessive (in my mind) because the extra lemon juice sat in a pool in the bottom of the serving bowl.  In the future I will reduce the amount from 3 lemons to 2 lemons.

The recipe comes from the Osteria cookbooks by Rick Tramonto and Mary Goodbody, which features rustic Italian food from Tramonto’s childhood.  This salad can be served as an antipasto, or as a side salad.


8 zucchini, halved lengthwise

4 sprigs fresh mint

about 2/3 cup croutons (homemade, if possible)

about 1/2 cup toasted almonds

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

juice of 3 lemons (or 2 lemons)

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

fresh mint leaves for garnish


Preheat the oven to 500F.

Lay the zucchini on a baking sheet, skin side up, and bake for about 8 minutes, or until the zucchini are golden brown on the flat, fleshy side.  

Let the zucchini cool slightly and then slice into half-moons.

In a bowl, mix the zucchini, mint sprigs, croutons, and toasted almonds.  Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, toss, and then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Arrange on a serving platter and garnish with fresh mint leaves.

Italian Arugula and Fennel Salad with Basil Dressing
August 4, 2012, 11:12 pm
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This salad was one of the show-stoppers at a recent vegetarian cooking group meal.  My friends Nina and Tim planned an Italian menu, and this flavorful salad was phenomenal.  I have become addicted to it in the last two weeks, and have probably made it five times in that period of time.  I normally love the black-pepper-spiciness of arugula salads, and this one is unique with refreshing fennel slices, and the thick basil dressing.  The green opaque basil dressing is as thick as pesto, but with more flavor and less oil.  I would love to use this in other dishes where I used to use pesto.  The lemon, fennel fronds, and touch of honey all lift and brighten the basil flavor.  It tastes like the essence of summer.

You will need a sharp vegetable peeler to shave the fennel bulb.  I tried making this one time by slicing the fennel, but the slices were too thick and crunchy.  The fennel really needs to be shaved, so that it is fluffy and feathery. Many stores sell vegetarian parmesan (without animal rennet).  Trader Joe’s has a handy guide about various types of rennet in their products, and their vegetarian parmesan is shredded and comes in a bag.


2 bunches of arugula

1-2 fennel bulbs

1/2 bunch fresh basil

1/2 lemon

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

5 tablespoons olive oil salt and pepper

1/2 teaspoon honey parmesan or pecorino cheese


Zest the lemon.  With a sharp knife, remove the white pith.  Put the inner part of the lemon into a food processor.  Add the basil, fennel seeds, the fluffy fennel greens from the stalks, 4 tablespoons of olive oil.  Puree.  Gradually add the 5th tablespoon of olive oil, if needed.  Now add the lemon zest, honey, salt, and pepper to the dressing.  Puree again to mix.  You can make this a few hours ahead of time, and chill in the refrigerator, if needed. Grate the parmesan or pecorino cheese.  Arrange the gratings onto a lined baking sheet into little flat 2-inch circles.  Broil these in the oven until they melt and turn into little disks.

Arrange the arugula in a large bowl or a wide platter.  Use a sharp vegetable peeler to shave the fennel bulb.  Add the fennel shavings to the salad.  Top the salad with the dressing and disks of broiled cheese.

Roast Winter Squash Salad with Lentils and Goat Cheese
December 21, 2011, 9:59 am
Filed under: main dishes, recipes, salads | Tags: , ,

When you’ve overdosed on xmas cookies, you might crave some lighter meals around the holidays.  This warm winter salad is utterly delicious, earthy, and healthful.  The bright dressing and goat cheese bring the dish together, and the lentils are richly-flavorful with sauteed aromatics and herbs.

I made it for the first time a few years ago in Berkeley with my cousin Patricia, and it has become a favorite winter salad.  It comes from Diana Henry’s book Roast Figs Sugar Snow, which is a collection of vibrant recipes for cold weather, gathered from Northern Europe and New England.  Last winter I shared the orange-cardamom star cookies from the same cookbook.   My favorite chocolate-rosemary sorbet comes from her cookbook Crazy Water Pickled Lemons.

Serve this as a colorful side dish, or by itself for a simpler meal.  It’s a breeze to made since you assemble everything while the squash roasts.


3-3.5 lb. (1.5 kg) winter squash, such as butternut or acorn
salt and pepper
olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
9 oz (250 g) goat cheese, broken up

for the lentils:

9.5 oz (275 g) green lentils
1/2 small onion, or 1 super-small onion or shallot
1 small stalk celery
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley

for the dressing:

1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
tiny dollop Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons olive oil
good pinch sugar


Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).  Halve the winter squash and scoop out the seeds and fibers.  Peel the squash and cut into 1-inch pieces.  Put the squash wedges in a roasting tray.  Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, and dot with butter.  Roast it in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.  Turn the wedges over a few times during baking.  Don’t let it scorch or get too dry.

Meanwhile, prepare the lentils while the squash is in the oven.  Rinse the lentils, then cover them with cold water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Cook until tender, 15-30 minutes.  They should be tender and hold their shape.

While the lentils are cooking, chop the onion and celery finely.  Gently saute them in a wide skillet with the butter and olive oil until they are soft.

Meanwhile, prepare the dressing by whisking all of the dressing ingredients together.  Also chop the parsley at this time.  Set both aside.

When the lentils are cooked, add them to the pan of onions and celery.  Stir them around to soak up the cooking juices.  Add 2/3 of the dressing and the chopped parsley.  Season well with salt and pepper.

Serve either on a wide serving platter or on individual plates.  Mound the lentils, then top with the roasted squash.  Dot with the nuggets of goat cheese, drizzle on the remaining dressing.

Raw Brussels Sprout Salad with Shaved Parmesan and Toasted Walnuts
October 18, 2011, 9:17 pm
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Over the past few years, I’ve become something of a “brussels-sprout-Evangelist,” spreading the good news of how fabulous brussels sprouts can be — if prepared thoughtfully.  I truly believe that most people who think they hate brussels sprouts actually hate poor preparation (like boiling the little guys to death), and would enjoy them if they tried better cooking methods.  My trusted basic method with brussels sprouts is to steam them softly in salted water, then toss them in browned butter (which has a lovely nutty flavor).  Lately people have been grilling or roasting them, and tossing them in a myriad of complementary sauces.  We’re on a good path.

Now a spark of genius: this fresh, raw brussels sprout salad has emerged as an unexpected and delightful alternative.  After all of these years of cooking the hell out of them, who would have thought that a delicate salad could be composed from the tender, nutty, raw inner leaves?

I’ve heard from friends that the Austrian chef at Johannes in Palm Springs has been doing something revolutionary with brussels sprouts.  He peels off the inner layers and fluffs them up raw into a simple salad with toasted walnuts, parmesan, and a light vinaigrette.  I’ve never been to the restaurant, but have embraced his salad idea.  It’s the first time I’ve thought to fluff up the raw leaves into a light and buoyant salad.  This fall, it’s become my favorite salad to prepare at home, and I especially enjoy the simple but complementary nuttiness of the parmesan and toasted walnuts. 

The recipe I’ve written out has flexible amounts, since most salads are intrinsically flexible, and you also might want to vary the size of the salad per number of guests.  I use my favorite simple French salad dressing from My French Kitchen by Joanne Harris & Fran Warde.  Over the past year or so, I’ve used this bright and simple dressing for most salads, and for dressing other things like steamed vegetables.  This amount of dressing will make more than what you need for the amount of salad as written, but the remaining dressing will keep for a week or so in the fridge.



about 3 cups brussels sprouts

handful of walnuts

parmesan for shaving

Simple French Dressing:

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 teaspoons good mustard (grainy or smooth, or 1 teaspoon of each)

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil

sea salt and black pepper to taste


Rinse the brussels sprouts in a colander.  Trim off the stems with a paring knife.  Peel off and discard a few of the darker outer leaves from each brussels sprout.  Use the remaining inner leaves for the salad, peeling them off one by one.  This can be a little tedious.  Because the leaves are wrapped tightly around the sphere of the sprout, I have found it easier to remove them if I cut the sprout in half length-wise, before peeling off the leaves. 

Make the salad dressing by combining the ingredients in a small jar, and shaking it for about 30 seconds.

Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in the oven for about 10-15 minutes at 300F.  I tend to toast my walnuts until they’re fairly dark because the nutty flavor intensifies.  When toasted, roughly chop the walnuts and scatter them over the brussels sprout leaves.  Shave the parmesan on top.

Pour some of the dressing over the salad and toss. 

Edamame-Mint Salad
August 29, 2010, 3:59 pm
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A Mediterranean treatment of an East Asian ingredient. This edamame-mint salad is refreshing yet substantial, and keeps well for picnics or sack lunches. This has been one of my favorite salads this past year, and I should have shared it with all of you sooner.

Last summer I picked up the concept of this salad from a Mark Bittman video on the NY Times website. I fell in love with the pairing of mint and edamame, and have been making this on a regular basis since. I believe Mr. Bittman used lime juice and pecorino, but I have had equally-good results with lemon juice and Parm. Feel free to experiment with the acid component or the cheese. I’ll bet feta or manchego would be lovely.

Make it with fresh mint if you can, but I often throw together batches with dried mint, which is great as well. Look for frozen edamame that is already shelled. I find mine at Trader Joe’s.


2 12-oz bags shelled frozen edamame
2 tablespoons lemon juice or lime juice
lime or lemon zest (optional)
5-6 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano or Parmesan
roughly 1 Cup fresh mint leaves

Cook the edamame according to the package directions. This will most likely entail bringing a saucepan of salted water to a boil, then adding the edamame to cook 5 minutes.

In the meantime, combine the lime or lemon juice with the olive oil and salt in a large bowl. Whisk to make a dressing.

Wash and dry the mint leaves. Roughly chop or tear them, your choice. Add the mint to the dressing.

When the edamame is finished cooking, strain in a colander, then run cold water through the colander to bring the edamame down to room temperature. Add the edamame the bowl of dressing. Grate the cheese over and toss to combine. Adjust seasonings.

Parsley Salad
August 28, 2010, 9:31 pm
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A refreshing salad perfect for summer suppers and picnics. I ate similar herb salads last summer in Lebanon and Syria, sometimes made with a scattering of couscous to make tabbouleh, other times made completely with fresh thyme. The fresh herb earthiness cleans the palate and helps one cool down in hot weather.

I brought this parsley salad on a few picnics this summer, including a Hollywood Bowl picnic a few weeks ago. The parsley salad is flexible enough to be paired with various types of dishes, but is especially fitting with Middle Eastern mezze dishes. Tonight I paired it with hummous, labneh with mint, lavosh baked with zaatar, and marinated olives.

Sometimes I garnish the salad with sumac, a purple spice that tastes like lemon. Today I garnished it with shaved Parmesan, inspired by Deborah Madison’s parsley salad in her Savory Way cookbook.

I usually buy my herbs at my local Arab markets, since the quality is often better. Wherever you find your herbs, be picky about selecting the best bunches.

The leftovers can be easily stirred into a variety of dishes the next day. Tomorrow morning I plan on mincing my leftover parsley salad, and stirring it into scrambled eggs.


2 bunches flat leaf parsley
juice of half a lemon
few tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste
few tablespoons Parmesan (optional)
scattering of sumac (optional)

Wash and dry your parsley. I do this with a salad spinner. Pluck the parsley leaves off the stem, discarding the stems. Pile the leaves in a bowl that is large enough for tossing

Dress the parsley by squeezing the lemon juice over and drizzling with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, then toss. I admit that I typically eye-ball the amounts here. Adjust for the dressing for balance. Top with Parmesan or sumac if desired, then toss again.