All posts filed under “Salads

Roast Eggplant Lentil Tabbouleh_Katherine Sacks
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Roast Eggplant Lentil Tabbouleh with Lime-Tahini Dressing

I’ve said it before, but I’m a big fan of meal planning. Every week, usually on Friday morning during breakfast, TH and I sit down and flip through magazines and cookbooks, looking for inspiration and ideas for our meals for the week. The plan is generally a mix of go-to favorites, a few easy to prepare meals, and one or two recipes that are new and perhaps a bit challenging. Planning out our meals makes the grocery shopping trip so much easier, because we know exactly what we need to purchase, and we try to not buy much more than that.

After we pick out the week’s meals, we write the meal plan on a big yellow post it-note, which we place on the fridge to reference throughout the week. But for all the planning, sometimes things just don’t go as we imagined. Sometimes there is an unexpected dinner invitation, sometimes we aren’t in the mood for the food we had planned, and some days we are just too lazy to cook at all. Inevitably, this means groceries end up lying around in the fridge and pantry needing a new purpose.

For the past two weeks, this forgotten item was eggplant. I love eggplant (see here and here), but for some reason we recently ended up with two lonely eggplants. I had planned to make a roasted vegetable lasagna, using long slices of zucchini and eggplant as the “noodles,” but never got around to it. I put the eggplant back on our list in a ragù, but also didn’t make the dish. Finally this week was the eggplant week. We prepared homemade chicken wings one night, and I wanted a nice fresh-flavored side dish to go along with the spicy meat. My first thought was tabbouleh, but since we are cutting out most carbs this month, I subbed in French lentils for the bulgur wheat. The addition of charred eggplant gave the salad some nice earthy flavor, and the lime-tahini dressing—packed with chopped mint, basil, and parsley—was exactly the bright and tangy bite I was looking for. This salad is great on its own, and can also be served over salad greens for an even more filling dish.

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White Bean Green Bean Salad_Katherine Sacks
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Green Bean-White Bean Salad

As one of my (many) goals before turning 30 next month, I’ve been trying to adopt some healthier eating habits. Along with cutting some sugar out, we’ve added a few of the Whole 30 and Paleo eating principles into our diet this month, which means no dairy, grains, and processed foods, and a lot more vegetables and meats. It may sound like a tough love approach, but (most days) it feels pretty great to be eating healthy, and I’m lucky to have a partner like TH who is just as interested in shifting habits.

I’m already not a fan of super heavy mid-day meals, but starches like quinoa, pasta, or even whole-wheat crackers often make up a portion of my lunches. With these options out, I suddenly found myself pretty hungry after lunches last week, and realized I needed to come up with some full-flavored and filling dishes to get me through the day. This combination of fresh green beans and white beans offers just that, with a nice filling kick of protein, a refreshing zing of lemon zest and olives, and a healthy dose of olive oil and lemon juice. It’s great on its own as a side dish, but can also be served for lunch mixed into salad greens along with a hard-boiled egg and some tuna fish for even more protein.

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Spargel Season

Asparagus

All winter I listened to Germans (and fellow expats) lament about the weather, complaining about the never ending cold. While I was certainly put off by their negativity about my new home (having weathered a Chicago winter, Berlin’s winter was nothing), I was just as eager as the masses for Spargel season to arrive. I remember eating asparagus soup here as a child and although asparagus is a similarly popular courier of spring in the U.S., there is something very German about the verdant vegetable. Germany even crowns a Spargelkönigin or Asparagus Queen!

The warm weather finally broke last week and with it came asparagus! I happily bought a few bundles to share with our April house guests (including the German preferred white variety). While Spargelsuppe is the dish of my childhood memories, the warm sunny weather called for something cool and refreshing. I’ve been on a tahani dressing kick lately, so I started with that; the earthy, sesame paste offers the creaminess of a mayo-based vinegerette with the added bonus of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. For crunch I used Runkelrübe, which we’ve been getting from our CSA, and I’ve discovered to be sugar beet. Although this tuber looks like a giant red beet, the flesh is white and has a crunchy sweet texture, similar to jicama. Yellow beet or jicama would be a fine substitution if you can’t find sugar beet. All together it’s a lovely, simple, fresh salad and one I have a feeling with become a regular on our table throughout the rest of spargel season (which I just found out ends quite specifically on June 24th, the feast of St. John the Baptist and the date the Germans decide the harvest has lasted long enough).

Asparagus Salad

Tahini Dressing
Serving: 1 cup
1 shallot, minced
3 tablespoons tahini
4 tablespoons olive oil
7 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon water
Salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the shallot, tahini, olive oil, vinegar, and water until mixture is smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Asparagus-Beet Salad with Tahini Dressing
Serving: 4 people
1 bunch asparagus, stems trimmed
1/2 sugar beet, julienned
2 tablespoons Tahini Dressing

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the asparagus, cooking for about 8 minutes until tender. Shock in ice water and drain. Slice on a bias to 1/2-inch pieces.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the asparagus, beets and dressing. Toss to combine and enjoy.