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Posts Tagged ‘spring’

Cold Avocado Corn Soup with Cilantro Oil

 

I don’t always love cold soups, sometimes I find them to be weird or odd. I almost hate the word soup being used at all since once chilled, it is hardly anything close to a classic soup recipe. I had a puree similar to this a couple of years ago at a local restaurant that has since closed, Juniper, and it was super delicious, light and full of flavor. I am obsessed with avocados, so short of sticking a straw directly into an avocado, it really doesn’t get much better than this. I had wanted to recreate that soup for so long, but kept forgetting about it, but I ended up running across the recipe that I pulled to work from, while moving our studio home a few weeks back. I couldn’t wait to try it out.

I knew I would be on my own with this one though, Mark refuses to try cold soups, he thinks they are “stupid”, haha. So on a work day a week or so ago, I prepped the soup and oil during my lunch time break and allowed everything to cool the rest of the day, while I worked. It was such a nice treat on a hot day where I didn’t feel like cooking. I have also been getting to a ton of yoga classes every week, so this was perfect the following day after a hot and sweaty yoga class. This soup has all the flavorings of a great guacamole recipe in each spoonful. It’s refreshing but adequately filling. The cilantro oil drizzled on top is loaded with a beautiful, fresh, clean finishing flavor and I especially love the subtle heat from the poblano pepper. I went pretty light on the sour cream, as it really didn’t need much, but a small drizzle was nice, especially in contrast to the heat from the pepper. If you love avocado as much as I do, I know you will love this soup. I served it with a handful of organic corn tortilla chips on the side, which ended up being delicious dipped right into the soup. Obviously if you are vegan, simply skip the sour cream or crema at the end and you have a beautiful, tasty vegan dish.

Chilled Avocado & Corn Soup with Cilantro Oil
serves 4-6
adapted from Gourmet Magazine, May 2005

2 fresh or frozen ears of corn, shucked
4 cups plus 2 tablespoons water
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups chopped white onion
1 fresh poblano pepper, stemmed and coarsely chopped (including seeds)
3 firm-ripe California avocados
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup crema or sour cream

For cilantro oil
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Make soup:
Roast ears of corn on rack of gas burner over high heat, turning occasionally with tongs, until kernels are charred in spots, 4 to 5 minutes. (Alternatively, heat a dry well-seasoned cast-iron skillet and roast corn over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes.) Transfer the ears of corn to a cutting board and, when cool enough to handle, cut kernels from cobs with a sharp knife, then cut cobs into thirds.
Bring kernels, cob pieces, 4 cups water, garlic, salt, and 1/2 cup onion to a boil in a 3-quart saucepan and boil until liquid is reduced to about 3 cups, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool, uncovered. Discard cob pieces.
Purée corn mixture along with the poblano pepper and remaining 3/4 cup onion in a blender, then pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on and then discarding solids. Return broth to cleaned blender.
Quarter, pit, and peel 2 avocados, then add to blender with 2 tablespoons lime juice and purée until smooth. Transfer soup to a bowl and cover surface with plastic wrap. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill soup at least 1 hour.

Prepare cilantro oil while soup chills:
Purée cilantro, oil, and salt in cleaned blender, scraping down sides of blender several times. Pour oil into cleaned fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl and let drain 15-20 minutes (do not press on solids). Discard solids.

Assemble soup:
Halve and pit remaining avocado and cut into 1-inch cubes, toss gently with remaining tablespoon lime juice in a bowl.
Whisk together crema or sour cream and remaining 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl until smooth.
Season soup with salt and ladle into 4-6 soup bowls. Divide avocado chunks among bowls, then drizzle with crema and cilantro oil.

Notes:
Soup can be chilled up to 1 day ahead.
Cilantro oil can be made 3 hours ahead and chilled, covered.

Grilled Corn for Cold Avocado Corn Soup with Cilantro Oil

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Gluten-Free Pea and Goat Cheese Tart with Fresh Herbs

I actually made this recipe more than 2 weeks ago but life has been so very hectic and I am super behind on posting recipes. We were in NYC last weekend for the Renegade Craft Fair so I made this the weekend before we left, since I knew life would be crazy and it would make for some very lovely leftovers. For some reason I have been dreaming of making a gluten-free spring tart for some time now. I literally could see how I wanted it to look and taste all the flavors I had envisioned. I really wanted it to incorporate all things spring. I recalled a tart shell recipe in Gluten Free Girl and The Chef’s newest book, so I decided for my first attempt at a tart I couldn’t go wrong with one of Shauna’s recipes, they are always so wonderfully created, with each measurement precise and every ingredient well thought-out. It’s so impressive. I once again weighed my flours instead of measuring, which has always yielded such perfect results for me. One of the things I love the most about this tart recipe is how few ingredients there are, it is so simple.

The flavors from the fresh herbs in the tart were incredible,so refreshing and light, so spring. The fresh peas burst with flavor in each bite and the crust was absolutely to die for. NOT KIDDING. It was flaky, light, crusty and browned, if I hadn’t made it myself I would have sworn some one was fooling me and I was eating a gluten-laced crust. Besides being delicious this tart was quite easy to put together and was great for leftovers. We had it for both dinners and breakfasts. This would actually be quite perfect for a brunch where you really want to impress people, but don’t wish to spend all morning in the kitchen. You could actually prepare the tart dough the night before and pull it out of the refrigerator that morning. Simple!

Now that I experimented with and LOVE this tart recipe, I plan to have all kinds of fun with it. I cannot wait to play with both sweet and savory tart recipes now.

Gluten-Free Pea and Goat Cheese Tart with Fresh Herbs

Gluten-Free Pea and Goat Cheese Tart with Fresh Herbs
serves 8-10

Tart Shell
via Gluten Free Girl and The Chef – A Love Story

1/2 cup (63.5g) sorghum flour
1/2 cup (60g) tapioca flour
1/2 cup (96g) potato starch
1/2 cup (102g) sweet rice flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) frozen organic butter
1 large local farm fresh brown egg
1/4 cup of ice cold water

(if making a sweet tart, instead of savory, include 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon)

Sift the sorghum flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, and sweet rice flour into a large bowl. Stir in the salt (sugar and cinnamon if making a sweet tart). Sift into another bowl.

Grate the frozen butter directly into the dry ingredients. The butter will fall into the flours in soft swirls and start to melt in as soon as you stir. Work with your hands to mix everything, until the dough feels like cornmeal or large pieces of sand.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg and water together with a fork. Make a well in the center of the flours. Stir in the liquid, working from the inside out. Feeling the dough for soft suppleness, instead of stiffness or sogginess. Feel free to use your hands at the end.

Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour, or overnight if possible.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Butter and flour an 11-inch tart shell, I used sweet rice flour as the original recipe suggested. Pull the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Roll out the dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper, to the approximate shape of the tart pan. (this way you don’t have to flour your countertop and add more flour to the dough).If the dough falls apart or breaks a bit, don’t worry – there is no danger of the crust becoming tough by overworking it, which can happen with gluten dough. Press the dough into the pie pan and repair it that way.

Place the tart shell into the freezer until the crust is frozen, approximately 1 hour.

Butter a piece of aluminum foil approximately the size of the pie crust. Place it butter side down, onto the tart crust and fit snuggly against the sides. Bake pressing down any puffed up spots with a spoon until the shell has a good color, about 15 minutes. The tart should look and feel flaky, rather than sticky. Prepare the filling while the tart is blind baking.

Pea and Goat Cheese Filling

3 cups fresh (or frozen) peas
3 local farm fresh brown eggs
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
1/2 cup organic half and half
1 1/2 cups organic whole fat milk
6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Add the peas to a small saucepan of boiling salted water with a pinch of salt, cook for 3-4 minutes until tender, do not overcook, you don’t want mushy peas. It may take less time for frozen peas, than fresh. Drain, cool slightly, then puree half of the peas in a food processor until smooth. Transfer both the pureed and whole peas to a large mixing bowl, add the eggs, mint, chives, half and half and milk. Beat well with a spoon to combine, then stir in approximately three-quarters of the goat’s cheese. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Once the tart shell has been adequately blind-baked, pour the filling into the shell, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. My tart shell was very full, so be careful transporting, you may also find you want a cookie sheet on the oven rack below if you think it may boil over at all. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the filling is completely set. Allow the tart to cool for at least 30 minutes, top with fresh chives and/or fresh mint, serve while still warm.

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Gluten-free Whole Grain Pizza with Asparagus, Parmesan and Eggs

I’ve been using the same gluten-free pizza dough recipe for sometime now and though I do like it, I wanted to try something a little different and without the gums. I came across this recipe on Gluten Free Girl and The Chef a while back and when I saw that it contained no gums and it was flexible with the flours you can use, I was very intrigued. Shauna has a formula she created to make your own gluten-free all-purpose flour without gums and by weight instead of volume, plus it is very easy to make it a whole-grain mix by using different flours. Here is the original post about their pizza recipe that they changed a bit since their book came out. There are a few different flours you can choose from if you have sensitivities to things like corn or potato. I used their whole grain flour mixture that they featured in their post for whole grain muffins. I don’t have a ton of experience with baking, it is something I have only learned to love in the last year or so, but with the little bit I have done, I find that weighing your dry ingredients as opposed to measuring really gives you a consistent result, time and time again.

I decided a nice way to try out this new pizza dough recipe was to really let it shine, by not loading it with ingredients and sauces. I wanted a simple, tasty spring pizza that featured asparagus and eggs. The only thing I may change next time would be to use some mozzarella in addition to the parmesan to give it a bit more melty of a cheese base since the parmesan tends to not get super melty, however the dough was so delicious it honestly didn’t need it. Overall it was full of flavor from the asparagus and the fresh chives and the eggs were a wonderful compliment on top. The runny yolk was perfect for dipping the delicious crust into. You’ll be so surprised when you taste this crust at how it tastes just like real pizza crust – you’ll never know it’s gluten-free.

I know this post is large and contains a lot of info – but I promise it is all worth reading through. I am happy to finally have a good all-purpose flour mix to have on hand for different things and an even better pizza dough recipe. Play around with different toppings and flour combinations and please feel free share, I’d love to hear what you come up with.

GLUTEN-FREE GIRL’S ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR MIX

Here is the original information on the all-purpose flour mix (all content and info contained in both the flour mix and the pizza recipes is copyright of Gluten Free Girl and The Chef)

Want to make a whole grain AP mix in your kitchen? Here’s how.

We’re working with 70% whole grains/30% starches. We might someday go to all whole grains for some baked goods, but this blend works well for us now.

If you want to make a big batch for all the baking in your kitchen?

Choose 700 grams of any combination of the following flours:

Almond

Amaranth

Brown Rice

Buckwheat

Corn

Millet

Oat

Quinoa

Sorghum

Sweet Brown Rice

Teff

Almond is not a grain, but it is a whole flour, so I’ve thrown it in there. You might notice that I have not put in garbanzo (I don’t like it) or coconut (I don’t like the way it tastes or the way it sucks all the moisture out of a baked good) or soy (I’m having a hard time finding a good gluten-free one). You might like those. Substitute if you want.

This means that you can make your own blend. If you are allergic to corn, and you know you can’t eat the certified gluten-free oats, blend up 100 grams each of almond, brown rice, buckwheat, corn, millet, sorghum, and teff. (I want to write more about this later, but the flavor you find by blending all these different taste is fascinating. It’s amazing how boring regular AP flour seems after you use this.) Find your own favorite combination.

And then throw in 300 grams of any combination of the following:

Arrowroot

Cornstarch

Potato Starch

Tapioca Flour

White Rice Flour

We like using 150 grams each of arrowroot and potato starch, at the moment.

Combine the 700 grams of whole-grain flours with the 300 grams of starches in a big container. Shake it all up. You have whole-grain flour mix.

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For my AP mix I went with 175 grams each of Almond, Millet, Sorhum and Teff flours and 150 grams each of potato starch and tapioca flour. It was super simple to mix up and it made 1000 grams of all-purpose flour so I have enough to make pizza again.

The flours brought so much flavor to the crust and it was perfectly crispy on the outside and soft and chewy inside. This was by far the best crust I have ever made at home and it was simple. I’ve noticed that some gluten-free crusts get abnormally puffy and airy and don’t taste like usual pizza, others are so thin and crusty that it’s almost like eating a large cracker. I also really love

GLUTEN-FREE GIRL’S WHOLE GRAIN PIZZA CRUST

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed or ground chia seeds

500 grams whole-grain gluten-free flour mix

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

15 grams (4 teaspoons) active-dry yeast

50 grams (1/4 cup) extra-virgin olive oil

85 to 190 grams (1/2 to 1 cup) warm water, about 110º

olive oil for brushing on top of the crust

Making the flaxseed or chia slurry. Mix the flaxseed (or chia seed) into a bowl. Pour 2 tablespoons of boiling-hot water over the seeds. Whisk immediately and quickly until you have a thick paste. Let this set aside and cool down.

Combining the dry ingredients. Put the gluten-free flours and the salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix them up together.

Activating the yeast. Put the yeast, olive oil, and half the warm water into a small bowl. Stir gently. Let them sit for a moment to activate the yeast.

Making the dough. Add the slurry to the dry ingredients and mix for a moment. Pour the yeasty water into the dry ingredients. With the mixer on medium, whirl for a few moments, until the dough comes together into a soft ball around the paddle of the stand mixer and feels soft and pliable. If the dough feels too dry, add more of the warm water in small amounts until the dough feels right. (You might not need all the water. You might need more. Yeast doughs can differ from kitchen to kitchen.) Set the dough aside in a warm place and let it rise for 1 hour.

Preparing to bake. Preheat the oven to 450°. (If you feel comfortable with heat, take it up to 550°. Just watch the dough in the oven, carefully.) If you have a pizza stone, make sure it is in the oven. If not, sprinkle a pizza tray or baking sheet with gluten-free cornmeal.

Rolling out the dough. Grab 1/2 of the dough and put it between 2 pieces of parchment paper. Through the paper, roll out the dough to your desired thickness. (We like super-thin crust around here. You might like it thicker.)

Pre-baking the dough. Take the parchment paper off the dough, then transfer the dough to the pizza stone or prepared pizza tray. Brush the top with olive oil. Bake until the dough has started to crisp up and browned at the edges, about 8 to 10 minutes. (And less if you have the oven cranked up to 550°!)

Take the crust out of the oven. You now have a pre-baked pizza crust. Top with anything you fancy and continue baking until the cheese is bubbly and melty.

Makes 2 – 8-inch pizza crusts or 1 – 16-inch pizza crust. I went with 1 large round pizza. Don’t worry too much about the shape, enjoy the rustic wonkiness of handmade pizza dough.

SPRING PIZZA WITH ASPARAGUS, PARMESAN AND EGGS
Makes 1 large pizza or 2 small pizzas

Gluten-free Girl’s Whole Grain Pizza Dough Recipe (above)
Olive oil
Kosher flake salt
Black pepper
10 asparagus stalks
1 clove garlic, minced
1 – 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or mozzarella (or both)
1 bunch of fresh chives, chopped
2-4 local farm fresh brown eggs (I put 2 eggs on one large pizza, but you could certainly put 2 eggs each on 2 small pizzas)

Prepare dough according to above instructions (or whatever instructions come with your dough recipe). Preheat oven to 450ºF.

Rinse the asparagus, snap off the tough ends and cut in half or thirds depending on how long they are. You want to end up with 20-30 3-inch pieces. Take each 3-inch piece, cut in half on the long side, and then again to quarter. Heat a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat , saute the asparagus slivers and the minced garlic with black pepper and a large pinch of kosher salt until tender and still bright green. Remove the asparagus from the heat and set aside.

Brush the pre-baked pizza crust (pre-bake according to above directions) with olive oil. Sprinkle the crust with the cheese, reserving a small amount for sprinkling on top. Arrange the asparagus in a single layer over the cheese. Crack two eggs into the center of the pizza, sprinkle fresh chopped chives over everything and top with another light sprinkle of cheese. (If you are making two small pizzas, divide all the ingredients in half over the two crusts and arrange in the same order)

Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the egg whites are cooked and the pizza is golden brown. Allow to cool slightly for a few minutes, then cut and serve while still warm.

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White Bean and Chive Patties

Since we’ve closed the store and now work from home, I really look forward to the time of day when I can take a break from working and prepare a healthy dinner for us. Many nights we finish dinner, do up the dishes, feed the pets and then return up to our offices to work for a few hours, which is something we never did before, but somehow it is all so much more relaxing and laid back. Working from home has allowed me to really play with my schedule, make it more flexible and find even more time for yoga, dog walks and other fun and physical activities. I think the pressure of having to be at the studio set hours because of the store really put an unnecessary amount of self-imposed stress on both of us. We were always very happy and content before and we definitely miss the store some days, but I really find myself loving my life and my job more now than ever before. I feel so lucky.

One of my other favorite things about the new schedule is being able to take on more involved dinners during the week, that require more prep time or even down time for things to cool or set, etc. Now during the “wait times” in recipes, I can just walk upstairs and get more work done. Both last night’s dinner, Spring Pizza with Asparagus and Eggs that featured a homemade gluten-free multi-grain pizza crust and tonight’s Spring Pea and Goat Cheese Tart, with a homemade tart dough, are perfect examples of that. (Don’t worry those recipes are coming soon.) This particular recipe isn’t nearly as involved or time-consuming, but having to pan fry the patties in batches can take time and patience and it is certainly something I wouldn’t have made after a long day of work at the store and getting home around 7pm.

These patties are simple, healthy and full of flavor. They have a wonderful crispy crunch on the outside and a nice soft inside. They are naturally gluten-free and vegan, too. The original recipe features them with sage instead of chives and amidst a delicious spring brunch menu topped with a roasted tomato sauce. I thought the sauce would take away from the lovely crisp, so I instead envisioned them atop a lovely mix of baby spring greens salad as a meal in and of itself. I made a quick lime cilantro vinaigrette and served it as dinner.

You could definitely play around with different herbs and even different veggie additions, the big thing to keep in mind is to make sure the patties aren’t too moist or dry to where they will fall apart in the pan and to make sure you have your pan is hot enough to get that initial “searing” to create a nice crust on the outside and to keep the patties together. Use a spatula to look at the face-down side before you flip to make sure it is adequately browned before you flip.

We tossed some baby spring greens with the vinaigrette, put the patties on top and drizzled those with a bit more dressing and topped everything with more fresh chives. A perfect spring-time dinner.

White Bean and Chive Patties

White Bean and Chive Patties
makes 12 patties
Adapted from Whole Living, June 2011

1 19-oz can organic white beans
1 shallot, finely diced
1 small carrot, finely grated
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives, plus more for serving
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Drain beans, reserving 2 tablespoons liquid. Transfer to a bowl and mash. Stir in shallot, carrot, cornmeal, and chives. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon reserved liquid. If mixture is too dry, add the other.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil. Form mixture into 12 patties (about 2 1/2 inches diameter each) and saute in batches until golden brown and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining oil and patties. Serve topped with a tasty dressing, yogurt sauce or atop a salad.

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This is a lovely Spring/Summer pasta dish that was the perfect way to use some of the delicious bacon we got from Sojourner Farms last week. The bacon from Sojourner is the tastiest bacon I can ever recall eating, there is a sweetness to it that I have never tasted before and the perfect amount of smokiness. Since there is a very small amount included in this recipe, it isn’t overpowering or greasy in the least (which is something I dislike sometimes about bacon).

I bought some beautiful bunches of asparagus at the market as well as some fresh sugar snap peas. When I got to shelling the peas, I noticed the peas inside were super tiny and delicate and there just wasn’t enough considering I needed 2 cups for the recipe. So, I decided to go ahead and use some frozen organic peas I had on hand, instead. They worked out perfect, though I really would have preferred the fresh, had they been a bit bigger.

This dish has the perfect amount of creaminess without being heavy and the crunch from the fresh asparagus and bacon is wonderful. The brightness from the lemon is really a great compliment to the salty bacon and creamy sauce. I did however, realize after we ate, that the original recipe called for 3 tablespoons of olive oil when mixing the pasta at the end, I accidentally omitted it. I didn’t miss it a bit and honestly, I personally don’t think it needs it. It definitely needed a decent amount of black pepper when serving to give it a bit more punch, so I think next time I may consider adding crushed red pepper as well.

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Pasta with Peas, Asparagus and Bacon
adapted from Bon Appétit, May 2010
serves 4

12 ounces gluten-free organic brown rice penne (any pasta will do however)
3 ounces bacon, chopped (we prefer fresh from the farm, humanely raised, hormone and antibiotic free)
1 pound asparagus, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 1-inch pieces
2 cups shelled fresh green peas, blanched 1 minute in boiling water, drained, or organic frozen peas (do not thaw)
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced, white and pale green parts separated from dark green parts
2 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons of olive oil (I omitted this)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil, divided
salt
fresh ground black pepper

Cook pasta in pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 1 teaspoon drippings from skillet. Add asparagus to drippings in skillet; sauté 3 minutes. Add peas, white and pale green parts of green onions, and garlic; sprinkle with a bit of salt and black pepper; sauté until vegetables are just tender, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add vegetable mixture, 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid, dark green parts of green onions, 1/2 cup Parmesan, cream, olive oil (if you wish), lemon juice, lemon peel, half of parsley, and half of basil to pasta. Toss, adding more cooking liquid by tablespoonfuls if needed. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer to large bowl. Sprinkle bacon, remaining parsley, and basil over. Serve, topped with additional Parmesan cheese, and freshly ground black pepper.

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It was unseasonably hot in Buffalo today, mid-eighties and muggy. I am certainly not complaining, I love it. However, the last thing I wanted to do was come home and cook, it was far too hot for that. So, I took out a bunch of the beautiful asparagus that we grabbed on Saturday at the farmer’s market and made this delightful raw Spring salad. I served it with a piece of gluten-free focaccia and it perfectly complimented this bright and beautiful, sunny Spring day.

Shaved Asparagus and Parmesan Salad
serves 2

1 lemon
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup walnuts
1 pound bunch of asparagus spears, trimmed
1 bunch fresh chives, snipped
wedge of Parmigiano-Regiano cheese, for shaving

In a small bowl whisk together the juice from one lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper. Whisk until combined. Set aside, whisk together again just before serving. In a dry pan over medium-high heat, toast the walnuts until they are lightly browned, set aside to cool. Using a mandoline, set over a cutting board, shave the asparagus lengthwise. Add the dressing to the asparagus on a large platter, let sit 5 minutes. Just before serving, top the salad with the toasted walnuts, chives, shavings of the Parmigiano-Reggiano and freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy.

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This was a recipe I came up with this morning while I drank my tea, after doing a quick inventory on the refrigerator and pantry and thumbing through my Flavor Bible. I wanted to use some of the goodies we got at the Farmer’s Market this weekend and make something Springy and tasty. The wild rice had a beautiful earthy and nutty flavor. The spinach and fennel had a lemony tang and the perfect amount of that fresh crisp that I crave. The little bit of fresh country bacon brought a salty and smokey flavor and the toasted almonds brought a robust, toasty sweetness that really enhanced the flavor of the dish as a whole and finished it off nicely.

If you wanted to make this a vegetarian dish, you could easily leave off the country bacon and the dish would be equally delicious. I rarely cook with bacon, but when we saw this beautiful fresh bacon at the Farmer’s Market, that we bought directly from the farmer, I knew I would find the perfect dish for it to compliment. The country bacon was a cross somewhere between traditional bacon and ham, not too salty and not too greasy. This is the first time I have ever cooked with it and I most definitely will again.

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Wild Rice with Spinach, Fennel & Toasted Almonds
serves 2

4 cups of fresh spinach, stems removed and washed
2 cups fennel, chopped
3 small cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup whole raw almonds, unsalted
2 slices of local farm fresh country-style bacon, diced
1/2 lemon
2 cups wild rice, cooked
salt
freshly ground pepper

Prepare 2 servings of wild rice, according to the directions on the package. While it is cooking, over a medium-high heat, toast the whole almonds in a large dry non-stick saucepan. Remove the almonds from the pan once they begin to brown up and make slight popping sounds. Set aside. Once cooled, crush the whole almonds to your desired size.

Add the diced country bacon to the pan and brown it up over a medium-high heat (if the pan is too dry, add a drizzle of olive oil). After the bacon is browned up and heated through, remove it from the pan, cover and set aside.

Using the little bit of grease in the hot pan from the bacon, add the garlic and fennel, sauté over medium-high heat, stirring often, being careful not to burn them. Once the fennel is beginning to soften and brown up a little, about 6 minutes, add the spinach. Stir to combine the ingredients. Add a dash of salt, freshly ground pepper and the juice of half of lemon. Once the spinach has cooked down but still has a slight crisp, about 5 minutes, place 1 cup of wild rice on each plate, top it with the spinach and fennel mixture, then the bacon, crushed toasted almonds and freshly ground pepper. Serve.

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