Broccoli Slaw

27 Mar

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Lately, in our CSA farm basket, we have been receiving the most fantastic broccoli I’ve ever tasted. The hearty green grows well here in north Florida; that is if you don’t get any crazy spurts of unseasonably super warm weather making it bolt and go to seed (speaking from experience here). It is so healthy, so filling and satisfying; broccoli is quickly becoming one of my favorite veggies to eat.

It’s funny how tastes change. Growing up, whenever broccoli was served with dinner, I would only eat it doused in nacho cheese sauce. Maybe even a couple of times, I did the whole hide-the-broccoli-in-the-napkin trick. I’m sure my mom and dad never figured that one out (right, guys?). At some point, I matured in my broccoli taste and the boring crudité of raw florets dipped far enough in the endless bowl of ranch to actually be considered “dunking” became my sole broccoli experience.

Times have surely changed again. Years ago, after watching Ina Garten make her Parmesan Roasted Broccoli, I stretched my broccoli comfort a bit farther, and whatcha know? I loved it! Broccoli became a staple in our house from that point on. Roasted, steamed, chopped into risottos, soups, and certainly not loaded down with heavy creams and mayo-based dressings, broccoli has finally received the badge of culinary honor it’s always deserved.

The weather is starting to warm up (sorry cold-weather readers – while we, too, had our wintery bout of frigid weather, it is currently 82 degrees in Jacksonville. Love you guys!). So the innate cravings for springtime foods are in full force. Especially moving around every 3-4 years, Rob and I really try to make the best out of the areas we experience. Food, of course, falls into this category. We have definitely given the true, Southern Food experiences a valiant effort and I, personally have fallen in love with slaws. We’re not talking the globby, sticky, sweet, mayo-dripping, brown-sugar laced kinds of slaw, but the tangy, fresh, crunchy, shredded veg mixtures that have endless possibilities.

During the warm months, when salads just get too monotonous, and the grill needs a break, a slaw is the perfect meal. Yes, meal. Not side dish, but full-on, full-flavor, smack-your-taste buds around, meal. While the classic red/green cabbage with carrots is always an easy go-to, the slaw is the perfect avenue for veggie creativity. Here are a few of my faves (all greens and veggies shredded, to keep the slaw texture genuine):

Kale, savoy cabbage, pumpkin seeds, and dried cranberries
Arugula, green cabbage, carrots, celeriac, celery seeds, almonds, and apple
Red cabbage, zucchini, carrots, curry powder, cumin seeds, and pine nuts

And probably the best (and easiest) of all:
Spinach and Broccoli

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The Spinach and Broccoli Slaw came about with my continually expanding broccoli-love, as well as the fact that our CSA has delivered stalk after stalk of the stuff. Using a food processor fitted with the shredding blade, simply shred 1 whole head of fresh, raw broccoli, a few florets at a time. Then, using 8 oz. of baby spinach, stack them, then roll them into a cigar shape, and slice them thinly into a julienne cut (the leaves then look like little ribbons). Mix the shredded spinach and broccoli together in a large bowl, and lightly season with a pinch of salt.

My Slaw Dressing generally stays the same: 2:1 nonfat Greek yogurt to mayo, lemon juice, red wine vinegar a heavy touch of very good honey, and s&p, really all just to taste. Sometimes, if a particular sassy feeling arises, I’ll throw in some finely chopped rosemary, thyme, or even tarragon for an herby note. Usually, I prefer a thinner, more vibrant dressing (resulting in less to use), so I go heavier on the lemon juice and less on the yogurt and mayo, but it’s really all a preference with room to experiment (also, a great tip is to lightly season the shredded veg with salt before dressing it, so it all the veg juices start to release, adding even MORE natural flavor to the slaw).

Slaws are wonderful – they marry flavors over time, they are sturdy (so they hold up well), and completely portable. They are a foundation to add protein, much beyond the stereotypical backyard BBQ pulled pork. Try hot-smoked salmon, grilled chicken, nuts galore, or braised lamb. Really, the possibilities are endless.

Enjoy!

#LunchAtWork

4 Mar



Today was one of those mornings where the sound of my alarm left me hoping it was Friday, but the realization that it was only Wednesday threw me into a tailspin equivalent to a 3-year old tantrum of really-really-really-do-I-have-to-wake-up-right-now?  

Then, the beautiful new Starbucks near the house had a liiiiiine (which isn’t really a big deal in hindsight, but after waking up on the Wednesday-when-it-should-be-Friday side of the bed, it’s the little things that get irritating, you know?).  

While the Americano softened the morning edge just a bit, anyone that works with children on a daily basis knows that when the weather changes, so do the children’s behaviors.  Here in Jacksonville, we’ve gone from record breaking cold to record breaking highs in a week, leaving everyone craving the doles of summer.  Thus, simply walking in the door, the students were wild with warm weather, yet snotty with the lingering sickness from the past week’s frigidity.  Today, we had an almost “vom” incident (the term we tenderly use for throwing up), a sudden and vehement bloody nose, and one girl blew yet another snot bubble out of her nose.  Gross, yes.  But not as interesting as last week, when another girl sneezed so hard that she fell over.  

To top the cake, one student told me I looked like I was 182 years old.  I corrected her and told her I was 21 (she doesn’t know that I’ve been 21 for the last 12 years).  

Sigh.  One of those mornings.  But it all started to pick up with lunch.  I had a fresh and simple spinach and strawberry salad, but what made it special was the Maple Balsamic and Black Pepper Drizzle; so flavorful that no oil was required.  It was purely 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 tsp good maple syrup, a pinch of salt, and a healthy heavy hand of cracked black pepper, mixed until combined.  It’s a great pairing with strawberries and sturdy enough to cut through spinach tannins.  With a toss of parmesan cheese, or nuts (for a vegan experience), or even roasted turkey breast, an easy and super healthy lunch is at the ready.  

Most days I’ve been able to turn the last night’s leftovers into something different and yummy for lunch, and it certainly provides that midday boost, especially on a Wednesday.  

So, to honor the Lunch, and give well-deserved credit to the often forgotten, fast-food driven, oh-I’ll-just-eat-a-piece-of-bologna-and-be-fine food experience, I’ve decided to start photo documenting my work lunches.  Lately, in my new social media frenzy, I have been posting Instagram pictures of my lunch with the hashtag: #LunchAtWork.  It would be awesome to turn this into something big, but being one that has never been “trendy” (people, I still think Birkenstocks are cool), I don’t know how to do this.  

Here’s where YOU (the fabulous readers) come in!  Take photos of your lunchtime eating experience and hashtag them #LunchAtWork.  Feel free to also send it to @42potatoesblog #42potatoes.

More than fun (and, trending, is the word?), let this be about sharing your food culture – are you a vegan?  A vegetarian?  Do you follow a Paleo diet?  What is your lunchtime craving?  Sushi?  Thai curries?  Personally, I love a good salad but also have been having fun experimenting with hearty grain bowls lately.  Leave a message, leave a recipe if desired, and let’s make Lunch important! 

Enjoy!  

Noshing

22 Feb

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On a daily basis, my family uses Yiddish words. My mother grew up in an area where she heard the slang-phrases, thus making it common in our family, even though we technically have no cultural nor religious ties to the language. When Jenn and I would hype up the dog to where he was running all over the house like a wild-ass animal, we’d hear: “Stop it! You’re making him mashugana!” The groan following too much fried food preceded, “Ehg, the ajada.” “Jill! You’ve got schmutz all over your face!” was the typical retort after an ice cream splurge.

When Rob first heard some of this language during our dating times, he would quietly ask for a translation, but now he uses the phrases just as much. So our conversations go something like this:

Rob (horrified): “Your mother is cutting the fat off the bacon with scissors.”
Me: “Yeah. Thinking about eating all that bacon fat makes her verklempt.”

Another word often used, especially in my household, is “noshing.” Google-ly it’s defined as: verb, informal, to eat food enthusiastically or greedily. My definition is: eating enough popcorn, peanuts, and wasabi peas between the 3:00-6:00 hours to turn me into a human pub mix. I don’t go as far to be binge-worthy and unhealthy, but it’s not the best habit to have (and Rob doesn’t exactly share in it).

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So feeling the urge to nosh, but not having any of my noshing goods in the pantry, it inspired me to create something else – something a little bit fancy, a little bit booshy, a dish I would like to order as an appetizer with a glass of bubbles. Nordically inspired, I’m super into pickling and marinating, and my mind (as it often does), turned to cheese. The light in my fridge divinely directed me to the creamy, fresh ball of mozzarella, just pleading for its makeover. In 5 minutes, Marinated Mozerella was born: the cheese was thickly sliced and soaking in a bowl of 1 diced shallot, 1 minced garlic clove, 1:1 ratio of white balsamic vinegar to rice wine vinegar, all the basil I could manage (about 1 tbsp, chopped, but more would have been dandy), a pinch of red pepper flakes, and a sprinkling season of s&p. Making sure all the slices were submerged, my lovely cheese had a quick 30-minute marinade. Placing a handful of baby spinach on a plate, I then used two slices of the cheese – with its marinade – and finished the dish with a drizzle of amazingly thick extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of Maldon sea salt. Is there a Yiddish phrase for holy cow?

Any way prepared, this little gem of a loosely-termed “salad” is perfect for a fancy entertaining evening, or simply for your afternoon nosh. Discussing the flexibility of this delicious dish with my mom, we thought it would be fantastic slightly warmed over green veg like beans and asparagus. Or maybe, it would be succulent atop tender, slow-roasted, sweet Roma tomatoes. I suggested placed on top of bread for a crostini. Mom’s response: “I would call that pizza – even in Yiddish.”

Enjoy!

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