5-Minute Meal

 

Spinach and Chickpea Salad

Sometimes a 5-minute meal is called for and for those, salads are an easy go-to. The trick is to get creative to prevent food boredom. This salad is easy to pair with any fish or chicken you may have already prepared. I am also a fan of a little help from the store with wine such as smoked or pastrami style salmon, low sodium smoked turkey or boiled shrimp. Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts!

Ingredients:

1 cup chopped fresh spinach

½ cup chopped tomatoes

1 can of drained organic chickpeas

¼ cup of diced onion

2 tbsp. shredded basil

2 tbsp. chopped parsley

The juice of one lemon and orange

1 tbsp. garlic powder

1 tbsp crumbled feta

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1.       Rinse and chop spinach and tomatoes and add to a medium bowl.

2.       Drain and rinse chickpeas if not low sodium.

3.       Finely dice onion and chop herbs. Add to the bowl.

4.       Juice citrus over bowl and add seasoning and feta. Mix well and enjoy.

Salad Inspiration

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This tasty salad was inspired by the beautiful Brussel sprouts that are in season at the Red Stick Farmers market. You just can’t go wrong with feta and balsamic in a salad! Grilled chicken or shrimp or really any protein of your choice would be a great addition to this salad. You can also add other seasonal fruit and vegetables such as lettuce, strawberries or peppers for some added nutrients and flavors. Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts!

 

Asparagus and Brussels Sprouts Salad

Ingredients:

2 cups shaved Brussels Sprouts

2 cups chopped asparagus

¼ cup dried cranberries

½ cup sliced onion

2 tbsp. chopped nuts (optional

2 tbsp. feta cheese

1/8 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp. olive oil

½ tbsp. honey

3 cloves of garlic

 

Directions:

  1. Rinse vegetables. Peel and slice onion. Peel garlic.
  2. In a large bowl, add vinegar and honey and mix well to dissolve honey. Press in garlic or mince and add. Add sliced onion.
  3. Using a mandolin, thinly slice Brussel sprouts. If you do not have a mandolin, use a box grater. You want to break the sprouts down so that they are easier to eat.
  4. Add sprouts to the bowl. Trim asparagus by using one stalk and bending it to where it breaks naturally and trim the others the same length. This will help you avoid adding woody stems. Add to the bowl.
  5. Add cranberries, feta and nuts. Drizzle with olive oil, mix well.
  6. Enjoy.

 

 

Bountiful Berries

 

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It’s that time of year again for strawberry season! I cannot get enough of this local, flavorful fruit and the opportunities to make new inspired creations. This past Saturday, I shared one such dish with a shrimp avocado and strawberry salad. Traditionally for such salads, I’ve added other seafood like crab and fruit such as mango. I decided to make a version using fresh strawberries from the Frank Fekete Farm, seafood from Anna Marie Shrimp and local microgreens from Westdome Nursery. The trick is to balance the sweet with savory additions like fresh garlic and herbs in the dressing. This tasty dish was well received and one that I’ve already made again. Check out the recipe below.

 

Shrimp, Avocado and Strawberry Salad

Serves 4

 

Ingredients:

1-1.5 lb(s). peeled and deveined shrimp

2 cups of chopped strawberries

3 cups of microgreens (Can also mix in salad greens)

2 large avocadoes

2 tbsp. chopped green onion

3 cloves of garlic

1 tbsp. local honey

4 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. Red Stick Spice garlic and herb (no salt)

1 tbsp. Red Stick Spice Roasted Onion granules

Pinch of Red Stick spice aged balsamic vinegar sea salt (or reg sea salt)

 

Directions:

  1. Peel and devein shrimp and set aside. Heat a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add 2 tsp of each seasoning (minus salt) to shrimp and add to a hot skillet. Add a splash of water and sear for 3 minutes on both sides before removing from heat.
  3. In a medium serving bowl add vinegar and honey and mix until well blended. Add in oil.  Peel and press garlic in. If you do not have a garlic press, mince finely, then add to the bowl. Add in remaining seasoning. Mix well.
  4. Rinse and chop 2 cups worth of strawberries. Add to the bowl. Cut the avocado in half then score each half into bite-sized pieces before scooping into the bowl.
  5. You can chop shrimp or leave whole and add to the bowl. Rinse and chop green onion then add to the bowl.
  6. Add in micro greens and optional salad greens. You can also add in fresh herbs like parsley for an added layer of flavor. Mix well, serve and enjoy.

 

Growing Greens

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Happy 2019; I hope your year is off to a great start! I said I would do a couple of post on gardening in the New Year and thought it best to start off with one. Growing your own food doesn’t have to be scary and is certainly rewarding. I actually began growing by attending a fundraiser and participating in a ticket pull. While my goal was to win a bottle of wine, I instead won a few herb plants and my first tomato plant. After my first tomato came in, I was hooked and have been growing since then.

I’d like to start with lettuce since this is perfect weather to grow them in Louisiana and similar climates with temperatures at a low of 40 and high of 75 degrees. It’s important to note, soil PH is different in different areas and can even be different in your backyard. So finding the right spot to grow your crops is part of the discovery. You can always add compost and plant food with dirt when planting to create more PH balance.  I learned through trial and error that I do best growing in planters for crops like lettuce rather than in ground. Lettuce needs good drainage, sun with shade for part of the day and regular water. Once I found the right spot, the greens mostly took care of themselves.

I brought a rectangular planter and drilled holes in the bottom to support drainage. With a mix of potting mix, organic compost and organic chicken manure, I had a great growing environment. The fun came in adding rows of different seeds for a pretty interesting salad mix. I included red and green lettuce, arugula and mesclun seeds in the bed for my salad. With rain every few days, I have not had to water the planters. It’s important to make sure the box remains moist. Once they start to sprout, it takes three to four weeks to grow into tasty salad greens. *Note: Growing herbs like parsley and cilantro is not only easy, but make great salad additions.

Considering squirrels are frequent backyard visitors, I covered my greens with mesh netting to prevent nibbles. I have not had any problems with nibbles nor other pest impacting the greens; however if you do, there are organic sprays that can be used such as Garden Safe, which I did need for tomatoes this past summer.

I’d recommend only cutting what you need for a meal to get the most fresh and best tasting greens. Rinse them well! I clipped them down to the base stem and added them to a sink of water to get off any extra dirt. Check out images of the stages of growth below.

Just starting to sprout (they do not all come out at the same time):

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Gaining traction (about 2 weeks later):

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Be patient. It’s worth it! (2-3 weeks later)

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A New Take on Salmon

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While I enjoy a nice tuna or  salmon fillet, I’ve been itching to try the canned and pouched varieties with an inspired twist. Both varieties of fish are great sources of omega 3s and vitamins such as the B complex, selenium and magnesium which means they are great sources of antioxidants which fight oxidative stress in the body and helps defend the body from chronic disease. Fish is recommended to be consumed at least twice a week to get the best benefits from these powerful sources of nutrients and lean proteins.  I started with salmon cakes, as an alternative to the traditional crab cakes and served it on a bed of arugula and mixed kale greens and cucumber from my local farmers market. Of course I was proud to add a few tomatoes from my own back yard. J To top things off I used a little lemon juice and black currant balsamic vinegar, though any preferred variety will work with this dish. Check out the recipe below. Please l note that no salt was used because of the wonderful addition of capers and Kalamata olives in the salmon cakes; however if you are not as fond of them as I am and prefer salt, a small pinch will do. Share your thoughts and enjoy!

 

Salmon Cakes

Serves 2

 

Ingredients:

1 5oz can of boneless skinless pink salmon

2 tsp capers

5 kalamata olives chopped

2 tbsp. green onion chopped

½ tbsp. flour of choice

½ tsp black pepper

1 tsp olive oil

2 cups of salad greens (mixed or preferred choice)

1 cup of sliced cucumber

½  cup tomato

1 tbsp. dressing of choice

1 lemon juiced

 

Directions:

  1. Open and strain liquid from the can. Add to a small bowl.
  2. Rinse and chop green onion. Chop pitted Kalamata olives. Add both to bowl
  3. Add capers and pepper to the bowl and the juice of half a lemon. Mix well. Add flour and mix well.
  4. Add oil to a medium skillet over medium heat.
  5. While it heats, form two patties and once hot add to oil. Cook for 2 minutes or until it starts to brown then flip and repeat on the other side. Turn off heat. (It may break and if so, the other browned side will help bind the patty back together.)
  6. Rinse salad greens, cucumber and tomato. Slice cucumber and tomato and add to plates. Add cakes then a drizzle of lemon juice and dressing.
  7. Enjoy!

Not Your Average Pasta Salad

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I’ve been exploring gluten free dishes and pastas to better support friends and family with gluten sensitivities. Simple is best and adding great flavor is what makes it great. Pasta is a simple dish that can be dressed up many different ways and for this dish I went Greek with a dash of North African flavor. I was also excited to use some produce from my own backyard. I have been growing sweet peppers, tomatoes and of course fresh herbs such as rosemary and green onion. This was easy to pair with baked chicken that I seasoned two ways (lemon rosemary and garlic and herb) for some variation this week. Check out the recipe below and be sure to share your thoughts.

Gluten Free Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

1 cup of dry gluten free elbow pasta

1 cup sliced tomato

1/2 cup sliced sweet peppers

1/4 cup green onion

2 tbsp. harissa

2 tbsp. chopped kalamata olives

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tbsp. fresh rosemary

1 tbsp. garlic infused olive oil

Directions:

  1. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. 
  2. Rinse vegetables and herbs. Slice tomato; cut peppers in half and remove seeds before slicing thinly. Chop rosemary.
  3. Boil pasta for 8-9 minutes. Chop whole olives or used canned, by straining liquid.
  4. Once boiled, add to a bowl, then add remaining ingredients.
  5. Mix well and enjoy.

Try and Try Again!

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I’m glad that I can still surprise myself with making something definitely put in the category of “I don’t Like”, and find that all it need was some inspired concocting. While I’ve been told “you loved beets as a kid!”, I’m convinced it’s because I didn’t know any better. As an adult, I have only eaten them hidden in a salad or other dish. Since beets lower blood pressure, promote liver detoxification, improve heart health and boost endurance among a host of other things, I decided to take my own advice of trying them again in a new way. I decided to make a roasted beet and garlic soup with rosemary and was surprised by how great it came out. Paired with some prime salad fixings from the farmers market, I was certainly a happy camper! The best surprise at the market were the mulberries from the Chenier Farm which were sweet and tasty amid the other great toppings. Check out the recipe below and certainly share your thoughts.

Soup ingredients (serves 2-3):
1 lb fresh beets
1-2 small purple potatoes (optional)
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. sea salt and pepper
2 cups water
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

Salad ingredients (serves 1):
1 cup of arugula
1 cup baby kale
1/2 lemon juiced
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tbsp. fig balsamic vinegar (or flavor of choice)
1 tbsp. goat cheese
1 tbsp. chopped walnuts
1/4 cup fresh mulberries or chopped strawberries
1/8 cup shaved radishes (a couple)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.
2. Rinse and peel beets. Cut off ends, cut in half and then quarters. If using potatoes, rinse and cut into same size. Peel garlic and add to baking sheet.
3. Add olive oil and vinegar and mix well by hand or with tongs. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top. Bake for 40 minutes.
4. Once baked, add mixture with a splash of water and rosemary to a food processor or blender and blend well. Add to a pot with remaining liquid and bring to a simmer.
5. While heating soup, rinse greens and chop into bite-sized pieces. Squeeze on lemon juice, seeded side up and add olive oil. Mix gently by hand for a minute which will help break down greens.
6. Using a mandolin or potato peeler, shave in radishes thinly.
7. Rinse and add mulberries. Chop and add walnuts. Drizzle on vinegar.
8. Bowl soup and garnish with dried rosemary. Plate salad.
9. Enjoy!