Fennel-Red Onion Salad

No long story here; just a good idea that worked well. This was one of the answers of What to Do With Fennel, which we had ended up with a lot of in the house. In this salad, sweet-crisp slivers of fennel and torn mint leaves cool while the slight bite of the onion and garlic and the briny feta add dimension.

This is a perfect example of what, precisely, one wants to eat in Fresno during the summer. Also on that list: fruit straight out of the refrigerator and big glasses of very cold water.

This simple little dish can be presented with far less effort than I’ve expended above. If you’d like to make this as a light main-dish salad, make a double batch of the dressing and toss it with a bowlful of any salad green.

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Carrot-Beet Salad with a Leek-Lemon Vinaigrette

Last week, when I was making the carrot-beet cutlets, I thought a carrot-beet salad might be good – and nice to look at, too. Both vegetables have an earthy sweetness; in this recipe, carrots’ milder tone help counter beets’ dark intensity.

Just carrots and beets seemed a little dull – I thought about making this a grain salad, with quinoa or couscous, but I wasn’t in the mood, so in the chickpeas went. I think it would work well, though, to toss this with one of those, with or without the chickpeas.

I had this for dinner, tossed (along with a little bit of extra dressing) with some red leaf lettuce from our CSA box. The carrots are also from T&D Willey, the beets are from K.M.K Farms, and the mint, lemon and leeks are from Il Giardino Organico.

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Asparagus & Edamame Salad with Green Garlic

Edit 2/26/07: Hi Readers! If you’re visiting from the Bariatric Eating forums, please check out my post about the use of this recipe. Thanks, and enjoy your visit!

This is another dish from a what’s good in the produce section? moment. There was green garlic on offer, and that happens so infrequently that I cannot pass it up. It’s a springtime-only item.

Those of you who eschew soy, take heart; you could make this with lima or fava beans and achieve a lovely result as well. I had this all on its own for a light dinner. It would also work well over pasta or with a risotto.

I only used one stalk of green garlic in this – it came in a bunch of five. Green garlic looks like an overgrown scallion or a 98-pound weakling leek, but it is orders of magnitude stronger than either. Be sure to taste a thin slice before adding it to anything so you get a sense of how to harness its power rather than be overwhelmed by it.

The mustard in the dressing might seem a little incongruous. It does something to the lemon juice, though – it provides a mediating factor so that you don’t just taste the sharp acid note.

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An Ordinary Dinner

One day almost two years ago now, I was chopping carrots for split-pea soup. We had returned from a trip a couple days before and there wasn’t that much in the house. Split-pea soup – with chipotles for smoke flavor and copious butter to impart some of the fattiness that ham would – was one of my standard end-of-the groceries dishes. Butter, onions, garlic, a chipotle, carrots, some fresh herb if there was some in the fridge.

It was May 29, 2004, 5:45 p.m., three hours and twenty minutes after the linked post above. Having cut the carrots lengthwise, I began to cut them crossways into neat bits the size of the split peas so the dish would be harmonious, when what felt like an invisible wall of water slamming into my back and sucking me away from shore came over me. I felt frightened and disoriented; I set down my knife and gripped the edge of the counter, holding myself up, and reassured myself that I was just feeling momentarily strange for some indefinable reason, probably just one in my occasional series of panic attacks, and that it would pass if I would just keep breathing normally.

To make a long story short and sort of cliched, I am still waiting.

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Apple Salad

This one is going up after a conversation about what you can put cardamom in. The note in the book it comes from (Lord Krishna’s Cuisine) says I made this recipe for an apple demonstration back when I was working for Big Natural/Specialty Supermarket Chain in September of 1995. I remember liking it a lot.

1/4 c. yogurt or sour cream
2 T. chopped fresh mint
3 T. ground blanched almonds
1/4 t. cardamom seeds, crushed (you may use powdered cardamom if that’s what you have)
2 T. orange or lemon juice
3 medium-sized apples, cored and diced
1/2 c. seedless grapes, halved

Blend the yogurt and sour cream, mint, almonds, cardamom and orange or lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Fold in the apples and grapes, cover and chill for at least 1/2 hour before serving.

Carrot-Jicama Salad

Please pardon the plastic container in the image.  I wanted a picture of this before it got eaten today, so this one was taken between bites of cereal while I was trying to get out the door for work, so it is in le container de storage.

This sweet and crunchy salad with a spicy, smoky dressing is a great partner for black beans. I wanted to make something cold to enjoy with dinner, but already had a fairly standard corn-and-tomato salad planned this week. This is what I came up with.

7 carrots, peeled and diced
1⁄2 of a medium jicama, diced
1⁄4 of a small head of red cabbage, diced

2/3 c. canola oil
1⁄4 c. orange juice
2 T. lime juice
1 chipotle chili, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. paprika
1⁄2 c. minced cilantro
1⁄2 c. minced parsley
2 T. minced spearmint
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel and chop the carrots. Place the carrots in a microwave-safe container and add a small amount of water. Microwave, covered, for five minutes, stirring once. Set the covered container aside and allow the carrots to finish cooking with their own heat while you prepare the other ingredients. Place the carrots, jicama, and cabbage in a medium bowl.

To prepare the dressing, combine the oil, juices, chili, and paprika in a vessel and stir vigorously until emulsified. Add the herbs and stir to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the vegetables. Place in the refrigerator until well-chilled. Toss before serving. Makes 6 servings.

Cucumber-Chickpea Salad

This is an easy one for when it’s very hot.

With the presence of the chickpeas, it’s substantial enough to be an entrée salad.  If you buy canned chickpeas, there’s no cooking required. However, if you buy dry ones and fully soak them, you can cook them in the pressure cooker by bringing it to pressure, cooking them under pressure for seven minutes, and then allowing the pressure to drop on its own off the heat. When the cooker is ready to open, they’ll be fully cooked. The nice thing about this method is that it tends to not blow the skins off or split the beans.


1 1/2 c. dry chickpeas, soaked for 8 hours or overnight (or two cans, rinsed and drained)

water to cover plus one inch

1 T. olive oil


2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and cut into chickpea-sized pieces

1-15 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped

5 oz. fresh spinach (one bag)

Drizzle of olive oil

2/3 c. fresh parsley, minced


1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 c. canola oil

2 T. red wine vinegar (or more to taste)

2 cloves minced garlic

salt and pepper to taste

Place chickpeas in pressure cooker and add water. Close cooker and bring to pressure. Cook seven minutes, then remove cooker from heat and set on a heatproof trivet. Allow pressure to drop of its own accord.

Place the spinach in a large bowl and season lightly with salt and pepper and a short drizzle of olive oil, then toss. Microwave for one minute, then stir and set aside to finish wilting. When the cooker can be opened, drain the beans and add to the large bowl. Add the cucmber, red pepper, spinach, and parsley as well, and toss.

In a glass measuring vessel, thoroughly mix together all the dressing ingredients, then pour over the contents of the bowl. Toss gently. Serve at room temperature. Makes 6 servings. Leftovers will keep a few days, but the spinach will not look very attractive past the second day.

If you are the type who likes crumbly, salty cheeses, feta or ricotta salata would be excellent atop this salad.

(Note on the slightly inaccurate photo: I thought I’d have the chickpeas separately, but it ended up better when I mixed everything together later that night.  I wrote the recipe as if I had done that straight away.)