Three Sisters Salad

A few weeks ago I added a cocktail to my blog called the Four Sisters.  It was a cocktail that we “four sisters by choice” concocted and decided Four Sisters was a perfect name.  We enjoyed a couple pitchers that day and have enjoyed several since.  This is a salad called “Three Sisters Salad” that has nothing to do with our cocktail, although it would pair nicely.  The three sisters in this recipe refers to the combination of corn, beans, and winter squash, key crops of indigenous Americans.  The recipe is from the June/July 2020 issue of fine Cooking.  I improvised a bit, mostly out of necessity.  Since this pandemic started there are certain grocery items that are nearly impossible to find.  For instance, dried beans.  Who knew that a pandemic would cause people to hoard dried beans, but it must be a thing.  This recipe called for dried black eyed peas and gave instructions for cooking them with onion and garlic and some herbs.  Actually, even canned black eyed peas are hard to find.  I had always looked for them in the section of the grocery with the other dried and canned beans.  Even though they are called a pea they are actually a bean.  On a recent grocery run I found them in the canned vegetable section.  Right next to canned green peas, which are truly a disgusting thing.  These particular canned beans had a very pleasant smoky taste, if you like that sort of thing, and they were a really good, I thought, addition to the salad.

Also, although one of the three sisters is winter squash, this recipe called for zucchini.  And there is plenty of that available this time of year.

Dressing Ingredients:

3 T white wine vinegar

1 T Dijon mustard

I T maple syrup

1/4 cup olive oil

1 T finely minced jalapeño (I took the seeds out of mine)

Salt and pepper to taste

Salad Ingredients:

3 ears of corn, kernels removed

3 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced and separated

2 slender zucchini cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices and halved

1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves

salt and pepper to taste

Make the dressing and set aside.  In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, syrup, and mustard.  Continue whisking while adding the oil in a slow, steady stream.  Stir in the jalapeño and a little salt and pepper.

Slice the zucchini and green onions and tear the basil leaves.

Remove the corn from the cob.  Heat a heavy skillet over high heat and add the corn.  Cook for about 2 minutes.  Add the scallion whites, stir, and cook for another minute.  Transfer the corn and onions to a large bowl.

 

Drain and rinse the black eyed peas.

Add the black eyed peas to the bowl with the corn.

Add the zucchini and dressing and stir to combine.  Stir in the basil and oregano and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Garnish with the scallion greens.

We enjoyed our Three Sisters Salad with cod poached in white wine, tomatoes and capers and fresh green beans.

NOTE:  Obviously, if you prefer, and if you can find them, you could cook the dried black eyed peas and add them to the salad.  The recipe calls for 8 oz. of dried beans (about 1cup).  Or, if you can find traditional vs the southern style black eyed peas, that would work as well.  Although, I must say, the smoky taste worked for me.  If you prefer you could use different beans altogether…lima, canary, navy, pinto.

The recipe called for a little less white wine vinegar (2 T) and less maple syrup (1 1/2 tsp).  I increased both a bit based on my taste.

This salad was great at room temperature or chilled.  I ate the leftovers the next day.

Zucchini Bread with Walnuts and Golden Raisins

Zucchini.  The vegetable that people are always giving away after it has inexplicitly multiplied and grown to ginormous proportions in their gardens.  One can only make so many zoodles and side dishes with tomatoes and onions and zucchini boats stuffed with meat and cheese.  But everyone loves zucchini bread and cake and other sweets.  Zucchini makes for very moist bread and cake and no longer even tastes like a vegetable.  Not even a little bit.  That’s probably the appeal to many people.  This bread is an easy quick bread that is at least a little healthy.  The inclusion of nuts and raisins,  ground flax seed, and, of course squash, bolsters that claim.  And cinnamon.  Cinnamon is very healthy!  It is loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.  You’ll feel so good after you have a slice or two of this tasty bread.

Ingredients:

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

3 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1 T vanilla

3 cups AP flour

1/2 cup ground flax seed (or wheat germ)

1 tsp nutmeg

1 T cinnamon

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

3 cups shredded zucchini

1 cup walnuts chopped

1 cup golden raisins

Preheat your oven to 325.

Beat white and brown sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla together.

Sift together flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking powder and soda, and salt.

Add raisins, nuts, and flaxseed.

Add shredded zucchini and stir until well combined.

Grease 2 loaf pans or 6 small loaf pans.  Use parchment paper if you’d like.  Divide batter evenly.

Bake for 40-60 minutes depending on the size of the pans,  Check for doneness using a tooth pick or cake tester after 40 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

Slice and enjoy!!

NOTE:  Zucchini bread freezes well.  If it lasts that long.  If you prefer you can use dried cherries or pecans.  A little different flavor but it’s all good.

Zucchini “Pasta” Salad

One of my favorite cooking magazines is Cuisine at Home; this recipe was in the June 2018 issue.  There are a lot of good recipes and usually the ingredients are things you’d have in your pantry or things that are readily available at the grocery.  Not always.  But usually.  Recently I was on a mission looking for furikake for a salmon poke bowl and  gochujang for a barbeque sauce.  I found gochujang but no luck with furikake.  It’s always a challenge when you have to google the ingredients because you have no clue what they are.  But neither furikake or gochujang  are relevant to this recipe so it’s all good.  It’s fortunate that I’m married to someone who is always willing to try new things.  It makes experimenting with new recipes and mystery ingredients a lot more enjoyable.

Some time ago I purchased a spiralizer which is essential for preparing this dish.  Plus it’s just fun to use!

If you’re not inclined to purchase this kitchen toy I have noticed that spiralized vegetable are now available in the produce sections of large supermarkets so you may be able to pick up zucchini that has already been spiralized.    It just won’t be as much fun.

Friday night we had a vegetarian meal and this zucchini (zoodle) pasta salad was on the menu.  It’s easy and fast to prepare.

Ingredients:

3-4 zucchini spiralized

1 T kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp minced lemon zest

3 T fresh lemon juice

3 T extra virgin olive oil

1 T minced fresh garlic

1 1/2 tsp honey

1 cup torn basil leaves

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

grated pecorino cheese

Toss the spiralized zucchini with 1 T kosher salt in a strainer set over a bowl or plate.  Allow it to sit for about 20 minutes.

Rinse the zucchini zoodles and dry in a salad spinner.

Whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and honey for the dressing.  Toast the pine nuts.

Toss the zoodles, pine nuts, and fresh basil together along with the dressing.  Add the cheese and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

Enjoy.

This was the first time I’ve made this salad.  I think substituting toasted walnuts or pecans for the pine nuts would be good.  As well as the addition of sliced strawberries or cherry tomatoes which would add color and another layer of flavor.  As always I believe recipes are meant to be personalized.

NOTE:  Salting and straining vegetables like eggplant and zucchini help to remove some of the excess water.  You just need to be sure to rinse them.  Spiralized veggies like zucchini can also substitute for pasta in recipes if you’re counting calories.

 

Zucchini Fritters

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A fritter is a batter containing meat, fruits or vegetables that has been fried.  So it has to be good, right?  It’s fried!  A friend gave me a recipe for zucchini fritters a few days ago and I decided to give them a try.  When you don’t plan your menu ahead of time you frequently have to improvise ingredients.  And sometimes the improvision is a great success.  That was the case here.  These fritters were an excellent side.  Even someone who doesn’t like vegetables will like these.

Ingredients:

2 medium size zucchini shredded

2 garlic cloves minced

2 shallots minced (about 1/4 cup)

1/4 chopped fresh parsley

zest of one lemon

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese shredded

1/2 cup flour

1 egg whisked

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

salt and pepper to taste

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Grate the zucchini and put it in a colander to drain for 10-15 minutes.

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Dice the scallions, garlic cloves, and parsley.  Zest the lemon.

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Grate the Parmesan cheese.

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In a medium bowl combine the zucchini, flour, cayenne and salt and pepper.  Stir to combine.  Stir in the garlic, shallots, parsley and lemon zest.

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Stir in the cheese and the whisked egg.  Season with salt and pepper.

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Heat a tablespoon or so of canola oil on a griddle or fry pan over medium high heat.  Drop heaping tablespoons of the batter onto the hot griddle and cook 3-4 minutes per side until the fritters are golden brown.

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Serve with a dollop of sour cream and some applesauce.  I served them as a side with a pork loin and asparagus.

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NOTE:  After draining the shredded zucchini you may still need to squeeze out any remaining liquid.  You can do this with your hands or wrap the zucchini in a clean cotton dish towel  and squeeze.

Zucchini is a very mild squash so feel free to experiment with different kinds of herbs like dill or cilantro or basil instead of parsley.

 

Spiral Veggie Pie

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A few weeks ago a friend posted a recipe for a veggie spiral that looked beautiful and challenging. I love making meatless dishes and decided to try a modified version of the recipe. In the making of this dish I decided I need a new mandolin. Mine didn’t seem to cut the veggies as thin as they should have been and I had to use a wide peeler for the sweet potatoes and carrots.

Preheat oven to 375.

Ingredients:

2-3 yellow squash

2-3 zucchini

2 small eggplants

2 carrots

2 sweet potatoes

4 oz cream cheese at room temperature

1/2 cup sour cream

2 T Dijon mustard

fresh sage leaves

salt and pepper

olive oil

single pie crust

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Prepare your pie crust.

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Using a mandolin (or wide peeler) thin slice the vegetables. Do not peel the vegetables; the skins add color to the dish.

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Using a hand mixer beat cream cheese, sour cream, and Dijon mustard until smooth.

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Spread cream cheese mixture in the pie shell. Sprinkle with chiffonaded sage leaves.

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Begin rolling the veggies, skin side up, in a spiral alternating the colors. Continue until you reach the ends of the dish.

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Drizzle with olive oil and season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

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Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes.

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Cool for 5 minutes, slice and enjoy.

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Great served with a salad and bread. It’s a beautiful dish in its own right that’s fun to prepare. A perfect vegetarian dish or a side for a meat dish.