Persillade

Here’s another common scenario I’ll bet you’ll cop to. There you are in the produce section, and you stop for cilantro. Right next to that is the parsley. You glance at that and then head for the onions…

I mean, what does anybody actually use parsley for, right? Answer: Persillade. Think of it as a variation on pesto, which in fact, it is. There really isn’t “one right way” to make this stuff, so experiment and make yourself and your crew happy.

Build a batch of this and try it on roast chicken, or potatoes, steak, fish, an omelette, pasta; get the idea? Cool, let’s build it.

Handful of fresh Parsley, about a half cup loose packed
2-4 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic
1 small bulb Shallot
Juice of 1/2 to 1 Lemon
Pinch of Sea Salt

Rough chop the parsley, garlic and shallot. Throw them into your food processor or blender.

Pulse sparingly a few times until you’ve got a nice, even mix.

Now turn the machine on and add a steady, thin stream of olive oil while the processor runs until you have a consistency you like.

Transfer the sauce into a glass bowl, then add fresh lemon juice and salt to taste.

Allow the flavor to marry for at least 1/2 hour prior to serving.

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You can store Persillade in the fridge for a day or two, or freeze it if you want some long-term. This is an excellent sauce to do up in ice cube trays and freeze; just pop a cube out when you want a bit for something fun.

Enjoy!

One Hour Minestrone

OK, so a good few of y’all have asked for the zero-to-minestrone in an hour recipe, so here goes.

There is much leeway in this wonderful soup. You can make it with meat or vegetarian. You can add whatever veggies are in house with confidence. In other words, there are few rules. That said, what I’ll propose as the single non-negotiable point is this: the base stock should be veggie and include white beans, (AKA Great Northerns). As I’ve said numerous times here, try it this way first and then go forth as you see fit thereafter…

So, let’s say that like me the other night, you got a hankering for soup, it’s 5 pm, you have no stock on hand and nothing prepped. Ready?

Open and lightly rinse a can of white beans. Pour them into a sauce pan and add,
2 Cups hot water
1 small Shallot, minced
1 Bay Leaf
Sprig of Parsley, minced
1/2 teaspoon Italian Oregano
Shake Sea Salt
Twist of ground Pepper

Get that up to a simmer and reduce heat so it barely perks along.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Choose 1 medium sweet onion, then choose carrot and celery for size so that you get roughly 50% onion and 25% each celery and carrot, then rough chop. Toss those on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil and shove them in the oven for 15 minutes.

Set a stock pot over high heat with 10 cups of hot water and bring to a boil.

When the veggie timer goes off, pull them out of the oven and throw them into the boiling water. Allow them to boil freely for 15 minutes, then strain or scoop all the veggies out and toss ’em in your compost. Toss the bean pan contents into the stock pot and there’s your speed stock.

Dice 2 or 3 potatoes and a carrot, then throw them in the microwave for a minute or two until just fork tender; add them to the pot. If there are any other root veggies you have or like, do the same with those.

In a sauté pan over medium high heat, toss 1/2 diced sweet onion and a stalk or two of celery until they start to soften and sweat; throw those into the pot. If you have the leaves and tiny shoots on your celery,so much the better, just use that.

Begin scavenging the fridge and shelves. I found fresh frozen corn, peas and green beans as well as canned tomatoes we’d preserved earlier in the year and threw a handful of each into the mix. If you’ve got leftover pasta or rice in the fridge, in it goes; this is how and why minestrone has been made for many moons, capiche?

Now you can make this a broth soup or you can make it stewier if you like. If thickening appeals to you, the simplest way is to just purée some of the soup and add it back; that’ll give you slight thickening and will honor the flavor you’ve chosen exactly, of course. If you want thicker still, use a slice or two of day old bread, or a scoop of some of that rice or pasta you found in the fridge, or even leftover mashed potatoes. Take that chosen thickener, toss it in your blender or processor, add two or three ladles of soup and let ‘er rip, then return that to your stock pot and viola.

Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste, then allow your minestrone to simmer for 15 minutes or so. Take that time to use your preheated oven and make some quick corn bread, or rub slices of baguette with a split clove of garlic and a brush of butter.

Serve hot and bask in your ingenuity.

Enjoy!

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

You know these guys, right? The little pastel greened husked dudes by the tomatoes that you look at peripherally and pass by without a second thought?

Pass by no more; they are the key to green salsa that is second to none.

Choose tomatillos as you would tomatoes; you want firm ones that give a bit to finger pressure, with no soft spots, discoloration or other lesions.

Bring ’em home and get it on.

8-10 Tomatillos
1/2 medium Sweet Onion
1/2 lightly packed Cup fresh Cilantro
1-2 Hatch or Jalapeño Chiles
1-2 cloves Garlic
Juice of 1 fresh Lime
1/2 teaspoon Agave Nectar
Pinch of Sea Salt

Peel the husks off the Tomatillos and rinse them briefly in cold water. Quarter the onion, peel the garlic, and cut the lime in half.

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Field strip your chiles if you’re cooking for a general audience, or leave ’em be if you like the heat. If I use frozen Hatch chiles, I don’t roast them, but if it’s jalapeños that get the call, into the oven they go.

Halve tomatillos and place cut side down, along with the garlic and chiles, on a baking sheet. Slip that into the oven with broiler on and your rack set so the Tomatillos are about 5″ or 6″ below the element or flame. Roast ’em until the skins are blackened, then remove.

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Toss everybody but the salt into a blender or food processor and blend thoroughly.

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Pour the blend into a non-reactive sauce pan over medium heat.

Add salt to taste.

Allow salsa to simmer until it thickens and reduces slightly. Remove from heat, pour into a glass container and allow to cool completely in refrigerator.

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Will last longer than it will likely survive, AKA 4 or 5 days, refrigerated.

Now, obviously, it’s great on Tex Mex, like the housemade chimichangas this batch graced last night, but don’t stop there; it’s wonderful on pork chops or chicken, roasted potatoes, stuffed peppers, and omelettes, just to name a few. Whip up a batch and see if it ain’t so.

Enjoy!

Great American Meatout Day!

Now, if you’re around here at all, you know we’re as omnivorous as they come, so, when we post a Meatout ref, it must be good!

The Great American Meatout has been around since 1985, encouraging us to explore good nutrition without the M word.

You can pledge a day, a day a week, or a full swing life change, and you’ll find plenty of resources to help you along your journey.

It just so happens that March 20 is GAMO Day, so embrace your inner veggie and go take a look!

E & M

Tofu for Ann!

Ann wrote in the other day after checking out the cilantro pesto recipe:
Yum! This all sounds so good! Okay, what’s your best tofu recipe? Or maybe a couple recipes? I bought tofu, and have no idea what to do with it…

Hey, Ann! I’ll bet you were the nice young woman I spoke to at the cafe the other day?
You got it. Tofu is absolutely wonderful stuff, versatile as the day is long. Nowadays, and especially in a food-savvy area like ours, there are some great locally made artisinal varieties to be enjoyed: Thanh Son Tofu, Northwest Tofu, and Chuminh Tofu come to mind as must-try.

That said, my personal favorite variation is stir-fried with onions, green onions, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, carrots and garlic sauce.

So, first wash and prep your veggies: Julienne the carrots and onion, cut green onion into reasonable chop stick manageable chunks, and slice your water chestnuts.

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Drain and cut your tofu into nice bite sized chunks.

For the garlic sauce, you’ll need:
1 Cup Vegetable Stock
3 Tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar
1-2 Fresh Hot Chiles, fine diced (Jalapenos are fine for this, and red pepper flake will do in a pinch)
1-2 fresh Limes, (For Juice, you’ll want 1 to 3 tablespoons)
3-5 Cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon agave nectar, (Light Honey is fine)
1 1/2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
2 teaspoons corn starch dissolved in 4 tablespoons of water
1 – 2 Tablespoons Canola or Peanut Oil for sauteing

Add a little veggie oil to a preheated wok or saute pan over medium-high heat and allow to heat through. Add tofu and saute for a minute or two until it starts to brown. Remove and set aside.

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Throw stock, vinegar, lime juice, agave nectar and fish sauce into a sauce pan over medium heat. Start out light with each major flavor note and work to a balance you like between the salty, hot, sour and sweet notes, then adjust later as needed). When the sauce begins to simmer, drop the heat to medium low, and add the cornstarch solution; stir until the sauce starts to thicken slightly, then toss in the garlic and chile peppers and allow to incorporate. Remove from heat and allow to stay warm on stove top.

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Add a bit more oil to the wok, again over medium high, and toss in the carrots; allow them to saute for a couple minutes solo, then add all the rest of the veggies and about half the sauce.

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Let everything incorporate and heat through, then add the tofu and the rest of the sauce. heat through until simmering nicely and serve.

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Can be done solo, or on/with rice, or as lettuce wraps with more fresh sprouts, cilantro, and basil leaves to add to the fun.

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Thanks for asking, enjoy and let us know how it goes!