Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta

One of my pet peeves is how early product commercialization for the winter holidays begins. Just last week, when I walked through the electronic doors of a grocery store, the potent artificial scent of cinnamon pine cones accosted me. These pine cones were prominently on display at the entrance of the store. Why now? Is there really going to be a run on scented pine cones that you need to start selling them in August? I did not see pumpkins for sale, so why are scented pine cones available now? Instead of pine cones, grocery stores should feature the best produce that is in season now, like figs.

Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta recipe
Fresh Mission Figs

I am pushing figs for several reasons, they are delicious, can be prepared for any type of meal, and I believe they are exquisite. In the Northeast US, figs have two short seasons in early summer and in late summer. In places like California, the season extends over the course of the summer. So, get them while you can because they will disappear soon.

Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta recipe.

Eat them ripe and fresh as is, or serve with any number of cheeses. Figs and cheese are a classic pairing. I particularly enjoy figs with blue cheese or goat cheese. The sweetness of the fig mingles nicely with the sharp flavors of each cheese. Another great pairing is fig jam and brie. Figs are also delicious for dessert in cakes and pastries like an almond and fig tart. Or, make figs for a savory sauce for pork.

Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta recipe.
Figs with blue cheese and chopped walnuts.

I wanted to make an easy and elegant dessert and decided to simmer the figs in a simple syrup with warm spices like cinnamon, cloves, ginger and black pepper. Along with the spiced figs, I made a yogurt panna cotta. Together, the figs and panna cotta created an exquisite dessert with creamy, tangy and warm flavors. The silky texture of the panna cotta is so smooth and nicely contrasts with the vivid pink color and warmth of the spices in the sauce. I realize I complained about the cinnamon scented pine cones earlier, but this sauce has a natural cinnamon infusion along with other spices. It has just enough spice for the early fall.  What is great about this simple syrup recipe is you can use whatever spices you like. Freshly grated nutmeg, allspice, star anise, thyme, and rosemary are all wonderful choices to infuse this light fig sauce.

Figs and Prosciutto Salad Recipe

Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta recipe

Along with the fig sauce, panna cotta is one of the easiest desserts to make and has a luscious silky texture. My recipe is based on one from Food and Wine magazine. There are no eggs, just cream, yogurt, sugar and gelatin. You can adjust the flavor of the panna cotta with a number of sweeteners and spices. Because sugar is not important to the structure of panna cotta, it is easy to vary the amount of sugar when you make it. You can adjust the amount depending upon how sweet your sauce or fruit is.

I am always looking for ways to use my homemade yogurt, so I included yogurt in my recipe. If you do not like yogurt, you can use a mixture of whole milk and heavy cream. I have also seen recipes for using goat cheese, yogurt and milk. Or, use a plant based milk product such as almond or coconut milk. I have read from TheKitchn, that unflavored Vegan Jel by Natural Desserts works very nicely for panna cotta. Currently, Vegan Jel by Natural Desserts is unavailable on Amazon. However, other vegan gelatin alternatives are available. Also, I read Whole Foods carries Vegan Jel. If anyone has used it I would love to know how you like it.

 

Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta recipe.

The most difficult thing when making panna cotta, is unmolding it from your ramekins or cups. I recommend a ramekin with smooth sides as it is easier to run a knife around the edge. Also recommended, is a light coating of canola or vegetable oil. The oil, and a quick dunk in a warm bath will eventually release the panna cotta from the dish to present on a plate. Or, forget about unmolding it and serve it directly in the container you set it in.

Save the scented pine cones for when it is cold enough to build a fire in the fire place and threatening to snow. Now is the time to set our sights on fresh produce, recently harvested and ripe. Fresh figs are a real treat so get them while you can.

Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta recipe.

 

Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta

Prep Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 42 minutes

Category: Dessert

Cuisine: Italian American

6

Serving Size: 1- 4 ounce panna cotta with fruit and syrup

Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta

Spiced fresh figs in a simple syrup is the perfect pair with creamy and tangy yogurt panna cotta. Season the simple syrup with any spices you prefer, or use the ones suggested in this recipe. This dessert is so easy to make and gives an elegant presentation that defies its simplicity. Panna cotta with fresh figs simmered in a spicy syrup is a real thing of beauty to look at and eat.

If you do not have ramekins, small coffee cups will work. Or, use wine glasses and serve them straight from the glass without unmolding them. If you serve them in glasses or cups, make sure there is plenty of room to add the fruit and spiced syrup.

The panna cotta recipe is adapted from Food and Wine Magazine, Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Honey-Glazed Apricots. The spiced figs recipe is adapted from, The Spruce, Figs in Spiced Syrup.

See notes for ingredient substitutions.

Ingredients

    Yogurt Panna Cotta
  • Canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin 2 1/4 tsp (7 g)
  • 2 TB cold water
  • 1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup (68 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp real vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean split and seeds scraped
  • 1- 17.6 oz (500 g) tub Greek yogurt, about 2 cups
    Spiced Figs
  • 1/3 cup (36 g) walnuts halves
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (250 ml) water
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1/2 stick cinnamon
  • 1-inch (2.54 cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and smashed
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • 1/8 tsp anise seed
  • 12 fresh figs

Instructions

    Yogurt Panna Cotta
  1. If you are planning to unmold the panna cotta, lightly grease the sides and bottoms of 6 - 1/2 cup (4 oz /125 ml) ramekins. Set aside. No need to do this step if you are keeping the panna cotta in the serving container.
  2. Add the gelatin and 2 Tb cold water to a small bowl. Let the gelatin rest to soften for 5 minutes.
  3. In a small sauce pan add the cream, sugar, vanilla or vanilla bean, and bring to a slight simmer Once the sugar is completely dissolved, turn off the heat and add the gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is melted.
  4. Pour the yogurt into a medium mixing bowl and whisk out any lumps. If using, remove the vanilla bean. Slowly add the cream into the bowl with the yogurt. Stir, or whisk, as you add the cream to help temper the yogurt.
  5. Once combined, pour the yogurt mixture into the greased 1/2 cup ramekins, or other serving containers and refrigerate, uncovered, at least 3 hours until set. It should look and feel solid with a little bit of jiggle. Once the panna cotta is set, cover each dish with plastic wrap until ready to serve.
    Spiced Figs
  1. Heat an 8-inch (20 cm) skillet over high heat. When the pan is nice and hot, but not smoking, add the walnut pieces and toast until the oil releases. Keep the walnuts in motion, by stirring them or flipping the nuts in the pan like a pro. You will know the walnuts are toasted when you see a slight sheen on the pan’s bottom surface and on your walnuts. Also, the aroma of the walnuts will be slightly more pronounced. Be careful not to burn the walnuts, or they will taste bitter. Remove the walnuts immediately from the skillet to cool.
  2. Add the water and sugar to a sauce pan just large enough to fit all the figs. Turn the heat to medium high and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the spices and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Clean and trim the figs. Clean the figs by wiping them gently with a damp cloth. Remove the stems and discard. Add the figs and walnuts to the syrup and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the figs and place on a plate and turn off the heat. Cool the figs and syrup separately so the figs do not fall apart. After 15 minutes or so, strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl and add the figs. Serve warm or chilled.
  5. Store the figs in the syrup in the refrigerator in a covered container. They will last for two weeks, covered in the refrigerator.
    Assemble the panna cotta and spiced figs
  1. Remove the panna cotta from the ramekins. Run a thin sharp knife around the inside edge of the ramekin. Dip the container into warm water for 10 seconds. Remove the ramekins and place upside down on your serving dish. Tap the sides and top of your ramekins and jiggle them to encourage the panna cotta to slide out. If no movement occurs, dip the ramekin right side up in the warm water again. Try again. Repeat until the panna cotta are all unmolded.
  2. If you are not serving them right away, loosely cover each panna cotta with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.
  3. Just before serving, spoon the spiced syrup over and around the panna cotta. Arrange the figs and walnuts on top or around the panna cotta and serve.

Notes

Use any spice combination you like. Cinnamon, clove, ginger, cardamom, freshly grated nutmeg, allspice berries, vanilla bean, black peppercorns are all good suggestions. The spices in the simple syrup are subtly blended and not an overpowering taste experience.

I realize not everyone likes yogurt, so substitute the yogurt with 2 cups (500 ml) whole milk. and continue as directed. Any ratio of yogurt, to heavy cream, to half and half, to milk will work if you use the specified amount of gelatin for 3 cups (750 ml) of dairy.

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© 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Zucchini Fritters 4 Ways

I am just going to pretend that the summer is not fading away, but is in full swing in all its glory. It is difficult to believe that September is a month away when summer squash, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, stone fruit, fresh herbs, and green beans are now ripening at a sprinters pace. This time of year is wonderful, with many sunny days and cooler nights, but I am not ready for fall to be around the corner. I want summer to last, as it is my favorite season.

Zucchini Fritters 4 Ways, recipe

Over this past month, I wanted to make zucchini fritters. This obsession came out of the blue. Maybe because I always wanted to make them, but never got around to do it. I like all kinds of fritters. They are fun tasting with less filler than cakes. Making fritters is like producing a solo play with just enough supporting acts to hold the production together. For this production zucchini is the star attraction with just the right amount of extra ingredients to keep its shape.

Zucchini Fritters 4 Ways, recipe.

Zucchini Fritters 4 Ways, recipe.

Zucchini Fritters 4 Ways recipe

I never made fritters before, and wanted to make some that are different from the traditional zucchini pancakes I am familiar with.  After some searching, I found a fritter recipe with a southwestern take on a Mediterranean classic, zucchini fritters with cheddar cheese and oregano by Deborah Madison.  This recipe is from her latest cookbook, In My Kitchen, (Ten Speed Press 2017). She is one of my favorite cookbook authors and is a valuable resource for me. If you need a good vegetarian cookbook, anyone of her books are a great choices. I believe she helped change vegetarian cooking from its cardboard tasting roots in the 1970’s, to the lively and fresh cuisine it is today.

Her zucchini fritters are different. Besides using non traditional ingredients, she slices the zucchini into thin coins instead of grating them. They look beautiful and unmistakable for what they are. The zucchini slices are visible and overlap each other to form a cake with flecks of fresh herbs and clusters of crunchy cheese and bread crumbs mixed in.

Zucchini Fritters 4 Ways recipe.

I found it a little more challenging to shape each pancake, but it is worth the effort. Honestly, I am not sure how Deborah Madison artfully formed her fritters. She did not include instructions describing her process in the recipe. The several times I made them, I did the best I could with what I knew. If the thought of shaping these fritters intimidates you, please put the thought out of your head. This is your meal, shape your fritters anyway you want. Scooping up batter with a spoon and sliding the batter in the skillet works just as well. Yet please take Deborah Madison’s advice, do not apologize if they don’t turn out the way you want. You just made a homemade meal. No apologies are necessary.  They might not look how you hoped, but they will still taste great.

More zucchini recipes: Zucchini Fritatta, Zucchini and Corn Salad with Avocado and Pistachios, Marinated Zucchini

Zucchini Fritters 4 Ways recipe.

I made some changes to her recipe. First, she uses fresh oregano and a lot of it. It was too much oregano for me, (which is hard to believe because I am always adding more fresh herbs than a recipes calls for). Also oregano can get very bitter, so it is not one of my favorites. I replaced the oregano with basil. I love basil with zucchini and it worked with the cheddar. Feel free to experiment with other herbs you like, and if you love oregano, go for it.

Zucchini Fritters 4 Ways recipe.

Zucchini Fritter 4 Ways recipe.

Other variations included corn meal and corn flour independently, instead of bread crumbs. I love zucchini and corn together and experimented with corn meal to see how it would taste and work. The corn meal is grittier and does not absorb the liquid as well as bread crumbs and corn flour do. In the photograph above showing zucchini arranged on a slotted spatula, the batter was too thin. To absorb the extra juices, adding more cornmeal would give the batter more heft. Keep experimenting and see how you like it. Each option provided has its merits and I liked the taste of all of them. The breadcrumbs and corn meal had similar textures, and the corn flour made the fritter more pancake like.

Zucchini Fritters 4 Ways
  1. Follow the recipe for Zucchini fritters made with basil, cheddar and breadcrumbs.
  2. Substitute the bread crumbs with the same amount of corn meal or corn flour. (gluten-free option)
  3. Make the recipe but substitute the cheddar cheese with Comté or Emmenthal (Swiss), or Gruyère Cheese. Use bread crumbs with this cheese substitution.
  4. Make a traditional zucchini fritter and substitute the basil with dill, and the cheddar with feta cheese. Add some lemon zest as well.

With all these different variations, you can make zucchini fritters for days and use up your abundant supply of zucchini before the summer is over.

Serve the cheddar basil zucchini fritter as a vegetable side dish, or an appetizer with tomatillo salsa and yogurt. They are also delicious paired with a sauce of parsley and capers.

Zucchini Fritter 4 Ways, recipe.

Zucchini Fritters 4 Ways

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Category: Vegetable Side Dish or Appetizer

Cuisine: American

9-10 Zucchini Fritters

Serving Size: One - Two Fritters per person

Zucchini Fritters 4 Ways

A Mediterranean classic given a Southwest twist. These zucchini fritters are filled with slices of fresh summer squash, cheddar cheese and fresh basil. They are light with a delicate bite of sweet zucchini and fresh herbs. The cheddar cheese is subtle and does not over power the fresh vegetables.

For more variations, substitute the bread crumbs with corn meal or corn flour. You can also substitute the cheddar with any cheese, like Swiss, Gruyere or Comte. To make a traditional Mediterranean zucchini fritter, substitute the basil with fresh dill and replace the cheddar cheese with feta cheese. Follow the same steps in the recipe.

This recipe is slightly adapted from Deborah Madison recipe in, In My Kitchen, (Ten Speed Press, 2017).

Ingredients

  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 lb zucchini
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • Kosher Salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 - 1 cup bread crumbs, or corn meal, or corn flour
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped basil
  • 3 TB chopped parsley
  • 1 -2 TB olive oil for cooking

Instructions

    Prepare the Zucchini.
  1. Evenly and thinly slice the zucchini into coins. If you have a mandoline this will make your job quite easy. No more than a quarter inch. Heat up 1 TB of olive oil in a large 10 or 12-inch skillet. Add the zucchini coins and sliced shallots and a small pinch of Kosher salt to the skillet, then stir to get an even coat of olive oil over the vegetables. Cook the zucchini over medium heat and occasionally stir them in the skillet until the slices are tender, but still have some firmness in them, and starting to look dry. (No liquid in the pan). This could take around 15 minutes depending on how thick your zucchini slices are and how hot your pan is. When done, turn off the heat.
  2. While the zucchini is cooking, chop the herbs and get the batter ready.
  3. Mix the eggs and 1/2 cup bread crumbs (or corn meal if using) until well combined. Add the grated cheese and chopped herbs to the egg mixture and mix. Add the cooked zucchini to the batter and gently stir to combine without breaking up the zucchini slices. Add more bread crumbs or cornmeal if the batter is too wet.
    Make the Fritters
  1. Heat 1 TB olive oil in a large skillet
  2. Preheat oven to 200°F and place a baking sheet or oven proof plate in the oven.
  3. Test to see if the skillet is hot enough by adding a teaspoonful of the batter to the pan. If the batter immediately sizzles, then the pan is ready. Finish cooking your sample then taste for seasoning. Correct with salt if needed.
  4. Shape and slide one fritter at a time into the skillet. I like the fritters to look somewhat flat with the zucchini slices spread out and overlapping each other. Not mushed up. I scooped up the zucchini batter with a slotted spatula or spoon, then spread out the zucchini slices to make an even pancake. Once formed, slide your arranged fritter into the skillet. I used a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to encourage the fritter to slide off the spatula into the skillet in one piece. For each batch, 3 fritters fit comfortably into a 10-inch skillet. Patiently cook the zucchini fritters on one side for a couple of minutes, until it starts to get golden on the bottom. You want to handle them as little as possible, so flip them one time during the cooking process. With a thin flexible spatula, like a fish spatula, turn the fritter over and cook for a couple of minutes more. Move the finished zucchini fritters to the oven to keep warm. Repeat until all the batter is used.
  5. Serve immediately as an appetizer or side dish with tomatilla salsa and yogurt or creme fraiche. Or, serve with parsley caper sauce.

Notes

I have made these fritters with bread crumbs, as the original recipe indicates, and also with corn meal and corn flour. The corn meal does not absorb the juices as well as the bread crumbs, but do add a nice texture and subtle flavor. You can add more of the filler if there is extra liquid in the bowl, or just let the juices drain out the bottom of the slotted spatula before you add the fritter to the skillet. Any of the three options work well. The corn flour will make the fritter more pancake like.

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Fresh Basil Marinated Zucchini

During the busy summer months we all need those back pocket recipes. The ones you can just whip out and create without thinking about it. Marinated Zucchini is just one of those recipes. It is so easy, after you made it a couple of times you know it by heart.

Basil Marinated Zucchini recipe

What I love about marinated zucchini is, the cooking process is simple and (to coin a phrase from Food52), genius.  First, you slice each small zucchini lengthwise down the middle. Once prepared, sear each zucchini slice in a skillet with olive oil. Then, marinate the seared zucchini for one hour in a basic vinaigrette and fresh basil. That is it. Simple, but a recipe that develops great depth of flavor in a mild tasting summer vegetable. If properly cooked, the acid will not make the zucchini soggy. Instead, it develops a bright taste yet retains the subtle and clean zucchini flavor.

Basil Marinated Zucchini recipe.

This recipe is from Canal House Cooking Volume 8: Pronto (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2013) via Food52. There is no need to make adjustments, it is already perfect. I just added a little more fresh basil right before serving as a garnish and extra basil flavor.  You could experiment with other herbs like lemon thyme, parsley or tarragon, but the warm sunshine flavor of basil is notable.

Is your garden overflowing with zucchini? Try these other great zucchini recipes from my archives:

Zucchini, Corn and Avocado Salad

Zucchini Frittata

 

Basil marinated zucchini reicpe.

This recipe is also easy to resize. The original recipe calls for a half pound of zucchini. Fortunately, I found the perfect size zucchini at my local farm stand, each one weighing about a quarter of a pound, (113 g). I decided to double the recipe just so I could have more zucchini to photograph and work with. I was also able to fit all 8 of my zucchini halves in my 10-inch cast iron skillet. Look for small, same size zucchini at your store or market. The little quarter-pounders are perfect. Big and fat zucchini may look impressive, but are not suited for this recipe. They take longer to cook and have larger seeds in the middle.

Basil Marinated Zucchini recipe

 

Nutritional Benefits of Zucchini 

The only difficult part about making marinated zucchini is remembering to make them at least an hour in advance. This is not a last minute recipe idea. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to make marinated zucchini and realized I forgot about the marinating step. This is not a salad recipe where you add the vinaigrette just before serving. The hour marinating is important to build the bright flavor from the vinegar and sets this recipe apart from others. As a result, this is a great make ahead recipe.

 

Fresh Herb Marinated Zucchini

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 18 minutes

Category: Vegetable side dish

Cuisine: Italian American

4-8 servings

Fresh Herb Marinated Zucchini

This is one of my favorite ways to eat zucchini. The vinaigrette gives the zucchini some character, yet still retains it's mild taste. The only thing that is difficult about making this great zucchini recipe is to remember to make it at least one hour in advance. The zucchini tastes bright and is accented from the warm sweetness of fresh basil. Vinegar will tenderize the zucchini so, be careful to cook the zucchini just enough to be tender but still have some firmness.

If you have small zucchinis, about 1/4 pound (113 g) each, I portion one zucchini per person.

This recipe is very slightly adapted from Canal House Cooking Volume No. 8, (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2013) on Food52.

Ingredients

    For Zucchini
  • 2 TB (30 ml) olive oil
  • 1 lb (453 g) very small zucchini, ends trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
  • Pinch of Kosher Salt
    Vinaigrette Marinade
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 TB (30 ml) red wine vinegar
  • 6 TB (1/3 cup / 75 ml)extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 - 8 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. Cook the zucchini. In a large skillet, heat 2 TB (30 ml) olive oil over medium high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the zucchini halves to the pan cut side down. Depending on the size of your pan and zucchini, you may have to cook the zucchini in batches. Sear the zucchini until nicely golden brown. After 3 minutes check to see if the zucchini is nicely golden brown*. If not, continue to cook on the cut side checking every couple of minutes until tender. Once the zucchini is golden brown turn over each piece, then cook on the opposite side for 3 minutes more. The zucchini is done when it is golden brown on the top and tender, but not too soft in the middle. Transfer the zucchini slices to a shallow dish and sprinkle with a pinch of Kosher salt.
    Vinaigrette
  1. While the zucchini is searing, in a small bowl whisk together the minced garlic, red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, and a couple of grinds of fresh black pepper. Pour the vinaigrette over the zucchini slices and add the fresh basil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for one hour. If you need to make this well ahead of time, marinate the zucchini in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container. Serve at room temperature as a vegetable side dish.

Notes

* The original recipe says to cook for 3 minutes on the first side. I have never gotten the zucchini a nice golden brown in 3 minutes. I have a gas stove top using liquid propane, and typically it takes 6 - 8 minutes to achieve a light golden brown. As with all recipes, use them as a guide because your conditions and equipment are different from the author's.

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Green Bean Salad with Lemon Ginger Vinaigrette

Summer is in full swing and every week more vegetables are available at the markets. There is no better time than now to eat your fill of summer vegetables. One of my favorite vegetables are green beans. I can eat them plain, or all dressed up with butter and fresh herbs. I love the clean and slightly sweet taste with its snappy crispness. If prepared properly, green beans maintain their spring green color, hold their shape, and still have a fresh picked flavor.

Green Bean Salad with Lemon Ginger Vinaigrette recipe

Green Bean Salad with Lemon Ginger Vinaigrette recipe

Because they are so well-loved and easy to prepare, we often use green beans in a salad. Hot or cold, green bean salad is a perfect side dish for any type of meal on any given day. There are countless varieties of green bean salads to make as well. Fresh beans pair well with all sorts of vegetables like tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, potatoes, peas, and other beans just to name a few options.  They are also good with endless seasonings and add-ins like walnuts, almonds, basil, tarragon, garlic, sesame seeds, or fresh ginger.

Green Bean Salad with Lemon Ginger Vinaigrette recipe

Green Bean Salad with Lemon Ginger Vinaigrette recipe

For this recipe, I decided to make a green bean salad with yellow wax beans and red kidney beans as the main ingredients. It is a lemony 3-bean salad with fresh basil and parsley, with a subtle spicy kick of fresh ginger and lemon vinaigrette. I wanted a salad dressing that is a little different from my typical vinaigrette of vinegar, mustard, garlic and olive oil. Because ginger and green beans taste so great together I decided to add it in. The ginger does not come off too strong, just enough for the beans to shine with a subtle spicy glow.

Fresh yellow wax beans are tender, sweet and delicious. I love the contrast of colors between pale yellow wax beans with the bright green beans and dark red from the kidney beans. Wax beans are hard to come by, as I have only seen them at local farm stands. Last summer I could not get enough of the yellow wax beans from Rochambeau Farm Stand and I can’t wait until they are available this summer. For this recipe, I bought this round of fresh beans from another local farm stand, Meadows Farm.  Lucky for me, I live in a metropolitan area with 4 local farms only a couple of miles away from my house. I get to participate in the best parts of both worlds.

Green Bean Salad with Lemon Ginger Vinaigrette recipe

Look for green beans and yellow wax beans that are firm, bright in color, and not too big. At times, fresh beans can get fibrous and unpleasant to eat. Fortunately, it is easy to tell if the beans are fibrous by their look and touch. Older and more fibrous beans are less dense, limp, duller and paler in color. Haricot Verts are French green beans. These beans are smaller and often more tender than regular green beans. They also tend to be pricier.

For more summer vegetables recipes

Zucchini and Corn Salad with Avocado and Pistachio Salad

Sweet and Spicy Herbed Carrots  

Like most vegetable salads, if you prepare the green beans too far in advance, they will lose their crispness. Fortunately, because they take about a minute to cook, putting this green bean salad together is not a hassle or stressful to do before serving. There is a minor amount of chopping, and the only thing you must cook are the beans for one minute. The most difficult thing to make is the salad dressing, and that is fairly easy.

Green Bean Salad with Lemon Ginger Vinaigrette recipe

Green Bean Salad with Lemon Ginger Vinaigrette recipe

Serve this salad hot or cold as a side dish paired with fish, meats or chicken. Or, serve as a vegan entrée paired with brown rice or other grain. Enjoy!

Green Bean Salad with Lemon Ginger Vinaigrette

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 2 minutes

Total Time: 17 minutes

Category: Salad

Cuisine: American

4 servings

Green Bean Salad with Lemon Ginger Vinaigrette

Green bean salad is bright and refreshing with a lemon and ginger vinaigrette. The ginger is subtle, just enough to add a note of spice with the sweetened lemon juice. I like my green beans extra crispy, so I barley blanch them. The dressing will soften the beans, so you want to be careful to not cook them too much or add the dressing too early.

This salad pairs well with everything, especially grilled meats or fish. Serve with brown rice or another grain and you provide a complete protein meal for your vegetarian/vegan friends and family.

Ingredients

    Lemon Ginger Vinaigrette
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 TB fresh lemon juice
  • Zest from half a lemon (optional)
  • 1 tsp honey, or agave, or liquid sugar in the raw*
  • 4 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/8 tsp Kosher Salt
  • A couple of grinds on the pepper mill of black pepper
    Green Bean Salad
  • 8 oz (225 g) fresh green beans or French green beans, cleaned and stems trimmed
  • 8 oz (223 g) fresh yellow wax beans, cleaned and stems trimmed
  • 1-15 oz (425 g) can Red Kidney Beans, or Black-eyed peas, or chick peas - drained, rinsed and dried
  • 1 TB minced fresh basil
  • 2 TB minced fresh parsley
  • 3 scallions, minced white and light green parts only
  • Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper if needed

Instructions

    Make the vinaigrette
  1. Add the grated fresh ginger, lemon zest (if using), lemon juice, and honey to a small bowl. Whisk until the honey is completely dissolved. Add the olive oil, a little at a time and whisk thoroughly between additions until emulsified. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Also, adjust flavor with additional ingredients if needed. Set aside.
    Make the Green Bean Salad
  1. Fill a large sauce pan or stock pot with water, and turn the stove to high heat. Bring the water to a boil. Meanwhile prepare an ice bath in a large bowl and fill part way with ice cubes and cold water. Set aside.
  2. When the water comes to a brisk boil, add a pinch of Kosher salt, then add the prepared green and wax beans. Quickly blanch the beans, about one minute or when the water returns to an early boil. Drain the water and immediately add the beans to the ice bath. Swirl the beans once around in the ice water with your hands. Allow the beans to stay in the ice bath until they are just cool. Drain the beans from the ice bath and spread them out on a clean kitchen towel to dry.
  3. Add the beans to a medium mixing bowl, then add the red kidney beans, minced scallions, and fresh herbs. Gently toss with your hands to mix. Give the reserved lemon ginger vinaigrette a good whisk to emulsify it again, and add about half of the dressing to the vegetables. Toss to mix, then taste to see if you want more dressing. Taste for seasoning and add a small amount of salt and pepper if needed.
  4. This is delicious served either cold or warm, but like most salads it is best eaten very soon after it is made. Make ahead note: you can make the salad dressing ahead and store on the counter for a couple of hours. Prepare the beans no more than an hour ahead of time. Add rinsed and dried kidney beans and green beans to a bowl and cover. Store in the refrigerator until you are ready to mix them all together. It is best not to add the fresh herbs and scallions until you are ready to serve the salad. Assemble the dressing, herbs and vegetables, and mix together when you are ready to serve.

Notes

For a vegan meal, use your favorite liquid sweetener like agave. I am not as familiar with the level of sweetness agave or liquid cane sugar in the raw, so start with less, then taste and add more if needed. You can easily use a pinch or granulated sugar as well. Just make sure it is well mixed.

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Quinoa Salad with Avocado and Dried Fruit

When I first ate quinoa, my gratitude propelled my love for it more than its flavor. I was desperate for another gluten-free option to replace rice, and I was also on a low-glycemic diet. I can eat wheat and other gluten-protein grains, but several of my friends can’t. So, serving food that everyone can eat, not feel different or left out is my entertaining and personal philosophy. Quinoa is a perfect grain (seed), to eat and a great source of protein for plant-based diets. Ever since my discovery of this recipe, quinoa salad with avocado and dried fruit makes a regular appearance on my dinning table, especially for entertaining.

Quinoa Salad with Avocado and Dried Fruit Recipe

Quinoa Salad with Avocado and Dried Fruit reicpe

I discovered this salad recipe in Fine Cooking Magazine 2009, in an article featuring avocado recipes. Next to dark chocolate, avocados are one of my favorite foods. Naturally, the recipe grabbed my attention.  During the time, I needed vegan and gluten-free recipes to serve with Thanksgiving dinner. The quinoa salad with avocado turned out to be the perfect option, a two for one deal. Additionally, this quinoa salad turned my attitude around from not just being grateful, but liking quinoa as well. This salad appeals to everyone, not just people who are vegan, vegetarian, or on a gluten-free diet.

Quinoa Salad with Avocado and Dried Fruit Recipe

Quinoa Salad with Avocado and Dried Fruit

There are many reasons why I love this salad and the taste is just one of them. This quinoa salad is just as much about avocados as it is quinoa. With a ratio of about 2 cups of cooked quinoa to 2 whole avocados, you get a creamy avocado morsel in every bite. Being a major avocado fan, I find this significant amount of avocados wonderful. What’s not to love about an avocado in every bite? There is never such a thing as too much avocado.

Quinoa Salad with Avocado and Dried Fruit Reicpe

Quinoa Salad with Avocado and Dried Fruit Recipe

The dried apricots and raisins adds punch and concentrated flavor. The nuttiness of the quinoa and creaminess of the avocado provide a foundation for the dried fruit to pop. You do not need a lot of dried fruit, a little goes a long way. The deep orange color of the apricots adds a nice attractive element to the salad as well. If you live in an area where apricots are grown, try substituting fresh ones for the dried apricots. The only consideration is, once sliced, apricots get mushy and aged looking after they linger. However, adding a fresh ripe apricot might be worth a try.

Quinoa Salad and Avocado and Dried Fruit Recipe

Quinoa Salad with Avocado and Dried Fruit Recipe

The lemon cumin vinaigrette is much brighter than it sounds. Thanks to the absorbing power of the quinoa, the cumin flavor is in the background and does not overpower the delicate flavor of the avocado. The cumin adds a bit of earthiness against the airy and lemony sunshine. The taste of the flavors are unexpected, yet truly complimentary. I love it. The blend of the quinoa, avocado and dried fruits with the dressing is a nice balance of sweet, acid, nuts and earthy flavors. It is not a heavy dressing, just enough to season the ingredients. Therefore, the quinoa salad does not taste or look oily.

More Gluten-free recipes:

Nifty Cake recipe 

Gluten free Dutch Baby

Airy Banana Oat Pancakes

Quinoa Salad with Avocado and Dried Fruit Recipe

The only thing I change is, I like to add fresh herbs when they are available. Basil adds a nice bit of fresh green sweetness, and even parsley or mint works. If you want to add cilantro, substitute the lemon zest and juice with lime and see how you like it. Quinoa and avocados pair well with a variety of herbs and spices, just be careful not to overpower the salad with too much of anything. If you need a more substantial meal or substitute for almonds, chickpeas are also delicious in this salad.

Quinoa Salad with Avocado and Dried Fruit recipe

Making this salad reminds me of my hometown in California. I can picture so many parts of my childhood with each ingredient. Eating avocado sandwiches with my friends at a restaurant in Strawberry. Climbing our apricot tree and picking them before the birds got them.  But, what really touches my heart is when I rinse the quinoa. Running my hands through the cold, wet and gritty quinoa seeds, reminds me of making sand castles and building forts at Cronkite Beach.  It’s usually cold, foggy and the sand is rough. Despite the cold, I love the Marin Coastline and will forever hold it dear in my heart.

Food has a way about savoring old memories and making new ones. Deborah Madison created this recipe, but after making it for so long and cherishing new and old memories, it feels like my own.

Quinoa Salad with Avocado and Dried Fruit Recipe

 

Quinoa and Avocado Salad with Dried Fruit

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Category: Side Dish or Vegetarian Main Salad

Cuisine: American/ Vegan

4 main course servings, 6 side dish servings

Quinoa and Avocado Salad with Dried Fruit

If you love avocados, like I do, you will love this quinoa salad. The lemon and cumin vinaigrette is bright with just enough seasoning to blend well with all the ingredients. I make this salad often for entertaining and weeknight dinners.

If you ever need a salad that covers many dietary considerations, this is the one to make. It is perfect for vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free diets, as well as a crowd pleaser for everyone.

Use any color quinoa you like. I like the mix the white and red quinoa, but the red quinoa with the green avocado and orange apricot is very appealing.

You can make the salad ahead, but do not add the salad dressing, almonds and avocados until you are ready to serve. Best eaten the day it is made, but will be ok for leftovers the next day.

Recipe is from Fine Cooking Magazine, by Deborah Madison 2009

Ingredients

  • 3 TB raisins, dark, golden or a mix of raisins
  • 2 TB dried apricots, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup red or white quinoa, or a mix
  • Kosher salt
  • Zest from one lemon
  • 1 TB fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tb extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground sweet paprika
  • 2 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 2 scallions, white and light green parts thinly sliced
  • 2-3 TB coarsely almonds

Instructions

  1. Add the raisins and apricots to a small bowl and cover with hot water. Soak the dried fruit for 5 minutes. Drain the water and set aside.
  2. Put the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until the water passing through the strainer runs clear, not chalky. Add the rinsed quinoa to a medium saucepan with 2 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt. Bring the water to a boil, then cover and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook until the water is all absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. You will see the germ ring that will look like a white curlicue around each seed.
  3. When done, fluff the quinoa with a fork and spread out on a sheet pan to cool to room temperature.
  4. While the quinoa is cooking, toast the almonds. Heat a small skillet on the stove at medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Add the almonds and stir, shake or flip the almonds in the pan and toast the almonds until they get slightly darker and release their oil. About 1 minute depending on how hot your skillet is. You will start to smell the almonds as they toast. Keep the almonds moving so they do not burn. Immediately remove the almonds from the skillet and cool. Once cooled, rough chop the almonds and set aside.
  5. Make the salad dressing. Finely grate the lemon zest into a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, coriander, cumin, paprika and 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt, and whisk until well combined.
  6. In a large bowl add the cooled quinoa, apricots, raisins, avocados, scallions and chopped almonds. Carefully mix the ingredients together. Try mixing them with a fork so you do not squish the ingredients together. Then add the salad dressing. Mix until combined. Spoon into a severing bowl, garnish with chopped almonds, scallions, and lemon zest. Serve at room temperature.
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