Sunday, February 28, 2010

Arugula Pizza

So I had to come up with something else to use up the huge amount of arugula I cut this afternoon...

You can buy some pretty good frozen pizza dough at Trader Joe's, or sometimes a local pizza place (such as Il Vicino or Golden Crown Panaderia in Albuquerque) will just sell you a ball of dough.  I just brushed the dough with olive oil, sprinkled a little chopped garlic over it, and topped it with a big handful of arugula, a handful of cherry tomatoes, and about 1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola. I thought maybe this was too much arugula, because it was piled pretty high, but it turned out to be the perfect amount.  When it came out of the oven, it had the most incredible nutty aroma!  It was really tasty.

As a gratuitous non-veggie side note, I have to mention the other pizza we made - smoked mussel and cheddar pizza with sundried tomatoes... holy crap was it good!!  A little sprinkle of tarragon on the top really makes it. The recipe came from an awesome book called Preserved, by Nick Sandler and Johnny Acton, which also describes how to build your own smoker, make biltong, and corn your own beef! Anyway, as weird as this pizza sounds, it was amazing, absolutely perfect with a glass of the Marble Brewery's ESB.  It's been a good day.

Arugula, Pear, Almond and Gorgonzola Salad

If you've never eaten arugula, here's a wonderful simple way to try it!  It tastes like lettuce (slightly bitter as all salad greens are) but spicy-hot and slightly sweet, kind of like wasabi.  The pears complement the arugula's flavor nicely, and lighten it up.  The nuts provide salty crunch and richness, and gorgonzola is the perfect tangy finish.

For each person:
One large handful of arugula leaves
One handful of roasted almonds, chopped
Half a pear
1-2 Tbs crumbled gorgonzola or any tangy crumbly cheese
Vinaigrette salad dressing (I love Paul Newman's Balsamic, or Girard's Champagne Vinaigrette)

Arugula is also fantastically easy to grow. Currently it is growing like a weed in my garden (self-seeded volunteers) with zero watering, in the freezing winter temperatures of New Mexico. Throw a few seeds out in your yard and see what happens...

I am getting so excited for spring - we just built new raised beds to plant peas, beets, turnips, carrots, radishes, kale, parsnips and rutabagas. Peas are one of the first vegetables to plant in spring, they are so frost-hardy, I probably should have planted them weeks ago! You can see the arugula growing there by the left corner.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Surprisingly Addictive Veggie Tacos

This recipe is inspired by the amazing veggie tacos at El Parasol, a small chain in northern New Mexico (spawn of the fantastic restaurant El Paragua - best carne adovada in the state, IMHO.)  Meat-eaters have been known to order them instead of carne, just because they're so tasty!  Interestingly, they also offer the Khalsa Special burrito - catering to the Sikh community in Espanola.

1 lb cauliflower, broken into small florets
3/4 lb potatoes, diced into 1/2" chunks
1/2 lb carrots, chopped into about 1/2" chunks
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp ground coriander seed
1/4 tsp ground cumin seed
Salt and pepper to taste

1 dozen corn tortillas
oil for frying

Chopped green chile, or your favorite salsa
Cotija (crumbly, salty Mexican cheese) or grated Cheddar

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high. Add minced garlic and fry for a minute or so, then add the vegetables and toss with the spices. Cover and cook, stirring once or twice, about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Turn the heat to low and continue to saute, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

The key to delicious, authentic tacos is the way you cook the tortillas. Heat about 1 tsp of oil on medium-high in a small skillet.  Put in one corn tortilla and fry it until it starts to puff up a little, then flip it over. Set another tortilla on top of it to soak up some of the oil, then flip both together. Fry until the bottom tortilla is slightly browned, then flip again and fry until the bottom of the other tortilla is slightly browned. They should become very soft and puff up a little bit as they cook. You need two for each taco, otherwise they tend to fall apart. (If you don't want to fry the tortillas in oil, you could make these into enchiladas instead of tacos, by just slathering them in green or red chile sauce.)

Scoop the filling onto the tortillas, and fold them over gently. Top with chopped green chile or salsa, and crumbled cotija or grated cheddar.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Lentil, Caper and Cherry Tomato Salad

As I have mentioned before, I'm not a fan of gloppy bland lentil soup, but this is tangy and fresh and delicious! It's also very quick, and the ingredients are very flexible.

1 cup French green lentils
Juice of one lemon, or 1-2 Tbs vinegar (whatever kind sounds good)
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs capers
1 shallot, or 1 clove garlic, minced
A few handfuls of cherry tomatoes, cut in quarters
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the lentils in plenty of water until just tender, about 15 minutes. Don't be horrified if the water turns black while they are cooking, this is normal - just drain well and rinse with cold water to cool them off. Toss the lentils with the remaining ingredients.