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Wonder Woman/Superman Superfood Salad

Wonder Woman/Superman Superfood Salad

Curried Avo Dressing on Superfood Salad in a wooden bowl with serversAre you still coming off that turkey coma from last week? Did you feast yourself silly?? Be honest – how many slices of pie did you do? This year we have the rare gift of an extra week between Thanksgiving and Christmas. So here’s a dish that will ramp up your detox, so you have plenty of time to retox later. I bring you the Wonder Woman Superfood Salad. Or is it the SuperMAN Superfood Salad? Up to you.

Those who know me know that I am about as far away from being vegan as you can get. Indiana, people. We like our beef corn-fed. Sugar steak. Brats. Pork tenderloin sandwich (smashed and fried to within an inch of its – or my – life). Seriously, if you don’t know what that is, click on the link to see a photo. The damn thing is twice the size of the bun.

Vegan, not so much. But there’s something you may not know. I pretty much stick to plant-based protein for the first two meals of each and every day. Along the way (and thanks to Lyn-Genet), I have found that getting protein from seeds, nuts, and vegetables (broccoli!!!) gives me more energy than a big ole turkey sandwich on white bread. No more post-lunch slugging around. A plant-based dinner is not so far-fetched; it’s free-will choosing to venture to a vegan restaurant that’s outside my zone. Luckily wiser minds prevailed and the good people at Mambo Sprouts hosted a lovely dinner a few months back at Zest Kitchen in Salt Lake City. Shout out to Celiac and the Beast, Just Crumbs, Tea and All Its Splendor, and Delicious Table, among others who made the meal so special.

Superfood Salad – The Green Machine

This superfood salad is somewhat loosely based on the dinner I had that night.  And with all the beautiful winter greens in the market now and feeling the need to clean up my act before I do it again, this seems to be the perfect time to hit you with it and get you jamming on my superfood wavelength. Consider this an un-recipe. I don’t give proportions because you can do that. You also are not remotely locked in to all – or even any – of the ingredients I list. So please don’t be daunted by the long string of ingredients below. They are all chef’s choice. Being the overachiever that I am, I may have used all those things listed (I did!) in one salad. Don’t judge. To be fair, I was filling a salad bowl the size of a hula hoop and serving about 30.

One of my favorite dark leafy greens is Tuscan kale. You may also know it as lacinato. Or dino. Or dinosaur. Or black. Or cavolo nero. It goes by so many names. A few years ago, recipes called for you to massage it with salt, but the way I see it…I don’t get salt scrubs and there’s no way my kale is getting better treatment than I. Just sayin’. As with all coarse greens, I stack them (having removed any tough ribs), roll tightly, and cut into the thinnest ribbons. This keeps you from getting a big bite of woody, tough greens.

Power Greens Superfood: lacinato kale, curly kale, microgreens and herbs

So many of the fancier greens now are available in baby style. Check out this gorgeous baby kale I found at the winter farmers’ market. It needs nothing more than a quick rinse and a turn in the salad spinner. Dark leafy greens are all high in nutrients, but are especially rich in Vitamin K, iron and calcium, essential for building healthy bones. Eating these greens raw maintains the high levels of all nutrients.
Market Greens, Baby Kale

Adding Crunch

Once you have picked your greens for the base, play around with what I call the chunkies. Grated vegetables that add contrast in color, texture and taste. I used grated carrots, turnips, purple cabbage, some steamed and chopped broccolini, and avocados. Ultimately it will all get tossed together, but it’s nice to present it composed so you can show off all the wonderful choices you have made, at least when it comes to salads.

Composed Superfood Salad of daikon, cabbage, shredded carrots, microgreens, lentils, quinoa, kale, broccolini

Power of Protein

Giving up on meat doesn’t mean going protein-free. Did you know that pumpkin seeds have about 9 grams of protein per ounce? That’s only a small handful. And hemp hearts are slightly higher – 10 grams per ounce. Those are the mainstays of my daytime meals, along with some sunflower seeds, chia and flax. Sometimes I add lentils or quinoa to the salad. Both require cooking – pretty fast – and both bring additional protein.

Assembling Superfood Salad; avocado, microgreens, shredded carrots, hemp hearts, caviar lentils
And I love microgreens. These jewels have been popping up in restaurants in recent years as a delicate garnish to sandwiches, salads and entrees. But in fact they are not so delicate when it comes to flavor and nutrition. Their nutritional value is about five times higher than their older sisters, and the flavor they deliver is quite concentrated. Have you ever tried a radish microgreen? Wowza! In the lifecycle of greens, microgreens come between sprouts and baby leaves or baby vegetables. Give them a whirl next time you see them.
Micro Sprouts

Curried Avo Dressing

Because there are a lot of textures in this salad, I wanted a creamy dressing to pull it together. And because many of the ingredients are a bit earthy, I wanted a bright flavor profile in that dressing. Avocado brings the creamy, and curried spices – cumin, coriander, and turmeric – bring the bright flavors, with an underlying earthiness that matches up with the greens. Because this dressing was made for a lot of hearty, sometimes bitter greens, I did not use a light hand in the flagrant flavor department. If you want to use this dressing on a lighter dish – say a chicken salad – you might want to cut back on the garlic and red pepper flakes. Then again, the full flavor version in the recipe below might turn your chicken salad into something pretty special. This is the best curried avo dressing around. Toasting the spices first brings depth of flavor and makes this dressing sing. 

Don’t limit it to a green salad – veggie dipper, sandwich slather, pita topper, fish sauce-r. Go! Now!

Creamy Curried Avocado Dressing in a food processor work bowl on burlap

To add a little pop of sweetness to balance the full flavored dressing, I threw in a handful of golden raisins. It is a nice little surprise for the old tastebuds.

Lots of Superfood Protein: quinoa and pumpkin seeds on avocado

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Curried Avo Dressing with Super Greens: arugula, cabbage, shredded carrots with hemp hearts and pumpkin seeds

Wonder Woman Superfood Salad with Curried Avocado Dressing


  • Author: Katy Keck
  • Yield: Chef's Choice

Description

This superfood salad with creamy dreamy curried avo dressing will make you feel good about every decision you have ever made. It’s mean, it’s green, it’s vegan, and it’s chock-full of protein. But forget all that, it’s super delicious and oh so satisfying. 

 

Ingredients

Scale

Greens

  • Tuscan kale (aka lacinato, dino, cavolo nero or black kale), cut in thin ribbons
  • Rainbow chard, sliced
  • Baby kale
  • Spinach, chopped
  • Arugula, torn
  • Watercress
  • Pea shoots

Veggies

  • Grated carrots
  • Grated turnips
  • Grated radishes
  • Purple cabbage, thinly sliced
  • Steamed broccolini, chopped
  • Avocado, chopped

Plant-based Proteins

  • Quinoa, cooked according to package
  • Beluga lentils, cooked according to package
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Hemp hearts
  • Chia

Toppings

  • Golden raisins
  • Microgreens

Curried Avocado Dressing

  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 1/2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, cut into chunks
  • 3/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water, or as needed

Instructions

Make the Dressing:

In a small sauté pan, toast the cumin, coriander and turmeric for about one minute, until fragrant.

With the motor running, drop the garlic into the bowl of a food processor. Turn off and add the avocados, pulsing a few times to a chunky puree. Add the vinegar, toasted spices, salt and peppers and pulse several times until combined.

With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil until smooth, adding water as needed to desired consistency.

Store, refrigerated, in an airtight container until ready to use. 

Assemble the Salad:

Combine any or all of the ingredients listed, arranging colorfully in a large serving bowl. 

Drizzle with the curried avocado dressing and toss to coat the vegetables. 

Notes

Makes 2 1/2 cups dressing. Store in the refrigerator, in an airtight container.

This dressing is designed for a hearty green and grain salad so is aggressively seasoned. If you want to use this creamy green goodness in a more delicate dish, cut back on the spices and garlic a bit.

If you don’t have white balsamic, use another mildly flavored and light colored vinegar, like rice vinegar.

Curried Avo Dressing is wonderful as veggie dip, a sandwich spread, fajita topper, potato salad dressing and so much more.

  • Category: Entree, Salad
  • Cuisine: Vegan

How powered up are you now? I promise if you dive right in to the Wonder Woman Superfood Salad, you will feel good about every decision you’ve ever made.

Dressing the Superfoods with creamy avocado curried dressing

© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2017. All rights reserved.

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Harvest Grains Salad with Oven-Dried Tomatoes

Harvest Grains Salad with Oven-Dried Tomatoes

Harvest grain salad with slivered almonds, oven dried tomatoes and herbs

When I find something that will change  your life – FOREVER – I must share. I’m not such a fan of pre-seasoned packages, like those dried bean soup mixes loaded with some heavy doses of sodium, but I recently stumbled across this beauty at Trader Joe’s. It’s simply called Harvest Grains Blend and can quickly become the rock star of a wonderful fall Harvest Grains Salad. I wanted to take issue with the fact that orzo is a pasta  and not technically a grain, but I guess pasta started as a grain, right? There’s really no reason to get cranky, because this is a great Mama’s helper. It has Israeli couscous (the jumbo pearl size), three colors of orzo (plain, red pepper and spinach), split baby garbanzo beans (so cute), and red quinoa. The beauty of the pre-package is that it takes the guesswork out of cooking. You can easily make your own blend, or even just use one single grain/pasta. But if you are mixing, you need to pay attention to cooking times so you don’t, for example, throw couscous and wild rice into the same pot at the same time. Cooking time here is a mere ten minutes.

Harvest Grains with Trader Joe\'s bag in background

Israeli couscous and Orzo and parsleyIsraeli couscous is larger than standard coucous and is slightly chewy and comes in a variety of flavors. Shown here is  a tri-color blend, including unflavored, spinach and tomato. The pasta in the center is orzo.

I hope you are taking advantage of the last of the season’s juicy tomatoes. I have detailed before how you can simply split them, put them cut side up on a sheet pan, sprinkle with salt, and slow roast them to concentrate the flavors and dehydrate the liquid. From there, once cooled, they are easy to Ziploc and freeze. I  use them all winter in frittatas, cornbreads, pastas, soups and stews, on pizzas, focaccia, and in salads.  They are a sweet treat come February, and now is the time to make it happen!

Oven Dried Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a natural BFF to blue cheeses.  While blue can be made with cow’s, goat’s or sheep’s milk, all varieties share a common production technique which involves ripening them using cultures of the mold Penicillium. The green or blue veins are created during the aging process by spiking with stainless steel rods to aerate the cheese and encourage the mold’s growth.  It’s not hard to see where the spikes went in on this hunk of Glacier Wildfire Blue. To learn more, check in with our friends at The Cheese Lady for great info on many cheeses, blue and beyond.   

hands holding two pieces of Glacier Wildfire Blue cheese revealing the veins

For this salad I chose Delft. It’s a buttery cow’s milk cheese with a clean finish – a bit sweet and not too salty. This cheese comes from the Netherlands and is so named for its resemblance to Delftware pottery. The blue veins and milky whiteness resemble the lovely pottery, as if broken and put back together.

Delft Cheese on black slate

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Harvest Grains Salad with Oven-Dried Tomatoes

Harvest Grains Salad with Oven-Dried Tomatoes


  • Author: Katy Keck
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 - 6 1x

Description

A new twist on pasta or grain salad, this dish uses a Trader Joe’s pre-packaged combo and includes Israeli couscous, tri-color orzo, split baby garbanzos and red quinoa. While you can, oven dry some end-of-summer tomatoes and stash them in your freezer. They will add a nice flavor boost to salads like this, as well as pastas, soups, stews and anything else you might make this winter when the tomatoes in the store then will taste like cardboard.


Ingredients

Scale

Vinaigrette:

  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Salad: 


Instructions

Make the Vinaigrette:

Whisk together the ingredients and refrigerate until needed. 

Make the Salad:

Cook grains or pasta according to package directions.  Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.

Transfer to a mixing bowl and add tomatoes, cheese, parsley, and scallions.  Stir to combine.

Toss with the dressing and refrigerate until serving time. Before serving, taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more lemon juice if needed and adding the almonds.

Notes

I used Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains blend, but you can make this with pasta, or your own combination of couscous, both regular and/or Israeli, orzo, quinoa or other favorites. 

This salad is perfect for extra add-ins. I’m keeping it pretty simple here, but feel tree to add other vegs, bacon, different cheeses or whatever your little heart desires. 

Makes 1 quart.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Sides
  • Method: Stovetop

Keywords: cous cous salad

Don’t you want to just dive headfirst into this Harvest Grains Salad? 

Harvest Grains Salad with Deflt Cheese and Oven-Dried Tomatoes

© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2017. All rights reserved.

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Spring has Sprung: Edamame and Chickpea Fritters

Spring has Sprung: Edamame and Chickpea Fritters

Edamame & Chickpea Fritters

You say fritters? I say falafel? Whatever you do….do NOT call the whole thing off. Something about these little beauties just screams …”summer, she’s a-coming”. For me it’s the serious dose of herbs and lemon juice, my besties for brightening flavor. In this batch of chickpea fritters, you will find an easy-to-prep side dish that is the perfect date for all kinds of “grilled stuff”, as the sign at my favorite beach café in Anguilla advertises. (Uncle Ernie’s in Shoal Bay, if you are in the area! They also advertise fluffy towels and buoyant rafts. Clearly somebody has a thesaurus and knows how to use it.)

Edamame & Chickpea Fritters with chili dipping sauce

Long before the world had Meatless Mondays and Taco Tuesdays, my family had a bit of a weekly ritual that I think was aimed at giving Mom a light night. Normally the preparer of a real square with veggies AND salad AND meat AND potatoes, this night was more of a toaster oven extravaganza…straight from the freezer. Jimmy Dean sausage patties and apple fritters (which were pancake-shaped). She sometimes rustled up a batch of sausage gravy to go with.  Not remotely our normal dining fare, but kind of a treat. That was my first experience with fritters. These bear little resemblance, unless you count shape, and in that case, they are exactly the same.

As I debate whether to call these fritters or pancakes, I lean toward fritter despite the absence of a vat of 375o oil (definitely not my style). But, they simply don’t have the flour/milk/egg batter that qualifies them as a pancake. But fear not! While ingredients-wise they are close cousins to the falafel, they are a clear fan-favorite over that deep-fried golf ball. A quick pan-sauté crisps up the tops and bottoms, leaving them moist and flavorful and begging for a serious dollop of Chili Dipping Sauce.

Chickpea Fritters with Chili Dipping Sauce

In the next post, I will share a grilled spicy shrimp that appears in some of these photos. But in the meantime, these chickpea fritters also make a great base for breakfast, topped with a couple sunny-side up eggs.  And don’t forget the arugula and squash salad.  It pairs well with all of the above.  

Summer squash with spice blend

Pulsing the chickpea fritter ingredients

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Fritters

Edamame and Chickpea Fritters


  • Author: Katy Keck
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 18 patties, serves 6 1x

Description

These veggie fritters are chock-full of chickpeas, edamame and a serious handful of herbs. Serve with something right off the grill or top with eggs sunny-side up!


Ingredients

Scale

Edamame and Chickpea Fritters

  • 1 16-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup edamame, thawed
  • 4 scallions, cut in 1” pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons panko
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 egg white
  • 3 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • Vegetable oil for sautéing

Chili Dipping Sauce

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon Sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

Make the fritters:

Place the chickpeas, edamame, scallions and garlic in the work bowl of a food processor. Process, pulsing 10-12 times until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a mixing bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the panko, flour, cumin, salt, baking soda, and pepper flakes.

Add the lemon juice, egg white, parsley and cilantro to the chickpea mixture. Stir in the dry mixture until well combined.  

Form patties, using 1 Tablespoon measure.

Add enough vegetable oil to a sauté pan to cover the bottom and heat. Cook the patties over medium heat, in batches, turning after 3 1/2 to 4 minutes per side. Do not overcrowd pan. Drain on paper towels. Transfer patties to a sheet pan and hold in a warm oven.

Make the chili dipping sauce:

Whisk together all ingredients. Refrigerate, covered, until serving time.

Dollop atop warm edamame and chickpea fritters.

Notes

The chili dipping sauce makes 1 cup and will keep, refrigerated and covered, for several weeks (not that you will have any left over!)

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern

Fritters with S&P shrimp

© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2017. All rights reserved.

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Summer Grilling: South of the Border Texmati Rice & Grilled Veggie Salad Bowl

Summer Grilling: South of the Border Texmati Rice & Grilled Veggie Salad Bowl

It was a perfect confluence of events.  I was invited to a dedication at a local yacht club, complete with naval officers and Girl Scouts, and asked to bring a side to share.   I had just loaded up with fresh corn, heirloom tomatoes, peppers and tomatillos (it’s true, I have been to five farmers market in six days – it’s that time of year – and no, I don’t have a problem, but thanks for your concern)!   And then a fabulous box filled with RiceSelect Texmati Rice appeared on my doorstep awaiting a review (two thumbs up), courtesy of culinary friends at Mambo Sprouts.  The wheels were already turning.  Rice. Grilled Veggies. Salad Bowl. Rice & Grilled Veggie Salad Bowl. Voila! A summer salad jammed packed with flavor was born.

RiceSelect Texmati Rice

RiceSelect Texmati, in case you don’t know, combines the best qualities of basmati and American long-grain rice and has a popcorn-y aroma and nutty taste. Because the grains cook up dry, separate and fluffy, it is the ideal choice for a rice salad.  Flavor + Texture.  Win. Win.  I was off and running to whip up a big batch of South of the Border Texmati Rice & Grilled Vegetable Salad.  With Lime Cilantro Dressing!!  Oh, yeah!

As my mind was spinning around southwestern flavors, I remembered a vinaigrette that was a fan-favorite in my earliest catering days.  Lots of cumin.  It was pretty basic – a bit of a one note samba by today’s palate’s cries for layers of flavor – so I dosed it with Sriracha, a serious hit of lime (juice and zest) and cilantro. Yum.   I can’t be sure, though there are rumors of hoarding and hiding the leftovers, but I do believe this dish got better the next day.   Even the grilled romaine held up.  Especially with starch based dishes, it’s always important to re-taste for seasonings and acid both before you serve it and again the next day.  To my palate, it was still well-seasoned the next day, but it’s your kitchen, you be the judge.

Couple of quick notes to keep in mind as you are cooking:

  • Once the rice sits off the heat to absorb the final liquid, remove the lid, fluff it with a fork.  Since we are making a cold salad, drizzle a couple tablespoons of olive oil to coat and seal each grain. This will keep the rice from over-absorbing dressing later. And that friends, will let you serve it again over the next couple days.
  • The dressing recipe below makes a double batch and is a good one to keep on hand in the fridge. However if you want to store it for longer than a few days, add the cilantro to the salad, not the dressing.  The cilantro-free dressing will keep refrigerated for a couple weeks.
  • When chopping the grilled tomatillos, be sure to catch and add the juices to the salad. These liquids are a great way to add depth of flavor to your salad.  Single-handedly they add a rare combo – smoke AND acid
  • And zesting: if you aren’t fully stocked with a Microplane Zester/Grater, why are we even friends? For real. These zesters put the joy in zesting.  No chance of getting too much bitter white pith in the zest. No more scraped knuckles. Perfect every time.  And they are awesome for grating hard cheeses or spices like nutmeg. Run. Now.

Let’s get busy. This flavorful salad pairs perfectly with grilled meats or fish, or is a stand out as a vegetarian entrée.  Add toasted pepitas for a dose of protein if serving as a main.

Drizzling Little Gems with EVOO

South of the Border Texmati Rice & Grilled Veggie Salad Bowl

  • 1 cup RiceSelect Texmati White Rice
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more to drizzle on Little Gems
  • 3 tomatillos, husks removed
  • 3 ears corn, husks and silk removed
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, trimmed and seeded and cut into 4 sides and tossed in olive oil
  • ½ 6-pack Little Gems baby romaine (3 heads), trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
  • Ground coriander
  • 6 ounces heirloom cherry and/or grape tomatoes cut in quarter wedges
  • 4 ounces queso fresco, crumbled
  • 1 Avocado, chopped

Cook RiceSelect Texmati rice according to package directions.  After you remove the pan from the heat and let it stand 5-10 minutes, transfer the rice to a mixing bowl and drizzle with 1 ½ Tablespoons olive oil, fluffing with a fork.  Set aside.

Corn, Tomatillos, Bell Peppers and Poblano on the Grill

Grill the vegetables over a hot grill: tomatillos, corn, poblano pepper and yellow bell pepper.  Let the poblano char completely and transfer to a plastic bag to sweat.  When cool enough to handle, pull off the char under running water and remove stem and seeds.

Coarsely chop the tomatillos, poblano and bell pepper and cut corn from cob.  Add to the rice, along with any juices that release from the tomatillos.

Drizzle the Little Gems with olive oil and sprinkle with coriander.  Grill cut side down until the lettuce just starts to wilt and gets grill marks.  Chop coarsely and add to the salad.

Grilled Little Jem Baby Romaine Heads

Add tomatoes, queso fresco and avocado, and dress the salad with the Cumin Lime Cilantro Dressing.

Adjust seasonings before serving.

Makes about 3 quarts and is a fabulous leftover.

 

Cumin Lime Cilantro Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup EVOO
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro (see note)
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Sriracha
  • Zest and Juice of 2 limes
  • ½ Tablespoon ground cumin
  • ½ Tablespoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

Note: This will make twice the dressing needed for this salad and it will keep for several weeks refrigerated if you add the cilantro to the salad instead of  the dressing itself.  Or make a double batch of the salad and use it all!

Southwest RiceSelect Texmati and Grilled Veggie Salad Bowl

This post contains affiliate links.  For more of my must-have faves, check out my shop.

© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2016. All rights reserved.

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Turmeric: It Cures What Ails You and Makes a Mean Curry

Turmeric: It Cures What Ails You and Makes a Mean Curry

You know a movement has had its awareness sufficiently raised when a blithe reference slips into a throw-away line on a sitcom. After two posts on food waste last week, imagine my squeals when I heard this from a waiter at a hip millennial launch party on a newish sitcom: “The bruschetta has been made with rescued tomatoes and date of expiration burrata”. I’m squealing. Really. Yipeeeeeeee!

Unfortunately summer bruschetta is the last thing on my cooking mind today. A girl can dream. But as I moped through the grocery looking for anything to lift the gloom of winter’s darkest days, I was thrilled to see fresh turmeric. I didn’t even know you could get this in a mainstream grocery – in the Midwest. It used to be relegated to special trips to Asian markets in big cities. Or more likely it could only be sourced dried and ground. Honestly, I was never a fan of turmeric when I only knew its dried self. I thought it tasted – well, yellow. It didn’t really register much on my palate. But while doing guest chef stints on culinary cruises in the Caribbean, I would gather up ever fresh market item that was a bit unique and had a story and introduce our passengers to these new world treats. I even spent one week being followed by the Food Network, and we hit the Grenada spice market hard.

Fresh and Ground TurmericTurmeric was just one of the many spices I found bears little resemblance to its dry spice counterpart. Mace was another. It makes sense that I love turmeric because it’s related to ginger – and I’m well documented as a “fiend for ginger”. Both are rhizomes, along with galangal, lotus, bamboo, and many more. They spread laterally (called creeping rootstalk) and send shoots up. Many have culinary uses.

Like ginger, turmeric when fresh has a pungent and aromatic taste that can be quite peppery (HOT!), especially when used in excess. It is a key player in many South Asian (Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, and Cambodian) dishes – both for flavor and color; you’ll find it in American food as a colorant that can range from subtle to supreme. Vanilla products like yogurt and pudding turn creamy, not stark white, and mustard turns bright yellow.

But turmeric’s real claim to fame is its medicinal properties. Like ginger, turmeric has powerful anti-nausea (turmeric tea, just boil it up), anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal properties. If only this miracle worker could clean the bath!! (Nobody wants a yellow tub, I know, I know). It’s even being studied for treatment of IBS, Alzheimer’s, depression and cancer. Rock stah!

Infographic courtesy of  Cognitune Smarter Health.

So I grabbed a handful and headed home, determined to make a spicy vegan curry. It doesn’t have to be vegan or even vegetarian, but that is what I had on my mind. Tucking in for the night with a Buddha Bowl of Spicy Goodness.

Start by making a Yellow Curry Paste – this will make four times what you need and freezes well.  You can add a lot of different ingredients or leave out some of these, but this is what I had on hand and so what I used. Roasting the aromatics and toasting the spices, while a bit more time-consuming, will elevate the taste and develop a real depth of flavor that you simply can’t get by just pureeing all the ingredients. It’s worth the commitment.

Oven Roasting Aromatics

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Turmeric Yellow Curry in a glass jar with a wooden spoon

Chock-full o’ Turmeric Yellow Curry Paste


  • Author: Katy Keck
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: about 2 cups 1x

Description

Many curry recipes are simple purees, but this one roasts the aromatics and toasts the spices. While a bit more time-consuming, this extra step develops depth of flavor that you simply can’t get with dump and whirl. It’s worth the commitment. And bonus – it freezes well!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 shallots
  • 5 pieces of turmeric
  • 3 heads of garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon of olive oil (plus more to drizzle on aromatics)
  • Spice Blend:
    • 2 Tablespoons ground coriander
    • 2 Tablespoons ground cumin
    • 1 Tablespoon red pepper flakes
    • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
    • 1 teaspoon cayenne
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
    • 1/4 teaspoon clove
    • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 3 Tablespoons lemongrass paste (a tube usually found with herbs in produce section)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400oF.

Wrap the aromatics, each in their own foil pouch, and place on a sheet pan to roast. (20 minutes for the turmeric; 1 hour for the shallots and garlic)

  •  Shallots – peeled, placed in a foil pouch and drizzled with olive oil
  • Turmeric – well scrubbed, placed in a foil pouch and drizzled with olive oil
  • Garlic – loose outer “paper” removed, tops of each head trimmed, placed in a foil pouch and drizzled with olive oil

In a small sauté pan, heat one Tablespoon olive oil and add all the spices. Sauté, stirring, for about two minutes until the spices start to release their aroma. Transfer to the work bowl of a food processor.

Once the aromatics are cool enough to handle, transfer the shallots and turmeric to the bowl of a food processor. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves into the processor, picking by hand any that linger behind. Discard the garlic “paper”.

Add the lemongrass paste and sea salt. Puree until desired consistency.

Transfer to airtight container and refrigerate or freeze.

Notes

This will last longer than if it were made with raw herbs or aromatics, and it also freezes well.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Blender/Processor
  • Cuisine: Indian

Keywords: turmeric, curry

Yellow Curry Paste

Now that you have that tasty curry, how about whipping up a Coconut Curry Buddha Bowl, filled with hearty and soul-warming sweet potatoes and earthy greens and topped with pumpkin seeds. It’s vegan and you can feel great about that for so many reasons. 

Coconut Turmeric Curry with Winter Vegetable Buddha Bowl

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-3 inch piece of ginger, trimmed, grated
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 3 Tablespoons yellow chock-full o’ turmeric yellow curry paste
  • 14-ounce can coconut cream
  • 1 cup (chicken or) vegetable stock
  • 5 ounce bitter salad greens blend (kale, chard, spinach)

Garnish:

  • 2 chopped scallions
  • 2 Tablespoons pumpkin seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • Lime wedges

Serving suggestion – rice or brown rice* (See note below)

 

Start the rice.

In a wok or deep skillet, heat the olive oil and sauté the ginger for 2-3 minutes until soft.

Add the sweet potatoes, curry paste, coconut cream and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered, stirring periodically, for about 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender and sauce is thickened.

Sweet Potatoes and Bitter Greens

Add the greens and stir until wilted.

Divide rice among bowls and top with sweet potato curry. Garnish with scallions, pumpkin seeds, and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Serves 4.

*Brown rice note: I really prefer brown rice but you’ve likely heard the bad news about arsenic. Because it is a whole grain, it has more potential for danger than white rice which has been stripped of its outer hull (and for that matter its nutritional value). Truth be told, I really don’t eat it very often – once a month or less – so I’m not that worried but I do take a couple precautions. Brown basmati from California, India and Pakistan are the best choices – about 1/3 less risk than other brown rices according to Consumer Reports. The other thing I do is rinse it several times, and then cook it like pasta in a 6:1 water ratio (instead of the normal 2:1) and drain the excess water. That will help wash away the evil-doers lurking in your lovely whole grain. My Grandmother always said “you’ve gotta eat a peck of dirt before you die”. I’m guessing she wasn’t talking about arsenic, but she did make it pass 90. Just sayin.

Coconut Turmeric Curry with Winter Vegetables

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