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The Passionate Pursuit of Delight

Tag: food

White Beans and Tuscan Kale

White Beans and Tuscan Kale

I love to spend a few hours cooking on Sunday in order to set myself up with healthy, satisfying meals for the week. One dish that I often cook on Sundays is a large pot of beans. Canned beans are convenient but there is something special about cooking dried beans which you can infuse with your favorite flavors. Plus, cooking them at home also allows you to control the amount of sodium that you put into the beans.

Heirloom Beans

Recently, I have become obsessed with heirloom beans. Luckily,there are few companies that are preserving the incredible diversity of beans beyond what you will find canned in the grocery store. There are two companies whose gorgeous beans I haven’t been able to resist in the past. With names like Tongues of Fire, Orca, and Rattlesnake, these heirloom beans are really beautiful, like little works of art. They make me want to buy all the clear glass containers to store them in my pantry. #pantrygoals

Rancho Gordo is a California-based company that specializes in dried heirloom beans. The other is Zursun Heirloom Beans, an Idaho-based company that also sells an amazing collection of dried beans, many of which, you may not have ever seen before. I know I haven’t seen them available anywhere in regular grocery stores. I encourage you to check out the selection of beautiful beans that both companies sell.

White Beans and Tuscan Kale

About This Recipe

In this recipe, I used Zursun’s Flageolet beans which are a favorite of the French for their cassoulet. These white beans are prized for their delicate flavor and pretty pale green color. You could use any dried white beans and they would be perfectly fine.

While the beans cook, they soak up the favors of the sage, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. The beans cook until they are creamy consistency. You add the kale, spicy red pepper flakes, and more cheese right at the end and cook until the kale wilts.

White Beans and Tuscan Kale

You end up with a stew-like consistency. You can ladle it into a bowl or spoon it on top of slices of toasted crusty bread. This meal is so hearty and satisfying; I guarantee that you will love how it warms you up from inside on cold winter days. If you have any leftover they will taste even better the next day in your brown bag lunch. I promise!

White Beans and Tuscan Kale

White Beans and Tuscan Kale

Shop Ethnic Markets to Save Money and Experience Flavors of the World

Why I Shop at Ethnic Markets

There are three main reasons that I want to encourage you to grocery shop at ethnic markets. First of all, fresh produce and spices are often much cheaper than at regular supermarkets. Secondly, shopping at ethnic markets exposes you to new food items. Finally, when you buy grocery items at ethnic markets you will expand your recipe repertoire and may even discover your new favorite meal.

Produce and spices are much cheaper

Shop Ethnic Markets to Save Money Try Flavors of the World

I am fortunate to live near many ethnic markets in Salt Lake City. There are Asian, Mexican, Middle Eastern, African, and Indian markets within 15 minutes of my home. The first thing I do when I go to any market is check out the fresh produce.  I have consistently found that fresh produce is much cheaper at ethnic markets than at supermarkets.

On a recent stop at the Asian market, I found a package of five thumb-sized pieced of ginger for $1.49, a bag of shallots for less than two bucks, and a package of enoki mushrooms for $0.99. Have you priced specialty mushrooms at the grocery store where you typically shop?  A buck won’t get you much.

Have you ever tried baby bok choy? The leaves are tender and mild-tasting and the stem ends have a pleasant crunch.  If you are feeling adventurous you can check out this recipe for Garlic Ginger Baby Bok Choy.

Spices are also typically much less expensive at ethnic markets plus you can find spices that you may not be able to find at the regular store. I picked up spices like fenugreek seeds, za’atar, and sumac for next to nothing at a Middle Eastern market.

Discover new food items

At the Asian market I bought a container of furikake which is spicy, salty, mix of sesame seeds, dried seaweed flakes, and wasabi for $1.99. For years I have seen furikake listed as an ingredient in recipes for Asian dishes but could never find it in the spice aisle of my local store. I can’t stop sprinkling furikake on rice, over vegetables, popcorn, and as a topping to the savory shrimp pancake recipe that I will post soon.

Shop Ethnic Markets to Save Money Try Flavors of the World

Also at the Asian market I found a huge variety of fresh noodles. The noodles were made from rice, wheat, buckwheat to name a few. I couldn’t resist picking up a few different kinds of noodles and search the internet for recipes. I made a delicious kimchi egg drop soup with buckwheat noodles last weekend which was so flavorful and satisfying on a cool, crisp autumn day.

Shop Ethnic Markets to Save Money Try Flavors of the World | Kimchi Fried Rice

Speaking of kimchi, are you a fan? I love the funky pungent flavor and will often add a few scoops of that fermented goodness to kimchi fried rice, scrambled eggs, or in a Buddha bowl. Kimchi is a fermented spicy cabbage condiment used in Korean cooking. The fermentation process develops helpful bacteria that are great for your microbiome, aka, your gut. It is a bit of an acquired taste but I always have a jar of it in my fridge.

Expand your recipe repertoire

Kimchi Egg Drop Noodle Soup

Do you ever feel as though you are in a dinner rut? As you plan and shop for your food for the week do the same cast of characters pop up every time? Let me guess: tacos, pizza, spaghetti?  Am I right? One of my favorite things about shopping at ethnic markets is that it inspires me to find new recipes to try out. The Internet and sites like Pinterest are game changers for recipe exploration. You can find recipes for anything! You can check out my Pinterest account here to browse the recipes that I have collected.

But, I am not going to leave you hanging. I will be posting recipes over the next few weeks showcasing some of my ethnic market finds like this Kimchi Egg Drop Noodle Soup pictured above.

I would like to issue you a challenge to:

  • google ethnic markets in your area
  • pick one to visit
  • buy one new, interesting ingredient

The second part of the challenge is to find a few recipes that use that ingredient. Finally, make one recipe and share your results by tagging me at @hellofunseekers on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

Are you up for that?

Verlasso Salmon at Harmon’s

verlasso-salmon-fillet-harmons

Which Fish are Safe to Eat?

I love seafood but I worry about which fish are safe to eat.  Wild is better than farmed, right? Or, is it the other way around?  I know that the oceans are over-fished and that the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch attempts to help consumers make good choices by producing a list of fish that are sustainably raised. For years I used to keep their little booklet in my wallet and then eventually I downloaded their app onto my phone when it became available. But, the point is, there is a lot to keep in mind when choosing to buy fish.

Verlasso at Harmon’s

Last weekend I had the opportunity to go to an event held at the downtown Harmon’s Grocery store. As an aside, if you have not been to this locally-owned grocery in the heart of Salt Lake City please go check it out. The food selection and quality are magnificent. Harmon’s and Verlasso wanted to introduce Verlasso salmon to the Salt Lake’s fish-loving community.

verlasso-salmon-harmons-event

First a little background about Verlasso, in 2013 the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch program added Verlasso as the first producer of farm-raised salmon to the ‘approved’.  Verlasso raises their salmon in Patagonia which has an ideal environment for farming. You can read more about their story here.

verlasso-salmon-zaatar-harmons

Time for Tapas

We were ushered upstairs to lovely space on the cafe level where high tables were set up and Harmon’s chefs and fishmongers were busy preparing and serving tapas using Verlasso salmon. Our favorite tapa was the za’atar-spiced salmon with fennel and orange salad. We loved that each large cube of salmon was coated in za’atar (a Middle Eastern spice mix of thyme, sesame seeds, sumac, and salt) and then quickly sauteed for a few minutes. The chefs plated the salmon on dollops of spicy harissa and cilantro yogurt sauce. Finally, the tapa was garnished with sweet, crisp fennel and orange salad placed on top. So good.  I may have gone back for seconds. No, I unabashedly went back for seconds and considered thirds but occasionally decorum dictates my behavior.

verlasso-salmon-tartare-harmons

Our second favorite tapa was the salmon tartare with spicy sesame and avocado (recipe forthcoming!). This one is a perfect appetizer to accompany drinks for happy hour or a kicked up snack for game day. The chefs cut the salmon into small cubes and dressed it with lime, shallots, ginger, avocado, and crushed pink peppercorns. You could serve the tartare with tortilla chips or rice crackers and it would be delicious! I did go back and tell the chef I was getting a second ‘for my friend’. I am certain that I will make my own version of this tapa because it was so good.

Finally, there was a brief talk from Verlasso’s Culinary Director thanking everyone for attending and making sure that we picked up a complimentary copy of their cookbook and a piece of salmon to take home. Also of note, Harmon’s fishmonger was on site filleting the salmon which went into the swag bag. That’s fresh!

Where to Find Verlasso

If you live in Utah, Verlasso salmon is available at Harmon’s grocery stores. To see where you can buy Verlasso salmon in other states check out the map.

 

Beet Gazpacho

Beet Gazpacho

Beets are the jewels of the root vegetable kingdom, perhaps even, the jewels of the entire vegetable kingdom. What other vegetable commands such respect? You must tread carefully when handling them. Don’t wear anything that you care about when preparing beets or you will end up with stains that are nearly impossible to remove. I always wear gloves when handling them so I don’t look like Lady Macbeth when I am done. Only jalapenos warrant similar care when being handled.  Despite that, I am dazzled by their ruby color and cannot resist their earthy taste.

This summer has been unusually hot. I am talking ten straight days of triple digit temperatures during the last two weeks. The heat makes me feel slothful. The thought of eating hot food isn’t appealing at all. Because of this I have saved dozens of recipes for gazpacho over the years and once garden tomatoes come on I make a batch every week until they are gone in the fall.

Recently though, I came across a recipe for Beet Gazpacho from Feasting at Home’s blog. The eye-popping color of the gazpacho grabbed my attention. Garden tomatoes were still a few weeks away from being ripe but I longed for a light, refreshing soup to eat at the end of hot day. This velvety soup perfectly fits the bill.

beet gazpacho ingredients

Beet Gazpacho

Recipe adapted from Feasting at Home. I like the subtler flavor of shallots so substituted them for red onions and an English cucumber in place of the smaller Turkish cucumbers. The first time I made the recipe I added sherry to the blender before realizing that they recipe called for sherry vinegar. I loved the way it turned out so now I use both. I used a high speed blender which gives the gazpacho a smooth, velvety texture.

INGREDIENTS

¾ lb. beets (4 medium beets, smaller than a tennis ball)

2 cup shallots, finely diced, divided

2 garlic cloves

1 English cucumber, chopped, divided

½ C fresh dill, divided

2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar, plus more to taste

1 Tablespoon sherry

½ teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste

¼ teaspoon fresh pepper

Garnishes- avocado, diced cucumber, diced beet, diced shallot, and chopped dill

INSTRUCTIONS

Scrub beets, place in a medium pot, and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low and simmer until fork tender all the way through, about 45- 60 minutes. Chill beets and their cooking liquid.

I wear latex gloves for this part. Once beets have cooled, slip off their skins using your hands. Slice and place 3 of the 4 beets (reserving one beet for garnish) in a blender with 2 Cups of the cold cooking liquid (or veggie stock). Add the half of the chopped shallots), 2 garlic cloves, ¾ of the English cucumber, salt, pepper, sherry vinegar. Sherry, and about ⅔ of the fresh dill (saving some for garnish). Blend until very smooth. Taste and adjust salt and vinegar. Place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Beet Gazpacho Pin

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