Okra Shoestring Fries – on the grill or in the oven

Before you say ‘Eewww, I hate Okra, I just can’t take the slimy texture” try this recipe for Okra Fries.  The combination of them being cut in a manner that gives the insides a lot of surface area, and the dry heat of cooking them on the grill or in the oven de-slimes them.  Really. I promise.

Okra Shoestring Fries
1 lb Okra
Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Ground Black Pepper

Get the grill started, or preheat the oven to 400 degrees farenheit.

Slice tops off the okra, and then slice the okra in quarters lengthwise so that they are “fry” shaped.  Toss them with olive oil to coat, and a sprinkle of salt and black pepper.  Spread them in a single layer on a large grill basket, or baking sheet.  Cook on the grill or in the oven for 12-15 minutes, stirring a couple of times, until nicely browned.  (I like them best when they have just started to get some black spots).  Great on their own, or for an even more fry like experience serve them with ketchup, ranch dressing, or your other favorite dipping sauce.

Serves 2-3

Homemade Oregano Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

This homemade salad dressing with the wonderful flavor of fresh oregano is a standby in our house, great on a simple dinner salad, and also pairs really well with taco salads and greek salads.

Homemade Oregano Vinaigrette Salad Dressing Recipe
1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup Olive Oil*
1/2 cup Sunflower or Safflower Oil*
1 Shallot (about golf ball sized)
1 cup Fresh Oregano, leaves and thin stems, lightly packed
Freshly ground black pepper, and sea salt to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon each)
If you like it spicy add a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce, such as Cholula.

Option 1: Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Option 2: Mince oregano, combine all ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously.

*Using all olive oil is the healthiest option, but the salad dressing will solidify somewhat in the refrigerator.  If you remember to pull the dressing out when you start dinner this isn’t a problem as it will melt at room temperature but if like me you want to be able to grab some quickly for lunch using 1/2 vegetable oil helps to keep the salad dressing liquid in the refrigerator.  For the vegetable oil I recommend seeking out truly expeller cold pressed Sunflower or Safflower Oils as the heat used to process them in other ways oxidizes them resulting in free radicals being released into your body. Additional vegetable oil options are Sesame, or Peanut, which aren’t oxidized during heat processing.  Other yellow seed based oils such as any soybean, corn, canola, (and sunflower or safflower if they aren’t cold pressed) should all be avoided due to the oxidation that occurs during their standard processing.

How to make Salad Dressing: Easy Asian

It’s been over three months since we used up the last bottle of store-bought salad dressing at our house.  In late January I committed to making our salad dressings at home because it is more economical, uses less packaging, and I am completely in control of what goes into the dressing so can choose to use higher quality vegetable oils than what most of the bottled salad dressings, even the organic brands, are based on.  I knew that to keep my commitment to making homemade salad dressing I needed to have some easy options, and after realizing how good some of the easiest options are I’ve been kicking myself for not taking the plunge earlier.  Here is one of the “so easy you can literally have it ready in 2 minutes” dressings we now enjoy regularly, often in its simplest form.

Basic Easy Asian Salad Dressing
1 part Olive Oil (or any other vegetable oil)
1 part Apple Cider Vinegar (Rice Vinegar also works well)
1 part Soy Sauce OR Tamari OR Bragg’s Or Coconut Aminos

Combine in a jar and shake vigorously to combine. If you use a jar with straight sides, such as a canning jar or a repurposed kombucha bottle, you don’t even have to get a measuring cup dirty, the ingredients will naturally sit in layers until you shake it up making it easy to do roughly equal amounts visually.  I recommend starting with amounts that will equal the jar being no more than half full so there is plenty of room to adjust the flavors, and it’s easy to shake it up to mix well. Taste it and adjust with a bit more of any of the ingredients to suit your taste. More oil will make it milder, more vinegar more acidic, more soy sauce saltier and also richer.  If it tastes a bit flat to you start by adding a bit more vinegar, if you don’t want more soy sauce flavor but prefer it saltier add some sea salt. This will make a simply flavored dressing, and if you have more time and want to fancy it up a bit add any (or all) of the following:

Ginger (grated fresh, or powdered dry)
Garlic (minced fresh, or granulated/powdered)
Your favorite hot sauce such as Cholula, Tabasco, Sriracha etc. or Ground Cayenne
Toasted Sesame Oil
Ground Black Pepper

Radish Leaf Pesto

I’ve recently developed an addiction to the food photoblog Tastespotting.  It satisfies my desire to look at pretty pictures of food in a more sustainable and cheaper manner than buying stacks of cooking magazines, offers a unique look into the current food trends in the food blogosphere (salted caramel ice cream, salted caramel whoopie pies, salted caramel apple pie, salted caramel fill in the blank here and you can probably find it) and last but not least inspires me to come up with new recipes.  Seeing a post on Radish Leaf Pesto last week motivated me to save the lovely green tops from a bunch of local radishes that arrived in my Greenling.com box on Tuesday, and with a few modifications based on what was on hand in the kitchen we had a wonderful slightly peppery pesto on top of grilled fish one evening, and tossed with roasted vegetables another night. There is something supremely satisfying about finding a way to use something that usually gets tossed out, and as yummy as this was I know Radish leaves won’t end up in our compost bucket in the future.

Radish Leaf Pesto
Leaves from 1 bunch Radishes, about 1 cup packed
4 cloves Garlic (we LOVE garlic, you may want to use just 1-2 cloves if you aren’t a fellow garlic fanatic)
1/2 cup Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas), roasted
1/3 cup Olive Oil
Salt & Black Pepper to taste

Heat a frying pan over medium heat, add Pumpkin Seeds, and toast 2-3 minutes, stirring often, until the seeds begin to puff up.

Combine all ingredients except salt and pepper in a blender or food processor.  Blend or process until fairly smooth.  Season with Salt and Pepper to taste and blend to combine.

Coconut Creamed Chard with Ginger

I’ve been working on my relationship with Chard and with this recipe I’m officially in love! We had it as a side and it would also be excellent served over Rice or Quinoa as a main course.

Coconut Creamed Chard with Ginger (Serves 4-6)
1 tablespoon Coconut oil
1 Onion, diced
1 3″ piece of Ginger, grated
2 bunches Chard, chopped into 1″ strips*
1/4 cup Water
1 14oz can Coconut Milk, shaken to mix
1 Tablespoon Arrowroot Powder
Salt & Black Pepper to taste

Heat Coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add Onions and saute for 3-4 minutes until soft and starting to turn translucent.

Add Ginger (and Chard stems if seperated) and cook several 2-3 more minutes.

Add Chard and Water, cover with lid, and cook 3-5 minutes until leaves have wilted.

Add Coconut Milk and cook 2-3 minutes until hot.

Mix Arrowroot powder and about 1/2 cup of the liquid from the pot in small bowl and mix to dissolve. Add Arrowroot mixture into pot and stir well. Cook 2-3 minutes until slightly thickened. Season to taste with Salt and Black Pepper

*If the Chard is younger with smaller leaves and middle ribs I chop them whole. For larger older leaves I cut out the middle rib, slice it thinly, then chop the leaves so that I can add first and cook for a couple minutes before adding the leaves so they’ll be done cooking at the same time.

How to make easy soup impressive: Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut & Chutney

It’s always good to have a few super quick recipes that taste far more impressive than the time it takes to make them.  This soup fits the bill, and even better all the ingredients can keep each other company in the pantry until such time as they are needed to make an appearance.

Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut & Chutney
2 cans Butternut Squash
1 can Coconut Milk
1/2 cup Mango Chutney (I used Kala’s Kuisine, a local Austin brand available from Greenling.com)
Salt to taste

Mix butternut squash, coconut milk, and chutney in medium pot over medium heat until warm. Season to taste with salt. Done! Serves 4.

Kale & Quinoa Salad with Balsamic Dijon Dressing

Wednesday morning I was raiding the fridge to throw together something to take to a potluck lunch with some girl friends.  I’ll definitely be making this salad again,  the leftovers were excellent the next day as well so if you need dish to make ahead this is a good candidate.

Kale & Quinoa Salad with Balsamic Dijon Dressing
2-3 cups leftover cooked Quinoa *
1 head Kale, washed, dried, thick middle ribs removed*, and thinly sliced
1 Apple, diced
1 bulb Fennel, quartered and thinly sliced
1 bulb Kohlrabi, peeled and diced
1 cup Pine Nuts, toasted
1 cup Raisins
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup Dijon Mustard
1/2 teaspoon Salt
fresh ground pepper to taste

Toss all ingredients, let sit 30min or more, and enjoy!

*If preparing Quinoa from scratch combine 1 cup dry quinoa and 1.5 cups water in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil over high, reduce heat to low and simmer about 20 minutes until water is abssorbed. Allow Quinoa to cool (spread out on a platter if in a hurry) and toss with the rest of the ingredients.


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