Sunday, April 28, 2013

Corn and Avocado Salad

Warm weather is coming to Chicago.

I swear it is. 

This week, flowers started to bloom.  A giant glowing thing in the sky made an appearance.  And, little green things started to appear on tree branches.  If memory serves me, I believe they are called "leaves."  I'm in the mood for something fresh, fast, and uncomplicated.  And super tasty.

I love guacamole, so I played around with the idea of a chunky guac salad.  Here's what I came up with...

Corn and Avocado Salad

This salad comes together in a flash and utilizes one of the few veggies I buy from the freezer section:  corn.  As the season progresses and fresh corn appears in your market, try grilling the corn right on the cob for an extra boost of flavor!  Bulk this salad up with black beans and quinoa and serve it over spinach.

2 cups frozen corn, thawed
2 large avocados, cubed
1 sweet onion (preferably Vidalia), chopped
1 red pepper, ribs removed and chopped
10 oz cherry tomatoes, halved
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1/2 cup cilantro
2 limes, zest and juice
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
2 tsp olive oil

Combine first seven ingredients in a bowl.  To make the vinaigrette, combine lime zest, juice, cumin, and salt in a bowl.  Slowly whisk in oil.  Pour over veggies and toss to combine.  Easy, peasy, cool breezy.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Moroccan Inspiration

I love playing around in the kitchen.  Perhaps it is the act of creation, but I derive so much pleasure spending time dancing around a soup pot making an point of inspiration a culinary reality.  I particularly love trying to recreate restaurant dishes at home and putting my own spin on them.

Imitation is the highest form of flattery, no?

I recently had a simply divine Moroccan Spiced Eggplant, which was served over jasmine rice.  The warm, earthy spices (like cumin, turmeric, ginger, and a hint of rosemary) balance the unique flavor of the eggplant, which can be slightly bitter at times. I'm a huge eggplant lover so I thought I should try to figure out how to make it at home.

Here's what I came up with

Moroccan Spiced Eggplant with Kale

The vinegar soaked raisins add a delightful sweet and sour note to the dish.  I serve this over quinoa instead of rice

1 eggplant, cut into 3/4" cubes
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15oz can diced tomatoes
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups water or vegetable stock
4 cups kale, stemmed and chopped (1 bunch)
herb bundle of 1 sprig rosemary and 5 sprigs thyme
2 tsp olive oil
salt to taste

In a large pan over medium heat, heat oil until it shimmers and saute onions until golden, about five minutes.  Add cumin, turmeric, paprika, and garlic.  Bloom spices for one minute.  Add eggplant and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add tomatoes, herb bundle, and water.  Stir to combine thoroughly.  Cover pan (or place a piece of parchment paper over it) and simmer for 20 minutes.

While the eggplant simmers, soak raisins in the vinegar.  Once the eggplant mixture has thickened slightly, remove herb bundle and add the raisins, vinegar, and kale.  Cook, stirring frequently, until kale has just barley wilted.  Season with salt to taste.