Spicy Rice and Fermented Black Bean Salad with Zucchini

Here we go, the last of the 101 Salads of Bittman. Thank you to Mark B. for such a wonderful journey.

This salad takes some short grain rice and mixes it with a wild collection of ingredients, which somehow work together. Often when making Bittman’s salads, I have imagined him at his kitchen bench, going, “right, what is in the fridge today, what is in the pantry, what is left over from last night?”. And somehow and amazing salad comes into being.

For his rice salads, I use an Indian rice – idli rice, in fact. It is a hard rice and needs more water and longer cooking than other rices, but I love that this short grain rice retains its integrity when cooked. It doesn’t collapse or become mushy. I generally have this rice in my pantry – but no need to buy it specially – use the short grained rice that you have on hand.

Are you after similar recipes? Try Carrot Rice, Zucchini Rice, and Coconut Rice.

Or you can browse all of our Rice Salads, and in fact all of our Rice dishes. All of our Bittman recipes are here. Or take some time to explore our Early Winter dishes.

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Brussels Sprout Risotto with Blue Cheese

A sprout risotto? You’d better believe it. Brussels Sprout are such a controversial vegetable – you either love them or hate them. We grew up with overcooked and soggy sprouts that had the colour and natural sweetness leached out of them and left the kitchen with a cabbage-y sprouts aroma. So in our kitchen they are either eaten raw, roasted, fried, or sauteed with a little garlic.

Unusual pairings with sprouts include pomegranate seeds, pomegranate molasses or maple syrup. Salty, sweet and sour flavours are great – try lemon juice and lime juice, preserved lemon, capers, parmesan, chilli, almonds, barberries, pistachios, even tiny toasted croutons, all work very very well.

Today’s recipe uses Brussels Sprouts in a risotto. It is an unusual recipe but you will love it. It is an Ottolenghi recipe from Plenty More. It combines shredded sprouts and fried sprouts in the risotto with lemon, parmesan and the bite of Blue Cheese. How exciting! It is lemony, herby, cheesy, and of course, with the flavour of delicious sprouts.

In fact, it is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often slightly massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry.

Similar recipes include Brussels Sprouts Salad, Gentle Vegetables cooked in Wine, Three Cheese Risotto, and Asparagus Risotto.

Browse all of our Risotto recipes and Brussels Sprouts recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Conchiglie or Orecchiette with Yoghurt, Peas and Chilli

A spicy pasta dish hit the table this week, one that certainly packs a chilli hit, but one that also includes yoghurt and feta, and the cooling peas to temper that punch. It is quite a glorious dish, silky and creamy with the texture of toasted pine nuts. I am making it in Winter, but I highly recommend it for Spring. It can be made any time of year, of course, but peas fresh from the vine lift the dish to a different level. Bookmark it now for your spring time.

The recipe is one of Ottolenghi’s from his Guardian column and from his book, Jerusalem. We are cooking our way through Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

It is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books Day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by.

Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here, and from Jerusalem here. We have written about our experiences cooking through Plenty More. Or explore our Mid Winter recipes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

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Quinoa Salad with Apricots and Pecans

This is a lovely quinoa salad with apricots and nuts. You can make it with fresh fruit in summer or beautiful dried fruit (soaked) in Autumn and Winter. It is pretty glorious even if I do say so myself.

Finally, we are on the last leg of a three year journey to cook all of the 101 Salads of Mark Bittman. Just a couple more to go, less than I can count on 2 fingers. The first of the salads was posted in 2015, and first made perhaps 12 months before that, and it has taken all of this time to make, write up and then schedule, each recipe for posting. It took around 3 years of focused salad making to complete.

The first Summer, we probably made around 20 or 25 of the recipes, the second Summer, perhaps another 20. But the difference in the third Summer was twofold – I fell in love with this routine of salad making, and, well, I didn’t want to spend another 2 years on this project. So a very focused effort began in Autumn of 2017.

The funny thing was, making a salad almost every day – around 5 salads a week – changed food in our kitchen. We now look for our daily salad. We think about it and plan it. We enjoy our salad at different times of the day too – sometimes it makes a great snack mid morning or mid afternoon, sometimes it *is* lunch, sometimes a part of our dinner. Leftovers are eaten for supper, or packed for lunch the next day, or eaten for breakfast even (they are that delicious).

We are completing the 101 Salads in at the end of Early Winter of 2017, even though as you are reading this, it is probably well past that date. The salad posts have been scheduled over time so as not to overwhelm our feed with only salads. We were lucky, taking the salads through Autumn into Winter, as Bittman finishes his list with salads that are based on grains – quinoa, barley, couscous, wheat, rice. We loved these grainy ones in the colder weather of Winter.

We made every salad that we could, and converted many others. There were a few that we could not make – once the non-vegetarian items were removed, there was nothing left to make a salad from. Other salads featuring non-veg items, well, we just stripped them out and made the bones of the salad. We thought about tarting them up by substituting other ingredients, but actually we enjoyed the really pared down salads with killer dressings. We did. Simple is good. (Over the top complex is good too, hey Ottolenghi?)

Some salads we changed a little, due to availability of local ingredients, some we added a couple of items – white pepper, for example, to Asian style salads (my absolute love), or something we might have sitting on our kitchen bench that made a good addition. Pickled cumquats made it into a tart quinoa salad, and were divine. Some pickled jicama topped another salad, adding that delightful apple-flavoured crunch. But mostly, we left the original version alone.

And there you have it. Our long, multi-year journey of Salads with Bittman. I hope you like this one, #99 on his list. Please enjoy! Then browse all of our others.

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Steamed Tofu with Bok Choy and Sesame

Steamed tofu is the antithesis of the punchy, in-your-face flavours of my usual Indian cuisine. Almost bland, it is gloriously so, adding creamy texture to its accompaniments. In this case we use bok choi (pak choi) and a soy sauce-seasame-mirin dressing. You do have to be willing to enjoy the subtlety of flavours to appreciate this dish. It is not something that would do well on Master Chef, for example, however we love steamed tofu.

We also have a variation to this dish where shiitake and oyster mushrooms are quickly sauteed and added to the tofu. This is inspired by an incredible dish of steamed tofu and mushrooms at the Whole Earth restaurant in Chiang Mai –  Three Flavour Tofu Topped with Shiitake Mushrooms.

Similar recipes include Curry Laksa with Fried Tofu, Kaffir and Tamarind Tofu, and Tofu and Spinach Layers.

Browse all of our Tofu dishes and all of our Bok Choi recipes. Or be inspired by our other Late Winter dishes.

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Grain and Grape Salad | Barley Salad with Grapes

We’ve been doing Wintery salads lately – rice, pasta, burghul salads. Today’s salad is a grain salad. Use farro, freekah, wheat berries, barley, coarse burghul or any other grain that is a bit on the chewy side. Surprisingly, the grain is paired with grapes for quite a special salad.

This is a Bittman Salad, one of the 101 Salads from his New York Times article. We have been making them over the past Summers, and are now down to the last few.

Are you looking for similar recipes? Try Toasted Barley with Pistachios and Raisins, Parsley and Barley Salad with Marinated Feta.

You can browse all of our Barley recipes, and all of our many Salads. If you want to see the Bittman Salads that we have made, they are here. Or simply browse our Early Winter recipes.

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Malabar Spinach Pakoda

Malabar Spinach is a thick spinach like leaf that grows on a vine – it is often confused with other greens, but look for leaves that are thick, a little mucilaginous, and are on twining stalks.  It may also have white or purple flowers and seeds on the vine. These leaves are common in India and throughout S. E. Asia. It has various names in India and may be called Basella Spinach, Poi leaf, Bacchalikura or Vasalakkirai.

Malabar Spinach is not really a spinach at all, but the taste is similar and it is better suited to summer growing than real spinach.

Similar dishes include Red Onion and Chilli Pakora, Bhajji, and Okra and Cauliflower Packora.

Browse all of our Malabar Spinach recipes and Pakora dishes. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Mid Summer recipes.

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Vendakkai Poriyal | Stir Fried Okra

It’s been more than 18 months since I began a crush on okra, and developed a project to explore this incredible vegetable which is available here all year round via Asian and Middle Eastern shops. In that time, we’ve made 60 or more Okra dishes, and,totally fallen in love with the long tapered “fingers” known cutely in India as Lady’s Fingers. Many of those recipe posts are in the queue to be published over the coming months.

Okra has become an important part of our life, but perhaps it is time to release the obsession and cook it less often. Admittedly, there are still quite a few recipes in the okra pile to tinker with, so there might be more….

One of the greatest finds of this project has been the number of ways that the Middle Eastern countries and India uses Okra. We have boiled, steamed, fried, deep fried, sauteed, baked and dehydrated Okra. Each dish has been a revelation. We have pared, chopped, slit and diced okra. We have learned to control the sliminess. We have battered okra. We have hand dried dozens of the tapered Lady’s Fingers over the course of a year.

Today’s dish is a very simple, but gorgeous, South Indian treatment of Okra. It is a remarkable, fresh dish. Another stir fried recipe, just with a few simple spices. The wonder of Tamil cooking is how simple easy dishes can taste amazing. There are variation upon variation of stir fried okra dishes – see here and here – but each is different and delightful.

Similar recipes include Stuffed Okra, Crispy Okra in Yoghurt, Lady Finger Masala, and Bhindi Subzi.

Browse all of our Okra dishes. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

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Orange and Pecan Cream Cheese

The problem with food fashions is that really useful ingredients get put aside, left behind, left on the shelf. Remember cream cheese? If you are of a certain age you will recall the cream cheese dips. I had a particularly flavoursome one that involved chilli sauce, a jar of sweet and sour vegetables and loads of coriander leaves. It was quick, easy and magnificent.

But over time, cream cheese has lost its appeal in the food world. It is pretty much ignored in place of feta, ricotta, cream, tahini, avocado and other creamy and fashionable ingredients. In our kitchen, however, cream cheese still has its place on the refrigerator shelf amongst these other beautiful ingredients.

It isn’t a dip today, but the recipe is for a spread that we are making with cream cheese. It is so easy it is hardly a recipe, but we share it in the way that we usually do, for consistency. It is cream cheese mixed with orange juice and pecan nuts. Yum.

Use the spread on crackers, or on slices of fruit. If you would like to use it as a dip, simply whip it until it becomes lighter.

Similar recipes include Quince Molasses and Tahini Spread, Miso and Tahini Sauce, and Yoghurt and Kaffir Lime Leaf Spread.

Browse all of our Cream Cheese dishes and all of our Spreads. Or explore our Mid Winter dishes.

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Juice It! | Home Made Apple-Based Juices

It is nearly Spring time, the garden is blooming (my first ever daffodils are flowering), and we have started juicing our own drinks again. We love to have home-made juices through Spring to Autumn.

While the apples are at their best, they are especially suited to late Winter and early Spring juices, providing a sweet base for many different combinations.

In the suggestions below, we don’t include quantities. My rule of thumb is – 2 large apples plus your combination fruit and vegetables will a little water to dilute the intensity of the flavours, will make 3 – 4 glasses. Enough for breakfast for a small – medium family.

In case you are wondering, I use Harom, a cold press juicer, but any juicer will make great drinks. I love cold press juicers because of the way that they extract the juice and the drinks are not as frothy as when you use a centrifugal juicer. It is also said that cold pressed juices are more nutrient dense than those produced with a centrifugal juicer. However the cold press ones do not handle greens or stringy vegetables such as celery as well as the centrifugal ones.

You can also make fruit juices in your High Speed Blender. I use a Vitamix. Simply blend the fruit for 2 or so minutes with a little water, then strain the juice as your pour it into a jug or into glasses. (I am not sponsored in any way by Vitamix or Harom.)

Enjoy the juice combinations below. Similar recipes include Zucchini Juice, Green Tea, Apple and Strawberry Juice, and Watermelon Juice with Mint and Ginger.

Browse all of our Juices and our Cooling Summer Drinks. Or browse all of our our Early Spring recipes.

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