And this, friends, would be an example of an AHubb meal. Or, an AHubb meal following a couple of weeks of BHubb meals, multiple food-centered editorial assignments, and a day-long photoshoot involving roughly 800oz of potato chips. Which, yes, we kept and distributed [mostly] to friends and family. With the fast approach of the holiday season and even heavier meals for impending Winter days, I've decided to challenge myself to create an interesting salad each week. To keep me on track, grounded, and hopefully in my current jeans. Not that I'll share each of them here. I know...you all really enjoy recipes more closely aligned with orecchiette carbonara and peach cakes. Who doesn't? But I thought, maybe, some of you might appreciate a few healthier options sprinkled here and there.
We all have those days when our jeans fit just a little tighter than the last, when we are craving something complex and hearty and cheesy for lunch but know we should choose the green salad instead. This recipe is my compromise. With a healthy dose of greens and apples, and a modest sprinkling of blue cheese and candied walnuts, it satisfies without the guilt. Make it lighter by omitting the candied walnuts and just sprinkling them on raw...but gosh, they sure are tasty.
Never fear...I'll be back tomorrow with a recipe for apple torte. :)
The combination of apples, blue cheese, and candied walnuts is well-loved and known for salads. Sometimes you just need a little reminder about an old favorite.
Autumn Salad with Apples, Blue Cheese, + Candied Walnuts
4 cups fresh spinach
2 cups fresh arugula
1 tart apple, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
Candied Walnut Ingredients
1/3 cup (packed) brown sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
large pinch of salt
1-1/2 cups halved walnuts
Creamy Mustard Vinaigrette Ingredients
2 tbsp grain mustard
4 tbsp golden balsamic vinegar (or champagne vinegar if you can't find golden balsamic)
1 tbsp honey
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
First, candy the walnuts. Combine the first 4 ingredients in a heavy skillet. Bring to a boil, whisking, and allow to boil for 1 minute. Add the walnuts and stir to coat. Continue tossing until the syrup forms a glaze on the nuts, about 3 minutes. Transfer nuts to sheet of foil and quickly separate them with forks.
Second, make the vinaigrette. Combine the mustard, vinegar, and honey in the small bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. With the processor running, slowly add the olive oil to emulsify, processing for about 1 minute.
Toss together the spinach and arugula. Place in a shallow serving dish. Add the apples and walnuts evenly across the top of the greens, then the crumbled blue cheese. Dress the salad on individual plates.
Last Monday I sat on a plane at Louis Armstrong International Airport, Brian’s hand in mine as we taxied down the runway and lifted off, on our way home to Charlottesville. Out the window I watched a city that I love dearly fall away, nostalgic and missing New Orleans already.
We’d arrived Friday morning to heat and humidity that we won’t (hopefully) see in Virginia for another two months. After checking bags at our hotel, changing into shorts and slathering on sunscreen we set out into the city with two friends who’d joined us for four days of exploring, absorbing, listening and, most importantly, eating. As the veteran visitors, Brian and I had laid out an agenda based on food - our nine meals were carefully scheduled and the rest of the trip was woven loosely around their locations.
As New Orleans disappeared beneath a bank of hazy clouds last Monday I found myself thinking that we could live there, Brian and I, in a cute Creole cottage just downriver from the French Quarter. We’d paint our home in shades of blue and grey with a vibrant yellow, or maybe eggplant, accent around the windows and doors. There would be bikes leaned up against the side of the house, one with a basket, ready at a moment’s notice to be ridden into the Quarter for lunch or to the Crescent City Farmer’s Market for fresh, local seafood and produce. Our yard would be tiny, just big enough for a vegetable garden and a stone terrace with an umbrella-covered picnic table. We’d string lanterns from the trees and host crawfish boils on that terrace, invite guests who would wear jaunty hats and sip frosty cocktails as they unconsciously swayed to the sounds of Doreen’s clarinet wafting from the stereo.
It is a lovely dream, one that I could see becoming a reality one day if we could just find a way to get used to the stifling heat. And the cockroaches - complete terror only scratches the surface of the affect that those little buggers have on me. And the city’s status as the murder capital of the USA... Minor details, since I already have the biggest obstacle solved - vegetables. Did you notice that my list of traditional NOLA fare does not include even a hint of green? While we happily consumed fried / buttered / sugared food for four full days, I believe that four days must be the limit. For as I dreamt about our little blue Creole cottage and crawfish boils and lanterns strung from trees and clinking glasses of frosty beverages, I managed to squeeze a giant bowl of homegrown greens onto the linen-covered table in the middle of that backyard terrace.
A vegetable garden would be an absolute necessity to our New Orleans lifestyle.
The next day, back at work in Charlottesville and fully submerged in reality, Brian and I met a friend for lunch at Feast. I ordered a mixed salad plate, and while I couldn’t stop talking about the wonderful food in New Orleans, my mind was distracted by how amazingly satisfying the plate full of veggies in front of me was. And on Saturday, at our own City Market, we filled our basket with all the green we could get our hands on - two heads of lettuce, two bunches of both kale and collards, two pounds of asparagus.
I plan to share some of our favorite New Orleans-inspired dishes here on Bella Eats in the next month or two (along with some photographs from our trip!), but just had to give our systems a break this last 10 days. I'd originally thought that a full month of NOLA fare on this little blog could be fun, but have decided instead to spread those rich, indulgent dishes out, to balance them with recipes like this side of wilted spinach tossed with fresh peas, garlic and scallions. It's better this way, I promise.
Tangles of earthy spinach play well with the sweet peas in this dish. The mild flavors are complimented nicely by the subdued bite of sliced garlic and a generous handful of scallions. Serve alongside a fillet of white fish dressed simply with lemon, sea salt and herbs for a healthy, feel-good-to-the-core meal.
1 bunch of scallions, dark and light green parts diced (about 1/4 cup)
3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 cups of fresh or frozen peas
1 cup white wine
4 large handfulls of spinach, tough stems removed
sea salt and pepper
Heat olive oil and 1 tbsp butter in deep skillet over medium heat. Add the scallions and sliced garlic, stirring to coat with oil and butter. Let saute' for 2-3 minutes, not letting the garlic brown.
Add the peas, and saute' for another 2-3 minutes, until the garlic starts to turn golden brown. Add the wine, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for another 2-3 minutes. If using fresh peas, be sure to test one before adding the spinach to be sure that it is cooked.
Add the spinach, stirring to coat with liquid. Allow spinach to heat through and wilt, 2-3 more minutes. Add last tbsp of butter and salt and pepper to taste.
There have been a few small changes in the garden since my first bella terra post. The thyme, sage and oregano are starting to show some green. The blackberry and raspberry vines have tiny bits of new growth. And the weeds are popping up with a vengeance. Brian (my hubb) and I have big plans for the weekend. Some fence repair, re-mulching the paths, weeding and seeding. In just a handful of days (7-10 to be exact) we should have broccoli, peas, beets, lettuce, kale and spinach poking out of the rich compost. I can't wait. :)
Here, the blackberry vine...The very first signs of life I see in the garden each year are chives. Beautiful green shoots that peek from beneath the blanket formed by last year’s growth, the late-fall crop that laid down their lives with the first hard frost to protect the next generation. They were already popping up two weeks ago when I ventured into the garden for the first time since fall. The new chives are thankfully resistant with help from the old - they managed to survive the late snow we had just last week. When I visited the garden after work one evening to check their progress I was pleased to find that they were ready for me to cut.here, on march 7th...see how they've grown?
Chives are one of my favorite herbs to use in the kitchen because they are so versatile. Toss them with fingerling potatoes to roast, sprinkle them raw over top of an omelet, fold them into batter to be baked in cheddar biscuits...their mild, onion-like flavor allows for endless possibilities. I’d bookmarked thisNY Times recipe for an herb frittata earlier this month and knew as soon as I spotted those lovely bits of green from over the fence that the time had come to try it.
I'd never made a frittata before. It seemed to me that it would be a difficult task and, having never read a frittata recipe before, I assumed that it would contain whole milk and cheese (similar to a quiche) and not be terribly productive to my weight-loss efforts. Boy was I wrong, on ALL assumptions. For one, the process was really easy. As long as you have a decent non-stick skillet and some patience, this dish really couldn't be easier. And I used just two dishes to make it...two! I really like a quick and simple recipe, but add "very little clean-up" to its list of attributes and I am in love.
Second, the frittata is much healthier than any quiche recipe I've made. The main contributor to its healthfulness? A lack of crust. That's right...no crust. And...no cheese. The greek yogurt makes the consistency so creamy that you'll never miss it. Plus, this particular recipe is loaded with spinach and herbs, not to mention heart-healthy walnuts and yummy mushrooms.
I was so impressed with my first frittata experience that I've already been dreaming up new combos of flavors. I can't wait until that pile of herbs and spinach pictured above is all home-grown from my garden, maybe with some bell peppers and tomatoes mixed in. Oh, what a glorious summer it will be...
Spinach, Herb and Mushroom Frittata258 cal, 19g fat, 6g carbs, 1g sugar, 2g fiber, 11g protein [nutritional info from thedailyplate.com]
recipe adapted from the NY Times
12oz baby spinach
1 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped chives
8 fresh cremini mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
8 large eggs
1/2 cup thick Greek-style yogurt
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
3/4 teaspoon salt, preferably kosher salt (more to taste)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 to 2 garlic cloves (to taste), green stems removed, finely minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (2 tablespoons if you don’t have a nonstick pan)
Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. Add the spinach to the boiling water and blanch for 10 to 20 seconds. Transfer to the ice water to cool for a few minutes, then drain and squeeze out excess water. Chop finely.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Stir in the yogurt, walnuts, salt and pepper. Add the spinach, herbs and garlic, and mix together well. Adjust salt and pepper. Let sit for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the mushrooms.
Heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Drop a bit of egg into the pan, and if it sizzles and cooks at once, the pan is ready. Pour in the egg mixture, scraping every bit out of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Roll the pan to distribute the eggs and filling evenly over the surface. Shake the pan gently, tilting it slightly with one hand while lifting up the edges of the frittata with the spatula in your other hand, in order to let the eggs run underneath during the first few minutes of cooking. Turn the heat down to low, and cover the pan. Cook 10 to 15 minutes, shaking the pan every once in a while, until the frittata is just about set. Meanwhile, light the broiler.
If the frittata is not quite set on the top, place under the broiler, about three inches from the heat, for one to two minutes, watching closely, until just beginning to color on the top. Do not allow the eggs to brown too much or they’ll taste bitter. (I wound up leaving it under the broiler for about 4 minutes total, until just starting to brown).
Remove from the heat, allow to sit in the pan for five minutes or longer, then carefully slide out onto a platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.
In the Blog World...
Tina at Carrots 'N' Cake has released a call for guest bloggers...how fun! If you haven't checked out Tina's blog yet you really should. She's got great daily tips for creating a healthy lifestyle through good eats and exercise. Guest blogging is a great way to spread your blog words to further reaches, so consider sending her an email with some ideas!
Two Spoons made a savory version of my scones! Yum...the possibilities are endless. :)
Ryan at Chasing Daylightmade bella eats enchi-ritos! So glad you enjoyed them, Ryan!
Jennifer and Jessica of Keep It Simple Foods have been enjoying my dark chocolate PB and strawberry breakfast combo...glad you're liking it ladies! Mmmm...a little french inspiration in the morning is a great start to any day! :)
If you've tried a recipe you've found on bella eats, let me know! I'd love to read your thoughts on it and send others your way. :)
Who else is THRILLED that tomorrow is Friday?!?!?!? :)