May 28, 2013

Recipe: New Potato Salad with Snow Peas and Radishes

Summer is fast approaching, and I for one am more than ready. As of late, Seattle has been providing a mixed bag of weather, with one day of sunshine-y, warm perfection followed by a day (or two, or three) of chilly gray drizzle. My strategy to get through the gray is spending as much time outdoors on the beautiful days as possible: long walks, relaxing at the park, and breaking out the grill for some summer-y al fresco meals.

It helps that the Farmers' Market is officially in go-mode, providing me with a bounty of fresh produce to cook with. Last week's rhubarb harvest became an insanely delicious Raspberry Rhubarb Crisp, which was devoured after a feast of BBQ shiitake mushrooms, grilled asparagus, and corn on the cob. This week's grilling adventure involved Field Roast's Smoked Apple Sage Sausages topped with grilled onions, another batch of corn on the cob, and this refreshing take on the classic American potato salad.

This salad highlights the early birds of the summer harvest - thin-skinned new potatoes, crunchy radishes, and crisp snow peas. The potatoes are boiled, the radishes are kept raw, and the snow peas are quickly blanched before being tossed together with a light-but-creamy dressing of vegan mayo and yogurt spiked with shallot, lemon, and dijon. It's one of those "wow-that-really-hits-the-spot" dishes whose tastiness practically forces you to take an extra "half serving" when you are already stuffed. Which is fine, because this potato salad doesn't weigh you down like some of its heavily-mayonnaised brethren. That extra scoop is all good, friends (really, really good).

New Potato Salad with Snow Peas and Radishes
serves 6

1 pound new potatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds or half rounds
6 ounces snow peas, trimmed and sliced in half
1 bunch radishes (about 6 ounces), sliced into thin rounds
1 shallot, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
1/4 cup unsweetened plain nondairy yogurt
1 tablespoon dijon mustard (I love whole grain, but smooth is great too)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
plenty of black pepper

Prepare an ice bath by filling a medium bowl with ice cubes and cold water - you'll use this to shock the snow peas later. Toss potato slices into a large pot, add enough cold water to cover potatoes by an inch or so, and salt the water well. Place pot over high heat and bring to a boil before immediately reducing heat to low. Simmer potatoes for 5-10 minutes, or until the potatoes are just tender - overcooking will result in potato slices that fall apart when tossed with the dressing. While the potatoes are cooking, quickly whisk together the shallot, garlic, mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard, and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper, taste dressing for seasoning, and adjust if necessary (dressing should taste over-seasoned/a tad salty to properly flavor the salad).

Once the potatoes are done, remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large bowl. Keep the pot of water over the heat and add the snow peas to the water. Cook about 30 seconds (seconds, not minutes) - the peas will quickly turn a vibrant green - and transfer the peas to the prepared ice bath to cool completely. Drain the peas and add peas and radishes to the slightly-cooled potatoes. Pour dressing over the potato salad and stir gently to combine. Chill salad in refrigerator and serve cool or at room temperature. The salad is best eaten the day you prepare it (the peas' bright green tends to fade into a less-lovely shade with time), but will keep well for about five days in the fridge.

May 23, 2013

Recipe: Raspberry Rhubarb Crisp

There is something so infinitely satisfying about breaking a losing streak. For the past few months, most of the recipes I came up with were just "ok". Often they were "fine". Occasionally they were straight-up bad. It's hard not to become discouraged with a long stretch of recipe "meh", especially when said meh-dom means I end up with zero blog content. I considered sharing a few of the "fine" recipes here on the blog, but decided against it. This is not a space for meh. It is a space for awesome. And this Raspberry Rhubarb Crisp? It is AWESOME, friends. All caps AWESOME.

The awesomeness kind of took me by surprise, to be perfectly frank. I mean, it's a rhubarb crisp. Nothing earth shattering there. The month of May rolls around and everyone starts baking rhubarb into some sort of pie/crisp/crumble filling, because.... well, baked filling is pretty much the best use of rhubarb's fibrous, tart, celery-like stalks. More often than not, rhubarb is paired with strawberries, a pairing which (delightful as it may be) feels a little dull year-after-year.

I decided small tweaks were in order for my little rhubarb crisp. The filling forgoes strawberries for raspberries, enhancing the tartness of the rhubarb with their own sweet-and-sour character. A splash of orange juice is bright and unexpected. The oat topping gets a double hit of almond-y goodness with chopped almonds providing crunch and almond butter lending a more flavorful (and nutritious) fatty binder than nondairy butter alone. These small tweaks led to one of the most delicious desserts I've eaten in quite some time. Everything just sings - the rhubarb, the raspberries, the orange, the almonds - they come together and sing WE ARE AWESOME. And they're right.

Raspberry Rhubarb Crisp
serves 6

Raspberry Rhubarb Filling:
1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and chopped into 1/2 pieces
1 1/2 cups raspberries (both frozen or fresh are fine)
1/2 cup natural cane sugar
1/3 cup orange juice

Almond Oat Topping:
1/2 cup quick oats (rolled oats will work too, but not steel-cut)
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sliced almonds, finely chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup almond butter
2 tablespoons nondairy butter, very cold, cut into small cubes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grab a baking dish approximately 8 or 9 inches in diameter (I use a square or round cake pan, and find these to be the perfect size). In a large bowl, toss together the rhubarb, raspberries, natural cane sugar, and orange juice until the fruit is evenly coated and glossy. In a separate bowl, stir together the oats, flour, almonds, brown sugar, and cinnamon before adding in the almond butter and nondairy butter. With a fork or your fingers, smush the butters into the topping mixture until it resembles slightly-moist sand dotted with pea-sized clusters. Pour the raspberry rhubarb filling into the baking dish, being sure to scrape all the juices out of the bowl, and spread filling into an even layer. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the filling and place baking dish in oven. Bake the crisp for 40 minutes, or until the juices are thickened and bubbling at the edges and the topping is golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes before serving the warm crisp with a scoop of nondairy ice cream or a dollop of nondairy whipped cream.