Friday, May 18, 2012

Strawberry Rhubarb Salsa

Nothing says "spring" like strawberries and rhubarb.  They pop up together in pies, crumbles, compotes and the like.  We decided to see how they would fare in the savory world and were quite pleasantly surprised!  This salsa has a great balance of sweet, tart, bite and tang.

This recipe came into being when we were looking for something to make with the kids at the opening day of Green City Market's outdoor market just last week.  We needed a short hands-on project (so, minimal cook) that used market ingredients, and had with a Mexican twist (it happened to be Cinco de Mayo).  I remembered coming across rhubarb salsas while researching our summer camp recipes, so I thought that was a good place to start.  I found a fair number of recipes, but many called for markedly un-seasonal ingredients, like corn and bell peppers.  I found one using strawberries, but it called for soaking the rhubarb overnight in some sort of simple syrup to cut the tartness.  I didn't like that idea for many reasons, including the fact that I just wouldn't have time for an overnight soak between buying the rhubarb at the market and starting the demo 30 minutes later.  I tried out a quick blanch, which was enough, along with the sweetness of the berries, to cut the rhubarb bite.
Photo by Daniel Stranahan

Strawberry Rhubarb Salsa

2 stalks rhubarb (a little less than 1/2 lb), trimmed and cut into 3 inch pieces
10 strawberries (1/2 lb), hulled and chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced (1 tablespoon)
Juice from one lime (1 tablespoon)
1/4 tsp salt
3 or 4 sprigs fresh cilantro

Bring a small pot of water to boil.  Add rhubarb and boil for 1 minute (be careful not to boil any longer or it will get mushy.  Transfer to a plate to cool.  Once cool enough to handle, chop rhubarb into 1/4 inch pieces.

In a large bowl, combine chopped rhubarb, strawberries, onions and garlic.  Add lime juice and salt and toss gently to combine.  Remove cilantro leaves from stems, tear leaves into small pieces and add to bowl.  Season to taste with additional salt if needed.  Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!

What kids can do (with appropriate tools & supervision, of course!)
*Chop strawberries (first chopping off green stem, then slicing, then cutting into chunks - we have wavy choppers for kids to use, they work great without risking life and limb)
*Finely chop onions (it is easiest if you slice the onion first for them)
*Mince garlic (first chopping garlic cloves into smaller pieces, then going over it repeatedly with the chopping with short and swift chopping motions)
*Juice lime (kids might need a little help getting all the juices out)
*Measure out salt
*Remove cilantro leaves and tear
*Stir and taste

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Springy Sprouted Salad

I briefly got into sprouting last spring.  I sprouted garbanzo beans and made Sprouted Hummus the recipe of the week in our tots and kids classes at Kids' Table.  And that was pretty much it.  Until I saw an article in a recent issue of Food & Wine expounding the many healthy benefits of sprouted foods.  The sprouting process unleashes powerful nutrients as the seed begins to grow new life, and makes the legume or grain more digestible to boot.  Amazing!  The article specifically talked about sprouting mung beans.  I happened to have a container of dried mung beans in my pantry.  Fate?  I thought so.

Sprouted mung beans made an appearance in a few different recipes in my kitchen as I experimented.  This one stood head and shoulders above the rest.  I was so excited the first day that I made it that I smuggled some into a restaurant for my dinner companions to taste (yes, literally in a small container in my purse).  It's not only delicious, but it travels well - perfect for potlucks and picnics!

I've included basic sprouting instructions after the recipe.  I hope you are inspired to try it.  It's a great thing to get kids involved in.  Sprouting can take as little as 2 days.  You'd be hard pressed to find a gardening project with more instant gratification!  If you're not excited about sprouting just yet, or don't want to wait two days to make the salad, I include some equally tasty seasonal alternatives to the sprouted mung beans.

Photo by Daniel Stranahan

Springy Sprouted Salad

1 cup quinoa
2 cups sprouted mung beans (or shelled and cooked fava beans or english peas)
1 cup (packed) arugula
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 oz parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, coarsely grated
Leaves from 3-4 sprigs mint, thinly sliced
3 T olive oil
Juice from 1 large lemon (about 3 T)
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4-1/2 tsp salt

Combine quinoa and 1 1/2 cups water in a small pot.  Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove pot from heat (keeping it covered) and let stand 5 minutes.  Transfer 2 cups cooked quinoa to a large bowl and let cool, stirring occasionally.

Add 2 cups sprouted mung beans, arugula, red onion, cheese and mint and stir gently to combine.

In a separate small bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and 1/4 tsp salt and whisk well.  Pour dressing over salad, tossing gently to coat.  Season to taste with additional salt if needed.  Enjoy!

Makes about 4 servings

How to Sprout
You can get a sprouting jar, or get by quite nicely like I have with a makeshift version using a large glass jar, a piece of cheese cloth and a rubber band.  Make sure the jar or container you use is big enough to let the beans swell - they expand by about 3 times in volume!  Keep this in mind in determining how many beans to sprout as well.  Only sprout what you will eat within 3 days or so.

Combine beans (between 1/2 cup and 1 cup) with 4 times the volume of water in the jar.  Let soak for 12 hours.  Drain and rinse well.  Return beans to jar, secure cheese cloth over top of jar with a rubber band and invert jar at a roughly 45 degree angle so that residual moisture can drain through the cheese cloth.  Keep out of direct sunlight.  (In the picture on the left, my sprouting beans are in the sunlight only for the shot!)  Rinse beans after 8-12 hours and return to sprouting position.  Continue until beans sprout and sprouts grow to about 1/2 inch in length.


My attempt to start blogging last July was thwarted by my Type A perfectionist tendencies.  It's hard to post a blog a week if you agonize over every word, and have other responsibilities and a desire to live life.  It stops now.  I have so many recipes, stories and bits of advice to share and I will no longer let anything get in the way!

I hope you will follow along in my healthy cooking (and eating) adventures.


P.S.  This post did involve a bit of agonizing.  But I kept it to a minimum.  Baby steps....