Weeknight Cannellini Bean and Anchovy Salad

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Anchovy Bean Salad

The perfect meal for lunch, dinner, weekdays, weeknights…you name it! Especially perfect enjoyed in PJs on the couch with a glass of wine!

Ahhhhhh….the tiny but mighty anchovy. Or as The Hubbs terms them, ‘cat food’. If you haven’t tried anchovies, this post is for you. If you have and don’t like them, this post is still for you. Other than swallowing them whole or choking them down, there are a few tricks to ease the punch of an anchovy without resorting to mixing minuscule amounts into whipped potatoes or deviled eggs, making compound butter, or creating epic Caesar dressing.

There are a couple of types of anchovies: The main ones are salt cured and stored in oil (aka the ‘cat food’ of which The Hubbs can’t stand) and those that come salt packed (The Hubbs hates those a little less). These are two very different animals and I use them both for different reasons. For my tastes, the salt cured and oil packed variety are best in salad dressing, on pizza, and in bean salads. They pack a salty, savory punch. The second type of anchovy, the salt packed variety, I use in sauces, some salads, and dressed in vinegar like boquerones  (they just need a little soak and a marinade–more to come on that in a new post!). The salt-packed type maintains flesh more similar to fresh fish once soaked and tend to maintain a more clean, oceanic flavor. You can also find dried anchovies in most Asian markets and can find anchovy paste in some supermarkets. I have yet to experiment with either of those.

Now that we’ve had a little introduction to the types of anchovies, I’ll stress to buy ‘good’ anchovies.  I will note here that ‘good’ doesn’t necessarily mean super expensive.  The best tinned, salt cured and oil packed I can find on any given day are the flat anchovies by Cento. No metal flavor and soft, salty, ruby-hinted flesh (not icky brown and oxidized). I’ve tried almost every jarred, expensive, salt-cured and oiled variety and end up hittin’ up the local grocery mart for a $1.50 flat of Cento anchovies. As far as purely salt packed, you can’t beat Agostino Recca at about $20 for 2.2 lbs (a post on how to repack these guys for longer-term keeping is on the way!). Shop around, try some varieties, and you’ll find what works for you. If you need some inspiration, check out the taste test at Serious Eats.

Now, down to business. You can make this salad all spiffy, complicated, and hard or you can roll with the slacker version.  I tend to prefer the slacker version because it’s usually a midday or weeknight comfort meal. Think of this as an Eatin’-in-PJs-on-the-couch sort of salad. As noted, you can make this complicated and soak and cook your own beans, or you can get jiggy in your fuzzy socks and drawstring pants and pop open a can of cannellini beans. The rest of the ingredients are simple ad fresh and require little to no fuss.  This is a quick salad that’s perfect for tired weeknights, lazy weekends, or crazy times that send you begging for simplicity. And hey, if Zombie Apocalypse End Times come, you can join me in full-bellied bliss in the anchovy isle while those other pseudo-survivors steer clear!

Cannellini and Anchovy Salad (Serves 2-3)

  • Butter, Boston, or Bibb lettuce (Arugula or Spinach will work too in a pinch)
  • 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed well and drained
  • 1/4 cup very finely chopped Vidalia onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped parsley (curly or flat)
  • 2 regular cloves or 1 clove elephant garlic, smashed and finely chopped
  • 3 TBSP high quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 TBSP sherry vinegar (more or less to taste)
  • Juice of half a lemon (or a couple of quick shots of prepared lemon juice)
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • Salt and cracked pepper to taste
  • Butter, Garlic, or Caesar salad croutons of choice (or homemade; Italian or Cheese don’t work well)
  • 2 tins salt-cured flat anchovies in olive oil, drained and rested on paper towels

Anchovy

First, drain your anchovies of their oil and lay out on paper towels. Next, carefully rinse and shake dry your head of lettuce so as not to bruise the leaves. Separate the leaves from the head and tear into pieces (usually each leaf in half). You can leave the leaves whole for presentation, but remember you’re piling up on the couch with the dog in your PJs. No pretenses here, people. Arrange the lettuce on your plates as neatly or as ‘Hot Mess’ as you feel.

Place the rinsed and drained beans in a bowl large enough to fit them and to toss with a spoon. Add onion, chopped parsley, garlic, olive oil, sherry vinegar, lemon, thyme, and salt and pepper to the beans. Turn over with a spoon to coat the beans with the mixture. Toss in your desired number of croutons (Maybe 10 per person if they’re the larger ones–don’t forget to eat a few out of the bag. You know we all do it!). Turn a few times more to moisten the croutons (this my friends is the Tired Working Man’s answer to Panzanella salad; #ImTired). Arrange the bean mixture on top of the beds of lettuce. Add flat anchovies intact on the side.

Anchovies

Quick, simple, and delicious. Perfect for weeknights, weekends, and especially summer!

Get yourself a glass of a crisp, high-acid white wine (Albarino anyone?), pile up on the sofa with the dog, and get your Netflix ready. Weekday nights just became glorious!

Growing Microgreens at Home–Update

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OK.  In my last microgreens growing post I said I was lazy.  And things worked out fine. I lied. A little. So, I had some packs of seeds from the Big Box Garden Store and decided I’d grow them as microgreens since their season was out here now that it’s Hotter than the Hinges of Hell.  I learned some lessons I thought I’d pass on..

1.  I am not a poor gardener…those seed packs DO NOT germinate.  I don’t know if it’s that they’re not organic or that they’ve been on the shelves too long. But I’ll never buy them again.

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Big Box Garden Store seeds at lower left, HandyPantry.com organic seeds at top right. Ummmm….yeah, there’s a difference.

2.  Some seeds you *might* have to soak. Beet seeds did squat for me no matter how much I loved them or wanted them to grow.

3.  Beware the millipede. If your soil is kept outside you may have critters that are determined to escape (come on now, I surely am not the only one that re-purposed the dog-chewn kiddie pool that blew into my yard like a gift from Trashistan Heaven as a garden soil holder!).  Maybe let the container with soil sit out for a day or just wear your best critter-stomping flip-flaps about the house for a bit after you bring it in.  Try not to think you’re Tippi Hedren in some twisted garden version of The Birds. Try. Try.

Will keep ya updated with new finds as I go! The top of the dryer looks like a lush jungle, so there should be loads to report soon!

Who Says Salad Can’t be for Breakfast?

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I’ve heard of folks bellying up to a bowl of salad for breakfast just to pack in those vital nutrients first thing in the morning. And to tell you the truth, I thought they were crazzzzy. I mean, the word breakfast conjures up thoughts of creamy grits, crispy bacon, and fried eggs. Or maybe you’re a stack o’ pancakes lover. Or perhaps a big ol’ plate of biscuits and sausage gravy. Yeah, me too. Until I (or rather, my pants) decided it was time to cut out the carbs. Well, if you’re like me, this little salad gets you your breakfast fix AND packs in some salad greens. Not to mention it’s pretty darn tasty, too!

  • a couple of handfuls of salad greens, arugula was used here
  • 1 soft-boiled egg
  • 4 or so ounces of pulled pork (substitute bacon or Canadian ham if you’d like)
  • handful of grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 TBSP (or more if you like) of bacon jam
  • 1 tsp bacon fat
  • 1 TBSP apple cider, champagne, or rose vinegar (or try kombucha)
  • 2 TBSP diced onions
  • 1/2 clove garlic, mashed and minced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes

Heat a pot of salted water over medium high heat until just bubbling. Add your egg gently. Put on the top and let it sit for 5 minutes for a runny yolk, and six minutes for a firmer, but not ‘done’ yolk. You can fry the egg to your liking or use a boiled egg too. When done, run under cool water and gently peel.

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Soft boil your egg…The Hubs did a little art work on the eggs, so I had an extra bit of fun doing this one up!

While the egg is doing its thing, heat the bacon fat in a nonstick skillet. Add the onions and garlic and saute until just tender. Add the bacon jam, red pepper flakes, and vinegar. Stir to combine. Add a tiny bit of water if it’s not the right consistency to coat the greens easily.

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Warm Bacon Jam Dressing. Yes, please!

Throw the greens in a bowl, toss with the dressing (do this only when your egg is done as the dressing is warm and will wilt the greens slightly). Pile on your pork, egg, and tomatoes. Salt and pepper to taste.

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Now go ‘Get Your Salad On’ for breakfast!

And just like that you have a ‘breakfast salad’ that will get you started on the right foot. Or hey, eat it for lunch or dinner. If Salad doesn’t mind switching to breakfast, I’m sure Bacon and Eggs don’t mind hanging out with your for dinner!

Best Beet Pickled Eggs

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Beet Pickled Deviled Eggs

Grumpy Kevin and I first had a version of these eggs in Portland, OR at Gruner, a fantastic German restaurant. If you’re ever in the area, you should stop by as it is truly a delightful place. Beet-pickles eggs are popular in Pennsylvania Dutch country and a beetless variety can be found in pubs. We were head-over-heels with Gruner’s version of these eggs, beet-pickled, then deviled, with what we think was the tiniest horseradish shavings on top. The contrasting pink and yellow was striking and the taste was out of this world. I have been searching through recipes ever since! After reading dozens of recipes, I decided to take the plunge, combining a bit of all of them, and the result was fantastic! I kept the beets on the firm side so there was a little toothiness to contrast the soft egg and I used red onions to provide a little heat (like the horseradish).  These make a great snack (make sure to get a bite of egg, beet, and onion together!) or are an excellent accompaniment to a salad.

  • 1 dozen eggs, boiled, peeled
  • 1 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 3 TBSP sugar (try substituting honey, beet sugar, or coconut sugar)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 garlic cloves, mashed and chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • 1/2 gallon ball jar or other large container
  • 1 pound beets, peeled, sliced thinly, and boiled in just enough water to cover (reserve water)
  • 1/2 large red onion, sliced
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slice your beets thin, about a quarter of an inch

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red onions and plenty of garlic add a little heat

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a dozen eggs should do it…fresh eggs will be a bit harder to peel but the flavor is well worth the trouble

For farm fresh eggs in the greater Charleston area, try Wishbone Heritage Farms!

Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, peppercorn, garlic, and bay leaf in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, stir to melt sugar, reduce and simmer for about 5 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes and add dill.

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combine the pickling spices, bring to a boil to melt the sugar, and let it cool before adding the dill

Layer eggs, beets, and onion in your container

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layer the eggs, beets, and onions

Pour over the vinegar mixture. Add the reserved beet juice to cover.

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Pour the spiced brine over the layered eggs. What a color!

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It’s hard to wait for them to pickle!

Let sit until cool, about 1 hour, uncovered on the counter. Place lid and refrigerate at least 6 hours.  Eggs and beets will keep for 1 week.  The longer they sit, the more pink they will become and the further the pink penetrates the egg. So if you want just a pink ring when they are cut open, go with a shorter pickling time.

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Seriously, you can’t ask for a more beautiful egg! This would be perfect for Easter, luncheons, teas, or just a great snack!

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Devil the yolks and grab a bite of the egg, beet, and onion. Delish! Try adding grated horseradish, wasabi powder, or some spicy dry mustard for variations. A bit of turmeric can make the yolk even more yellow when deviling.

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Just perfect on a salad with a slightly sweeter vinaigrette. Not bad to look at either!

The Best Beet and Chevre Salad

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Beet Salad

The Queen Beet

Ahhh, the beet.  My first memories of the beet are not those fond memories my husband has of jars of super delicious, unforgettable pickled beets.  My first memory of the beet, in any significant way, is chopping what seemed like a ridiculous quantity of industrial canned beets (ACME brand??) into a near-paste to put on the daily lunch salad of an elderly woman I took care of after high school.  Ummm, no thanks.  Fast-forward to 1998 when I met my husband, the beet-eater.  Slowly but surely he, and beets, won me over.

So, now that a decade has passed and farm-to-table is popular again, it would seem as though the Queen Beet has been overdone when it comes to pairing with chèvre.  Some form of this salad can be found just about everywhere. You’d think this would be a bad thing, but I’ve come to dearly love my little beet brethren and they’re super healthy to boot.  I’m guilty of trying just about every iteration of this salad everywhere I eat.  I’ve had a LOT of beets people.  And this particular beet salad reigns as my fave.  You’ve got caramelized beets, creamy chèvre, roasted pecans, lightly sweet vinaigrette, and diced salty hog jowl bacon that fries up like little meat croutons.  Need I say more?

Beets and Goat cheese

caramelized beets, creamy chèvre, roasted pecans, tangy vinaigrette, and crispy little hog jowl bacon croutons.

Best Beet and Chèvre Salad (serves 2-4)

For the Beets:

  • 3 medium, or six small, washed (read: scrubbed), peeled, and wedged beets. Use the greens, if they’re still attached, to determine freshness. If they look like they’ve been sitting in a dumpster for 3 days, move on and find a more fresh source.
  • 1 TBSP Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil for coating beets
  • 1 TBSP raw, local honey
  • 2 TBSP Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil
  • 3 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste (after beets cool)

For the rest of the salad:

  • 1/2 cup pecan halves, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces good chèvre (or make your own–a post coming soon about that!)
  • about 6 handfuls of torn lettuce of your choosing (yes, that’s how I measure it–but it probably equals around 6 -8 loose cups!).  I like oak lettuce for its mild flavor and tango lettuce for its texture (slightly curled leaves) and hint of spiciness–Boston, butter, and/or arugula would work too.
  • 2 TBSP finely diced sweet or vidalia onion
  • 1 cup diced hog jowl bacon (make sure you remove any tough skin–it doesn’t crisp well and ruins the texture as it’s a bit leathery).

For the rosé vinaigrette:

  • 2 TBSP finely minced sweet or vidalia onions (use shallots or red onion for a bit more bite)
  • 3 TBSP rosé wine vinegar (you know a post about making your own is coming!)
  • 4 TBSP Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil or try substituting 3 TBSP with roasted pecan oil. For a much nuttier flavor you can add a couple of drops (seriously, it can over power easily) pumpkin seed oil.
  • 2 TBSP rendered hog jowl bacon fat from frying

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly toss beet wedges in oil and arrange on parchment lined baking sheet.  Roast for 20 minutes, flip with spatula, and roast 20 minutes more or so until a fork pierces with gentle pressure. Remove from oven and place in any pot or pan that will fit them, with enough room to stir gently, and place over medium heat.  Add the 1 TBSP honey, 2 TBSP extra light tasting oil, 3 TBSP Balsamic, and thyme.  Stir to coat.  Give them a swirl every few minutes until the liquid is absorbed almost entirely and the beets are very dark purple.

As beets are on stove top, place diced bacon in a stainless or cast iron skillet and cook over medium-high heat, shifting frequently, until crispy on all sides (it will release its own fat for frying, plus some). Don’t forget to stir the beets! While those little meat croutons are cooking, gently roast pecan pieces in a dry pan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until beginning to brown slightly. Arrrghhh–stir the beets! Remove salty, smoky little meat bits from pan with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Try not to eat too many.  Remove nuts and set aside.

For the vinaigrette, place the vinegar, oil, jowl fat from frying, and onion in a flat-bottomed container that will accommodate the head of an immersion blender (a pint-sized Mason jar works well). After the ingredients settle, pulse blender about 6 or so times. Then, while intermittently pulsing, move the blender head upward, slowly incorporating more oil to the emulsion. And voila! you have a sweet-tangy rosé vinaigrette. Simple and tasty.

Arrange a couple of handfuls of lettuce on each plate. You’re making 4 salads, so each plate gets a fourth of all the items.  Spoon the beets over the salad and sprinkle with diced onion and pecan pieces.  Dot with pieces of goat cheese. Resist licking your fingers and eating more meat croutons.  Toss some of the fried hog jowl bacon on top.  Finish with a drizzle of the vinaigrette.

If you like beets you’ll love this–lightly sweet, tangy, smoky, salty, and earthy.  If you don’t like beets, it just might convert you!