Tag Archives: potatoes

Recipe: Salade Nicoise with Salmon

1 Jul

Sometimes, you just get tired of lettuce and yearn for something a bit “more.” The deconstructed Salade Nicoise meets that need. It is one of my favorite salads for that reason, and because all parts of it can be prepared in advance. Plus, salad makers with an artistic flair can have a lot of fun deciding how to present the ingredients to maximum effect. To earn the name “nicoise,” a dish must contain a few specific items: olives, garlic, French green beans, tomatoes, and anchovies (or tuna in oil). Artichokes and hard-boiled eggs are also characteristic of a salade nicoise, but just as I was assembling this one in front of a hungry audience I realized I had forgotten to boil the eggs…. So, no eggs this time around. However, the beauty of this salad is that you can improvise and make it with whatever you have on hand. I had a craving for broiled salmon, so substituted that for the tuna, and added corn off the cob and chick peas, just because. Three hungry people polished off this platter–but with some crusty bread on the side, it could feed four less ravenous eaters. The recipe below is a free-form one–the quantities of all the ingredients (and the ingredients themselves) can be adjusted as desired.

Salade Nicoise 2
Salade Nicoise with Salmon

1 filet of salmon, about 1 lb.
olive oil
salt and pepper
fresh lemon juice

2-3 ears of corn, husked, with silky threads removed
a couple handfuls of thin, French-style green beans, rinsed
6-8 small red potatoes, rinsed and scrubbed but not peeled, and cut into quarters
3 eggs (which I forgot)

1-2 ripe tomatoes, diced
nice black olives, about 1/3 c. (I had Kalamata on hand, but Nicoise or other French olives would be more traditional)
cooked chickpeas, about 1/2 c.
8-10 canned/tinned artichoke hearts

your favorite garlicky vinaigrette

Preparation

1. Set oven to broil. Pat the salmon dry and place on a rimmed cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Rub the salmon with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle lightly with lemon juice, and broil a couple minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Remove from oven and let cool, then cut into chunks.
2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop the corn cobs and green beans into the pot, and cook 5-8 minutes or just until tender. Using a slotted spoon, remove the vegetables from the pot and place them in a colander set on a dinner plate. Take the colander to the sink, rinse the vegetables in cold water, and set them aside. Keep the water in the pot boiling.
3. Drop the quartered red potatoes into the boiling water and cook until tender; remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool. Finally, gently lower the eggs into the boiling water, turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let the eggs cook for 10-12 minutes. Remove the eggs and place them in cold water to cool, then peel and quarter them.
4. Take a cooked corn cob and stand it on its end on a stable cutting board. Carefully cut the corn off the cob in vertical strips with a sharp knife. If the green beans remain wet, pat them dry.
5. Assemble the salade nicoise by placing all the ingredients (including the tomatoes, olives, chickpeas, and artichokes) in an alternating pattern on a large platter. Drizzle lightly with the vinaigrette, and serve with additional vinaigrette on the side.

Recipe: Bolivian Peanut Soup with Chicken (Sopa de Mani)

3 Mar

Bolivian Peanut Soup is a one-bowl wonder, the ultimate comfort food–especially with fried potatoes and queso fresco (or the un-Latin American but perfectly substitutable feta cheese) sprinkled on top. Traditionally, the soup is made with beef bones, but I prefer to make it with small pieces of boneless chicken breast instead; chicken and peanuts have a natural affinity for each other, and chicken makes the soup a bit lighter. This can easily be made vegetarian or vegan, too, by omitting the chicken and making the soup with vegetable broth. The 1 tbsp. chili paste listed here adds a mild kick to the soup–if you like heat, add more.

Bolivian Peanut Soup with Chicken (Sopa de Mani)

1 c. roasted unsalted peanuts
3 tbsp. peanut or canola oil, divided in half
2 large boneless chicken breast halves (about 1.5 lb. total), cut into small bite-sized pieces (about 1/4 inch)
1 lg. white onion, diced
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. turmeric (or palillo)
1 tbsp. aji amarillo paste (yellow chili paste), available at international/Latin food markets
2 lg. potatoes, peeled and diced
6 c.  chicken broth
salt and pepper
chicken bouillon cube or powder (if needed)

Garnish
2 large potatoes, julienned, and fried in oil until golden
crumbled queso blanco (or feta)
chopped parsley or cilantro

Preparation
1. Grind the peanuts almost to a powder in a food processor (or pound them in a mortar and pestle in several batches); set aside.

Crushed peanuts

2. Heat 1.5 tbsp oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the chicken, and cook until no longer pink; remove the chicken from the pot along with any juices that may have accumulated, and keep warm.
3. Add the remaining oil to the pot, then cook the onion and carrots until the onion is soft, stirring occasionally.  Mix in the spices and aji amarillo (yellow chili) paste and cook 1-2 minutes.

One of the many brands of aji amarillo paste

4. Add the potatoes and peanuts to the pot, and stir well to coat.

Onions, carrots, potatoes, peanuts, and spices

5. Pour the broth over the vegetables, cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer about 20-30 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Blend the soup with an immersion blender (or in a standard blender, in batches, returning soup to pot after it is blended). Add chicken pieces and accumulated juices to the soup  and simmer another 15 minutes, adding a bit more broth if the soup appears thick. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and/or a chicken bouillon cube or bouillon powder if needed.


Soup, pre-garnish

6. Before serving the soup, fry potatoes until crisp; salt lightly.
7. Ladle soup into bowls, top with fried potatoes, then sprinkle with cheese and parsley (or cilantro). Serve immediately.

Recipe: Potato Leek Soup

2 Nov

When it is cold, wet, and blustery outside, my thoughts turn to soups and stews–hearty, satisfying dishes that lift any spirits. And when a delicious soup can be made with only four ingredients (ground pepper doesn’t count…), what’s not to love?

This recipe came about by accident. Most potato leek soup recipes call for cream. But I forgot to add it once, and have never added it since–and no one has ever missed it. As an added bonus, this accident made the soup vegan friendly, too, and I like having delicious vegan dishes that everyone loves in my repertoire.

After experimenting with various toppings, fried onions were the clear winner. The crispy texture not only balances the smooth soup, but also adds another layer of onion flavor. My favorite places to buy the fried onions are 1) by the bag at Indian grocery stores, or 2) in small round cartons in the grocery section at IKEA (Swedish fried onions are very nice!). I like both those versions much better than the ones at our chain grocery store, but have used those in a pinch, too.

Potato Leek Soup
12 servings

4-6 leeks, ends trimmed, white and palest green parts only (use 4 leeks if they are large with long white sections; 6 otherwise)
2-3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
5 lb. potatoes, peeled  and cut into chunks (Yukon Gold imparts a nice color)
10 c.  vegetable broth (or 10 c. water + sufficient vegetable bouillon cubes; Knorr brand is nice)
ground pepper

Preparation
1. Cut each leek in half lengthwise, then slice the halves into 1″-thick half circles. Put in a bowl of cold water and swish around to remove any dirt that may have gotten trapped between the layers. Drain and shake dry; I sometimes pat the leeks dry with paper towels (as much as possible without stressing over it).

2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large Dutch Oven (enameled cast iron pot, or any other heavy bottom pot), add the leeks and cook until soft, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the broth (or water and bouillon cubes) and the potatoes, and stir once or twice.

4. Simmer until potatoes are tender, then blend with an immersion blender (or carefully blend in a regular blender or food processor, in batches, then return to pot). If soup seems too thick, add more broth. Season liberally with freshly ground pepper, and serve with fried onions.


Note: When heating up leftover soup the next day, you may need to thin with a bit more broth, or even water. It is a soup that keeps on giving.