Honeydew Cucumber Salad with Pumpkin Seeds, Feta, and Mint

This recipe came about by standing in front of my open fridge and wondering what I should bring to a lunch gathering. It was very hot outside and I was short on time, so I was envisioning a dish that was simple, quick, tasty, healthy, thirst quenching, and party worthy. I had been working on gazpacho recipes and when my eyes landed on the leftover honeydew melon, cucumbers, and mint an idea started to form. I already knew those ingredients tasted good together and that savory watermelon salads were popular, so I re-purposed the melon gazpacho ingredients, used the pumpkin seeds for crunch, and crumbled in some feta cheese for a refreshing salad that’s high in water, fiber, potassium, and Vitamin C.

½ honeydew melon, cubed

1 large cucumber with skin, organic and un-waxed if possible [see note below]

½ cup thinly sliced red onion

¼ cup roughly chopped mint, basil, parsley or cilantro

2-3 Tablespoons lime juice

1- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon sea salt

2 Tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds

2 Tablespoons crumbled feta cheese, optional

Prepare melon, cucumber, onion, and mint as described and place them in a large bowl. When ready to serve, drizzle salad with lime juice, olive oil, and salt. Toss to coat and top with pumpkin seeds and optional feta cheese.

Catherine McConkie 2017, all rights reserved

Chef C’s cooking tips:

  • This is one of those “make it how you like it” or “what you have on hand” salads. Mild mannered melon and cucumber go well with many other vegetables!
    • Orange or red cherry tomatoes
    • Celery
    • Green apple
  • For a Latin twist, substitute cilantro for the mint and add cubed Jicama and 1 large jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • Season, age at harvest, growing and storage conditions all impact sweetness, “juicy” factor and taste of fresh produce. Have confidence adjusting the the ratio of honeydew to cucumber to your liking and tinkering with the amounts of lime juice, olive oil, and fresh herbs needed in order to make your taste buds come alive.
  • Cucumber with it’s skin will add extra nutrients and fiber to any dish but they are consistently on EWG’s dirty dozen list for high pesticide residue. Lightly peel the cuke if organic and/or un-waxed product isn’t available

 

Broccoli with Edamame and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Recent conversation came up around Eating the Rainbow so I thought it would be fun to develop a series of recipes based on color. This one represents one of my interpretations of green; a yummy one pan, veg-centric, dish that comes together in under 15 minutes.

2 Tablespoons pumpkin seeds, toasted

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Tablespoon minced garlic [about 3 large cloves]

¼ teaspoon red chili flakes

8 ounces, about 1½ cups, frozen edamame beans, thawed

1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs blend

1 pound broccoli

½ teaspoon sea salt

4 Tablespoons water

2 scallions, sliced

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Place pumpkin seeds in a large skillet set over medium low heat. Toast, shaking the pan often, for about a minute, until seeds are puffy and lightly browned. Be careful to not let them burn. Remove seeds to a plate and set aside.

Increase heat to medium and add oil to the skillet. When the oil shimmers, add the garlic and red chili flakes, cooking and stirring until fragrant, 30-40 seconds.

Add the edamame beans, a pinch of salt, and dried Italian herbs, stirring to coat the beans. Saute for 1-2 minutes then add the broccoli and salt.

Cook, stirring often, until broccoli turns bright green and becomes just tender crisp, about 6 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of water at a time to the pan if it becomes dry before broccoli is done. [Note: The steam created also assists the cooking process]

Remove from heat and stir in scallions. Add the lemon juice, stirring to combine and top with toasted pumpkin seeds.

Catherine McConkie 2016, all rights reserved

Chef C’s Cooking tips:

  • Take color green to the extreme by combining leftovers with baby spinach or arugula and diced avocado for a fantastic lunchtime salad.
  • Substitute kale for broccoli
  • If you prefer fresh herbs, substitute 1 Tablespoon fresh for the dried and add when you add the scallions. Basil, parsley, thyme, a bit of oregano would all work.

Veggie and Cauliflower Fried “Rice”

Classic fried rice gets a refined carb makeover by swapping white rice for finely chopped cauliflower. Almost any seasonal vegetable add-in will do…simply toss in whichever veggies are on hand and in minutes you’ll have a colorful and nutritious, filling, one pan dish that’s perfect for any time of day…breakfast, lunch or dinner.

1 head cauliflower, about 2 pounds

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

2 Tablespoons minced ginger

3 cloves garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon red chili pepper flakes, optional

1 generous pinch sea salt

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 small red onion, sliced

3 stalks celery, sliced

2 cups broccoli florets, snap peas, or snow peas

1 red pepper, sliced

2 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon rice vinegar or fresh lime juice

4 scallions, thinly sliced

Using a knife or food processor, chop cauliflower into very fine pieces, about the size of a lentil, and set aside.

Heat a wide skillet over medium heat and add 2T of oil. When oil shimmers, add the ginger, garlic and optional red chili flakes. Sauté for about 30 seconds, until fragrant, then add cauliflower and a generous pinch of salt, stirring until well coated. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until cauliflower is tender, about 8 minutes. If pan becomes dry before cauliflower is cooked, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time and continue cooking. When just tender spoon cauliflower into a bowl and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium low and pour eggs into the skillet. Let them sit undisturbed for 30-40 seconds until they begin to set, then finish scrambling until they are cooked through. Remove eggs to the bowl with the cauliflower.

Return skillet to medium heat and add remaining tablespoon of oil. Add onions, celery, broccoli, red pepper and soy sauce. Sauté for 3-4 minutes until the vegetables are just tender, but still crunchy. Add the cauliflower and eggs back to the pan and mix everything together. Season with rice vinegar or fresh lime juice and top with scallions. 

Catherine McConkie 2015, all rights reserved    

Chef C’s Cooking Tips:

  • For an even heartier version try adding ground turkey. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil and cook the meat with the ginger, garlic, and chili flakes. Remove to a bowl and proceed
  • Another possibility is to omit the scrambled egg step and, when ready to eat, top the fried “rice” with a poached egg
  • Many veggies can be chopped in advance and stored in containers in the fridge.
  • Not enough time to chop? Simply toss in a bag of prepared stir fry vegetables

 

 

 

 

 

                        

 

Avocado Toast with Egg

A favorite breakfast or snack of mine is avocado on whole grain toast. Much of the time it gets topped with scrambled egg to which I’ve added shredded cabbage, scallion and a drizzle of sriracha. But diced pepper, zucchini, kale, almost any veggie and/or fresh herb works. Best thing is it takes less than 5 minutes to make. This picture is one of my uber fast home versions with egg and baby spinach. 

And… life happens. When I find myself in a bigger than ever, gotta get out the door NOW kind of hurry I just make the toast and schmear on the avocado, wrap that up, grab a handful of baby spinach or arugula, my portable sea salt and black pepper container thingie and a hard boiled egg. Later on the greens go down and the egg is sliced on top.

Either way it’s made avocado toast with egg is a delicious, sustaining, and nutritious treat!

Curried Tofu Scramble

Budget friendly and protein packed, tofu is another one of those template foods; a blank slate just waiting for your flavor instructions. This vegetarian dish uses curry to provide an anti-inflammatory hit in addition to deep, rich taste. Better yet, any variety of veggies can be used. The result? A super quick breakfast, lunch, or dinner that satisfies, energizes, and holds well.

Curried Tofu Scramble

Serves 4

12 ounces firm tofu, drained, pressed, and crumbled

1 ½ Tbs. mild curry powder

1 medium red potato, diced small

1 cup broccoli florets, cut small

¼ cup water or vegetable stock

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

Black pepper to taste

1 Tbs. tamari soy sauce, more to taste

1 medium carrot, shredded

2 scallions, thinly sliced

Crumble the tofu into a bowl and sprinkle with the curry. Stir gently to combine.

Bring a small pot with steamer insert to a boil. Add potatoes, cover and cook for 6-8 minutes until just tender. Add broccoli florets to the pot and continue to cook until tender crisp, another 3 minutes. Remove the steamer from pot and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil. When the oil shimmers add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook the onion until soft and slightly golden, 5-6 minutes, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant, another minute or so.

Add the tofu and steamed vegetables to the onions. Season with tamari to taste and some black pepper. Mix gently but well, and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring as necessary, so tofu can absorb flavors. Remove from heat and gently mix in shredded carrot and scallions.

Catherine McConkie 2016, all rights reserved

Chef C’s Cooking Tips:

  • This is a dish with endless possibilities!
    • red peppers, celery, zucchini, green beans, or shredded cabbage could get added to the sauté step with the onions
    • nutrition effects can be bumped up even further by adding some fresh minced ginger and or jalapeno in with the garlic
    • swap diced sweet potatoes and cauliflower for the red potato and broccoli
    • chard, baby spinach, or chopped kale could easily go in at the end

 

Mustard Greens – the eccentric relative

Like a lovable yet eccentric Auntie you never know what you’re going to get with mustard greens. Sweet and spicy, potentially edgy and bitter, mustard greens can be unpredictable when it comes to flavor. As a result, many people approach the temperament of mustard greens with caution…or skip them over altogether . A member of the cruciferous family, these nutritional powerhouses can bring delight to the table and taste buds once you have insight as to how to work with them.

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