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25 Jan 2010 - 16:25
15 Jan 2010 - 18:53

market herb watercress salad

Thursday, 03 Sep 2009 | recipe inside

Fresh herbs are so beautiful and plentiful in the summer, I am anxious to use them at every opportunity.  You’ve likely noticed in the few recipes I’ve posted that I liberally through in bunches of herbs in almost everything to give flavor without adding too many unhealthy fats—the other, more gluttonous flavor enhancer.  Usually however, the herbs are a sideshow to the main dish, used to complement and enhance flavor combinations. In a few dishes however, the herb is the dish. Think tabbouleh, and now, this refreshing market herb salad.  The headliners of this show are parsley, cilantro, and mint, with a supporting cast of tangy quickly pickled red onions, earthy raw watercress, and some creamy chickpeas (a.k.a garbanzo beans) and deliciously moist, salty feta for protein balance. 

Herbs aren’t famous for the nutritional profile, though cilantro, parsley, and mint are powerful antioxidants containing many vitamins and minerals.  They, along with the watercress and chickpeas, are good sources of iron, folate, and fiber. Watercress and parsley are also great sources of vitamins A & C.

I found some beautiful pre-cleaned calamari at the market, so I chopped them up, lightly dusted the rings in whole wheat flour and sea salt, and fried at high heat for a few seconds.  Now, I don’t like frying – it can get messy, it’s not very good for you, and disposing of the used oil is a pain. So just a quick drive-by frying here, the little guys were patted down pretty thoroughly afterwards and the result was not at all greasy, just some calamari rings and teeny tentacles with a little crunch.  I am firmly in the tentacle loving camp; I have an admittedly strange fascination with biting off each little tentacle and relishing its varied texture.  I recognize that many of you are intensely grossed out by the curly bits however, and as they are not integral to this summer salad, just leave them out but please don’t pass altogether. 

watermelon, feta, pumpkin seed salad

Tuesday, 11 Aug 2009 | recipe inside

This past Saturday I was back at the greenmarket and came across some very cute and small watermelons.  One of the guys working the stand came up and asked if I knew how to choose a good one. Of course, I said, one that feels heavy for its size. No, he said, hold the watermelon by the stem (yes, these were tiny enough that you could dangle one between two fingers) and flick it. You are looking for a deep THUUD.  THUUD.  THUU-UUD.The sound definitely doesn't correlate to the watery lightness of the fruit, but he was right, when I got home I cut open a gloriously juicy surprise.  Surprise? Indeed, this watermelon was baby pink in color-- I'd never seen that before.  At first I feared I'd gotten a dud with the thuud, but no, this little surprise had a sweet delicate flavor to match its delicate tone.  

Though I was tempted to just cool the watermelon chunks and eat them as nature intended, I really wanted a nice salad for brunch and figured we could make some kind of anti-oxidant power salad.  Watermelons are super rich in antioxidants, primarily Vitamin C, and are also a good source of Vitamins A & B.  ABC, 1-2-3-, baby, you and me!  I decided to pair it up with some salty feta from a great Lebanese store in Brooklyn, omega-3 and mineral rich dark green pumpkin seeds and lots of mint.  It was delicious and incredibly refreshing on a summer day so hot that simply walking to the corner sapped me of all energy.