Weekly Winner: Reworking the Waldorf

farro waldorfI gotta admit, I do love a retro salad.  Crab Louie, Ham Salad, and perhaps my all-time favorite in this classic category: The Waldorf.  Apples, grapes, walnuts, raisins, celery (not a fan but it’s got to be there!) all combined in a tangy mayonnaise-based dressing.  Seriously, what’s not to love??  Well, for starters the calories.  Yes, you’re getting all sorts of healthy things in there but usually the dressing is so thick that it overwhelms everything and wilts the bed of salad greens the whole thing is served on.

What about lightening up the dressing, and rather than putting it on lettuce, build some whole-grain goodness into the mix as well?  Now, we’re talking!  That’s exactly what attracted me to Food Network Magazine‘s Farro Waldorf Salad.  I took the revamp a step further and swapped out the sour cream for plain yogurt in the dressing.  I also found that I only needed about 1/2 the amount of dressing called for.  Don’t use it all at first — start with half and work from there.

This should be the new standard for Waldorf Salad….and it definitely will be the only version served around here!

Farro Waldorf Salad

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

1 cup farro

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk

3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 scallion, sliced

3 Tbsp chopped fresh dill

2 apples, chopped

1 cup halved seedless grapes

3 stalks celery, sliced, plus 1 cup chopped celery leaves

1 cup chopped toasted walnuts

1/4 cup golden raisins

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup chopped fresh parsley

Procedure:

  • Cook the farro as the label directs, then spread on a baking sheet and let cool.
  • Make the dressing: Whisk the mayonnaise, yogurt, buttermilk, vinegar, scallion and dill in a large bowl
  • Add the apples ,grapes, celery ,walnuts, raisins and farro to the bowl with the dressing; toss.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in the parsley and celery leaves

Weekly Winner: A Better Take on Zoodles

pastaI love pasta.  I don’t hate zucchini.  I don’t particularly love zucchini either, it’s more like I simply don’t have an opinion one way or another about zucchini.  I’ll eat it, and because it’s a vegetable and healthy, I’m trying to eat more of it.  But that’s where I draw the line.  Do not go messing with my pasta and try to get me to substitute real pasta for zucchini noodles (aka zoodles)! I found a much better alternative — add the zucchini to the actual, delicious pasta.  In doing so, you can surprisingly improve both!

Case in point: Linguine with Chickpeas and Zucchini from Cooks Country Magazine. Now I’ll admit, when I saw this recipe I thought “Hey, here’s a healthy pasta recipe for the New Year that won’t be too bad.”  Wrong, it was amazing!!  I mean, like, seriously delicious.  It is so easy, and comes together so quickly but seems so much more complex than the few simple ingredients would suggest.  So if you’re trying to “lighten up” your pasta without replacing your pasta (cause that would be really sad in my book), try this.  It is a definite winner.

Linguine with Chickpeas and Zucchini

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 pound linguine

Salt & Pepper

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving

4 garlic cloves, sliced thin

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

2 zucchini, shredded and patted dry

1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed

2 oz Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (about 1 cup)

3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 Tbsp lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving

Procedure:

  1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in a Dutch oven or large pot.  Add pasta and 1 Tbsp salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente.  Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain pasta.
  2. Heat oil, garlic, pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper in now-empty pot over medium heat until garlic is lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes.  Add zucchini and chickpeas and cook until zucchini is wilted and most of its excess moisture has cooked off, about 6 minutes.  Using potato masher, lightly mash chickpeas.
  3. Off heat, stir in 1/2 cup Pecorino, parsley, lemon juice, pasta and reserved cooking water.  Serve, passing lemon wedges, extra oil and remaining 1/2 cup Pecorino separately.

Weekly Winner: Crushin’ on Crusted Cauliflower (in it’s entirety)

cauliflowerI realize there are a few people out there that dislike cauliflower.  Personally, I don’t get it.  I adore the stuff.  Anyway you make it I’m OK with it, with the exception of boiled.  Honestly, I don’t think you should boil any vegetable.  Boiled vegetables should be banned.  I’ve also always been intrigued with cooking a whole head of cauliflower.  I’ve done the cauliflower “steaks”, I’ve pureed, I’ve riced, I’ve smashed and I’ve cut into florets…. but whole?  Now there’s a show-stopper!  Cooking a whole cauliflower is not without its difficulties, however (or so I thought!)  Getting the entire thing cooked properly is complicated (or is it?)  I’ve ordered it out at restaurants on occasion and it seems the core and stalks are never quite as done as the florets.  This is no longer a concern of mine.  I have found the perfect, whole cauliflower recipe and man, is it good!

Everything Bagel Cauliflower with Herbed Cream Cheese comes from Cuisine at Home.  First of all, what’s the deal with the “everything bagel seasoning” lately??  It’s everywhere and on everything!  I guess it is this year’s “Za’atar” seasoning.  But anyway, I digress… here is the recipe.  Oh wait!  One more thing…. this recipe says it serves 12.  Twelve???  My husband and I devoured the entire head of cauliflower with a filet of salmon each.  I’m not proud…I’m just sayin’.

Everything Bagel Cauliflower with Herbed Cream Cheese

Serves 2, 4… or 12… whatever!

Ingredients:

Spice blend:

2 Tbsp each dried minced garlic and dried onion flakes

1 Tbsp each poppy seeds and toasted sesame seeds

1 tsp kosher salt

Cauliflower:

1/2 cup plain, full-fat Greek yogurt

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp minced fresh garlic

black pepper to taste

1 large head cauliflower

For the sauce:

4 oz plain cream cheese, softened

2 oz goat cheese, softened

3 Tbsp buttermilk

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp minced fresh garlic

1 Tbsp each minced fresh parsley and chives

1 tsp minced fresh dill

salt and pepper to taste

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.  Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Stir together all ingredients for the spice blend.
  3. Whisk together 2 Tbsp of the spice blend with the yogurt and olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic in a large bowl; season with pepper.
  4. Add the cauliflower to yogurt mixture and oat completely.  Transfer cauliflower to prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp of the spice blend.
  5. Roast cauliflower until golden brown and fork-tender, about 1 hour.  Let cauliflower rest 10 minutes then transfer to a serving platter.
  6. For the sauce, puree cream cheese, goat cheese, lemon juice, and fresh garlic in a mini food processor.  Add parsley, chives, and dill and pulse until combined; season with salt and pepper.
  7. Serve cauliflower with sauce