Sunday, May 6, 2012

Keeping it Simple

  Having made some pretty complex recipes in my time on this earth, I still maintain that the best tasting food is the simplest.  Whether it's combining ingredients you have on hand to create something, or grabbing what looks freshest at your local farmers' market, you can almost always make special and nourishing meals.
  With a frost date that goes well into the month of May, Colorado is rather limited in terms of a growing season.  Growing up in the lush heartland of the Midwest, at this time of year I've been conditioned to expect fresh, local produce.  Which has been a little hard to find.  Things come to us here a little later, and after they arrive they don't stick around for very long.  Despite all of that, it's hard not to enjoy these beautiful surroundings and in turn be inspired to cook delicious food!
Beautiful Mt. Princeton
Here are some of the deliciously simple foods we have been enjoying recently:

Collard Chips
  You've probably heard of or had kale chips before, but this is a nice change from the usual.  Don't get me wrong, I love kale, but collards still pack a punch with lots of Vitamin C and soluble fiber.  Tear into pieces, drizzle with oil and a sprinkle of salt, then 15 minutes in a 300 degree oven and you have a simple, healthy snack that will keep you coming back for more.
Coriander-Chile Pinto Bean Dip
  Looking for something to do with a can of pinto beans collecting dust in the pantry, I happened upon this recipe.  This dip is filling and has a nice kick to it from the cayenne pepper.  Red wine vinegar adds an interesting tang.  Great with crackers or cut vegetables, you might want to double the recipe.  It goes fast!
Frozen grapes and kiwi
  This is one of the simplest (and one of my very favorite) things to eat.  Frozen fruit was a staple back in college, and I still enjoy it today.  It feels much more sophisticated than it really is, all with the basic principle of freezing the fruit.  Cut any fruit into small pieces, leave grapes whole, place fruit on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for about an hour.  Eat!  Blueberries are fabulous, as are peaches, strawberries...You get the idea!
Radishes with Olive Oil
  Here we have The Radish.  I have been rather dismissive of the radish in the past, but I am starting to form a better relationship with this peppery root vegetable.  Radishes are a healthy source of carbohydrates, not to mention Vitamin B6, riboflavin, magnesium, copper, and calcium.  They don't need much.  Try this simple recipe with chives, olive oil, salt, lemon zest and juice.  Tarragon, thyme, or mint would also be good.  Leftover radishes taste great on a baguette with butter and salt, as well!
Avocado Rolls
  Avocado might be one of the world's most perfect foods.  Creamy, rich, and full of good cholesterol and oils.  I love these fresh rolls.  The carrot, mint, avocado, and watercress taste wonderful wrapped in the crisp cabbage leaf.  Next time I'll try lettuce, since it's a little less dense and it is easier to keep in one piece when removing from the head.
Mediterranean Pasta Salad
This Mediterranean Pasta Salad is as versatile as it is delicious!  With raw fennel, tomatoes, basil, onion, olives, capers, and some other flavorful ingredients, you can be eating on this for a week.

  Try a little bit of the pasta salad over arugula with some sliced Italian sausage.  I used Field Roast Grain Meat Italian Sausage. 

  Another delicious and substantial combination was pasta salad topped with tonno Italiano (Italian tuna).  You could use regular canned tuna, but Italian tuna is better all-around if the tuna you're buying has to come in a can.  I usually buy Genovo tuna which is yellowfin tuna, packed in olive oil in large chunks that look fresher than any tuna you've probably seen before in a can.  It actually looks like something you'd want to eat.  And though we should limit our intake of all fish to avoid overfishing, this is one you can look forward to eating for its convenience and flavor.  

Grilled cheese and tomato soup
  And of course, the Old Standby, Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup.  Talk about simple, you probably have most of these things in your kitchen already.  Whatever bread you have and any kind of cheese that melts will do, and for greater ease you can use canned soup.  I like Amy's Organic Soups.  This tomato bisque is from their Light in Sodium line, which features soups with almost half of the sodium as their regular soups.
  Drumroll please...
Banana 'Ice Cream'
  This is the slam-dunk recipe I have recently added to my repertoire.  When you make it and then eat it, you'll be amazed and then a little disappointed that you didn't think of this before.  Really, it's that easy.  So simple and so good, that upon feeding it to my first victim, ahem, diner he asked, "Really, that's all that's in here?  Just banana?"  Yep.  Just banana.  Peel and roughly chop a ripe banana.  Freeze.  Blend frozen banana in food processor until creamy.  Top with chopped nuts.  Eat.  This might work with other fruits, but I'm still too addicted to this to branch out! 

  Have fun with these recipes!  And as always, I leave you with flowers.
Happy poppies I found on a dog walk