Posts Tagged ‘mint’

Spring Herb Salad with Fava Beans

Borage Flowers

Asparagus and Fava Beans

Those of you who know me know that I have a weakness for fava beans. So much so that I recently told a local chef that “fava beans make me weak in the knees”. Not sure how he took that comment (I think we’re still friends), but it’s the truth. My adoration of fava beans began in my childhood, thanks to my dad, and has only gotten stronger and more pronounced as I’ve gotten older. Some people go crazy for ice cream, I go crazy for fava beans.

When I wandered into Pastaworks yesterday afternoon, I had barely an inkling of what I wanted to make for you. I had spring and fresh herbs on my mind and thought it would stop there. What I walked out with, was an armful of young asparagus, arugula, fava beans, sorrel (tastes like a young lemony lettuce) and fresh mint. Oh, and let’s not forget the borage flowers! How could I possibly walk away from borage flowers? I’ve only ever seen them growing wild during wildflower season in Texas and I always thought about  harvesting them for their natural and medicinal oils, but never did. It’s moments like those that I thank goodness my path brought to the Pacific Northwest where we have farmers like Viridian Farms growing and harvesting such an abundance of wonderful and unique produce. I feel spoiled living here, and I’m OK with that.


Spring Herb Salad with Fava Beans, Young Asparagus and Fresh Mint

This dish hardly needs a recipe. Find whatever fresh, local
herbs turn you on and toss! I listed the borage flowers as optional,
but they are definitely worth hunting down. Their taste is fresh with a hint of earthiness from their natural oils. 


One bunch baby arugula, stems removed if tough
One bunch fresh sorrel, torn into bite sized pieces
A handful of young asparagus
A pound or so young fava beans, hulled
Fresh mint
Borage flowers, optional
Olive Oil
Coarse Sea Salt
Fennel Pollen, optional


Prepare a bowl of ice water and set aside.

Break the asparagus in half and place in boiling water for about three minutes.

Using tongs, remove asparagus from water and place in ice water bath.

Place fava beans in boiling water for about two minutes, just until their skins start to burst.

Remove favas from boiling water and place in ice water bath.

Drain the asparagus and fava beans.

Remove skins from fava beans, if you like. When they’re young I eat them skin and all.

Toss all of the ingredients in a bowl with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and a dusting of fennel pollen.


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© Dina Avila

It’s New Year’s Eve and I thought it only appropriate to share a cocktail with you. A riff on Heidi Swanson’s Blood Orange Gin Sparkler over on 101 Cookbooks. Unfortunately, Adam and I are out the door, off to see the Wizard (no, really) and I don’t have time to type up the recipe for you.

In lieu of a recipe I offer you all the best for 2012. May your year be blessed with good tidings, love that has no bounds, wealth in all things beautiful, star-filled skies, soft ocean breezes and lots of delicious food!

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Sigh, Italian artichokes. They make me swoon. Gloriously beautiful with gradient purple and deep greens. I could easily gaze at them all day. Last week I was honored to photograph Chef David Anderson of Genoa and Accanto as he gathered produce at the farmer’s market for his seasonal menus. Among the beans, the melons, the peppers and the peaches, David picked up a crate of Italian artichokes. I seriously could not tear my eyes away from them. The moment our shoot was over, I beelined it back to the artichoke stand and picked this beauty up.

These guys are meaty and rich. Hearty enough to hold its own to any sauce, they offer a summer grassiness that, I found, pairs perfectly with lemon and lots of it.

Freshly steamed Italian artichoke leaves dipped in a super lemony garlic aioli is enough goodness to make anyone swoon.


Steamed Artichokes with Super Lemony Mint Aioli

Steamed artichokes are simple to prepare. If the points of the leaves are spiky, then give them a quick trim with your kitchen sheers.

What you’ll need:

1 or more artichokes

For the aioli:

3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled

1 large handful of fresh mint

Zest and juice from one lemon

1 egg

salt and pepper

3/4 cup olive oil

For the artichoke:

Place enough water in a bottom of pot to just barely graze the bottom of your steamer basket.

Place artichoke in basket and bring water to a gentle boil.

Allow the artichoke to steam, with the lid on, for 45 minutes to an hour depending on the size of your artichoke.

You’ll know it’s ready when you gently tug at a leaf and it comes right off.

For the aioli:

Place all ingredients except for the olive oil in your food processor and blend until well combined.

When the ingredients are all blended, and with the machine running, slowly pour in olive oil in a steady stream until the sauce emulsifies.

Pluck artichoke leaves from artichoke and dip generously in aioli. Yum!

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I love photographing noodles. There is something so beautiful in their monochromatic straight lines when they’re uncooked.  Gentle and unassuming. Toss them in a pot of boiling water and them become wild and unruly, curling towards the heavens bursting to be tossed in the perfect sauce. Only then, is their true nature revealed. A nutty, starchy carrier inflated with the intricacies of olive oil, tomatoes, coarse sea salt.

I wanted to cook something simple for this weeks post and my weekly inbox newsletter from Food and Wine was the source of inspiration: Spaghetti with Lamb and Mint. Lamb and mint are two words that will unquestionably get my attention. Individually, each will kick in salivation and a grumbling stomach. Bring the two together and everything stops. Mint’s bright, refreshing tanginess is the perfect balance to lamb’s gamey earthiness. Both warming and invigorating. I don’t know who figured out how amazingly wonderful lamb and mint are together, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find wild mint growing in places where lambs roam…


Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Lamb and Mint

Adapted from Food and Wine

What you’ll need~

Olive oil

1 shallot, thinly sliced

2-3 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped

2 leeks, washed and sliced, white and tender green parts

1 pound ground lamb

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 can chopped tomatoes, drained

1-2 tablespoons tomato paste

1-2 teaspoons sea salt

1 lb whole-wheat spaghetti

Black pepper, freshly ground

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

Handful of Moroccan Beldi olives

In a large pan warm olive oil of medium heat.

Toss in shallots and leeks stirring until softened.

Add garlic and lamb, cooking until the lamb is no longer pink.

Stir in cumin, tomatoes, tomato paste, and salt.

Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Add the spaghetti and cook until just barely done, about 15 minutes.

Working in batches, use your tongs to pull cooked spaghetti from the pot and drop in the pan with the simmering sauce.

Toss it all together, add your mint, olives and pepper and serve steaming hot.

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I probably shouldn’t be the one writing a New Year’s Eve post. Mostly because we’re not really doing anything this year to celebrate. Last year’s imbibing lead to a New Year’s Day hangover strong enough to peel the paint of walls and a nasty vein pulsing migraine. Then and there I told myself that I would not do the same thing to ring in 2011.

Also, Adam and Champagne don’t mix. Granted there was much wine and little food (on his part) before the Cava was opened on the eve of 2010, but, again, Adam and Champagne don’t mix. Part of me wishes I could remember what on earth he was saying that night. The other part of me is very glad I can’t. What I do remember was thinking, “Who are you?” as he babbled (possibly) philosophical nonsense to, fortunately, a drunken table of friends.  As I understand it, I should really start worrying when he incoherently starts rambling in German, which he barely speaks.

If that’s not enough, another one of my reasons to forgo the party festivities, is that I’ve just entered my 39th year on this glorious planet of ours, partying like a rock star on New Year’s eve is just not my bag anymore, man. Granted, one can easily partake of New Year’s celebration without said imbibing, but well, and we can all agree, it is very easy to fall into the swing of things, and before you know it, you’ve had nearly an entire bottle of wine to yourself. Before Champagne.

So this year, in lieu of braving Portland’s streets and winter weather, Adam and I will be in our jammies watching a post-apocalyptic movie starring the gorgeous Viggo Mortensen and sipping wine. In bed.

In light of my reader’s upcoming celebrations, I thought I’d share a little hors d’oeuvres treat that will win you friends and appease your enemies.


Eggplant and Walnut Crostini

Amanda Hesser’s, The Essential New York Times Cookbook, provided the inspiration for this recipe. I didn’t change too terribly much, as the recipe is perfect as is. I traded walnuts for pine nuts and omitted the basil for an extra pinch or two of mint.

By the way, if you haven’t picked up Amanda’s book, you are missing out. I absolutely love this cookbook. Not only is it an eclectic mix of NY Times recipes spanning 150 years, her tidbits and stories make it a highly entertaining and amusing read.  Lately, when I am at home, this book rarely leaves my side.

What you’ll need~

1 medium eggplant, about 1 pound, trimmed, peeled and sliced to about 1/2 inch thickness

Olive oil

1/3 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled

Sea Salt

Juice of one lemon

Black pepper

Handful of freshly chopped mint

Handful of freshly chopped Italian parsley

Toasted baguette slices or crackers of your choice

Preheat your broiler. Brush olive oil on each side of the sliced eggplant and place on baking sheet. Make sure your  rack is about 6 inches from the heat source. Broil for about four minutes, until golden. Turn slices and broil side for four minutes.

Remove from broiler and stack eggplant. Hesser’s trick for allowing the steam to finish cooking the eggplant.

Place walnuts, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt in your food processor and pulse until mixture is smooth.  Coarsely chop your eggplant and add to walnut mixture. Blend. Stir in lemon juice and herbs. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Serve on crackers or toasted baguette slices and garnish with a mint leaf. Pair with, yes, Champagne.

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Summer means two things in our house-seafood and berries. Ok, maybe three things-seafood, berries and beer (we live in Portland after all). I had something else in mind for this weeks post, but Adam had swordfish on his mind and I thought why not bring the two together? Hence, this weeks dish – Swordfish with Blackberry Mint Chutney.

I know there are many reasons you might be wary about eating swordfish. I won’t list them here, but I will tell you why you want to eat this particular swordfish. We purchased our swordfish from Whole Foods Market who are huge supporters of MSC certified fish. MSC is the Marine Stewardship Council who, through strict standards and a rigorous certification programs create responsible and sustainable fishing. If that doesn’t do it for you then maybe this will-these swordfish are harpoon caught. How cool is that? These cats go out on the Nova Scotia waters with hand thrown harpoons (seriously, click on that link). They specifically target mature swordfish-one by one. Using harpoons means no nets. No nets mean no trawling and catching various species of fish or damaging marine habitat. Supporting these folks means supporting, not only a way of life, but a sustainable way to fish. Don’t we do enough damage?

Ok, I’ll step off of my soapbox now.

Because of the way this swordfish is caught, it calls for a very short season. If you’re thinking about trying this recipe I suggest you hit your local Whole Foods soon.

The blackberries I picked up were amazingly sweet and tart. Some of the riper berries tasted just like blueberries to me. We have the little family run Liepold Farms in Boring, Oregon to thank for these wonderful blackberries.
The mint in this recipe comes from my very own garden….at the end of our kitchen table in our apartment, two flights up. Oh how I dream of having a garden again. Some day….

MSC certified Swordfish with Blackberry Mint Chutney

(New feature on my blog. If you click on the recipe title you will be taken to a printable google page)

Disclaimer: There are about a million chutney recipes out there and none that I came across really jived with me. So I pretty much made this up as I went along. I apologize for the vague directions.

Blackberry Mint Chutney

About a pint of fresh blackberries, halved

Half a shallot, minced

Three or four dried apricots, coarsely chopped

About a tablespoon of minced fresh ginger

Olive oil to coat your pan

About a tablespoon or two of raw honey

A pinch or two of fennel seeds

Zest of a smallish lemon

Juice of half a lemon

Couple of generous pinches of kosher salt

Few splashes of apple cider vinegar

About 1/4 cup or less of water

A couple of generous pinches of ground sumac berries (optional as it can be difficult to find)

One seeded and minced serrano pepper (you could use red pepper flakes too)

Smallish handful of gently torn fresh mint

Warm olive oil in a saucepan-nothing too large.

Sauté shallots, ginger, fennel, apricots, lemon zest and pepper. After a few minutes add honey, water and apple cider vinegar. After everything starts simmering again add berries, kosher salt, lemon juice and sumac.

Cover and let simmer for about an hour. Stirring often. If you notice the sauce reducing quickly, lower heat, or simmer for less time. You want it to be juicy without being watery.

After the hour, gently tear mint leaves and stir into chutney. Let sit on very low heat for a few minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool

While the chutney is cooling warm olive oil in a skillet

Season swordfish with lemon juice, sea salt and black pepper

Place swordfish in skillet and sear for about 30 seconds on each side

Place seared swordfish on your favorite plate and spoon chutney over fish. Serve with fresh summer greens.

Leftover chutney can be stored in a tightly sealed glass jar in the fridge for a couple of weeks.


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