Red, White, and Blueberry Salad

Happy July, folks! Halfway through the year and super psyched for the last round of posts for National Ice Cream Month! Are you excited? I’m excited. Each Frozen Friday of July will feature a new flavor, and I hope at least one of them leaves you with a new project for the weekend. (I’ll be breaking from the norm and posting the ice cream recipes in the morning, in case you need to make a grocery stop on your way from from work.)

You might be wondering how salad fits in here. For my regularly scheduled Wednesday programming, I’ll be featuring a salad series to balance a decadent month of dessert. Lots of different flavor profiles to look forward to and there should be a little something for everyone.

Beet & Blueberry Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

First up is this red, white, and blueberry salad. This salad is served chilled which makes it easy peasy to make a couple of hours ahead (just pop the whole bowl in the fridge) and you’re all set. With no lettuce to wilt it’s great for potlucks and barbecues and a festive addition to your holiday parties that isn’t completely full of sugar.

Roasted beets are something I love immensely but rarely make because they’re a bit messy. I promise you the the pink hands and counters and bowls are all worth it here. Earthy and sweet, beets are wonderful chilled and warmed alike, which makes them extremely versatile across many dishes, including my favorite breakfast hash and sandwich at Jam. I nearly always order one or the other there, depending on if I want eggs or bread with my beets.

Beet & Blueberry Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Complementing the beets is some tart apple and fresh blueberry. I love apple in salads for the crunch, and using a green one here is a delightful juxtaposition from the sweetness of the beets and blueberries. A simple white balsamic vinegar adds a lovely tang without the heaviness of a proper vinaigrette and a little bit of mint brings a summery freshness to the whole ordeal. As it stands this recipe is vegan, but if you want to include the creamy factor, goat cheese is always the answer in my world. (For the anti-goat cheese crown, Feta or parmesan are great substitutes.)

Pop some beets in the oven this evening so they’re ready to go tomorrow, and you’ll be all set for a lovely holiday side dish in no time!

Beet & Blueberry Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

PS – If you are one of those people that can’t stand beets, I forgive you. Make it a fun fruit salad by substituting watermelon instead!

Red, White, and Blueberry Salad

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

3 large beets, roasted1, chilled, and spiralized or diced
1 medium green apple, cut into matchsticks
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup (Barrel Aged) white balsamic vinegar, to taste

4-6 oz goat cheese (or Feta or parmesan), crumbled or shaved
large handful fresh mint leaves, chiffonade cut

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, toss beets with 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar until well coated. Transfer to serving bowl(s).
  2. Rinse bowl (so it’s not pink) and toss apple and blueberries with 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar until well coated. Spread evenly over the beets.
  3. Crumble cheese and mint atop the salad and drizzle with remaining balsamic vinegar, or more to taste.
  4. Serve promptly or chill until ready to eat.

Notes

If you’ve never roasted beets before, this is the method I use!

Squash & Lemon Spiral Tart

Springtime means lemon in my brain, so when I saw this spiral tart from Bunsen Burner Bakery I knew I wanted to incorporate that flavor. A lemon hummus seemed the perfect accompaniment to a series of veggies and I set out to test this hypothesis.

Squash & Lemon Spiral Tart {{Baking Bytes}}

The bright flavor of lemon is complimented by a generous amount of garlic. I opted to use my hefty supply Olivelle products but you can use standard varieties if needed. The turmeric lifts the yellow coloring up a notch which isn’t necessary for the tart but it’s beautiful for a party platter. You’ll have plenty of leftover hummus to enjoy on its own, and it provides a lovely creamy base for this tart without any additional sogginess.

Squash & Lemon Spiral Tart {{Baking Bytes}}

My trusty no-fail pie crust recipe is the base for this delicious dish. Since I don’t have a tart pan (something I should probably rectify, pronto) I used a standard 9″ pie plate, which works just fine. I love this pie crust recipe because it never gets over browned, but you can easily substitute your own go-to pastry here if you wish.

Squash & Lemon Spiral Tart {{Baking Bytes}}

The flaky pastry and crisp lemon flavor of the hummus blend beautifully into a base for all your veggies of choice. I chose zucchini, carrot, summer squash, and eggplant, but feel free to use whatever you have laying around the kitchen that you can slice with a mandolin. You’ll want veggies thin enough to bend, but no thinner. On my mandolin I used the thinnest setting for the carrot and the next one up for the rest of the vegetables, but definitely do a test slice to see what makes sense for yours.

spiral_tart_2

Concentric rings of vegetable goodness are pleasing to the eye and the tongue. Finished with a bit of rosemary (or your favorite herb) for a spark of flavor and a pretty garnish, this tart is a prefect addition to your next brunch. This tart is inherently vegan (presuming you use a vegan pie crust) but for the rest of us a sprinkle of goat cheese is the perfect topping for each piece. To round out the meal, I enjoyed mine with a side of eggs and fruit.

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This tart would be sure to please at a Mother’s Day brunch, or to brighten any regular day too. If you have any leftovers, they are excellent cold or reheated in the oven, so be sure to enjoy every last bite!

Squash & Lemon Spiral Tart

Inspired by Bunsen Burner Bakery
Makes one 9″ tart

Ingredients

pastry for a single-crust pie

1 medium zucchini
1 small eggplant
1 small yellow squash
3 large carrots
1 Tbsp (Caramelized Garlic ) olive oil

1/2 cup lemon garlic hummus (below)

1-2 tsp fresh rosemary or other herb

lemon garlic hummus (adapted from Well and Full)
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 Tbsp (Caramelized Garlic or Sicilian Lemon) olive oil (I used 2 Tbsp Garlic and 1 Tbsp Lemon)
2 Tbsp tahini
1-3 cloves garlic (depending on if you’re using infused oil)
zest and juice from 1 large lemon
1/2 tsp (Garlic) salt
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Make ahead: add all hummus ingredients to a food processor, starting with half the lemon juice, and process until smooth. Taste and add additional lemon juice (for flavor) or oil (for consistency) as needed. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Gently lay pastry in a 9″ pie plate or tart pan. Trim and crimp the edges, as desired. Refrigerate pastry for 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Prick pastry generously all over with a fork (or use pie weights if you prefer) and bake for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool while you prepare the veggies.
  5. Use a mandolin to thinly slice all the veggies. (On mine I used setting 2 for the squash and eggplant, and setting 1 for the carrots.) Add all the slices to a large bowl and use your hands to gently toss in olive oil. Don’t add too much oil because the eggplant likes to soak it all up!
  6. Retrieve the pastry and spread 1/2 cup of hummus evenly along the bottom.
  7. Starting from the outside, layer the strips of veggies in whatever order you like; I opted for a repeating pattern of concentric circles but it’s totally up to you.
  8. Spray with olive oil (or lightly brush it on) and sprinkle with rosemary or herb of choice.
  9. Bake for 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender and starting to crisp, and crust is a golden brown. If necessary (it wasn’t for me) you can cover the crust edges with foil if they are browning too quickly.
  10. Serve warm, optionally topped with goat cheese. Goes great with a side of eggs and fruit!
  11. Store leftovers in the fridge. I suspect it’d last about 3 days but I can’t confirm because we ate it all before then. Enjoy chilled or reheat in the [toaster] oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes.

Gouda & Brussels Grilled Cheese

Like most lactose-tolerant Americans, cheese is a pretty large staple in my diet. The discovery of the Costco cheese selection entailing far more than my standard Tillamook cheddar has done nothing but enable this addition, but I’m not sad about it. Gouda, specifically smoked Gouda, is one of my favorites and I purchase it nearly as often as I do medium cheddar. The smokiness is perfect with burgers and sandwiches and as a snack, and it never takes us long to go through the pretty heft block.

Brussels & Gouda Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

The Brussels mac & cheese from a few weeks ago combined three of my favorite things: Gouda, Brussels sprouts, and carbs. Although I decided not to do a grilled cheese series this year, I felt this combination would be perfect for celebrating National Grilled Cheese Day, which is this coming Friday.

Garlic Brussels sprouts and smokey Gouda are possibly my favorite combination to-date and the veggies adds a smidge of health to this delightful meal. Gooey Gouda and crispy bread are always a lovely textural juxtaposition and this sandwich is no exception. I opted to use a few of my favorite Olivelle products in my creation but if your kitchen is not stocked with 2/3 of their store the standard versions work just great.

Brussels & Gouda Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

A little paprika adds a nice punch to the flavors without overpowering anything, but you can adjust up or down as preferred. With all the rich insides I kept my bread neutral and used my favorite seeded bread from a local bakery, On the Rise Bread Co. This robust wheat bread complemented everything nicely without being too complicated, and I’d recommend a similarly neutral whole wheat bread for this particular sandwich. For the meat-centric folks, some chopped bacon would go well, although I found it to be plenty delicious in its inherently vegetarian state.

Brussels & Gouda Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

My loaf was fairly narrow so you may need to adjust the sprouts and cheese accordingly if your slices are larger. In my opinion extra sautéed Brussels sprouts are not a problem so just add an extra to your pan and you’ll have a small appetizer of the leftovers that don’t fit.

If you’re cooking for a crowd, you can roast the Brussels in the oven and then cook the sandwiches in a bigger pan or griddle to get more done at once. With just one sandwich I didn’t want to turn on the oven but for a family it’s probably worth it to streamline the process.

Brussels & Gouda Grilled Cheese

 

Celebrate National Grilled Cheese Day this Friday with a fancy sandwich and take a classic up a notch. Brussels or Gouda not your thing? Check out some of my other options like Beet & Feta or Huckle-bacon Brie!

Gouda & Brussels Grilled Cheese

Makes one sandwich

Ingredients

1 Tbsp (Caramelized Garlic) olive oil, divided
3-4 Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 Tbsp minced red or yellow onion
1/4 tsp smoked paprika, to taste
pinch of (Hickory Smoked) sea salt, to taste

2 slices neutral wheat bread (I used On the Rise Seeded)
1/3 cup shredded smoked Gouda, to taste

Directions

  1. Add 2 tsp oil to medium pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the Brussels, garlic, onion, salt, and paprika.
  2. Sauté until Brussels are cooked through and lightly browned. Remove to a plate and set aside.
  3. Reduce to medium-low and heat remaining oil.
  4. Top one slice of bread with 1/3 of the cheese, sprouts, and another 1/3 of the cheese. Top the other bread slice with the remaining cheese.
  5. Transfer both slices open-face style to the pan. Cover with a lid and cook until bread is lightly browned.
  6. Flip the cheese bread atop top sprouts and cook an addition 30-60 seconds on each side to allow the filling to stick together.
  7. Serve immediately, optionally  topped with an additional sprinkle of paprika.

Pear & Pomegranate Winter Salad

Although the blogosphere doesn’t always advertise as such, winter is just as good for salads as the heat of summer. I do eat fewer entree salads in the winter (unless it’s a sautéed steak version) but we nearly always have a side salad with dinner. With different produce available it’s a great time to mix up the flavors a bit and give your standard toppings a break.

Pomegranate makes its debut in late fall, and is often used for everything from smoothies to desserts. With a tart flavor and saturated color, it’s also a perfect topping to brighten both the flavor and aesthetic of a winter salad. My favorite combination is with pears, but green apples, oranges or blood oranges, and Asian pears are all delightful pairings.

Pear & Pomegranate Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

For crunch and a dash of protein, sliced almonds or toasted pumpkin seeds are my favorite additions. They are both neutral enough to blend with nearly everything, and add just enough texture to each bite.

Goat cheese is my go-to for almost everything, but for a punchier flavor feta is a great choice. A crumbly cheese works best but the palate is very versatile if chevré isn’t your thing. For the dairy-free folks, this salad is also excellent sans cheese entirely.

Pear & Pomegranate Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Lastly, a good quality balsamic vinegar is key here. I personally rarely use legitimate salad dressings and just dress mine with one of my large collection of Olivelle balsamic vinegars. Crisp Anjou Pear Balsamic Vinegar is my favorite for this particular salad, but a plain barrel-aged balsamic, anything with rosemary, or your favorite more neutral vinaigrette would also do nicely. I do recommend using a more viscous vinegar or a reduction to allow for a better coating.

Pear & Pomegranate Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Brighten your dinner table with this healthy and delicious salad that’s easy enough for every day, and fancy enough for holiday parties.

Pear & Pomegranate Winter Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

5 oz baby spinach (or more, to taste)
1/4 cup Olivelle Crisp Anjou Pear Balsamic Vinegar1

1/2 medium pear, thinly sliced
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds or sliced almonds
4oz goat cheese

Directions

  1. In a serving bowl, add spinach and vinegar and gently toss to coat.
  2. Reserving 1-2 tablespoons of each, add the pomegranate seeds and pumpkin seeds or almonds. Add half the goat cheese and gently toss to combine.
  3. Arrange the pear on top of the salad, then garnish with remaining pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds or almonds, and goat cheese. Drizzle with addition vinegar or a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper, if desired.
  4. Enjoy promptly.

Notes

If preferred, you can substitute any dark balsamic vinegar or reduction, or your favorite rosemary vinaigrette. Barrel-aged vinegars are my favorite here!

Pulled Venison (or Elk)

(Fair warning, this is somewhat of a novel-length post.)

In case you are overwhelmed with posts for cookies, fudge, egg nog, hot chocolate, and gingerbread houses, here’s a nice healthy entrée to get you through the season. Better yet, it’s made in the slow cooker so you can continue your holiday baking extravaganzas knowing there’ll be a savory dinner at the end of the day.

With M’s prolific hunting seasons, our freezers (yes, plural) are not often empty. Even in light years he harvests an ample amount to last the next year, and more often than not we are eating meat from a couple of seasons prior. Last to go are always the roasts. Although I do enjoy pot roast, it is something I tire of relatively quickly and as a result, the occasions M makes it for dinner are plenty for me. As a result, we typically have more deer and elk roasts on hand than I really know what to do with.

Pulled Venison {{Baking Bytes}}

Pulled pork is possibly one of my favorite meals, and I’m thrilled every time it shows up at a barbecue or on a menu. However, as many of you can probably guess, I never make it myself because we really don’t buy meat beyond bacon and the occasional sausage (although with this year’s experiments and an extremely fun class from Chef Nic of Grotto Meats, sausage will likely become our own too.) As such, when a potluck this summer had pulled elk as an option, I made a point to seek out the cook for some tips and tricks. Even better, he was more than willing to share his methods with me.

Having previously tried pulled elk once or twice, it just never quite got to the “pulling” stage as well I’d have liked it. Given how much less fat is in an elk or venison roast, I was pretty sure there was something extra required to get it to work. Potluck guy shared that he slow cooks it in “a lot of lime juice, and some water, but really a lot of lime juice” and that acidic component helps to break down the meat. He then pours out that liquid, shreds the meat, and carries on with a sauce as normal. With my mind officially blown, I set off to try my own version.

pulled_deer1

I mixed “a lot of lime juice”, some apple cider vinegar, and water into the slow cooker and then added my roast. Slicing the roast into 2-3″ chunks gives it more surface area to cook, and I think results in a more even texture. After letting that go for eight or ten hours, I poured it out and added my own chipotle concoction. A short simmer later, and my Mexican-inspired pulled elk was delightful atop salad, tacos, or scrambled eggs.

While this method does require an extra step compared to your standard pork options, it is a wonderful way to use game meat and requires less than twenty minutes of active cooking time. Even better, you can easily double it and make more than one sauce (transfer one flavor to a saucepan to simmer together) giving you multiple options in the same amount of time.

pulled_deer3

As a side note: I also discovered that, for me, slow cooking during the day is too long because I’m often gone for 12 hours on weekdays, especially in the summer. Instead, I do the first cook overnight, let the sauce simmer while I’m getting ready for the day, and then store it in the fridge. That way it just needs to be heated for dinner since it’s all cooked and ready to enjoy.

This method works equally well with either venison or elk roasts, and as mentioned it’s easy to increase the amounts for extras. Either make multiple flavors (as shown from my pictures) or just shred one of them and store it in the freezer. Then you can simply pop the shredded meat into some sauce and you’re ready to go once it’s warmed through.

pulled_deer2

This would be a great holiday dinner, either for the big day or for one of the days after when the excitement wears off and the exhaustion sets in and everyone is like “holy crap where did 2018 go?” I don’t know where it went, but I do know I can enjoy some tasty dinners while I try to figure it out.

Pulled Venison/Elk

Makes one 3-4lb roast1

Ingredients

3-4 lbs venison or elk roast
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup lime juice (or lemon, but I prefer lime)
1 – 1 1/2 cups water

Chipotle sauce (great for tacos!)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2-4 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo
2 cloves garlic
2-3 tsp chili powder
1-2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Apple cider sauce (great for winter salads!)
1 bottle hard apple cider
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne (for a little kick)

Directions

  1. Turn slow cooker to low and mix together vinegar, lime juice, and 1 cup of water.
  2. Slice roast (the short way) into 2-3″ wide chunks, and gently place into the liquid mixture.
  3. If necessary, add additional water. The meat does not need to be completely submerged but it should be mostly covered.
  4. Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or until it shreds easily.
  5. Remove meat from crock, and pour out the liquid. Be sure the outside of the crock is wiped clean then return it to the heating element.
  6. Shred the meat and put it back in the crock.
  7. Mix the sauce ingredients (use a blender for the chipotle sauce) and then stir into the meat. (Or use 8-12oz of your favorite sauce.) If it’s too thick, stir in additional water; mixture should be loose but not super watery.
  8. Continue to cook (can bump it to high if you are in a hurry) until the sauce is heated through and most of the liquid is heated through, at least 30 minutes.
  9. Meat is great for sandwiches, tacos, salads, toast, scrambled eggs, or just straight out of the pot. Freeze or refrigerate leftovers.

Notes

You can easily double the recipe to feed a crowd or put some in the freezer for later. Start with one recipe of liquid and twice the meat first as you may not need fully double the amount of the initial cooking liquids.