Tag Archives: Arugula

Spicy Arugula Spread

This is a recipe that almost wasn’t.  It came about last Sunday night while I was preparing beer bread and chai truffles for a food swap the next day.  I was really nervous about going to the swap, in part because I wasn’t sure whether my dishes would be fancy enough for all the foodies in attendance. This is a common fear for me. I call it Potluck Anxiety, and it tends to sneak up any time I take a large batch of treats to a social gathering. Potluck Anxiety is usually really annoying but in this instance I’m glad I had it, because otherwise I might have never made this spicy arugula spread.

Thanks to Potluck Anxiety, I was doubtful that my beer bread would be okay as a standalone dish at the swap. I thought, why not make an herb butter to gussy it up? I wasn’t working from a recipe, just from the vague idea that pesto and butter together would make a good herb butter.  So off I went. For the pesto, I improvised using whatever I could find in the fridge: some arugula, green onions, pecans, garlic, salt, and olive oil.

When I tasted the pesto I enjoyed it so much that I almost kept the whole batch for myself.  Luckily, Potluck Anxiety told me that bread alone wouldn’t cut it, and I pushed forward in the quest for herb butter. To my cup of arugula pesto, I added 4 tablespoons of salted butter.

No bueno. The butter did nothing but turn the pesto into an oily mess! I could have resolved this by adding more butter, but I had used the last of it for the beer bread. What to do?

As a measure of desperation, I threw some cream cheese into the processor with the buttered pesto. The flavor of the spread was definitely improved by the cream cheese, but I thought it was still too strong to pair with my mellow beer bread.  Not wanting to be wasteful, I put the finished cream cheese-butter-pesto mixture into a crock in the fridge and forgot about it.

The night of the swap, I was a mess. I had loaded my car and pulled out of the driveway by the time I remembered the arugula spread in the fridge. In the throes of Potluck Anxiety, I turned around to get it mostly because the little orange crock was so cute.  Boy, am I glad that I did!  While the spread was sitting in the fridge overnight it mellowed into a lovely, spreadable, spicy dip. Perfect for pairing with crackers or whole wheat beer bread.  By experimenting with the leftovers, my husband Rami discovered that this spread makes a great pasta sauce if you warm it up in the microwave.

This story has two happy endings. First, I ended up with a new potluck recipe that is easy to put together and a real crowd pleaser. Second, I met a wonderful group of friends at the food swap. There were all sorts of cooks at the party: some were fancy, some were not so fancy, and of them all were kind and accepting. I suspect I will probably have another case of Potluck Anxiety before the next time I see them; my fingers are crossed that I’ll get another winning recipe out of the deal!

Spicy Arugula Spread (makes about 1.5 cups)
4 cups arugula
4 peeled garlic cloves
1 bunch green onions, root tips and limp green tips removed
1/2 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons salted butter
4 ounces cream cheese
1 teaspoon salt

Place arugula, garlic and green onions in a food processor fitted with the chopping blade.  Pulse until veggies have broken down into very small pieces.  Add remaining ingredients and pulse until completely combined. Mixture will be very soft from the heat of the food processor; store in an airtight container overnight to firm up the spread and allow the flavors to mellow. Enjoy in place of butter on breads, as a dip for crackers, or warm with pasta.

Click here for a printable copy of this recipe.

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Two Healthy Salads by my Husband

Tonight, Rami and I enjoyed one of the best meals we’ve had at home in quite a while.  We ate a gingery citrus cole slaw and a quinoa broccoli salad, plus whole wheat beer bread. And the best part, I didn’t cook a single thing!

Earlier tonight I was busy making chocolate chai truffles for a food swap on Monday when Rami walked in the kitchen and said, “How can I help?”

That’s a dangerous question in our house, because in a matter of minutes, he had been put in charge of making our entire dinner. He prepared two salads, Kathy Patalsky’s Napa Cabbage Cole Slaw and Amy Sherman’s Quinoa Arugula Salad, plus a loaf of whole wheat beer bread as a test for another food swap recipe.

The beer bread turned out really well (whew!) and the salads were awesome.  I’m planning a full post on the bread in advance of Monday’s swap, but in the meantime, here’s a recap of the salads:

The cabbage slaw is one of the best cabbage recipes I’ve found online.  Rami is typically not a fan of cabbage, and I don’t care for tangerines. However, in this recipe, we loved both of those foods!

Rami did make a few substitutions in Amy’s recipe according to what we had on hand: tangerines from G&S Grove instead of oranges, double the amount of regular mayo instead of vegan (sorry, Amy!!), and a green bell pepper instead of yellow.  Next time we make this, we’ll experiment by using less ginger and even more tangerines.  And the flavor of the dressing is so strong, I think I might be able to get away with adding a whole bag of sunflower sprouts to the mix.

Equally tasty was this broccolli arugula quinoa salad:

Rami was pretty liberal in his interpretation of the original recipe, which originally called for shaved asparugus, avocado, and lemons. He used  broccoli from Texas Daily Harvest (he added it to the quinoa pot for the last 5 minutes of cooking time), subbed tangerine juice for the lemon juice, and skipped the avocado.  The textures of steamed broccoli and quinoa really work well together, so next week I’ll be looking for more recipes that call for them together.

Creamy Summer Squash Soup

This soup is creamy and rich, and pretty easy to prepare on a busy weeknight.  The best part is, it uses a lot of zucchini without tasting like zucchini, a real plus if you’re trying to use up a whole lot of squash! I adapted it from Heidi Swanson’s spinach and zucchini soup recipe, published on her wonderful blog, 101Cookbooks. I replaced the spinach in Heidi’s recipe with peppery arugula, which is plentiful in Central Texas this time of year.

The secret to this soup’s creamy texture is the pureed potatoes in the broth.  I recently bought an inexpensive immersion blender (under $20!), which pureed the soup right in the pot and made preparation a breeze.  I definitely recommend adding this handy gadget to your holiday wish list if you don’t have one already!

Creamy Summer Squash Soup (serves 6)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cups chopped potatoes (2 medium potatoes)
2 cups chopped zucchini squash (1 giant squash or 2 medium squash)
4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
3 cups chopped arugula (1 big bunch)
1 lime
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon pepper
Sour cream, yogurt, or olive oil to garnish

Chop all the vegetables.  If you’re using an immersion blender, be sure the vegetable pieces are less than 1/2 inch so they’ll puree easily later.  Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large soup pot.  Add onions and garlic and saute until onions are translucent. Stir in the potatoes and zucchini, then pour in the vegetable stock.  Bring to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes, until potatoes are soft.  Stir in arugula and turn off heat.  Puree with an immersion or conventional blender until soup is smooth.  Squeeze juice from half the lime into the soup and stir.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  I liked lots of pepper in this soup!  Serve soup, garnish with lime wedges, a dollop of sour cream or yogurt or a little olive oil, and additional cracked pepper to taste.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

We loved this soup as a side dish, and ate it for dinner tonight with beer braised bratwurst and onions.  A big bowl of soup and half a bratwurst made for a hearty, comforting meal for each of us.