Posts in SMALL PLATES
Quinoa, Watermelon, Kale & Feta Salad

A mainstay of the Incan Empire diet since 1200 AD, quinoa looks and cooks like a grain, but botanically speaking is a species related to swiss chard, spinach, and beets. With impressive biodiversity characteristics, exceptional nutritional value, and complete protein composition, quinoa is a tiny superfood. Mild in taste with a delightful texture, quinoa is the perfect protein punch for salads. 

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Hawaiian Tuna Poke with Wasabi Rice Crackers

Any visit to the Aloha State should include a flip flop and t- shirt outing to a local poke bar. If a journey to paradise is not on the horizon, bring a bit of Hawaiian utopia to the home kitchen. Fifteen minutes and some sushi grade tuna make it possible to serve a healthy, gourmet meal to any fish loving crowd. 

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Morels, Stracciatella & Toast

After a long winter's nap, these meaty morsels are a treat worth hunting for (literally). If pulling on L.L. Bean boots and trekking over to the nearest woodland area or old apple orchard to forage seems ambitious, be ready to shell out some serious cash for the filet mignon of the mushroom world. The morel earns its reputation as a polite, tasteful, and wholly worthy of its price dinner guest that will absolutely be invited back.

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Shelburne Farms Cider Glazed Squash & Arugula Salad

Several years ago, award-winning Boston chef, Barbara Lynch, launched a series of cooking demonstrations at her old world european butchery,  The Butcher Shop, in Boston's hip South End. Several times a year, she invited some of New England's best known chefs to share some of their cooking techniques and recipes. Fortunate enough to be at the restaurant when the coveted spaces were released, a reservation for two was secured. At the event, each guest received a signed copy of the newly released Cooking with Shelburne Farms: Food and Stories from Vermont, a heavenly meal paired with wine, and an up close and personal experience with the farm's chef, Rick Gencarelli. 

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Roasted Beet Salad with Tahini & Puffed Quinoa

Commingled with quinoa, a grain-like seed boasting the full amino acid chain making it a complete protein, and performance enhancing beets, the garden's autumn ruby and topaz gems, this salad emerges as an easy to prepare in advance, visual eye-catching and conversation inducing plate. Worthy of eating as a full meal, or a sidekick to a holiday feast, this is one plate with crunch that pleases nearly everyone. 

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Quattro Formaggi Zucchini Blossoms

Eaten like a vegetable, zucchini is really an easy going, easy to grow in the garden fruit. Only the female flowers produce the attached squash, so if growing larger zucchini is the goal, pluck only the male flowers (easy to identify by the single long stamen hidden inside--the females have a short balled cluster stamen). Once the food of peasants, these edible flowers are today's easy to prepare haute cuisine. Go ahead plant some vines and feast on flowers!

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Ricotta Gnocchi with Tomato, Goat Cheese & Basil

Gnocchi are the Italian equivalent of Chinese dumplings. Potato gnocchi, dollops of starchy belly filling goodness, take a bit of practice and elbow grease. Ricotta gnocchi on the other hand, are perfect for the gnocchi novice and make delightfully, light, and fluffy cheese pillows. The goat cheese tomato sauce adds a bit of tang and heavenly creaminess to the finished dish. Serve alongside a perfectly roasted chicken and simple plate of lightly dressed greens for a decadent, prepared in under an hour, soul satisfying, Italian-inspired weeknight dinner. 

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Purple Sticky Rice with Toasted Coconut & Mango

A simple satisfying breakfast, or a delightful dessert, the combination of Chinese purple rice, silky coconut cream and sweet, juicy rich mango flesh delivers an easy to prepare Asian inspired dish. So expensive was the chewy, nutty black rice centuries ago, it was reserved for the Emperor and earned the moniker "forbidden rice". Black rice turns a gorgeous aubergine color when cooked and stains the coconut milk violet. The flavors and textures of the mix of fruits and rice are at once sophisticated and pleasantly comforting. 

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Lentils Du Puy with Haricot Vert & Couscous

When the sun is shining and the party is outdoors, this salad can be served with little fear of wilting or becoming a soggy mess. Best served family style and when just before forks and spoons are ready to dive in, the host ceremoniously slices into the poached egg and quickly tosses the salad to insure everyone gets a mouth watering yellow sunshine bite.

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Kale Salad with Apple, Almond & Tahini Dressing

This mean green kale based recipe could be called "salad with the pomegranate seeds, yogurt and apple." Kale? It is is really little more than a vehicle supporting the crunchy and smooth textures of this lip-smacking powerhouse salad. Cook's secret. The sharp radish is an unexpected character that complements the more mellow apple taste and the tart flavor of the pomegranate seeds, while preventing the whole salad from being overly sweet. Tahini, the sauce that rules this decade, offers a smooth, creamy, nutty way to dress up what might otherwise be an awkward combination of ingredients. This salad is hearty enough to serve alongside a full bodied red wine for a light dinner. 

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Girl Pizza

Any creative way to disguise salad as pizza deserves applause. Pizzas are a great way to use up bits of this and that in the refrigerator. Arugula is a tough sale at many family tables--that is until it becomes pizza. Dubbed "girl" pizza because teenage boys think teenage girls eat a lot more "rabbit food" than they do. Nonetheless, these Girl Pizzas are served two at a time and eaten with the same gusto by all as a meat lover's pizza. 

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CSA Salad with Marinated Feta & Semi Dried Tomatoes

This salad shows just how far these smaller crops can be stretched and proves that a bit of creativity in the SALAD BOWL can produce a beautiful plate perfect for eating alone or at a gathering of friends or family. The avocado adds a touch of creaminess and protein while the semi dried tomatoes add color and balance the saltiness of the marinated feta and the golden balsamic gives just a hint of sweetness. Go ahead--support your local farmer and join a community of inspired growers and thinkers.

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Caprese Stacks

While traditional recipes skip the balsamic vinegar, it is a delightful plate garnish that grilled bread enjoys mopping up. As with all limited ingredient recipes, quality matters and the result is only as good as the provisions used in the recipe: aged, almost syrupy, Modena balsamic vinegar and a high quality Italian olive oil such as Il Boschetto Limited Selection Extra Virgin Olive Oil provide the perfect backdrop for the creamy mozzarella and juicy at-their-peak tomatoes. 

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Burrata with Blood Oranges & Lavender Oil

At once vibrant and simple, this salad is a wonderful classic, yet colorful, Yotam Ottolenghi recipe. The plate relies on seasonal ingredients, but is clearly a result of a culinary artist's carefree approach to experimenting in the kitchen. The blood orange season is extremely short, a few weeks in late winter.

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Baby Arugula, Parmesan & Cranberry Salad

Simple yet elegant, spicy and sweet, harvested young arugula with petite tender leaves is more mild tasting than its full grown peppery self.  Baby arugula is delicate without being boring. . This is most satisfying when greens are picked locally and seasonally, backyard best, and farm (or garden) to fork is taken to heart.

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Queso de Cabra with Tomato & Basil

Who isn't obsessed with Spanish tapas and sangria? To make certain there are leftovers for lunch the next day, double the recipe and use a cast iron skillet to make this oven to table small plate. Simple to prepare, a bottle of Spanish wine and 30 minutes are all that is needed to make a bright tasting and delicious dish. From one entertainer to another, keep a sliced baguette in the freezer and this is a filling gourmet treat certain to wow any surprise guests.

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