Roasted shishito peppers

I have the pleasure to get hold of these very pretty looking peppers for a  long season here in California. First they appear in April and there is more and more of them as we are moving into the summer. I love everything hot and spicy, so I feel lucky when I pick one and feel the heat alongside the sweetness of these peppers. Although they are good raw too, they really are the best prepared cooked. Olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, chili flakes, sesame are the best to pair them with. Simply coat them with oil and your choice of herbs, spices and either grill them, or pan roast them on high heat, make sure to get a nice char of the skin. Their flavor will change when roasted or grilled, so do give them a try!

The other day when I got lots of them, I simply pan roasted all with olive oil and garlic. Then I served them two different ways.

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Serve with a home made tahini sauce as an appetizer to share over a glass of wine

For a flavorful appetizer, great to share on the table with a glass of chardonnay or cabernet, I made a thick sauce (dip) with tahini to accompany these charred peppers. I made my own tahini because for some reason I never found any in the stores I liked… Making your tahini is very easy. First simply toast sesame in a pan or on a tray in the oven. Be careful not to burn them, they will be bitter and so not pleasant. If you are on a raw diet you can simply make a tahini without roasting the sesame seeds. Place the sesame seeds in a powerful food processor with a pinch of salt and start blending. Process as much as you can without any oil, and then gradually start adding grapeseed oil. Add as much oil as needed for smooth blending and to achieve a silky consistency.  Place the tahini in a jar, cover with more oil and store in the fridge. You can make the tahini with both black and white sesame seeds. For the tahini dip, leave some of the tahini in the food processor and  add lemon juice, water, salt, black pepper or chili flakes and grated garlic. Keep blending to achieve a good consistency. I am not giving you measurements, because this is best tailored to your own taste buds. Adding water will loosen up the tahini, lemon juice will give some acidity and will also take away the heaviness of the fatty tahini. Salt, garlic, black pepper and chili flakes is there to tailor the dip to your taste. Once ready, divide the sauce in small bowls and serve individually to your guests.

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 Zucchini noodles with roasted pepper sauce and blistered tomatoes

When I realized I had waaaaaay too much of the roasted peppers, I thought about making something else with them. We all know pepper sauce is really good with pasta. I am Hungarian, so for me if you say pepper, let it be any Mexican, Hungarian or Spanish variety, I am all in… I have actually just visited Hungary after a 5 year break, and there was no day without the white or green pepper there…. When we left Hungary 15 years ago there were so many things I missed. Today if I have to name only one thing I really miss, it will definitely be the peppers. I am lucky to have access to very good Hungarian peppers at the Santa Monica farmers market. And now we are also going to grow it in our plot with Kelley, so I am hoping to have continuous access to good quality peppers.

BUT back to these roasted shishito peppers…  I had way too many of them roasted and also having lots of summer squash in the fridge so I decided to make a zucchini pasta with a roasted pepper tahini sauce.

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Simply spiralize the zucchini and either blanch it for 2 minutes in rapidly boiling water or if you are on a raw diet, marinate with salt, black pepper and lemon juice for 15 minutes. This will do the “cooking”.  For the sauce blend roasted peppers with some of the tahini sauce, adding more water and lemon juice if needed. You will need a pretty thin sauce in order not to have a heavy dish. To serve mix zucchini noodles with the sauce and top with with blistered cherry tomatoes and baby arugula. You can also add a sesame parmesan which is simply white sesame seeds blended with equal amount of nutritional yeast and a pinch of salt.

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ENJOY!

Sunday market brunch series

The idea was born yesterday. A series of seasonal market brunches on Sunday. And why? As much as I enjoy creating complex dishes and paint a beautiful plating with my food, just as much enjoy the simplicity, yet complexity if done well, of farmfresh food. I love coming home from the market, looking at all the beautiful produce I bought, and make something simple, yet flavorful, feeding our hunger on a weekend morning. As far as I remember weekend brunches have always been my favorite. Even before I named them brunch, back in Hungary. Waking up late, starting the day slow with a cup of coffee and feeling hungry only a bit later. So around midday we would have a big breakfast, which essentially is brunch. And now on weekends I usually go to the market and making brunch with the fresh produce just comes natural. In this series emphasis will always be on some of the produce, enhancing their flavor with simple cooking techniques and the right seasoning, herbs. Hope you like it and join me on Sundays!

Roasted beet and radish salad with beet greens and eggs

Yesterday I went to my local market here in Pasadena. I like it because of the close proximity, the beautiful backdrop of the mountains, and also the perfect selection of farms. There are some definite favorite growers of mine, which I will introduce you next week, in case you live nearby you can try their produce.

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This is what I mostly I ended up bringing home:). I say mostly, because there are other things as well, that I buy every week, such as bread, egg, goat cheese and some veggies for juicing. I buy kiwis for my husband, he really loves them, and I bought all the parsnip, apple, carrots, radish for my final project in raw vegan cooking, that I am making this coming week.

Looking at the produce I decided to make a beet salad with boiled eggs. When I saw how perfect looking the beet greens are, I knew I had to keep them. I tasted it, it was flavorful, but the bigger leaves were a little bit hard. So I decided to remove the leaves of the stalk, cut the big ones into baby spinach leaf size, and keep the small ones in whole. I made a deliciously flavorful vinagirette with that beautiful meyer lemon, after caramelizing it, and massaged the dressing very well into the leaves and let it marinate for 15 minutes. Just like with kale it helps to start braking down the leaves, softens them for you to be easier to digest. I simply roasted the beets with rosemary in the oven, and pan roasted the radishes, adding celery salt to them. If you are vegan and you leave out the eggs, you can add fresh plant based cheese, or just simply nuts to the salad to make it a full, satisfying meal.

Instructions and  tips on how to make the components:

Roasted beets

Remove stalks, clean and dry beets. Place them in a roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil, add salt and rosemary sprigs. Cover with foil and bake at 430F until fork tender, don’t overcook. Cooking time will depend on the freshness, size of the beets. While the beets are roasting prepare the leaves. (see below)  Once beets are roasted, put some gloves on and now you can easily peel them. Finally cut them into bite sized cubes. Drizzle with some extra olive oil, salt, a little bit of the vinaigrette and set aside.

Pan roasted radish

If you haven’t tried roasted radish, it is time now! Their texture and taste changes so much when heat is introduced, they just simply turn into a different vegetable. It is better to roast them on the stove, in a pan, because they don’t require much time, and you need high temperature. Heat the pan very hot, add high heat oil (olive, grape seed) and add the radishes in whole. Season with celery salt and black pepper. Roast until you have a nice color on the radishes and they have softened. Cut the big ones in half lengthwise for plating.

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Vinaigrette

First get the zest of the the meyer lemon. Then cut it in half and place in the roasting pan with the radishes, cut side facing down in the pan. Leave them there, not moving until they are caramellized. Squeeze juice out of them and get rid of pits. For the vinaigrette measure the juice and mix it with 3 times as much grapeseed oil. Add minced garlic, maple syrup, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Mix ingredients very well, just before adding to the leaves and beets.

Beet greens salad:

As I said earlier, wash them first, then remove leaves from stalk, get rid of any not healthy, wiltied bits. Chop the fresh ones into baby spinach size. You can also add spinach leaves to the salad, but treat them separately. Spinach will not need time to soak the vinaigrette. Chop the scallions and mix with all the leaves. Then add vinaigrette to leaves, massage them well, and let it sit for 15 minutes. During that time you can cook the eggs and prep the roasted beets.

Boiled eggs

 Place eggs in boiling water, reduce heat to low and cook for 12 minutes. Immediately transfer eggs in ice cold water, to help them cool and stop cooking.

To assemble the salad:

Plate beet or spinach leaves in a bowl, add chopped scallions, layer with the roasted beets and radishes, top with the eggs and finish off with arugula blossom and your choice of nuts. Of course you can leave out the arugula blossoms, I had some at home and I used them for a bit of spice in the salad. You can mix arugula leaves to the beet greens, too.

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Ingredients (serves 2) (list by components of salad, in case you want to leave something out)

  • 4 medium beets
  • olive oil, rosemary sprigs, salt
  • 10-14 breakfast radishes
  • oilve oil, celery salt
  • zest of 1 meyer lemon
  • juice of 1 roasted meyer lemon
  • olive oil
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper
  • 6 eggs
  • 4 scallions
  • arugula leaves or blossoms
  • for vegans: fresh plant based cheese or your choice or nut blend

Hope you enjoy the freshness of this salad and your body will definitely will thank you for all the nutrient dense produce!