Tag Archives: mint

Turkish White Bean Dip

20 Feb

turkish white bean dip

Having healthy snacks on hand is probably the most important piece of eating well. I definitely have those moments when I need to eat something and now, and that’s when it’s easiest to turn to something that’s not so good for me. Bean dips are one of my favorites to keep around. They require very little preparation, yet are tasty enough to serve to unexpected guests. I don’t have anything to puree with, and I was still able to make this – I just threw everything in a pot and cooked it down a bit, while mashing, which worked pretty well. Of course, using a food processor or blender makes the process even easier. I used Turkish flavors here, an old favorite of mine, and the mint, Turkish red pepper, thyme, and cumin easily complemented plain white beans. I thought the flavor went really well with fresh bell pepper and carrot sticks, for even more of a healthy kick.

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Tropical Black Bean Quinoa Salad

6 Feb

tropical black bean quinoa salad

Inspired by the coconut breakfast quinoa I recently cooked up, I decided to try a savory preparation using quinoa cooked with coconut milk. I added black beans for extra substance and played off the tropical flavor of the coconut with mango, avocado, fresh mint, and lime juice. The resulting salad was colorful and delicious (not to mention healthy) – perfect for serving my parents for dinner at the end of a hot day of sightseeing.

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Sun-dried Tomato Polenta

14 Dec

sun-dried tomato polenta

I’ve never cooked polenta before, but recently I found myself browsing recipes for it and wondering more and more why I hadn’t yet given it a shot. I especially loved the idea of the solidified form with a still creamy interior. Despite being my first attempt, I found it quite easy to throw together (though I’ve heard it can be made even easier by cooking it in the oven – which is probably what I’ll try next time). I’ve been really into sun-dried tomatoes lately so I tossed some in. Not only do they look gorgeous studded through the polenta, but they add great bits of texture and concentrated flavor. I also, on a whim, added a little dried mint – just enough to add a subtle unusual twist (that you wouldn’t even necessarily guess was mint) without being overpowering. The result is polenta that works great as a snack on its own and can also be served with various stews, topped with a fried egg and grated parmesan, or cut into smaller pieces and used on top of a salad.

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Strawberry Bourbon Lemonade

26 Nov

strawberry bourbon lemonade

Strawberries are starting to show up here, reminding me why I chose to move to the Southern hemisphere just in time for spring. I couldn’t resist buying some up and concocting this cocktail for the increasingly hot days. Nothing like sitting on the balcony, sipping on this dangerously tasty drink, and wishing the pool below was for this apartment building instead of the next one over. I’ve been feeling nostalgic for bourbon, so that’s what I used, even though the bottle of Jack Daniels was pricey. Selection’s limited around here (the Argentine imitations are, frankly, not even close). But this recipe can be adapted to whatever liquor you have on hand, and cheap liquor works just fine, so save your high quality stuff for drinking straight. Ginger mint simple syrup was ready and waiting in my refrigerator, and the flavors are great in here, but, again, feel free to adapt – plain simple syrup will do just fine, or if you have another fancy infused one around, use that. If winter’s approaching where you are and strawberries aren’t in season, the drink’s tasty without them, and it’s a great prop for pretending you’re someplace warm, to boot.

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Ginger Mint Simple Syrup

14 Nov

ginger mint simple syrup

I love basics like this recipe. An infused simple syrup is a great building block that’s great to have in your refrigerator because even though it’s trivial to throw together, it makes it easy to add a gourmet touch. Suddenly, it’s no problem to make ginger mint lemonade or ginger mint iced tea. Or you can pour a little bit over a fruit salad to take dessert to the next level. And, of course, it’s the perfect addition to mixed drinks, a great foil for whiskey, gin, rum, tequila, or whatever your favorite spirit might be.

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Thai Steak Salad

7 Nov

thai steak salad

Recently, I was craving Thai food. Not being so lucky here as I was in DC (where two of the best Thai restaurants in the city were within mere blocks of me), I made the 3-mile trek to what is supposedly one of the best Thai restaurant in Buenos Aires. I was unfortunately disappointed with the food I was served – laab gai with more onions than chicken and a red curry that simply tasted sweet rather than complex and spicy. Still yearning for some good Thai food, I turned to my own kitchen and cooked up this Thai steak salad. Surprisingly simple to make, the real key to this salad is the dressing, packed with flavor from fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, chiles, and sugar. The salad itself is extra colorful and flavorful from a mixture of different vegetables, including raw cabbage, one of my salad favorites (I used red cabbage, but any variety should work just fine). Fresh herbs, sliced scallions, and peanuts add even more variety of texture and flavor. And strips of medium-rare steak on top, of course, pull the whole thing together.

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Colorful Mediterranean Salad with Hummus and Harissa

31 Aug

colorful mediterranean salad with hummus and harissa

Recently, I found my stomach rumbling in the middle of the afternoon after having accidentally skipped lunch. I was finishing up an errand and needed food fast, so I stopped by the newly opened location of a local chain that serves Mediterranean food assembly line style. I wanted to eat something healthy (one of my main motivations for cooking) so I ordered a salad. It was amazing – large enough to fill me up (often not the case with salads) and with great variety and flavor. The best part? The inclusion of harissa and hummus as toppings! I’ve been adding them to my salads ever since, and the extra flavor and creaminess they add is unbeatable. It inspired me to later throw together this quick recreation, chock full of healthy and tasty ingredients, including multiple different greens, red cabbage, tomato, and cucumber. Easily customizable with whatever fresh vegetables you might have around (and even better topped with lamb, chicken, or beans), this recipe is definitely worth trying out.

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Harissa

29 Aug

harissa

This recipe for harissa, a Tunisian chile sauce, is seriously spicy. Okay, I’ll admit, my spice tolerance is not quite unbeatable, but it’s pretty high, certainly higher than most people I’ve met. I lap up the spiciest Indian and Thai curries like nobody’s business, toss chili peppers in everything, and liberally sprinkle my food with hot sauce. I’ve never once used gloves when chopping hot peppers. Jalapenos (barely spicy to my palate!), bird’s eye chiles, habaneros, I’ve practically rubbed them all over my hands with no ill effect (okay, the occasional burning eye, admittedly).

Well, that all changed when chopping up the rehydrated chiles for this particular recipe. Despite washing my hands after doing so, I was soon struck by an intense and slowly worsening burning on the sensitive skin between my fingers – repeated washings, lime juice, and painkillers provided only momentary relief. In the end, I was left to wait for that solver of most problems – time. By the next day, my hands were (mostly) back to normal. But consider yourself warned. The resulting spice paste, however, is amazing. Perfect in small doses as a meat rub, on sandwiches, stirred into soups, or even added to salads. For those less spice inclined, cut back on (or omit) the arbol chiles, and use more guajillos and anchos instead. And I’ll certainly be wearing gloves the next time I make this.

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Mediterranean Fig Salad

20 Aug

mediterranean fig salad

When my parents handed me a plate of figs from their neighbor’s tree, I felt like I had to really do them justice. Fresh figs like these, just bursting with natural sugars, taste quite decadent to me, so I wanted to keep the preparation simple. Mint, feta, and walnuts give this fig salad a Mediterranean twist. I didn’t even bother to whisk the dressing together first (although you certainly can, if you’d like), opting instead to simply toss everything together gently, making this salad take mere minutes to assemble. But the jewel-like figs and fragrant mint mean this salad is still impressive enough to serve to guests.

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Pluot Mint Salad

27 Jul

pluot mint salad

I love pluots – a fruit that is the wonderful combination of plums and apricots. I bought some on sale and knew I needed to do something simple but special with them. So I picked some fresh mint from my garden (it’s been growing like crazy!) and squeezed an orange for a tasty fruit salad. Together, the flavors set my mind down the path of Turkish food, so at the last minute, I tossed in a little Turkish red pepper. If you don’t like spice, feel free to omit it though. And if your fruit isn’t sweet enough on its own (and by the way, feel free to try this out with other stone fruits as well), you can add a little bit of honey. I also had this salad with a little yogurt after it had marinated in the refrigerator for a few hours, and it made for an absolutely delicious dessert. Next time I might try it after grilling the fruit first for a little caramelization.

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