Summertime starters

Grilled and roasted vegetables are particularly suitable for such courses.

By FAYE, YAKIR LEVY
June 20, 2013 13:19
Summer veggies.

vegetables 370. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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For summertime meals, light, fresh appetizers made of vegetables are a popular choice. The vegetables can be raw or, for a more substantial starter, can be a combination of raw and cooked.

Grilled and roasted vegetables are particularly suitable for such starters. Tamasin Noyes, author of Grills Gone Vegan, adds chopped grilled red onions to her spicy Asian cucumber salad, which she dresses with rice vinegar, sweet rice wine, sesame oil, hot pepper sauce, soy sauce, chives, garlic, mint and grated ginger.

Grill-roasted corn adds interest to Noyes’s Mexican slaw, which also contains shredded cabbage, shredded carrot, green onions, sweet red pepper and a mayonnaise dressing seasoned with vinegar, lime juice, hot peppers and smoked paprika. (See recipe) These kinds of salads can be the basis for sandwiches. Noyes makes open-face ratatouille sandwiches from grilled French bread halves spread with olive mayonnaise and topped with lettuce leaves and grilled ratatouille (made from eggplant, zucchini, sweet peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, Provencal herbs and olive oil). For her portobello burger sandwiches, she pairs grilled teriyaki-marinated portobello mushrooms with an Asian slaw of shredded Chinese cabbage, radishes and green onion flavored with a ginger and sesame oil dressing.

One way to make raw vegetable salads deliciously different is to dress them with nut butter, made by whirling nuts in the food processor until they become a creamy spread.

To give pizzazz to common coleslaw composed of shredded cabbage, carrot and mayonnaise, Robin Robertson, author of Nut Butter Universe, adds cashew butter and fresh coriander.

Robertson dresses up the familiar American Waldorf salad, which is usually made of apples, celery, walnuts and mayonnaise, with some “decidedly nontraditional” touches – dried cranberries and walnut butter. She gives a salad of baby greens an exotic flavor by adding shredded green papaya and a Thai peanut dressing made of peanut butter, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, sugar, lime juice and soy sauce; the salad is finished with chopped peanuts and shredded carrots.

Such salads can serve as starters or as main courses for a light lunch or supper. All that is needed to complete the meal is fresh bread, ripe summer fruit and yogurt. ■



Faye Levy is the author of the award-winning book, Faye Levy’s International Vegetable Cookbook.

ROASTED PEPPER AND GREENS WITH CAPER DRESSING

Salads like this are popular around the Mediterranean and can be made with sweet peppers of any color. In Tunisia, they are sometimes garnished with tuna in olive oil; in Algeria the capers might be replaced by oil-cured black olives. To make the salad more substantial, add 1 1⁄2 cups cooked or canned white beans or chickpeas.

Makes 4 to 6 appetizer servings
✙ 4 sweet peppers, any color
✙ 4 to 5 cups baby greens, baby spinach or chopped romaine lettuce
✙ 2 to 3 tsp. lemon juice or wine vinegar
✙ 2 to 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
✙ Salt and freshly ground pepper
✙ 2 or 3 small tomatoes, diced
✙ 2 Tbsp. chopped green onion or parsley
✙ 2 tsp. capers, rinsed and drained

To roast the peppers: Preheat broiler with rack 5 to 10 cm. from heat source, or far enough so peppers fit; or heat grill. Put whole peppers, with core and stems still on, in broiler or on grill. Broil or grill peppers until their skins are blistered and charred all over, but do not let them burn. If you don’t want the peppers to soften too much, grill them until only slightly charred but still firm. The total cooking time is about 15 minutes. During broiling, turn peppers with tongs about every 4 or 5 minutes so another side faces flame.

Transfer peppers to a bowl and cover; or put them in a paper or plastic bag and close bag. Let stand for 10 minutes. Peel peppers using paring knife. Halve peppers; be careful because they may have hot juice inside. Discard seeds and ribs, and pat dry. Do not rinse.

Cut each pepper in 6 pieces lengthwise.

Halve pieces if pepper is long.

Put greens in a shallow bowl. Combine lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Spoon about half the dressing over the greens and toss lightly.

Arrange peppers on greens. Add diced tomatoes. Spoon remaining dressing over salad. Sprinkle with green onion and capers. Serve at room temperature.

MEXICAN SLAW

This recipe for cabbage salad with grilled sweet corn is from Grills Gone Vegan.

Author Tamasin Noyes grills extra corn and notes that it can be refrigerated in a Ziploc bag up to four days. She makes the slaw with vegan mayonnaise and flavors it with chipotle chiles.

If any slaw is left over, she uses it in sandwiches made of grilled seitan (wheat gluten) cutlets served on grilled split French rolls spread with mashed avocado, which is seasoned with minced chiles. Instead of seitan, you could make such sandwiches with baked tofu, hardboiled eggs or cooked chicken.

Makes 8 servings
✙ 3 ears corn on the cob, husks on (or see note “a” below)
✙ 7 cups shredded green cabbage
✙ 1 cup shredded carrot
✙ 1 cup minced green onions
✙ 1⁄2 cup finely chopped sweet red pepper
✙ 1⁄2 cup mayonnaise
✙ 2 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar
✙ Juice from 1 lime or 1⁄2 lemon
✙ Chopped fresh or canned chili or cayenne pepper to taste
✙ 1⁄4 tsp. smoked paprika
✙ 1⁄4 tsp. ground black pepper
✙ Salt (optional)

To roast the corn: Remove most of the husks, leaving just the last few layers surrounding the kernels and keeping them attached to the stalk. If time permits, soak the corn in cold water for 40 minutes; this will provide extra moisture as the corn cooks. To roast it outdoors: Preheat outdoor grill to medium heat. Put corn on grill and close lid. Cook, turning occasionally, until marked all over and the shape of the kernels is visible through the husks, about 30 minutes. To roast it indoors: Put corn directly on an oven rack of oven preheated to 180ºC (350 F) and bake for about 30 minutes, turning once, until the kernels become visible through the husks.

When corn is cool, cut the kernels from the cobs.

Put the cabbage, corn, carrot, green onions and diced pepper in a large bowl and stir to combine.

Put the mayonnaise, vinegar, lime juice, chili, paprika and pepper in a small blender or small bowl and process or whisk until smooth. Pour over cabbage mixture and stir to combine. Season with salt to taste if desired.

The slaw can be served immediately or stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Notes: a) If fresh corn is out of season, you can substitute frozen corn kernels. Put the corn in a dry cast-iron skillet over medium- high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 8 minutes.

b) For a slightly sweeter slaw, add 1 to 2 tsp. of agave nectar to the mayonnaise mixture.

ROASTED NICOISE SALAD WITH CASHEW GODDESS DRESSING

This recipe is from Nut Butter Universe.

Author Robin Robertson comments that roasting the potatoes and green beans adds a new layer of flavor to this salad. A creamy cashew dressing flavored with tahini provides a rich finish. Robertson makes the dressing with almond milk; you can use other unsweetened or lightly sweetened nondairy milk instead.

For soy sauce, she recommends wheatfree tamari.

Makes 4 servings
✙ 450 gr. (1 lb.) small new potatoes, halved or cut into 1.25-cm. (1/2 in.) pieces ✙ 225 gr. green beans, steamed
✙ 1 1⁄2 cups cooked or a 400-gr. (about 15 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
✙ 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
✙ 1⁄3 cup cashews
✙ 2 green onions, chopped
✙ 1 garlic clove, crushed
✙ 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
✙ 1⁄2 cup plain unsweetened almond milk
✙ 2 Tbsp. tahini
✙ 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
✙ 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
✙ 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
✙ 1⁄2 tsp. salt
✙ 1⁄3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
✙ Torn butter lettuce leaves, to serve

Preheat oven to 220ºC (425 F). Arrange potatoes on a lightly oiled baking pan and spray with a little cooking spray. Season to taste with salt and pepper and roast until just softened and lightly browned, turning once, about 25 minutes. Add the steamed green beans, chickpeas and tomatoes.

Season with salt and pepper, and spray with a little cooking spray. Return to the oven for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make dressing: Grind the cashews in a high-speed blender; you can use a food processor instead, but the dressing won’t be as smooth. Add the green onions, garlic and parsley. Pulse to mince. Add almond milk, tahini, vinegar, lemon juice, soy sauce and salt to taste; process until smooth. Set aside.

When the vegetables are roasted, remove from oven and cool to room temperature.

To serve, arrange lettuce leaves on 4 serving plates. Arrange vegetables on top, top with olives and drizzle with some of the dressing. Serve immediately.

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