Saturday, 04 February 2017 00:00

This is such a delicious and hearty salad.  If you want to impress your guests, this salad is it!  It does take time to cook the sweet potatoes and wild rice, so keep that in mind.

Serves: 4–6

2 cups cooked wild rice (about ½ cup raw)
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 3–4 cups)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups arugula
½ cup cashew pieces

For the dressing
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons , or more to taste)
Zest of the lemons
⅓ cup good quality olive oil
2 teaspoons agave nectar
2 cloves garlic
¼ teaspoon salt


1.    Cook the wild rice according to package directions. Meanwhile, make the dressing by puréeing all the dressing ingredients in a food processor. When the rice is done, toss it with a little bit of the dressing, and refrigerate. Let it rest for a little while so it takes on the flavors of the dressing (I let it chill completely, but you don't have to do that).

2.    Preheat the oven to 350°. Place the sweet potato pieces directly on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil, and sprinkle with the chili powder, salt, and pepper. Stir directly on the pan to get everything mixed. Roast for 20–25 minutes, stirring every so often to keep from burning. When the sweet potatoes are golden brown on the outside, remove from the oven, and set aside.

3.    Toss the arugula, wild rice, sweet potatoes, cashews, and the remaining dressing together. Serve warm or cold. YUM!


Friday, 09 September 2016 00:00

Squash blossoms, dandelion, and lavender—most people know that these flowers are edible. Recently, at our garden/orchard work exchange near Coos Bay, I was introduced to three more edible flowers that make regular appearances on the dinner table…

Calendula (marigold) is one of the easiest flowers to grow, and the petals are great in salads.

I’ve read that dried calendula makes wonderful tea, and the dried petals can be used as a (quite affordable) substitute for saffron.

Borage (starflower) can be eaten whole in salads; its taste resembles that of cucumbers.

Borage is also used to flavor teas, lemonades, and cocktails; it’s used in soups, sauces, and as a stand-alone stir-fried vegetable; and it’s commonly used as a garnish or decoration—with its striking appearance, you can probably see why!

Nasturtium has a peppery taste that brings a spice to the average garden salad, much like watercress or arugula. 

Nasturtium flowers also make great additions to almost any stir-fry and potato/egg salads.

Put these three together with a little lettuce mix, and the results are quite stunning!

A quick internet search will give you plenty of ideas for how to use these flowers for your next meal. In addition to being delicious, the plants are excellent pollinator attractors, and some can help control unwanted pests in the garden. They can be interplanted with vegetable crops, and they seem to grow pretty heartily in most climates (although I still believe that if you have good soil, you can grow just about anything, anywhere).

As an aside, these plants are each believed to have many medicinal uses as well, from digestive ailments, to anti-inflammatories on wounds, to anti-depressants—but please consult your physician before trying any herbal remedies!

Treehugger offers an impressive list of 42 edible flowers, and culinary suggestions for each. Does anything on their list surprise you? Have you tried anything on the list? If so, what would you recommend (or not)?


Saturday, 18 June 2016 00:00

Another winner of a treat recipe from Elaine Bryan, a superwoman multi-tasker (nutrition counselor, yoga teacher, as well as a Tower Garden and Juice Plus provider), is shared with you for your pleasure.  My favorite baking apple is the Golden Delicious apple, for its nice soft sweetness. For those who prefer sweet and tart flavors, I recommend the Honeycrisp Apple.  This dish makes a great dessert or snack for anyone with a sweet tooth and a good sense of nutritional well-being.

Kale Salad with Apples and Maple Pecans


Maple Pecans:

1 cup pecan pieces

2 tbsp pure maple syrup

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, depending on taste


2–3 tbsp balsamic vinegar*

2–3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil *

1 small shallot or red onion, peeled and finely minced   (1-1/2 tbsp)

1–2 minced garlic


1–2 bunches Tuscan kale, deveined and sliced into 1/2-inch-thick ribbons (8 cups) (also called Lacinato or dinosaur kale!)

1 large apple, cored, quartered and thinly sliced  (1-1/4 cups)

1/2–1 cup pomegranate seeds, if in season and desired


Maple Pecans:  Preheat oven to 350°.  Combine all ingredients in small bowl, and toss well.  Place on parchment paper and bake approximately 6 minutes, then toss for another 4–5 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring occasionally.  Let cool at room temperature.

To make Vinaigrette:  *Use different combinations of aged balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oils.  Experiment!  I’ve even used chocolate balsamic and blood orange olive oil with this salad. My new favorite is a little Harissa olive oil for a slight kick.

Combine ingredients in a shaker bottle or small mason jar, and shake/stir gently. 

Place kale in large bowl. Gently massage the vinaigrette in to make sure the leaves have even coverage.  Gently toss with sliced apple, maple pecans, and pomegranate seeds, if desired.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015 00:00

In such late days of the season, smack in the middle of September, you become less sure that the label of summer still applies. People have been declaring The End of Summer for weeks, but we have almost a week before summer is technically over, and here in Minneapolis, the past few days have all been in the mid- and high-eighties, windy and hot. But with the last few sweltering days came the sneaking realization that it may be the last heat wave of the year, and that these days are a commodity that won’t last. After so many months of heat, it’s hard for me to remember that the hot days really will come to an end (and soon).

But it is still summer, and the farmer’s market on Saturday was bountiful with the last-of-summer produce— heaping piles of zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and corn—and some apples, which I walked quickly past, not quite ready to embrace. This salad is a celebration of summer flavors: jammy, burst tomatoes and fruity olive oil soak the croutons that are then tossed with bitingly peppery arugula and toasty, caramelized corn. I’ll be dreaming of this salad when the tomatoes are gone, but I’m going to keep making it as long as this summer lets me.


1 pint of cherry tomatoes
2 large cloves of garlic, sliced thickly lengthwise
6 stems of thyme
Fresh corn kernels cut from 1 corn on the cob
2 slices of bread, cubed
½ small shallot, minced
6 cups of fresh arugula, torn into bite size pieces, or baby arugula
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
Optional: 1/4 cup crumbled or cubed feta cheese


1. Roast cherry tomatoes: Preheat oven to 325˚F.  Add garlic, thyme, cherry tomatoes, and two tablespoons of olive oil to a glass baking pan. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Roast in oven for 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until tomatoes are slumping and bursting.


Image Credits

2. Toast corn: Set a pan over high heat. When pan is hot, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add corn and toss quickly to coat in oil. Leave corn in pan without stirring for about 45 seconds or a minute, until the corn browns on one side. Then quickly toss it around pan with a spatula, being sure to scrape the bottom of pan to prevent any burning. Leave in pan for another 30 seconds, then remove corn from pan and set aside to cool.


3. Make croutons: After tomatoes are removed from pan, set oven to 400˚F.  Add bread cubes to a sheet pan. Toast the bread cubes for about 5 minutes, until dry and crunchy. Remove from oven and drizzle bread cubes with a tablespoon of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Return to oven for another 3-5 minutes, or until golden brown and toasted.


Image Credits 24. Make salad: Add shallot to bottom of large bowl. Remove the thyme stems from the roasted cherry tomatoes, then add tomatoes to the bowl. Use a spatula to get every last bit of tomato juice/olive oil out of the pan and add it to bowl. Roughly stir the roasted tomatoes about to encourage them to burst.


5. When croutons are done, add them to the bowl of tomatoes. Stir the tomatoes and croutons to coat the croutons. Leave to sit for at least a minute, ensuring that the tomatoes and croutons are cool before moving on. Next, add corn and arugula to bowl. Add a scant tablespoon of red wine vinegar and 1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil to bowl. Toss very gently to combine, and season with salt and pepper.

6. Scatter feta on top, if using.



Monday, 22 June 2015 00:00

On my first visit to Minneapolis, before moving here from Canada, I came across this little salad. It was the first time I tasted raw kale, although I wasn’t aware of that at the time. In fact, I don’t think I was aware of raw kale salads at all. I just loved how savory and nutty the dressing was -- you could use this same seasoning on any gently cooked green vegetable and have something addictively good on your hands.

I tried to recreate the salad at home later, lightly sautéing the kale before adding the rest of the seasonings. I didn’t realize that you could get kale to soften and tenderize without cooking it at all.

Most kale salads use a technique of “massaging” the leaves to bruise them and break them down a bit to become palatable. It may seem weird at first, but it works.

This salad is so simple that it takes little planning. It’s perfect for picnics, barbecues, packed lunches -- or as leftovers to eat the next day. Unlike other salad greens, kale’s texture improves after sitting in vinaigrette. The soy sauce and sesame oil are the really crucial ingredients to this salad (okay, the kale is, too). So if you have kale, this salad is probably within reach using what’s already in your pantry.

1 bunch of kale
1 tbsp soy sauce (or tamari)
1-1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 small clove garlic, minced
sprinkle of crushed chili flakes

Wash the kale and remove stems from the leaves. Dry using a salad spinner. When the kale is thoroughly dry, tear it into small pieces and add to a large bowl. With clean, dry hands begin massaging the kale: squish it, knead it, tear it up some more. Continue massaging the kale until it changes color to a darker green, is fragrant and appears to be tender. Add remaining ingredients and mix. Let sit for 20 minutes or until needed.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015 00:00

Sweet and Tangy Yukon Gold Potato Salad

The choice of ingredients in this potato salad makes it sweet, creamy, and tangy!


To start, cut 8 to 10 yukon gold potatoes into 1/2 inch squares and boil until tender. I usually test them to make sure that all of the chalky starch has broken down and take them out just before they disintegrate.

You should have 8 cups cooked yukon gold potatoes after cooking.

Pour the hot water out of the cooking pot and pour in some cold water to cool the potatoes. Repeat.

Pour the potatoes into a colander, put some ice cubes on top and run cold water over the potatoes until they are room temperature.


In a big mixing bowl, mix:


1 1/4 cup Veganaise

1/4 cup dijon mustard

1 TBSP Balsalmic Vinegar

1 TBSP caraway seeds

1/4 tsp dried dill

1/2 cup bread and butter picked slices cut into 1/4 inch pieces


Add the potatoes and mix until dressing coats potatoes. Serve on a bed of lettuce.