You know I am not a cilantro fan… When a recipe calls for cilantro I usually substitute with flat-leaf parsley or I just omit it at all.
But there is something I have learned about cilantro in the last few years… I can tolerate it, even enjoy it, when I use only the leaves and not the stems of the cilantro plant. The stems remind me too much of the taste of recao. It’s too strong for me and gives me acid reflux. I know… not pretty. I noticed this once when I was cooking the now-famous veggie sancocho recipe after a retreat. I did like Ina Garten and shaved the leaves off the stems of the cilantro and used only that to “season” the sancocho. The other “more experienced” cooks were appalled at my “waste” of perfectly good cilantro stems. But many of the soup eaters thanked me afterwards because the cilantro flavor was subtle and not over powering at all after a few days of fasting.
Fast forward to the other day when I wanted to make something to bring to a party and I had an over abundance of avocados in my hands. I decided to make an avocado without tomatoes so it would stay as creamy as possible without the watery residue tomatoes sometimes leave atop guacamole. At the store there was no flat-leaf parsley so I went with the traditional and very much cheaper cilantro.
This guacamole was an absolute hit… People were asking me for the recipe all night. I wished I had posted this recipe already so I would not have to repeat myself so many times that night.
1 large avocado, cut into small pieces
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
The juice of 1 green lime
A generous handful of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
A drizzle of olive oil – about 1 tbs
Salt and Pepper to taste
- Mash everything together in a medium sized bowl.
- Let it stand in the fridge for a few hours so the flavors meld together.
You can make this with fresh avocados, but it also works with frozen avocados. Just defrost them and get rid of any water that separates from the pulp when the avocado is thawing.
Leslie is a new friend I run with in Boca Ratón… She is a salad lover like me.
I always end up talking food with everyone I meet and this is one of Leslie’s favorite salads to make. I hope you enjoy it as much as Leslie and I enjoy it.
SPINACH AND GOAT CHEESE SALAD
Baby Spinach leaves
Goat Cheese crumbles
Spiced Nuts – like almonds or pecans
Dress with Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
- Mix all the ingredients in a large salad bowl and dress with Balsamic Vinaigrette. Toss well to combine.
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste
- Mix all the ingredients in a small glass jar and shake well.
After a week without eating solid foods, you certainly want to maintain your system as clean as possible. We are encouraged to eat only fruits and salads after we finish our spiritual retreats.
This was the salad I made right after we came back to the “land of the eaters”… it was improvised by what was freshest at the market on New Year’s Day, but it turned out to be so delicious, that we prepared it exactly the same for a few days after because I got so enamored of the flavors.
This is my way to get you enamored with salads too… hope it works!!!!
MIXED GREEN SALAD
2 large handfuls of Baby Arugula
1 large handful of Baby Spinach
1 handful of Alfalfa sprouts
1 Tomato, sliced
¼ cup sliced Almonds
¼ cup dried Cranberries
Lemon Vinaigrette – Lime juice, Extra Virgin Olive oil, Salt and Pepper
- Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large salad bowl. Squirt the juice of ½ a lemon, drizzle some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss all the ingredients with your hands to combine well.
- Eat immediately… as the lettuces will wilt if you let this salad sit for too long.
This is a recipe from my friend Jeanette Quiñones from Sazón Boricua…
When she read about my fascination with the gandules Lula made for our recent baby shower, she told me she had a great recipe she always serves as an appetizer for parties and family gatherings. She offered to give it to me and you all… she only needed the pictures.
I am glad to have waited because the pictures are gorgeous!!!! I have not had time to make the recipe myself, but if you do, please feel free to write me a comment so we can all let Jeanette know how we feel about it. OK??
If you like to invite people over to your house and feel you always end up making the “same old, same old” appetizers as always, I invite you to make these pigeon peas in escabeche. It’s an easy and delicious alternative I am sure will please many.
PIGEON PEAS ESCABECHE
2 cans of green pigeon peas, drained (KarmaFree highly recommends organic brands)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 small bay leaves
2 tbs sofrito, optional
1 tsp of black peppercorns
¾ cup olive oil
¼ cup white vinegar
¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tsp salt
1 roasted red pepper, finely chopped
½ cup of pimento-stuffed olives
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
½ cup celery, chopped finely
- Cook the onion until translucent over about 2 tbs of olive oil over medium heat. Add the sofrito, peppercorns, vinegar, bay leaves and the rest of the olive oil. Take off the heat.
- On a separate bowl, add the roasted red pepper, olives, celery and jalapeño. Transfer the cooked sofrito mixture and add the drained pigeon peas to the bowl. Stir well to combine. Finally, add the fresh cilantro and season with salt.
- Let the mixture stand and macerate for at least 2 hours before serving them.
You can serve these pigeon peas with mini pita breads, pita chips, salted crackers, home-made tortilla chips or even as a filling for tostones made into small baskets, we call these tostones rellenos. I feel a class is coming up on how to make those… OK???
Jeanette is the CEO and founder of Sazón Boricua. She started her blog from Puerto Rico on 2008 to share recipes, advice and tips for the home. She collaborates with Qué Rica Vida, has been selected as a Top Bloguera by LATISM 2012 and is also the founder of Red Bloguera de Puerto Rico. You can follow Jeanette on Facebook, on Twitter @sazon_boricua or via her blog Sazón Boricua. Contact her via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is my take on a baklava-inspired puff pastry sweet appetizer… I wanted to do something completely nutty in the filling, but taking advantage of the unsulfured dried fruits available when I travel to the US, I decided to look for a recipe using dried fruit.
I started out with Giada’s Apricot Walnut Phyllo cups, but to make it easy on me, I would do palmiers out of puff pastry. I usually do not use orange zest in my cooking because I find it too bitter for my taste, but the crowd seemed to like it a lot. It brought out the apricot taste even more.
APRICOT WALNUT PALMIERS
1 1/2 cups dried apricots, unsulfured preferably, chopped a bit
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon orange zest, from 1 large orange, plus more for garnish, optional,
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
- In the bowl of a food processor mix together the dried apricots, walnuts, honey, orange juice and zest. Pulse a few times so it creates a choppy mixture.
- Open the puffed pastry (which comes folded in three). Place some flour onto a clean surface and flour the rolling pin too. Roll out the pastry so that it loses the creases where the folds were.
- Spread the apricot walnut mixture in an even layer leaving a border on one edge.
- Start rolling from the farthest edge from the border you left without filling. Roll the pastry onto itself until you create a log. If you prefer to make them in palmier form, roll them from two opposites sides until the 2 rolls meet somewhere in the middle.
- Repeat with the second pastry. Place logs in the fridge covered with a moist paper towel for about 10-15 minutes or until you’re ready to bake them. This is important for the pastry to harden a bit again. It’ll be easier to cut if the pastry is cold than if it is at room temp.
- Slice the logs into ½ inch pieces. Place onto a baking sheet. I put some organic sugar on top, but I did not love how those turned out, but I forgot to take a pic without it.
- Bake in a 425F oven for about 10-12 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and golden delicious.
I suggest that if you have leftovers, heat them back a bit in a toaster oven… This will soften the apricots in the filling, which tend to harden when they’re colder.
Next time… I promise to make the nut only mixture I envisioned originally. But these ones were a nice twist on my original idea…