Crispy Chickpea Salad Kit with Butter Fried Croutons

When they said that everything changes when you have children, I didn’t realize that this would extend to my tastebuds! In my postpartum life, I am suddenly obsessed with two opposites: sugar and salad. (But Molly, you’ve always been obsessed with sugar? I mean, I’ve always been obsessed with making things with sugar, but until 18 weeks ago I would have chosen a pile of cheese fries over ice cream any day. Now... not so much.) We can argue about the sugar thing later but today’s post is about my new heightened love of ~salad~. It started literally from the day after Bernie was born. I had my token I’m-not-pregnant-anymore Jimmy John’s Italian Nightclub on white bread and then my excellent friend Heather texted that she would like to deliver a gigantic salad to me at the hospital. She brought me a big container of greens with chopped apple and cheddar and a bunch of colorful veggies and held my one-day-old Bernie while I gobbled up every last leaf. It was the tastiest thing in the world. Not just because Heather is one of my favorite chefs in the world but also because something had changed in my tastebuds that made me love raw vegetables and forkfuls of greens like never before. So that salad was the first salad of the rest of my postpartum salad-obsessed life and what happened after that was Eggboy and I proceeded to live on salads. Friends and Eggmom delivered tons of salads and I got mediumly good at balancing a salad bowl on the arm of the recliner while I nursed Bernie. And then after we ate all of the salad deliveries, we cobbled together as many salads as we could. I’d put Bernie in her sling and try to assemble a salad without having to chop anything because I didn’t want to use a knife while she was on me, or I’d try to direct Eggboy in making a salad but salad making requires serious multitasking skills and, erm, they don’t not call him Multitaskingboy for nothing (sorry!!!), so what we found was that salad kits are a great invention!!! Wow, they are so good at getting crunchy greens into my mouth. They make salads achievable in 30 seconds. They come with cute bags of crunchy things and tiny bags of seasoning that look like dime bags! The dressings are fatty and ok tasting! My first few journeys out of the house with Bernie were to the Hugo’s salad section, where I’d get a dozen salad kits at a time. We’d gobble them up multiple times a day. I know what you’re thinking though, and I absolutely agree: salad kits are flawed. There aren’t enough crunchies, the nuts are too brittle, the dressing is probably loaded with crazy ingredients I’ve never heard of, and where is the protein! I never said they were perfect, but they got me dreaming...

In the produce section of my grocery store dreams, salad kits are way more luxurious. They come with fluffy butter-fried pita croutons, crispy salty chickpeas, a small bag of za’atar, feta (!), and creamy tahini dressing. And you know what they say about dreams, make them come true! So now that Bernie has gotten pretty good at sitting in her bouncy chair, playing with her toys, listening to Raffi, and keeping me company in the kitchen, my hands have been free enough to do some salad prep at the beginning of the week, eliminating my need to clear out the salad kit section. It’s so fun. We sing Down By The Bay and squeeze lemons into tahini and whenever something smells particularly good I stick it under Bernie’s nose so she can take a whiff. So far the only thing that’s yielded a huge smile is the freshly baked pita that I was about to turn into croutons. Same, Bern, same.

So here’s a little non-recipe to get your juices flowing so that you can create your own salad kits with whatever’s looking good in your garden, your favorite cheeses and dressings, and whatever forgotten chunk of bread you have lying around that’s waiting to be crouton’d. I usually just pile all of the prepped veggies in a container or bag and then make separate containers of cheese, dressing, croutons, and a protein so that everything is ready to dump and go, easy peasy. Make a few at a time! Make one to deliver to a friend! Go wild!


Crispy Chickpea Salad Kit with Butter Fried Croutons

Veggies: In a big container, pile in fresh spinach or other greens, halved grape tomatoes, chopped cucumbers, chopped red onion, thinly sliced radishes, and chopped fresh mint. Store in the fridge for up to three days.

Chickpeas: Drain, rinse, and dry a can of chickpeas and dump them onto a rimmed baking sheet. Toss with a good drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast at 350ºf for 50 minutes, tossing occasionally. Let cool and transfer to a container. Store at room temp for up to four days.

Feta: Put a big handful in a cute container 🤷🏻‍♀️Store in the fridge.

Za’atar: Put a teaspoon or so in a tiny bag. Seal with a cute piece of washi tape.

Tahini dressing: Mix 1/4 c tahini with a squeeze of lemon juice and 3-4 tb water until creamy and pourable. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a cute jar and store in the fridge for up to four or five days. If it gets too thick to pour while it’s in the fridge, mix in a little more water before serving.

Butter fried croutons: Heat a good layer of butter in a pan over medium and tear up two thick fluffy pitas into the pan. Fry until golden and crispy on the outside but still a little chewy on the inside (I like em best this way!) transfer to a plate, sprinkle with salt, and let cool. Store in a container at room temperature for four or five days.

-yeh!

classic cookie salad

I’ve been watching so many '60s period dramas that dressing up to make cookie salad felt like a fun thing to do. And it totally was! I figured since we had so much fun with classic tater tot hotdish, it was also time to make another classically upper Midwestern delicacy, the cookie salad. Cookie salad blows the other upper Midwest sweet salads, like candy bar salad, out of the water. Easily. It’s not like hotdish, where wild rice and tater tot would definitely make for an edge-of-your-seat 7-game neck-and-neck series. It’s truly more like a UND hockey team versus every team in their conference situation, where they are just in an entirely different league and there are fireworks at every game. 

A typical cookie salad consists of the following things:

Fudge stripe cookies 

Canned Mandarin oranges or sliced bananas

Vanilla instant pudding mix stirred into buttermilk

frozen whip

They all get mixed together into a fluffy puddingy dessert and then topped with crushed cookies or cookies broken in half and stuck on top to look like little tombstones. This is an important distinction. Your family either crushes or breaks and there’s not a whole lot of overlap except for now because Eggmom crushes and look, I break. I just like the aesthetic, ok? Eggmom taught me both though. She also taught me that mini marshmallows and jelly beans are acceptable mix-ins (I love the textural sensation that marshmallows add).

And,

Ok,

Here is where things get a little…different: Eggmom serves this with the main course. And so does everyone else!!!!! I thought I was hearing things when she said she serves it with the ham (!!!!) but as I dug further and further it slowly became clear that this. is. actually. served. with. the. salads. and. not. the. desserts. 

This is a next level sweet/savory relationship, right???? 

If ham and cookie salad can work as a marriage then surely we aren’t all doomed.

I present to you, my audition picture for women laughing alone with salad:

On my journey to a homemade cookie salad, I did the following:

Made homemade fudge stripes! I went with a simple buttery shortbread that’s sweet and crispy and has a hint of almond. And rather than dealing with the mess of getting chocolate on the bottom, like regular fudge stripes, I gave them thicker-than-usual stripes on top. 

In place of the pudding + buttermilk combo, I experimented a bit with making homemade buttermilk pudding but found the buttermilk to be just too sour for my tastes. I don’t remember it being this sour when Eggmom made me hers. I wonder if something in the instant pudding packets offsets the sourness of buttermilk. Instead I went with a rich vanilla pastry cream.

And instead of frozen whip I obviously went with a good old fresh whip because duh. I’ve always been a sucker for fresh whip, it is the heavy cream at its best. I’m using Land O Lakes® Heavy Whipping Cream here which has a deliciously pure flavor. 

I stuck with the canned mandarins for this but you could definitely go with fresh mandarins as well. 

Lastly, here is a pro-tip: make this the day before so the cookies soak in the pudding and take on a cake-like texture. It is so satisfying. I love it forever. And of course the fact that this can be prepped a day (or even two days!) ahead of time makes this a perfect Thanksgiving dessert. I mean salad! Omg. 


Classic Cookie Salad

Serves 8

ingredients

For the pudding

3 tb (24g) all-purpose flour

6 tb (75g) sugar

1/4 tsp kosher salt

3 egg yolks

1 1/2 c (360g) Land O Lakes® Heavy Whipping Cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp almond extract

 

For the cookies

1 c (130g) all-purpose flour, more for dusting

1/2 c (60g) powdered sugar

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp vanilla extract 

1/2 tsp almond extract 

1/2 c (113g) Land O Lakes® European Style Unsalted Butter, cold and cubed

5 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

For assembly

1 1/2 c (360g) Land O Lakes® Heavy Whipping Cream

1/4 c (30g) powdered sugar

2 (11 oz) cans mandarin orange slices

Sprinkles, optional

Clues

To make the pudding, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the egg yolks and then the heavy cream. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until it’s thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Add the vanilla and almond extracts, pour into a heat safe bowl, and cover with plastic wrap so that it touches the surface of the pudding. Refrigerate until cooled, about 1 hour or overnight. 

To make the cookies, combine the flour, powdered sugar, and salt in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. With the mixer running on low, add the vanilla and almond extracts and then gradually add the butter. Mix until the mixture comes together into a dough, slowly increasing the speed once you’re confident that doing so won’t result in flour flying everywhere. Divide the dough in half, press into discs, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight. (If you’re impatient, fine, skip this step.)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/8”-1/4” thick. Cut out 2” circles with a biscuit cutter and then use a big piping tip to cut out 1/2” holes from the center. (Re-roll scraps as needed.) Place them on the baking sheets an inch apart and then bake until they’re jusssst starting to brown around the edges, start checking for doneness at 12 minutes. Let cool on the pans. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in a microwave in 30 second increments, stirring after each. Let it cool slightly and then pour it into a piping bag. Snip off the tip and then pipe on 4 thick chocolate stripes. Let the chocolate harden at room temp or in the fridge.

To assemble, first make the whipped cream. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the cream and powdered sugar to stiff peaks. In a large bowl, fold together the whipped cream and pudding. Crush the cookies by hand or in a ziplock bag with a rolling pin or other blunt object (reserving 6-8 for the topping) and fold them in. Drain the mandarin slices and fold those in (reserve some of these for the topping too). Top with remaining cookies, mandarin slices, and sprinkles. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. 

-yeh!

thanks to land o’lakes for sponsoring this post!

photos by chantell and brett quernemoen

carrot, feta, and pistachio salad with orange blossom toss + a giveaway!

hello from sunny los angeles where i am in town for a storm of fun things including filming with tastemade, talking about book stuff by the pool with alana (in 80 degree weather! omg), *researching* new restaurants like mh zh and kismet, hanging with extended family and my pops (!) who just happens to be in town too, and celebrating the launch of lily's book!! everyone together now: happy book birthday, lily!!!!

i am so excited that this day has come. lily and i have been talking about her book for two years now, and i still vividly remember the first time she told me about it. i was in los angeles to play an opera (it was this trip!) and after one of the shows lily and alana and i were standing outside at a bar downtown in a cloud of hot dog smell because alana had just bought a hot dog from a cart down the street. i buried myself in that smell because you know how i feel about hot dogs, and then from that cloud lily started listing all of the fresh herbs and edible flowers that her veggie-packed book was going to be organized by. there would be a mint chapter and a thyme chapter, and of course a whole section on roses. my mind went to salads but my nose was still on hot dogs and it created this perfectly wrong full-sensory moment that played out as if the meat scent accidentally got placed on the basil scratch and sniff and i was really, totally into it. 

at the time i was knee-deep in the planning stages of molly on the range, so it was natural that lily and i fell into roles as each other's deadline jazz freakout buddies, or maybe "book bridesmaid" is a more graceful term. (note to everyone writing a book: find a book bridesmaid or two because writing a book is way more labor intensive and freakout-prone than planning a wedding.) i was always so grateful to have a friend going through the same crazy book wildness that i was and i can't imagine going through it again without a friend like lil! now it's her turn to launch her book out into the universe and i am so happy that you'll all get to experience it. the whole situation offers this vibrant colorful approach to fresh things and it'll push you beyond your boundaries in the realm of edible flowers. some of the ingredients, like spirulina or rose petals, might be new to your kitchen, but the techniques are approachable and the world that lily creates within this book is so warm and encouraging.

so get this book. it’s filled with feel-good food and homemade body products that shows mother nature at her best. when you get it you first have to make the salad that eggboy and i have at least once a week, the greek salad with cumin-fried chickpeas and tahini mint dressing.

then you have to do the coconut mint scrub thing. (especially if a neighborhood bird accidentally introduced mint into your garden and now you have a garden of mint.) 

then make the jasmine ice cream that alana is posting about this week, which i’m eating right this very second. 

then you have to throw a hummus night and include this crisp refreshing carrot salad in the lineup. i have done this multiple times! i love having carrots in my salatim repertoire because they add color and starchiness without too much weight. and if you luck out and find rainbow carrots, this salad is a perfect way to showcase them. it’s heavy on the pistachios and feta, which makes me want to whip up a carrot cake with pistachios in it (and feta frosting? no that’d be gross), and it's in the orange blossom chapter, which is a chapter i could cook through five million times before having to buy another bottle of orange blossom water. i am so sensitive to it, i find i only need the teensiest bit to get the full effect. so typically when i make this salad, i start with 1/2 teaspoon of orange blossom water in the toss and then work my way up little by little, as if i were working with rosewater. i’ve also made huge batches of this salad for large groups of people using the shredder attachment on my food processor instead of a peeler to shave them. you can make a lot of it and prepare it a day in advance and it'll stay zingy and fresh. (if you do that, add the fresh mint right before serving though so it stays bright.) 

alright enough about salads, there's a rumor that lily made 36 gallons of cocktails for her launch party tonight so i am going to go drink them all. bye! 


carrot, feta, and pistachio salad with orange blossom toss

serves 4-6

from lily diamond's KALE & CARAMEL: Recipes for Body, Heart, and Table

ingredients

for the orange blossom toss:

2 tb olive oil

3 tb red wine vinegar

1 1/2 tsp orange blossom water

2 tsp honey

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for garnish

1/4 tsp sea salt

 

for the salad:

10 carrots, washed and tops trimmed and removed

1 c coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish

2/3 c chopped toasted pistachio nuts

2/3 c crumbled feta cheese

clues

make the orange blossom toss: combine the oil, vinegar, orange blossom water, honey, cumin, cardamom, the 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes and the salt in a jar, seal, and shake to blend. alternately, whisk the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

make the salad: use a vegetable peeler, mandoline, or spiralizer to slice the carrots into long, thin strips. finely chop a handful of carrot tops (resulting in about 1/4 cup). place the carrot strips and carrot tops in a large salad bowl.

add the mint and pistachios, and pour the dressing over all. toss to combine. gently fold in the feta. top with mint and extra red pepper flakes, if you want an additional kick of spice.


-yeh!

update: this giveaway is now closed. 5/8/2017

p.s. i have one copy of KALE & CARAMEL: Recipes for Body, Heart, and Table to give away! leave a comment telling me about your favorite salad to enter! open to residents of the continental u.s.

fried bagel fattoush

It’s been a very bagel-y few weeks! Which I’m extremely proud of, given the distance between the place where I sleep and the closest true bagel. On Super Bowl Sunday, I journeyed home from Montreal with enough wherewithal after a late night of poutine-ing and discoing to carry back half a dozen St. Viateur bagels and arrive just in time for our party; just this Wednesday, I flew from New York to Sarasota with a Sven-cat-sized pile of hot Ess-A-Bagels that almost got swiped by the man sitting behind me who kept eyeing them; and I’ve officially lined up my local bagel making teacher for this summer after I go on a salmon fishing trip to Alaska where I’ll be collecting the ingredients to make lox. (Hi, Dave!)

Living in a bagel-less world is hard, but it makes me appreciate good bagels even more. And since I so rarely get the chance to eat a good bagel, I never ever feel guilty when the regular bagel eater next to me orders it *scooped out*. #ohmyg. 

But so we got a bagel place in Fargo! Have I told you that? Bernbaum’sIt’s been open for a year or so already, it’s in a midcentury modern furniture store, it’s so great, they have labneh (!), and last week for Valentine’s day when Eggboy and I drove the Eggparents to Fargo for a flight, we stopped for romantic bagels. Which are the same as regular bagels but you eat them on Valentine’s day. And they were so good and chewy that we couldn't not get half a dozen for later.

They brought so much bagel-y joy into our house and later that week I figured, well, I’ve actually been doing pretty well with my New Year’s Resolution of no fried foods during the week, so I gave myself a break and fried them. And I fried them in olive oil so that I could still be kinda healthy (did you know that you can fry in olive oil?), I also put them on a bed of yogurt and vegetables so that I could up the healthy ante, and came up with this salad that I now make almost every day, it’s a fattoush-type thing.

A fattoush is like a middle eastern panzanella, or a salad that you make with stale pita that’s been brought back to life by frying or toasting it. It typically includes cucumbers, greens, and herbs, and is heavy on the sumac. I love sumac, it’s so lemony, I put it on everything. This version with the bagels is cool because the torn pieces end up being plumper and not flat like pita, so the outsides get crunchy and fried and the insides are still chewy and soft. The produce here is all stuff I can get pretty reliably in the dead of winter in the upper Midwest: english cucumbers, fresh herbs, purple onions, and Kristin always brings me preserved lemons when she visits so I have a steady supply of those on hand. Speaking of Kristin, everybody congratulate her on her engagement!!!!!!

Of course, if you have other vegetables that you desperately want to add, do it. Radishes and micro greens would be great, tomatoes would be greater, and add allllll of the fresh herbs that you can get your hands on. Mint was made 4 this salad. 

Lastly, use good olive oil that you can fry with because you don’t want to fill your house with smoke and you also want it to taste good since one layer of this salad is a good drizzle of olive oil. I’m using California Ranch’s Everyday Extra Virgin Olive Oil, but really any of their olive oils will work, since they all taste great and have a sky high smoke point.


fried bagel fattoush

makes 2 servings

ingredients

california olive ranch olive oil

1 everything bagel, torn up (it can be day-old)

1 English cucumber, seeded and chopped

1/2 small purple onion, chopped

4 slices preserved lemon (you can also just squeeze a heavy hand of lemon juice and add some zest)

heaping 1/2 c Yogurt

2 small handfuls of greens

Kosher salt and pepper

2 good pinches of sumac

Tahini sauce (below)

And for added protein, throw in some crispy chickpeas or a fried egg

A handful of cilantro

A handful of mint

clues

Heat a nice healthy layer of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. when the oil is shimmering, add the torn bagel pieces to the skillet and heat, stirring occasionally, until they're hot and crispy and golden brown on the outside.

in a medium bowl, toss together the cucumber, onion, and lemon.

spread the yogurt between two shallow bowls. top each with a handful of greens, half of the cucumber mixture, a drizzle of olive oil, a good pinch of salt, a few turns of pepper pepper, a dusting of sumac, half of the fried bagel, and a good drizzle of tahini sauce. top it with chickpeas or an egg, if using, and then finish it off with the fresh herbs. 

Enjoy! 


tahini sauce

ingredients

1/4 c tahini

3 tb water

1 tb lemon juice

Kosher salt and pepper

ingredients

combine all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. mix until thickened.


-yeh!

thank you, california olive ranch, for sponsoring this post!