So I have this idea – let’s start a support group for people who can’t stop collecting cookbooks. We can all join and try to help each other through our obsession, but we’ll all just end up swapping cookbooks and recipes anyways. Deal?
In today’s post I’ll be talking about Near and Far, a beautifully written and photographed cookbook by Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks. Having followed Heidi’s blog for some time now, I was so incredibly excited to get her book and see what sort of recipes she featured. While Heidi isn’t entirely a plant-based cook, all of her recipes include natural, whole-food ingredients and are always vegetarian. As hinted in the title, her style of food in inspired by the places she’s traveled, both near and far from home. This is exactly the type of cooking I’ve been into lately – getting a little out of my comfort zone, and experimenting with new cuisines and cultures.
I was so excited for the book to come in the mail that as I was waiting, I hungrily searched for other reviews online (to get a sneak peek). Mostly the reviews were positive, but there were a few complaints about difficulty sourcing ingredients, and some “impracticality” of the recipes themselves. And while I definitely understand that perspective, I don’t necessarily agree.
Here’s my deal – if I bought cookbooks with ingredients I’ve seen before and techniques I’ve already used, I’ll never grow as a cook; I’ll never learn about other cultures. And what makes Heidi different as a cookbook author is that she’s not afraid to use the real, authentic ingredients indigenous to the culture from which the recipe was inspired. And while finding umeboshi plum vinegar might require a bit more effort than a trip to your local market, I for one am more than up to the challenge. I love seeking out new ingredients and foods and flavors. It is, quite literally, the spice of life!
So when I opened up my copy of Near and Far, I was thrilled to see things like Beghrir (Moroccan semolina panckes), Nori Granola, and Rasam (a South Indian Soup) – containing ingredients and combinations I had never used before. The recipe I chose to feature is one I would have scoffed at when I was much younger…. Fruit in a salad? Garlic AND mint?? Once these flavor combinations seemed so foreign to me. I chuckled a bit reading this recipe, imagining my reaction to seeing this recipe as an 8-year-old. Fortunately, since then my mind has opened and my palate expanded.
Now I’d probably call myself a flavor junkie. I’m always looking for new and exciting tastes, and I think this salad really delivers on that. The recipe calls for cara cara oranges (my favorite), which are pink and slightly sweeter than navels but just a little tangy. However, they won’t be in season until the winter, so I subbed regular navel oranges. Paired with luscious greens sautéed in toasted garlic, zingy mint, and a mouthwatering honey-lime vinaigrette – this salad is a definite palate pleaser.
- ¼ Cup Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
- ¼ Tsp Sea Salt (I used Himalayan)
- ⅛ Tsp Black Pepper
- ½ Tbs Honey (I used local, ethically-sourced honey)
- 2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Tbs Garlic, finely minced
- 4 Cups Chopped Radicchio (I used curly kale, but frisée or any hardy green would work as well)
- 1 Cup Celery, cut into small ½ inch pieces
- ¼ Cup Chopped Chives
- 1 Cup Cara Cara Orange Segments, halved (I used about 2 navel oranges, and supremed mine)
- ½ Cup Roughly Torn Mint Leaves (I used spearmint)
- 1 Cup Peanuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (I used slivered almonds instead)
- Start by making the dressing. Combine lime juice, black pepper, and honey. Set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and garlic, then carefully tilt the pan to pool the oil and toast the garlic. When the garlic begins to color uniformly, after a couple of minutes, turn off the heat - medium toasted is what you're after, not burnt. With a slotted spoon, remove the toasted garlic to a paper towel and allow it to cool, preserving the garlic in the oil.
- Using the same pan, dial up the heat a bit more, and when the oil is hot add the radicchio (or your type of greens). Stir every 10 seconds or so until the radicchio is slightly wilted but still crunchy, about 1 minute total. Remove from the pan.
- Just before serving, combine the celery, chives, orange segments, mint, and peanuts (or almonds) - reserve a bit of each for finishing - on a large platter or bowl. Add the radicchio, toasted garlic, and dressing to the bowl and toss to coat. Finish with the reserved celery, chives, oranges, mint, and peanuts.
I received this book from Blogging for Books to review! All thoughts and opinions remain my own.