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Posts tagged ‘mint’

Green Bean and Apricot Salad with Mint

Fruits + veggies = awesome salad. I think Pythagoras came up with that.

Green Bean and Apricot Salad with Mint

I’ve loved green beans (sometimes called string beans) since I was a little kid, especially raw green beans. Some of my happiest memories involve munching on raw green beans while Mom wheeled me around the Stop and Shop in the grocery cart. Canned, salty green beans have their place, but nothing tops the crisp, sweet freshness of a raw green bean. My grandma, however, used to flip out when I ate raw green beans, because apparently someone started a rumor that raw green beans were terrible for you. My aunt informed me that the rumor when she was growing up was that raw green beans gave you worms, and a quick Google search led me to other rumors such as toxicity. Well, I’ve eaten tons of raw green beans in my lifetime and lived to tell the tale; so unless I’m some kind of mutant, I’m thinking this is just a rumor (maybe one started by the Jolly Green Giant company).

Because raw green beans are sweet, I figured they would go great in a salad with fruit, mint, and a sweet dressing. In further pondering, I decided to pair them with raw apricots. Raw apricots, unlike their dried counterparts, have a bit of a sweet/tart flavor, which complements sweet green beans very well.

To start, I chopped up some green beans into small matchstick pieces, as shown below. I also removed the tops and bottoms, which are generally  pointy, stringy, and/or stem-y (stem-y is an adjective now) – characteristics I don’t necessarily want in a salad.

I then sliced up two apricots. I used one standard orange apricot, and one red velvet apricot (sometimes called black apricots). The latter is a deep red and tastes kind of like a plum. If you see them at the store, give them a try! I sliced both into large coins and added them to the green beans, along with a carrot, slivered almonds, and spearmint. I happened to have spearmint lying around so that’s what I used; but I’m sure any mint will do. I then whisked together some olive oil and agave nectar to create a light dressing, poured it over the vegetables, and tossed. While allowing this mixture to sit, I tore up some kale and placed it on my plate. I then added the properly-dressed veggies and fruits, seasoned with pink peppercorns, and voila! A refreshing summer salad that’s made with several seasonal ingredients. Enjoy!

Green Bean and Apricot Salad with Mint (Serves 1)

1 cup chopped raw green beans

2 apricots, thinly sliced into coins

1 carrot, cut into coins

2 TB slivered almonds

1-2 TB minced fresh spearmint

1 TB olive oil

1 tsp agave nectar

2 cups torn kale

Pink pepper, to taste

Combine the green beans, apricots, carrot, almonds, and mint in a small bowl. Whisk together the oil and agave until well-blended, then drizzle over the fruits and vegetables, tossing to coat. Allow to sit for a few minutes. Place the torn kale on a plate, then top with the green bean/apricot mixture. Top with fresh pink pepper and extra mint leaves, if desired.

Cucumber Radish Soup

Summer’s here, meaning it’s time to cool down the soup!

Cucumber Radish Soup

I am a relatively recent convert to cold soups. It’s like having a smoothie, but less sweet and in a bowl; and they’re perfect for summer! Soups make a great meal because you can load many different kinds of vegetables into them, and they’re a change of pace from salads and the like. Gazpacho is a given as far as a tasty cold soup, and I have also tried fruity ones with success (I still dream about a cold watermelon soup I had at an Italian restaurant about a month ago). I am also a fan of cucumber soups, and decided to make my own with ingredients I had lying around the house.

I am also a recent convert to radishes. I’ve never disliked them, but I never really bought them to keep around the house for my culinary use. However, in my quest to largely stick with Farmer’s Market produce, I decided to give radishes a try, as they had some great-looking ones at the Farmer’s Market last week. Like most vegetables, radishes are (surprise) very good for you – they’re very high in Vitamin C, and the leaves are a good source of calcium. Plus, they’re nice and spicy!

Mm, radishes

I thought that spicy radishes would make a a nice complement to cool cucumber in a cold soup. So, I combined the two with a spring onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, and almond milk in a blender, pureeing until nice and smooth. Did I mention that cold soups are probably one of the easiest meals in existence? The hardest part is waiting for an hour or so to eat it, since it needs an hour minimum to chill; so don’t make this if you’re hungry! Make it ahead of time and allow it to not only get cool, but develop a nice flavor. Speaking of, the spices are to taste; and the soup may seem a touch sparse upon first sip. I highly encourage taking a few bites before adding more seasoning, as the garlic, onion, and radish will hit you in the aftertaste! It creates a smooth, mellow taste that lingers as opposed to smacking you right away. But if, after a bit, it’s still too plain, feel free to add some more salt and pepper to your liking.

This soup goes well with a nice bread dipped in a seasoned olive oil. Dig in!

Cucumber Radish Soup (Serves 2)

1 small pickling cucumber (or half of a large cucumber)

2 radishes

1 large or 2-3 small spring onions, white parts only

2 cloves of garlic

1 cup plain unsweetened almond milk

1 tsp dried peppermint OR 1-2 TB minced fresh peppermint

1/4 to 1/2 tsp cumin, or to taste

Coriander, salt, and pepper, to taste

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. You may want to chop the vegetables first (unless you have an incredibly strong blender). Chill for at least an hour before serving.

Once More on the Go: Sweetgreen

A growing trend in fast food is the quickie salad place, an eatery where they create your salad in an assembly line and have it ready usually in under five minutes. I’m all for this type of fast food, especially since fast and healthy options are usually few and far between. One of my favorite fast salad places is also very vegan friendly, locavore friendly, and environmentally friendly – Sweetgreen!

Sweetgreen has various locations throughout DC and the metro area, including Georgetown, Dupont Circle, and Ballston. I recently went to the one in Ballston (and that’s where the pictures are from), but I also frequented the one in Georgetown when I went to school there. Sweetgreen offers wonderful pre-determined salad combos on their menu, and also a variety of ingredients so you can make your own. The ingredients are all delicious and taste incredibly fresh, probably because most of them come from local farms! Each day Sweetgreen tells you where their local ingredients came from, and their seasonal salads are based on which ingredients are currently in season. Mm, fresh and local food!

With such an abundance of local ingredients, it's a wonder why more eateries don't work with local farms!

On this particular trip I ordered the seasonal May Salad, a salad made with  mesclun greens, arugula, mint, strawberries, sunflower seeds, and asparagus. The salad is advertised as coming with feta cheese, but I decided to keep it vegan and swap out the feta for their amazing roasted tofu. Seriously, try this tofu – it’s covered in some wonderful seasonings and it’s roasted to a great bite! I also want to praise Sweetgreen for subbing the tofu for the cheese at no extra cost, and for including the tofu amongst its cheaper toppings when it comes to building your own salad. Furthermore, the two cheapest salads on the menu – the sabzi and the chic-p – are both vegan, helping to abolish the myth that eating vegan is more expensive than a meat-based diet. Oftentimes eating vegan is actually the cheaper option!

As with all of their salads, my May Salad came with a delicious wedge of multigrain bread. At the Ballston location they served the salad in a reusable bowl, though at Georgetown they only serve them in to-go containers since it’s a much smaller venue and doesn’t offer seating. However, Sweetgreen’s plasticware is plant-based, and I believe all of it is compostable – the Sweetgreen in Ballston didn’t even have a garbage bin! They had one bin for compostables (napkins, cups, silverware, etc.), and one for bottles – that’s it. How impressive! Further, they sell reusable versions of their to-go containers, and offer a discount each time you use it. Kudos for promoting sustainability in more ways than just recycled napkins.

The May Salad - get it while it's still in season!

The salad itself was about $8, which is a very good price considering how fresh and healthy the ingredients were, and how big the salad was! These salads are definitely meals, so don’t order one thinking it’ll go on the side with a sandwich or something – these salads are front and center when it comes to your lunch! Most of the salads range from $7.50 to $9 before tax, and drinks are between $2 and $3. They offer house lemonade, soda made from organic cane sugar (no high fructose corn syrup here), Honest Tea, and other tasty beverages. They also sell organic tart frozen yogurt, which comes with various fruits, nuts, and dark chocolate for toppings. Unfortunately they do not have a vegan frozen yogurt, but maybe they will in the future! (Devises letter-writing campaign)

In short, Sweetgreen is a restaurant that is tasty, reasonably-priced, vegan friendly, and fast. It’s perfect for lunch or for a light dinner, and has many options for people with any sort of dietary need!