Ashlie was commenter #18 and is the winner of the Almost Meatless giveaway. Congrats to Ashlie and many thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway. I feel very lucky to have such engaged readers and appreciate all of your thoughtful comments.
When I saw Amanda Hesser’s recipe for Preserved Strawberries with Chilies over on food52 recently, I was intrigued. I’m a big fan of the whole “sweet heat” concept, so I knew I’d love this combination.
I ran out to my local natural foods store, bought a pound of organic strawberries (they were on sale, a bonus), and made the recipe right away.
I am not sure whether I’m correct in calling this a jam (or if it’s really “preserves” or “conserves”), but I am sure that this recipe is delicious. I’ve made it twice now.
And I’ll definitely be making it again, as the strawberries are now ripening in my garden (so no more running out to the store).
I used organic sugar and dried aji panca chile (available in my OpenSky shop) in the recipe.
This jam is sweet without being over the top, and I think it has just the perfect amount of heat. Feel free to substitute 1 dried New Mexico chile or 1-2 ancho chiles instead of the aji panca chile. I recommend sampling the jam as it cooks so you can guage if it is spicy enough for you, but keep in mind that some of the chile flavor may fade a bit after a few days.
Note that I got two slightly different results the two times I made this jam. The first batch (which you see in the picture at the top of this post) cooked down to 1 cup and was a gorgeous deep red hue. It had large chunks of candied strawberries, and the chilies were quite broken down.
The second batch (which you see spread on the bread at the end of this post) made almost 2 cups, has more of the typical jam consistency, and has larger pieces of the dried chile.
Clearly I did something different the second time (didn’t break up the chile as much? stirred it more vigorously but cooked it a little less time? ), but I loved it both ways…
Amanda Hesser's Preserved Strawberries with Chiles
* 1 pound whole ripe strawberries, preferably organic
* 1 dried aji panca chile (or 1 New Mexico chile or 1-2 anchos, if you prefer), stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped (no need to rehydrate)
* 1 cup organic sugar
* Juice of 1/2 lemon
1. Place the strawberries in a heavy, medium-size pot with the chile(s) and the sugar.
2. Set the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 1 hour. Stir gently every 10-15 minutes, being careful not to break up the strawberries: you want them to stay as whole as possible.
3. After an hour, the strawberries should appear shrunken and the syrup will have thickened considerably. Add the lemon juice and stir everything around before removing from the heat. Allow to cool a bit before you spoon into a 1-2 cup glass jar and store in the refrigerator (where it should keep for several weeks). It will thicken more as it cools.
I had every intention of putting this post up yesterday, and I was supposed to close out the giveaway for the signed copy of Almost Meatless: Recipes That Are Better for Your Health and the Planet last night.
All sorts of family obligations plus gardening chores and building a coop/run for the chickens we’re getting next weekend (and then the Lost finale!) kind of got in the way, though.
So here’s the last recipe I’m featuring from this great book.
I’m extending the giveaway by one day so you can still enter until midnight tonight. If you’ve already posted a comment on one of my last two blog posts, you’re all set.
If you haven’t entered the giveaway yet, just leave a comment at the end of this post telling me how you feel about seeing recipes that involve meat on this blog. Your comment is your entry. I really want to know what you think, so please be honest!
I will pick a winner at random tomorrow.
A few notes about the recipe:
Chimichurri is an Argentinian condiment that typically includes parsley, garlic and chiles. I’ve never made it before, and I really fell in love with Tara and Joy’s version. I used a dried ancho chile because I didn’t have a jalapeno and I used equal parts cilantro and parsley. It comes together in a flash in a food processor, and I’ll definitely be making it again.
I used a grass-fed skirt steak, which I personally prefer over flank steak. If you’d like to make these vegetarian, you can substitute grilled portobello mushrooms, bell peppers, and eggplant for the beef. Use corn tortillas if you don’t eat gluten. Add rice, black beans and a salad for a great Mexican meal. My 11 year old son thought these were the best fajitas he’s ever had, by the way…
From Almost Meatless by Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond; shared here with permission of the authors
Serves 6 to 8
*4 cups loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
*2 cups loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
*1 medium jalapeno, seeded and coarsely chopped
*3 cloves garlic
*1/2 teaspoon toasted cumin seeds
*1 teaspoon salt
*1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
*2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (about 2 limes)
*2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
*1/2 cup olive oil
*1 medium green zucchini (about 1 pound), sliced 1/4 inch thick lengthwise
*1 medium yellow zuccini (about 1 pound), sliced 1/4 inch thick lengthwise
*Salt and pepper
*1 medium red onion, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rings
*1 flank steak or skirt steak (about 1 1/2 pounds)
*12 or more 6-inch flour or corn tortillas
*1 cup sour cream (optional)
*1 cup grated cheddar cheese (optional)
1. Combine the parsley, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, cumin seeds, salt, pepper, lime juice, and vinegar in the bowl of a food processor.
2. Pulse three or four times, forming a coarse paste. With the processor running, add the oil through the food chute in a steady stream, forming a textured sauce.
3. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Reserve 1/4 cup of the sauce for the marinade, and transfer the rest to a small serving bowl and set aside.
1. Lightly brush the zucchini strips and the onion with half of the reserved chimichurri and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Place in a a zippered storage bag. Season the steak with the pepper and rub the remaining chimichurri on both sides.
3. Let the vegetables and the steak sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
4. Preheat the grill to medium-high.
5. Season the steak with salt, and grill for 6 to 8 minutes per side for medium-rare. At the same time, grill the zucchini and onion slices for about 3 minutes per side, until grill marks appear and the vegetables are just tender. Transfer the grilled zucchini and onions to a plate, stacking them so the heat continues to cook them a bit.
6. Grill the tortillas for about 30 seconds per side, until warm and slightly blackened. Wrap in foil to keep warm.
7. Remove the steak from the grill and let it sti for about 10 minutes. Slice the meat very thin across the grain.
Assemble the Fajitas:
1. Pile 2 strips of steak and several pieces of zucchini and onion on each grilled tortilla. Drizzle with chimichurri sauce and roll it up, or leave the assembly to the crowd. Serve with sour cream and cheese if you like.
The only problem with these fajitas was trying to keep them away from my big dog. She’s a very big fan of steak!
This recipe for Tuna Tartine comes from Almost Meatless by Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond.
I’m featuring recipes from the book this week, and then I’ll be giving away a copy signed by both authors. If you commented on my last post, you’re already entered in the giveaway. If not, I’ll let you know how to enter after the recipe.
According to Joy and Tara, a tartine is the French version of “an open-faced sandwich on toasted, buttered bread, topped with a variety of ingredients”.
I’ve always loved a good tuna salad: high quality canned tuna plus just the right amount of celery and minced onion with real mayonnaise (preferably made with olive oil) equals “yum” in my book.
But maybe you don’t like mayo. Or maybe you want a more interesting tuna salad, one with more color and nutrition going on.
This recipe for Tuna Tartine is a little like a salad niçoise, since you add hard-boiled egg and dress it with a lemon vinaigrette. The tuna is mixed with some of my favorite flavor-intense ingredients (hello olives, pine nuts and parsley), and since it also includes beans, you’re able to stretch the tuna…this recipe feeds 4-6 people with just one large can.
I’d be remiss here if I didn’t mention the mercury/sustainability issues you need to be aware of when it comes to tuna consumption, though. The Natural Resources Defense Council has a great chart that details its recommendations for how often you can safely eat tuna.
Note that white albacore tuna is higher in mercury than light tuna; for this reason, I only eat it once a month or so (I did use it to make this salad). Light tuna is lower in mercury and can be enjoyed more frequently. As you can see in the chart, children should eat tuna even less often than adults, due to their lower body weight, and pregnant women probably shouldn’t eat it at all.
It’s best to buy from companies that catch tuna using sustainable methods. These are usually more expensive than the large brands that shall remain nameless, but they are generally a superior product taste-wise, too. If you aren’t able to find a good product in your area, Vital Choice carries sustainably-caught, low-mercury tuna (and it’s also “dolphin-safe”).
From Almost Meatless by Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond; shared with permission of the authors
*1 (12-ounce) can tuna packed in water, drained
*2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
*1 hard-boiled egg, cooled and chopped
*1/4 cup pitted niçoise or picholine olives, chopped
*1 tomato, diced (about 1 cup)
*1/2 cup dried white beans, cooked, or about 1/3 (15-ounce) can, drained and rinsed (I used cooked chickpeas)
*1 stalk celery, chopped into 1/4-inch-thick pieces
*2 tablespoons minced red onion 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
*1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
*Pinch of sugar
*2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
*3 tablespoons olive oil
*Butter for toast (optional)
*Crusty French bread (boule or baguette), sliced 1/2 inch thick, toasted (I used my favorite sourdough)
1. In a bowl, combine the tuna, pine nuts, egg, olives, tomato, beans, celery, onion, and parsley.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, sugar, and lemon juice. Slowly whisk in the oil until a smooth emulsion forms. Pour the vinaigrette over the tuna mixture and toss gently to coat.
3. Butter each piece of toast if you wish and top with a few heaping spoonfuls of tuna salad.
If you’d like to enter the giveaway for a signed copy of Almost Meatless, please leave me a comment about how you feel about eating fish. Do you eat it a lot? Or not much at all? What do you take into account when buying fish (Price? Wild vs. farmed? Mercury?) Where do you buy it? Do you worry about the health of our oceans? I’d love to know your feelings on this topic.
I’ll combine all the comments from this post with those from my last post, as well as comments related to these posts on my blog’s facebook page to determine a random winner. The giveaway closes Sunday May 23rd at midnight.