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Posts Tagged ‘Pepitas’

The Un-Lettuce Salad via Relishing It

If you’re like me, this time of year you may go a little overboard with salads.  It’s hard not to with all of the fresh, crisp produce popping up in gardens and farmers markets.  I absolutely love a good leafy-green salad, but sometimes I want more than just a lettuce version– something a bit more substantial than those delicate little leaves.  When I’m looking for something heartier, I often turn to my favorite un-lettuce salad.  It’s my favorite way to incorporate a load of healthy vegetables into a meal.

The Un-Lettuce Salad via Relishing It

Alright, this “recipe” is more of a suggestion– an idea, if you will.  You can use what you have, but this is the combination that I like best.  All of these vegetables are currently available in Minnesota.  The pea tendrils give this dish it a nice slightly sweet flavor.  If you can’t find them, a few spinach leaves make a lovely replacement.  Roasted red peppers add a brilliant kick.  If you can’t find fresh ones, feel free to buy a jar.  Sun-dried tomatoes would be perfect in this salad, too.  Ricotta salata is my go-to cheese for summer salads– I love it’s subtle flavor, but parmesan, feta, goat cheese, or even a mild blue would all work.  I used pepitas here, though I often turn to sunflower seeds for a nice crunch.  Load it up with herbs, if you want.  I like dill with this combination.  Are you feeling me, here?  Use your imagination, you’ll be happy.

The Un-Lettuce Salad via Relishing It

Sometimes I make a simple vinaigrette with this salad.  This one works well.  But, more often, I choose to do something creamy, so I enjoy this simple herbed buttermilk dressing.  It’s less gloppy and bad for you than the bottled versions.  I like a dressing that lightly coats my greens, instead of sits on top of them.  I still use full-fat mayonnaise, but just less of it  (even better if you make your own completely out of olive oil– recipe coming soon on that).  The reduced-fat versions tend to have a sweetness to them that makes for an off-flavor.  And honestly, don’t even get me started on the fat-free bottled dressings that are on the grocery store shelves.  If you have them in the refrigerator, do yourself a favor and toss them out.  They are loaded with a bunch of junk (corn syrup to replace the fat?  Seriously?).  Not to mention, your body needs a little fat to absorb all of those healthy things that you eat a salad for in the first place.  Make your own and use less.  Hope you enjoy!

Herbed Buttermilk Dressing via Relishing It

The Un-Lettuce Salad via Relishing It

The Recipe:  The Un-Lettuce Salad

(Make this as big or as small as you like)

Handful of pea tendrils, large stems removed

english cucumbers,

broccoli

cauliflower

garden peas, left in the pod or not

radishes

roasted red peppers

ricotta salata cheese, crumbled

pepitas or sunflower seeds

dill or any herbs you prefer

Herbed Buttermilk Dressing:

2/3 cup buttermilk

4 tablespoons mayonnaise (full fat)

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons finely chopped dill, oregano, and parsley

kosher salt and cracked pepper, to taste

To make the Dressing:  Combine all of the ingredients into a small jar and shake.  Make sure to season properly with salt and pepper.  If you prefer a thicker dressing, and a bit more mayonnaise.

Cut the vegetables into bite-sized pieces.  Place into a large salad bowl and coat with a bit of dressing.  Top with the cheese, nuts, and dill.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing it today!

xo

Laurie

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Thanksgiving is just a week away, but fear not, I’m here to help with your holiday dessert decisions.  This Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake is the answer– trust me.  You already know that we’re a cake-crazy family (just take a look under the recipe section if you need proof), but this is one of our all-time favorites.  I’ve already made it several times this year– most recently for my husband’s birthday a week ago.  It’s beautiful, tastes as good as it looks, and screams ‘celebration’.  Why fall back on the old standards of pumpkin or apple pie, when you can end your Thanksgiving meal with this stunner?

The key component in this cake is brown butter.  I’m of the opinion that it makes everything better.  Brown butter has a complex, nutty, almost caramel-like flavor.  Here, you’ll find it in both the cake and the frosting.  It adds those wonderful, layered flavors that set this cake apart from a typical pumpkin dessert.  And then there’s the nuts.  I’ve topped this cake with a mountain of pecans, pepitas, and ginger– all enveloped by melted brown sugar.  Sublime.  If you don’t want  as many nuts on your cake (what’s wrong with you?), you can half the amounts and sprinkle them in a circle design on top.  I like the grandness of  the big pile on top, plus they’re an addictive snack that you’ll munch on as you assemble this beauty.

I’ve always made this cake with a homemade pumpkin puree.  Aside from the freshness of doing it this way, it’s rewarding to do something with all of those pumpkins that have been decorating the house.  If you have too many things on your plate (yes, I realize that’s a poor pun), feel free to use canned pumpkin puree.  As always, try to use organic and make sure it contains only pureed pumpkin.  Make this cake, and you’ll impress your guests– I promise.

The Recipe: Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake

For the Puree

1 medium-large Sugar Pie pumpkin, cut in half and seeded  (large enough to yield 1 1/2 cups of puree)

For the Cake

6 ounces (3/4 cup) unsalted butter; plus more for pans

9 ounces (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; plus more for pans

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1/3 cup buttermilk  (Note: to make your own add 1 teaspoon white vinegar to 1/3 cup milk and let stand for 10 minutes)

For the Topping:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/3 cups pecans halves

1 cup roasted and salted pepitas (raw and unsalted will work, too — just toast them a bit more with the pecans)

4 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger

For the Frosting

4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsalted butter

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

5 ounces (1 1/4 cups) confectioners’ sugar

To make the Pumpkin Puree:  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Position racks in the center of oven.  Place pumpkin in a baking dish covered with lid or aluminum foil and bake for about 40 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork.  Let cool.  Scoop pumpkin flesh into a food processor and puree until smooth.  You will need 1 1/2 cups of puree for the cake.  Refrigerate or freeze any leftovers.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Position rack in the center of the oven.  Prepare two 9-inch round cake pans by buttering them liberally, lining with parchment paper, buttering once again, and flouring the pans.  Make sure to tap out any excess flour.

To make the Cake: Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed 1-quart saucepan over medium heat.  Swirl the butter occasionally until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown, about 4 minutes.  Pour into a small bowl and let stand until cool but not set, about 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves.  In a large bowl, whisk 1  1/2 cups of the pumpkin puree with the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and buttermilk until blended well.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture until just combined.  Gently whisk in the brown butter until fully incorporated.  Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.

Bake the cakes until the a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.  Let the cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes.  Turn the cakes out onto racks, remove parchment paper, and cool completely.

Make the Topping: Melt the butter in a large 12-inch skillet.  Add the pecans and cook until they brown slightly, about 2 minutes.  Sprinkle in the brown sugar, pepitas, and salt and stir until the sugar melts and the nuts are glazed, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the ginger.  Remove from heat and let cool in skillet.

To make the Frosting: Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed 1-quart saucepan over medium heat.  Swirl the butter occasionally until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown, about 4 minutes.  Pout into a small bowl and let stand until all of the brown solids settle to the bottom of the bowl, about 5 minutes.  Carefully transfer bowl to freezer and chill until just firm, about 18 minutes.  Using a spoon, carefully scrape the butter from bowl, leaving behind the brown solid bits.  Discard the brown bits.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter, cream cheese, and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light in color and the brown sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 1-2 more minutes.

To assemble the Cake: Place one layer of cake on a cake plate.  Spread 1/2 cup of frosting on it.  Sprinkle 3/4 cup (scant) of the nut mixture (rough chop this small amount, so it stays in the cake better) over the frosting and top with another layer of cake.  Frost the top and sides of cake and place remaining nut mixture on the top.  Serve immediately or refrigerate.  Serve at room temperature.  Will keep well for a few days.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, Oct/Nov 2010

Thanks so much for stopping by today!

Laurie

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