Detox Day Salad

With all the deliciously addictive Easter jelly beans, Meyer Lemon Biscotti, and Mango & Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta that I may have over-indulged in a wee bit this past week (oopsie!), thought it would be a good idea to offer up some inspirational pictures of a few recent hikes I’ve taken around Sonoma County to burn up those extra calories and get some fresh air. The wild fennel is sprouting up like crazy right now along all the rural trails. Its fragrant aroma definitely nudged me into adding its shop-bought twin to this dish. And so that we can feel ultra-healthy for a few days, here’s a Detox Day Salad chocked full of nutrient-rich greens that you can make to combat all the hot cross buns you just devoured. You know, all the ooey-gooey ones you’ve had pinned to your “must-bake” board for weeks now, and you finally had an excuse with this past holiday to make them…..I hear ya. But no worries, all’s forgiven. We’re going to balance our diet and eat right so we can feel better about making some more sinfully good dishes next week- right? Uh oh !  ;>)

Riverfront Regional Park-2

a hidden river at Riverfront Regional Park, Sonoma County

vineyard at Riverfront Park-2

vineyards at Riverfront Regional Park- heart of Russian River Valley

wild fennel

wild fennel- an inspirational ingredient for this Detox Day Salad

Detox Day Salad
(serves 4-6)

This is all about greens. Keep the skins on where noted to preserve as much nutrients as possible. Feel free to sub out any veggie and add your favorite. The ingredients list may seem a bit long, but 1) you’re in the produce section already, so just keep grabbing green things as you walk down the aisle 2) it’s good for you, and 3) IT’S GOOD FOR YOU….

2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons agave syrup
zest and juice of one lemon
zest and juice of one lime
salt & pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together in small bowl. Set aside. Can be stored refrigerated for up to one week.

2 broccoli crowns, broken into small florets
1 broccoli stalk, peeled and finely diced
1-2 small green zucchini , large shreds, skin on
1 fennel bulb, finely chopped (stalks & fronds included)
2 cups Tuscan Kale, washed and chopped
1 large granny smith apple, skin on & finely chopped
1 -2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
1/2 cup silvered almonds
1 cup dried berries (I like a mix – goji, marionberry, cranberry and tart cherry)

Combine all the chopped veggies and herbs in a large bowl. Best to use a knife to cut all these as a food processor will make everything too fine. Add in almonds and berries. Toss to mix. If serving immediately, add dressing and stir to coat all ingredients. Or if making one-day ahead, you can stop here, cover the mix with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Then pour dressing over the salad when you’re ready to serve. Viola! Easy peasy.

Seafood Marinara & The Ocean

DSC_0023-2We’ve been having truly amazing weather here in Sonoma County this February. Many days of bright sunshine and above average temps. Although I love this warm weather, we really ought to be having more rainy days this time of year to help combat the drought. But on this particular day, I wasn’t complaining in the least! Because I was spending a wonderful afternoon in the salty fresh air and cooling breezes of Bodega Bay, California. And I had just devoured the most delicious fish tacos at the marina. It was the perfect inspiration for this quick and simple Seafood Marinara dish.

View West from Bodega Head

All you need are a few simple ingredients. And fresh is totally the key here. Get to know your fish monger at the market, or better yet, find a dedicated seafood shop in your neighborhood. One that sources local (as much as possible) and of course, fresh, fresh, fresh! We’re fortunate to live very near the coast, so the catch of the day doesn’t have to go far from the open seas to my kitchen. The beauty with this kind of recipe is you can really adapt it to make it your own. If you like more fish and less scallops, go for it, add more fish. It’s a recipe that allows you to customize the components, based on what you like, and what’s most fresh & available in the market.

Seafood Marinara
Makes 4 servings

I like to buy each of the fish & shellfish components separately (versus a mix that’s already been put together behind the counter). This way I can choose how many prawns or scallops go into each serving. I’m partial to mussels, so I get extra of those!

1 pound white prawns- use extra large (26/30) to colossal (13/15) *see note
1 pound mussels (in the shell)
1/2 pound firm white fish (halibut, sea bass, cod, snapper, rockfish; choose freshest)
1/2 pound bay scallops
1/2 pound squid, tubes and crowns
jalapeño pepper, finely choped
1 yellow hot pepper, finely chopped
2 dried bird’s eye chilis
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
olive oil & pat of butter
splash of dry white wine (I used a Torrontés)
salt & pepper to taste

Prep for Fish:
Cut the fish into 1-inch chunks. Double check to make sure all bones have been removed.

Prep for Shellfish:
Prawns: remove shell (optional) and clean/ de-vein. Your fish monger can do this for you as well.

Mussels: I cooked the mussels ahead of this dish (**see note below) and removed the meat from the shell. Then I added it back into the Seafood Marinara to warm through. I did this so I could select only the shells that had opened during cooking. But you can skip this pre-cook step and add them shell-on when cooking all the above components together. Just be sure to discard any mussels that did not open in cooking.

Squid: I was able to purchase the tubes and crowns separately. All I had to do was cut the tubes into approx. 1-inch rings. I trimmed the crowns so all tentacles were about the same length.

Add olive oil and butter to a large skillet which has been warming over med-high heat. Once pan is very hot, add fish and shellfish. Half way through cooking (about 3-4 minutes), add peppers, chili, garlic, white wine, S&P to taste. Continue cooking for another 4-5 minutes, or until prawns have turned slightly pink and seafood is cooked through. Careful not to overcook as the prawns and squid will become rubbery. Serve immediately with fresh salad, steamed veggies or crusty artisan bread. I paired this with Torrontés, a light, dry white wine from Argentina. However, a Sauvignon Blanc, Verdejo, or Pinot Gris would be nice with it as well.

*Prawn sizes: the number after the size indicates approximately how many of each prawn (in the shell without head) you can expect in one pound. So for example, with the “extra large” size, expect 26-30 individual prawns to equal one pound. Here’s a neat chart to help.
** To pre-cook the mussels: Scrub and rinse the closed mussels well and put into a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add in one chopped shallot, 1/2 cup white wine, 1/2 cup water, 2-3 cloves of garlic and 1- 1/2 tablespoons dried tarragon (or 2-3 sprigs if using fresh). Steam for 7-8 minutes or until mussel shells open. Discard any shells that did not open, you won’t want to eat those.