Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

Southwestern Slaw | Grabbing the Gusto

Southwestern Slaw | Grabbing the Gusto

This healthy cole slaw delivers southwestern flavor without the heaviness of mayonnaise.

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If you’re looking for a dish to bring to a 4th of July cook-out this weekend, I’ve got a contender for you—Southwestern Slaw. Even if someone else brings cole slaw to the party, theirs will probably be full of mayonnaise and not full of southwestern flavors.

The ingredients and their amounts are merely guidelines—add more or less depending on your taste (and your friends’ and family’s tastes) and what’s in your refrigerator. I always have lonely broccoli stems in my vegetable drawer. They’re perfect for slaws. Just slice off the brown bit at the end of the stem and any brown knobby bits and julienne them like any other vegetable. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Your mandoline or food processor could get a good work-out prepping the vegetables. I usually end up slicing all the veggies by hand. As long as I’ve allowed enough time, I enjoy doing that kind of focused work while I listen to a podcast. Even if I didn’t have anything to listen to–which would be a miracle considering all the podcasts I subscribe to–I still would love the focus and flow of chopping vegetables. It’s a good way to set the mind free.

I use rice vinegar in many of my slaws because it’s a mild vinegar. It can be used interchangeably, I think, with champagne vinegar.

You can crank up the heat by adding a minced chipotle chile. Just one unless you’re feeding a bunch of chileheads.

Not in the mood for slaw? Try my Southwestern Potato Salad–another no-mayo recipe. My honey doesn’t like mayo, so…

I hope you like this colorful dish—it will brighten up your menu and your 4th of July table. While I’m on the topic, if you want to impress your friends and family with your patriotic knowledge, check out this post from one of my clients on ten fun facts about July 4th.

Southwestern Slaw | Grabbing the Gusto

Southwestern Slaw | Grabbing the Gusto

Southwestern Slaw

You’ll need a large bowl, small bowl and a whisk. A mandoline helps too for slicing vegetables but it’s not necessary. Sometimes, prepping vegetables is the type of relaxing activity you need.

  • 1/2 head green (or Napa) cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 head small red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 4 carrots, grated or thinly sliced
  • 1/2 sweet onion, grated or thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • Option: broccoli stems or sugar snap peas, thinly sliced
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • 4 tablespoons rice vinegar (or champagne or whatever you have)
  • 1 cup cilantro, leaves and thin stems, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt, freshly ground black pepper and ground cumin, to taste
  • Option: minced chipotle chile en adobo

Toss cabbage, carrot, onion, red bell pepper and any other vegetables in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk lime juice, rice vinegar, cilantro, hot sauce, oil, salt, pepper, cumin and optional chipotle together. Pour half the dressing over cabbage mix and toss to coat. Add more until it’s wet enough.

Serve immediately or refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors meld. Great with tacos and other southwestern dishes.

Salmon and Vegetable Stir-Fry recipe | Grabbing the Gusto

Salmon and Vegetable Stir-Fry | Grabbing the Gusto

A quick summer meal full of flavor and color — salmon and vegetable stir-fry.

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When the temperatures hover around 100 degrees for more than a week in a row, my dinner menus get simpler. Usually, I make a protein and two sides, but that means three burners or two burners and the oven heating up the house.

Lately, I’ve cut dinners back to one pot or one bowl: big dinner salads, casseroles, or stir-fries, like this salmon and vegetable stir-fry.

I always have a side of frozen wild salmon in the freezer. Buying a big frozen fillet is cheaper than buying smaller fillets from the seafood counter. Plus, they’re bound to be fresher tasting than fillets that have sat around for a few days, although the texture isn’t as good as when it’s fresh.

When I bring the salmon home from the store, I let it thaw just a tiny bit, enough so I can cut it into serving-sized fillets. Then I freeze the fillets in a sealable freezer bag. The fillets don’t take that long to thaw, especially if you dunk the freezer bag into hot water, so you can always count on having wild salmon ready for a meal.

I wasn’t specific about the amount of vegetables to use in the recipe. It really just depends on what you have on hand, and the ratios you want between the ingredients. If you like a spicy stir-fry, add more Sriracha or fresh (or dried) chili to the recipe.

Salmon and Vegetable Stir-Fry

You’ll need a large skillet and a small bowl.

  • Canola oil
  • 3 or 4 fillets wild salmon, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Vegetables, cut into bite-sized pieces – broccoli, onion, bell pepper, shiitake (or cremini or wild) mushrooms, sugar snap or snow peas, asparagus, carrots, and/or other vegetables
  • Salt
  • 2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1” piece of ginger, minced or grated
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha or sweet chili sauce
  • Optional: green onions
  • Cooked brown or white rice

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add salmon and cook, stirring frequently, until browned and cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add more oil, if necessary. Add vegetables and a sprinkle of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until browned and cooked through.

Turn heat down to medium-low. Make a well in the center of the pan and place garlic and ginger in it. Add a bit of oil to the top of them and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 2 minutes or until golden. Stir them into the rest of the vegetables.

Stir salmon into the vegetables. Mix soy sauce, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar and chili sauce in a small bowl. Increase heat to medium, and stir sauce into the pan ingredients. Taste for seasoning. Add more soy or chili sauce, if needed. Optional: garnish with green onions. Serve over brown or white rice.

Roasted Green Lightning Shrimp recipe | Grabbing the Gusto

Roasted Green Lightning Shrimp | Grabbing the Gusto

After marinating, this summery shrimp dish takes minutes to put together. Featuring bold flavors of cilantro, scallions, garlic and jalapenos, you can make it in the oven or on the grill.

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I love green food. Basil pesto or herb pesto, sautéed greens or sugar snap peas, creamed spinach or greens, a big salad, just the sight of a dish of green makes my mouth water. I know I’m in for tasty, nutritious goodness.

Take a look at that dish of green—Roasted Green Lightning Shrimp. Wow, right? It is as good as it looks. That’s a kohlrabi sauté lurking in the back.

I’m guessing the “lightning” is a nod to the jalapeños. You can up the heat by leaving a bit of the white ribs and seeds in the marinade. I usually leave the seeds out but I don’t mind a bit of the ribs.

It’s a Steven Raichlen recipe. He’s a grill master so the original recipe is made on the grill, but I am not a grill master so I made this in the oven. The good thing about the oven is you are less likely to overcook the shrimp. Mine were done perfectly. That doesn’t always happen!

The second time I made this, I didn’t bother with the cilantro and garlic butter sauce. The sauce didn’t add that much to the shrimp. The marinade packs more than enough flavor, so why add more fat. Instead, I served guacamole on the side—a natural companion to the marinade ingredients.

Roasted Green Lightning Shrimp

Allow 30 minutes for marinating. You’ll need a food processor, sealable gallon bag and a sheet pan. If you’re making the butter, you’ll need a small saucepan.

  • 3 jalapeños, seeded, coarsely chopped
  • 4 scallions, coarsely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves – 2 cloves coarsely chopped, 1 clove minced
  • 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) of butter
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • Sliced avocado or guacamole

Put jalapeños, scallions and 2 cloves of garlic in a food processor and chop. Add 1/2 cup of the cilantro, salt, pepper, cumin, and olive oil and puree until everything is combined. Put the shrimp and the cilantro/jalapeño mixture in a sealable gallon bag and marinate for 30 minutes.

If you’d like to make a cilantro and garlic butter sauce, cook 1 clove of minced garlic in the butter, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. When done, stir in 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro. Keep warm until the shrimp are cooked.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425. Spread the shrimp and marinade out on a baking sheet. Roast them for 6 minutes, or until opaque—the exact amount of time will depend on the size of your shrimp.

If you like, you can transfer the shrimp to a large dish and pour the cilantro and garlic butter sauce over them and/or squeeze fresh lime juice over them. Serve with sliced avocado or guacamole on the side.

Original recipe: Green Lightning Shrimp, Necessary Indulgences

Charmoula is the salsa verde of Morocco. Or you could think of it as the pesto of Morocco. Or the chimichurri of Morocco. Ok, I’ll stop now.

The recipe for this bright, bold sauce or paste vary by chef, home cook and region of North Africa. If you do a search on “charmoula” or “chermoula,” you will see what I mean. The recipe I use below is from Bon Appetit.

This recipe makes enough charmoula to go on the fish and into the recipe for Moroccan-Style Chickpea Salad. If you only want to make the fish, use half the ingredients—the second set of ingredients below.

If you don’t have striped bass (aka rockfish in the Mid-Atlantic), you can substitute catfish, grouper, haddock, halibut, monkfish, pollock, Pacific rockfish, snapper, sturgeon, swordfish or tilefish.

Moroccan-Style Striped Bass with Charmoula

Moroccan-Style Striped Bass with Charmoula | Grabbing the Gusto

Moroccan-Style Striped Bass with Charmoula

You’ll need a spice or coffee grinder (or mortar and pestle), an immersion or regular blender (or small food processor), sealable container for marinating, and large oven-safe nonstick skillet.

You can save time by starting the prep on the fish. It needs at least one hour of marinating.

The first set of ingredients below makes enough charmoula for the fish and the Moroccan-Style Chickpea Salad recipe, about 3/4 cup. If you only wish to make enough charmoula for the fish, skip down to the second set of ingredients.

Yield about 3/4 cup.

  • 1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole white peppercorns or 3/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 (6- to 7-ounce) striped bass fillets

Yield about 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons.

  • 3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole white peppercorns or 3/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Combine fennel seeds, rosemary, cumin seeds, red pepper and white pepper in a spice or coffee grinder and process until finely ground. Or, use a mortar and pestle. Transfer to a blender (or small food processor).

Add parsley, cilantro, mint, lemon juice and garlic to the blender. With blender running, gradually add the oil and blend until a coarse puree forms. Season to taste with salt.

Note: Charmoula can be made 1 day ahead. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate. Let it stand at room temperature for 1 hour before using.

Place fish on plate. Pour 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons charmoula over fish—that’s half the first set of ingredients or the entire second set of ingredients—turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate the fish at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish with marinade still clinging to surface and cook until brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer skillet to oven and roast fish until it’s cooked through, about 8 minutes.

Serve fish alongside or on top of Moroccan-Style Chickpea Salad.

Original recipe: Marinated Sturgeon with Moroccan Chickpea Salad, Bon Appetit

This chickpea salad features roasted red bell peppers, toasted pita, cucumbers, walnuts, raisins and capers with a spicy, herby, bold dressing.

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Charmoula (or chermoula) is the star of this chickpea salad. According to NPR:

“Born in Morocco, chermoula is a blend of spices like coriander and cumin along with fresh chilies, giving it a rich herby and spicy taste. Olive oil turns the combo into a paste.”

“There is no one recipe for charmoula,” says Paula Wolfert in The Food of Morocco. The recipe I found on Bon Appetit doesn’t include coriander (except in its leaf form, cilantro), but I suppose you could substitute coriander seeds for the fennel seeds, or just add them to the recipe. You could also increase the heat factor by adding more red pepper. I plan to play around with the ingredients in future versions.

You can use charmoula as a marinade and rub for chicken, pork, lamb, beef, fish (as you’ll see in the photo below and my recipe for Moroccan-Style Striped Bass), pasta, potatoes, and roasted vegetables like eggplant, winter squash and cauliflower.

Moroccan-Style Chickpea Salad

Moroccan-Style Chickpea Salad | Grabbing the Gusto

Moroccan-Style Chickpea Salad

You’ll need a spice or coffee grinder (or mortar and pestle), an immersion or regular blender (or small food processor), sealable bag, and large bowl.

You can save time by starting the prep on these ingredients first: roast the red bell peppers and toast the flatbread and walnuts.

The first set of ingredients below makes enough charmoula for this chickpea salad and Moroccan-Style Striped Bass with Charmoula, about 3/4 cup. If you only wish to make enough charmoula for the salad, skip down to the second set of ingredients.

Yield about 3/4 cup.

  • 1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole white peppercorns or 3/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Yield about 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons.

  • 3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole white peppercorns or 3/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Combine fennel seeds, rosemary, cumin seeds, red pepper and white pepper in a spice or coffee grinder (or mortar and pestle) and process until finely ground. Transfer to a blender (or small food processor).

Add parsley, cilantro, mint, lemon juice and garlic to the blender. With blender running, gradually add the oil and blend until a coarse puree forms. Season to taste with salt.

Make ahead: You can make the charmoula 1 day ahead. Refrigerate in a covered bowl. Let it stand at room temperature for 1 hour before using.

  • 2 large red bell peppers, sliced into three or four large pieces, stem and seeds removed
  • 2 flatbreads (such as pita bread)
  • 15-1/2-ounce can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 cup diced seeded cucumber
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Char bell peppers over gas flame, in broiler or toaster oven until the pieces are blackened. Transfer to sealable bag. Seal the bag and let it sit for 15 minutes. Peel skin off peppers and chop.

Toast flatbreads directly over gas flame, in broiler or toaster oven until crisp and charred in spots on both sides. When cool enough to handle, tear into bite-size pieces.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Place peppers, torn bread pieces, chickpeas, cucumber, walnuts, raisins and capers in large bowl. Add 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons charmoula—that’s half the first set of ingredients or the entire second set of ingredients. Toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

Original recipe: Marinated Sturgeon with Moroccan Chickpea Salad, Bon Appetit

I’ve been obsessed with nesting tables lately. If we didn’t already have enough end tables and TV trays around, I might spend hours online trying to decide which look to go for. Instead, I’m going to share some of my finds with you.

Nesting tables are a great option for small homes—and by “home” I mean a house, apartment, loft, or studio, wherever you live is your home. Nesting tables are a group of two or three tables of varying sizes that nestle inside each other. You can save space by storing them all in one place—next to your sofa or a reading chair. Then, if you’re having people over, you can pull one or two out and arrange them around the room so everyone has a place to put their glass of white wine sangria with strawberries.

Or, you can pull each table out about halfway and create a tiered end table—I think that’s a very cool look.

The truth is, some of my favorites are just too expensive, so I’m sharing the ones I like that are under $200 and can be found (at least right now) online or at national chains. The prices can be all over the place for the same set, so Google shop around.

Ikea Vittsjo nesting tables - small space furniture

Ikea Vittsjo nesting tables

You can always count on Ikea for the best deal. At $60, the steel and glass Vittsjo nesting tables pair a coffee table (with a bottom shelf) with an end table. Check out how Kristin at Hunted Interior glammed her Vittsjo up.

These tables would be even better for a small room if that bottom shelf was glass as well. Transparent materials, like glass and acrylic, don’t block sightlines and allow the eyes to move through and beyond the furniture–expanding the room visually.

Target Winsome Regalia walnut nesting tables - small space furniture

Target Winsome Regalia walnut nesting tables

Here above is a more traditional look from Target for $65 in walnut. This group of three nesting tables is the look you’ll see most often. Target has several other options under $200.

AMB Furniture black & chrome nesting tables - small space furniture

AMB Furniture black & chrome nesting tables

This modern set of two nesting tables in black and chrome is $96 from A.M.B. Furniture & Design.

See how slender (and interesting) these table legs are? Like the other nesting tables featured in this post, that airy look helps the eye to roam through the furniture to the edges of the room. If you’re trying to visually enlarge your small space, look for sofas, chairs and tables on slender legs.

Classy Home grey metal and wood nesting tables - small space furniture

Classy Home grey metal and wood nesting tables

Here’s another modern look in gray metal and wood from The Classy Home for $102. And this one also has a bottom shelf.

Wayfair oak Mission style nesting tables - small space furniture

Wayfair oak Mission style nesting tables

If you like the Mission look, this set of three nesting tables from Wayfair ($109) might appeal. If your home is more traditional, this set also benefits from the vertical slats on the side, lifting the eye up and making the tables look slimmer.

Target black metal and glass nesting tables - small space furniture

Target black metal and glass nesting tables

Instead of three end tables, this black metal and glass set from Target for $114 features two end tables that nestle under a console table. A console table makes a great drop zone in an entry way–just minimize clutter–the enemy of small spaces. Or, you can put one behind a sofa that’s dividing an open space. If you keep your supplies organized, you can use a console table as a workspace too, and turn it into a buffet when friends come over.

And there’s more, but I’ll save those for another time.

A tasty dinner of shrimp and asparagus roasted with black garlic and lemon—the perfect choice when you’re low on time.

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My brother from another mother is a black garlic fiend. Some even know him as Black Garlic Man. I can’t blame him. Black garlic is pretty darn tasty—lots of flavor yet much more mild, sweet and somewhat fruity than regular garlic.

Both Black Garlic Man and I get our black garlic from Obis One, a family farm in South Jersey owned by my honey’s cousins. Besides selling bulbs of black garlic, they have a wide range of black garlic products. I’m a regular user of their black garlic sea salt and New Bay 33—a homage to Old Bay.

When I saw the Man’s recipe for Black Garlic Shrimp with Roasted Asparagus, I thought, hmm, that looks gooood. However, I wasn’t in the mood for an Asian dish so I took my version in another direction, and, boy oh boy, it was good.

And, it was so quick and easy to make. You can make it even quicker by purchasing peeled and deveined shrimp. But, please for the love of our American fisheries, don’t buy farmed shrimp from Asia. Not just because it might be harvested by slaves (really) but, most importantly, our American fisheries and the families who work them need our support.

Yeah, you might pay extra for American wild shrimp, but it’s worth it. I could go on and on about other reasons not to buy Asian farmed shrimp but instead I’ll refer you to this article which mentions several disgusting reasons.

What about Argentina shrimp? I don’t know about them, all I know is I like to support American families and communities first, so I buy shrimp from the Eastern seaboard, usually from North Carolina. Find a seafood market or a supermarket with a real seafood counter with people you can trust and who know what they’re talking about, not your typical chain, unfortunately. Maybe that means you’re not buying shrimp as much as you do now, but then it will be more special, right?

Off my shrimp soapbox. When I made this shrimp dish, I served couscous on the side. To punch up the flavor, I first sautéed chopped onion and garlic in butter and then added the water for the couscous to the same small pot. Not that couscous needs much help, but the hints of onion and garlic were mighty tasty.

Roasted Shrimp and Asparagus with Black Garlic and Lemon

Roasted Shrimp and Asparagus with Black Garlic and Lemon | Grabbing the Gusto

Roasted Shrimp and Asparagus with Black Garlic and Lemon

You’ll need an immersion blender or small food processor (or a bowl and a whisk if you don’t have either tool), bowl (for the shrimp), and a sheet pan.

  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • 6 cloves black garlic or 3 cloves regular garlic, roughly chopped – if you don’t have an immersion blender or food processor, finely mince the garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed
  • 1 pound U.S. caught medium or large shrimp (avoid Asian shrimp), peeled and deveined
  • 1/3 cup grated or shaved Parmesan or Pecorino Romano (optional)

Preheat the oven to 450. Add lemon zest and juice, shallots, black garlic and 2 tablespoons olive oil to an immersion blender cup or food processor. Blend until puréed. Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper to taste.

If you don’t have an immersion blender or food processor, add lemon zest and juice, shallots and black garlic to a bowl and whisk until well blended. Slowly add 2 tablespoons olive oil while whisking. Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper to taste.

In a bowl, toss the shrimp with half the vinaigrette.

Place the asparagus in a pile on the baking sheet and toss with half the vinaigrette. Then, separate the spears. Roast for about 4 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and arrange the shrimp on top of the asparagus. Return the pan to the oven and roast until the shrimp are almost opaque throughout and the asparagus are crisp-tender, about 3-5 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with cheese.

Disclosure: I do not receive compensation of any type from Obis One but I am related to them, well, sort of, through my honey, not legally, but you know what I mean. I am admittedly biased toward them, but I’d buy their black garlic even if I wasn’t sort of related, it’s such a great ingredient. Just wanted you to know!

~~~

3 years ago on Gusto: Turkey Pesto Meatloaf with Balsamic Tomato Sauce

4 years ago on Gusto: Broccoli Cheese Soup

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