Posts Tagged ‘radishes’

Quinoa Salad with Edamame, Radishes and Avocado adapted from Plenty by Ottolenghi

A few weeks back I was engaged in eating my home made lunch at my desk, per usual, when my colleague Adam turned to me to say

“I am starving and I only have a ½ hr until my next meeting.”

“Well go get lunch at the canteen.” I said.

“I just can’t bear to eat that crap food.” He said.

“You have to eat, so stop being silly and go get a sandwich.”  I replied

“No, I just can’t bear it.  It’s such crap.”    He said.

Later in the afternoon I proposed a subversive idea.  We would pick a day, bring our home made lunch and eat away from our desks.  Only a few rules I said, no prepared store foods & definitely no chemicals in your food.  He agreed readily and that’s how I came to start a movement in our office.  It’s called the Subversive Wednesday Lunch.

Why subversive?  It seems that cooking your own food is one of the few ways to undermine the grip on the food market held by the huge processed food companies.    It is one way to gain back control of what you eat and the money you invest in food.

Our canteen has few offerings that I would consider to be whole food.  The salad bar is generally lettuce, canned tuna loaded with packaged mayonnaise, tinned olives, chickpeas, bean salad and if you’re lucky there might be a fresh tomato or two.  They do offer a salad of the day, which is generally better, but that’s it for fresh veg.

The remaining offerings are processed lunch meats, pate’s, fried croquettes, pasta with canned sauce, parboiled rice – well I could go on but you get the picture.  There are fruit juices, but I suspect it’s not exactly fresh squeezed so I’d hate to see the sugar content.

Is it their fault?  Yes and no.  Our canteen services are outsourced to a third party company via a global contract.  So I say it is their fault for not negotiating a better deal and insisting on more fresh foods on offer.  It is not their fault because the staff has little choice but to eat there.  There are neither refrigerators to keep your lunch cool nor microwaves to heat up your delicious leftovers from the evening before.

I have rarely eaten in the canteen since my arrival in the Netherlands.  Some of my colleagues thought me unsociable, but rather it is just that I am not easily coerced to eat bad food.   No matter how cheap it is – why bother?

I’m excited to say my movement is catching on, we are in our 4th week and we have now 6 persons thinking subversively. I’ve learned a lot about my workmates from lunching with them and it is exciting to see their enthusiasm for eating.  We’ve even found a secret outdoor courtyard where we can enjoy the sun, our delicious and nutritious lunches and get to know each other a little better.   I encourage you, my fellow foodie, to start behaving subversively as well.  Start with a small group of like minded people, make few food rules, show them your delicious side and watch the movement grow.

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I have been reading a lot lately about food.  I admit it is a becoming a bit of an obsession.  Eating, thinking, reading and writing about food.  Perhaps it is because the seasonal produce is arriving at the stores and the markets, or perhaps it’s simply because I have a one track mind (or stomach).  I was shelling peas this evening for dinner tonight and wondered if many people have access to such fresh ingredients in their home cities.  In Europe there are an abundance of markets and some specialty stores that carry peas so fresh they are still in the pod.  Although a bit of work, I find the process of shelling the peas quite therapeutic, even when one or two escape to the floor.

Seasons for the certain types of produce are short.  Before you realize it, the fresh peas (in June alone white asparagus, baby courgettes strawberries) are done, you didn’t realize what you missed and your opportunities to inflect some variety onto your table are over.  I think we’ve all been lured towards some of our favourite foods outside of their seasons – red strawberries or tomatoes in the grocery store – only to slice them open at home to reveal their lack of depth and substance of flavour.  If you’ve experienced the disappointment perhaps you need to get out of the grocery store this summer.

Much has been written about seasonal produce but are you and I changing our shopping habits during the height of the market months to shop outside the walls of the large chain stores?  Are we paying attention to what is popping up in the local farmers markets and buying our fruit and vegetables from the local sources?  I want try an experiment over the next 3 months that will see me shop for fresh produce at the organic market in Amsterdam.  I have all the good intentions of becoming an organic market shopper this summer but it is going to take some planning.  Working full-time with a 3 hour daily commute means there is little time to plan meals for the week ahead but given my obsession I do get it done.  Join me if you can.  Plan your shopping trip at the farmers this weekend, and look for some peas so you can enjoy this delicious and nutritious spring summer salad.

Peas featured in a simple but flavour packed spring salad, alongside roast poussin, on our dinner table tonight.  Fresh peas, radish and mache lettuce dressed with a honey cumin vinaigrette and feta cheese.  Although it would these are an odd combination, the marriage of flavours is divine.

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* Adapted from Epicurious.com

Fresh Salad

4 cups fresh shelled peas (from about 4 pounds peas in pods)
1 bunch radishes, trimmed, quartered or thinly sliced
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 ounces)
3 cups fresh mache or lambs lettuce

Cook peas in pot of boiling salted water until almost tender, about 5 minutes for fresh (or about 2 minutes for frozen). Drain; rinse under cold water, then drain well. Transfer to large bowl. Add radishes, feta, mache and prepared dressing; toss. Season with salt and pepper and serve to your deserving family and friends.

Cumin Honey Vinaigrette

2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Heat small skillet over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and toast until aromatic and slightly darker, about 2 minutes. Cool; grind finely in spice mill. Whisk lime juice, honey, and cumin in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil; stir in dill. Season dressing with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature.

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