Persimmon Caprese Salad

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PERSIMMON CAPRESE  | A new twist to one of Italy’s most simple and delicious salads.

Sick of the typical heirloom tomato mozzarella salad combo (aka Insalata Caprese)? Fear not, I’ve come up with a new twist to one of my classical summer salad favourites. Why not substitute the tomatoes for the persimmon fruit? Like the bright redness of tomatoes, the luscious orange glow from persimmons will also provide a sharp contrast in color when juxtaposed against the creamy whiteness of mozzarella cheese.

Persimmons are one of those fruits that, when you catch the right moment of ripeness – which is limited to only one or two days – truly offer a culinary experience of perfection.

Honey sweet and so soft that the skin care barely hold their juicy flesh, they make a perfect complement to Mozzarella di Bufala.

untitled (4 of 15).jpgAs for origins, this delicate fruit is native to China. From China, it spread to Korean peninsula and Japan very long time ago, and later was introduced to California during the middle of the 19th century.

In terms of nutrition, persimmon provides a powerful dosage of vitamin A, offering 55% of the daily value. Vitamin C runs a close second with 21%, plus excellent amounts of manganese, a co-factor for the enzyme superoxide dismutase, for healthy mucous membranes and skin, as well as a known protectant against lung and mouth cancers.

For those who aren’t so regular, persimmons are also an excellent source of fiber. B-complex vitamins are present to stabilise the metabolic system, along with copper and phosphorus.

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Persimmon Caprese Salad

Time: 15 minutes | Serves: 3-4 as a side

Ingredients:

  • 1 mozzarella ball
  • 1 persimmon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of maple syrup
  • Bunch of fresh basil
  • A handful of walnuts
  • Sprinkle of cumin and cinnamon

Method:

  1. Rip mozzarella ball into bite-size chunks. Slice persimmon into wedges and then into bite-sized chunks. Tear off the leaves of the fresh basil.
  2. Mix walnuts with the cumin and cinnamon spices in a small bowl. On medium-low heat, slowly pan fry the walnuts until golden brown. Remove from slow and let cool.untitled (14 of 15)
  3. Combine olive oil, balsamic and maple syrup in a small bowl.untitled (15 of 15)
  4. Layer the persimmon chunks, mozzarella and basil leaves on a plate in a rustic fashion. Sprinkle the spiced walnuts on top. Drizzle the olive oil balsamic mix on top. If desired, squeeze some aged balsamic vinegar on top in a zig zag fashion for an extra dose of balsamic sweetness.untitled (7 of 15) untitled (3 of 15)untitled (9 of 15).jpg
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Banana Coconut Financiers with Crushed Walnuts

Banana Coconut Financiers With Walnuts (1 of 60)

BANANA-RAMA | Banana, desiccated coconut, and crushed walnuts unite to create a moist and wholesome financier. 

I have truly jumped onto the financier bandwagon. This time, seeing I had two overly ripe bananas sitting inside my fruit bowl, rather than let them expire and go to waste, I decided to put them to good use by creating some banana financiers with desiccated coconut and crushed walnuts. The banana adds an extra degree of moistness and ‘stickiness’ to the basic financier recipe (not to mention flavor and fibre). And because bananas are naturally sweet, I’ve drastically reduced the sugar content by more than half (more or less to keep the waistline “trim”).

To make these financiers even more healthy, I’ve incorporated walnuts into the mixture. Walnuts contain the amino acid l-arginine, which offers multiple vascular benefits to people with heart disease, or those who have increased risk for heart disease due to multiple cardiac risk factors. Walnuts also contain several unique and powerful antioxidants that are available in only a few commonly eaten foods. This includes the quinone juglone, the tannin tellimagrandin, and the flavonol morin.

One of the lesser-known benefits of walnuts is their impact on male fertility. Among men who consume a Western-style diet, adding 75 grams (a bit over one-half cup) of walnuts daily significantly improved sperm quality, including vitality, motility, and morphology.

Banana Coconut Financiers With Walnuts (8 of 16)Afternoon tea? Serve these freshly baked financiers with a cup of warm or organic tea.

 

TIME: 30 minutes | Makes: 12 financiers 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 125 grams of butter, melted
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 70 grams dessicated coconut
  • 50 grams almond flour
  • 70 grams plain flour
  • 50 gram walnuts
  • 6 egg whites
  • 50 grams of icing sugar

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METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius (350 degress farenheit). Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat until it browns. Brush some of this butter on to the financier mould or muffin tin. Leave remaining butter to cool at room temperature.Banana Coconut Financiers With Walnuts (58 of 60)
  2. Mash ripe bananas in a shallow dish.Banana Coconut Financiers With Walnuts (57 of 60)
  3. Crush walnuts into small pieces in a mortar and pestle.Banana Coconut Financiers With Walnuts (56 of 60)
  4. Whisk egg whites in a separate bowl. Once done, add melted butter into the mixture.Banana Coconut Financiers With Walnuts (53 of 60)
  5. Combine all the almond flour, plain flour, icing sugar, crushed walnuts, and desiccated coconut together in a separate bowl. Fold in the egg white mixture into the flour mixture and continue to fold until well combined.Banana Coconut Financiers With Walnuts (52 of 60)
  6. Pour batter into the financier moulds, until 2/3rds full each. Bake in oven for ~16-20 minutes until golden brown.Banana Coconut Financiers With Walnuts (51 of 60)
  7.  Turn financiers out on a wire rack to cool. Dust with icing sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature. Financiers can be stored in an airtight container for several days.Banana Coconut Financiers With Walnuts (4 of 16)

Tahini-dressed Haricots Verts with Walnuts and Red Pepper Flakes

Tahini dressed haricot verts with walnuts and chilli flakes (2 of 9)

A quick and easy Middle Eastern inspired side dish reminiscence of the creamy richness of a ranch dressing.

Drawing inspiration from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Haricots Verts and Freekeh recipe with a minty tahini dressing, I’ve decided to create my own little adaptation by doing away with the freekeh and the dried mint. After all, keeping things simple and fast (particularly for the sides) is how I like to cook when hosting and managing multiple dishes.

Green beans are low in calories, and a good source of fibre (which is essential to ensure regular bowel movements). Moreover, they are an important source of vitamins C and B9/Folacin. The first is vital for the formation and maintenance of connective tissues; it is also a highly effective antioxidant in protecting the cornea, skin, and tissues. The second – vitamin B9 or Folate – is required by cells to grow and multiply: it is recommended for women hoping to get pregnant, children and anyone whose body requires cellular renewal (during growth or convalescence, etc.).

Given their nutritional content, one should regularly consume more green beans as a side dish or as a salad. This recipe is ideal for those who find green beans too bland and want something that tastes similar to the consistency of a ranch dressing (but minus the calories). Since this side dish is served cold, it can be prepared in advance so that it leaves you with more ample time (and hands) to work on your main course.

Tahini dressed haricot verts with walnuts and chilli flakes (3 of 9)

INGREDIENTS:

(Serves 3-4 as a side dish)

  • 1 pound haricots verts, trimmed
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mint
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill sprigs
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves with tender stems
  • 1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt, to taste

METHOD:

  1. Wash and drain haricot verts. Tahini dressed haricot verts with walnuts and chilli flakes (9 of 9)
  2. Cook haricot verts in a pot of boiling water for ~4 minutes. Immediately dunk in an ice bath (bowl of cold water with ice) to stop the cooking process.Tahini dressed haricot verts with walnuts and chilli flakes (7 of 9)Tahini dressed haricot verts with walnuts and chilli flakes (6 of 9)
  3. Prepare the tahini dressing by whisking the garlic, oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, tahini, and 1 tablespoon of water together in a bowl. Season with salt. Add the haricot verts and toss around until evenly coated. Top with the chopped dill, cilantro, parsley, walnuts and red pepper flakes before serving.

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Tahini-Miso Dressed Kale Fig Salad

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For a hearty lunch, you can’t go wrong by opting for a delicious kale salad. Kale pairs perfectly well with a fresh home-made creamy tahini dressing. Add some chunks of avocado to give it more smoothness and toasted walnuts with maple syrup to give the salad the extra crunch and dimension. Throw in some figs for some added fibre.

 Of all the healthy greens, kale ranks no.1. Super high in nutrients and super low in calories, kale is among the most nutrient dense food on the planet. It helps combat inflammation and contains vitamin K, which can help prevent against cancer.

Tahini is mineral rich containing zinc, iron, selenium and copper and also provides omega-3 fatty acids, a source of healthy fat.

Figs are high in natural sugars, minerals and soluble fibre. Figs are rich in minerals including potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and copper and are a good source of antioxidant vitamins A, E and K that contribute to health and wellness.

Walnuts not only taste great but are a rich source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and an excellent source of those hard to find omega-3 fatty acids.

This shredded kale salad with tahini  dressing is also gluten-free, vegan and paleo and can easily be made protein-rich with the addition of fish, meat, tempeh or beans (but I personally like it without the meat)

INGREDIENTS (serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side):

For the tahini dressing:

  • 1/3 cup tahini paste (see below for recipe)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon of miso paste
  • salt to taste

For the salad:

  • half a pound of kale
  • half a large avocado
  • 2 fresh figs
  • handful of walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon of honey/maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

METHOD:

To make tahini:

1) Toast sesame seeds in frying pan until they turn lightly golden in color. (NB: this is optional but toasting the seeds will give it a nuttier flavour). Transfer seeds to a plate / roasting pan and let it cool completely.

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2) Grind in a food processor fitted with the S-blade. Process for 2-3 minutes until sesame seeds form a crumbly paste. Next, add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil (NB: any neutral oil will do, including grapeseed or sesame oil). Process for 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides as necessary, until the mixture forms a thick and fairly smooth paste. For a thinner consistency, add more oil. Add salt to taste and process until combined.

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4) Transfer the tahini to an airtight jar (I love the mini Weck ones). It will keep in the fridge for a month or longer (sadly, mine was demolished within two days). If the mixture separates, stir the tahini to redistribute the oil.

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To make the kale salad with the tahini dressing:

1) Wash kale leaves and remove stems. Cut into strips (width according to your liking).

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2) Slice figs and slice avocado.

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3) Toast the walnuts. Turn fry pan on medium heat, pan fry walnuts until they turn light golden brown. Transfer to a bowl and add some honey (or maple syrup), cinnamon, and cumin. Toss until combined.

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4) Make tahini dressing. Add 1/3 cup tahini with 1/3 cup of water until desired consistency obtained. Add the dollop of white miso paste (optional) and shake vigorously until combined.

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5) Mix walnuts, avocado, figs and kale salad together. Dress with the tahini miso dressing.

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