Categories
Peruvian Side Dish Vegetable

Ensalada Rusa

Ensalada Rusa

 

Ensalada Rusa, or Russian Salad, is a Peruvian side dish my family always makes for holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. This fuchsia-forward salad is comprised of finely-cut jewels– potatoes, green beans, hard-boiled eggs, carrots and celery; but the main gem here is the beet.

Earthy and slightly sweet, beets bring life (and extreme color) to this salad. Composing all parts together in a bowl is nothing short of delightful, watching the purple stain grow from a whisper to a shout, bleeding dominance.

Ensalada Rusa is fairly straight-forward to make but it can take some time to prepare the vegetables. You can hunker down and do them all in one fell swoop or carry the load out over the course of a couple days, which is what I did. Either way will produce a wonderfully tasting salad that will feast your eyes and hunger.

 

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// More Peruvian salads and things: 

 

 

 

Categories
Side Dish Vegetable

Spaghetti Squash and Sweet Potato Gratin with Brie

Spaghetti Squash and Sweet Potato Gratin with Brie

 

I’ve been thinking long and hard about spaghetti squash lately. Long strands of amber, delicately tangled; the soft chew before it melts in my mouth. This daydream was all-consuming.

Soon thereafter, I began formulating the plan for turning my spaghetti squash fantasy into reality. I wanted to preserve its’ natural earthy flavor but also pair it with something mildly sweet, like red garnet potatoes. And, without argument, it would all bathe in a luscious, ambrosial liquid of cream and cheese. What I wanted, what I really wanted, was a gratin.

 

Spaghetti Squash and Sweet Potato Gratin with Brie

 

When everything was said and done I took a bite.

It was. Incredible.

The spaghetti squash was tender, yielding effortlessly beneath the weight of my spoon. Deeper still were the soft layers of potato– a duo of red and sweet, submerged in an herby cream sauce, a luxurious layer of sliced triple cream brie separating the two. I’m going to say this at the risk of sounding very cliché, but…it was an orchestra of flavors. I think I cried.

 

Spaghetti Squash and Sweet Potato Gratin with Brie

 

 

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// More gratins, quiches, and tarts: 

 

 

 

Categories
Appetizers Side Dish Vegetable

Esquites (Mexican Corn Salad)

Esquites (Mexican Corn Salad)

 

I am fully prepared to receive any contempt for writing a recipe featuring corn in the dead of winter. And not just ordinary corn, but frozen corn. Am I digging myself into a deeper grave? *pauses shoveling*

Please hear me out.

I realize we are about 5 months beyond the pinnacle of fresh corn bounty, with its plump, sticky sweet kernels and messy strands of silk that we find irresistibly difficult to not throw into everything we eat in late summer. But.

I’m human. I have needs and desires. And sometimes, just sometimes, I bear a yearning for something that isn’t in season. That’s when I turn to frozen vegetables.

If you can find an excellent quality of frozen vegetable (hell, if you managed to freeze your own from summer’s harvest even better), and the recipe adapts to it, trust when I say the dish will turn out pretty fantastic regardless. Esquites, this Mexican corn salad, is a beautiful example.

Sometime last year I discovered that you can buy bags of frozen, fire-roasted corn at the grocery store. Since then, I’ve been buying them in bulk to stash in the freezer because they are absolutely terrific to toss in at a moment’s notice. They work wondrously for esquites– sweet and juicy with a definite bold, charred flavor.

I go crazy for elotes, Mexican corn on the cob slathered with garlicky, lime mayonnaise and rolled in Cotija cheese and chile powder. Esquites is basically that in salad, bowl form; it is less messy for sure (a good alternative for first dates because who really wants to exchange likes and dislikes with mayonnaise and corn kernels plastered on face…?) but no less delicious. The flavors in this thing are jolting in a great way.

The corn is tossed in a pungent garlic and lime laced mayonnaise sauce and then anchored together with the herby, bright flavors of cilantro and scallions. The morsels of queso fresco distributed throughout provide a welcoming delicate quality to the esquites that softens the bite some.

The flavors in this Mexican corn salad deepen and enhance the more it sits at room temperature, so restrain yourself from eating it for at least 30 minutes after preparing, difficult as it may be; the experience of tasting this will be worthwhile I promise you.

 

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:23]

 

// Other corny things:

 

 

 

Categories
Appetizers Peruvian Sauces Side Dish Vegetable

Papa a la Huancaina

Papa a la Huancaina

 

For me, food and family are intrinsically connected. Many of my most vivid memories as a child revolve around, you guessed it, eating. Born and raised in Peru, I really had no choice at all but to fall in love with food. Cooking and sharing meals with family and friends is central to our culture, and perhaps a reason why food blogging is a natural extension of myself. I may also just be extremely biased and think Peruvian food is the best ever and want you to eat a lot of it all the time forever. I am out of control.

I mentioned sharing. This potato salad you definitely need to share. I mean, look at it, it’s huge. Hey! Here’s another fun fact about Peruvians: we don’t know how to make only a little bit of something, only a whole lot of something, plus more just in case. Modesty is not in our nomenclature.

Papa a la huancaina is a cold potato salad often served as an appetizer or first course at parties. The potatoes are first boiled, peeled, and then sliced before being scattered over fresh lettuce leaves and doused with glorious, spicy, aji amarillo cream sauce. Hard-boiled eggs are cut into quarters and black olives are sliced in half before getting strewn on top. Papa a la huancaina is a delight to eat– it’s unbelievably creamy from the tenuity of the potatoes and the richness of the egg yolks; every bite yields readily in your mouth.

 

 

Papa a la Huancaina

 

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Papa a la Huancaina

 

// More Peruvian foodstuffs: 

 

 

 

Categories
Main dish Side Dish

Braised Short Ribs with Chile and Coconut + Creamy Polenta

Braised Short Ribs with Chile and Coconut + Creamy Polenta

 

If you asked me what the perfect, most-romantic, make-my-heart-go-aflutter meal looks like, it would be this. Sumptuous short ribs, braised for hours in a coconut and chile infused sauce and perched atop a blanket of soft polenta is exactly what my mouth craves on cold, winter evenings. Paired with a bold, full-bodied glass of red wine it is absolute perfection.

This is seduction on a plate. I’ve oftentimes made this just for myself to enjoy for several days but it’s even better shared with someone you love. Turn on some sexy music, dim the lights, and celebrate life. Savor every morsel.

 

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:5]

// Other cozy-up, wintery things

 

 

 

 

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