Inspiration Oddness

Sometimes culinary inspiration comes from the most unlikely places. Like, say, a clothing catalog from a company called Boden.
No, I’m not kidding. Seriously.

Color combinations have always intrigued me. Who says red and fuchsia can’t be worn together?   Or gray and brown?    Or olive and spring greens?

Not Boden, that’s for sure.

So, not only has Boden inspired me to look at colors differently and be bolder with my palette combinations, they also inspired this unusual salad.

I call it my Boden Chopped Salad
with Caper in the Herb Garden Dressing.

It’s that simple really. Clockwise from the top left the ingredients are chopped carrots, celery, beets, red pepper, pumpkin seeds and radishes. This huge variation of color guarantees a generous amount of nutritious vitamins and minerals. How awesome is that now?!!

Toss with chopped romaine lettuce…

and spoon on your favorite dressing.
That was the hard part for me – coming up with a fun, unusual dressing that would compliment the salad without taking away from the goodness of all those veggies.

Mom had just brought in the last of the basil from our garden, so I minced that along with some fresh chives and stirred it into my yogurt and mayonnaise base. A squeeze of lime juice, a shake of salt and a couple teaspoons of capers later and it was ready to serve.

The main course though, is what I’m really excited about. I’ve been reading this fabulous book called A Thousand Days in Tuscany by Marlena de Blasi. I’m not a fan of novels, but Marlena has totally won me over with her Italian phrases, descriptions of Tuscan food and delicious recipes. It helps to have experienced a small, very small, taste of what she writes about and makes me want to plan a return trip to Italy just to cook.

However, that’s not happening any time soon, so I decided to bring Tuscan food right through my own back door with a bottle of Extra Virgin Olive oil. Well, that was for starters anyway.

First of all, let me introduce you to one of my best culinary friends – Rosemary

Before you think I’m crazy (that is, if you don’t already) let me explain. I know what you’re thinking… “That’s an impressive looking weed…”, and you’re right! It seriously is amazing. Behind these humble looking sticks covered with tough little leaves is one of the most superbly amazing flavors in the world!

If you don’t believe me, try it with roasted chicken, or in soup, or bread, or sausage, OR this new recipe…

Tuscan Chicken, Artichoke and Butter Bean Soup
with Parmesan and Olive Oil
1 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
3 chicken breasts, diced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 can Butter Beans, undrained
1 can Cannellini beans, undrained
1/2 can quartered artichoke hearts (not marinated), drained
1 tablespoon minced rosemary
Parmesan cheese, grated
extra virgin olive oil
Chop onion and saute in oil until just soft. Add chicken and brown until cooked thoroughly. Add remaining ingredients and let simmer for 15 to 30 minutes before serving.
Dish into large bowls or trenchers, sprinkle with a generous amount of Parmesan cheese and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with a chewy sourdough bread to soak up all the juices.
Tip of the post – how to cut an onion.
I know, you’re probably laughing right now. I mean, who doesn’t know how to cut an onion, right? Well, anyone can cut an onion, but let me tell you, it’s not always pretty. Since chopping is one of the most tedious things I do in the kitchen, I’ve made it my mission to make it as fast and efficient as possible. After all, once the chopping is over, the real fun starts.

Cutting an onion shouldn’t be something to shed tears over, but I’ve seen a few people demonstrate this act in a way that makes me want to cry. Learning this simple technique limits the time the onion juices have to start your eyes watering and, before you know it, it’s sizzling away in the pan a conquered enemy.

Start by cutting both ends of the onion off. Run it under very cold water while you peel the skin away. Place on a cutting board with a cut side down and cut in half.

Place the new cut side flat on the board and slice around the onion in a fan, like so…

Now, simply turn the whole half onion 45 degrees and slice again.

And that’s it. You’re done. This works just as well for mincing as it does chopping, it just takes a little more precision.

With that said, I leave you with my beautiful Boden colors and best wishes for a happy chopping experience.
Remember, don’t be afraid to try new foods, or mix new colors. Be bold. Enjoy life!

My new line – “It’s just sooo Boden.”
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8 thoughts on “Inspiration Oddness

  1. Not to be conceited…but that bit about those poor people and cutting onions….that was me you were talking about, wasn't it. Mmmhmmm…..That meal last night was AMAZING!!! Thank you, Sarah!!!

  2. Care to have a dinner guest over? :-D (Of course, all this yummy food is now probably already eaten up, anyway…)What do you do about your herbs in winter? Is it mild enough there that they stay alive until spring?

  3. Thanks girls! No, Sage, I wasn't speaking of you specifically…I'm not sure that I've ever seen you cut an onion. Just kidding! :P April- yep, it's all gone. But that doesn't mean I can't make more! Unfortunately our herbs die for the winter, but I'm hoping the green house will change that. Sometimes we bring them inside.

  4. Rosemary is pretty hardy … It think it has survived a few winters, but it definitely will survive if you bring it inside!Love the colors!The soup was delicious!You are amazing, Sarah! <3

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