Winter in California is the season for arugula, along with many other lettuces. A few years ago we planted some in our garden and now each year the arugula re-seeds itself and takes over with a flourish, starting in December. Arugula was popularized a few years ago as a central component of California cuisine. For those unfamiliar with it, it tastes a lot like watercress – peppery and slightly bitter. In this recipe the goat cheese mellows the pepperiness of the arugula, while the beets offer a sweet contrast to its bitter quality. Chopped walnuts add a little more texture to the salad.
We all love quesadillas, and we could all use more leafy greens in our diet, so let’s add some shredded kale to our cheese and tortillas and call it a “kale”sadilla! This could even be a rather clever way to get your kids to eat more greens. Though it’s not exactly “sneaky” as you can clearly see the kale.
Walk in to practically any taqueria in California and you’ll likely find super-sized containers of agua frescas, right next to the soda dispenser. The usual flavors are horchata (a sweet rice drink), tamarindo (from tamarind, and agua de jamaica (pronounced hah-MY-kah), an infusion of dried red hibiscus flowers.
Albondigas soup is a traditional Mexican meatball soup (“albondigas” means “meatballs” in Spanish) that my mother has cooked for our family for more than 50 years. It is our version of comfort food.
The foggy coastline of Northern California is artichoke country. Like finding small hole-in-the-walls that serve clam chowder in New England, here one can sometimes find local diners that sell delicious artichoke soup.