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Jan 1, 2007 03:14 AM

Zuni Cafe Cookbook: Leafy Salads/ Soups

January 2007 Cookbook of the Month: the Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers and Gerald Asher. Please post your full-length reviews of recipes from the sections on leafy salads and on soups here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

Thanks for participating.

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  1. Mixed Lettuces with Mandarins and Hazelnuts. p.140

    I started Zuni early since we'll be away a couple of weeks in January. I served this salad before a dinner of stone crab on Christmas Eve. Simple and delicious, especially with the sweet Satsuma mandarins. I had planned on making the Butter Lettuce salad with Oranges, Avocado, and Shallot Vinaigrette (p. 143), but couldn't find any good avocados. I had already bought a nice head of Boston/butter lettuce, so I used this instead of mixed lettuces. Hazelnuts are roasted, the skins rubbed off, and then coarsely chopped. The Satsumas were perfect for this recipe because they were seedless and have little pith. All I did was peel them and slice into pinwheels. Finished off with a simple vinaigrette of champagne vinegar and olive oil, and I added a little Grand Marnier instead of the Frangelico she suggests.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Rubee

      I made this salad a couple of weeks ago to go w/ the sage grilled cheese sandwich (see starch thread). I used a mesclun mix and fairchild mandarins. I liked this winter salad quite a bit, and it was easy to make. Toasted hazelnuts paired w/ juicy and fragrant citrus is wonderful. I would recommend satsuma mandarins, as my fairchild variety had way too many seeds which was an annoyance while eating.

      Photo of salad:

      1. re: Carb Lover

        sage grilled cheese!?! i must must must try this...where is the starch thread??

          1. re: beetlebug

            Thanks Bug! I didn't see it...hmm, I saw panade (which I made the other night and it was fantastic) Say, I have a question, I'm a vegetarian, and these Zuni recipes always sound fantastic, but when I look online at the book, it appears to have mostly meat dishes - can help me out with what really IS in the book? Thanks.

            1. re: lollya

              I think people have posted a lot about the meat dishes because they are fabulous (i.e. Zuni roast chicken and mock porchetta). However, there are a lot of vegetarian dishes too such as the panade (although that calls for chicken stock).

              The more veggie friendly sections would be the appetizers, salads, soups, eggs, starchy dishes, vegetables/pickles/preserves, sauces/relishes, cheese and desserts. In some of the sections, there are meat oriented parts (such as starchy dishes where a few pasta dishes incorporate bacon) but there are an equal amount of vegetarian friendly dishes. Of note, in my mind, would be the vegetable section, egg section and sauces. Some of the sauces are just great and you can use them on anything. Some of the egg dishes also, are unusual yet not difficult to eat for a quick meal (I'm specifically thinking of the fried eggs with bread crumbs).

              But the main thing, for this book especially, is to use quality ingredients that really are the highlights of the recipes. That doesn't change for meat or non-meat dishes.

              Here is the link to the mother thread so that you can see what other 'hounds have whipped up.


              1. re: beetlebug

                There are also dishes where you can leave out the meat. I am specifically thinking about the gougeres. In the book, the gougeres are little sandwiches stuffed with bacon, arugula and pickled onions. But, the gougeres alone are worth making and eating. The other stuff was good, but I enjoyed eating all my deformed gougeres by themselves.

              2. re: lollya

                technique-wise, it's totally worthwhile for the vegetarian, esp if you're skilled at subbing mushroom or veg broth (I do that in the panade, it's excellent)

                or maybe it's worth taking out of a library and playing with...

                I checked in on this thread to post a veg variation for the pancetta-asparagus-rice soup (below.)
                And the boiled kale was a big deal for me for some reason -- I stir fry greens all the time, but this changed things up delightfully.

                1. re: lollya

                  I agree w/ beetlebug that some Zuni recipes can be adapted for vegetarians. For instance, the asparagus soup I made last night called for pancetta but a vegetarian could either leave it out or add something "meaty" like mushrooms. Veggie stock or water could replace the chicken stock. Of course, this would be a different soup than the original, but I'm sure it would be delicious and satisfying if seasoned properly.

                  My take on Zuni recipes as a whole is that they are written w/ the goal of balance in mind; therefore, many contain some form of animal protein, carb, veggie, etc. For those who don't feel comfortable adjusting recipes, then this could be limiting. However, for those who can adjust to their taste and diet, the book can be a valuable tool and technique builder.

                  Some of my favorite non-meat dishes include the roasted cherry salad, citrus and avocado salad w/ shallot vinaigrette, mandarin and hazelnut salad, and of course the bread salad that accompanies the roast chicken! Her sorbet and ice cream making technique is also great. I need to explore some of the pickles and condiments...

                  1. re: Carb Lover

                    Thank you SO much beetlebug, pitu and carblovah!
                    I really really appreciate your responses. I LOVE to cook, it's what calms me after a long day at work! I read so much about this Zuni book - and have gone back to Amazon time and time again to try to decipher if it would make sense as a purchase. I am a vegetarian, but my better half is not. I don't mind cooking meat for him, but generally pick meals where it can be added if he wants, or left out.

                    I am so happy to hear that there are many techniques that could apply to my cooking. I don't mind changing things up a bit and feel comfortable doing so, with that said, I think this may be a book for me.

                    I tried the panade (i think beetlebug provided me with that recipe - THANKS!)
                    however, when I read about the recipe (you guys are so gonna be nodding along to this) I just HAD to make is the same day. (this provided an issue in the end result) it was fantabulous but a bit mooooooshy for the likes of my boy. I loved it, gloppy as it was.

                    Anyways, thank you all so much.
                    Please do tell more if you feel so inclined!
                    There's a blizzard approaching and I need a hearty comforting meal to surround me after this holy hell of a week at work. ;)


                    1. re: lollya

                      Scroll down. The red pepper lentil soup can be part of a wintry meal. It's quite satisfying.

                      1. re: lollya

                        with pleasure, lollya
                        check the other Zuni threads too - like the starchy dishes one
                        some of us prefer a bit less broth in the panade for a crunchy top . . .

          2. Lentil-Sweet Red Pepper Soup with Cumin and Black Pepper

            This is a good lentil soup, but not knock your socks off. I used the beluga lentils she suggested and red bell pepper. There wasn't any discernible sweetness to the soup -- it may be that it would be more socks knocking if I sought out a sweeter pepper. There really isn't much pepper at all though, and the flavor of the lentils really overwhelms any residual pepper flavor. I also didn't have a mortar when I was making it, so I ground both the cumin and the peppercorns in a pepper grinder, making the soup quite spicy (there's a LOT of pepper and it packs a lot of heat).

            The beluga lentils are tasty but much more enticing raw than cooked -- they lose their black caviar look and look like small dark brown lentils. They are like French puy lentils in that they hold their shape and retain a lot of "tooth". I tend to prefer that type of lentil more for salads and side dishes, and the softer lentils for soup. I also added the full amount of the chicken stock, and pureed it lightly with an immersion blender, and the soup is quite thick.

            I added a slug of balsamic vinegar at the end of cooking (not in the recipe) which gives it a nice zing and tang.

            Overall, a good soup and perfectly satisfying for lunches, but probably won't become my favorite recipe for lentil soup.

            11 Replies
            1. re: Amuse Bouches

              I agree that this is a nice basic lentil soup, but not my ultimate favorite. It *is* a good stepping off point if you don't already make lentil soup, and perfect for winter.

              I always use the dark green French lentils "puy". I like the undertone of black pepper they have naturally, accentuated by the cracked peppercorns.

              Sometime I use cumin, but half the time I forget. It's good both ways.

              I often sub roasted peppers that I've marinated, for the red bells, and I like that better.

              I'm partial to a little tomato in this kind of lentil soup, and I'm surprised it's not in the Zuni recipe. Either a little browned tomato paste, or a couple of crushed canned tomatoes.

              And the chicken broth.
              I use a mix of broth and water (one of her options) . . . it's a good candidate to be a meatless meal, and don't think the extra layer broth adds so much. Tomatoes add more depth. That said, sometime this month I'll make this again with "braised bacon" as the extra layer. THAT should give it something good...

              1. re: Amuse Bouches

                Thanks to Amuse Bouches and pitu for their lentil soup suggestions. Taking both their comments in mind, I modified this lentil soup recipe and it turned out really good. Like pitu, I'm not sure this would be my go to lentil soup recipe, but C and I really enjoyed it and it went well with the sage grill cheese sandwiches.


                I used more red peppers so that there would be a contrast between the sweet pepper and the black pepper. I used about a cup of red pepper (medium size). I also added a splooch of tomato paste to give it a richer taste.

                I had the leftovers for lunch and it heated up well.

                Pic of soup:

                1. re: beetlebug

                  Looks good - as does the salad! Do you think the soup would freeze well?

                  1. re: Rubee

                    I would think so. I used the French green lentils so they still had bite to them. I don't think I've ever frozen lentil soup though, we usually finish it within a few days. You know, overflowing freezer issues...

                    1. re: beetlebug

                      Hmmmm. E doesn't like lentils. Maybe I'll just whip up a batch and eat it all week. All these posts have tempted me.

                      1. re: Rubee

                        And, it's healthy and filling. The recipe only calls for 3-4 T olive oil for the entire batch of soup.

                        Plus, the temperature is about to take a nose dive. Perfect soup weather.

                      2. re: beetlebug

                        Funny, there's a saying at our house: No matter how many bowls of lentil soup you eat there's ALWAYS some left over....sort of like a def. of infinity.

                    2. re: beetlebug

                      Lentil Sweet Red Pepper Soup with Cumin and Black Pepper (paraphrased from pg. 167-168)

                      Note: my modifications are in ( ).

                      3-4 T extra virgin olive oil
                      1/3 - 1/2 cup (1 cup) diced sweet red pepper

                      1/2 t whole black peppercorns
                      1/4 t cumin seeds

                      1/4 cup/1 oz diced carrot
                      1/4 cup/1 oz diced celery
                      1/4 cup/1 oz diced onion
                      1-2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
                      1 bay leaf
                      1 sprig of fresh parsley, chopped
                      1 cup lentils (French puy)

                      4 - 4 1/2 cups chicken stock
                      (tomato paste)

                      Crush the spices in a mortar and pestle.

                      Warm a T of olive oil in a 4 quart sauce pan over medium heat.

                      Add the red pepper and cook for about 5 minutes. The peppers will begin to color.

                      Add the spices and cook for a minute.

                      Add the remaining 2-3 T of oil. Throw in all the other solid ingredients as well as 3 cups of stock. (Add a smoodge of tomato paste)

                      Simmer, stir and salt.

                      Barely simmer in the uncovered pot for about 15 minutes. The lentils will be tender and have absorbed much of the liquid.

                      Turn off the heat and cover for 5 minutes for the lentils to soften some more.

                      If you want, blend the lentils now. The soup will be thick. If not add liquid in 1/2 cups (or, you can be like me and just dump the rest of the box of broth in ;-) ) until you reach a texture that you like.

                      Simmer until the broth is hot.

                      Serve and enjoy.

                      1. re: beetlebug

                        I made the Lentil Soup this past Tuesday but I had a major brain warp and forgot to buy split peas which was going to be my variation. Not having any lentils in the pantry I used Basmati rice along with 2 yellow peppers. I kept all the amounts she listed in the recipe with the additional substitution of Cilantro for Parsley....and the soup was very good indeed. In fact not a drop was left. I cooked the rice first and added it at the end. It was served with freshly made garlic bread. Yum!

                        1. re: Gio

                          I made this soup again this past Tuesday and used green split peas as per her recommended variations. This time I used parsley and the yellow peppers but otherwise kept to her recipe as written. We liked this very much. It's a good soup base open to many spinoffs.....

                        2. re: beetlebug

                          I made this on Saturday and had a lentil soup taste off with the New Way to Cook Red Lentil Stew with Caramelized onions that I posted about on this month's thread:
                          Zuni won, with a few of the variations posted here, so thanks! I used black Beluga lentils and left them whole rather than puree them at the end. In addition to the 1 clove of garlic, I added three more cloves of roasted garlic, and used some marinated roasted red peppers in place of the fresh bells. I also toasted the cumin seeds before grinding them, and added some fresh diced tomatoes. It was awesome, with some good sweetness to counter the black pepper spice and pretty, with the black lentils and red veggies. My new 2nd or 3rd favorite lentil soup!

                    3. Zuni Caesar Salad (p. 155)

                      I make Caesar salad a lot - I even have a nice wooden bowl that I use only for that, but I have to say this might be another go-to recipe. There's something about the balance of the flavors that I really liked. Unlike the way I usually make it, it has no Dijon, and also includes red wine vinegar. A pretty straightforward recipe, whisking vinegar, oil, anchovies, and garlic, then adding eggs, a little cheese, and black pepper. Finish by whisking in the lemon juice. One technique that I thought made a difference was rinsing and blotting the anchovies. I didn't have salt-packed anchovies (which she recommends), but always have a couple of jars of Italian anchovies in oil (Scalia). She says to rinse them in warm water and blot to extract as much oil as possible, which made them even better. This classic is a keeper.


                      The next night I used leftover Romaine (chiffonade instead of whole leaves) and tossed it with the rest of the dressing to serve with Veal Milanese (Marcella Hazan).


                      15 Replies
                      1. re: Rubee

                        Rubee, you're totally inspiring me!
                        We love Caesar Salad, never make it at home, and have those same anchovies around...

                        1. re: Rubee

                          Rubee, the salad looks scrumptious! And that veal milanese doesn't look too shabby either. Thanks for the inspiration and photos.

                          1. re: Rubee

                            This is a keeper Caesar salad recipe. Next time, I would cut up the romaine into bite size pieces. I found that the whole leaves were extremely difficult to work with. I did find that this recipe made a lot. I bought 2 heads of lettuce (1 1/2 lbs pre-clean) and had a lot of salad leftover. This recipe could have easily fed 8. But, the dressing was divine.

                            Pic of whole salad:


                            1. re: beetlebug

                              I've made Zuni Caesar twice now - love it.
                              Making half recipes every time, since it *is* a huge amount.
                              I have excellent farmer's market eggs . . . and some good but oil-packed anchovies.
                              It makes a huge difference to rinse the anchovies in warm water and pat them dry on paper towels. Some day I'll get the salt-packed...
                              I hope I remember to make this when the garlic is fresh and just out of the ground.

                              I tear up the salad too -- that's the kind of thing in a recipe that I ignore since I don't like enormous leaves served in restaurants.

                              Could someone compare this to other recipes for Caesar? Do they ever have mustard?

                              Found this wikipedia entry interesting - the leaves are supposed to be whole and you are supposed to eat it with your fingers. Go figure.

                              1. re: pitu

                                Funny, I didn't mind eating it like this in the restaurant, but at home, even eating it was too unwieldly.

                                Enh. live and learn.

                              2. re: beetlebug

                                I have a fair amount of dressing left. How long will it last in the fridge? No more than 2 days? or longer?

                                It's too delicious to dump.

                                1. re: beetlebug

                                  Re: tearing up the lettuce. What I don't really understand is that I was taught one was never to use a knife on lettuce or salad (is this just some oddball idea of my mother's?), but when you go out sometimes there is just no way you could fit the leaves in your mouth in one bite. Whats the story - seriously, is my mother just making stuff up?

                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                    I also learned not to cut lettuce with a knife and remember getting a special plastic knife at a Tupperware party to use to core the lettuce. I think the problem is with iceberg lettuce. I think anything makes it turn brown! I make a romaine salad most days for lunch and I cut the romaine with a metal knife. It never browns.

                                    1. re: dfrostnh

                                      Whew, glad to hear this isn't just some weird thing. I usually just tear the lettuce myself when making the salad, but have always felt awkward when served one of those ones with the huge full romaine leaves.

                                    2. re: LulusMom

                                      I don't know about the etiquette about eating salad. But, when I ate this salad at Zuni, I had to cut it up. It would have been too awkward and messy if I stabbed it with my fork and then took a bite of it.

                                  2. re: Rubee

                                    Zuni Caesar Salad – p. 154

                                    At long last, I finally got around to making this salad. Sadly, Zuni was a COTM (twice) long before I discovered Chowhound but in reading through these threads, this was one of the recipes I marked in my book as being a “must try”. I’m happy to declare this to be our new “go-to” recipe and would be interested to know whether Rubee, almost 6 years later, would still consider it hers.

                                    I know others have commented on the absence of Dijon but what struck me was that this recipe didn’t call for any Worcestershire. In the past, our favourite Caesar dressings have called for a dash or two of Worcestershire. I must say we didn’t miss it at all in this instance. We thought this salad was sensational and though it’s only two days since we had it, mr bc is already pleading w me to make it again.

                                    I’d also add that I really enjoyed the author’s head note about all the factors that go into determining the taste experience you have w this salad. We all know fresh is best but I loved the way she described how each individual element influences the experience. So often I’m tempted to prep my ingredients in advance but after reading this I squeezed the lemon juice as I prepared the dressing and I tasted after each addition of my cheese. Love, love, loved this salad and the toasty-tender croutons. This recipe is indeed a keeper!

                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                      I'm so glad you like it as much as I do. I actually was going to make this tomorrow night as part of our Valentine's Day dinner, but went with a Caesar dressing I made ahead since the planned entree tomorrow is labor-intensive.

                                      Of course, now I'm re-thinking my decisions thanks to you ;)

                                      1. re: Rubee

                                        Hah, so funny you posted this today Rubee because I made this salad tonight to go with our grilled filets and shrimp! I'm so grateful for your original review, it enticed me to try this and we so love it!!

                                      2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                        I have not made the salad but have eaten it at Zuni, best Caesar I've had; they serve it with whole little romaine leaves .. I like it better that way. You can request that they use just the inner leaves. I forget how many cases of romaine they go through each day.

                                        1. re: walker

                                          Thanks for the reminder about this recipe walker. It's been far too long since I've made it and I must rectify that!! I'll try whole leaves if I can find the smaller romaines.

                                    2. Love the Ceasar Salad from the Zuni cookbook. I actually use anchovy paste (doesn't take as muh time and I never use the whole can of anchovies) The best part of the salad, especially in my kids opinion, are the croutons. I always make xtra as we nibble on them prior to dinner. Also the Zuni Bread Salad is to die for. A bit labor intensive, but worth every bit of the time spent. We were inspired after dining at the Zuni Cafe and watching the chef who was roasting chickens in the brick oven. He saw us drooling over the intense aromas and gave us a few morsels to taste before our meal came out.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: gchiker3

                                        I also made the Zuni Caesar Salad tonight. I've made Caesar Salads lots of times before, but this one was just right! Delicious. It was part of a whole meal from Zuni Cookbook. I'll post the rest in the appropriate threads.

                                        Got the book out of the library and feel very lucky to have found a copy on the shelf!

                                      2. Shredded Radicchio with Anchovy Vinaigrette, Bread Crumbs and Sieved Egg (pg. 151)

                                        This was pretty good. I had too much radicchio so the bread crumbs and vinaigrette flavor didn't fully come through. I also didn't add enough salt to it. But the sieved egg was a nice touch. I'm munching on the leftovers now and it held up well.

                                        I served this with the roast chicken and bread salad.

                                        Picture of salad:

                                        Picture of salad plated: