Agave-Sweetened Double-Orange Pekoe Tea
Yield: about one gallon
When it comes to non-alcoholic, beverage staples from The South, "Sweet Tea" will consistently be in the top two along with lemonade. And it ain't called "sweet" for nothing. Although "Sweet Tea" usually comes pre-sweetened with white sugar, most people add just a lil' bit more of some kind of sweetener when it hits the table.
I created this equally sweet version that will satisfy the snootiest of Sweet Tea connoisseurs, and won't give drinkers an insulin spike. Agave syrup is becoming a popular food and beverage sweetener in general, but it is especially good for non-insulin dependent diabetics, as it is a low glycemic index sugar substitute.
It's pleasantly sweet, can be used in a range of dishes, and lacks that chemical-ly taste of a lot of chemical sweeteners like Acesulfame-K (Sunette, Sweet & Safe, Sweet One), Aspartame (Equal, Canderel and NutraSweet), and Sucralose (Splenda.)
In the past, agave was only available in health food stores, but now many conventional grocery stores carry it as well. If your store doesn't, get five of your friends to call or write requesting it. That should encourage the grocer to carry it.
I know it's not quite summer yet, but that has never stopped Sweet Tea aficionados from filling their glasses to the rim with ice cubes. So I intentionally over sweetened this tea in order for it to even out once ice is added. Personally, I like this beverage hot in the winter and spring, so I reduce the agave syrup by 1/2 cup and enjoy it in a mug, right after I remove the tea bags.
12 cups cold water
2 2-inch sticks of cinnamon
12 orange pekoe black tea bags
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ½ cup agave nectar
Thin orange wedges, garnish
-In a stockpot combine the water and cinnamon sticks and bring to a boil.
-Remove from heat, add the tea bags, orange juice, lemon juice, and agave nectar.
-Cover and let stand for 30 minutes.
-Allow the tea to cool. Remove the tea bags with a slotted spoon.
-Ladle into glasses filled with ice and garnish with orange wedges.
Watercress Salad with Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette Yield: 4 servings
If you asked me, I would describe watercress as 'mustardy.' It's one of those leafy vegetables that you'd expect to find mingling with an assortment of greens in a Mesclun mix, popping into your mouth every bite or so and providing a peppery edge over the rest of the salad leaves.
But I like to attack it head on in the spring, as it is great for clearing out toxins and cleansing after eating heavier, grounding foods over the winter. Here, I lighten it up by mixing in some romaine lettuce. The honey-mustard vinaigrette also takes off some of the edge.
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon pure honey
Coarse Sea Salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh milled white pepper
2 bunches watercress, trimmed
1 head romaine lettuce, trimmed, washed, spun dry, and torn into bite-sized pieces.
-In a blender, combine the lemon juice, mustard, thyme, honey, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
-Blend while slowly pouring in the oil. Season with white pepper.
-Right before serving, toss the watercress, and romaine, with enough dressing to lightly coat.
Memphis native Bryant Terry is an eco chef, author and food justice activist based in Oakland, Calif. His second book will be published by Da Capo/Perseus in 2009.